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

Russia Says No-Fly Zone Over Syria Would Be Illegal

Jun 15, 2013
Originally published on June 16, 2013 5:04 am

Russia's foreign minister on Saturday warned that any effort by the U.S. and its allies to impose a no-fly zone over Syria would violate international law.

Sergei Lavrov, speaking at a news conference in Moscow with his Italian counterpart, referred to "leaks from Western media" that U.S. F-16 fighters and Patriot missile in Jordan might be used in neighboring Syria to suppress government forces fighting insurgents there.

"You don't have to be a great expert to understand that this will violate international law," Lavrov said.

Moscow has long been a close ally of the Syrian regime and amid earlier talk of the possibility of a no-fly zone against President Bashar al-Assad's military, Russia pledged to deliver surface-to-air missiles and additional MiG-29 fighters to Damascus.

Lavrov also said Saturday that the evidence of Syrian chemical weapons use cited by the U.S. is not reliable and doesn't meet requirements of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

He said the organization specifies that samples taken from blood, urine and clothing can be considered reliable evidence only if supervised by organization experts from the time they are taken up to delivery to a laboratory, The Associated Press reports.

The White House this week said the U.S. would begin sending military support to the rebels after it was determined that the Syrian government used deadly sarin gas on its own people. The Wall Street Journal reported that a limited no-fly zone was among the options being actively considered.

NPR's Deborah Amos, reporting from Amman, Jordan, tells Weekend Edition Saturday that the Obama administration's plan to arm the rebels comes after the Assad regime made significant gains against rebels in the town of Qusair.

All eyes are now on Aleppo, Syria's economic capital, and "whether or not that city will fall to this combined assault by government forces and fighters from Hezbollah, the Iran-backed Shiite militia in Lebanon."

If it does, she says, "Assad will be in a very strong position in any peace talks — so strong that he might not go at all."

Deborah says meetings are taking place between Western officials and Salim Idriss, the commander of the Supreme Military Council, an umbrella group including the Free Syrian Army, about the logistics of weapons shipments.

Idriss, a moderate, is favored by Western and Arab governments allied against the Assad regime over more extreme elements in the insurgency, she says.

"He's a moderate. He's the one who will get those arms," Deborah says. "His rebels have been vetted by Western intelligence agencies. He's going to ask for more in those meetings. He needs to take out those helicopters, pierce those tanks, but he's not going to get everything he wants."

Update At 3:50 p.m. ET. Egypt Calls For 'No Hesitation' On No-Fly Zone

Reuters reports that in a speech to Sunni Muslim clerics in Cairo, Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi urged world powers not to hesitate to enforce a no-fly zone over Syria.

The Islamist Mursi told the audience that he had cut all ties to Damascus and demanded that the Iranian-backed Hezbollah, which has backed Assad's regime against rebels, must leave Syria, according to Reuters.

Update At 3:30 p.m. ET. U.S. Will Leave Fighters, Missiles In Jordan After Joint Exercise

A statement from the Department of Defense says Secretary Chuck Hagel "has approved a request from the Kingdom of Jordan for a detachment of F-16s and Patriot Missiles to remain in Jordan following the conclusion of the Eager Lion Exercise next week."

Update At 10 a.m. ET. Kerry: Chemical Weapons Use Jeopardizes Political Settlement

Reuters quotes Secretary of State John Kerry as saying Syria's use of chemical weapons "threatens to put a political settlement out of reach."

Meanwhile, the news agency also reports that 71 Syrian army officers, including six generals, have defected to Turkey.

Reuters quotes unnamed Turkish officials as the source of its report. It says the defection, for unknown reasons, is the largest mass desertion of senior officers from Assad's regime in months.

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