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


Mired In Recession, EU Eases Some Austerity Measures

May 31, 2013
Originally published on June 3, 2013 3:39 pm




This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

While there are many signs that the American economy is picking up steam, in much of the European Union, the opposite is true. Austerity programs aimed at reducing national debts have been blamed for crushing growth and sending unemployment in the eurozone nations to a record high of 12 percent.

This week, the EU announced it is easing up on austerity, giving some countries - including Spain and France - more time to hit their deficit reduction targets.

NPR's John Ydstie takes a closer look at whether the big dose of austerity was the wrong medicine for Europe.

JOHN YDSTIE, BYLINE: Faced with the debacle in Greece and fear that it could spread across Europe, eurozone policymakers decided three years ago to pressure Greece and other countries with big debt loads, to cut their budgets and raise taxes to get their debt under control.

Policymakers claimed the government austerity would give the private sector more confidence to invest and hire, so the economic drag from the budget cuts wouldn't be so bad. They were wrong, says Jacob Kirkegaard of the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

JACOB KIRKEGAARD: There's no doubt that the European policymakers oversold austerity in the sense that they underestimated the negative effects.

YDSTIE: Negative effects like a long recession, debt loads increasing instead of falling and youth unemployment running between 25 and 50 percent.

JOHN MAKIN: Austerity is going out of fashion very rapidly.

YDSTIE: That's economist John Makin, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

MAKIN: The miscalculation was to say well, you know, we can't given Spain any loans, we can't give Greece any loans unless we make them increase taxes and cut spending. But that's sort of saying we're not going give you a loan unless you really put your economy into a recession and that just doesn't work.

YDSTIE: Makin says the Keynesian economists were right. Government policy needs to be stimulative in a recession.

But the EU policymakers are not admitting mistakes. Ollie Rehn, the EU's top financial official, says that the austere budgeting worked. He says it stabilized financial markets, and gave investors the confidence to buy Spanish and Italian bonds.

Adam Posen, head of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, says that's just spin.

ADAM POSEN: What changed the game was the that ECB - the European Central Bank - with German backing said they would do whatever it takes and that's what changed the bond markets - nothing to do with the budget.

YDSTIE: Posen sat on the Bank of England's interest rate setting board during the crisis. He says the European austerity was excessive and badly timed.

The AEI's John Makin says the ECB should have been even more aggressive, and like the Federal Reserve, flooded the economy with cash. That would have lowered the value of the euro, he says, and kept the struggling economies more competitive allowing them to grow more. But there were political barriers to that, among them Germany's deep fear of inflation.

Jacob Kirkegaard says Europe's austerity was flawed in a number of ways, but he argues, Europe didn't have many alternatives, because most of the troubled countries couldn't increase government spending since the bond market wouldn't have lent them the money to do it.

KIRKEGAARD: I don't think that a credible alternative has really been offered.

YDSTIE: In the end, Kirkegaard thinks Europe's austerity has been successful at stabilizing the financial markets.

KIRKEGAARD: But the costs associated with it have certainly been tremendous.

YDSTIE: Adam Posen says there still aren't any great alternatives for Europe right now, but he says the episode does offer one lesson.

POSEN: You can have a situation that's very bad and politically divisive and have it persist for a very long time without the system breaking up. And unfortunately, I think that that's where the euro area is going to be for the next few years. It's not going to recover in any meaningful sense. It's not going to get some huge burst of confidence or employment, but it will hang together in a pretty miserable state.

YDSTIE: John Ydstie, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.