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.


New Rules Issued For Mortgage Servicing Companies

Jan 17, 2013
Originally published on January 17, 2013 11:11 am



The Consumer Protection Financial Bureau is unveiling today the second half of its new mortgage rules. It will outline how the mortgage industry must manage loans that are delinquent or in the process of being foreclosed.

NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports that these rules, among other things, aim to make it easier for borrowers to communicate with the people handling their mortgages.

YUKI NOGUCHI, BYLINE: In the home loan industry, the messiest, most intractable problems often arise from what's known as mortgage servicing. Simply put, servicers are companies that collect your monthly mortgage payment on behalf of the lender. But when borrowers fall behind, servicers are supposed to reach out to the borrower to see whether they're eligible for a loan modification or a short sale. If not, the servicer handles the foreclosure.

But in recent years, the mortgage servicing industry has had plenty of problems. Richard Cordray is the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

RICHARD CORDRAY: Servicers have routinely failed to answer phone calls, mishandled accounts, failed to credit bills promptly, charged unexplained fees - things that cost borrowers money and dumped many of them into foreclosure.

NOGUCHI: Loan experts say many services are understaffed and undertrained. Most were not prepared for the high volume of foreclosures that hit during the crisis. Then, three years ago, services were caught robo-signing foreclosure documents, essentially cutting corners on paperwork to speed up the process. Cordray says in the second half of last year alone, his watchdog agency received 47,000 consumer complaints about mortgage servicers.

CORDRAY: Oftentimes, servicers had financial incentives to proceed with foreclosure rather than try to avoid it, and one of the things that our rule specifies is servicers can't put themselves first in this process.

NOGUCHI: Among other things, the new rules bar services from proceeding with foreclosure if a borrower has applied for a mortgage modification. The rules also give borrowers rights to clear communications from their servicer. Servicers must also provide notice of all the foreclosure alternatives available to homeowners who miss two months of payments.

To enforce these rules, Cordray says his agency can audit servicing operations to monitor their compliance.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: If they are violating the law and harming consumers, we can get restitution back to consumers.

NOGUCHI: These new rules are a cornerstone for Cordray's bureau, a year-old agency established in the aftermath of one of the worst financial crises since the Great Depression, one caused by the enormous problems in the mortgage market. Cordray notes the rules build on the settlement reached last year between five major banks and state attorneys general to settle the robo-signing case. Unlike that settlement, he says, the new rules will cover all servicers.

Scott Talbott, an executive with the Financial Services Roundtable, which represents many services, says his members' only real concern is that the final rules are consistent with other regulations.

SCOTT TALBOTT: We certainly don't want to create two different sets of rules from two different regulators around mortgage servicing rights.

NOGUCHI: Last week, the bureau issued separate rules barring lenders from underwriting loans without first verifying the borrower's income and ability to repay. Lenders and servicers will have a year to implement all of the bureau's new mortgage rules. Yuki Noguchi, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.