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.


Federal Gay Marriage Ban Hurts The Bottom Line, Businesses Argue

Feb 28, 2013
Originally published on February 28, 2013 3:13 pm

After years of legal wrangling, the Defense of Marriage Act — the law that prevents the federal government from recognizing marriage as anything but a "legal union between one man and one woman" — comes before the Supreme Court next month.

Among those urging the court to strike down the ban are some familiar names, like Google, Apple, Facebook, JetBlue and Starbucks. They were among a group of more than 200 businesses that filed a friend of the court brief this week, taking a corporate approach to the gay marriage debate.

As The New York Times reports: "The brief was one of many received by the court as it considered landmark cases on gay rights and marriage. With a wide swath of leading companies signing on, it is the latest sign of the rapid shift toward acceptance of same-sex marriage in the corporate world as well as in the country."

The problem, the businesses argue, is that while they operate in places where gay marriage is recognized under state law, "DOMA, a federal law withholding marital benefits from some lawful marriages but not others, requires that employers treat one employee differently from another, when each is married, and each marriage is equally lawful. DOMA thus impairs employer/employee relations and other business interests."

The law means employers must treat employees in same-sex marriages differently when it comes to things like health care, retirement and taxes, they say, causing "unnecessary cost and administrative complexity."

In a statement Thursday, Apple spokeswoman Amy Bessette said, "DOMA hurts legally married same-sex couples and prevents companies from treating all employees as equals. Apple strongly supports marriage equality and we hope the Supreme Court will declare the law unconstitutional."

Among the businesses signing the brief was one familiar from last year's presidential campaign, as the Boston Globe notes: "The group also included Bain & Co., the Boston consulting firm that launched Mitt Romney's career before he started Bain Capital. Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, opposed gay marriage when it became legal here in 2004 and opposed it in his campaign for president last year."

The Obama administration has also gone on the record asking the court to get rid of the federal ban on recognizing same-sex marriages.

The other landmark gay-marriage case the court is considering in March is a challenge to Proposition 8, the ban on same-sex marriage in California. A group of more than 80 Republicans made headlines this week for signing on to a brief asking the court to overturn it.

But as NPR's Don Gonyea pointed out, "only two of the names on the list so far are sitting GOP officeholders, both members of Congress: Richard Hanna of New York and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida."

More are people who have held office or run for it in the past, like "Meg Whitman, the former CEO of eBay who opposed gay marriage as a candidate for governor of California in 2010. There's also former Utah governor and GOP presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman and Christie Todd Whitman, a former governor and EPA administrator."

And the GOP's official position on gay marriage hasn't changed. House Republicans are defending the Defense of Marriage Act in court, since the administration has declined to.

The Obama administration may outline where it stands on the Proposition 8 case in a filing with the Supreme Court this week.

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