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.

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Arizona Hispanics Poised To Swing State Blue

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Editor's note: This report contains accounts of rape, violence and other disturbing events.

Sex trafficking wasn't a major concern in the early 1980s, when Beth Jacobs was a teenager. If you were a prostitute, the thinking went, it was your choice.

Jacobs thought that too, right up until she came to, on the lot of a dark truck stop one night. She says she had asked a friendly-seeming man for a ride home that afternoon.

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Meet London's Master Architects In Jell-0

May 25, 2013
Originally published on May 28, 2013 1:05 pm

Banana-flavored vapors? A pineapple island?

These may sound like the makings of a Roald Dahl children's book (he of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory fame). But at London's Kew Gardens, visitors can now immerse themselves in such fantastic-sounding experiences like rowing down a blue-dyed boating lake to the aforementioned island, which features a 15-foot replica pineapple towering over a banana grotto.

Kew's new, interactive food-themed exhibit, which just opened to the public, is designed to seduce people into engaging with edible plants.

"Worldwide, there are about 30, 000 different kinds of plants that we can eat," says Angela McFarlane, Kew's director of public engagement and learning. Yet, she says, we typically get about 80 percent our diet from only 12 kinds of plants, and half our calories come from just rice, maize and wheat.

To encourage visitors to think more broadly about plants as food, Kew enlisted Sam Bompas and Harry Parr, a young, hip duo known for their wild experimental food installations. The result is a surreal fruit salad that's more Dali than garden party.

Bompas says the project provided a perfect chance for the team to create a dramatic display. "We want to give people unusual and interesting food experiences that give way to discussion," he tells The Salt.

Bompas & Parr like to push the edge of food boundaries with experiments such as the banana cloud they created for the Kew installation — it uses humidification technology to release the smell and taste of the fruit.

They've also collaborated with sonic artist Mileece, who helped them develop an installation at Kew in which plants respond to human touch. Mileece designed a system that picks up on the electromagnetic emissions from plants and translates them into sound. (She explains the general concept of how it works in this video.)

"Each plant has its own sound," Mileece tells The Salt, "so when you touch it, you can hear it respond to you. It's like an eco-jazz band for plants, so each plant can kind of solo when someone's interacting with it."

Complex exhibits like Tutti Frutti at Kew are what Bompas & Parr do for fun. (They've also created a "whisky tornado" for a food and ideas festival.)

But their bread and butter, and the medium in which they made their name, is decidedly simple: Jell-O, or jelly, as it's called in the U.K.

Parr is an architect by training, while Bompas' diploma is in geography. Six years ago, the two friends began experimenting with architectural models made of gelatin — first as a final university project, and then as a whimsical weekend hobby. They've built replicas of St. Paul's Cathedral, Buckingham Palace and other famous buildings entirely out of Jell-O.

"At the beginning, we looked at buildings in the city and wondered whether they'd make a good jelly," says Bompas. "Buildings made of stone are triumphant jellies, buildings with steel core? Disastrous. You always need jellies to go in at the top. "

They've even re-created an old British naval ship in 55 tons of neon lime-green jelly.

Neither Bompas nor Parr has a professional culinary background. That's partly why they team up with experts in other disciplines — scientists, engineers and technicians — to fuse food with music and technology to engage the senses.

They've managed to impress Britain's A-list, providing jelly for one of Prime Minister David Cameron's children's birthdays, as well as alcoholic, glow-in-the-dark jelly for music producer Mark Ronson. And they've traveled to five continents to spread their Jell-O joy.

In case you're wondering the obvious, their wobbling sculptures haven't been free of disasters, especially when it comes to transporting them. After much experience, they now use Saran wrap and coolers to deliver their towering Jell-O.

It's the sort of experiment that Bompas says you, too, can try at home.

But, he advises, "Always use leaf gelatin: One leaf for 3.5 ounces of Jell-O for a good set. Always use a mold — it's far more engaging. And avoid glass molds. Plastic or copper molds work best. "

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