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.

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Season Two Brings Changes For 'Girls'

Jan 11, 2013
Originally published on January 11, 2013 3:25 pm

Of all the cable comedies returning with new episodes Sunday, Girls is the most ambitious — as well as the most unpredictable, and occasionally unsettling.

When thirtysomething premiered on ABC more than 25 years ago — yes, it's been that long — that drama series was both embraced and attacked for focusing so intently on the problems of self-obsessed people in their 30s. What that drama did for that generation, Girls does for a new one — and for an even younger demographic, by presenting a quartet of young women in their mid-20s.

I say "young women," but this HBO comedy, being completely upfront about how much its characters still have to learn and grow, is titled Girls. That title is no accident — and the growing pains in this comedy sometimes are so uncomfortable to watch, they make you squirm.

But Girls, without question, has the definite aromas of both honesty and originality. The four main characters — aspiring writer Hannah, art curator Marnie, free spirit Jessa, repressed spirit Shoshanna — have problems holding on to jobs, maintaining their intimate relationships, even staying close to one another. The breakups are messy, but so are the less dramatic times. Sex, in this series, usually gets down to equal parts passion and awkwardness — which makes it seem all the more real, and, like the emotions displayed throughout, all the more raw.

HBO sent out four episodes of Season 2 for preview, and a lot happens that I won't reveal here. It's important to acknowledge, though, that these young women — these girls — really are changing and growing and adapting to tough life in the big city.

It's also important, I think, to note that the show addresses head-on one of the central complaints leveled against it last season — that Hannah's world was so relentlessly white. And it addresses it in such a clever way, it reveals just how smart a show Girls really is.

Hannah, played by Lena Dunham, is committed to a new boyfriend, Sandy, played by Donald Glover. Sandy happens to be black — but also happens to be a Republican. And when he criticizes some of Hannah's writing in Episode 2, they begin to fight, and both sides end up playing the race card.

Girls is the polar opposite of a cable show like The Sopranos or Breaking Bad — and not because it's a comedy and those are dramas. The dramatic scenes in Girls, and there are lots of them, are plenty intense. But Tony Soprano and Walter White would go through entire seasons without ever uttering exactly what they're thinking — while, on Girls, that's just about all any of the characters do. It's unfiltered honesty on parade — but it's quite a parade. And even though I'm way past the target demographic, I still find it a fascinating parade to watch.

All of the other cable comedy shows returning this Sunday, coincidentally, feature characters who talk openly, and a lot, and who are as abrasive as they are attractive. On HBO, Girls is followed by Enlightened, starring Laura Dern as a demoted former executive trying to bring down her corporation from within. And on Showtime, there's a trio of shows starring dysfunctional protagonists, all returning with their season premieres this weekend.

On Shameless, William H. Macy plays the patriarch of a resourceful family of con artists — a family that throws him out when he returns after an extended bender. On Californication, David Duchovny plays a hedonistic writer whose family throws him into rehab. And on House of Lies, Don Cheadle plays a corporate adviser who is just the sort of scheming one-percenter Dern's character is targeting over on Enlightened.

Individually, these seriously flawed characters may make for bold TV writing — but collectively, they're a little tiring. And as comedies go, or are supposed to go, they're not always that funny.

But the fact that HBO and Showtime are going head to head with their best and brightest sitcoms, on the same night and at the same time, means both premium cable networks are taking their comedy very seriously. And their competition, too.

But for me, of this entire group, the sitcom to take the most seriously is Girls. I watch, and enjoy, all of the others, but Girls is the one that's the most surprising — and that, in the long run, I suspect will be the most memorable and influential.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm David Bianculli of the website TV Worth Watching, sitting in for Terry Gross. Season two of HBO's "Girls," the acclaimed and sometimes controversial comedy starring and created by writer-director Lena Dunham, begins Sunday. Season one is now out on DVD, two reasons why today we're featuring Terry's interview with Lena Dunham from last year.

But first, in my role as TV critic, I'd like to review the new season of "Girls" and other comedies returning this weekend on HBO and Showtime.

Of all the cable comedies returning with new episodes Sunday, "Girls" is the most ambitious, as well as the most unpredictable and occasionally unsettling. When "thirtysomething" premiered on ABC more than 25 years ago - yes, it's been that long - that drama series was both embraced and attacked for focusing so intently on the problems of self-obsessed people in their 30s.

What that drama did for that generation "Girls" does for a new one and for an even younger demographic by presenting a quartet of young women in their mid-20s. I say young women. This HBO comedy - being completely upfront about how much its characters still have to learn and grow - is titled "Girls." That title is no accident, and the growing pains in this comedy sometimes are so uncomfortable to watch they make you squirm.

But "Girls," without question, has the definite aroma of both honesty and originality. The four main characters - aspiring writer Hannah, art curator Marnie, free spirit Jessa, repressed spirit Shoshanna - have problems holding on to jobs, maintaining their intimate relationships and even staying close to one another.

The breakups are messy, but so are the less dramatic times. Sex, in this series, usually gets down to equal parts passion and awkwardness, which makes it seem all the more real, and, like the emotions displayed throughout, all the more raw.

