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

Arizona Hispanics Poised To Swing State Blue

1 hour ago
Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

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.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit


Battle Lines Harden In Debate Over Blame For IRS Controversy

May 22, 2013
Originally published on May 22, 2013 9:29 am



Lawmakers are demanding to know what went wrong and who is to blame at the IRS. Two Senate committees held hearings yesterday on the agency's aggressive handling of applications from conservative groups who were seeking tax-exemption. A top IRS official facing a House committee, today, intends to invoke her Fifth Amendment right not to testify. NPR's Peter Overby reports.

PETER OVERBY, BYLINE: Lois Lerner heads up the section on tax-exempt organizations. She's the IRS official who acknowledged the severe scrutiny and apologized for it earlier this month. Since then, the FBI has started an investigation. And Lerner got a subpoena and a letter from Republican congressman Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight Committee. Issa detailed past testimony she had given to the panel and wrote: It appears that you provided false or misleading information.

Which, he noted, can be a crime. Lerner's attorney wrote back to Issa that she has not committed any crimes, but has no choice but to refuse to testify. But Issa's subpoena still stands, and Lerner is at the witness table this morning. Also present today, the man who was commissioner of the IRS when the targeting of conservative groups was going on: Donald Shulman.

He appeared yesterday at the Senate Finance Committee. When Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas suggested he apologize for bad leadership, Shulman sidestepped.


DONALD SHULMAN: You know, I'm deeply, deeply saddened by this whole set of events. I've read the whole IG's report, and I very much regret that it happened, and that it happened on my watch.


OVERBY: Cornyn decided it was not. Certainly, nobody's defending the IRS. Here's Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew at yesterday's hearing of the Senate Banking Committee.


JACOB LEW: While this conduct was not politically motivated, it was unacceptable and inexcusable.

OVERBY: And the departing acting IRS commissioner, Steven Miller, told the Finance Committee that a shrinking budget has forced cutbacks.


STEVEN MILLER: Do we have the resources to get the job done? I don't believe that we do at this point.

OVERBY: Republican lawmakers pressed for evidence of political influence behind the targeting.


REPRESENTATIVE PAT ROBERTS: There must've been a directive from Washington or something.

OVERBY: That's Pat Roberts, of Kansas on the Finance Committee. And here's Republican Bob Corker of Tennessee on Banking.


REPRESENATITIVE BOB CORKER: People should not be surprised that bureaucrats at lower levels took it upon themselves to do what they did, when at the highest levels people were being demonized and villainized in the way they were.

OVERBY: But the Treasury Inspector General for tax administration, J. Russell George, told the Finance Committee he's found no evidence of political interference. His audit report concluded that employees were just trying to manage an overwhelming workload. Democratic lawmakers cite another audit finding that the rules on 501-C4 political activity are convoluted and confusing, even to the IRS.

Finance Committee Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon said the government is right to take a hard look at the social welfare groups.

REPRESENTATIVE RON WYDEN: If political organizations do not want to be scrutinized by the government, they shouldn't seek privileges like tax-free status and anonymity for their donors.

OVERBY: No more hearings are officially scheduled after today's session in the House. But congressional investigators are demanding that the IRS turn over extensive and detailed information. Peter Overby, NPR News, Washington.



(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.