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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Viewers To Decide If Amazon's Sample Shows Make The Cut

May 24, 2013
Originally published on May 24, 2013 8:01 am



The popular series "Arrested Development" returns this Sunday with 15 new episodes, released all at once. They're coming from Netflix, which earlier this year, released "House of Cards." Online video companies are producing more of their own shows - not just Netflix, Hulu and Yahoo are getting into the act, as well.

Now, Amazon also wants to join, but they're doing things differently, letting viewers help choose the new lineup. Here's what TV critic Eric Deggans thinks of that approach.

ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: It's the most pressing question of the moment for modern television: What will be the definitive TV show made for the Internet?


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: We need a hit. We need a story that is so enticing.

DEGGANS: Amazon Prime subscribers can now sift through pilot episodes of 14 series starring John Goodman, Bebe Neuwirth and Jeffrey Tambor.


JEFFREY TAMBOR: (as David Everett) Listen up, you fleshy sack of corn syrup and Cheeto grease: That's not going to work on this worm.

DEGGANS: Customers note in the review sections what they think. It's a crowdsourcing setup with more than a whiff of 21st-century cool. But the pilots just aren't groundbreaking enough. The whole arrangement looks more innovative than it truly is.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: That sounds pretty last election cycle to me there, Lewis.

DEGGANS: It's looking good for "Alpha House," a comedy from Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau about GOP senators who bunk together in a house in D.C. But it turns out, this show's most remarkable moment belongs to Bill Murray. Here, John Goodman wakes him up, because he's overslept for a very important appointment.


JOHN GOODMAN: (as Gil John Biggs) Vernon! Were you, by any chance, scheduled to turn yourself in at the DOJ this morning?

BILL MURRAY: (as Vernon) Oh, (beep) no!

DEGGANS: If you couldn't tell after we cleaned it up for public radio, no one slings a four-letter word like Bill Murray. But minus the cursing and occasional nudity, none of Amazon's eight new comedies are much bolder than your average basic cable series. In fact, the four-letter words here feel like a dodge. They're trying to make conventional fare seem more daring. That's what trips up this musical number from Bebe Neuwirth's comedy "Browsers."


BEBE NEUWORTH: (as Julianna Mancuso-Bruni) (Singing) I'm someone who makes up new rules every day.

DEGGANS: She plays a proudly profane, Arianna Huffington-style website owner.


NEUWORTH: (as Julianna Mancuso-Bruni) (Singing) For instance, the rule that it sounds declasse to say I'm not someone to (beep) with.

DEGGANS: F-word or not, this feels too much like a bad "Saturday Night Live" skit. Maybe that's why there's already rumors it won't be picked up. But the most controversial show here is probably an animated series featuring two homegirl divas who work in a mall by day and pursue Indiana Jones-style adventures on the side. It's called, of course, "SupaNatural."


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: You know what? This is the 49th time we've saved the world. At 50, we should throw a party.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: I'm all about a party, but technically, this is still only 48.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: We deserve a party up in here.

DEGGANS: So, I'm wondering: Is this a 21st-century minstrel show, or just an Adult Swim cartoon gone bad? What Amazon hasn't said yet is exactly how public feedback will help them pick shows. Or when they will confirm which shows get made into series. Think back on recent history, and there's a handful of TV programs that define their new medium.

HBO's "The Sopranos" and "Sex and the City" reset the culture for what you could do with an original, premium cable show. FX's "The Shield" and AMC's "Mad Men" proved you could bring those kinds of complex characters to standard cable. And Netflix's "House of Cards" is making the same argument for streaming video.

Amazon's got to do more than sling a few f-words before they accomplish anything similar. But if you have any ideas how they can get there, I hear they're taking suggestions.

GREENE: Eric Deggans is TV and media critic for the Tampa Bay Times. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.