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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Book News: Iain Banks, Genre-Defying Author, Dies

Jun 10, 2013
Originally published on June 10, 2013 7:44 am

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

  • The Scottish novelist Iain Banks died on Sunday, according to his publisher. He wrote science fiction under the name Iain M. Banks, and mainstream fiction under the name Iain Banks, prompting The Telegraph to name him "two of our finest writers." The author Neil Gaiman wrote in a blog post about Banks' death that "his work was mordant, surreal, and fiercely intelligent." Banks, 59, announced that he had inoperable cancer on his personal blog in April: "The bottom line, now, I'm afraid, is that as a late-stage gall bladder cancer patient, I'm expected to live for 'several months' and it's extremely unlikely I'll live beyond a year." His last book, The Quarry, (written by Iain Banks, sans M) is set to be released in the U.S. on June 25, and is narrated by a teenager whose father is dying of cancer.
  • Notes on a Scandal author Zoë Heller considers the literary critic Janet Malcolm for The New York Review of Books: "Mess has always inspired fervent emotions in Janet Malcolm. It agitates her. It depresses her. She considers it her enemy. The job of a writer, she likes to remind us, is to vanquish mess — to wade onto the seething porch of actuality, pick out a few elements with which to make a story, and consign the rest to the garbage dump."
  • Oprah frenemy and bespectacled Great American Novelist Jonathan Franzen makes an unexpected cameo in a New York Magazine article about the competing animal rights lobbies for birds and cats. According to Franzen, who is a board member of the American Bird Conservancy, "The bird community's position is, we need to get rid of the feral cats, and that means cats must die." Cats. Must. Die.
  • On Monday, the Library of Congress is expected to announce that U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey will be appointed for another year-long term, according to The New York Times. The newspaper reports that "in her second year Ms. Trethewey will travel the country for a series of reports exploring societal issues through poetry that are to appear on 'The PBS NewsHour.' " (Read her poem "Pilgrimage" here: "Here, the Mississippi carved / its mud-dark path, a graveyard / for skeletons of sunken riverboats.")
  • Ben Jahn, a writer and winner of a National Endowment for the Arts grant, won Round 11 of NPR's Three Minute Fiction Contest, judged by Swamplandia! author Karen Russell. She told NPR's Guy Raz, "Ben Jahn's use of language, the specificity of his details, just blew me away. It was indelible and unforgettable and really chilling."

The Best Books Coming Out This Week:

  • Hanan al-Shaykh's One Thousand and One Nights is a vivid retelling of 19 of the classic stories of Scheherazade. Al-Shaykh spoke with NPR's Rachel Martin: "I fell in love with [Scheherazade] because I thought she was the first feminist. Second, because she was a philosopher, an artist, a writer and she was trying through literature to humanize the king and men around her." Mary Gaitskill's ferociously intelligent foreward is also not to be missed.
  • Although Roberto Bolaño's novels have enjoyed a burst of popularity in the decade since his death, his poetry (his preferred medium) is still little known in the U.S. The Unknown University, a bilingual edition of his complete poetry lovingly translated by Laura Healy, attempts to fill this gap. Read a poem from the collection over at The New York Review of Books: "But dreams, oblivious to sickness, / showed up every night / with a loyalty that came to surprise him."
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