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

2 hours 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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Exploding The Mystery Of Blue Fireworks

Jul 4, 2013
Originally published on July 4, 2013 9:58 pm



If you're watching fireworks tonight, here's how you can tell you're looking at a top-shelf display and not some cut-rate carnival sideshow. Look for the blue fireworks. Are they true blue, not pale or purple or mauve?

The color blue has been the Holy Grail for pyrotechnics experts since fireworks were invented more than a millennium ago. It's by far the hardest color to produce. But why? For that, we turn to John Conkling. He's technical director of the American Pyrotechnics Association. John Conkling, welcome.

JOHN CONKLING: Thank you. It's nice to be with you.

CORNISH: So begin by telling us, what makes the color blue so difficult to replicate in fireworks?

CONKLING: Well, you need the correct chemistry. And for the color blue, the emitter, the chemical species that produces a blue light up in the sky is a fragile copper compounding, a gas. And then you heat it to very high temperature, and it gives off light. The particular light that copper emits at high temperature is blue. But if your temperature gets too high, you lose the color. You wash out the color. It stops emitting. If the temperature is not high enough, you don't get any type of intensity, so you need a perfect flame temperature.

CORNISH: And I understand that, of course, you need certain elements to create certain colors and, of course, reds and oranges and things that are similar to the colors of fire are a lot easier to produce.

CONKLING: Yes. The red color, the green color, the orange color, white, very, very easy to produce. They've gotten a lot better in recent years because, again, new chemistry using metal fuels has raised their flame temperature, which makes the color brighter, but you can't do that with blue because you wash out the color. So even at best, your blue is going to be dim if you compare it to the current reds and greens and some of the other colors that are out there now. They're much, much brighter.

CORNISH: Now, like we said, it's been more than a thousand years since the Chinese invented fireworks. And do you think at this point we could have found a way to make blue easier for everyone?

CONKLING: Well, people have been trying for decades and decades and decades. And to this point, nobody's found the perfect chemistry to get that bright blue that everybody would love to see up in the air.

CORNISH: Now, do most folks really notice this or is this something that's kind of a hobby for the pyrotechnics world?

CONKLING: Well, it's something that people who have really been involved with fireworks look for when they watch a show. But for the average person watching our Fourth of July show, the other colors that are out there, the patterns they produce, the effects they shoot up in the air, the timing, it just is so overwhelming that there - I think very few people who leave the show saying, boy, I wish I'd really seen a good blue.

CORNISH: Well, John Conkling, thank you so much for speaking with us.

CONKLING: Well, it's been a pleasure and hope everybody has a great Fourth of July.

CORNISH: John Conkling is technical director of the American Pyrotechnics Association.


CORNISH: You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.