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Study finds online ratings easily overinflated

Online reviews are a compass for navigating choice in the modern world, but one study found that the crowd is not always wise.

Backyard Farms’ greenhouses for growing hydroponic tomatoes cover 42 acres in Madison, Maine.

Stacey Cramp For The New York Times/File 2010

Shirley Leung

A heavy loss in Fidelity’s pursuit of the perfect tomato

To the list of concerns facing Ned Johnson’s Fidelity -- say, rising interest rates, higher oil prices, a slowdown in China -- add this: white flies. It has been a summer of discontent for Backyard Farms, the mutual fund magnate’s beloved tomato business, which suffered a mammoth infestation that forced it to destroy all 420,000 plants last month. The farm, which is primarily owned by Fidelity employees, grows 27 million pounds of tomatoes year-round in a pair of greenhouses stretching 42 acres in a tiny mill town in Maine. The eight-year-old business has fast become New England’s largest purveyor of premium tomatoes, sold in about 30 retailers from Walmart to Whole Foods. The Magellan Fund isn’t the only thing that Johnson did well.

Tea Party activists, rallying at the US Capitol earlier this summer, have resurrected a strategy of using town hall forums to display their anger.

Tea Party takes aim at GOP

Activists perceive some members of the Republican Party as weak in their commitment to kill the national health care overhaul.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s college friends indicted

Two college friends of accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were indicted Thursday on federal obstruction of justice charges, while lawyers for a third friend said he is negotiating a possible deal in his case.

Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis said he has worked hard to diversify the police force and stressed that his hands are tied by the state’s civil service exam requirement.

J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press/File

Davis defends his record on diversity

Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis, accused by a minority officers group of not promoting diversity, said he is hampered by protocol.

The Nation

Judge orders lawyer to aid Fort Hood defendant

Nidal Malik Hasan has told the judge he disagreed with the assertion that he is seeking the death penalty.

By Manny Fernandez

The ruling came a day after the lawyers said they could no longer assist Major Nidal Malik Hasan because he was seeking the death penalty.

Wildfire in Southern California spreads quickly

Residents of Cabazon, Calif., had little time to get out after the fire erupted in Southern California. About 1,500 people have fled the area as the fire continues to grow.

By Julie Watson

A thousand firefighters, 13 helicopters, and six air tankers battled the flames as they pushed eastward along the San Jacinto Mountains.

Heavy rains unleash floods

A resident of a mobile home park in Hollister, Mo., looked downstream for signs of his trailer after it was swept away.

By Jim Salter

Torrential rains continued across the nation’s midsection on Thursday, causing flash flooding that killed a woman and a child.

The World

Rebels claim attack on Assad

Syrian state television showed President Bashar Assad in a mosque, though it was unclear if the footage was new.

By Anne Barnard

Two Syrian rebel groups said they had attacked President Bashar Assad’s motorcade in Damascus as he headed to a mosque for morning prayers.

London’s railway project digs up centuries of history

A 16th-century gold coin was one of the treasures found during the digging for London’s Crossrail project.

By Jill Lawless

In the city’s busy business core, archaeologists have struck paydirt, uncovering everything from a chunk of Roman road to dozens of 2,000-year-old horseshoes.

Drone offensive in Yemen kills 34 militant suspects

By Ahmed Al-haj and Maggie Michael

The US has sharply escalated its drone war against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, as the branch in the Arab country is known.

Editorial & Opinion

joan wickersham

The haze of history

On Oct. 30, 1948, the main business district of Donora, Pa., was cloaked in smog, the sunlight virtually obliterated by thick low-hanging pollution.

By Joan Wickersham

In addition to the big stories, there are thousands of smaller stories that are not widely famous but not entirely forgotten — like the story of Donora, Pa.


Both Bulgers can soon be forgotten

By Scot Lehigh

Though the trial has resolved beyond doubt the enormous evil of Whitey Bulger, it should also underscore the dishonorable behavior of his brother William.


A fracking pioneer’s environmental dream

A water taxi cruised in The Woodlands, Texas.

By Edward L. Glaeser

George Mitchell’s life reminds us that entrepreneurs, when properly supported by public policy, provide the best chance of solving social problems.


Yancey balances run, City Hall job

Charles Yancey at a North End apartment complex.

By Akilah Johnson

For one city councilor and mayoral candidate, Charles Yancey, the balance between being candidate and city councilor proves more of a struggle.

Kevin Cullen

Waiting for the unknown

By Kevin Cullen

Waiting for the Whitey Bulger jury to come back is rough, especially for victims’ families. Everybody’s punchy. Reminds me of waiting for my first kid.

Tension, venom as students bused into suburban Mo.

Nearly 2,600 students from unaccredited school districts in St. Louis County are leaving for better-performing schools after the state Supreme Court upheld such busing.

By Alan Scher Zagier and Heather Hollingsworth

Nearly 2,600 students from unaccredited districts are leaving for better-performing schools after a recent Missouri Supreme Court ruling upheld such moves.

