New British Prime Minister Theresa May announced six members of her Cabinet Wednesday.

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

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit


How Money Worries Can Scramble Your Thinking

Aug 29, 2013
Originally published on August 30, 2013 3:29 pm

There's no question that dealing with mortgages, car payments and other bills takes up time and energy. But having a tight budget may also zap our ability to think clearly, scientists report Thursday in the journal Science.

In a series of clever experiments involving farmers in India and shoppers in New Jersey, scientists found that people are worse at solving puzzles — similar to those on the IQ test — when they're first reminded of money problems.

"Financial constraints capture a lot of your attention," says Eldar Shafir, a psychologist at Princeton University, who helped lead the study. "Then there's less bandwidth left to solve problems. Your cognitive ability starts to slow down, just like a computer."

And the effect is big. After a quick reminder about money issues, people's performance on the puzzles drops down by at least a quarter — or approximately the same mental hit a person takes after staying up all night.

In the study, Shafir and his colleagues approached people at a shopping mall in Lawrenceville, N.J., and asked them how much money they earn. "We had a pretty good selection of middle-to-low income Americans," Shafir tells Shots. The lowest salaries were about $20,000 and the average was about $70,000.

Before the participants started the puzzles, they answered a question about money: "A person's car breaks down, and they need X dollars to fix it. Tell me what are the options they have available?"

People with lower incomes did just as well on the tests as those with higher salaries when the amount of money required to fix the car was low, like $100. But when the scientists raised the amount to $1,500, the less affluent participants performed worse on the puzzles.

"The money question tickles that part of the brain that has to do with your own finances," says Sendhil Mullainathan, an economist at Harvard University who also led the study. "Then you start thinking, 'Gee, how I am going to pay rent this month?' " And that interferes with your ability to think through a problem, he says.

The team found a similar trend with farmers in southern India, who get paid only once per year. Right before the sugarcane harvest, the farmers are financially strained. Immediately afterward, they're flush again. It turns out that just before harvest, the farmers performed worse on the IQ puzzles than they did after receiving their money.

"If you just look on paper at their income, these people [in New Jersey and India] aren't in poverty," Mullainathan says. "But they're financially stretched. The mechanism that we're looking at is more about being financially stretched than in poverty."

About half of Americans fall into this category, Mullainathan says. People are worried each month about getting all the bills paid.

Just realizing the effect exists could help people to counter it, he says. "If you're making a decision that actually requires you to sit down and think, you should probably wait until your mind isn't taxed by financial problems," he says.

Mullainathan and Safir say the study's findings could have broader implications. "There's an ongoing, heavy debate about why it's difficult for the poor to get out of poverty," Safir says. "We're giving a new perspective to that question."

In many instances, it's not that the poor aren't as smart or capable of planning compared as richer people, he says. Rather, being poor takes up more mental capacity. "When the poor focus on something, they manage their dollar better than the rich do, " Shafir says. "But while they're doing that very well, they have less attention to focus on other things."

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