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Spanish Surrealist Salvador Dalí spent much of the 1940s in the U.S., avoiding World War II and its aftermath. He was a well-known fixture on the art scene in Monterey, Calif. — and that's where the largest collection of Dalí's work on the West Coast is now open to the public.

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The middle of summer is when the surprises in publishing turn up. I'm talking about those quietly commanding books that publishers tend to put out now, because fall and winter are focused on big books by established authors. Which brings us to The Dream Life of Astronauts, by Patrick Ryan, a very funny and touching collection of nine short stories that take place in the 1960s and '70s around Cape Canaveral, Fla.

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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.

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Citing Progress, White House Disbands Jobs Council

Jan 31, 2013

The White House said today that it would not extend the term of its jobs council, a group of high-profile executives tapped for advice on how to improve the country's jobs situation.

The AP explains that the council was formed in January 2011 with a sunset date of January 31, 2013. Reuters reports that an official said Obama would allow the jobs council to disband, adding that the administration had made progress on some of the council's recommendations.

The AP adds:

"Officials said the president always intended for the council to fulfill its mission and then wind down, and said Obama would continue to actively engage and seek input from business leaders about ways to accelerate job-creation and economic growth. Among the steps Obama plans to pursue are expedited permits for infrastructure projects, plus programs to boost entrepreneurship and workforce development.

"Even before it was clear whether Obama would renew the jobs council, Republicans seized on its likely expiration as evidence the president has devoted insufficient attention to creating jobs, which polling shows remains a top priority for Americans. The Republican National Committee dubbed it part of 'the failed Obama record,' while the House Republicans' campaign committee, in an online petition, accused Obama of laying off his own jobs council."

When Obama created the council, unemployment was about 9 percent. Today, it is at 7.8 percent.

Economic growth, however, has been sluggish. Wednesday, the Bureau of Economic Analysis said that for the first time in three years, the country's GDP shrank at a 0.1 percent annual rate.

On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics is scheduled to release employment numbers for January.

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