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.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Arizona Hispanics Poised To Swing State Blue

2 hours ago
Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Pages

Obama's Unplanned NSA Discussion

Jun 18, 2013
Originally published on June 18, 2013 4:58 pm

You have to wonder if President Obama ever thought, when he first ran for the White House, that he would need to defend himself from accusations his presidency would be a mere extension of his Republican predecessor.

But there he was with journalist Charlie Rose having to explain why his approach to national security wasn't really like that of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.

The main reason Obama is no repeat of that previous administration? He pointed to his championing of strong checks and balances on federal government surveillance (his strong suggestion was that his immediate predecessors didn't).

Further, he seeks a "national conversation" about data-gathering by the government and other entities. Again, the implication there was that any broad debate during the Bush-Cheney years about surveillance was something the prior administration was only brought to while kicking and screaming.

From the reasonable, matter-of-fact way the president put it, you would have thought that such a discussion had been part of Obama's plan for his second term all along. But, of course, it wasn't.

The Obama administration didn't exactly initiate this discussion. Instead, it was thrust upon him. Indeed, whether you view Edward Snowden, the leaker of the NSA surveillance programs, as a hero or traitor, he's likely the only reason Obama is now forced to call for such a discussion about NSA surveillance.

Something similar happened with the U.S. drone program that targets terrorist suspects. Once controversial details leaked out about the president's expansion from the Bush era of the unmanned aerial vehicle program, Obama called for another national discussion. In his National Defense University speech, Obama said there was a "larger discussion we need to have about a comprehensive counterterrorism strategy."

Obama's appearance on The Charlie Rose Show, as well as his calls for Americans to discuss what they're willing to abide for national security, also comes at a time when the president's once durable job approval ratings have fallen. Some polls suggest an erosion even among Democrats. The NSA revelations as well as the IRS controversy have clearly taken their toll.

Hence the president's attempt to convince Americans that much of what they've heard about the NSA's activities has been flat out wrong and that the American people have no greater defender of their civil liberties than him.

"My job is both to protect the American people and to protect the American way of life which includes our privacy," Obama told Rose. "And so every program that we engage in, what I've said is, 'Let's examine and make sure that we're making the right tradeoffs.' "

The need to openly talk about national security issues he would prefer not to is just one more area where Obama has more in common with the Bush administration than he apparently wants to admit publicly.

But it's not just the Bush-Cheney administration Obama shares this with, but many predecessors.

Presidents often see national security as requiring aggressive actions — frequently at odds with civil liberties — which they, of course, would rather not discuss openly.

Once leaks force a public debate, presidents are compelled to speak to the nation's concerns and sometimes to the global public beyond the U.S. But it certainly isn't part of their plan.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.