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

1 hour 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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A Small Shock To The System May Help Brain With Math

May 16, 2013
Originally published on May 17, 2013 10:59 am

Stimulating the brain with a very small electrical current through the forehead could boost a student's ability to learn and remember basic mathematics, a provocative experiment suggests.

The work, published online Thursday by the journal Current Biology, could help those who struggle with mental arithmetic. But the study was small and the long-term effect wasn't profound.

The study tested something called transcranial random noise stimulation, a technique that sends a tiny current to the brain.

The current, generated by a small electronic device, is delivered through two electrodes attached to the temple. The electricity seems to affect the brain's neurons, which themselves use electrical signals to communicate with each other.

The results are preliminary, and alpha parents seeking an edge for their children shouldn't risk electrocution. "Do not try this at home," says Jackie Thompson, a psychologist at the University of Oxford in the U.K.

Some studies suggest that up to 1 in 5 of us has difficulty learning basic math, according to Thompson. Thompson and her colleagues thought that very slight electrical stimulation could help. Electrical stimulation has sometimes been shown to boost basic cognitive skills, Thompson says.

To find out if it could help with more complex brain functions, the team tried mathematics. They took 25 students and asked them to memorize a series of made-up mathematical equations. For example, 4 # 12 = 17. The idea was to test their ability to memorize sums that they hadn't seen before.

EDITOR'S ADD NOTE, Friday, May 17, 10:48 a.m.

The team also had the students execute problems with several arithmetic steps, such as 12 - 4 + 10 + 12 = 30. The idea was to test their ability both to calculate math problems and to memorize sums that they hadn't seen before.

And the original post continues...

All the students had two electrodes stuck to their foreheads, but only half received the tiny electrical signal. The signal was too small to be felt, and even the researchers conducting the tests didn't know who had received a signal and who hadn't.

When they went back and checked, they found that those who had received the stimulation appeared to memorize their sums faster and better than those who hadn't. Moreover, the effect seemed to last for six months after the stimulation. But it wasn't as strong.

Researchers aren't quite sure how it works, but co-author author Thompson says that the electrical signal may get brain cells synchronized: "Kind of like if you have eight rowers in a boat, if they're all rowing together they go faster," she says.

Researchers hope that their new technique could eventually be developed into a tool to help those with learning disabilities, or anyone who finds they are severely math challenged. But Thompson says that more research is needed to see what method of stimulation works best.

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