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.

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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.

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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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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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Former Energy Secretary Wants Power Generation Decentralized

Jul 2, 2013
Originally published on July 2, 2013 8:36 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

President Obama announced, last week, a hugely ambitious plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and push the country towards cleaner energy. Right now, just nine percent of our energy consumption comes from renewable sources.

Former U.S. secretary of energy Steven Chu would like to see us get to 50 percent by the middle of the century. Chu left the cabinet in April, but even before that, he began talking to utility companies could adopt a radically different business model.

STEVEN CHU: Well, it goes back to an old business model that the old AT&T used to have. They sold you phone service. They would supply you with the phone. They owned the phone. They maintained the phone.

MONTAGNE: Similarly, Chu would like utilities to start installing solar panels and batteries, storage units in people's homes. The idea hasn't gained much traction yet, but Steven Chu remains hopeful, and discussed with us how he sees utility companies making this work.

CHU: They will say, allow us to use your roof, allow us to use a little corner of your garage, and we will equip you with solar power. We own it. We maintain it. We're responsible for it. You don't have any out-of-pocket expenses. You just buy electricity at the same rate, or maybe even a lower rate. In addition to that, you have, you know, like five kilowatts of energy storage in your home. And five kilowatts - when you're in a blackout situation and you want to keep your refrigerator going, you want to keep a couple of energy-efficient light bulbs lit at night - that goes a long way.

MONTAGNE: Well, how do you expect to get utilities though, to go for this transformation - given that they have huge investments in their system that they already work with?

CHU: Well, I think it's going to become increasingly attractive for a couple of reasons. First, the utility companies can put energy storage in a benign environment - inside, away from the wind or rain, the hot and the cold, and they can use that energy storage in a distributed way to level out the load, take care of the little balancing that they do all the time today, by simply overloading their lines slightly and letting the energy dribble out.

MONTAGNE: Well, have you talked to utilities about this yourself?

CHU: I have. In the last year while I was secretary, I began to raise this as a possibility. Because right now you realize that as solar becomes less and less expensive, as more homeowners on their own do this, where they get to sell you back electricity at essentially retail price until it zeros their energy bill out. Well, this is not good for a utility company because they still have to maintain the wires, the billing, the reliability and all these other things, so when it's half a percent of the customers or a quarter percent of the customers, they don't care. When it's five, 10, 15 percent of customers, it's a big deal. And so you definitely need a new business model.

MONTAGNE: It sounds little like maybe a comparison would be how the adoption of the Internet disrupted old media and really forced it to get on board with the Internet.

CHU: Well, during this last year when I talked to utility companies - and the regulators - I'd say, this is going to come, so let's start thinking about it now. Form a new business model so that you have a growth industry. You're still supplying electricity, you're just doing it slightly differently. You're still going to need smart meters and smart grids and all these other things, but you can do it much more sensibly and it will lead to, actually, a more stable grid.

MONTAGNE: Steven Chu, thank you very much for joining us.

CHU: My pleasure.

MONTAGNE: Steven Chu was U.S. secretary of energy in the Obama administration until this past April. He's now a professor of physics and molecular and cellular physiology at Stanford University. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.