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 http://www.npr.org/.

Arizona Hispanics Poised To Swing State Blue

2 hours ago
Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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 http://www.npr.org/.

Pages

Live From Mecca, It's Ramadan

Jul 10, 2013

Live streaming views of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, the holy city in Saudi Arabia that is closed to virtually all non-Muslim visitors, are playing online, depicting pilgrims' visits for the holy month of Ramadan. The video shows the faithful performing prayers and circumambulation around the Kaaba, the sacred cube at the mosque's center.

The sounds and images are featured in Google's new Ramadan hub, using the Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information's YouTube channel. The Google hub also seeks to connect Muslims who are celebrating the month-long holiday of daytime fasting and the nightly meals.

"This year, as families around the world celebrate Ramadan, we have some tips on how you can more easily keep in touch and share moments with the people you care about," Google says, in a blog post written by Hadi Raad, the company's head of marketing in the region.

Many users of Google Plus and Twitter are using the tags #Ramadan and #breakingfast to share their thoughts about the Muslim holy month, which runs from July 8 to August 7.

As the Middle East's Gulf News reports, Google is also offering "Hangouts with celebrity chefs from around the world. And it also shows the best commute routes home at the end of the day."

The restrictions on travel to Mecca are enforced in part by Saudi Arabia's practice of granting visa requests only to people who are visiting either for business or to see a Saudi citizen. But that doesn't mean non-Muslims don't ask about visiting Mecca.

Answering one such question on the On Islam blog, religion scholar Idris Tawfiq explains it this way:

"Saudi Arabia does not promote itself as a tourist destination, since you will find there none of the things which most tourists are looking for on a holiday. The holy city of Makkah, as we will discuss later, is not a place for tourism, but for Muslims to bow down in worship to their Creator."

Tawfiq adds that when he first visited Mecca, he encountered "numerous checkpoints" outside the city, "where visitors were asked to show their passports and proof of their Muslim status."

And he says that for many Muslims, the experience of seeing the Kaaba is a powerful one — and that it's made more intense by a sense of intimacy and fellowship that comes with being surrounded by other believers.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.