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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U.S. Airlines Forecast A Sunnier Summer

May 16, 2013
Originally published on May 16, 2013 4:53 pm

After a long bumpy ride that started five years ago, the domestic airline industry seems to be pulling up and smoothing out.

The number of passengers planning to fly this summer will tick up 1 percent from 2012, climbing back to the highest level since 2008, an industry group said Thursday.

The airlines' profit outlook is also brighter, as jet fuel prices have settled down a bit. Passenger complaints are quieting down, too.

After years of losses, bankruptcies, mergers and misery, the industry finally "is heading in the right direction," said John Heimlich, chief economist for Airlines for America, which represents major carriers.

At a press briefing Thursday, Heimlich said airlines expect about 209 million passengers to fly between June 1 and Aug. 31. That's the highest level since the summer of 2008, when 210 million flew on U.S. carriers. The record was set before the Great Recession hit — at 217 million passengers — in the summer of 2007.

In March and April of this year, the airlines hit "a soft patch," Heimlich said. That was a period filled with bad weather and worse headlines, about flight delays tied to air-traffic-controller furloughs.

Dan Elwell, Airlines for America's vice president for operations, said that in April, 7,200 flights — involving 600,000 passengers — were delayed directly because of air-traffic-control disruptions caused by the congressional sequester of funds for the Federal Aviation Administration.

The sequestration-related delays cost the industry about $50 million in expenses tied to burning up extra fuel, re-booking passengers, rescheduling crews, etc.

After six days of flight disruptions, Congress and the FAA agreed to make some fixes so that the air-traffic delays would no longer be a threat, Elwell said.

As a result, the spring swoon is likely over. The association does not forecast earnings for the full year, but it says the industry is off to a better start than last year.

In 2013's first three months — always a tough quarter for airlines — 10 publicly traded airlines had a combined loss of $552 million. That was far better than a year ago, when they had a loss of $1.7 billion. For the first quarter, revenues were up 2.5 percent to $34.3 billion.

Heimlich said that this winter's improved performance has set the stage for profits later this year. Once the airlines get a little money in their coffers, they'll be able "to attract new investors, lower their costs of borrowing and reinvest" in new equipment and employees, he said.

U.S. airlines plan to upgrade airport terminals, customer lounges, kiosks, ground equipment and in-flight entertainment, the report said. They've already improved baggage handling with new equipment, better software and more worker training.

The good news for passengers is that fewer bags are being lost. Mishandled bag complaints are down to 3.15 per 1,000 domestic passengers, compared with 7.05 complaints in 2007.

But the improved service and brighter profit forecast have come at a price for passengers. Most airlines now charge extra for checked bags and some are even adding fees for carry-on bags. For example, earlier this month, Frontier Airlines announced it will charge up to $100 for one carry-on bag for any customer who fails to book directly through the carrier's website. That change takes effect this summer.

The added fees led Rick Seaney, who tracks airline fees as CEO of, to ask in a recent post, "At this point, you may be thinking, have the airlines gone nuts?"

But airlines have lost so much money for so many years that, Seaney concludes, "They may be brazen, but they're not nuts. It has to do with survival."

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