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

1 hour ago
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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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Does Obama Administration Have The Second Term Curse?

May 13, 2013
Originally published on May 14, 2013 5:42 pm



As we just heard, it's been a rocky few weeks for the Obama administration. And joining us now for some analysis of the politics of the moment is NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson. Hey there, Mara.


CORNISH: So what's going on here? Is the White House, you know, in the grip of that second term curse?

LIASSON: Well, second terms are full of perils and pitfalls, but it's also true that the presidency has a lot of latent power. So I wouldn't be too quick to say that he's descended into lame duck status just yet. Still, there's no doubt the White House is frustrated. The president is frustrated. They're surprised at how fast partisan gridlock over everything has returned to the Capitol after his re-election.

That being said, the administration did make unforced errors. The IRS scandal appears to be a ham-handed attempt to come up with some kind of screening method to determine whether all of these new groups applying for tax-exempt status, in the wake of Citizens United, were truly social-welfare organizations or whether they were involved in political activities.

But the use of key words like patriots and Tea Party aren't neutral, and there also have been conflicting reports of when senior IRS officials knew about this effort.

CORNISH: Now, let's talk a little bit more about that. I mean, we heard President Obama address it a couple of minutes ago, but what kind of damage can this do his office?

LIASSON: Well, it can do real damage, and I think that's why he responded so vigorously today. You heard him call it outrageous. There are going to be continued hearings on this. Dave Camp, in the House, will hold hearings and in the Senate, the Finance Committee chair - Max Baucus, who's a Democrat - will also hold hearings. And don't forget, a continued focus on abuses by the IRS, which is one of the most hated parts of the government by the grassroots base of the Republican Party, in particular, is a great - is a benefit, politically, for Republicans.

And the president's comments today suggest that when he does receive the IRS inspector general report, he will have to take action - possibly, fire some people. The question is, as in every Washington scandal, is there more to come; is there more than we know now? Was there any kind of involvement above the Cincinnati office of the IRS; any knowledge about this by the White House? So far, we don't have evidence, but that's what we're waiting to find out.

CORNISH: Let's move on to Benghazi and the question over the talking points about that attack. Now, this is an issue that Republicans, clearly, they're not showing any sign of letting up. How could this hurt the president?

LIASSON: Well, I think that this one is less incendiary than the IRS controversy. But that being said, it's not going away. That's not good for the White House, even though you heard the president dismiss it today as a sideshow. Again, there are going to be more hearings here, possibly with more, quote, "whistleblowers" or with the heads of the State Department review board, Ambassador Thomas Pickering and Adm. Mike Mullen.

The public, however, is not paying too much attention to this. According to a new Pew Poll, only 44 percent said that they were following the Benghazi hearings closely. If there is a political target here and the potential for political damage, I don't think it's President Obama. It's former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Sen. Rand Paul, who is widely considered to be preparing the groundwork for a presidential race, was in Iowa this weekend, saying that Hillary Clinton wasn't fit for a higher office. She is considered to be the front-runner for the Democratic nomination. Carl Rove's superPAC has already made an anti-Hillary ad around Benghazi. So 2016 is closer than you think.

CORNISH: Now, the president came in to his second term with some big legislative plans. Do the investigations into Benghazi and the IRS have the potential to undermine that agenda?

LIASSON: Well, it could possibly harden Republicans' determination to block some of the president's nominees. Don't forget, all these fights are related. It was Republican senators' demands that the administration provide the Benghazi emails, in return for proceeding with the confirmation hearings of his CIA director, John Brennan, that led us to the latest round of the Benghazi controversy.

But in terms of legislation, the next big item is immigration. That's something that's proceeding because it's in both parties' political interests, and I don't think that will be derailed.

CORNISH: That's NPR's national political correspondent Mara Liasson. Mara, thank you.

LIASSON: Thank you.

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