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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If This Cute Cheerios Ad Causes Drama, What Won't?

Jun 1, 2013
Originally published on June 3, 2013 12:13 pm

On Thursday, blogger Monica Mingo posted about a new Cheerios commercial featuring an interracial family, noting that it was causing a stir and asking readers if it bothered them.

I watched and couldn't understand what about the video might be bothersome. As commenter Roslyn Holcomb wrote: "Cute. Causing a stir where? 1956?"

After clicking around the Web, I discovered that the issue was indeed the commercial's interracial-ness. People on YouTube and Reddit were salty because the ad seemed to push "race" in their face: "These videos encourage people to seek partners outside their racial group. It already happens too much ... for comfort. I shall eat Toasted Oats instead."

I can't show you more because the comments got uglier over on YouTube and the comment section for that video was shut down. But according to Tim Nudd at Adweek, the comments included "references to Nazis, 'troglodytes' and 'racial genocide.' "

Here's the thing: We're used to companies targeting minorities and jacking it up.

In May, for example, PepsiCo pulled a Mountain Dew ad — dubbed "the most racist commercial in history" by one critic — from all its online channels. The ad, part of a series of commercials by Tyler, The Creator, showed a cop pressing a battered woman with a crutch to pick out her assailant in a line-up that included a goat and five black men. (I never even understood what this commercial was supposed to be trying to tell me. But yeah, MISSTEP.)

And last year, Burger King pulled this commercial featuring hip-hop artist Mary J. Blige singing about their crispy chicken wrap:

The company says it pulled the ad for licensing and other reasons, but the crispy chicken ad was criticized by some for relying on greasy old stereotypes: Black people love them some fried chicken, they sho'nuf do! (Code Switch blogger Gene Demby recently explained the origin of that crispy fried trope.)

But with this Cheerios commercial, the company seems to have done everything right. Cute little girl. A mom, a dad. A box of Cheerios. Love, caring. The written statement I got from Camille Gibson, vice president of marketing for Cheerios, was as warm and fuzzy and inoffensive as the commercial itself: "At Cheerios, we know there are many kinds of families and we celebrate them all."

And still, there was blowback.

Too many black folks, not enough black folks. How does a company market to anyone in the era of social media when everyone is a critic? What can you do? *pulls hair, screams*

"Advertising is about appealing to people in some way that makes them buy your product or service," said Michael Burgi, features editor for Adweek. "Someone is always going to get their nose bent out of shape. You have to be careful of not offending people who have money in their pocket to spend."

But as Burgi pointed out, haters gonna hate (my words, not his). The bottom line is that great ad campaigns that feature minorities and interracial couples — such as the Cheerios commercial — are moving product for companies.

Fashion and issue advertising are areas likely to push the envelope, and Burgi reminded me about how multicultural Coca-Cola is in its advertising.

McDonalds, on the other hand, is very careful with its marketing, Burgi said, highlighting specific racial or ethnic groups such as Latinos, but rarely overlapping them the way the Cheerios commercial does.

"Many of McDonald's ads now feature only African-Americans," Burt Helm reported in a 2010 Bloomberg Businessweek story. "Of the 10 most-aired TV ads from the past 12 months, compiled by ad tracker Nielsen IAG, five had all-black casts. While the ads usually push specific products or deals, many use situations aimed directly at ethnic consumers."

But of course, McDonalds has also been accused of exploiting children of color in its marketing.

So now I turn to you, dear readers. With all the potential minefields, is there any way for a company to do this right? Tell me your ideas — and share examples where this was done well — down in the comments.

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