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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A Familiar Wild West, But The Guy In The Mask? Who's He?

Jul 2, 2013
Originally published on July 3, 2013 7:25 pm

There's never been anything very lone about the Lone Ranger. He's always been accompanied by Tonto, his Native American sidekick; Silver his snow-white steed; and the William Tell Overture.

And in the big-screen version out this Wednesday from Johnny Depp and director Gore Verbinski, he's also trailed by a wagon train's worth of classic-movie references: Monument Valley settings straight out of John Ford Westerns, steam-locomotive stunts cribbed from Buster Keaton's The General, a one-legged madam who'd seem Alice in Wonderland-ish even if she weren't being played by Helena Bonham Carter. There are even antagonist-buddy routines for the lawman Ranger and the outlaw Indian that might have been lifted straight out of Laurel and Hardy.

Armie Hammer plays the titular Ranger — well, Ranger-to-be when the film gets underway — as a noble do-gooder fresh out of law school, while Johnny Depp's Tonto is a face-painting "noble savage" (that's the movie's phrase) who's forever feeding the dead crow he wears on his head.

They'll bond, but not until the movie introduces Silver — a spirit horse who arrives to lift the ranger's soul literally from the grave. Think of this film's early going as an origin-story version of The Lone Ranger, in which we even get a backstory for the mask. That, and some major shifts in tone.

Audiences expecting a Pirates of the Panhandle from Verbinski — who paired with Depp on that swashbuckling franchise as well as on the ingeniously eccentric animated Western Rango — are in for some serious dry stretches.

The director's been saying his Lone Ranger is a sort of Don Quixote as seen through the eyes of a demented Sancho Panza, and as with that tale of a knight tilting at windmills, there's social commentary everywhere you look in this adventure. The script fancies itself a critique of capitalism, a manifesto on manifest destiny, and a saga about silver mines and the slaughter of Native Americans.

All very admirable, if not a great fit for scenes that involve Depp communing with snaggle-toothed cannibal bunny rabbits and taking a runaway train ride or six.

I mentioned Buster Keaton's train movie The General earlier, but when Keaton did stunts — playing pickup sticks with railway ties to clear the track in front of a moving locomotive, say — he actually did the stunts. The ties had weight.

Here, the director laid six miles of track in New Mexico and built two locomotives — built the locomotives, I said, reportedly for authenticity's sake — so he could do things with real trains.

But he's digitally enhanced and implausibly staged those sequences so thoroughly that he might as well have done the whole thing as a cartoon. There's a couple of hundred million dollars' worth of technical wizardry up there on screen, and nothing is at stake.

Except, maybe, for some future amusement park ride, and the sequels, and toys and hats and masks. And piles and piles of silver, if enough people lay down their hard-earned dollars to hear Hammer's hearty "Hi-yo."

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