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

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit


NASA Uses Photo Of Earth From Saturn To Boost Space Interest

Jul 23, 2013
Originally published on August 27, 2013 11:29 am



This week, NASA is trying to do its part to raise science literacy. To give people a better understanding of Earth's position in the solar system, the agency's posted a picture of our planet taken from a billion miles away, give or take 100 million miles or so. And joining me now to talk about the picture, and why NASA took it, is NPR's Joe Palca. Joe, good to see you.

JOE PALCA, BYLINE: Good to see you.

BLOCK: I'm looking at this picture - it's up on; and we see a spectacular image of Saturn's rings, right? And then a tiny, tiny white dot.

PALCA: Right. So the picture was taken for real. I mean, they took the picture because Cassini, the spacecraft that took the picture, is in this interesting situation where Saturn is between it and the sun. So Saturn is backlit, and that makes the rings light up in some interesting ways. But they realize they had a picture of Earth in the frame, and so they made a big deal about that.

BLOCK: They're making a big deal about it; why?

PALCA: Well, I think because it's not that scientifically interesting, but it's so cool. And the woman who is in charge of the Cassini mission really got into this and made a big deal about it. Her name is Carolyn Porco. [POST-BROADCAST CORRECTION: Carolyn Porco is not in charge of the Cassini mission. She is the leader of the imaging team that took the picture of Earth.] And she actually had a video made for the occasion - or helped to have a video made for the occasion.


MORGAN FREEMAN: On July 19, you, me, planet Earth, and absolutely everything and everybody on it will have our picture taken from a billion miles away.

BLOCK: Joe, that's Morgan Freeman. That man is everywhere, absolutely everywhere.

PALCA: He is. And Carolyn Porco wrote me that she was thrilled that he was able to do this in short order, which he seems to have done. And I have to say, he's wrong about one thing because people on the other side of the planet who weren't facing Saturn at that moment, people on the other side of the planet weren't in the picture.

BLOCK: They weren't in the picture.

PALCA: But the point of this whole exercise, I think, was to think of this as a teachable moment. I mean, NASA wants to draw attention to the fact that we have been able to get a billion miles in space and orbit Saturn, and take pictures back of the Earth. And it does give you perspective on the whole solar system from way out there, a perspective you can't get from, you know, even orbiting satellites 'cause even there, you only see a part of the Earth.

BLOCK: So Joe, when you look at this image, how does it compare with other images of Earth taken from outer space that we've been seeing?

PALCA: Well, most of the images that we see from outer space are more than just a dot in the picture. I mean, there are these famous pictures that the Apollo astronauts took when they were at the moon. You can see a lot of Earth rising over the moon and then, there have been pictures taken from Mars; and even last week, there were pictures taken from the Messenger, NASA's Messenger spacecraft that's been in orbit around Mercury.

But there was a really famous picture taken in 1990 from 4 billion miles away by the Voyager spacecraft, so that's further out than this picture was. And if you think this picture of Earth is unspectacular 'cause it's a single...

BLOCK: Well, it's pretty spectacular.

PALCA: Well, the dot is pretty unspectacular. It's just a little dot. But there was an even littler dot in this Voyager picture, but it inspired people because it became known as a pale blue dot. And it inspired Carl Sagan, the astronomer, to wax poetic about what it said about our place in the universe.


CARL SAGAN: Every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there on the mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

BLOCK: So Joe, reminder: We are motes of dust on a mote of dust. Good to keep in mind when we're all atwitter about the royal baby and things like that.

PALCA: Right. Perspective.

BLOCK: NPR's Joe Palca. Joe, thanks so much.

PALCA: You bet. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.