More Stories

Police link gun found at scene to dead suspect

By Meghan E. Irons and Colin A. Young


Toddler severely burned running into a campfire

By Derek J. Anderson

Bulger judge urges jurors to reach verdicts

By Shelley Murphy and Milton J. Valencia

MBTA makes pension data public

By Martine Powers


Back-to-school spending outlook: Not bad

Analysts say consumers, such as those recently at South Shore Plaza in Braintree, will spend about 3 percent more on school supplies this year.

By Taryn Luna

Fall shopping is off to a slow start, but analysts expect solid sales, which are second only to the holiday season.

Tech interns seek start-up vibe

Interns Brynn Leggett (left) and Paul Heslinga (right) examined a robot with CEO Ted Acworth at Artaic, a South Boston company.

By Callum Borchers

Many college students are shunning internships at large businesses and opting for new companies, where summer programs are sometimes subsidized.

Carbon tax will not be on ’14 ballot

A proposed carbon tax would have added several cents to the cost of a gallon of gas.

By Emily Overholt

An environmentalist group had hoped to ask voters to approve a new tax on gas, heating oil, and other fossil fuels.


Dr. Gary Kraus, 78; also was honored for work with American Orchid Society

Dr. Kraus’s work with orchids took him all over the country to meetings, events, and competitions.

By Kathleen McKenna

An obstetrician-gynecologist who delivered thousands of babies, Dr. Gary Kraus was honored by the American Orchid Society for his work with the group.

Karen Black, who starred in ‘Five Easy Pieces’; at 74

Karen Black was a favorite of director Robert Altman, appearing in “Nashville” (above), among other films.

By Hillel Italie

Ms. Black appeared in more than 100 movies, including “Easy Rider” and ‘‘Nashville.”

Margaret Pellegrini, 89; was ‘Wizard of Oz’ Munchkin

Margaret Pellegrini was flanked by Munchkins Karl Slover and Meinhardt Raabe for a screening event in 2005. Slover died in 2011, and Raabe died in 2010.

Ms. Pellegrini was one of a handful of the original 124 Munchkins in the movie who were still living.


Pedro Martinez building hope in the Dominican

Pedro Martinez has built a thriving foundation in his native Dominican Republic.

By Stan Grossfeld

Where others see poverty in his native land, the ex-Red Sox pitcher sees potential, and has built a thriving foundation to help children realize it.

Ryan Mallett, Tim Tebow set to go

Ryan Mallett (left) and Tim Tebow are lined up to succeed Tom Brady against the Eagles.

By Shalise Manza Young

It’s a given that Mallett will see a good amount of time in the Patriots’ preseason opener, but Tebow said he had no idea how long he’d play, if at all.

royals 5, red sox 1

Royal beating for Red Sox

Daniel Nava bobbled a ground ball hit by Eric Hosmer in the fifth inning.

By Peter Abraham

The Red Sox hit the ball as softly as Kansas City’s Bruce Chen threw it, missing an opportunity to add to their lead in the American League East.

G: Arts & Movies

Stage Review

Equestrian spectacle ‘Odysseo’ offers wild ride in Somerville

Horses, humans, and technology work together to create captivating images in “Odysseo.”

By Don Aucoin

Horses, humans, and technology work together to create captivating images in the $35 million show in Somerville.

Television Review

‘Breaking Bad’ loses no steam

The final eight episodes of “Breaking Bad” begin with Hank’s (Dean Norris, left) reaction to learning that Walt (Bryan Cranston, above) is Heisenberg.

By Matthew Gilbert

If this Sunday’s return episode is any indication of the quality of the last seven hours of season 5, the show may ultimately have a close-to-perfect run.

‘Breaking’ cast has some final thoughts

Bryan Cranston (left) and Aaron Paul in “Breaking Bad.”

By Sarah Rodman

A sense of pride, melancholy, and bittersweetness pervaded the final panel discussion for the cast and producers of AMC’s critically-lauded drama “Breaking Bad” at the recent Television Critics Association press tour.

More Stories

stage review

Glimmerglass Festival gets the royal treatment

By Harlow Robinson


Cate the Great infuses ‘Jasmine’

By Ty Burr


Disney wings it with ‘Planes’

By Mark Feeney


On ‘Europa,’ can anyone hear you scream?

By Mark Feeney


‘Lovelace’ practices moral sex

By Peter Keough

Television Review

‘Clear History’ presents overwhelming Larry Davidness

By Matthew Gilbert

Television Review

‘Low Winter Sun’ tries too hard

By Matthew Gilbert

Scene & Heard

Local hip-hop community honors Von P

By Martín Caballero

High Five

Catching up with Common

By Sarah Rodman

Justin Timberlake, Jay Z to take on Fenway

By James Reed and Sarah Rodman

Music Review

A harmony of differences at Tanglewood festival

By Matthew Guerrieri