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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Iranians Go To Polls In Vote To Replace Ahmadinejad

Jun 14, 2013
Originally published on June 14, 2013 6:02 pm

Millions of Iranians cast ballots Friday in elections to replace incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a race that is being characterized as a potential challenge to the country's ruling Islamic clerics.

A slate of conservatives tacitly backed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei are facing off against the lone moderate, Hasan Rowhan, a former nuclear negotiator.

Other candidates include Saeed Jalili, also a nuclear negotiator; Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf; and Khamenei's diplomatic adviser, Ali Akbar Velayati.

Although the president in Iran has little say in the country's most substantive issues, long lines at polling stations in Tehran and elsewhere suggest enthusiasm for an election that was once viewed as a pre-engineered victory for Iran's ruling establishment, The Associated Press reports.

Khamenei, casting his ballot on Friday, took the opportunity to lash out at the United States after Secretary of State John Kerry last month questioned the credibility of the poll.

"Recently I have heard that a U.S. security official has said they do not accept this election," the cleric was quoted by state TV as saying. "OK, the hell with you."

The AP writes that:

"A victory by Rowhani would be seen as a small setback for Iran's Islamic establishment, but not the type of overwhelming challenge posed four years ago by the reformist Green Movement, which was brutally crushed after mass protests claiming Ahmadinejad's 2009 re-election was the result of systematic fraud in the vote counting."

Reuters says:

"The Guardian Council, a state body that vets all candidates, barred several hopefuls, notably former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, one of the Islamic Republic's founding fathers seen as sympathetic to reform, as well as Ahmadinejad's close ally Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie."

Rasool Nafisi, an Iranian affairs analyst at Strayer University in Virginia, tells the AP that "Rafsanjani was really the only choice to re-energize reformists." He adds, "Rowhani only got their support because he is seen as Rafsanjani's man and a vote for Rowhani was a vote for Rafsanjani."

NPR's Steve Inskeep, reporting from Tehran, says that although many independent newspapers have been shut down over the years, "this is a season, however brief, when ordinary Iranians on the streets just explode with opinions."

The Interior Ministry announced that voting, initially due to end at 1:30 p.m. GMT, would be extended by several hours, Iran's Press TV reported in mid-afternoon, according to Reuters.

Update at 6:00 p.m. ET. Heavy Turnout

The AP reports heavy turnout that had officials extend the polling by several hours. It said the turnout could favor reformers because it suggests "liberals and others abandoned a planned boycott as the election evolved into a showdown across the Islamic Republic's political divide."

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