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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'World War Z': When Going Viral Isn't Such A Good Thing

Jun 21, 2013
Originally published on June 21, 2013 11:09 am

World War Z is clearly out to make a buck — and needs to, since with its well-publicized overruns, rewrites and production delays, it looks to have cost gazillions in screenwriter salaries alone — but for its first hour or so, you'd never guess this sprawling contagion epic had anything on its mind but action storytelling.

The opening credits are still crediting when Gerry (Brad Pitt), a U.N. troubleshooter turned stay-at-home dad, gets trapped in a Philadelphia traffic jam with his attractively generic family. And no sooner are they hemmed in on all sides than a zompocalypse erupts.

It's a worldwide plague, but in these chaotic opening moments its impact is rendered in vividly personal, unnervingly viral terms. The camera follows Gerry's gaze as his practiced eye takes in the carnage and he realizes that once bitten, a victim takes barely a dozen seconds to convulse, go glassy-eyed and turn into a raving, gnawing, alarmingly fast-moving monster whose only purpose is to find another host.

That means the plague spreads exponentially in these crowded urban environs. Gerry manages to get his family out of the gridlock, though, and by nightfall they've made it as far as Newark, where they hole up in an apartment building to await rescue by a onetime U.N. colleague of Gerry's, who thinks he may be the one guy on earth who can get to the bottom of things. By the next morning ... well, no point spoiling surprises.

Based on an unconventionally structured best-seller by Max Brooks (son of funnyman Mel Brooks and actress Anne Bancroft) the movie has been adapted — to the consternation of some fans — into a straight-ahead race-against-time flick. On the page, Brooks had conceived World War Z as an oral history of the Zombie War, transcribed in the journalistic style of Studs Terkel.

But movie blockbusters, especially the ones with budgets that have skyrocketed past $200 million, require real-time urgency, and the filmmakers were hoping for a trilogy. So they opted to focus their story conventionally on a central character (Pitt, understated and appealing), sending him globe-hopping so he can witness swarms of zombies overwhelming vastly differing defenses in such picturesquely varied spots as Korea, Israel and Russia.

Those differences in national approach — walls, quarantines, firepower — are pretty much the point of the novel, and as the book's geopolitical concerns get subsumed by the requirements of a Hollywood blockbuster, the film becomes less interesting. Happily there are cinematic compensations — sprawling citywide action set pieces, for instance, that acquire a weird beauty when the camera takes a bird's-eye view of infected crowds that look like swarming insects.

Director Marc Forster, whose botched foray into 007 territory in Quantum of Solace wasn't much of a calling card when it comes to staging big-budget action, can't be faulted for the way he choreographs chaos this time. He's come through with a sharp, straightforward contagion epic that operates on an enormously grander scale than most. And he's managed to keep it rooted firmly enough in the real world that when the word "zombie" is first uttered midway through the film, it's almost jarring.

The film isn't subtle about making parallels to AIDS and other pandemics, and when it radically shifts gears in its final third, you won't need to have read Vanity Fair's take on its troubled production history to know things were rejiggered at the last minute.

Still, whatever problems World War Z encountered in its making, the movie has made it to theaters not dead on arrival, but walking dead, running dead, and — when it's really working — swarming dead.

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