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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Perk Backlash: Do Surprise Upgrades Make Us Uneasy?

Jun 18, 2013

Whether it's a free upgrade on a hotel room or skipping ahead in the check-in line, many businesses give preferential treatment to some customers, hoping to make them more loyal. The practice often works — but a new study suggests that when we get perks we didn't earn, negative feelings can result. And they can make a surprise deal a little less sweet.

That's the gist of a study to be published later this year in the Journal of Consumer Research, with the forthright title "Consumer Reaction to Unearned Preferential Treatment."

"The current research demonstrates that, although receiving unearned preferential treatment does generate positive reactions, it is not always an entirely pleasurable experience," write the study's authors, Lan Jiang, Joandrea Hoegg, and Darren W. Dahl.

The displeasing aspects of a treat tend to peak, they write, when the perks are given in public, in front of other customers who are no different than the recipient of the business's generosity.

"We propose that receiving something that others have just as much right to receive can activate concerns about negative evaluations, reducing the satisfaction with the preferential treatment," write the researchers, who teach marketing at business schools at the University of Oregon and the University of British Columbia, Vancouver.

The study's authors found that "satisfaction with receiving preferential treatment can be restored if the observer who does not receive such treatment reacts positively to the recipient's good fortune or if the observer is of a higher status than the recipient."

That's right. The test subjects enjoyed "the positive experience of 'beating' a superior'" so much, the authors say, that it brought "increased overall satisfaction."

It also helps if nobody's looking. To test that theory, the researchers conducted experiments to test "feelings of social discomfort" and try to determine where they come from. They found that even in the most seemingly fair context — a random drawing — the winner felt best about it if they were alone.

All of the tests placed participants in situations in which one person received a surprise bonus. In one case, a booth that was dispensing free product samples suddenly gave one subject more than the others. That was welcomed — especially if no one else was around.

"It's like they wanted to get out of there," co-author JoAndrea Hoegg tells The Globe and Mail. "It's the fear of negative evaluation. If you're getting something you don't deserve, you're thrilled – as long as no one is watching you."

All of this isn't meant to imply that businesses should stop giving people free perks, the researchers say. The trick is to be sure all customers know the deal — and why they're not getting it. Other options include using scratch-off game tabs and loyalty emails, which can be kept private, to connect with customers.

Such steps, they say, "would minimize the potential for negative emotions."

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