The new British Prime Minister Theresa May announced six members of her cabinet today.

Amid a sweeping crackdown on dissent in Egypt, security forces have forcibly disappeared hundreds of people since the beginning of 2015, according to a new report from Amnesty International.

It's an "unprecedented spike," the group says, with an average of three or four people disappeared every day.

The Republican Party, as it prepares for its convention next week has checked off item No. 1 on its housekeeping list — drafting a party platform. The document reflects the conservative views of its authors, many of whom are party activists. So don't look for any concessions to changing views among the broader public on key social issues.

Many public figures who took to Twitter and Facebook following the murder of five police officers in Dallas have faced public blowback and, in some cases, found their employers less than forgiving about inflammatory and sometimes hateful online comments.

As Venezuela unravels — with shortages of food and medicine, as well as runaway inflation — President Nicolas Maduro is increasingly unpopular. But he's still holding onto power.

"The truth in Venezuela is there is real hunger. We are hungry," says a man who has invited me into his house in the northwestern city of Maracaibo, but doesn't want his name used for fear of reprisals by the government.

The wiry man paces angrily as he speaks. It wasn't always this way, he says, showing how loose his pants are now.

Ask a typical teenage girl about the latest slang and girl crushes and you might get answers like "spilling the tea" and Taylor Swift. But at the Girl Up Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C., the answers were "intersectional feminism" — the idea that there's no one-size-fits-all definition of feminism — and U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Book News: Barbara Mertz, Mystery Novelist Of Many Names, Dies

Aug 9, 2013

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

  • The Egyptologist and wildly prolific writer Barbara Mertz died Thursday morning, her publisher tells NPR. She was 85. A formidable scholar with a PhD in Egyptology from the University of Chicago, she wrote works of history under her own name, and dozens of mystery novels as Barbara Michaels. But perhaps her most lasting identity will be Elizabeth Peters, the author of over 30 novels about the adventures of Amelia Peabody, Egyptologist and Victorian-era amateur detective who wielded her parasol as a deadly weapon. Dominick Abel, her agent of 35 years, wrote in a statement emailed to NPR: "A skilled novelist with an acute sense of character and humor, Barbara prized honesty above all, in life as well as literature. Barbara was passionate about many things — Egypt, literature, gardening, cats, politics, family, gin. She was one of the most interesting people I have ever known. I will miss her."
  • Margaret Eby of New York's Daily News delves into the strange history of writer Flannery O'Connor's pet peacocks: "When she was five years old, she taught a pair of chickens to walk backwards, attracting the attention of Britain's Pathe news. Over her life, she cared for ducks, swans, and guinea hens, but the peacocks became her crowning achievement. From the peahen and peacock pair that she purchased by mail order in 1952 flourished a cackling crowd of peafowl. They snacked on the fig trees out back, pecked at the roses, and trailed their long, dazzling tails through the red Georgia dirt."
  • The Virgins author Pamela Erens writes about her love of Dorothea Brooke, the protagonist of Middlemarch, for The Paris Review Daily: "It can be embarrassing to love Dorothea in this day and age. It's like loving Saint Theresa, the gruesomely self-mortifying sixteenth-century saint to whom Dorothea is compared in the novel's introduction and conclusion, or Patient Griselda."
  • At Slate, Emily Yoffe, aka "Dear Prudence," the advice columnist (and perpetual voice in my head), describes how she blew her chance to become the fifth Mrs. Saul Bellow: "One morning that fall, my alarm clock woke me up to the news on NPR that Saul Bellow had married for a fifth time. His new wife was 31. I lay there in the gloom facing the brutal truth: I was too old for Saul Bellow."
  • Random House will publish a version of the commencement speech Tenth of December that author George Saunders gave at Syracuse University this year. The book will be called Congratulations, by the Way. The speech went viral after The New York Times posted the text online. Saunders said, "What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness. Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded ... sensibly. Reservedly. Mildly."
Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.