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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Scientists Go Medieval To Solve Ancient Leprosy Puzzle

Jun 14, 2013
Originally published on June 18, 2013 2:51 pm

Look through a series of 15th-century woodcuts, and you'll find that the leper is as much an icon of medieval art as the crown or the cross.

Leprosy was so common in Europe during the Middle Ages that it's estimated 1 in 30 people was infected with the bacteria. But by the turn of the 16th century, after the Crusades had swept across Europe, the disease mysteriously disappeared. And it never returned.

This left scientists puzzled. Did the bacteria mutate to become less harmful, or did Europeans become resistant to the germs?

To answer this question, a team of biologists and archaeologists probed the mass grave of a 600-year-old leper colony for traces of ancient leprosy DNA. They found leprosy didn't change; we did.

A study published in Science Thursday shows that the ancient leprosy genome is nearly identical to the genome of modern-day leprosy.

Extracting a pathogen's DNA from human skeletons is nearly impossible, says microbiologist Stewart Cole of the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. "The material was a mixture of human DNA, microorganisms and contaminating DNA from other bones and surrounding soil," he says.

"This was difficult," Cole said, but after sorting through enough material, eventually they hit the jackpot in the form of a decayed tooth.

Less than 0.1 percent of the tooth's DNA came from the leprosy pathogen. Still, the team was able to reconstruct the ancient leprosy genome using this 600-year-old chomper.

The old form of leprosy was almost indistinguishable from the one that infects people today.

"If the explanation of the drop in leprosy cases isn't in the pathogen, then it must be in the host, that is, in us," Cole says.

Indeed, scientists believe that a certain gene makes some people highly resistant to leprosy. This particular gene, Cole says, is prevalent in Europeans.

To stop a disease, Cole says, it's helpful to understand its origins. "Having information about the specific genes and proteins in the disease can help to determine preventative and therapeutic strategies, as well as possible drug resistances."

The same methods used to uncover ancient leprosy could also be useful in exploring ancient strains of tuberculosis, syphilis and the bubonic plague.

The bacteria that cause leprosy, also called Hansen's Disease, can live in the human body for up to 20 years without any physical symptoms. But eventually the infection causes severe pain, nerve damage and often a crippling loss of bodily tissue.

Today, leprosy can be treated by antibiotics. Although the beginning of 2012 saw fewer than 200,000 cases reported, it remains a global concern. A historically stigmatized disease, leprosy often goes undiagnosed and untreated, until it is in its advanced stages.

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