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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Facing Cancer, With A Robot Surgeon By My Side

May 16, 2013

Eight days from now, I'll meet my robot surgeon for the first time. His name is da Vinci, and he'll be at work inside my body for about 4.5 hours. I can't wait.

On May 6, I was diagnosed with a rare form of endometrial cancer. The biopsy result came as a shock, because I have only a few mild symptoms, and they only began last month.

The aftershock was a big one too: the type I have, serous carcinoma, is rare, representing only 5 percent of all endometrial cancers; it can at times be quite badly behaved because it may (or may not) spread beyond the uterus even when caught early.

So I'm ready for da Vinci to do his thing — in this case a radical hysterectomy — so that I can get started on recovery.

Of course, I understand that the more scientifically accurate term for me to use is "robot-assisted surgery," because the da Vinci robot is only as proficient as the person controlling his movements.

A week ago today, I met that person, the human half of my oncological-surgery team. Dr. William Irvin of Riverside Regional Medical Center in Newport News, Virginia, told me what I need to know, and what we need to do going forward, in a clear and unrushed manner, even while acknowledging that my world (and my family's) had just abruptly tilted.

I left his office feeling way better than I had felt when walking in, even after hearing some formidable details of what's ahead over the next few months, including chemotherapy.

But, with apologies to Dr. Irvin, it's da Vinci's name I've written on my calendar for May 24th.

Yes, I'm aware that there are questions and some outright skepticism about both the benefits and the cost of this robotic surgery. In fact, NPR covered this topic a few weeks ago. But I'm blogging here from a personal perspective, not reporting about a medical technique.

Given my particular health history and current diagnosis, and based on the reading I have done and my consultation with my oncologist, I believe that da Vinci is likely to bring some genuine benefits to my situation. Not only will the surgical incisions be small (minimally invasive), easing my recovery significantly, during the procedure, as this ABC News video shows, the robot's dexterous mobility and 3D visualization will offer heightened precision. Dr. Irvin has called da Vinci "a quantum leap" forward in treating gynecological malignancies, and that sounds good to me.

What da Vinci can't do — what no human or machine can do — is predict my long-term prognosis. A stage I cancer — the "best" of the possible stages because the cancer cells are highly localized — could very well be the explanation for my mild symptoms. But that's only a hope. We won't know the cancer's stage until after the surgical exploration and the report from the pathology lab.

As we cancer patients know too well, we can't will ourselves into a certain stage.

What we can do is take good care of our bodies and our spirits, find an excellent oncologist and follow his or her advice and instructions, and surround ourselves with positive people (and animals!). I'm doing each of those things.

I find myself thinking of how many others of you (or your loved ones) are also grappling with serious health challenges, and wanting to send a shout-out to each of you.

I am hyper-aware, too, that high-end medical resources like da Vinci are available in terribly unequal fashion around the world (and in this country as well). This is a sobering fact, one that I won't forget going forward.

Returning to my own circumstance, all things considered, as we say at NPR, I'm feeling steadier about the coming challenges than I would have anticipated.

I'm ready to get this done, and I know da Vinci is too.


Barbara's new book, How Animals Grieve, has just been published. You can keep up with more of what she is thinking daily on Twitter: @bjkingape

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.