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 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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How One Plus One Became Everything: A Puzzle of Life

Aug 19, 2013

It's one of life's great mysteries ...

Four billion years ago, or thereabouts, organic chemicals in the sea somehow spun themselves into little homes, with insides and outsides. We call them cells.

They did this in different ways, but always keeping their insides in, protected from the outside world ...

... surrounded by walls or skins of different types ...

... but letting in essentials, nutrients. Some even learned to eat sunshine, capturing energy ...

... which gave them a pulse of their own ...

... so they could move ...

.... and glow ...

Over time, they became more complicated ...

But though all this began 4 billion years ago, for some reason, and nobody knows why, all these cells, billions, trillions of them, didn't do the next obvious thing. They didn't link up.

It seems so simple. There's one of you. Why not join with another? Multicellular life has so many advantages; it not only makes you bigger and stronger, it allows you to do several things at once, complicated things like seeing or swimming or ... eventually, thinking and loving.

"More complexity was possible," writes Richard Fortey in his classic book Life, but for a puzzlingly long time — more than 70 percent of life's history on earth, all living things did was stay alone and divide. Why did it take so long for 1 plus 1 to begin? Why did it start? What changed?

The truth is, we don't know.

The mystery persists.


I asked digital artist Paolo Čerić to let me appropriate his elegant gifs for this essay. Paolo is currently a student in Zagreb, studying information processing at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing in Croatia and if you go to his blog, Patakk, you can see a full bouquet of his latest creations. Some of them — the ones I use here to talk about biology — are his invented forms elegantly looped; he's also got some that spring out of nowhere, others that play with already existing images, making them shudder, scramble, break apart. He says he's relatively new to digital art and animation, mostly self-taught it seems, and feeling his way, but with every month, he just gets better and better and better.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.