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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Nudging Detroit: Program Doubles Food Stamp Bucks In Grocery Stores

Jun 14, 2013
Originally published on June 14, 2013 2:35 pm

In recent years, programs that double the value of food stamp dollars spent at farmers markets have generated a lot of attention. The basic idea: Spend, say, $10 in food stamps and get an extra $10 credit for purchases at the market.

The model, which has spread to more than 25 states, has been hailed as one of the most effective ways to help low-income consumers get better access to fresh fruits and vegetables, while also supporting local farmers. But it has one major flaw: Most people don't shop at farmers markets.

That's why the Fair Food Network announced Friday that it's taking its food stamp incentive program to a new frontier: grocery stores.

The Fair Food Network already runs one such program, called Double Up Food Bucks, at 100 farmers markets in Michigan and Ohio. The program gives consumers a credit of up to $20 a day for using food stamps, or SNAP benefits, at the markets.

But Fair Food is well aware of the shortcomings of this approach. So the organization will soon pilot a new version of its program — the first of its kind — at three independent grocery stores in Detroit. This time, shoppers who use food stamps will get a $10 reward card for local produce with the purchase of $10 of groceries.

According to Oran Hesterman, president and CEO of the Fair Food Network, involving grocery stores in healthy food incentive programs is a critical step in reaching even more people who rely on federal food assistance.

"Ever since we started the program in 2009, we never conceived of it as just a farmers market program," Hesterman tells The Salt. "We knew that while farmers markets were a great place to demonstrate that people would use the program, if we were going to have an impact on a big scale, at some point we would have to move from farmers markets to grocery stores, where most people get their food most of the time."

So why Detroit? It's notorious for its food deserts, and fruits and vegetables are especially expensive for its poorest residents. But, Hesterman says, the city has a billion-dollar food economy, and half of that is spent by people on food assistance, "so it's the perfect place for us" to test the idea. (The Fair Food Network is based in Ann Arbor, Mich.)

One in 7 Americans receives food stamps, known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance, or SNAP, benefits. The average recipient receives about $133 a month. As one of the biggest government assistance programs at $80 billion, SNAP has been highly successful at reducing food insecurity and poverty in the U.S. Still, there's long been a debate about which foods should be allowed in the program and how to encourage healthful choices.

That's one reason why Fair Food Network and Wholesome Wave, another organization offering SNAP incentive programs, decided to partner with farmers markets. (Check out our Q&A with Wholesome Wave CEO Michel Nischan for more on their work.)

But Osterman says the programs are not just about encouraging people to buy fresh fruits and vegetables; they're also about building a market that local farmers can depend on.

"The more we can capture those SNAP dollars in the community, the more wealth and jobs we can generate," says Hesterman. "We're trying to demonstrate that we can think about using SNAP not just as a hunger and food insecurity program for low-income families, but also as an economic development tool."

In the new grocery pilot program, he says SNAP recipients will have about 15 Michigan-grown fruits and vegetables to choose from at the three participating stores. This local produce will be in a special section of the stores, labeled as eligible for the program.

Each store will have a different selection, depending on the season, but Hesterman says he expects most will be offering tomatoes, eggplants, squash and a variety of fruit.

"This year we are going to have a fabulous fruit crop in Michigan," he says. "So these stores will likely have apples, peaches, cherries and blueberries galore."

The participating stores are Honey Bee Market, Metro Foodland and Mike's Fresh Market; the pilot will run between July 1 and Oct. 31.

Despite the success of the incentive program at farmers markets, there's some uncertainty about whether it will work in grocery stores. The program isn't yet integrated in the grocery stores' computer systems, which is why the recipients will get their credit for produce purchases on a separate card.

"My biggest fear is that people won't know about it," says Hesterman. To get the word out, his group will be advertising the program on the radio and through billboards.

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