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.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Arizona Hispanics Poised To Swing State Blue

1 hour ago
Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

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.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit


How Apps Help Kansas City Work Better

May 28, 2013
Originally published on May 28, 2013 7:58 am



Now for people who enjoy using technology, it might feel like there's an app for everything. Some are mindless. I mean I'm a little embarrassed to tell you how much time I spend baking fake pizza on my mobile device. Then there are apps that are meant to actually be productive. And let's hear about one of those now.

In San Francisco a group software developers formed a non-profit called Code for America. They're developing apps to help cities function better for their citizens. This year, the organization is working in nine cities around the U.S.

Laura Ziegler of member station KCUR reports on what Code for America is doing in the Kansas City.


LAURA ZIEGLER, BYLINE: Andrew Hyder's a 31-year-old urban planner who's one of three Code for America fellows in Kansas City for the year. I caught up with him at a hackathon, an all-night gathering of like-minded young people who come together to brainstorm and write code or software. Hence the name Code for America. His twitter handle - hackyourcity - reflects the communal ethos around here that hacking now has a positive connotation.

HYDER: You take a system and maybe break it apart and find what pieces you could build for cheaper and easier, and then put it back together in this new form that can help everyone out, you've left it better than you found it.

ZIEGLER: And that's what Code for America fellows are trying to do. They're working on criminal justice systems in New York and Louisville, and in San Francisco and San Mateo on health and human services.

In the Kansas City area, the fellows are looking at ways to spur economic development.

You'd never know, looking at these new wood and brick town homes in the heart of Kansas City, Kansas, that the block was once blighted homes and drug houses. The other thing you would never know is that it took John Harvey and his non-profit redevelopment group City Vision, days, weeks, even months to penetrate the bureaucracy to begin to get this work done.

John Harvey says no commercial real estate company's ever going to jump through the same hoops as City Vision - whose mission it is to clean up bad neighborhoods.

JOHN HARVEY: I mean just to figure out the ownership and get control of the property you may have to go to the Register of Deeds, you may have to go to the tax delinquent real estate office, you might have to go to the treasurer's office, all just to get a hold of the property.

ZIEGLER: Harvey says with an app like the one Code for America is working on, he could retrieve all that information in one place, online, in a matter of minutes.

Fellows in the Kansas City area are hoping their web-based product will reach beyond urban renewal to nothing less than a sweeping new relationship between citizens and their government. The hope is it will extend not only to the energetic start-up, Internet community, but small businesses across the board.

Hyder and his colleague Ariel Kennan rolled out the first version of their app for some city officials and community leaders late last month. It's a how to manual for civic engagement, says Kennan.

ARIEL KENNAN: There would be a variety of lessons that you can go ahead and engage with. So it could be promote your business on line, pay your taxes on line...

ZIEGLER: Gwendolyn Thomas is a city employee and she has some concerns. She fields calls to the non-emergency help line in the Kansas City, Kansas Mayor's office.

GWENDOLYN THOMAS: You know, it may work for some of our younger adults in our community, but we get a lot of calls from our seniors and so they're not computer knowledgeable, you know, they don't have those tools.

HYDER: I'm working till like midnight...

ZIEGLER: Back at the hackathon you hear the word iteration a lot. That's hacker-ese for changes. Hyder says the fellows will continue tweaking the technology, making it easier to understand and more accessible. But the technology itself, he says, is not the biggest challenge.

HYDER: Keeping people engaged using these types of technology and the right way to ask questions and actually get valuable feedback, using it is the harder part.

ZIEGLER: The Code for America fellows will leave Kansas City in November. But the organization plans to leave its footprint here with something called The Brigade. It's a group of local volunteers who will continue helping citizens engage with city government online.

For NPR news I'm Laura Ziegler in Kansas City. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.