The new British Prime Minister Theresa May announced six members of her cabinet today.

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

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit


Beyond Earth's Gravity, A Space Opera Goes Flat

Aug 1, 2013

In space, not many people can hear you scream. In fact, traveling in a manned spacecraft is probably a bit like working on a soundproof movie set — which is plainly where Europa Report was shot.

Tricked up with split screens and digital-video glitchery, this low-budget sci-fi saga emphasizes the claustrophobia and monotony of a long journey beyond Earth's gravity. But it also borrows gambits from horror movies, withholding information and eliminating characters one by one.

Thus, while Europa Report recalls such small-ensemble stuck-in-space flicks as Moon and Sunshine, it's basically The Blair Witch Project relocated to the vicinity of Jupiter. Something terrible has happened, and the endeavor's backers (whose spokesperson is played by Embeth Davidtz) must reconstruct the unfortunate events.

A/V specialists assemble the available surveillance footage into a plausible narrative that reveals the fates of William (Daniel Wu), the mission's commander, and the five crew members. This is where, as usual, the logic of the found-footage genre breaks down.

Rather than making a documentary from the surviving video — most of it necessarily shot from a fixed-position perspective, rather than with the now-traditional shaky cam — the editors shape it into a thriller. The chronology is jumbled, the account offers more foreshadowing than explication, and the big scientific discovery is hidden as long as possible. But you can guess the breakthrough won't be good news for William and his multinational team.

Made in Brooklyn by Ecuador-born director Sebastian Cordero, the film was inspired by recent theories about the possible existence of liquid beneath the frozen surface of Europa, one of the Jovian moons. Sent to investigate are a diverse lot, including Daniel (Christian Camargo), James (District 9's Sharlto Copley) and Rosa (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days' Anamaria Marinca). Everyone speaks English, although Katya (Karolina Wydra) and Andrei (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo's Michael Nyqvist) sometimes chat privately in Russian.

With a few brief exceptions, Philip Gelatt's script is intentionally short on excitement. Even the reclaimed video's supposed highlights are mostly everyday, while the dialogue is generally credible. The astronauts discuss homesickness, the lousiness of the food, and the fact that they're drinking each other's distilled urine. (No talk, however, of sex.)

Certain visual details are less convincing. Only Andrei, who grows a beard, becomes at all scruffy. Rosa, who maintains a chic pixie cut through more than a year of extraterrestrial flight, must have concealed a hairdresser somewhere on board.

Another obstacle to taking the movie seriously is that its look and feel are a little too fashionably distressed. The crackling noise, fractured images and data dropouts make Europa Report resemble a Daft Punk music video more than a testament to a deep-space disaster. (Curiously, Bear McCreary's rippling score features violins, not synthesizers.)

Viewers who prefer the more dignified varieties of science fiction may be inclined to accept the film nonetheless. The tone is earnest, the performances capable and the scientific lingo plausible. The production design is solid, as are the effects, especially the simulation of weightlessness.

Yet all the verisimilitude doesn't make the payoff any more believable. While the voyage is painstakingly staged, Europa Report's final destination is just silly.

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