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

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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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How To Spend $442 On A 15-Minute Cab Ride

Jul 5, 2013
Originally published on July 9, 2013 12:37 pm

Say you're in Midtown Manhattan at rush hour. You need to go a mile uptown, and you can't find a cab. A pedicab, a taxi-bicycle hybrid (like the one in the picture) may not be a bad option.

Riding through the middle of Manhattan on the back of a bike, dodging buses and cabs, feels like the Wild West of transportation options. The pricing feels that way too: Unlike buses or cabs, pedicabs don't charge a set fee. It's whatever the rider and the driver agree to. And, like in the Wild West, innocents often get fleeced.

"Last August, somebody was charged $442 to go from Mary Poppins to a restaurant called Milos," says Laramie Flick, a pedicab driver and president of the pedicab owners association. That's a trip of less than a mile. It took about 15 minutes.

"Before the ride, [the driver] told them it was a dollar a block," Flick says. "After the ride, he told them it was a dollar a block, yes, but it was $100 minimum per person. Then he asked them for a tip."

New York City does not want tourists to leave town feeling like they got hosed by a pedicab driver. So the city worked with Flick and the pedicab drivers to come up with new rules, which are set to take effect next week. The drivers can still choose their own rates. But those rates have to be posted clearly, and they have to apply to all customers. Per minute. No matter what.

Flick likes the new rules. Other drivers don't. Ibrahim Donmez, who has been a driver for eight years, says the price should be based on an upfront individual negotiation — perhaps charging more if the route is uphill, if it's raining, or if there's a large number of passengers. Or charge less, if it's an easy ride. "It's a human-powered business," Donmez says.

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Here's a story about a regulatory crackdown on a Manhattan-based industry operated for years without restriction. It's been accused of being greedy, nontransparent, exploitive. That industry is pedicabs, bikes with big carts on the back to haul people around the city. Zoe Chace of NPR's Planet Money team takes us out on the street to explain.

ZOE CHACE, BYLINE: Say you're in Midtown Manhattan, rush hour. You need to go a mile uptown. No taxi is available. Pedicab is not a bad option.

JULIAN ISAZA: $15, local price. If you said to me not too expensive, I'll put it at, say, maybe $12.

CHACE: I climb in, we take off. Julian Isaza zips through traffic, gets up close to the buses.

ISAZA: Yeah.

CHACE: We're right in the middle of 6th Avenue at rush hour.

Definitely feels like the Wild West of transportation options. And for many years, it has acted like that too. There is no standard rate here like there is when you take a bus or a taxi. And like in the Wild West, innocents get fleeced out here.

LARAMIE FLICK: Most famously, last August, somebody was charged $442 to go from Mary Poppins to a restaurant called Milos.

CHACE: That's about three-quarters of a mile. This is Laramie Flick, pedicab driver.

FLICK: Before the ride, he told them it was a dollar a block. After the ride, he told them it was a dollar a block, yes, but it was $100 minimum per person. And then he asked for a tip.

CHACE: Amazingly, they paid up. This is exactly the kind of thing the city doesn't want happening to its tourists. So new rules, you have to post your prices. Laramie Flick, he's for this, he's president of the pedicab owners association.

He helped craft the new rules. But not all his brethren are on board. Like many businessmen facing regulation, they say there's things you don't understand about our business. Ibrahim Donmez, pedicab driver for eight years, he's not a fan of the new regulations.

IBRAHIM DONMEZ: I'm charging $20 for two people, and they want me to charge $20 for three people. Do you think they make sense? If I have like, you know, the third person is, like, 200 pounds, does it make sense?

CHACE: So you're saying you want to be able to charge more if you have, like, a really heavy person?

DONMEZ: Of course. I mean, it's a human-powered business.

CHACE: Or what if it's mainly uphill, or it's raining, or the passengers are rowdy, or just annoying? They are right behind you, breathing down your neck. It's an intimate experience. Ibrahim says this is a one-on-one negotiation, me and the customer, we figure out the price.

DONMEZ: The whole business is based on hustling, OK, just like the Times Square hustlers.

CHACE: But a lot of pedicab drivers, they're psyched to get regulated to lose the hustling reputation because that scares off potential customers. Something this scrappy, still, Laramie says, it's still word of mouth. So the word has to be good.

FLICK: You see people on the pedicab, they're having the time of their life, they've got a big smile on their face, they're enjoying the city. And then, you know, in about three minutes, you know, the rest of their day, they're going to be complaining about the pedicab that just charged them $90.


CHACE: The new rules take effect next week. There will not be a standard price. Pedicab drivers still can come with up whatever they want as long as they post it clearly and the rate is standard. Per minute, not, say, per pound. So that every customer gets treated the same and knows what they're getting into. Zoe Chace, NPR News.



This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.