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

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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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A Catch For Insurers That Cut Deductibles For Healthy People

May 21, 2013
Originally published on May 21, 2013 4:38 pm

Health insurance deductibles typically only go one direction: up.

It's not unusual for people these days to be responsible for paying thousands of dollars in medical claims before most plan benefits kick in.

Rewards to policyholders for claims that don't meet the annual deductible can be a boon for healthy people. But the approach might not pass the smell test next year when the Affordable Care Act bans discriminating against people based on their health.

A "deductible credit" program, sponsored by UnitedHealthcare's Golden Rule Insurance Co., is available in 26 states on most of the company's renewable plans sold on the individual market, according to Ellen Laden, a spokeswoman.

Here's how it works: If someone has a plan with, say, a $3,000 deductible and doesn't have that amount in claims the first year, the deductible is reduced by 20 percent, to $2,400. The following year, the deductible falls by another 20 percent if the deductible isn't met, to $1,800. The third year, the amount can shrink another 10 percent, to $1,500, half the original deductible and the maximum reduction allowed under the program.

"It's a way to retain customers," says Carrie McLean, a senior manager of customer care at, an online vendor. Policyholders who might otherwise go shopping for a plan when they get their annual rate increase may be persuaded to stick with the same company if they think they're getting a better deal than they could elsewhere, she says.

Of course, as deductibles have risen in recent years, people are less likely to meet them. According to an analysis by of one large insurer's 2012 claims, just under 11 percent of people with a $2,500 deductible met the deductible for that year. For those with a $5,000 deductible plan, the figure dropped to just under 4 percent. Only 3 percent of people with a $7,500 deductible had that much in claims, and at the $10,000 deductible level the figure was just over 2 percent.

That's not true for the smaller number of people with serious medical conditions. Many of them regularly meet and exceed even high deductible thresholds.

Starting next year, the Affordable Care Act will prohibit insurers on the individual market from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions or charging them more.

And Timothy Jost, a health law professor at Washington and Lee University, said the deductible credit program could be considered discriminatory under the federal health law next year.

"It's designed to permit continued cherry picking of patients," he says.

Golden Rule's Laden says the company is still finalizing its strategy for next year.

"We're currently reviewing the Affordable Care Act and its impact on the deductible credit feature to ensure that our products and practices remain in compliance with it and all other applicable laws," she said in a statement.

Copyright 2013 Kaiser Health News. To see more, visit