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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Huge System Of Storms Predicted To March East From Midwest

Jun 12, 2013
Originally published on June 12, 2013 9:03 pm

The National Weather Service warns of a massive storm system that will make its way eastward from Iowa to Maryland in the next 24 hours, as strong winds, thunderstorms, and hail are predicted to hit areas from the upper Midwest to the Mid-Atlantic beginning Wednesday and continuing Thursday.

The weather service's Storm Prediction Center is predicting "widespread damaging winds and a few strong tornadoes" in parts of the middle Mississippi Valley, the upper Ohio Valley and lower Great Lakes area Wednesday evening. Driven by hot, humid air, the storms will head east in a pattern reminiscent of last summer's derecho storm.

The system "could affect one in five Americans on Wednesday," as the storm passes through one of America's most densely populated areas, the AP says.

Update at 8:30 p.m. ET. Funnel Clouds Reported:

As of 8:30 p.m. ET, more than 11,000 people in and around Chicago, Ill., are without power, after strong winds hobbled part of the electrical grid. Local utilities were adding more work crews to cope with outages, and the area is under a flood watch.

Those problems are not the worst that were predicted for Illinois and other states in the path of a massive storm system that is rolling eastward. While sightings of funnel clouds have been reported, The Chicago Tribune says they hadn't been confirmed early Wednesday evening.

"The area is seeing heavy rain, some hail and lots of lightning and thunder," the newspaper reports, "but there have not been any confirmed damage reports except for the Aurora Fire Department responding to two calls of apparent lightning strikes on electrical transformers. There were no fires to any structures, said Dan Ferrelli, city spokesman."

The Tribune also reports that about 100 flights have been cancelled at O'Hare International Airport.

In an afternoon update, WGN-TV meteorologist Tom Skilling said of the powerful thunderstorms that were forming just west of Chicago, "these things tower over 55,000 feet."

Multiple tornadoes were reported in Iowa, causing property damage. State officials say there have been no reported injuries or deaths from those incidents, the AP reports.

Our original post continues:

The storm center's meteorologists say that with time, the storms "are expected to develop into a fast-moving squall line with the primary threats being widespread damaging winds and embedded tornadoes. A few wind gusts in excess of 75 mph will be possible as the line of thunderstorms moves rapidly east across the southern Great Lakes and Ohio valley region this evening."

For many, that description — of a line of powerful winds moving across a broad swath of America — has brought to mind last summer's derecho, the name for a storm that moves in a straight line with wind gusts that hit at least 58 mph. Derecho wind speeds can soar well over that threshold; the strongest gusts recorded have exceeded 120 miles per hour.

To be deemed a derecho, the system would also have to cause damage across an area at least 240 miles wide.

Derechos are "notoriously difficult to forecast," the National Weather Service says. The storms also move quickly, leaving little time for those in its path to prepare themselves or move to safety. The derecho that struck last June was blamed for 13 deaths, along with power outages for 4 million people.

The Storm Prediction Center issued a tornado watch for parts of Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin late Wednesday, describing what it calls "a particularly dangerous situation."

The tornado watch was to remain in place for those areas until at least 9 p.m. CDT. Forecasters say that hail may be as wide as three inches across.

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