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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While The Audience Turned Away, 'American Idol' Found Some Great Singers

May 16, 2013

This has not been a good season, ratings-wise, for American Idol. Despite new faces on the judging panel including Nicki Minaj, Keith Urban, and Mariah Carey, there's been a great big yawn from the crowd. On a recent Thursday night, it lost not only lost to The Big Bang Theory, but over the course of the evening, got fewer viewers than Scandal and Grey's Anatomy as well.

Yesterday at Vulture, writer Dave Holmes gave Idol 10 pieces of advice, all of which are excellent. None of them, you'll notice, are that they need better singers. At certain moments in Idol history, that absolutely would have been part of the advice. There have been times when the show has spent way too much time on the untalented, they unreliable, or the just plain uninteresting.

But this season, whatever is ailing the show, it's not the talent level of the contestants. I give you Candice Glover.

Candice not only had the most natural talent on the show this season; she might have had the most natural talent on the show ever. That doesn't necessarily mean she's going to win, of course. She might lose to this lady right here, Kree Harrison.

Kree has been pigeonholed by the judges as a country singer, but really, she's sort of a ballad-y country-pop type, very much in the vein of Carrie Underwood — one of the few genuine superstars the show has produced. She doesn't have the wattage that Candice does, but she's a good, good singer. There have been many seasons when Kree would have been the head-and-shoulders most talented person there.

As you can see if you check out these clips, these are both specialists in the diva ballad, which has been a theme since the beginning of the season. In what sure looked like an effort to keep another white guy with a guitar (WGWG) from winning, Idol stacked the lineup with strong women and threw in a bunch of guys who were pretty clearly overmatched from the beginning.

But there was a sameness to the performances after a while. Even though everyone involved was talented, by the time you were down to the top four — Candice and Kree, plus Amber Holcomb and Angie Miller — you had a bunch of women whose focus was on the biggest performance possible. The biggest notes, the most open throat, the most impressive climb. It's not a bad thing, but what I would have given to see something fun, like Kelly Clarkson was.

Or like Chikezie Eze was on Beatles night, one of the best-ever upbeat Idol showings.

But these are small complaints compared to the main point: great singers. For once, legitimately great singing has been going on on this show all season, and fewer people than ever are watching it.

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