The Boston Citgo sign, all 3,600 square LED feet of which has served as the backdrop to Red Sox games since 1965, is now officially a "pending landmark."

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.

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.


Competition, High Bills Hurt Cable Companies

Jan 30, 2013
Originally published on January 30, 2013 10:44 am
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OK. In the next few days, cable companies announce how they did financially in 2012. Most industry watchers expect some negative trends to continue. More people are canceling their cable subscriptions. They are called cord cutters, because they are getting TV from the Internet and over the air, not their cable cords. But they're not the only problem the cable industry needs to worry about. NPR's Neda Ulaby reports.

NEDA ULABY, BYLINE: Meet Comcast's worst nightmare.

JOE GOULD: Hi. My name is Joe Gould and we're in my apartment in Washington D.C.

ULABY: A few weeks ago, Gould rigged up a high-definition antenna to his flat-screen television and one of those boxes that lets him legally stream shows from Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, even live coverage from CNN.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: ...Somalian forces. Obviously, people...

ULABY: Then Gould did what so people many have fantasized about. He called his cable company and said take a hike. Sure, Gould and his wife will miss watching all those hot, buzzy new cable shows. But they will not miss watching their cable bill creep up and up and up to nearly 200 dollars a month.

GOULD: We're thinking, OK, we could put a payment on a car for that much.

ULABY: The Joe Goulds of this world have cable companies so concerned, some are even using their precious commercial time to try to get people back.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: There's a lot of things to take advantage of with Time Warner Cable.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: You can have a better TV experience too. Come back to Time Warner Cable and get up to...

ULABY: It's a little hard to track who's an actual cord cutter, like Joe Gould, and who just canceled her cable subscription because she lost her job a few years ago and had to move back in with her parents. This is what we know. About 97 percent of Americans get cable and satellite TV. Three years ago, it was 99 percent. So we're talking a one percent drop per year.

BRAHM EILEY: That's not really a big number at the end of the day.

ULABY: Brahm Eiley tracks these kinds of trends for his company, the Convergence Consulting Group. He says for the industry, this is sort of a big deal.

EILEY: People get very, very excited about these numbers but the truth of the matter is, it's still very small. And everybody's kind of been waiting with bated breath for the television to go through some form of revolution.

ULABY: Like the revolution we thought might come when the world's most powerful technology companies came stomping into the television arena: Apple TV. Google TV. Tech writer Peter Kafka is still waiting.

PETER KAFKA: None of them have gone ahead and done it so far.

ULABY: Partly because not even the mighty Google or Apple has managed to buy the rights that would let them stream sports events live online.

KAFKA: That shows you that the existing, sort of, TV industrial complex is very strong, very healthy, very hard to break down.

ULABY: So far, TV's resisted crumbling in the face of piracy. Which is, of course, a factor for lots of people cutting the cord. There's even a rising generation called nevercords. They're the young people who grew up watching TV online and hate the idea of shelling out for cable.

Peter Kafka says it's not hard to figure out how to be a cord cutter. But it's intimidating. It's almost like being a vegan in terms of who's doing it.

KAFKA: You'll notice a lot more of it I think if you're in New York or the Bay area, maybe Los Angeles, definitely college towns. You'll notice lots of people who are either eating vegan food or not paying for cable, but to assume that the rest of the country is behaving the same way is wrong.

ULABY: After all, McDonalds and the cable companies are doing just fine with miniscule drops in sales and subscriptions. Real consumer change could take decades. Neda Ulaby, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.