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

1 hour ago
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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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For The Love Of Science: A Call To Action

May 15, 2013
Originally published on May 15, 2013 1:06 pm

People often ask me how I got interested in science. I wish I could answer that I had a mentor when I was a child, that a biologist or a physicist visited my school when I was in third grade and transformed my life. But that's not what happened to me and, sadly, not what happens to the vast majority of children.

There are, of course, exceptions, but the fact is that STEM professionals (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) rarely visit schools, public or private, to speak about what they do and why they do it. The majority don't even volunteer to speak at their own children's schools, something I find absurd.

My own interest in science was a happy accident, something that came from inside, a sort of innate urgency to find out how the world works and how we can better relate to Nature.

I had the good fortune to spend summers at my grandparents' house in the mountains not far from Rio de Janeiro. It was a lush and dramatic setting, with highly eroded peaks covered in tufts of tropical forest. Darwin — during his voyage on the HMS Beagle — was enchanted by similar terrain. I recall asking my father, a dentist, how could rock — being so hard — become so sculpted.

"Time does it, a time so vast that it would be like a swallow taking a sip every day to empty a whole ocean," he once said.

I collected rocks and insects in those mountains. I hunted bats (the vampire kind!), fished, hiked, ran away from poisonous snakes, went up countless trees and explored thick jungles with a machete in hand. My exposure to Nature was direct; it was part of my childhood.

Only later, when I started science classes in school, did I begin to understand that there was a method perfectly suited to studying the world and its creatures, a method that could become a career, a way of life.

At 13 I knew I would do something related to science or engineering. And this without ever talking to, or even seeing, a single scientist! My inspiration, as with the vast majority of children everywhere, came from books, TV shows and family. Ask yourself: what percentage of children under 13 have ever seen or listened to a scientist in person? I don't have a number, but I imagine it is appallingly small.

I think this has to change, that every school, public or private, should have a program bringing in STEM professionals once or twice a year to talk about their research and their professional lives. How does a mathematician make a living? What does a biologist do? These visits should include graduate students, from astronomy to zoology.

Granting agencies, such as the National Science Foundation and NASA are now requiring some sort of outreach as part of their funding packages, which is great. Still, there should be a much stronger partnership between schools, universities, research centers and industry to increase the exposure of young students to a life in the sciences.

Picture 20 fourth graders watching a visual presentation that captures the stunning world of particle accelerators! How about the importance of chemistry in our everyday lives, or the budding reality of robotics, how to build satellites, detect black holes and exoplanets or decode a genome? Face-to-face encounters help drive home the fact that science pretty much defines the world in which we live.

I often go to schools in the United States and Brazil, speaking with students of all ages. I see their eyes brighten when I talk about how huge the universe is, how there is a giant black hole in the middle of the Milky Way, the prospects for life beyond Earth and why the Higgs boson interesting. Even teenagers make an effort to listen, their curiosity piqued by the possibility of a future that sometimes sounds impossible.

In a recent meeting of the American Physical Society, where I serve as a general councillor, we discussed a report on the need for better-prepared high school teachers. The number of universities preparing science teachers across the country needs to grow significantly. Regional centers in physics and science education should be created as part of an overall effort to promote a sharp improvement in pedagogy. In short, there are pressing needs in both number and quality when it comes to teaching science in the U.S.

But let's not overlook a very simple step that we can take right now, without delay: scientists, engineers and mathematicians can volunteer to share their professional experiences with schools in their neighborhoods. A couple of visits a year — a few hours of time — could inspire thousands to pursue a life in the sciences and impact our collective future.

You can keep up with more of what Marcelo is thinking on Facebook and Twitter: @mgleiser

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