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.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Arizona Hispanics Poised To Swing State Blue

2 hours ago
Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

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.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit


Digital Scrapbook Collects Rock-Star Authors' Memories

Jun 17, 2013

Part of an occasional series of e-book reviews, co-produced by NPR Books and All Tech Considered, focusing on creative combinations of technology and literature.

If there was ever a story that screamed out for a multimedia e-book treatment, it's the tale of The Rock Bottom Remainders. For readers not up on literary trivia, the Remainders were a bookish band, a small army of best-selling authors — including Amy Tan, Dave Barry and Stephen King — who yowled out rock standards. No single-platform treatment of this fundraising sensation could suffice. They're writers; a book is only logical. They wore ludicrous costumes; pictures are essential. And, since the principal question about the Remainders is Are they any good?, there absolutely must be audio.

That call has been answered. This week sees the release of Hard Listening for tablets and e-readers: an assemblage of photos, videos, essays, emails, faxes, quizzes and tidbits of advice culled from two decades of enthusiastic, semi-talented music-making.

When the last book about the Remainders was published, in 1995, you couldn't even run to YouTube to hear this improbable team of musicians. Now, of course, curiosity is instantly sated. Hard Listening embeds video frequently; Stephen King brings up his fondness for "Susie Q," and with a tap, you're listening to the song. These multimedia elements aren't extras — they're crucial to the book (which, if anything, could have used even more audio).

The e-book also builds in some fun inessentials, like a series of pop quizzes about members of the band. After you answer, you can see how you compare to other readers — and to the Remainders themselves. Another inspired addition: a game of "guess the real Stephen King." King's writing style is so distinctive that he once had a pseudonym blown wide open by a bookstore clerk recognizing his writing. Given a handful of King-esque stories, could you do the same? (I couldn't!) And since band members lived all over the country, gigs and tours were arranged via emails and faxes, a handful of which are also included in the e-book — yes, faxes, reproduced on an iPad. The wonders of technological advancement!

These many kinds of content are integrated in an attractive, easy-to-navigate design, but the section headers can't conceal what I hesitate to call a flaw — more of a fact. Hard Listening is less e-book than e-scrapbook, a curated collection of artifacts from a group of friends.

Thriller author Greg Iles notes, in his portion of the book: "I consider writing this 'essay' akin to signing my band mates' yearbooks (and selfishly taking up a couple of pages)." It's an apt comparison. No matter how well-composed the essays are, there's no escaping that each author remembers only the good times, cracking fond jokes instead of crafting narratives or exploring any interesting tensions. And while the tone is mostly consistent, the essays, email exchanges, quizzes and pieces of advice never quite form a cohesive whole; they feel discrete, like cheerful gel pen signatures that just happen to share a page.

And like a yearbook, this e-book becomes increasingly interesting the more people you know in it. Dave Barry and Stephen King playing guitar together? Amy Tan in a dominatrix act? Mitch Albom dressed up as Elvis? Roy Blount Jr. getting women's underwear thrown at his head? Scott Turow in an exceedingly undignified wig? If you're laughing with recognition and slight disbelief, this is the book for you. But if most of those names are meaningless, you might want to give this well-made little e-book a pass.

Above all, Hard Listening makes it clear that the members of the Remainders had an absolute blast as a band. They're occasionally crass, often intoxicated, rarely in key and always delighted at the very idea that they're on a stage. It's downright inspiring; even if most of us will never sell a million books, we can probably learn at least two guitar chords. If we have half as much fun as the Remainders, it'll be a victory.

Camila Domonoske is an editorial assistant at NPR Books.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit