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.

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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.


Report: Chinese Government Hackers Behind Dozens Of Attacks On U.S. Companies

Feb 19, 2013
Originally published on February 19, 2013 6:42 pm



The Chinese army is the source of a persistent and prolific cyber espionage unit, whose hackers have attacked dozens of U.S. corporations and government agencies. That's the conclusion of a lengthy report released today by the computer security firm Mandiant. Mandiant says the hacking campaign goes back at least to 2006 and it targeted industries strategic to China's growth, including IT, energy and aerospace.

Kevin Mandia is the founder and CEO of Mandiant. He joins me here in the studio to talk about what they found. Welcome to the program.

KEVIN MANDIA: Thanks for having me.

BLOCK: Why don't you give us a sense of the scale and the scope of the hacking that you've traced to a group that you call Advanced Persistent Threat One?

MANDIA: Well, I think it's key to note two things. One, we only are publishing on a single group out of China and we think there's plenty more. Second is we only published the lowest bounds, if you think about it. Mandiant knows of 141 victim companies that have been compromised APT Group One, that we concluded was Unit 61398 in the Chinese army. And the reason we only know the lowest bounds is we only knows what Mandiant knows. We don't know what other security companies know.

So, I almost feel like we're a long line of security companies that is blaming China. But what makes this report different is this is the first five we're trying to elevate it to it's not just someone in China, this is right under the noses of the government or it is the government themselves.

BLOCK: We mentioned some of the industries that were targeted and presumably a number of these are your own clients. What information exactly were the hackers stealing? What kinds of stuff are they after?

MANDIA: If you're a company that's doing mergers and acquisitions in China, we see your email targeted. But if you're in the defense industrial base and you make weaponry or you make high-tech systems, what we see there is your Word document, your PowerPoint documents, your PDF documents - those are taken. So the campaigns depend a little bit about the industry you're in and what the attackers are seeking.

BLOCK: Now, the Chinese defense and foreign ministry have denied any connection to hacking. They call these unfounded accusations. They say hacking is illegal in China. What evidence do you have that, in fact, this is the Chinese army unit - People's Liberation Army Unit 61398 - that's behind what you've seen here?

MANDIA: All right. Right before I tell you the evidence, I'll tell you this: They always deny it. But let's look at what Mandiant did. We had a dual-pronged investigation. On one hand, we're responding to all these victim companies and following technical evidence. And all the technical evidence brought us to thousands of computers being compromised by about a thousand computers and that the people logging in into the infrastructure used to hack all these companies were native Chinese speakers and that the IP addresses, or the origins of these attacks, went back to Shanghai.

In conjunction with that, we learned about a unit that had existed in Shanghai, where they were recruiting people that spoke English and understood what we call Computer Network Operations were attacking. And it was a unique requirement. And their location was right in the same location where the technical evidence was bringing us.

So if you look at the scale of the operations, the mission of the unit, and what we actually witnessed and just where it's coming from, it all overlaps.

BLOCK: I read in your report that your own company, Mandiant, got one of these spear-fishing emails from this apparent Chinese unit with a malicious attachment. How does it work? Is it any different from any other standard hacking that you see all the time?

MANDIA: Well, I think spear-fishing is commonly used by a lot of people that want to target an organization or target individuals. But how it works is, in general, the victims get an email and there's either a link in that email or there is an attachment to that email that contains malicious code.

BLOCK: So the email that your company got had a malicious attachment. What was the red flag that showed you this was not what it appeared to be?

MANDIA: It was an email from me allegedly but it was from an external account that I don't use, to two Mandiant employees. And both Mandiant employees recognized this just wasn't my email address. And I was lucky enough nobody clicked on the attachment. They recognize it for what it was. It was a fraud.

BLOCK: Why did you decide to go public with this, because you do say in your report that your own security techniques are vastly more effective when attackers are not aware of them? And you do, as you say, expect reprisals, so why publish?

MANDIA: Because information sharing does work, I believe that. And we wanted to get the indicators out to the public. The bottom-line is no one is getting smarter from each breach and we need to make the environment so that we do.

BLOCK: Kevin Mandia is the founder and CEO of the computer security firm Mandiant. Kevin, thanks for coming in.

MANDIA: Thank you very much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.