When the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union last month, the seaside town of Port Talbot in Wales eagerly went along with the move. Brexit was approved by some 57 percent of the town's residents.

Now some of them are wondering if they made the wrong decision.

The June 23 Brexit vote has raised questions about the fate of the troubled Port Talbot Works, Britain's largest surviving steel plant — a huge, steam-belching facility that has long been the town's biggest employer.

Solar Impulse 2 has landed in Cairo, completing the penultimate leg of its attempt to circumnavigate the globe using only the power of the sun.

The trip over the Mediterranean included a breathtaking flyover of the Pyramids. Check it out:

President Obama is challenging Americans to have an honest and open-hearted conversation about race and law enforcement. But even as he sits down at the White House with police and civil rights activists, Obama is mindful of the limits of that approach.

"I've seen how inadequate words can be in bringing about lasting change," the president said Tuesday at a memorial service for five law officers killed last week in Dallas. "I've seen how inadequate my own words have been."

Mice watching Orson Welles movies may help scientists explain human consciousness.

At least that's one premise of the Allen Brain Observatory, which launched Wednesday and lets anyone with an Internet connection study a mouse brain as it responds to visual information.

The FBI says it is giving up on the D.B. Cooper investigation, 45 years after the mysterious hijacker parachuted into the night with $200,000 in a briefcase, becoming an instant folk figure.

"Following one of the longest and most exhaustive investigations in our history," the FBI's Ayn Dietrich-Williams said in a statement, "the FBI redirected resources allocated to the D.B. Cooper case in order to focus on other investigative priorities."

This is the first in a series of essays concerning our collective future. The goal is to bring forth some of the main issues humanity faces today, as we move forward to uncertain times. In an effort to be as thorough as possible, we will consider two kinds of threats: those due to natural disasters and those that are man-made. The idea is to expose some of the dangers and possible mechanisms that have been proposed to deal with these issues. My intention is not to offer a detailed analysis for each threat — but to invite reflection and, hopefully, action.

Alabama authorities say a home burglary suspect has died after police used a stun gun on the man.  Birmingham police say he resisted officers who found him in a house wrapped in what looked like material from the air conditioner duct work.  The Lewisburg Road homeowner called police Tuesday about glass breaking and someone yelling and growling in his basement.  Police reportedly entered the dwelling and used a stun gun several times on a white suspect before handcuffing him.  Investigators say the man was "extremely irritated" throughout and didn't obey verbal commands.

It can be hard to distinguish among the men wearing grey suits and regulation haircuts on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington. But David Margolis always brought a splash of color.

It wasn't his lovably disheveled wardrobe, or his Elvis ring, but something else: the force of his flamboyant personality. Margolis, a graduate of Harvard Law School, didn't want to fit in with the crowd. He wanted to stand out.

Montgomery Education Foundation's Brain Forest Summer Learning Academy was spotlighted Wednesday at Carver High School.  The academic-enrichment program is for rising 4th, 5th, and 6th graders in the Montgomery Public School system.  Community Program Director Dillion Nettles, says the program aims to prevent learning loss during summer months.  To find out how your child can participate in next summer's program visit Montgomery-ed.org

A police officer is free on bond after being arrested following a rash of road-sign thefts in southeast Alabama.  Brantley Police Chief Titus Averett says officer Jeremy Ray Walker of Glenwood is on paid leave following his arrest in Pike County.  The 30-year-old Walker is charged with receiving stolen property.  Lt. Troy Johnson of the Pike County Sheriff's Office says an investigation began after someone reported that Walker was selling road signs from Crenshaw County.  Investigators contacted the county engineer and learned signs had been reported stolen from several roads.


In 'Django' And 'Lincoln,' Two Very Different Takes On America's Racial Past

Jan 9, 2013
Originally published on February 20, 2013 12:50 pm

There hasn't been a major Hollywood movie in recent memory with more confounding racial politics than Django Unchained. And there probably isn't a film more representative of Hollywood's take on race than Lincoln.

(This post is full of potential spoilers. Consider yourself warned.)

Django, Quentin Tarantino's blaxploitation/spaghetti western homage, is set in the antebellum South. It follows a freed slave who becomes a bounty hunter and guns down slave-owners and criminals in the South as he plots to save his beloved wife, who is being held captive on a notorious plantation in Mississippi.

But, man, is it hard to pin down.

What to make of a movie that shows slaves on one plantation frolicking on swings but also doesn't shy from showing the fear wrought by slavery's capricious sadism? Is Dr. King Schultz, the Christoph Waltz character who frees Django and becomes his partner, meant to represent the naivete of well-meaning paternalism or is he actually an endorsement of it? (We could be here for a minute.) Is Stephen, the house slave played by Samuel L. Jackson as equal parts Lex Luthor and Uncle Ruckus a broad caricature or a pointed critique of internalized racism? And what the hell does it mean that he's Django's ultimate foil?

See? We could be here for a minute.

Now let's look at Lincoln, the other big Hollywood movie from this winter about slavery. (Or sort of, since there aren't actually all that many slaves depicted in it.)

The Steven Spielberg film follows the 16th president as he cajoles and glad-hands and prods and seduces lawmakers into supporting an amendment that would, for once and for all, emancipate all of the country's black slaves. It's gorgeous and fantastically acted and, aside from some scenes depicting the aftermath of some bloody Civil War battles, basically relegates America's "peculiar institution" to an abstraction being debated by old white guys. It even leaves Lincoln's own, less-than-neat feelings about emancipation mostly shorn of their rough edges.

Both movies are going to be in a lot of award conversations this year.

But Lincoln is part of a long tradition of movies that are about our racial history but that lack the desire to make any of their viewers squirm. Take Red Tails, a not-so-good film from last year based on the famous all-black fighter pilot squadron, The Tuskegee Airmen. The racism in the film is limited to the team being supplied with crappier planes, a mustache-twirling Pentagon official played by Bryan Cranston, and a whites-only club for American pilots in Italy. No one in the film has a terribly complicated relationship to the established order. That order is, of course, easily vanquished once the Red Tails do some nifty flying. (See also Glory Road, Remember the Titans, The Great Debaters, etc.)

Django, meanwhile, never shies away from the quotidian, petty terror that undergirded American slavery; it gives every interaction between blacks and whites a frisson of mortal risk. One woman is whipped for breaking eggs. A man is torn to pieces by dogs for attempting to escape. When Calvin Candie, the Mephistophelian plantation owner played by Leonardo DiCaprio, wonders aloud why his family's black slaves didn't rise up to kill his father — a soliloquy he delivers while fingering the skull of his family's most trusted slave like an ornament — he's unknowingly answering his own question.

Slave rebellions were not unusual in real life, but Candie's plantation is meant to represent an evil kingdom from which there's no hope of escape, which is probably what it felt like to many slaves in the Deep South.

And that's where the nut of this difference lies, really.

These are both movies very much informed by our current moment, but in crucially different ways. For Django, this is mostly stylistic — think Jamie Foxx's sunglasses, Rick Ross rapping over action scenes, and Sam Jackson's thoroughly modern approach to profanity. But Django is deeply invested in portraying the unrelenting ugliness of slavery. Lincoln, on the other hand, feels like a reverential look at a crucial moment in our history through a contemporary prism that recognizes that the outcome is never in doubt; it's more "accurate," but less alive. It's also much more invested in a mythology that doesn't implicate anyone in that ugliness.

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