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.


Sotomayor Opens Up About Childhood, Marriage In 'Beloved World'

Jan 12, 2013
Originally published on January 14, 2013 4:35 pm

Over the course of time, Supreme Court justices have written 225 books. Few reveal much about the justices themselves, but Justice Sonia Sotomayor's autobiography, My Beloved World, is a searingly candid memoir about her life growing up in the tenements of the Bronx, going to Princeton and Yale Law School, becoming a prosecutor and a private corporate lawyer and, at age 38, becoming a federal judge.

More important from a reader's perspective, this is a page-turner, beautifully written and novelistic in its tale of family, love and triumph. It is almost certain to become a best-seller.

Justice Clarence Thomas was the last member of the court to write a book that topped the list of national book sales, but while his vividly written autobiography sizzles with rage and resentment, Sotomayor's hums with hope and exhilaration.

Those who remember the stilted Sotomayor confirmation hearings will learn from this book that the real Sonia Sotomayor is a very different animal. She is a joyous, compassionate Latina who revels in her heritage; she is the child of an alcoholic father, a chilly mother and a grandmother who served as her source of "protection and purpose." She is, by her own telling, a logical thinker, who clawed her way to success through self-reliance, discipline and the help of mentors and friends.

Sotomayor's book is likely to be a best-seller not only because she has a great tale to tell and tells it well, but also because she is the first Hispanic to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. To watch the justice enter the kitchen of a large hotel to thank the staff after a big function is to understand her star power in the Hispanic community. And for those like Sotomayor's mother, who spoke mainly Spanish at home, the book is being published not just in English but also in Spanish.

The first revelation in Sotomayor's book is how three things dominated her childhood: her father's alcoholism, her parents' fights and her diabetes. This last was because at the time of her diagnosis, diabetes was viewed as a "deadly curse." As a child, Sotomayor figured she wouldn't live as long as most people so she "couldn't afford to waste time." That urgency, she writes, "has always stayed with me, even as the threat has receded."

For this reviewer, the great narrative of the book involves Sotomayor's relationship with her mother, the parent she resented as a child, blaming her in some ways for her father's alcoholism. Her mother's way of dealing with the drinking was to avoid being home — working nights and weekends.

Looking at things through Sotomayor's eyes as a child, it was her mother who bore the blame for much of the family discord. It was her mother who moved the family away from other relatives and to the projects; it was her mother who made Sonia and her brother go to Catholic schools; and "though my mother and I shared the same bed ... she might as well have been a log, lying there with her back to me."

In contrast, "the best times of the week for me," she writes, were when she went shopping for food with her father on payday. He taught her how to choose fruit and meat, and the two were pals.

Even as a 9-year-old, though, Sonia Sotomayor was a realist. She understood that her father was slipping away from her because of his drinking. When he died, she was not really surprised, nor was she surprised by her sadness. What did surprise and puzzle her was her mother's incredible grief — not realizing until much later that her mother was mourning not just the death of her husband, but the death of her marriage to a man she once had loved so deeply and dearly.

It would be a long time before Sotomayor would come to understand her mother and know how desperately hard her life had been as an orphan in Puerto Rico. And while the future justice credits her mother with teaching her the values of education, hard work and discipline, it would be a long time before she would understand why it was so hard for her mother to express affection. "It wasn't until I began to write this book, nearly fifty years after the events of that sad year, that I came to a truer understanding of my mother's grief," she writes. "It was only when I had the strength and purpose to talk about the cold expanse between us that she confessed her emotional limitations in a way that called me to forgiveness." A mother who had no parents was ill-equipped to express warmth. "How should I know these things, Sonia? Whoever showed me how to be warm when I was young?"

I will not spoil the reader's pleasure in watching the relationship between mother and daughter unfold, including a confrontation between 9-year-old Sonia and her mother, who locked herself in a dark room for months after her husband's death. But this is a story of human triumph, not just for the future justice, but for her mother, for her doctor brother and, though it may be a cliche, for the American dream.

It is a story too of Latin life in America, rich with descriptions of food and parties at her grandmother's house, complete with dancing, recitations of poetry and even forbidden seances, calling forth the spirits.

Sotomayor's tale of moving from the poverty of the projects to life at Princeton and Yale is entertaining and informative, reminding us that especially in the pre-Internet era, but probably now too, children whose parents live meager paycheck-to-paycheck lives can be amazingly isolated. Sotomayor didn't know what "the Ivies" were when a friend told her she should apply to them. The nuns at Cardinal Spellman High School suggested she apply to Fordham. But she initially lusted for Harvard after seeing Love Story, and she disdained Fordham, admitting ruefully in the book that she might have been more willing to apply there if she had known that many of the campus scenes in the movie were actually filmed at Fordham. In the end though, Harvard terrified her when she visited the school for an interview. It was so alien that she literally fled.

Later, her naivete leads to some hilarious scenes at Princeton, as when she throws away an invitation to join Phi Beta Kappa, believing it to be a "scam." Only the intervention of an eagle-eyed friend, who saw the letter in the trash, saved the day.

Sotomayor goes to considerable lengths to say she is not "self-made." She candidly describes her struggles and failures, starting with how she learned to study in middle school: She asked the girl who got the most gold stars. But it soon becomes clear that while she needed help from lots of people to succeed, her own devotion to work and discipline have been the mainstays of her life.

At Princeton, she quickly realized she was deficient in English and in writing skills, prompting her to design for herself a crash course in writing and reading the classics. It was not the first time she would fall on her face but pick herself up and work like a demon to improve. In her first legal job, as a summer associate in a big New York firm, she failed miserably. After law school she describes her beginning panics as a "duckling" handling misdemeanors in the Manhattan district attorney's office, and how she transformed herself into a top felony prosecutor. After four years, though, she decided to leave, fearing she was losing her humanity. "I could see the signs that I too was hardening, and I didn't like what I saw. Even my sympathy for the victims, once such an inexhaustible driver of my efforts, was being depleted by the daily spectacle of misdeeds and misery."

She is similarly candid in describing her marriage and divorce.

Sotomayor writes with a sense of humor. Describing her post-divorce life, she observes wryly, "Probably nothing constrained my dating life as much as living at home with my mother. To hear her screaming from the bedroom, 'Sonia, it's midnight. You have to work tomorrow!' did not exactly make me feel like Mary Tyler Moore. "

For the reader, one of the most fascinating aspects of the Sotomayor personality turns out to be the way she confronts her fears and failures. She doesn't do well in a course, so she enrolls in a harder one on the same subject. She is afraid of swimming, so she takes swimming lessons and becomes a regular in the pool. She is a clumsy klutz, so she decides to soothe the heartache of a failed romance by taking Salsa lessons and learns to dance. Even her looks and clothes — something she always claimed to have no interest in because she couldn't compete with her stylish mother — she eventually learns to deal with. She takes shopping lessons from a friend and gets her own style.

In the forward to her book, Sotomayor writes: "I have ventured to write more intimately about my personal life than is customary for a member of the Supreme Court, and with that candor comes a measure of vulnerability. I will be judged as a human being by what readers find here. There are hazards to openness, but they seem minor compared with the possibility that some readers may find comfort, perhaps even inspiration, from a close examination of how an ordinary person, with strengths and weaknesses like anyone else, has managed an extraordinary journey."

It is an apt observation, except that after reading the book, few will think she is ordinary.

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