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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Google's 'Looney' Internet Balloons Invade New Zealand

Jun 15, 2013

Google has launched — quite literally — a new idea to bring the Internet to some of the world's remotest places.

The tech giant's engineering hothouse, Google X, is testing the use of 12-mile-high helium balloons to get coverage in areas where it's impractical to put in conventional infrastructure.

Google said Saturday that it has 30 of the balloons, or "high-altitude platforms" (HAPS), flying over New Zealand as part of something called Project Loon. They will hover at about twice the altitude of a passenger jet.

The program's director, Mike Cassidy, told The Washington Post that the aim is to provide cheaper Internet connections around the world — in places such as Africa, where the service can cost more than an average monthly salary.

"We are focused on an enormous problem, and we don't think we have the one solution today," he told the Post in a phone interview from New Zealand. "But we think we can help and start having a discussion on how to get 5 billion people in remote areas" connected to the Internet.

As Wired writes:

"The idea does sound crazy, even for Google. ... But if all works according to the company's grand vision, hundreds, even thousands, of high-pressure balloons circling the earth could provide Internet to a significant chunk of the world's 5 billion unconnected souls, enriching their lives with vital news, precious educational materials, lifesaving health information, and images of grumpy cats."

Wired says the balloons carry a 22-pound payload, including a sheet of solar paneling and a package of antennas, computers, electronics, GPS devices and batteries that will allow them to deliver an Internet connection of at least 3G cellular speeds. The balloon also has attitude control valves allowing it to be kept on station.

Even so, as the Post notes:

"The cluster of balloons provide a kind of drifting Internet network in the stratosphere, moving at a snail's pace and lasting more than 100 days in the air. As long as a balloon is within a 24-mile radius, people would be able to tap into the network, Google said. Much cheaper than satellite technology — Google would not reveal specifics — the balloons could provide service in remote regions or perhaps an area that has lost its communications because of a violent storm."

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