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.


When Companies Agree To Huge Penalties But Don't Admit Doing Anything Wrong

Feb 5, 2013
Originally published on February 5, 2013 5:07 pm

It happens all the time: The government announces some giant settlement with a company that's been accused of doing something wrong. The company agrees to pay some massive fine. Then, in the fine print, there's something along the lines of: "The company neither admits nor denies any wrongdoing."

Recently, though, some powerful people have been pushing back, rejecting deals that include this kind of fine print.

Jed Rakoff, a federal judge, refused to approve a big settlement between the SEC and Citigroup precisely because it included that boilerplate about neither admitting nor denying guilt.

In his decision (PDF), Judge Rakoff wrote that he couldn't approve a settlement when no one had proved or admitted that Citi did anything wrong. What's more, Rakoff aruged, the whole neither-admit-nor-deny thing is contrary to the public interest: any case like this that touches on the transparency of financial markets whose gyrations have so depressed our economy and debilitated our lives there is an overriding public interest in knowing the truth.

Rakoff's decision may be overturned, but last month the SEC restricted companies' ability to refuse to admit wrongdoing, at least in certain cases.

And this week's government lawsuit against Standard & Poor's was filed in part because S&P refused to admit wrongdoing, according to the NYT. The government says S&P knowingly inflated the ratings of mortgage-backed bonds; the company says the accusations are false.

No surprise there: If S&P were to admit that it knowingly inflated bond ratings, it could face a huge wave of lawsuits.

"If you say, 'Oh, we're guilty,' then everybody in the world who ever bought a bond that was rated could come after you," Lawrence Kaplan, a lawyer who's an expert in banking regulation, told me this morning.

Going to trial and being found guilty would actually create fewer legal problems for S&P. Unlike admitting wrongdoing, losing a trial is only binding in that particular case, Kaplan said. Other would-be plaintiffs would have to try the case all over again, before a new jury, which might find in favor of the company.

So if federal prosecutors really are getting serious about forcing companies to choose between admitting wrongdoing and going to trial, we're likely to see more cases go to court — and fewer big settlements where companies agree to pay lots of money but don't admit they did anything wrong.

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