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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Shoes, Romance, And Art: A Reader Walks With The Books She Loves

Jun 10, 2013

Longtime readers know that one of my favorite pop-culture blogs ever invented is Smart Bitches Trashy Books, which offers a home for romance readers (who are legion) to both love their books and laugh at their books. It's a community of enthusiasts, which is why its chief, Sarah Wendell, was the natural ally of a graduate student named Rudi, who made an art project that Sarah immediately gave a simple, evocative title when displaying it on her site: "The Most Awesome Shoes In The Universe."

They are heels, decoupaged with tiny copies of real romance novels, with pink trim at the sole. And they're not for display — they're for wearing.

At first glance, the shoes just seem like the most explosively darling display of whimsy you will ever see in your life, and they are that, certainly. They're made with great care and love, you can tell, and while decoupage shoes are a fairly common craft project (try an image search for "decoupage shoes"), these are something special.

And what really caught my attention was Rudi's "statement," which laments that romance readers are so often literally judged by the covers of their books. Rudi says, "By taking an object that holds a tradition of femininity and sexuality, and covering it in images from romance covers I created a work that allowed me to perform and celebrate my love of romance novels anywhere I went in an act of decorative subversion."

There's a particular charm in these, for me, because women's fiction has become so tied up in images of shoes — many of these covers are more traditional romance, but more contemporary romance (and other fiction marketed to women) is absolutely crawling with covers that prominently feature shoes. To mash up romance fiction and shoes is particularly pointed, and great, and delicious.

These shoes are cute, but they're not only cute — they're also a display of defiant enthusiasm, of genre-reader pride, of gentle good humor, and of an incredibly distinctive fashion sense, because come on, those are great shoes.

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