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

2 hours 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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The Man With A 'Battery Operated Brain'

Jun 25, 2013

He calls himself the "human with the battery operated brain" because he does, in fact, have electrodes in his head, put there by his New Zealand doctors.

Andrew Johnson (also known as "Cyber AJ") a few months ago was a young, 39 year old, early-onset Parkinsonian who tremored constantly. His hands shook. His neck crimped. His body was stiff. He had balance problems, voice problems, trouble speaking. He can make those problems disappear now by hitting a switch. It's amazing to see. This video begins with him looking totally normal; he talks a bit, then, when he's ready, he pushes the "off" button, and the disease comes roaring back. Instantly.

This procedure, called "deep brain stimulation" is now used all over the world. When neurons in the brain start firing in ways that cause shakes and tics, it is sometimes possible, says neurosurgeon Andres Lozano, to control those tics by adding or subtracting electricity.

So what we've been able to do is to pinpoint where these disturbances are in the brain and we've been able to intervene within the circuits in the brain ... We do that with electricity. We use electricity to dictate how they fire and we try to block their behavior using electricity.

Over the years, these implants can pinpoint the errant neurons with increasing accuracy adding or subtracting electricity as needed. In Andrew's case, the implants turned him from a "39 year old trapped in an 89 year old body" to what passes for normal guy — at least when the current is on. As he says on his blog,, the surgery went fast.

I only had a small patch of hair removed from my head and chest and the wires pulled down and plugged into the neuro-stimulator which was implanted in my chest. Straight after the surgery I was in obscene amounts of pain (in my head) but double the normal dose of morphine soon put paid to that. While I was in recovery (incidentally longer than the time it took to do the surgery) there were lots of people milling around talking and getting ready to go to lunch etc. I am sure they were talking quietly but to me the slightest whisper was like a dagger to the skull and I remember thinking they better be quiet soon or I was going to get out of that bed and make them. That's if moving without falling to the floor in a crumpled heap was a possibility. The effects of the morphine soon kicked in and I started to feel halfway human again, albeit now a human with a battery operated brain. Cyber-AJ on the loose!

A few days later, after the staff had adjusted his monitor to compensate for his brain dysfunction, so that his body could move without shaking, (those settings will change; Parkinson's is a progressive disease), Andrew Johnson was released.

[T]he effects of being powered up are almost instantaneous. I have required several tweaks and medication adjustments but that is to be expected. I do feel a great deal better, certainly not to the point I was pre-Parkinson's but 100% better than I have felt in recent years. So from that perspective it has been a dream come true as I explained to a good friend Andy McDowell who came to visit me in hospital.

Andy McDowell also has Parkinson's, and he's written a poem about it to explain the disease to his children. "The only positive thing about this [expletive deleted] disease is meeting fantastic people like Andy and his wife Kate," says AJ. Here's the poem, "Smaller, A Poem About Parkinson's Disease", read by Andy's daughter Lily.

Thanks to blogger Jason Kottke for pointing me to AJ's story.

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