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.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Arizona Hispanics Poised To Swing State Blue

2 hours ago
Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Pages

U.S. Says It Has 'High Confidence' Syria Used Chemical Weapons

Jun 13, 2013
Originally published on June 13, 2013 8:19 pm

The White House has "high confidence" that the Syrian regime is using chemical weapons against rebel forces, and the U.S. is prepared to offer military assistance to the opposition, a senior administration official said Thursday.

Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said that an estimated 100 to 150 Syrians have been killed in attacks using sarin gas, although the figure "is likely incomplete."

"Following a deliberative review, our intelligence community assesses that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons, including the nerve agent sarin, on a small scale against the opposition multiple times in the last year," Rhodes said in a statement. "Our intelligence community has high confidence in that assessment given multiple, independent streams of information."

In a conference call with reporters, Rhodes said the action by the regime of President Bashar Assad "violates international norms and crosses red lines that have existed in the international community for decades."

President Obama had made a decision to provide more assistance to the Syrian opposition — including military support — but Rhodes said, "We are going to make decisions about further actions on our own timeline."

He did not give details of the types of support other than to mention the possibility of providing communications equipment and medical equipment with the aim of "strengthening the effectiveness of the [opposition Supreme Military Council] on the ground."

"Suffice to say, this is going to be different in scope and scale than what we have provided before," he said.

"We are working with allies to present a credible, evidentiary case to share with the international community and the public," Rhodes said. "We request that the U.N. mission include these incidents in its ongoing investigation and report, as appropriate, on its findings."

In April, President Obama said that the U.S. had physiological evidence that sarin nerve gas had been used in Syria.

The New York Times reports that senior State Department officials "have been pushing for an aggressive military response, including airstrikes to hit the primary landing strips in Syria that the government uses to launch chemical weapons attacks, ferry troops around the country, and receive shipments of materiel from Iran."

Arizona Sen. John McCain, speaking on the Senate floor Thursday, said that he believes the decision to provide military support to the Syrian opposition "is not enough."

"I applaud the president's decision, and I appreciate it," McCain said. "But the president of the United States ought to understand that just supplying weapons is not going to change the equation on the ground — the balance of power."

"Syrian butchers have used chemical weapons, which we all know is a red line," McCain said, reiterating his call for imposing a no-fly zone over Syria and for airstrikes to "take out Assad's air assets."

Rhodes said the White House has made no decision on a no-fly zone, which he said would entail "huge costs" and be difficult to implement. He said there's also no guarantee that it would substantively change the situation on the ground.

Speaking on Tuesday at a private session in New York with McCain, former President Bill Clinton aligned himself with the Arizona senator.

"Sometimes it's best to get caught trying, as long as you don't over-commit," Clinton said.

"Some people say, 'OK, see what a big mess this is? Stay out!' " he added. "I think that's a big mistake."

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.