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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The Inside Story On The Fear Of Holes

Sep 4, 2013
Originally published on September 5, 2013 9:25 am

Trypophobia may be moving out of the urban dictionary and into the scientific literature.

A recent study in the peer-review journal Psychological Science takes a first crack at explaining why some people may suffer from a fear of holes.

Trypophobia may be hard to find in textbooks and diagnostic manuals, but a brief Web search will show that plenty of people appear to have it.

There's even a website, trypophobia.com, that explains the problem like this:

"Have you ever felt anxious when you see a hole in the road or a pot? Or are you nervous when someone will bring a cheese with lots of holes in front of you? If yes, you might have trypophobia."

But why?

Geoff Cole and Arnold Wilkins, both researchers at the Centre for Brain Science at the University of Essex, decided to analyze the characteristics of the images that appear on the trypophobia.com website.

"You can take any image and break it down into its core fundamental components meaningful to the visual system," Cole tells Shots. "This would be things like luminance, contrast, wavelength of light."

When they performed their analysis, they found that images that evoked the phobic reaction to holes had quite unique characteristics in terms of contrast and levels of fine details.

But why would that particular characteristic make people's skin crawl? The answer came to Cole one day when he was visited by a man who said he suffered from trypophobia. In the course of their conversation, the man revealed he had a phobic reaction every time he looked at a blue-ringed octopus.

Not knowing anything about blue-ringed octopuses, Cole called up some Web images while his visitor was there. One thing Cole learned from his search was that blue-ringed octopuses are extremely venomous.

And that gave him an idea. He searched for images of other venomous animals, and once he had found several, he showed them to his visitor. "He couldn't look at the images," says Cole, because they elicited the same phobic response as an image of holes.

So Cole decided to analyze the images of the venomous animals and found that they had the same unique characteristics as the trypophobic images he had already analyzed.

What does this mean? Cole speculates that when someone with trypophobia sees an image or object with holes in it, it stimulates a primitive portion of his or her brain that associates the image with something dangerous. He says you can think of it as a kind of unconscious reflex reaction that happens faster than the conscious brain can say, "There's nothing to worry about."

In other words, trypophobia may be the remnants of an evolutionary adaptation that made total sense: If you see a venomous animal, get scared and move away as quickly as possible.

Cole says he has plans to explore this possibility further.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.