HBO sent out four episodes of Season two for preview, and a lot happens that I won't reveal here. It's important to acknowledge, though, that these young women, these girls, really are changing, and growing and adapting to tough life in the big city.

It's also important, I think, to note that the show addresses head-on one of the central complaints leveled against it last season: that Hannah's world was so relentlessly white. And it addresses it in such a clever way, it reveals just how smart a show "Girls" really is.

Hannah, played by Lena Dunham, is committed to a new boyfriend, Sandy, played by Donald Glover. Sandy happens to be black but also happens to be a Republican. And when he criticizes some of Hannah's writing in Episode 2, they begin to fight, and both sides end up playing the race card.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "GIRLS")

LENA DUNHAM: (As Hannah) I'm actually so happy that you didn't like it. If you just loved it like everyone else does, that would be so simple, but this actually opens up a dialogue about my work, the same kind of dialogue we've had about your political beliefs.

DONALD GLOVER: (As Sandy) There's no dialogue. I know what I believe. I'm steadfast in it. I'm fine with it.

DUNHAM: (As Hannah) So you mean, like, even though you spend all this time with me and my gay roommate, you don't have any feeling that he should be allowed to have, like, a beautiful wedding, like all the ones we saw earlier on "Say Yes to the Dress"?

GLOVER: (As Sandy) Hannah, this is because I didn't like your essay.

DUNHAM: (As Hannah) It's not because you didn't like my essay. It's because we're having an open conversation about things we believe in, and I'm also a little horrified by the fact that you think people should just be allowed to own guns.

GLOVER: (As Sandy) It's way more complicated than that.

DUNHAM: (As Hannah) Is it, though, more complicated than that?

GLOVER: (As Sandy) Yeah, yeah it is.

DUNHAM: (As Hannah) I also would love to know how you feel about the fact that two out of three people on death row are black men.

GLOVER: (As Sandy) Wow, Hannah, I didn't know that. Thank you for enlightening me about how things are tougher for minorities. Thank you.

DUNHAM: (As Hannah) I can't tell if you're being sarcastic.

GLOVER: (As Sandy) I am.

DUNHAM: (As Hannah) OK, well, this is hard for me to say because I really like you, but I think our political beliefs are just too different and that we should just be friends.

GLOVER: (As Sandy) I knew this. This always happens. This always happens. I don't even know...

DUNHAM: (As Hannah) What always happens?

GLOVER: (As Sandy) This, this whole - like oh, I'm a white girl, and like I moved to New York, and I'm having a great time. And oh, I've got a fixed-gear bike, and I'm gonna date a black guy, and we're going to go to a dangerous part of town, all that bull (beep). Like yeah, I know this. I've seen it happen a million times. And then they can't deal with who I am.

DUNHAM: (As Hannah) You know what? Honestly, maybe you should think about the fact that you could be fetishizing me because how many white women have you dated? It sounds like a lot from what you just said.

GLOVER: (As Sandy) What? Really?

DUNHAM: (As Hannah) And maybe you think of us as just one big, white, blobby mass with, like, stupid ideas that you can't deal with. So why don't you lay this thing down, flip it and reverse it because I don't think it's very nice.

GLOVER: (As Sandy) You just said a Missy Elliot there, and I'm sure...

DUNHAM: (As Hannah) I don't know who that is.

BIANCULLI: "Girls" is the polar opposite of a cable show like "The Sopranos" or "Breaking Bad" and not because it's a comedy and those are dramas. The dramatic scenes in "Girls," and there are lots of them, are plenty intense. But Tony Soprano and Walter White would go through entire seasons without ever uttering exactly what they're thinking, while on "Girls" that's just about all any of the characters do.

It's unfiltered honesty on parade, but it's quite a parade. And even though I'm way past the target demographic, I still find it a fascinating parade to watch.

All of the other cable comedy shows returning this Sunday, coincidentally, feature characters who talk openly, and a lot, and who are as abrasive as they are attractive. On HBO, "Girls" is followed by "Enlightened," starring Laura Dern as a demoted former executive trying to bring down her corporation from within. And on Showtime, there's a trio of shows starring dysfunctional protagonists, all returning with their season premieres this weekend.

On "Shameless," William H. Macy plays the patriarch of a resourceful family of con artists, a family that throws him out when he returns after an extended bender. On "Californication," David Duchovny plays a hedonistic writer whose family throws him into rehab.

And on "House of Lies," Don Cheadle plays a corporate adviser who is just the sort of scheming one-percenter Laura Dern's character is targeting over on "Enlightened."

Individually, these seriously flawed characters may make for bold TV writing, but collectively they're a little tiring. And as comedies go, or are supposed to go, they're not always that funny. But the fact that HBO and Showtime are going head to head with their best and brightest sitcoms, on the same night and at the same time, means both premium cable networks are taking their comedy very seriously and their competition, too.

But for me, of this entire group, the sitcom to take the most seriously is "Girls." I watch and enjoy all of the others, but "Girls" is the one that's the most surprising and, in the long run I suspect, will be the most memorable and influential. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.