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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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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Russian Lawmakers: Don't Criticize Soviet Actions In WWII

May 19, 2013

World War II remains a monumental event in the collective Russian mind. It's known as the "Great Patriotic War," and Russians believe no one made greater sacrifices than the Soviet Union when it came to defeating Nazi Germany.

The end of the war is celebrated with a huge military parade in Moscow's Red Square on May 9, commemorating the millions of men and women, military and civilian, who died during the struggle.

Any criticism of the Soviet war effort is rare. But even the rare comment has Russia's lower house of Parliament, the State Duma, looking for ways to control the narrative and make sure that the Soviet role is never portrayed as anything less than selfless patriotism.

The trouble is that World War II was fought under the leadership of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, and his repressive policies continued throughout the conflict.

In the latest flap, legislators in the Duma have called for an investigation into remarks made by an opposition deputy criticizing Stalin's wartime counterintelligence agency, SMERSH.

The agency's name comes from the abbreviated Russian phrase "Death to Spies." A fictionalized version of SMERSH appeared as James Bond's main foe in the early novels by Ian Fleming.

A recent program on Russian state television portrayed SMERSH as a heroic unit that fought Russia's enemies.

However, the opposition lawmaker, Leonid Gozman, wrote in an online column that SMERSH actually belonged in the same category as the German SS and the Gestapo.

He wrote that the name should "cause horror and disgust, but not be part of a headline for a patriotic movie."

Gozman said that's because SMERSH, at Stalin's bidding, took part in the repression of the Russian civilian population as well, resulting in the killing and deportation of thousands of Soviet citizens.

Such talk runs counter to President Vladimir Putin's call for more patriotic education for Russian children.

The Russian government is currently working on an initiative to establish a "canonical" version of Russian history that will be promulgated countrywide in a single set of textbooks.

Gozman told The Moscow Times that the Duma should also check the comments of revered Russian authors such as Alexander Solzhenitsyn, "because they said the same thing long before me."

The head of the Duma's Security and Anti-Corruption Committee, Irina Yarovaya, said a bill addressing criticism of Russia's wartime history could be brought up for consideration soon.

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