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

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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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Smithfield Foods To Be Sold To Chinese Firm For $4.72 Billion

May 29, 2013
Originally published on May 29, 2013 10:11 am

The makers of Smithfield Ham, an icon on America's culinary scene for decades, are selling the publicly traded company to China's Shuanghui International Holdings Limited for about $4.72 billion in cash. The deal also includes an exchange of debt.

The purchase values Smithfield Foods at $7.1 billion — a figure that would make the purchase "the largest Chinese takeover of a U.S. company," according to Bloomberg News.

In addition to Smithfield, the company's brands include Armour, Eckrich, Gwaltney, Kretschmar, and others. The company's roots stretch back to 1936, when the Luter family opened a packing plant in Virginia.

Terms of the purchase value Smithfield's stock at $34 a share — a premium of more than 30 percent over the company's closing share price yesterday. The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the sale, says the company's shares rose sharply before the markets opened Wednesday.

The deal will require approval from U.S. regulators before it is final.

"This is a great transaction for all Smithfield stakeholders, as well as for American farmers and U.S. agriculture," Smithfield president and CEO Larry Pope said. "We have established Smithfield as the world's leading and most trusted vertically integrated pork processor and hog producer, and are excited that Shuanghui recognizes our best-in-class operations, our outstanding food safety practices and our 46,000 hard-working and dedicated employees."

Shuanghui International is the majority owner of Henan Shuanghui Investment & Development Co. — "China's largest meat processing enterprise and China's largest publicly traded meat products company as measured by market capitalization," according to a news release.

"China is the world's biggest producer and consumer of pork and the third-largest market for U.S. pork," Reuters reports. "In recent months, a series of food safety scandals have dented consumer confidence."

Smithfield's headquarters will remain in Virginia, according to a press release announcing the deal this morning. The companies also said that Shuangui will not close any Smithfield facilities, and will leave all employee agreements — and the existing management team — in place.

The purchase would further solidify an economic relationship between China and Virginia that has been growing. The state has sent several trade missions to Asia in recent years, helping China become what Gov. Bob McDonnell calls "far and away our largest trading partner," as member station WAMU recently reported.

McDonnell made that comment earlier this month, when he announced Virginia's $638 million of agricultural exports to China in 2012. Pork and poultry placed third on the list of the state's exports; the top spot was taken by soybeans.

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