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.


War Writ Small: Of Pushcarts And Peashooters

Dec 19, 2012
Originally published on January 31, 2013 7:55 pm

Adam Mansbach is the author of the forthcoming novel Rage is Back.

Stealing my 9-year-old nephew's copy of The Pushcart War by Jean Merrill was the best thing I did last summer. I was his age the first time I read it, and twice his age the last time I went back to it. I'm twice that old again now, but as soon as I dove into this intimate, majestic tale of war writ small — of a battle between the pushcart peddlers and the truckers of New York City — I realized how timeless, and how deeply a part of me, the story was.

Before long, I was tearing up as I anticipated events to come — not so much the major plot points as the masterful asides and grace notes that make the story so rich. I finished that same evening — a feat my nephew found stunning — and I haven't stopped thinking about the book since.

The Pushcart War is presented as a history of a conflict that has not yet taken place; in each edition of the book, the date on which the hostilities commenced is nudged forward. I remember the power of that effect vividly from my first reading; it felt like standing with one foot in the past and one in the future, and it was strange and wonderful.

Merrill, who died in August at the age of 89, begins by explaining that most wars are too massive and too complicated to be understood, and that we cannot prevent what we fail to comprehend — true when she wrote it, nearly 50 years ago, and undiminished since. But the Pushcart War, she tells us, is different. Its battles were confined to the streets of one city, and the weapons were simple enough to be understood by a 6-year-old. It was a war in microcosm, but there were generals and campaigns, truces and casualties. At stake were the streets themselves, and thus the future of the city.

At the heart of the conflict lie two opposing models of business, and of thought: The trucking companies believe bigger is better, that growth means progress, and that might is right. They want to eliminate all other vehicles, and their first intended victims are the pushcart peddlers — small businesses beholden to a very different philosophy.

Their customer service is personal, their territories well-defined; they perform hidden services fundamental to the function of the city. They are, in today's parlance, "sustainable." But the pushcarts are no pushovers. When their livelihoods and reputations are threatened, they take the fight to the enemy, with a peashooter offensive that leaves the trucks deflated. Literally.

There is a familiar old-world charm to peddlers like Morris the Florist and Harry the Hot Dog, but there are no ingenues here. We know whom to root for, but Merrill's war is wrought in shades of gray. Battles are won in the court of public opinion, as often as on the streets. Pushcart king Maxie Hammerman is as savvy a strategist as his opponents, the trucking magnates, and their ally, the mayor. Both sides know how to cultivate powerful friends and the importance of manipulating the media.

Merrill's story, full of unexpected reversals and understated witticisms, feels exceptionally modern. And by the end — after the two sides have hammered out a peaceful and deeply reasonable compromise — one can only hope that we'll catch up to Merrill's future one day.

You Must Read This is produced and edited by the team at NPR Books.

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Stephen King once wrote that if you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. Most writers try to follow that advice. And in our series You Must Read This, we ask authors to tell us about the books they loved to read.

Adam Mansbach is the author of a book about parents' frustrations in getting their kids to sleep. We can't say the full title on the radio, but it was a bestseller and you may have heard of it. Well, today, he is recommending a book that he loved as a child.

ADAM MANSBACH: Last summer I stole something from a kid, and I felt pretty good about it. The thing was a copy of "The Pushcart War" by Jean Merrill, and the kid was my 9-year-old nephew. I was his age the first time I read the book, and I'm four times his age now. But I still love it just as much. Merrill begins by explaining that most wars are massive, too big and too complicated to understand. But the pushcart war is different.

On one side are the three biggest trucking companies in the city. They're run by a trio of tough, cigar-chomping businessmen. And they've got the mayor in their pocket. On the other side of the conflict are a motley collection of pushcart peddlers. They're old school and old world. There's Morris the Florist, Harry the Hotdog.

When the trucks threaten to wipe them out, they take the fighting to the streets. Their weapon of choice: Pea shooters laced with pins. They take aim at the truck tires and soon dead trucks litter every street in the city. "The Pushcart War" is a book about conflict, but it's hilarious. It's full of reversals and understated witticisms, brilliant strategies that pay off in unexpected ways. And it ends the way you wish all wars ended: with a deeply reasonable compromise that all sides can live with.

CORNISH: That was Adam Mansbach. His recommendation is called "The Pushcart War." And his own new book is called "Rage is Back." To comment on this essay at our website, go to nprbooks.org. You can also follow NPR Books on Facebook and Twitter. That's @nprbooks. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.