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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Afghan Parliament Halts Debate On Women's Rights Bill

May 18, 2013
Originally published on May 18, 2013 10:58 pm

After protests from some MPs and after only about 15 minutes, the Afghan parliament halted debate Saturday on a bill aimed at curbing violence against women.

As the BBC reports, the bill would have solidified a law passed by presidential decree in 2009, which banned "violence against women, child marriages and forced marriages."

Supporters of the bill wanted to bring it before parliament to make it more permanent. As is, a new president could scrap the decree but if the bill were passed by parliament, that would be more difficult.

The BBC adds:

"One of those against the move was prominent MP Farkhunda Zahra Naderi. She told the BBC after Saturday's events in parliament that her fears had been proved right.

"During the debate, mullahs and other traditionalist MPs accused President Karzai of acting against Islamic Sharia law by signing the decree in the first place, the BBC's David Loyn reports from Kabul.

"In particular, they demanded a change to the law so that men cannot be prosecuted for rape within marriage, our correspondent said."

The AP reports that the debate in Parliament was particularly heated around the issue of banning the prosecution of rape victims.

According to the AP, Nasirullah Sadiqizada Neli, a conservative lawmaker from Daykundi province, suggested that prohibiting the prosecution of rape victims "would lead to social chaos, with women freely engaging in extramarital sex safe in the knowledge they could claim rape if caught."

Fawzia Kofi, a women's rights activist and a potential presidential candidate, told the AP she was disappointed, especially because some of the bill's detractors were women.

The AP adds some background:

"Freedoms for women are one of the most visible — and symbolic — changes in Afghanistan since the 2001 U.S.-led campaign that toppled the Taliban regime. While in power, the Taliban imposed a strict interpretation of Islam that put severe curbs on the freedom of women.

"For five years, the regime banned women from working and going to school, or even leaving home without a male relative. In public, all women were forced to wear a head-to-toe burqa, which covers even the face with a mesh panel. Violators were publicly flogged or executed."

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