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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California's Prison Sterilizations Reportedly Echo Eugenics Era

Jul 9, 2013
Originally published on July 9, 2013 5:16 pm

Nearly 150 women were sterilized in California's prisons without the state's approval, a practice that critics say targeted inmates who were seen as being at risk of serving a future jail term. Those numbers represent data from 2006 to 2010, according to the Center for Investigative Reporting, which first reported the news.

Doctors performed tubal ligation surgeries on at least 148 female inmates at two facilities, reports CIR's Corey G. Johnson, with another 100 cases possibly taking place between 1997 and 2010. In that span, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation paid surgeons a total of nearly $150,000 for conducting the procedure.

A former inmate who worked in the infirmary at Valley State Prison in Chowchilla, Calif., tells Johnson she often heard other female inmates being asked to agree to be sterilized, especially if they had already served other prison terms.

"I was like, 'Oh my God, that's not right,' " Crystal Nguyen, 28, tells Johnson. "Do they think they're animals, and they don't want them to breed anymore?"

Defenders of the program, which may have existed without any state official's formal approval, say that it gave women in prison the same options as women elsewhere in America. And they claim that in some cases, pregnant women committed crimes with the ultimate goal of receiving medical care in prison.

Valley State Prison's former OB-GYN, Dr. James Heinrich, says he offered the procedure as a service to women who had previously undergone cesarean sections. And he says the state's paying $147,460 for the procedures was reasonable.

"Over a 10-year period, that isn't a huge amount of money," Heinrich says, "compared to what you save in welfare paying for these unwanted children — as they procreated more."

Like more than half of all U.S. states, California once sterilized people against their will, in eugenics programs "that sought to prevent social ills by seeing that those who caused them were never born," as NPR reported in 2011.

The legacy of decades of forced sterilizations is still playing out — in 2012, North Carolina was poised to become the first state to offer compensation for such programs, before legislators refused to add funding for the measure to the budget.

"Federal and state laws ban inmate sterilizations if federal funds are used, reflecting concerns that prisoners might feel pressured to comply," CIR reports. "California used state funds instead, but since 1994, the procedure has required approval from top medical officials in Sacramento on a case-by-case basis."

For his story, Johnson spoke to inmates who had undergone the surgery, as well as others who say they were pressured to do so. While at least one woman told him she was happy with her decision to have the surgery, others didn't.

Former inmate Kimberly Jeffrey, 43, tells Johnson she resisted the pressure to get a tubal ligation done — pressure that she says came while she was under sedation and strapped to an operating table.

"Being treated like I was less than human produced in me a despair," Jeffrey says, adding later that she sees the state prison officials as "the real repeat offenders."

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