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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Rebuilding Storm-Damaged New Jersey, One Boardwalk At A Time

May 26, 2013
Originally published on May 26, 2013 2:00 pm

When Hurricane Sandy swept through New Jersey last year, it destroyed many homes and businesses. It also obliterated the boardwalks that are the center of social and economic life in the towns.

In the months since, many of these towns have rushed to rebuild their boardwalks, but not everyone thinks the money has been well spent.

The boardwalk in Belmar, N.J., was among those destroyed and scattered all over town. But just seven months later, the town has managed to rebuild all 1.3 miles of it. It's now made of synthetic wood on pilings dug deep into the sand — at a cost of more than $8 million.

"We promised that a new boardwalk would be built in time for Memorial Day, and today I can proudly say we have delivered," Mayor Matt Doherty said at a ceremony to mark the effort this week.

The federal government will pay for much of the boardwalk, but to kick-start the project the town held what it called an adopt-a-board campaign. It raised nearly $700,000 from private donors to offset the town's costs.

Belmar isn't alone.

"Boardwalks are opening all over New Jersey, and I'm going to try and be at every one of them," said New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who's been going from one ribbon-cutting to another all week.

The rush to rebuild boardwalks is testament to the role they play in towns like Belmar. In many places, boardwalks are lined with seasonal businesses, restaurants, T-shirt shops and bike-rental stores.

Tom Arnone, a Monmouth County, N.J., official, says boardwalks bring in huge amounts of money to the towns, and also pay a lot of taxes.

"[There's also] all the businesses that rely on it and then all the jobs that we're putting people back to work," Arnone says. "That's why it was so important for all of us to work together and be in a partnership to make this happen."

But boardwalks also play a certain emotional role in the life of New Jersey towns. Belmar has had a boardwalk since 1875. It's a place to hang out, meet friends or just stroll and contemplate the ocean.

Every day Phil Sanfilippo, who's retired from the Defense Department, walks the boardwalk for five miles from Seagirt to Belmar and back.

"It gave us an empty feeling when we came down here and all this was gone," Sanfilippo says. "Now you may say, 'Well, that's stupid,' when people lost their homes. However you take away a person's identity and you take away their being, and to us down here, the boardwalks are what it's all about."

But a lot of people did lose their homes in Belmar, and some of them aren't so happy about the new boardwalk.

Gail Hershey, who runs a beach shop in town, has been here for 19 years. She says she understands why towns like Belmar made their boardwalks a priority because of the money, but sees how those who lost homes might feel pushed aside.

"I'm still out of my house and that's unfortunate, and I know a lot of my friends are still out of their homes," Hershey says. "A lot of them feel the towns put all their money into the boardwalks and didn't help as much with the homes and the people."

New Jersey officials acknowledge that many homeowners are still hurting and considerable work remains to be done to repair the damage Sandy left behind. But they also say beach towns like Belmar make a lot of their tax revenue along their boardwalks, and if they can't do that, the task of rebuilding will become much harder.

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