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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In Phoenix, 'Zombie' Subdivisions Rise From The Dead

Jun 28, 2013
Originally published on June 28, 2013 10:57 am

Developers in Phoenix are scrambling to keep up with another frenzied demand for housing. During the Great Recession, homebuilders in the suburbs abandoned neighborhoods that were only half-built. These so-called zombie subdivisions left a ring of unfinished construction around the city.

But now, the zombies are waking up.

When the housing party ended five years ago, Phoenix was left to clean up the mess. Since 2009, the city has received $116 million in federal stimulus money, teamed up with builders and gotten to work on reviving housing developments like Gordon Estates in South Phoenix.

In Gordon Estates, work crews are putting the final touches on 14 new homes that are just about move-in ready. Chris Hallett, who runs the Phoenix's Neighborhood Services Department, says he's running out of foreclosed properties to resurrect.

"The inventory out there is slowing," Hallett says. "That's a sign of a good economy, and that's a sign that our work here is just about done."

The housing recovery in Phoenix is in full swing and the supply of existing homes can't keep up with buyer demand. In response, builders began snatching up empty lots late last year. The easiest targets were the zombies already equipped with sewers and streetlights.

"The opportunity to acquire distressed lots or failed communities is long gone," says Dave Everson, president of Mandalay Homes. "They're now in the hands of people that are either building them or are in the process of getting started to build them."

Everson's company helped finish Gordon Estates, and Everson himself has bought a half-dozen distressed subdivisions. And he has reason to be optimistic about their future: The number of new-home sales in April was up 27 percent compared with the year before.

During the recession, builders recalibrated: They drew smaller floor plans, cut back on fancy amenities and designed denser neighborhoods.

"As an industry we tooled up for that," Everson says. "But what we are finding is, as the market's healing, we probably underestimate consumers' desire for a little bit larger home."

On average, new homes sold were about 30 percent larger than existing homes that were, says Mike Orr, a housing researcher at Arizona State University. Parents need bigger houses to accommodate their unemployed adult children, he says. But more likely, it's just industry picking up where it left off.

"I think the city planners would like to have much denser city centers with tall buildings," Orr says. "But the builders know how to make money doing it the old way, going out on the outer fringes."

Around Phoenix, about 350 subdivisions are actively selling new homes. In a normal market, that number is more than 600. But it takes time to recover, Realtor Greg Swann says.

"This year is definitely better than two years ago," he says, "but there are limits to the enthusiasm that you can express for this."

Two years ago, in a zombie neighborhood in West Phoenix, the only things you would see were fire hydrants emerging from the desert floor and sidewalks leading to nowhere. But today, you will find crews working on about a dozen big homes.

And when construction is really moving in Phoenix, Swann says you'll know it.

"If there's a truss on a truck in front of you every day when you're driving on the freeway," Swann says, "if you're trying to angle around that truss because you can't see, then they're building houses."

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