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.

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

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.

Pages

Defense Cuts May No Longer Be Political Sacred Cow

Feb 21, 2013
Originally published on February 21, 2013 9:17 am

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has warned that the automatic spending cuts due to hit the Pentagon and other branches of government next week will damage U.S. national security.

In a letter to Congress, he said those cuts would put the military on a path toward a "hollow force." But the warnings don't appear to be moving the needle with lawmakers or the American public.

The automatic spending cuts don't officially take effect until March 1, but they are already being felt. As President Obama noted this week, the Navy has decided not to send one of its aircraft carriers on a scheduled deployment to the Persian Gulf.

"As our military leaders have made clear, changes like this — not well-thought through, not phased in properly — changes like this affect our ability to respond to threats in unstable parts of the world," he said.

No Agreed-Upon Path

At one time, idling an aircraft carrier to save money would have been unthinkable. The White House thought that prospect would be so alarming to congressional Republicans that they'd never allow the automatic spending cuts to take effect.

Some Republicans are alarmed. House Speaker John Boehner calls the military cuts "devastating." But Congressional expert Sarah Binder of the Brookings Institution says the GOP is no longer united when it comes to protecting the Pentagon.

"There's a defense wing of defense hawks, and they've been pretty vocal about the impact on the Defense Department and national security, generally," she said. "And we know there's a hard-core group as well that's opposed to any and all revenue increases.

"And between the two of those, there's no agreed-upon path of what to do, and so it looks like they may prefer the sequester to any alternative — certainly the alternatives the Democrats are offering up."

Public Unmoved

Obama is trying to enlist the public's help. He did a series of local TV interviews Wednesday, and he's planning to visit a military community outside Washington, D.C., next week. White House spokesman Jay Carney says the idea is to ramp up pressure on lawmakers to suspend the automatic cuts.

"The fact of the matter is, congressional Republicans are going to listen to the American people," Carney said.

But the American people aren't necessarily convinced that cutting the Pentagon budget is a bad idea.

Last year, the Stimson Center in Washington, along with the Center for Public Integrity and the Program for Public Consultation, asked people how they'd like to address the federal deficit: by raising taxes, reducing defense spending or cutting other parts of the government.

Matt Leatherman of the Stimson Center says nearly two-thirds opted for defense cuts.

"Defense spending was an area that respondents seemed to feel especially comfortable with reductions," he said. "There were some partisan splits, but I would point out that both Republicans and Democrats were comfortable reducing the defense budget."

Threat Of Sequestration

Other polls by Gallup, Harris and the Pew Research Center produced similar findings. The Stimson Center survey was unusual in that people taking the poll were given information about the workings of the Pentagon budget.

"The more that Americans learn about their defense budget, the more aware they become that not everything is equal," Leatherman says. "When you have a chance to really grapple with the material on your own, you perhaps feel more comfortable in saying, 'I'm prepared to prioritize this issue and accept more risk over here.' "

Leatherman says that doesn't mean Americans are comfortable with the kind of indiscriminate cuts to defense spending set to take effect next week. But it does suggest the Pentagon is far from a sacred cow.

That could be put to the test if lawmakers can't make a deal to avoid across-the-board cuts. Congressional scholar Binder notes that those cuts were agreed to in 2011 as a way to postpone the pain of political gridlock. Nineteen months later, the gridlock hasn't gone away.

"They set up the can, they kind of set it up to explode, and sure enough, this looks like one of the few times it's actually going to go off," she says.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

If the U.S. doesn't change a budget law now in effect, 5,000 border agents will back away from the Mexican border. That news came last week from Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says the automatic spending cuts will also damage the U.S. military, leading to a hollow force, as he put it. And it's that warning we'll talk about next.

INSKEEP: Democrats had been counting on the fear of military weakness to press Republicans to agree on a budget deal, but so far, it hasn't happened. NPR's Scott Horsley reports.

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: The automatic spending cuts don't officially take effect for more than a week, but they're already being felt. As President Obama noted this week, the Navy has decided not to send one of its aircraft carriers on a scheduled deployment to the Persian Gulf.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: And as our military leaders have made clear, changes like this - not well thought through, not phased-in properly - changes like this affect our ability to respond to threats in unstable parts of the world.

HORSLEY: At one time, idling an aircraft carrier to save money would have been unthinkable. The White House thought that prospect would be so alarming to congressional Republicans, they'd never allow the automatic spending cuts to take effect. Some Republicans are alarmed. House Speaker John Boehner calls the military cuts devastating. But Congressional expert Sarah Binder of the Brookings Institution says the GOP is no longer united when it comes to protecting the Pentagon.

SARAH BINDER: There's a defense wing of defense hawks, and they've been pretty vocal about the impact on the Defense Department and on national security, generally. And we know there's a hard-core group, as well, that's opposed to any and all revenue increases. And between the two of those, there's no agreed-upon path of what to do. And so it looks like they may prefer the sequester to any alternative - certainly the alternatives that the Democrats are offering up.

HORSLEY: The president's now trying to enlist the public's help. Obama did a series of local TV interviews yesterday, and he's planning to visit a military community outside Washington next week. White House spokesman Jay Carney says the idea is to ramp up pressure on lawmakers to suspend the automatic cuts.

JAY CARNEY: The fact of the matter is congressional Republicans are going to listen to the American people.

HORSLEY: But the American people aren't necessarily convinced cutting the Pentagon budget is a bad idea. Last year, the Stimson Center in Washington - along with the Center for Public Integrity and the Program for Public Consultation - asked people how they'd like to address the federal deficit: by raising taxes, reducing defense spending or cutting other parts of the government. Matt Leatherman of the Stimson Center says nearly two-thirds opted for defense cuts.

MATT LEATHERMAN: Defense spending was an area that respondents seemed to feel especially comfortable with reductions. There were some partisan splits, but I would point out that both Republicans and Democrats were comfortable reducing the defense budget.

HORSLEY: Other polls by Gallup, Harris and the Pew Research Center produced similar findings. The Stimson Center survey was unusual in that people taking the poll were given a lot of information about the workings of the Pentagon budget.

LEATHERMAN: The more that Americans learn about their defense budget, the more aware they've become that not everything is equal. When you have a chance to really grapple with the material on your own, you perhaps feel more comfortable in saying: I'm prepared to prioritize this issue and accept risk over here.

HORSLEY: Leatherman says that doesn't mean Americans are comfortable with the kind of indiscriminate cuts to defense spending set to take effect next week. But it does suggest the Pentagon is far from a sacred cow. That could be put to the test if lawmakers can't make a deal to avoid across-the-board cuts. Congressional scholar Binder notes those cuts were agreed to back in 2011 as a way to postpone the pain of political gridlock. Nineteen months later, the gridlock hasn't gone away.

BINDER: They set up the can. They kind of set it up to explode, and sure enough, this is one of those few times it looks like it's actually going to go off.

HORSLEY: So far, without much complaint from the American public. Scott Horsley, NPR News, the White House. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.