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.


Famous Father Had Highest 'Expectations'

Nov 20, 2012

You would think, wouldn't you, that the man who created such heartrendingly sympathetic children as Oliver Twist, Pip, Tiny Tim and poor Little Nell would be a stupendous father. Well, the Charles Dickens who emerges from Robert Gottlieb's Great Expectations, a compulsively readable if occasionally repetitive account of what happened to the great writer's brood of seven sons and three daughters, is not so wonderful.

Daddy Dearest welcomed each new addition to his family with bemused delight — if a tendency to blame the rapid proliferation on his wife Catherine. Dickens was an attentive father, strict but playful with his children when they were young — and much revered and loved by them. But soon after his boys were in long pants — around age 5 — he was busily mapping their careers, often overseas, with an eye to relieving himself of the burden of supporting them as soon as possible. Worse, he was already expressing disappointment, to both them and the world, that they "lacked not only his genius but his compulsion to work," his self-confidence and his "rigor and discipline."

Great Expectations joins an avalanche of publications marking the bicentennial of Dickens' Feb. 7, 1812, birth, including Claire Tomalin's absorbing investigative biography, Charles Dickens: A Life, and Christopher Hitchens' final Vanity Fair essay, "Charles Dickens's Inner Child." What Gottlieb's book adds to this profusion is an accessible, sharply focused and opinionated portrait of what the "magical" but dominating father wrought at home. As in his previous book, Lives and Letters, the former editor-in-chief of Knopf and The New Yorker brings an enticingly light touch to his scholarship, resulting in a book that reads like haute literary gossip.

Gottlieb wisely highlights two great dividing lines in the lives of Dickens' offspring: their parents' separation in 1858 and their father's death in 1870. The first occurred when Dickens, with the ruthlessness of a king, banished his corpulent, exhausted and, he claimed, dull and lethargic wife of 22 years, "packing her off to her own establishment (with a generous settlement) and removing her children from her." Gottlieb does not hide his outrage at Dickens' "odious behavior," which was spurred, he believes, by a sort of midlife crisis and infatuation with the young actress Ellen Ternan, with whom he possibly had an illegitimate 11th child who died in infancy. The repercussions of the Dickens' nasty separation included social ostracism for their two surviving daughters and an added urgency to disperse all those distracting, needy sons, exiling five of them to the far ends of the Earth in search of opportunities.

How disappointing were the children? Gottlieb cherry-picks lively quotes from Dickens' letters in which he complains of "having brought up the largest family ever known with the smallest disposition to do anything for themselves." Several of the sons who were sent as teens to join the Navy, the Indian Army, the Canadian Mounties or to manage sheep stations in Australia, lived and died in debt. Gambling, liquor and congenital heart ailments contributed to their early demise.

The two sons who were allowed to remain in England and were given a chance to discover their own vocations — literary editor and lawyer — led the happiest, most successful lives. Dickens' favorite daughter, Kate, also achieved success, as a child portraitist. This leads Gottlieb to wonder how the others might have fared had they been kept at home and given "time to develop at their own speed" — which of course reflects contemporary American child-rearing philosophy. Gottlieb doesn't fully acknowledge that Dickens' decisions regarding his sons' education (including boarding school at age 7) and career options were hardly uncommon in Victorian England.

As for Dickens' greater sympathy for his fictional children than for his actual offspring, Gottlieb offers a plausible, if much simplified, explanation: "All his tragic child victims are stand-ins" for Dickens himself as a boy. In other words, Dickens' "rage and self-pity over what he saw as his harrowing childhood" — and his pride at having overcome it without help from anyone — left him with little empathy for the travails of his own relatively fortunate children. Yet, as Gottlieb makes clear in this book that raises intriguing questions about parental pressures and expectations, Dickens' progeny remained devoted to him and his legacy throughout their lives.

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