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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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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Can You Be Addicted To Carbs? Scientists Are Checking That Out

Jun 26, 2013
Originally published on June 29, 2013 9:33 pm

Fresh research adds weight to the notion that certain foods (think empty carbs like bagels and sweet treats) can lead to more intense hunger and overeating.

Fast-digesting carbohydrates can stimulate regions of the brain involved in cravings and addiction, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Prior studies have shown that highly desirable foods, perhaps a cheesecake or pie, can trigger pleasure centers in the brain. But what's new about this research is that it shows that even when people are unaware of what they're eating, the intake of fast-digesting carbs can activate parts of the brain associated with pleasure, reward and addiction.

To evaluate this, Dr. David Ludwig, director of the obesity prevention center at Boston Children's Hospital, and his colleagues conducted brain scans in 12 overweight men after they consumed two different kinds of test milkshakes.

Both milkshakes had the same number of calories and similar ingredients, but one contained more fast-digesting carbs and the other was made of slower-digesting carbohydrates. The concept here is that so-called high-glycemic index foods such as sugar and highly processed breads move through the body faster than low-glycemic index foods such as fruit and whole grains.

After the participants drank the rapidly digesting carb shake, their blood sugar spiked and then crashed four hours later. And it's at this point that researchers documented activation of a part of the brain called the nucleus accumbens, a small area that is involved in emotions and addiction. Ludwig told The Salt: "The scans showed intense activation in brain regions involved in addictive behavior."

The idea that certain foods may be addictive is controversial. Some scientists think it's overstating the matter. And clearly it's not settled as to whether activity in these brain regions would be seen widely in the population, or perhaps only among those who are overweight or prone to overeating.

As Dr. Robert Lustig, a professor of clinical pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco, points out, this research can't tell us if there's a cause and effect relationship between eating certain foods and triggering brain responses, or if those responses lead to overeating and obesity.

"[The study] doesn't tell you if this is the reason they got obese," says Lustig, "or if this is what happens once you're already obese."

Nonetheless, Lustig told The Salt that he thinks this study offers another bit of evidence that "this phenomenon is real." He has been a leading voice in suggesting that sugar is the cause of obesity and other health problems.

Increasingly, the concept of food addiction is gaining attention from researchers. There's a body of work exploring the connection, says Nicole Avena, a neuroscientist at the University of Florida who studies food and the brain.

This study, she says, adds to the growing literature that suggests that high-sugar foods can affect the brain "in ways that can alter reward processing and potentially fuel overeating."

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