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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Could African Crops Be Improved With Private Biotech Data?

May 22, 2013
Originally published on May 22, 2013 5:44 pm

"I'm shocked by the optimism here," Howard Yana-Shapiro, the chief agricultural officer for Mars Inc. said Tuesday to the audience of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs' Global Food Security Symposium in Washington, D.C.

Seated there before him were some of the leaders from the wealthiest international organizations and multinational companies of the fight to end hunger. And Shapiro told them they weren't even close.

"To pat ourselves on the back and say we've reached 4 million African children — well, we need to reach 100 times that," he said.

About four years ago, Shapiro, a plant scientist who's also a senior fellow at the University of California, Davis, and the World Agroforestry Centre, learned about stunting, a result of malnutrition and undernutrition that affects 1 in 4 children worldwide.

Shapiro decided to make it his mission to use plant science to end stunting because, he says, the international community currently relies too much on food donations, or crops like corn with few nutrients. "We need nutrition security, not food security," he says. "A lot of the calories out there right now simply aren't that useful."

In 2011, Shapiro, and Mars — yes, the candy company — launched the African Orphan Crop Consortium, a project to improve the nutrition, productivity and climatic adaptability of little-known African food crops by mapping and analyzing their genomes. The 100 crops that are the focus of the AOCC include African eggplant, cocoyam and Ethiopian mustard. Shapiro says they have been neglected by researchers because they are not economically important on the global market.

Now, the Beijing Genomic Institute is helping the consortium to sequence these crops' genomes. The hope is that as the genome sequences start to become public next year, African scientists can breed more nutritious and productive varieties of the crops.

On Tuesday in Washington, Shapiro appealed to the world's biggest life sciences companies to help him — by sharing what they already know about the 100 crops.

"I would appeal to the presidents of Dupont Pioneer and BASF and Monsanto to give us all the information they have on nutritional content and where the markers are on the plants for it," Shapiro said. "We're looking at the genomics to have a road map of what to do. We're looking for the turn signs, and I think those companies may have some of those signs."

But can the kings of agricultural intellectual-property technology get onboard with open source agricultural information for Africa? Monsanto, for one, regularly fights to protect its patents — most recently in the Supreme Court.

Well, at least one company says it's planning to sit down and talk with Shapiro about his request.

Jane Slusark, a spokeswoman for Dupont Pioneer, says the company wants "to figure out where we may have that knowledge and opportunities to collaborate."

Not long ago, DuPont donated its patented technology to improve the nutrition, production and availability of sorghum, a staple crop in Africa, to the Africa Biofortified Sorghum initiative.

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