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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For Chris Christie, Obama Connection Has Risks, Rewards

May 28, 2013
Originally published on May 28, 2013 6:51 pm

President Obama's second trip to New Jersey to meet with Republican Gov. Chris Christie post-Superstorm Sandy was accompanied Tuesday with a familiar flurry of speculation.

The first time, last fall, Christie's gracious welcome of the president raised questions about whether it might affect Obama's re-election just weeks later.

This time, the questions were inverted: How might Christie's own presidential aspirations be affected by his friendly proximity to the president?

How much does this hurt the governor with the Republican base — the voters who decide primaries?

Who gets the most out of the odd couple "bromance," as some have tagged the relationship?

To provide perspective on the Obama-Christie relationship, and why it continues to fascinate, we turned to New Jersey's own Bob Ingle.

He's senior political columnist and blogger for Gannett New Jersey newspapers, and author, with Michael Symons, of the 2012 book Chris Christie: The Inside Story of His Rise to Power, which will be released in updated form on June 11.

Why does there continue to be such an obsession — among the media and some conservatives — with Gov. Chris Christie's apparent apostasy in sharing a stage with the president of the United States?

"I don't understand it myself. Being a New Jersey resident, we were hit pretty hard by Sandy. It was looking bleak there for a while. The president said, 'I'll come. What do you need?' The governor told me that he and the president were riding in the car, and the president asked what the state needed, and then got on the phone, called Washington and relayed that information. Christie grew up in New Jersey. Why wouldn't you be very appreciative of the president doing everything he can to help you?"

Given your unique perch, how did you see Gov. Christie deliberately calibrating his relationship with both GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney and President Obama during the final weeks of the 2012 campaign and in the wake of Sandy?

"I don't think there's a lot of calculation going on there. Gov. Christie is a loyal Republican, and Romney had reached out to him early on. There are people who may think that there was something more going on there with the president, than just the guy who came to help save us. The governor is an emotional man about some things, and one of them is the New Jersey Shore. I don't think there was any more to that than thanking the man who put the federal government at our disposal to get the shore up and ready for the summer season. We talked to him about that, and the governor said, 'There are two people who know who I'm going to vote for for president. One is me, and the other is the president of the United States.' There was never a time he stopped supporting Romney, and it was definitely to Romney's benefit to have Chris Christie on his team. No one knew the storm was coming. When it did, it unfolded as it would have if it had come in February."

Gov. Christie is riding a 67 percent approval rating in a state carried by President Obama by nearly 18 percentage points, and he is expected at this point to cruise to re-election this year. That would mean two more years with Obama in the White House, and another year — at best — before the presidential primary race really starts to take shape. How does Christie "recover" with the base from Sandy fallout?

"Here's what I think is going on right now: He is concentrating on winning re-election. I think he wants to do it with a landslide — to get the most votes ever for governor. He's also raising a lot of money. His campaign could go to these people who criticize him for having the audacity to touch the president on the shoulder — they did not hug — and say, 'Here is a governor who has won by the largest landslide ever in a state that is predominantly Democratic, and can take on the Democrats.' Polls out there say that the Republican who can mount a successful challenge to Hillary Clinton is Chris Christie. I think money people will understand that."

In 2009, there were headlines that said Florida Republican Gov. Charlie Crist was "haunted" by his embrace, literally, of Obama when the president came south to sell his economic stimulus plan. Do you see similarities with Christie and the president, similar long-term political peril — and why?

"There wasn't a hug; he tapped him on the shoulder. But it grew, and it grew. And now they'll make a big deal out of the governor winning a teddy bear for the president. But, down the line, faced with the reality of a Hillary Clinton presidency, maybe they say, we can just forget about that tap on the shoulder."

Do you think that part of the fascination with the Obama-Christie "Mutt and Jeff" pairing may be that they are so different, physically and temperamentally?

"There are a lot of people who don't see Christie every day like I do, and then just see him standing next to the skinny, tall president and maybe think that it doesn't look like [Christie] lost weight. Before he announced his [weight loss] surgery, Mike and I said it looked like the governor had lost a little weight. When confirmed, he said he's already lost 40 pounds. They do make a very interesting picture together."

You report in your updated book that their friendly relationship dates to a pre-storm visit Obama made to New Jersey.

"President Obama had come to Newark, and his staff told Christie that he should be the only one to greet Air Force One when it arrived. When the president got there, he asked the governor, 'Where are your kids?' He looked unhappy when Gov. Christie said he was told he was to be the only one. The president said that next time Christie was in town to do a Sunday show, [he should] bring the kids. President Obama gave them a personal tour of the White House. There was that friendly relationship before the storm. Christie is the kind of guy who is not going to dislike you just because you're a member of another party."

So, Tuesday's get-together in New Jersey — better for whom?

"The state has about $1 million worth of commercials running right now saying, 'We're stronger than the storm; the shore is back.' Having the president come and say the shore is open for business, come on back? That's worth way more than $1 million. Christie comes out better on this one than Obama. But the president, who is being hit on several sides by scandals? Having him come to New Jersey and do what a president should do, reassure the people that your government has your back, that's very important for his image. But on this one, I would give Christie the advantage."

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