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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

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit


Sabotage Prompts Two-Year Bans For Olympic Skater And Coach

Aug 26, 2013


That's how a disciplinary panel at the International Skating Union (ISU) describes the behavior of former U.S. Olympic short track speedskating coach Jae Su Chun during a contentious international meet in Poland in 2011.

American Olympic medalist Simon Cho confessed last Fall to sabotaging the skate of a Canadian rival at that meet. Cho claimed his coach made him do it.

But in announcing two-year suspensions for both, the ISU panel says it "does not have sufficient evidence" to support Cho's claim. Still, the panel concludes that Coach Chun "created an atmosphere which led to the tampering action..."

The panel writes that "instead of guiding the skaters responsibly Mr. Chun abused the skaters mentally and emotionally."

Two witnesses submitted testimony during a closed hearing in June saying Chun was hostile toward the Canadian team, which he once coached, in a shared locker room at the Warsaw event. Chun believed the Canadians had "team skated," a tactic that helped another team at the expense of the American skaters.

Canadian Oliver Jean was later forced out of the competition after Cho surreptitiously bent a blade on one of Jean's skates in the locker room. Jean testified in an affidavit that Chun told him, "You deserved the broken blade, you deserve what's happening to you."

Earlier, Jean wrote, Chun told him, "I know worse dirty tactics to make someone lose...I wish you bad luck; I hope you lose the race."

The panel commended Cho for publicly admitting he tampered with Jean's skate, apologizing to Jean and showing remorse, citing all of that as "mitigation."

"It does not make a difference whether the coach Mr. Chun incited Mr. Cho to tamper with the skate or whether Mr. Cho did it on his own initiative," the panel writes. "Either Mr. Chun verbally requested him to do so or he set the skater under psychological pressure..."

Chun's spokesman rejects the panel's conclusions. "I don't think the proceedings were fair," says Hyonmyong Cho, who is not related to Simon Cho. Chun, he asserts, is the victim of an "orchestrated slander."

Hyonmyong Cho says skaters supporting Chun and his version of events were not permitted to testify at the ISU hearing. He also says the panel did not consider other evidence Chun believed relevant to the case.

The panel says it rejected written evidence not directly relevant to the tampering incident and did not invite witness testimony based on "hearsay."

The decision bolsters the complaints of a dozen short track athletes who boycotted Chun last year, according to Ed Williams, an attorney for the skaters.

"This vindicates the boycotting athletes' assertions of over a year ago that Jae Su Chun was indeed mentally and emotionally abusive toward the skaters," Williams says.

The ISU panel specifically notes that its decision does not involve the physical and mental abuse claims of those athletes. A U.S. Speedskating (USS) investigation found that there was no "pattern of abuse." The USS investigators also considered the sabotage incident but neglected to interview Jean and included an email purportedly from a former U.S. skater enthusiastically supporting Chun. The athlete told NPR he didn't write the email.

The suspensions can be appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport but Cho says he's done with the case and the sport.

"This long investigation has caused irreparable pain for my family and I to the point where I can no longer find it in myself to keep skating," Cho says.

Before the scandal, Cho was considered a possible successor to Apolo Ohno, a short track star who won more Winter Olympic medals than any other American athlete. Ohno retired after the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

USS says it will now consider its own disciplinary action for Cho. The group suspended Chun last year for failing to report the tampering incident after he learned about it.

According to his spokesman, Chun plans to keep coaching short track skaters aiming to compete in the next Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, in February. In fact, Chun is a regular fixture at the Utah Olympic Oval outside Salt Lake City, the home ice for U.S. speedskaters. He is privately coaching some of Team USA's best skaters, despite the bans.

"He can continue to do what he likes as a private citizen," says Tamara Castellano, a spokeswoman for USS.

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