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.


Massey Mine Boss Sentenced; Feds Toughen Mine Safety Rule

Jan 17, 2013

Nearly three years after a deadly mine explosion in West Virginia, a former Massey Energy mine superintendent has been sentenced to prison and federal regulators have toughened a regulation that could have helped prevent the disaster.

Today in federal court in Beckley, W.Va., former Upper Big Branch coal mine superintendant Gary May was sentenced to 21 months in prison and ordered to pay a $20,000 fine.

The sentencing was part of a plea agreement in which May is cooperating with federal prosecutors as they continue to investigate the April, 2010, explosion that killed 29 coal miners at Massey's Upper Big Branch mine.

May pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and admitted to ordering a company electrician to disable a methane monitor on a mining machine so it could continue to cut coal without automatic shutdowns. The monitor is a safety device that senses explosive amounts of methane gas and automatically shuts down mining machines when dangerous levels of gas are present. The incident was first reported by NPR in July, 2010.

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin says the sentence sends "a powerful message to this mine manager and other mine managers who would put profits over safety: if you violate mine laws and put miners at risk you will go to jail."

May also pleaded guilty to deceiving federal mine safety inspectors and hiding safety violations.

Prosecutors indicate they're aiming higher up the corporate ladder, targeting former Massey managers and executives. David Hughart, a former president of a Massey mining subsidiary has also entered into a plea agreement.

Just as May's sentencing hearing concluded, the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) toughened and streamlined a regulation that had rarely been enforced and could have helped prevent the Upper Big Branch tragedy, according to disaster investigators.

MSHA calls it the "pattern of violations" rule and it's supposed to identify coal mines with serious, persistent and habitual safety violations and then target them for heightened scrutiny. But MSHA failed to enforce the rule in the first 33 years of its existence, in part because of a self-imposed and cumbersome regulatory step.

"It was clear after Upper Big Branch that some companies were violating lifesaving mine safety requirements over and over again," said Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., who has called for mine safety reforms.

Investigators concluded that the Upper Big Branch mine qualified for preliminary "pattern of violations" (POV) status before the April, 2010, explosion. But regulators failed to apply the rule, blaming a "computer glitch" that has never fully been explained.

The revised rule eliminates preliminary steps so that regulators will have a much easier time citing and sanctioning habitual violators of serious safety standards. The new rule also triggers automatic and immediate shutdowns of mining areas if serious and substantial violations are found in mines with POV status.

"We think that this final rule will help prevent another tragedy such as occurred at the Upper Big Branch Mine," says Joe Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health.

In a news conference this afternoon, Main added that "we have a better monitoring tool in place" since the computer error that kept the Upper Big Branch mine from receiving preliminary POV scrutiny before the April, 2010, explosion.

Main said that the mine's violations data were not entered into MSHA's computer tracking system. "I think we're doing a much better job of managing the system," he said.

Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., the ranking minority member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, hailed the new rule. But he said more reforms are necessary to assure the safety of coal miners.

"It is Congress's responsibility to enact further commonsense reforms that will protect miners and incentivize mines owners to implement a culture of safety," Miller said.

Congress has not passed any mine safety reform measures since the Upper Big Branch explosion. Rockefeller has sponsored a Senate measure that aims to provide better protection for whistleblowers who report mine safety violations, better protect miners from the mine dust that causes black lung, and give MSHA more oversight authority, accountability and enforcement tools.

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