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

Arizona Hispanics Poised To Swing State Blue

2 hours ago
Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

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


War Zone Visit A McCain Trademark

May 30, 2013

There are risks aplenty for a U.S. lawmaker who makes a surprise visit to a war zone, as Sen. John McCain recently did when he crossed the border from Turkey into Syria.

The perils to life and limb go without saying. But there are also other risks: trying to tell the good guys from the bad guys; or being victimized by disinformation from unfriendly Middle Eastern interests.

While McCain got out unscathed from Syria, where he visited rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces, he may have had less success navigating the other risks.

On Thursday, a Lebanese newspaper reported that McCain may have unwittingly had his photo taken with a rebel, Mohamed Nour, allegedly involved in the kidnapping of 11 Lebanese Shiite pilgrims last year.

It being the Middle East, however, there's always the chance that something else entirely is going on. Brian Rogers, McCain's press secretary, notes that the kidnapper claim first appeared on a pro-Hezbollah Lebanese TV network opposed to the Syrian opposition.

In a statement, Rogers said in part:

"A number of the Syrians who greeted Senator McCain upon his arrival in Syria asked to take pictures with him, and as always, the Senator complied. If the individual photographed with Senator McCain is in fact Mohamed Nour, that is regrettable. But it would be ludicrous to suggest that the Senator in any way condones the kidnapping of Lebanese Shia pilgrims or has any communication with those responsible. Senator McCain condemns such heinous actions in the strongest possible terms.

"The Senator believes his visit to Syria was critical to supporting the many brave Syrians who are fighting for their lives and the freedom of their country against a brutal regime and its foreign allies that are massacring Syrian citizens on Syrian territory."

These war zone trips have become a signature for Sen. John McCain. Some senators use poster board displays on the Senate floor to make their points. McCain goes them one better and finds himself posing in dangerous places alongside wary men with semiautomatic rifles.

In Syria and Libya two years ago, McCain used the trips to raise pressure on the Obama administration and international community. He has wanted them to provide rebels with weapons and the protection of no-fly zones aimed at reducing the military advantages enjoyed by their strongmen rulers.

In Iraq in 2007, it wasn't indigenous rebels McCain visited, but American troops who had already toppled the strongman by the time McCain strolled through a Baghdad market to demonstrate the effectiveness of the U.S. troop surge at bringing stability.

"This is John McCain at his best," said Michael O'Hanlon, a national security expert at the Brookings Institution," in an interview. "This is the kind of thing he has always been very serious about, patriotic about.

"He's been willing to be a thorn in the side of his own party and the Democratic Party," O'Hanlon continued. "He's often wound up being a very important voice in whatever we wind up doing in a given conflict — the Balkans, Iraq, Afghanistan.

"He's not always right. And nobody should assume that just because he says it we should do it," O'Hanlon said. "But his voice is one of the most experienced. Also, at a time — and there are a lot of times like this — when presidents don't want to do anything, because they feel the whole burden of the entire domestic and international burden on their shoulders, and it's easier to hope that a problem fades away, Congress can often be a useful goad to more serious action."

That said, the ambiguities — some moral, some security-related — often seem to be shadowing McCain on these trips.

After his Benghazi visit, for instance, a blog called Human Rights Investigations reported that during a tour, his hosts took McCain past a site in Benghazi where rebels had weeks earlier beheaded a man in what appeared to be a racial lynching. (Dark skinned sub-Saharan Africans were often suspected by lighter skinned Libyans of being Gadhafi mercenaries.)

Another example: Shortly after McCain's April 2007 stroll through a Baghdad outdoor market, during which he was accompanied by Gen. David Petraeus and surrounded by a phalanx of armed U.S. troops with armed helicopters providing overhead cover, 21 of the market's workers died in a mass killing.

Providing rebels with weapons has become such a typical McCain approach that some have caricatured him for it. (Go to the 15:10 mark in this Rachel Maddow Show video.) But it wasn't always so. During the Balkans war in the 1990s, McCain's initial response was to oppose arming Muslims as they battled orthodox Serbs.

In his political memoir, Promises to Keep: On Life and Politics, Vice President Biden, then a senator, wrote:

"Talk of air strikes to halt Serb aggression and lifting the arms embargo against the Muslims in Bosnia met a lot of resistance in Washington. And one of the loudest voices against was John McCain, a former Navy pilot who had been a prisoner of war during the Vietnam conflict." Biden suggested that Vietnam had made McCain wary of U.S. action that could lead to escalated American involvement.

For a May 2008 New York Times Magazine piece, journalist Matt Bai asked McCain, who was then on his way to becoming that year's Republican presidential nominee, if it was true, as his friend Joe Lieberman said, that the genocides in Rwanda and Srebrenica had changed him.

" 'I think so. I think so,' he said nodding," Bai wrote of McCain's response.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit