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 http://www.npr.org/.

Arizona Hispanics Poised To Swing State Blue

2 hours ago
Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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 http://www.npr.org/.

Pages

How A Merger Could Affect Congress' Favorite Airport

Jun 19, 2013
Originally published on June 19, 2013 9:40 am

If the US Airways-American Airlines merger announced earlier this year is approved, the combined airline would control two-thirds of the takeoff and landing slots at Reagan National Airport, outside Washington, D.C.

The government could force the airline to give up some of those slots as a condition of the merger. But lawmakers warn that could have consequences for some small- and medium-sized cities. And, not coincidentally, it could affect flight plans for lawmakers themselves.

Reagan National Airport is just a short taxi ride away from Capitol Hill. It's a standing joke that lawmakers are smelling the jet fumes as they rush out the door at the end of the week, heading for their flights home.

So it's easy to be skeptical about the letter signed by more than 100 lawmakers urging the Justice Department, which is reviewing the merger, to preserve the nonstop flights from Reagan National to small- and medium-sized airports across the country.

But Democratic Rep. Mike Michaud of Maine — who has heard this before — says it's really not about the lawmakers.

"It has nothing to do with lawmakers' convenience and everything to do with representing small communities that rely on these direct flights for economic benefits," Michaud says. "This is a bipartisan response to what we have heard from our constituents back home in the district."

Michaud represents Maine's 2nd District and lives about 65 miles from Bangor, which has three daily nonstops to the nation's capital.

Tony Caruso, director of Bangor International Airport, says those flights are pretty full.

"There's quite a bit of travelers. It's a good mix of both business and leisure travel," he says. "The load factor — which is basically the number of seats sold on those aircraft — they average over 80 percent. Certainly we think these flights are critical to the overall health and growth of, certainly, the Bangor region and Maine economy."

The Justice Department has forced airlines to divest themselves of slots as a condition of approving past mergers. At a Senate hearing on the proposed US Airways-American deal, Douglas Parker, the chairman and CEO of US Airways, warned that smaller cities will lose out if the combined airline has to give up slots at Reagan National.

"The slots that will be utilized by the new American are used to provide service to smaller communities that, if other airlines were given those slots, they would not go to similar-sized communities — they'd be flown to larger markets," he said. "I think that'd be bad for consumers."

Parker said the new airline would likely give up its least profitable routes from Reagan National if it had to give up slots — say, to places like Bangor — and keep the slots for flights to more populous cities. And the airlines that won the new slots would not necessarily have to fly to the smaller cities either.

Diana Moss, director of the American Antitrust Institute, says this points to a problem with airline mergers.

"All of these legacy mergers are driving traffic to large hubs at the expense of service to smaller communities," she says. "I think this particular problem at National — which is just one of multiple hubs that are affected by this — I think this is where the rubber meets the road. Can you have a merger of this size with this competitive impact and still be able to fix it?"

Congress has a long history of involving itself in the workings of its favorite airport — from long-haul flights to Phoenix instituted at the urging of Arizona Sen. John McCain to noise and late-night restrictions urged by members of the local Maryland and Virginia delegations.

Whether lawmakers can influence the process this time will soon become clear. The Justice Department is thought likely to rule on the proposed airline merger sometime this summer.

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

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

An old saying holds where you stand is determined by where you sit. Here's a variation: Where you stand is determined by whether you have a seat on the plane. US Airways and American Airlines want to merge. The combined airline would control two-thirds of take-off and landing slots at Washington D.C.'s Reagan National Airport. The government could force the airline to give up some of slots as a condition of the merger. But that could reduce service to some small and medium-sized cities, eliminating flights that lawmakers use themselves.

Here's NPR's Brian Naylor.

BRIAN NAYLOR, BYLINE: If you stand at the right place on Capitol Hill, you can hear the roar of the engines as flights take off and land at Reagan National Airport, a short taxi ride away. It's a standing joke that lawmakers are smelling the jet fumes as they rush out the door at the end of the week, heading for their flights home. So it's easy to be skeptical about the letter signed by over 100 lawmakers from both parties, urging the Justice Department, which is reviewing the merger, to preserve the nonstop flights from Reagan National to small and medium-sized airports across the country.

But Democratic Congressman Mike Michaud of Maine, who's heard this before, says it's really not about the lawmakers.

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE MICHAUD: It has nothing to do with lawmakers' convenience, and everything to do with representing small communities that rely on these direct flights for economic benefits. This is a bipartisan response to what we have heard from our constituents back home in the district.

NAYLOR: Michaud represents Maine's Second District and lives about 65 miles from Bangor, which has three daily nonstops to the nation's capital. Tony Caruso, director of Bangor International Airport, says those flights are pretty full.

TONY CARUSO: There's quite a bit of travelers. It's just a good mix of both business and leisure travel. The load factor, which is basically the number of seats sold on those aircraft, they average over 80 percent. Certainly we think these flights are critical to the overall health and growth of the Bangor region and Maine economy.

NAYLOR: The Justice Department has forced airlines to divest themselves of slots as a condition of approving past mergers. At a Senate hearing on the proposed US Airways-American deal, Douglas Parker, the chairman and CEO of US Airways warned smaller cities would lose out if the combined airline has to give up slots at Reagan National.

DOUGLAS PARKER: The slots that will be utilized by the new American are used to provide service to smaller communities that if other airlines were given those slots, they would not go to similar sized communities. They'd be flown to larger markets. I think that would be bad for consumers.

NAYLOR: Parker said the new airline would likely give up its least profitable routes from Reagan National if it had to give up slots, say to places like Bangor, and keep the slots for flights to more populous cities. And the airlines that won the new slots wouldn't necessarily have to fly to the smaller cities either.

American Antitrust Institute director Diana Moss says this points to a problem with airline mergers.

DIANA MOSS: All of these legacy mergers are driving traffic to large hubs at the expense of service to smaller communities. And I think this particular problem at National, which is just one of multiple hubs that are affected by this, I think this is where the rubber meets the road. Can you have a merger of this size, with this competitive impact, and still be able to fix it?

NAYLOR: From long haul flights to Phoenix - instituted at the urging of Arizona Senator John McCain - to noise and late night restrictions urged by members of the local Maryland and Virginia delegations - Congress has a long history of involving itself in the workings of its favorite airport.

Whether lawmakers can influence the process this time will soon become clear. The Justice Department is thought likely to rule on the proposed airline merger sometime this summer.

Brian Naylor, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.