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

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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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Maryland Suburb Says 16 Is Old Enough To Vote

May 15, 2013
Originally published on May 16, 2013 9:30 am

If you're old enough to drive, are you old enough to vote?

You soon will be if you live in Takoma Park, Md. The famously progressive suburb of Washington, D.C., has just extended voting rights in municipal elections to 16- and 17-year-olds.

Takoma Park was the first city in the country to take such a step, but its action is part of a larger trend toward letting people vote earlier.

"We're not the first community to talk about the idea, and I doubt we'll be the last to adopt it," says City Councilman Tim Male, a co-sponsor of the measure that was passed Monday.

The Massachusetts Senate on Wednesday held a hearing on the question of allowing municipalities to extend the franchise to citizens younger than 18, as the Lowell City Council has twice attempted to do.

"Our elected officials represent those who can vote," says Alex Koroknay-Palicz, a former executive director of the National Youth Rights Association (NYRA) and a recent transplant to Takoma Park. "Those under the voting age have a lot at stake in this country but have never been represented."

A dozen states allow 17-year-olds to vote in primaries, as long as they will turn 18 in time for the general election. An additional 14 states allow citizens to register to vote prior to turning 18.

The voting age itself has been lowered to 16 in a number of countries, most recently Argentina last fall. Northern Ireland and Scotland have been debating the question as well.

Male, the Takoma Park city councilman, says research from abroad suggests that teens make good voters, in terms of turnout. The fact that turnout rates among the young are typically low, however, has also been embraced as an argument for lowering the voting age.

"The more opportunity we have to introduce young people to the voting process, the more likely it is that they'll be lifetime voters," says Heather Smith, president of Rock the Vote, which encourages voting among the young.

Koroknay-Palicz says that 16 may not be the perfect age, but that it makes sense. People who have reached that age are more likely to work, pay taxes and drive than, say, 14-year-olds.

Similar logic led to the adoption of the 26th Amendment in 1971 that set the age at 18. If 18 was old enough to fight and die in Vietnam, went the argument, it was old enough to vote.

Currently, a number of groups are promoting the idea of lowering the voting age, but not so much by way of organized opposition.

Still, when bills pop up in cities, public officials have sometimes been skeptical, questioning the wisdom and common sense of teenagers. Often, they recall their own foolishness at that age.

But while there are always questions about picking the right cutoff for various activities — and the age differs at which you can drive, enlist in the armed services and legally drink alcohol — voting is something younger teenagers should be able to handle, says Laurence Steinberg, an expert in adolescent brain development.

"Adolescents are probably just as good as adults at really taking information and making a logical decision about it," says Steinberg, a psychology professor at Temple University. "That doesn't mean they'll always do it logically, but neither do adults."

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