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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Texas Man To Serve 25 Years In Plot To Kill Saudi Ambassador

May 30, 2013
Originally published on May 30, 2013 1:58 pm

Manssor Arbabsiar, a naturalized U.S. citizen who has lived in Texas for three decades, has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for conspiring to kill Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States.

Last October, Arbabsiar pleaded guilty to plotting to kill the ambassador. He also admitted to working with Iranian military officials on the plan.

The FBI said the plan was foiled after Arbabsiar traveled to Mexico to try to recruit out a person he believed was connected to a drug cartel, but who was actually a paid U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency informant. The agency said Arbabsiar agreed to pay the man and his associate $1.5 million for carrying out a plan to murder the ambassador during a visit to a restaurant in Washington, D.C.

The plot caused Washington Post foreign policy columnist David Ignatius and other analysts to remark on how bizarre and sloppy it seemed, with Ignatius saying it more closely resembled an Elmore Leonard caper novel.

But the government's prosecutors said the plot, which was never carried out, also had potentially serious consequences.

"A large number of bystanders who had done nothing other than chose to eat in a particular restaurant were very likely to be killed as a result of the assassination of the ambassador," the government said, according to The Associated Press. "Nonetheless, Arbabsiar quickly dismissed the significance of those additional civilian casualties and on numerous occasions demonstrated a callous disregard for all those who would be killed."

U.S. authorities said Ababsiar was recruited for the job by the Qods Force, a branch of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. An Iranian member of that group, Gholam Shakuri, also was charged in the conspiracy, but his whereabouts are not known.

News of his arrest in 2011 came as a sharp surprise to many who knew Arbabsiar, who as NPR's Wade Goodwyn reported at the time "was a small business owner for much of his life. Friends say he liked to be called Jack."

Those who knew him doubted "his religious zeal, his brains and his energy to carry something like this off," Wade said back then, after Arbabsiar was arrested. "That includes his estranged wife."

The AP says his defense team had sought leniency, acknowledging Arbabsiar's crimes but also saying they were "the result of a severe mental breakdown caused by a longstanding, untreated bipolar disorder."

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