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.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Arizona Hispanics Poised To Swing State Blue

2 hours ago
Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

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.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit


Legos Are Getting Angrier And That's Not Funny, Study Says

Jun 12, 2013

This is not from The Onion:

"The number of happy faces on Lego toy mini-figures is decreasing and the number of angry faces is increasing, a University of Canterbury robot expert says."

That's correct. A robot expert at New Zealand's University of Caterbury who's also a big fan of Lego figures has studied them and determined that in recent years the Danish company has been adding more angry faces to its mix.

And Christoph Bartneck, acting director of the university's Human Interface Technology Laboratory, says in a statement released by the school that his findings are significant because "children's toys and how they are perceived can have a significant impact on children. ... We cannot help but wonder how the move from only positive faces to an increasing number of negative faces impacts on how children play."

Bartneck will be presenting his findings later this summer at a conference in Japan. In a paper posted here, he explains how the study was done:

-- "We photographed all the 3,655 Minifigures that were released between 1975 and 2010. We identified 628 different heads and cut them out from the photographs. ...

-- "We created an online questionnaire that showed all the 628 heads and the 94 Minifigures. The [264] participants were asked to rate the emotional expression. ...

-- "We asked participants to give one rating on one of the six scales that were labeled: anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, and surprise."

One figure was removed from the study because its image was "corrupted due to a software failure." When the results were in:

-- 324 faces were rated as showing "happiness."

-- 192 reflected "anger."

-- 49 showed "sadness."

-- 28 seemed to show "disgust."

-- 23 were classified under "surprise."

-- 11 registered as "fear."

Though just more than half fell into the happy category, Bartneck writes that "we can observe a trend over time that the proportion of happy faces decrease and the proportion of angry faces increase."

Bartneck knows his way around Lego figures. He's one of the driving forces behind the "LEGO Minifigure Catalogs," a group of "fans dedicated to the beauty of Minifigures."

He tells The New Zealand Herald that "while Lego figures in the 1970s all had the same smiley face, from 1989 the range expanded to include hundreds of different emotions."

It's "a sign of the times," he adds. "If you go into a toy store these days what you see is that a lot of the themes and topics, particularly for the toys for the boys, are very rich in conflict and war and weapons."

As for the company that makes the toys, The Guardian reports that:

"Roar Rude Trangbaek, communications manager for Lego, said every toy developed by the manufacturer was tested by a range of expert children, while child psychiatrists, parents and teachers were also consulted. Research conducted for the company found that children, especially boys, enjoyed playing out conflicts between characters, he said. 'The conflict between good and evil is nothing new,' said Trangbæk. 'But the characters always have classic Lego humor – the good guys always win in the end.' "

Trangbaek also suggests, the Guardian writes, that parents could take something of an off-with-their-heads kind of approach to the toys:

If an expression concerns them, "they can always just switch heads with another figure," he said.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit