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.

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"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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Bernanke: Economy Still Too Shaky To End Low Interest Rates

May 22, 2013
Originally published on May 22, 2013 6:40 pm



You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

For those who closely follow decisions made by the Federal Reserve, today's marquee event was the testimony of Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. He appeared on Capitol Hill before the Joint Economic Committee of Congress. And some lawmakers asked Bernanke about concerns of chaos in the financial markets once the Fed stops pumping money into the economy. NPR's John Ydstie explains.

JOHN YDSTIE, BYLINE: Let's first step back and consider what the Fed's been doing to try to boost growth in the past five years. They've injected a huge amount of money into the economy by buying government bonds and mortgage-backed securities, around $2 trillion worth. That amount grows each month at the rate of $85 billion as the Fed continues its purchases. The Fed's action has driven interest rates down and made vast amounts of cheap cash available. Investors have pushed a lot of that cash into the stock market, which has climbed sharply.

Some people are worried it's created a stock bubble. Dan Coates, a Republican congressman from Indiana, is one of them. He shared his concern with Chairman Bernanke today.

REPRESENTATIVE DAN COATES: There's a big surge in the market here that seems to be not enforced by underlying fundamentals, but I'd like your take on that.

BEN BERNANKE: Well, we're watching it carefully, and, of course, nobody can ever say with certainty what an asset price should be. But to this point, our sense is that major asset prices, like stock prices and corporate bond prices, are not inconsistent with the fundamentals.

YDSTIE: So Bernanke is watching but not too worried. What happens, though, when the Fed decides the economy needs less help and it starts trimming back its $85 billion in monthly purchases? Minutes of the Fed's last meeting three weeks ago show policymakers are discussing tapering off those purchases. That would cut back on the fuel supply for the economy and the market. Today, Representative Kevin Brady, a Republican from Texas, asked Bernanke when the tapering will begin.

REPRESENTATIVE KEVIN BRADY: At the pace we're going, do you think it's likely these actions will begin before Labor Day?

BERNANKE: I don't know. It's going to depend on the data. If the outlook for the labor market improves and we are convinced that that is sustainable, we will respond to that. If the recovery were to falter, then we would delay that process.

YDSTIE: The chairman said the timing would be discussed at the Fed's next few meetings. Now, the stock market fell today as investors got nervous even at the suggestion that the fuel that's helped to propel the market might be slowing. But the real doomsday scenario for the market comes when the Fed decides not just to slow the flow of fuel but starts draining fuel out of the tank. That process would involve the Fed reversing course and selling off its $2 trillion hoard of securities. That was part of the Fed's initial strategy for exiting its stimulative policy. But today, Bernanke said maybe not.

BERNANKE: At this point, it does not appear that it is necessary for us to sell any assets or particularly not anymore expect securities in order to exit. And I think there's some advantages to doing that.

YDSTIE: Rather than sell the assets, the Fed will just hold on to them until they mature. One big advantage, Bernanke says, less disruption for the markets. John Ydstie, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.