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.


A Gruesome "Sabbath": Roth's Vile, Brilliant Masterpiece

Dec 3, 2012
Originally published on December 3, 2012 10:03 am

Matthew Specktor is the author of the forthcoming novel American Dream Machine.

Some books love to be loved. They make their moves on us softly, they butter us up. Who doesn't love Atticus Finch or Franny Glass? These people resemble our better selves, and it's easy, from there, to love the books that contain them. So why is it that whenever someone asks me what they should be reading, I steer them instead toward one of the most loathsome characters in contemporary fiction, Philip Roth's Mickey Sabbath?

I've foisted dozens of copies of Sabbath's Theater on people over the years, despite the fact that the novel might be Roth's most antagonistic performance. It makes no concessions to sympathy, let alone love. Mickey Sabbath, the disgraced, aging puppeteer who sits at the center of the book — who is the book, just as a hurricane is the sky — is unappealing in ways that are extremely difficult to swallow.

We encounter him early in the process of seducing a 20-year-old hitchhiker (Sabbath is 64). By the end of chapter two, he's masturbating on his late mistress's grave. The radical depravity of this cruel, perverse and mean-tempered man is such that we are just getting started. By the time Sabbath, dispossessed of everything, winds up in the bedroom of his sole remaining friend's daughter — well, I won't spoil the cringe-inducing surprise, but suffice it to say that Mickey's shabbiness will astound even a seasoned Roth reader.

So why do I love the book with such intensity, given how many other wonderful novels I can think of that hold so much more surface appeal?

In part, it's because Sabbath's Theater is so funny. The absurdity is relentless: One of Sabbath's great mistakes in life occurred during a lunch date with Jim Henson (if only he had said yes to Henson's proposal, "it would have been Sabbath who was the fellow inside Big Bird, Sabbath who had got himself a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame ... ").

In his twisted ingenuity, Mickey contrives to torture his Eastern European mistress's husband by proofreading a speech the latter is set to give at the Rotary Club: "It's fascinating," Sabbath tells Drenka, of the excruciatingly dull speech. "He's not thorough enough. It's got to be three times as long."

His brutality is inventive, but it's also playful (Sabbath also offers bad information about American idioms, correcting the speech's "nuts and bolts" to "nuts and bulbs" and so on). And, his humiliations are equally inventive: It's not enough for someone to discover him in a bathtub at an inopportune moment. Sabbath must suffer indignities that are even greater than the ones he dishes out.

Still, if all this book had going for it were meanness, that would be no reason to recommend it. There's enough of that in the world as is. What's most astonishing about Sabbath's Theater is how powerfully tender it becomes, how its rage dissolves into love and its cruelty folds into humanity. Roth has made a career out of aggravating people, but I don't remember anything in his earlier fiction as crushing as the scene that has Mickey by the sea, alone with his late brother's belongings (his beloved Morty was shot down during World War II), as he contemplates the approaching end of his own life. Sabbath may be a pervert, but in his suffering, his isolation and his sorrowing mortality, he's as fragile as King Lear.

It's easy to love the lovable. It's almost impossible to love Mickey Sabbath, and yet you do, even at his most appalling. If fiction's most urgent errand is to teach us understanding, some version of "love thy neighbor" (and who could argue that it isn't, given the fractured state of the world?), then Sabbath's Theater goes as far as you can go. It brings us something awful, and then schools us on how to embrace it. If we can forgive Sabbath his crimes, perhaps we can do the still more impossible: Perhaps we can even forgive ourselves.

You Must Read This is produced and edited by Ellen Silva and Rose Friedman with production assistance from Annalisa Quinn.

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