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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Will, Jaden Smith In Space, Without Fun

May 30, 2013

A disastrous father-son endeavor about a calamitous father-son expedition, After Earth doesn't play to the strengths of any of its major participants.

Will Smith portrays a stern outer space hero devoid of the bantering wit and easygoing demeanor of his trademark roles. Director M. Night Shyamalan, auteur of twisty The Sixth Sense, struggles with a surprise-free plot and a trial-by-fire moral so earnest it suggests a circa-1944 World War II flick. And Jaden Smith, in the movie's tissue-thin principal role, is called on to act. He'll start losing viewers with his wooden opening narration.

Set 1,000 years in the future, the story begins long after humans have fled an environmentally trashed Earth. Their new home is hardly congenial, being populated by people-eating Ursa — creatures that aren't a form of bear; they're the usual space-monster hybrid of squid, cockroach and pit bull.

The Ursa are blind, but they can smell human dread. So the only people who can best then are those who are literally fearless, like Gen. Cypher Raige (the elder Smith). While he travels the universe, stoically doing brave stuff, his son Kitai (the younger Smith) is at Ranger Corps school, trying to become just like dreary old Dad.

As is characteristic of aspiring cinematic Top Guns, Kitai is academically brilliant and physically unsurpassed. But he's hobbled by terror that stems from a childhood incident and recurs — again and again and then again — in motivating flashbacks.

Steely dad and marshmallowy son get themselves in trouble while on the old man's One Last Mission. They're flying somewhere on a space cruiser that, absurdly, carries a captive Ursa. Slammed by an asteroid storm, the ship crashes on a "class 1 quarantine planet." (That would be Earth.) The only survivors are Cypher, Kitai and the Ursa.

Dad busts both legs in the wreck, so it's up to Kitai to retrieve the beacon that will summon the interstellar AAA to come give them a tow. "Everything on this planet has evolved to kill humans," cautions Cypher, a warning that turns out not to be true. Kitai tangles with mutant baboons and tigers, but he also gets aid from one of the supposedly homicidal critters.

The assistance is a sentimental moment that boosts the movie's cursory ecological message, which also involves Moby-Dick and a cameo by some whales. They might have swum out of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, the most humpback-friendly installment in that series.

It's obvious that the movie's major CGI threat will be not peeved Earth fauna, but that escaped Ursa. Kitai must eventually face the beast armed only with a high-tech cutlass, encouraging words from a dead relative and the kind of pure-heartedness you learn from starring in a Karate Kid remake.

After Earth's essential ingredients are its Point A-to-Point B scenario, merely adequate special effects and utter humorlessness. A few wisecracks might have distracted from the film's grim banality, but Smith apparently nixed that. The former sitcom star conceived the movie's story and is one of the producers, who also include his wife and brother-in-law.

Shyamalan, whose directorial decline has been precipitous, doesn't exactly energize the script, for which he shares on-screen credit with The Book of Eli's Gary Whitta. (Reportedly, several other script doctors tried to revive the patient.)

Ultimately, the movie takes another cue from old-timey war pictures and salutes itself. It no more earns that honor, however, than Will Smith deserves a Purple Heart for pretending to have broken his legs.

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