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 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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Party Like It's 2009: Life And Friendship In The Great Recession

Aug 6, 2013
Originally published on August 11, 2013 5:23 pm

In Choire Sicha's Very Recent History: An Entirely Factual Account of a Year (c. AD 2009) in a Large City, a voice from our future looks back at events taking place in a "massive" East Coast metropolis, its citizens perpetually gripped with "a quiet panic" while living in a gritty landscape of iron and excess. Throw in a mysterious virus, a rich, blind governor, a sketchy mayor campaigning for a third term, and this novel gets even more curious.

Guiding us through this is John, a young man so poor he can't even afford socks or regular haircuts. His days are spent working in a dreary office, making less money now that he has a "real" job than he did freelancing. Sicha spins a compelling allegory of New York City and its residents. Here's a tangled fable of greed, consumption and isolation in a place where characters grapple with profound feelings of isolation despite too many friends, too many romantic flings, and too many choices.

John spends his nights partying with his tightknit group. There's the sensible Chad, a tutor to the children of the city's wealthy; and Chad's boyfriend, Diego, who he met on a dating website aptly called DList; the likable Kevin and his "incredibly symmetrical face," with whom John sometimes has sex; and the beautiful Tyler Flowers, whose skin is "so pale that you [can] see into his head a little."

As the novel progresses, the city sinks deeper and deeper into a recession, the shadowy virus gradually claims more victims, our imperious mayor spends more money on a re-election campaign based on fear and intimidation, and John and his friends find themselves increasingly lost in a labyrinth of smoky bars, hook-up sites, and sex clubs.

But even as they glibly rant about cigarettes and social media, wealth and power, Sicha portrays this group of gay men not as vapid and shallow products of their time, but as compelling, keen and intensely complex individuals yearning to be heard and remembered in the face of so much annihilation. In the relentless bombardment of text messages and non sequiturs, one-night stands, and obsessions about money and jeans, we encounter incisive musings on love and worth at a time when it seemed as though the entire world would unravel.

Choire Sicha's writing charms and delights, but beneath the biting wit and cynicism, I found a book that dares to explore the darker underbelly of human avarice and capital, a book that's equal parts blindingly terrifying and smartly humorous, and one of the most clever reads I've encountered in a long time. This novel forces us to consider the cyclical nature of profits and losses, forces us to remember that friends and fads come and go, and that some things survive while others die off.

For it's only when we closely examine our own very recent history that we can better learn to understand, and embrace, the very possible future we'll inevitably inherit.

Alex Espinoza is the author of Still Water Saints and The Five Acts of Diego Leon.

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