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.


Maureen Corrigan Picks Her Favorite Books Of 2012

Dec 13, 2012
Originally published on December 13, 2012 1:08 pm

2012 has been a jittery year, what with the presidential election, extreme weather events and, now, the looming "fiscal cliff." Not surprisingly, many of my favorite books told stories, imagined and real, about people who felt like they didn't have a clue what hit them.

That dazed-and-confused trend kicked off in January with Stewart O'Nan's novella, The Odds, about a middle-aged, unemployed couple about to divorce in order to protect what little assets they have left. First, though, Marion and Art Fowler book a deluxe suite at one of the honeymoon hotels in Niagara Falls and get ready to gamble their remaining cash at the hotel casino. O'Nan's go-for-broke literary style — by turns elegant and ruefully funny — rivets readers to the fateful spin of that roulette wheel. Magical thinking also plays a crucial role in Canada, a dazzling epic of family dissolution by Richard Ford. Set in 1960 Montana and Saskatchewan, the story is narrated by 15-year-old Dell Parsons whose parents hatch the bright idea of robbing a bank to solve their money problems.

The ragged but resilient young narrator of Girlchild, a striking debut novel by Tupelo Hassman, also tells readers a thing or two about what it's like to grow up without safety nets. Rory Dawn Hendrix lives in a Reno, Nev., trailer park where you'd have a better chance of sighting a UFO than a helicopter parent. Nobody does scrappy, sassy, twice-the-speed of sound dialogue better than Junot Diaz. His exuberant short-story collection, This Is How You Lose Her, charts the lives of Dominican immigrants for whom the promise of America comes down to a minimum-wage paycheck, an occasional walk to a movie in a mall and the momentary escape of a grappling in bed.

My pick for best novel of 2012 is something of a dark horse. Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter veers up, up and away from the downtrodden environs of the novels I've just described. It's a sweeping stunner of a tale that roams from Italy in the early 1960s to Hollywood and the present-day American heartland. The novel assembles a kaleidoscopic collection of "beautiful ruins," both human and architectural, including discarded starlets, humble hotel workers and, most spectacularly, the self-destructive actor Richard Burton.

For the year's best in nonfiction, let's start by hopping from the Italian coast to the English moors. Juliet Barker's revised and updated edition of her landmark 1994 biography called, simply, The Brontes, upends the tall tales that have obscured a clear view of this brilliant clan. Barker also uncovers new material, such as a charming 1854 letter of Charlotte's in which she confesses to being talked into a white wedding dress, modest though it was. "If I must make a fool of myself [the 38-year-old bride-to-be wrote], it shall be on an economical plan." Louisa May Alcott's siblings didn't share her literary gifts, but her supportive mother, Abigail, was an evocative writer, as well as a campaigner for abolition and women's rights. Marmee & Louisa is the title of Eve LaPlante's marvelous new dual biography of the hard-working mother-daughter pair.

A charged relationship between mother and child also constitutes the subject of Elsewhere, Richard Russo's nuanced memoir about his lifelong relationship with his emotionally dependent mother. Russo writes about his own class emigration from blue-collar kid to college professor and successful writer; but what he also chronicles in Elsewhere is how his difficult mother came along for the ride figuratively and literally, since she climbed into Russo's rusty Ford Galaxy on his cross-country drive to college. I also loved retired classics professor Charles Rowan Beye's saucy and poignant memoir, My Husband and My Wives. Beye looks back on his long life, including his sequential marriages to two women and, now, a man, and contemplates the cosmic question: "What was that all about?"

Sometimes the conventional wisdom is truly wise. Katherine Boo's much lauded work of narrative nonfiction, Behind the Beautiful Forevers, crowns my best-of-the-year list. Based on three years of "embedded reporting," Boo's account takes readers deep into the richly varied world of a few of the thousands of slum dwellers who live in the shadows of the Mumbai airport and its surrounding luxury hotels. As Boo says in her author's note at the end of the book, the slum dwellers she came to know are "neither mythic nor pathetic," but rather distinguished by their ability to improvise.

Given the space limitations of lists, many critics — myself included — dislike putting these "best-of-the-year" pieces together; but if this rattling run-through attracts more readers to these extraordinary books, I will close out 2012 contented.

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