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

2 hours ago
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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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Blood Will Tell: In 'Byzantium,' A Gothic Vampire Diary

Jun 27, 2013

Neil Jordan seems well aware that audiences may be feeling deep fatigue about vampires. So with his latest, the director of Interview With the Vampire makes a vampire film that seeks to reinvent the species, while harking back to a more classical — read: less sparkly — take on the genre.

In fact, the beautiful creatures at the center of Jordan's Byzantium, adapted by Moira Buffini from her own play, don't even call themselves vampires; the word is uttered only a couple of times, by characters seeking to place a familiar label on whatever they are. Clara and Eleanor (Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan) are a pair of "sucreants." Like vampires, they don't die or age, and they drink human blood. But they also walk in the daylight, and when it's time to feed, it's a fingernail that suddenly becomes daggerlike rather than their teeth.

Those shifts away from traditional vampire mythos aside, the film has much more in common with the sweeping romanticism of the gothic horror craze that introduced vampires to popular culture in the first place than with the recent spate of undeadly tales. Moody, lush and lurid, Jordan's film revels in the dangerous sensuality at the unbeating heart of the genre. Unfortunately, the story never grabs hold as insistently as Jordan's tone and visual artistry.

Early in the film, Eleanor and Clara settle in a run-down seaside town, making the best of what's apparently the latest in a constant series of displacements. And no wonder: Clara is a stripper and a prostitute, and has been for two centuries. Eleanor is her daughter, but the more mature and contemplative of the two. It's her voice-overs — from a memoir that she casts to the wind practically as each page is written, "the story I can never tell" — that backbone the film.

They shack up in the shuttered hotel that gives the film its title, and soon Clara has convinced Noel (Daniel Mays), a hapless would-be john, to let her run a brothel out of the place. Meanwhile Eleanor wanders the town, plays piano for the senior citizens she's targeting for mercy killings, and falls for Frank (Caleb Landry Jones), a local teen whose dark moodiness mirrors hers.

The modern scenes are interspersed with the twosome's 19th-century origin story, in which Jonny Lee Miller plays an officer with a habit of making harlots out of respectable girls, taking their virtue by force and convincing them that selling themselves is all they have left.

Therein is encoded a neat notion: Buffini's script parallels the "making" of a prostitute with the way vampire stories treat the making of a vampire; out of a singular act of predatory violence, something is lost, and a life is changed forever. The device allows for a narrative with strong feminist avenues to explore: Buffini's sucreants, as a culture, have a rule that only males are allowed to make other sucreants. Just as men choose women to force into lives of sexual servitude, so too do they determine which will lose their souls and become part of their undead family.

Jordan is at the height of his visual powers here, and his appetite for grim fairy-tale imagery is fully up as well — he dresses Eleanor in a red hood at one point, merging a monster of a different sort with the eternally carnal Little Red. These kinds of crossovers and juxtapositions are all over the film; in one wonderfully choreographed sequence, he crosscuts between one of Eleanor's impromptu piano recitals and Clara's seedy sexual negotiations, the elegant music providing a soundtrack for some decidedly dirty deeds.

But despite its smart subtext and expert direction, there's something missing. Part of the problem lies within the 19th-century sequences, which just don't have the narrative drive of the present day. We need to see Jonny Lee Miller scowling and being cruel only so many times before we get the picture.

There's also a Victorian chill to Eleanor's writings that winds up permeating the entire film, despite the glowing neon lights and blood that runs (very) red. Jordan favors that reserved tone ever so slightly, and the upshot is that his film too often winds up feeling what a film about the undead shouldn't: lifeless.

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