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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Pyrrhic Victories: Mass Casualties And Rah-Rah Endings

Jun 3, 2013

[Attention: Vague spoilers on Fast & Furious 6, Star Trek Into Darkness, Iron Man 3, The Avengers. More specific spoilers on Die Hard, Die Hard 2.]

I get all my best ideas about Star Trek from NPR's White House correspondent Ari Shapiro, so naturally, when he came by my desk this morning with an observation, I was all (non-pointy) ears.

He noted that in Star Trek Into Darkness, as in a variety of other recent action/thrillers, there are an awful lot of casualties before the heroes are eventually victorious. It used to be that if the good guy was going to save the day, he did it before entire cities, buildings, and other things containing gobs upon gobs of innocent humanity were destroyed.

As it happened, I had noticed this as well, most recently in Fast & Furious 6, which is why I noted at the time that it suspended the general principle that most films follow that is known as "Even Innocent Bystanders Who Do Not Have Speaking Parts Have To Not Die In Order For The Good Guys To Be Considered Entirely Successful."

It's always been possible for there to be losses before the hero wins, but consider the difference between Die Hard and Die Hard 2, the latter of which is the first movie where I can remember thinking, "That's an awful lot of losing before the winning starts." In the first film, you lose an innocent person here and a semi-innocent dummy there, all the better to prove how merciless Hans is, but there's such avoidance of unnecessary dying on the part of the nonviolent that the nerd terrorist, who just does computer crimes, gets off with a punch in the face.

But in the second film, John McClane, despite his best and most ingenious efforts, is unable to save an entire British Airways flight full of innocent people.

Interestingly, for me, efforts to raise the stakes by cranking the body count among the innocent have the effect of lowering the stakes. By the end of Fast & Furious 6*, I sort of felt like the best the heroes were going to get from me was a vague, uncertain "Yay?", because however miraculous the rescue of an individual member of the team, I couldn't help thinking they were pretty inept heroes, given the way [SPOILER] kept running over [SPOILER] all over the [SPOILER] until the funeral homes were presumably booked for months to come. Sure, they might save their own guys, but haven't they already kind of lost the war against letting a crazy dude run wild?

Is there a moment, I wonder, where your movie has flattened so many people that the hero is sort of a selfish jerk for being consumed with whether he's saving his friends/girlfriend/family/team?

In fact, one of the things I like about Iron Man 3 is that it returns to the events of The Avengers to suggest that "winning" in a way that also includes a ton of losing would actually be deeply and profoundly traumatic, not energizing and ending with a bloomin' picnic.

It really does raise the question of what an action hero is supposed to do. Is he supposed to be victorious in an individual moment, in a hand-fighting confrontation on the top of a moving vehicle? Is he supposed to save himself and those closest to him? Or is he supposed to thwart the bad guy's desire to hurt a bunch of innocent people?

Would Speed have still been Speed if Dennis Hopper had successfully dropped the elevator and blown up the bus, but the "I'm taller" confrontation had gone the same way?

*By far the funniest part of my conversation with Ari was when I said, "Have you seen Fast & Furious 6?", and then I felt very silly, because he is the White House correspondent and very elegant and no, he did not take himself to see Fast & Furious 6. If you ever wonder how diplomatic reporters can be, consider the fact that he refrained from immediately saying, "Well, I would have, but I was reporting the news. From the White House. Where the President lives."

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