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


Lillian Leitzel, The Tiny, High-Flying 'Queen' Of The Circus

Jun 29, 2013
Originally published on June 29, 2013 7:52 pm

In the first half of the 20th century, aerial performers — not elephants or tigers — were the big draw at circuses. And nobody was a bigger star than Lillian Leitzel, a tiny woman from Eastern Europe who ruled the Ringling Brothers circus.

"She was a child of another trapeze artist — her mother, Nellie Pelikan," says Dean Jensen, who has written a new biography of Leitzel called Queen of the Air: A True Story of Love and Tragedy at the Circus.

Jensen tells NPR's Jacki Lyden that as a young girl, Pelikan was forced to work in a small traveling circus where she was sexually abused by the troupe's owner.

"Nellie was two months short of her 13th birthday when she gave birth to Leitzel," Jensen says.

Eventually, Pelikan left the circus and became a star aerialist, touring Europe and leaving her daughter behind for years at a time.

"Leitzel wanted to be like her mother so she worked very hard at becoming an aerialist," Jensen says. "Ultimately, when she was about 14, [she] joined her mother in an aerial troupe."

Leitzel was a star from the moment she first grabbed a trapeze bar. But her signature act was the Roman rings, which are similar to the rings male gymnasts use in the Olympics today, except much, much higher. Leitzel's act took her up into the heavens of the circus tent, often 50 or 60 feet in the air, with no net or safety features below.

"She would grasp with her right hand one of these rings, and she would throw her body out into space, doing these rotations, and her arm would actually dislocate from her shoulder," Jensen says.

He says Leitzel usually performed more than 100 rotations each night, turning her body into an airplane-propeller blur.

The crowds loved her. She was a household name and subject of many newspaper and magazine articles. Then, while performing in Copenhagen in 1931, she took a fatal plunge. She was not yet 40.

Jensen says Leitzel was a real diva.

"It wasn't just her performance, it was the force of her personality," he says. "She also had this gift for making everyone in the big-top feel that she was performing just for them."

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit