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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Sometimes Less Is More: Reflections On X-Ray Vision

Jul 5, 2013

I saw Man of Steel last week — the latest retelling of the Superman story — and I was thrilled to see that now, finally, an effort has been made to make better sense of Superman's X-ray vision.

Surgeons have been performing cataract operations on the blind for centuries now and there is a large and ancient literature exploring the work. But what has not very often been discussed is the fact that removing cataracts does not typically have the effect of, as it were, pulling aside a a curtain and revealing, in one fell swoop, a coherent visible world. Visual information to someone who is unfamiliar with it can be confusing and, in fact, blinding.

Case studies describe patients who refuse to use vision to perform delicate or difficult tasks that they have long since mastered relying on senses other than sight. Such patients will shut their eyes to make their way across an intersection, or turn off the bathroom light so that they can shave. As Oliver Sacks, Richard Gregory and others have also documented, acquiring sight at a late age can be a demoralizing and unpleasant gift.

This is just the situation that we find young Clark in as his superpowers begin to develop.

Readers of my age will remember the ads at the back of comic books for X-ray specs that promised to enable you to see through ladies blouses. But Clark was not given his own voyeuristic power with the onset of X-ray vision. He was, rather, blinded and confused.

To see the skulls, or subcutaneous flesh, of the people around you, is not to see their faces, and so, really, it is not to see them. Clark found himself alone and scared, alienated from those around him. To see at all, Clark needed to learn not to see through things. He needed, that is, to come to understand that seeing is a way of paying attention, not to everything, but to what interests you or is relevant or important for this or that purpose.

In the film, Clark is represented as having wildly hyperactive senses, as though he suffered from a kind of ADHD, or something along those lines. To harness his powers, what was required, finally, was a kind of mindfulness training. He needed learn to focus and filter and shut out and pay attention.

But the true moral of Clark's situation — brought out when we notice the literature of the surgical restoration of sight — is that we are all always in the situation that Clark Kent finds himself in, his more powerful sensory capacities notwithstanding. It's not the sensations that matter to us. It's the world around us. And the way we learn to see is by learning to understand the way our sensations depend, in reliable and familiar ways, on our changing relation to a changing environment.

Clark Kent is, then, truly a super man.

Later in the film he is able to use his all-too-human understanding of the limitations inherent in our perceptual capacities to do battle with villains from Krypton who, although also equipped with the same heightened sensory powers, are, initially at least, no better than blind.


You can keep up with more of what Alva Noë is thinking on Facebook and on Twitter: @alvanoe

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