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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Don't Hide Your Harlequins: In Defense Of Romance

Dec 18, 2012

Hi, my name's Bobbi. I read romance.

I read my first romance novel when I was 12. I was a pretty eclectic reader even then, and I'd already dispatched Gone With the Wind, Nicholas and Alexandra and Peppermints in the Parlor. I saw the book — The Fortunes of Love by Caroline Courtney — in a library, and I was hooked by the cover. Something about that man and that woman — his enigmatic hover, her sideways glance — spoke to me. This was a couple who was meant to be together but hadn't figured it out yet. They were attracted but distrustful. There was a story there. I was intrigued.

I checked it out and read it in one sitting, breathless to the end. So this was a romance. A novel for me, the girl who loved old-time, unabashedly sentimental movies, like Gidget, The Sound of Music and Singin' in the Rain. The girl who skimmed Nancy Drew books to find the scenes where Ned Nickerson kissed her. This book was what I'd been looking for, a glimpse into the commingled elation and vulnerability of falling in love, losing that love, regaining it. It was emotional and sweet and scary, and the moment those characters admitted their love for each other in the end, after everything, in spite of everything — because of everything — I felt such bittersweet joy. They were together, happy, in love. It was a romantic rush, but the book was over — so I went to find another one.

My mom, a teacher, thought romances were beneath me. My school librarian gave me her disapproving look when I checked out more romances from the bookmobile. And my best friend's mother told me I should be ashamed for reading such trash.

In fact, I was fascinated. By the road-to-love storylines, and the psychological metamorphoses that had to take place in order to overcome internal and external conflicts, so that these two people could earn their happily ever after (the HEA, as romance readers call it). To me, those were every bit as interesting as my mother's whodunnits or my sister's sci-fi and fantasy excursions — and far more touching!

But I was also ashamed, because all of those people made me feel like I should be.

As an honors student in high school, I read Pride and Prejudice for the first time, which, let's face it, is a romance novel. Elegantly written, and delightfully sly about manners and social classes, of course — but please, there's a reason we swoon over Mr. Darcy (inspired Colin Firth casting aside). We love the way he and Elizabeth Bennett are attracted to one another but don't really like each other much. How he moves from jerk to hero in just under 400 pages.

Most romance arcs follow Elizabeth and Darcy's lead — they start with conflict and lead to mutual understanding. Yes, generally, the initial attraction is physical, but still, by the end, you understand that these people love each other because of who they are, and that they bring out the best in one another. Also, to deserve that HEA, those characters have to change, to grow. They have to develop into people who are worthy of each other, who are ready and willing to risk everything to earn the love, respect and admiration of this person they love.

Why is our devotion to this lovely, affirming storytelling something we should hide, or apologize for? Why this intellectual idea that romance is something to look down on? We know that many intelligent, educated women read it. They must: Romance continues to dominate the publishing industry, accounting for nearly $1.4 billion in sales in 2011, a full 14.3 percent of all consumer book sales.

Romance may not interest you. I get that — though I highly recommend that you at least give it a try; you can find some recommendations at the bottom of the page. I've decided to stop apologizing, though, and I'm no longer ashamed. And women, even if you don't read romances, there's a lot to be proud of in a successful industry that is so dominated and influenced by women. In romance, we are the creators, the intended audience and the receptive consumer, showing our appreciation through astronomical sales. Female writers writing for female readers about traditionally female interests.

Hi, my name's Bobbi. I am smart, well-educated and well-read — and I am very proud to say that I love romance.


More Romantic Reads

Ready to give romance a try? Check out NPR's roundups here and here. Hungry for more? The following authors are the cream of the crop, so almost anything you read by them will be top-notch, but these titles are among their best:

Historical: My personal favorite is Eva Ibbotson, most known for her children's books. She's a more lyrical, literary romance novelist, and her romances were re-released as Young Adult a few years ago — try A Countess Below Stairs or A Company of Swans.

Contemporary: You simply can't beat Susan Elizabeth Phillips (try Match Me If You Can) or Jennifer Crusie (Bet Me) for great romance that will make you laugh and cry in the same book.

Paranormal: Long before Twilight, romance novels were exploring the supernatural world to unprecedented success. Try Sherrilyn Kenyon (her wildly popular Dark Hunter series begins with Fantasy Lover) or Thea Harrison (Dragon Bound).

Enjoy!


Bobbi Dumas is a freelance writer based in Madison, Wis. She mostly reviews for Kirkus Media, and is a founding contributing editor of the writing resource website HowToWriteShop.com. A very eclectic reader, she honestly likes romance and women's fiction best.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.