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:

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"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.

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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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Inspecting The Trend Of Autistic-Spectrum Characters

Nov 18, 2012

Tasha Robinson is the national associate editor for The A.V. Club.

The eponymous protagonist of Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz's young adult debut, Colin Fischer, is a 14-year-old boy who barks like a dog when upset or overwhelmed. Colin hates being touched. He has trouble reading other people's expressions. But he enjoys analytically recording his experiences and investigating things he doesn't understand. His dedication to observation and "cool, clear-headed logic" makes him a junior-grade Sherlock Holmes, which comes in handy when someone fires a gun in the school cafeteria and Colin realizes the wrong boy is accused.

Since Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time became a worldwide best-seller in 2003, there has been a rising wave of novels like Colin Fischer, written from autistic characters' perspectives or closely focused on their worldviews. Some of the boom can be attributed to increasing public curiosity about autism: As autism diagnoses have risen, more funding and research have been devoted to its causes, and public awareness of autism-spectrum conditions like Asperger's syndrome has increased dramatically. The mysteries behind autism make it an evocative topic — and ambiguity leaves room for writers to romanticize, theorize or appropriate at will.

Young adult writers are doing all of the above. While adult novels like Antoinette van Heugten's Saving Max, Ann Bauer's A Wild Ride Up the Cupboards and Jodi Picoult's House Rules usually focus on parents struggling with their kids' diagnoses and legal, educational or developmental issues, YA books tend to put autistic-spectrum characters at the center of the story. The plotlines embrace different forms and genres: Colin Fischer is a mystery, Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin's The Half-Life of Planets is a romance, Francisco X. Stork's Marcelo in the Real World is a coming-of-age novel about moral choice and family duty. But all of these books use Asperger's to underline typical teenage identity issues.

Colin Fischer co-authors Stentz and Miller—the screenwriting team behind X-Men: First Class and Thor — point out that characters like Colin Fischer face familiar problems in heightened ways. Stentz, who has two autistic children and describes himself as "on the Asperger's spectrum" himself, says Colin Fischer came out of "wanting to do a YA book that looked at the phenomenon of outsiderdom that's kind of the defining trait of being a teenager. And by using a non-neurotypical character as the hero, you get to turn the outsiderdom up to 11 and throw those issues we all grappled with into even starker relief."

And Miller says Colin's story is every teenager's story writ large. "When his emotions overwhelm him ... I think it's actually very easy to relate to that, especially when you're a teenager. I mean, my God, one of the hardest parts about being an adolescent is that you're not really in control of your own emotions. Everything is kind of a mystery. You're not quite sure how you fit in."

Autistic-spectrum characters are also frequently used to shine a cold light of analysis on society. Stentz describes Colin as offering an "intelligent outsider's view of humanity." He even compares him to his Star Trek idols, Mr. Spock and Commander Data — respectively, a half-alien and an android who regularly comment on human foibles. "The outsider's perspective is a very strong storytelling tool," he says.

Curious Incident, Colin Fischer and Marcelo give characters with Asperger's the authority to detect flaws in the status quo precisely because they're outsiders; logic and tenacity are built into their brain chemistry. But Miller believes their battle to understand interactions their peers take for granted makes them more relatable characters. "I think audiences respond to characters who come off as guileless and innocent and well-meaning," he says. "There's a natural tendency to embrace them and want to protect them, or even listen to them."

Not all YA autistic characters are metaphors for adolescent angst. In Cammie McGovern's Eye Contact or Michael Grant's best-selling Gone novels, autistic characters are plot devices, internalizing crucial information they can't easily express. As more information about autistic syndromes emerges, it will be interesting to see whether authors are less likely to associate autistic characters with mystery. Until then, there's ready drama in discovery, struggle and the unknown, for people on all points of the spectrum.

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