From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
And I'm Robert Siegel.
It has been more than 100 days since the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Since then, leaders in Washington have talked a lot about gun violence, but they have not passed a bill. Today, gun control advocates tried to give the process a jolt. They planned events around the country for what they called a national day of action. And as NPR's Ari Shapiro reports, President Obama joined in.
When workplace safety expert Eric Esswein got a chance to see fracking in action not too long ago, what he noticed was all the dust.
It was coming off big machines used to haul around huge loads of sand. The sand is a critical part of the hydraulic fracturing method of oil and gas extraction. After workers drill down into rock, they create fractures in that rock by pumping in a mixture of water, chemicals and sand. The sand keeps the cracks propped open so that oil and gas are released.
There's a mystery in West Africa that's puzzled scientists for years. Strange circles of bare soil appear in grassland; they're commonly called "fairy circles." These naturally occurring shapes last for decades, until the grass eventually takes over and the circles fade.
Now German scientists think they have an explanation — a horde of insects seems to be bioengineering thousands of miles of desert.
After noticing that most of the lifeguards at the public pools used by Latino and African-American kids were white, the Phoenix aquatics department decided to try to recruit minorities.
More than 90 percent of the students at Alhambra High are black, Latino or Asian. On a recruiting effort there over the winter, the city's Melissa Boyle tells students she's not looking for strong swimmers. Like many under-resourced schools, Alhambra doesn't have a swim team.
"We will work with you in your swimming abilities," Boyle says.
Police in Europe are investigating a large-scale cyberattack. Some are even calling it the largest of its kind. As NPR's Martin Kaste reports, the attack's target is an organization called Spamhaus, but the effects have spilled out into the broader Internet.
Guatemala has seen its share of misery from the 36-year-long armed conflict that killed more than 200,000 people, to the current wave of drug crime. Well, Guatemala is now one of the most violent countries in the world, but there are also signs of progress. One public official is seeking justice for crimes of the present and the past with impressive results.
NPR's Carrie Kahn has this profile of Guatemala's first female attorney general.
What's the difference between an action figure and an action star? Very little in G.I. Joe: Retaliation, which features no performances of note, even from such combat-tested thespians as Bruce Willis, Jonathan Pryce and Dwayne Johnson.
The sequel to 2009's G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, the latest Joe is a near-surrealistic mashup of serious themes and juvenile humor, realistic locations and cheesy CGI. Adapted to 3-D after it was shot, the movie is also one of the most aggressive examples ever of the chucking-stuff-at-the-viewer aesthetic.
There are moments, as Derek Cianfrance's Blue Valentine informed us, when the barely controlled rage that is masculinity can be tempered by feelings for woman and child. But eventually the male Id will erupt, and everything will go to hell.
That happens more than once in Cianfrance's new The Place Beyond the Pines, a would-be epic that shifts from character to character and story to story to show how fury passes from fathers to sons. But too much of this seething drama is devoted not to characterization but to posturing.
Human beings are imperfect — which is one reason we have the movies.
The Australian comedy Mental, written and directed by P.J. Hogan — the man behind the 1994 hit Muriel's Wedding — is filled with troubled people who, like most of us, strive not for perfection but at least for some understanding.