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

When People Make Their Own Banks

Jun 14, 2013
Originally published on June 14, 2013 6:12 pm

Miguelo Rada doesn't seem like the kind of guy who'd have extra cash. He just spent 32 years in prison, he lives in a halfway house in West Harlem, and his current income comes only from public assistance.

He uses food stamps for food, wears hand-me-down clothes and buys almost nothing. He is also an unofficial bank.

"If somebody asks me, 'Can I borrow $20?' If I have it I'll say, 'Here!' " he says.

This kind of borrowing is one way people do what economists call "consumption smoothing" – basically making spending more regular, even when income is not.

Some people use credit cards or banks to smooth consumption. Others use each other, says Jonathan Morduch, an NYU professor, who studies how ordinary people make ends meet.

"Sometimes we do see people who say, 'I'm getting my money on the 17th, you're getting your money on the 2nd,' and they actually split their checks," he says.

Rada says the people he's lending to often have bad credit, so they can't borrow from banks. His version of a credit check is asking people "What's the problem? Is there a way out?" His ledger, he keeps in his head. And he says he doesn't charge interest.

Rada also accepts deposits for people like his brother, who have a hard time managing their own money. "I say, 'You want me to hold something for you?' So he gave me a hundred, and I held his hundred."

A while later, when his brother came back for the money, "I asked him, 'What's going on? What do you need this for?' " Rada says. "He told me, 'I gotta take care of this bill,' and I went with him."

There are downsides to informal lending. Borrowers don't build up a credit history that allows them to get credit cards and formal loans. And borrowing from friends and family can be a downer.

"When you put family in, then they have the right to critique," says Tamara Bullock, a funeral director in Harlem.

Bullock is part of a bank-like savings club called a sou-sou. In the last one Bullock was in, 13 people promised to pitch in $100 each every two weeks. And every two weeks, one member of the group got $1,300.

Bullock says she loves sou-sous because they force her to save. "There's no 'ifs' and 'buts' because other people are depending on you," she says.

Bullock has been working her way out of deep debt. When she got her most recent $1,300 from the sou-sou, she used it to pay off a debt to a collection agency.

But it isn't always about getting out of debt; a while back, Bullock and her colleague Patricia Hamilton used some of their sou-sou money to go sky diving. Hamilton wants to celebrate her 62nd birthday by taking Bullock sky diving again with her next sou-sou payout. Bullock is trying to get out of it.

For more on Jonathan Morduch's work on how people make ends meet, see the U.S. Financial Diaries Project.

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