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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At IRS Hearing: Talk Of 'Jackboot Of Tyranny'

Jun 4, 2013
Originally published on June 4, 2013 1:09 pm

We now have faces and emotional words to attach to the scandal surrounding the Internal Revenue Service and its targeting of conservative "tea party" and "patriot" groups during the 2012 campaign cycle.

At a House Ways and Means Committee hearing Tuesday, representatives of six organizations described the long delays they have experienced when trying to get the IRS to rule on applications for tax-exempt status. They spoke of the extensive questionnaires and demands from the IRS to see their donors' lists and other information.

And they used stirring language to call for change.

"This dialogue is about the jackboot of tyranny upon the field of our founding documents," said Karen Kenny from the San Fernando [Calif.] Valley Patriots.

Among the questions her group was asked, Kenny said, was her "personal favorite ... which in relation to protests asked for a listing of our 'committed violations of local ordinances, breaches of public order or arrests' then requested details on how we 'conduct or promote' illegal activities. I think the IRS needs to fix its labeling machine: We're the San Fernando Valley Patriots, not Occupy Oakland."

Kenny said her organization applied for tax-exempt status in October 2010. But she "stopped the costly and exhausting IRS process in July 2012. We survive on my credit card and donations in our cake tin. Like patriots before us, we persevere."

Becky Gerritson from the Wetumpka [Ala.] Tea Party said it took 635 days for her group's application to be approved. She said that among the information she had been asked for along the way was "my list of donors, including the amounts that they gave. ... 501c4 organizations do NOT have to disclose donor information. I knew that. Why didn't [the IRS]?"

Choking back tears, Gerritson concluded her statement to the committee by saying she isn't "interested in scoring political points. I want to protect and preserve the America I grew up in, the America that people cross oceans and risk their lives to become a part of. And I'm terrified that it's slipping away."

Also during the hearing's first hour, John Eastman of the National Organization for Marriage testified about how confidential information concerning his organization's donors was leaked in March 2012 and that it appears the document "originated from within the IRS itself."

The statements submitted by each of the witnesses are posted here. We'll be monitoring the hearing and updating as warranted.

The hearing's early hours produced a moment of partisan dispute among the lawmakers. Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., told the witnesses that what happened to them was wrong — but suggested that they were mostly inconvenienced and that they should be talking about what information the IRS should be requesting from them, not only what what they believe they should not be asked.

That led Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., (the 2012 GOP vice presidential nominee) to say McDermott was suggesting "that these citizens are to blame for applying."

"You're to blame, I guess that's the message here," Ryan said.

McDermott didn't have a chance to respond at that moment.

As we've reported, a Treasury Department inspector general's report concludes that "ineffective management" allowed "inappropriate criteria" to be used during the processing of such groups' requests.

The former acting commissioner of the IRS, who lost his job after word of the scandal broke, has said "foolish mistakes were made" but has also insisted that the motivations were not partisan. On Monday, newly installed Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel said his "primary mission" is to restore trust in the agency.

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