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, The Myth, The Reading List: Nelson Mandela

Jun 30, 2013
Originally published on December 6, 2013 7:35 pm

Growing up in apartheid South Africa with widespread state censorship, it was hard to get to know our political leaders. The first time I actually saw a photograph of Nelson Mandela was in high school in the mid-1980s.

A braver classmate had managed to sneak a few grainy images into our school — a full-face, younger Mandela, his fellow Robben Island inmate Walter Sisulu and the South African Communist Party leader Joe Slovo.

We knew bits and pieces about the history of the struggle against white supremacy in our country, since apartheid-era history textbooks told only the manifest destiny-like tale of white settler triumph and the "statesmanship" of figures like the mid-century Prime Minister Jan Smuts.

So, the years since the end of apartheid meant catching up on our own history. After I came to the U.S. in 1995 to study at Northwestern University, I spent my Friday afternoons in the library, watching films that had been banned in South Africa.

And I familiarized myself especially with the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela. He is the most recognizable figure in 20th century South African history — and perhaps one of the most recognizable in world history, which I learned was the result of a conscious propaganda campaign on the part of the African National Congress in the 1970s to sway Western public opinion — in addition to Mandela's own talents and charisma.

Since Mandela's release from prison in 1990 the myths and stories about him have grown, through many narratives constructed by journalists and the numerous films made about him and the many books written about his life. But these three, I think, provide a good introduction to this remarkable man, who always insisted that he was part of a larger struggle and a movement.

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Censorship during apartheid meant that many South Africans grew up knowing little about Nelson Mandela. Sean Jacobs was one of those denied Mandela's words. As part of our series This Week's Must Read, Professor Jacobs recommends Mandela's autobiography: "Long Walk to Freedom."

SEAN JACOBS, BYLINE: It's a book that a lot of people are talking about today, but I want to tell you why it was particularly important for me. I grew up in apartheid South Africa. The state censored everything, and it was hard to get to know our political leaders. I couldn't even see a photo of Mandela until I was in high school in the '80s.

We knew bits and pieces about the history of our country, including the struggle against white supremacy, but the only stories in our textbooks were about white settlers and people like Jan Smuts, a famous white prime minister. This didn't teach me anything about my own surroundings. I lived in a township where there was always violence. There were funerals all the time.

And I used to go with my dad to his work. He worked as a gardener for a white judge. And I remember coming back and telling my mother about how green it was there, compared to our world where things were crammed, drab and wet.

So the years after apartheid I had to catch up on my own history and the history of Nelson Mandela, and that meant reading his reading his autobiography "Long Walk to Freedom."

It's probably the most accessible book about his life. It charts his regal upbringing, career as a lawyer, his troubled marriages, and then it gets into the story of his time in prison, then his release and finally his election in 1994 as South Africa's first democratically chosen president. It's an incredible story.

But even more revealing is the book's sequel. "Conversations With Myself" is less triumphant and more introspective. It includes this passage, which I think captures Mandela, who always insisted that he was part of a larger struggle and a movement. One issue that deeply worried me in prison, he writes, was the false image that I unwittingly projected to the outside world; of being regarded as a saint. I never was one, even on the basis of an earthly definition of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.


SIEGEL: That was Sean Jacobs, a professor at the New School in New York and founder of the blog Africa is a Country.


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