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: Penguin, Random House Complete Publishing Mega-Merger

Jul 1, 2013

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

  • Publishers Penguin and Random House have officially merged into one entity known as Penguin Random House (not, as many had hoped, "Random Penguin" or "Penguin House"). The deal "creates the world's largest publisher of consumer books," according to The Associated Press. Parent companies Pearson and Bertelsmann, which announced the news Monday morning, said the new, New York-based company will employ some 10,000 people and comprise nearly 250 imprints. Penguin CEO John Makinson will be chairman. In the CEO's seat will be Markus Dohle, formerly the chairman and CEO of Random House. Dohle said in a statement, "Together, we will give our authors unprecedented resources to help them reach global audiences — and we will provide readers with unparalleled diversity and choice for future reading. Connecting authors and readers is, and will be, at the heart of all we strive to accomplish together." The new, larger company will be in a better position to negotiate with Amazon, which currently dominates the market.
  • Random House has canceled its contract with Paula Deen, who is under fire for her use of a racial slur. A rather unenlightening statement released by Random House's Ballantine Books imprint read: "After careful consideration, Ballantine Books has made the difficult decision to cancel the publication of Paula Deen's New Testament: 250 Favorite Recipes, All Lightened Up." A source familiar with Random House's decision told NPR by phone that it was purely a business decision, saying a successful sales run would be impossible because major retailers are refusing to carry Deen's products. The source, who was not authorized to talk about the decision, said that while the book was doing well on Amazon, the online retailer would guarantee only thousands of copies sold, instead of the hundreds of thousands that could be sold by Target, Sears, Wal-Mart, J.C. Penny and other retailers cutting ties with Deen. The celebrity chef's literary agent, Janis Donnaud, told NPR by email that she is "troubled by Random House's behavior" and that "a contract to publish a book is not an endorsement deal. It is an agreement to publish an author's work."
  • Cloud Atlas author David Mitchell, whose son is autistic, has translated a book by a 13-year-old Japanese boy with autism titled The Reason I Jump. Mitchell writes in The Guardian, "For me, Naoki Higashida dissolves the lazy stereotype that people with autism are androids who don't feel. On the contrary, they feel everything, intensely. What's missing is the ability to communicate what they feel. Part of this is our fault – we're so busy being shocked, upset, irritated or looking the other way that we don't hear them."
  • Granta's publisher, Sigrid Rausing, finally responded to the mass exodus that has taken place at the literary magazine, with the abrupt departures of editor John Freeman, deputy editor Ellah Allfrey and many other employees. In an essay for The Bookseller, Rausing says: "Four years ago I wrote that excessive commerciality can potentially undermine independent publishing. It can lead to risk-avoidance, and a tendency to copy others. I haven't changed my mind about that, but equally we had to address our losses, and build a leaner structure. That's what we have now done." In May, Freeman told The Guardian that Rausing "decided a while back she wanted to run the magazine and books on a very reduced staff," and that he "didn't want to be part of that change."

The Best Books Coming Out This Week:

  • Peter Lance's true crime book, Deal with the Devil: The FBI's Secret 30-Year Relationship with a Mob Killer, is the perfect mix of thorough research and gripping storytelling. Lance details the FBI's uneasy relationship with informant Greg Scarpa Sr. (aka "The Grim Reaper"), a mobster and "enforcer" with the Colombo crime family.
  • Available in the U.K. since the 1970s, Long Lankin, John Banville's collection of early short stories, is finally being published in the U.S. this week. NPR's Alan Cheuse wrote that "something resembling ghosts — or at least menacing presences in the woods and countryside — haunt the tormented young characters within these pages."
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