Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

After an international tribunal invalidated Beijing's claims to the South China Sea, Chinese authorities have declared in no uncertain terms that they will be ignoring the ruling.

The Philippines brought the case to arbitration at the Hague, objecting to China's claims to maritime rights in the disputed waters. The tribunal agreed that China had no legal authority to claim the waters, and was infringing on the sovereign rights of the Philippines.

Donald Trump is firing back at Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg after she made disparaging comments about him in several media interviews. He tweeted late Tuesday that she "has embarrassed all" with her "very dumb" comments about the candidate. Trump ended his tweet with "Her mind is shot - resign!":

Donald Trump wrapped up his public tryout of potential vice presidential candidates in Indiana Tuesday night with Gov. Mike Pence giving the final audition.

The Indiana governor's stock as Trump's possible running mate is believed to be on the rise, with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich also atop the list. Sources tell NPR the presumptive GOP presidential nominee is close to making a decision, which he's widely expected to announce by Friday.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The unassuming hero of Jonas Karlsson's clever, Kafkaesque parable is the opposite of a malcontent. Despite scant education, a limited social life, and no prospects for success as it is usually defined, he's that rarity, a most happy fella with an amazing ability to content himself with very little. But one day, returning to his barebones flat from his dead-end, part-time job at a video store, he finds an astronomical bill from an entity called W.R.D. He assumes it's a scam. Actually, it is more sinister-- and it forces him to take a good hard look at his life and values.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Donald Trump picked a military town, Virginia Beach, Va., to give a speech Tuesday on how he would go about reforming the Department of Veterans Affairs if elected.

He blamed the Obama administration for a string of scandals at the VA during the past two years, and claimed that his rival, Hillary Clinton, has downplayed the problems and won't fix them.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The season for blueberries used to be short. You'd find fresh berries in the store just during a couple of months in the middle of summer.

Now, though, it's always blueberry season somewhere. Blueberry production is booming. The berries are grown in Florida, North Carolina, New Jersey, Michigan and the Pacific Northwest — not to mention the southern hemisphere.

But in any one location, the season is still short. And this means that workers follow the blueberry harvest, never staying in one place for long.

Pages

A Brutal Detention, And A Defiant Syrian Activist

Dec 7, 2011

This summer, NPR told the story of a young man in Syria who worked a regular job by day and was a protester by night. At the end of that story, the activist made a prediction that was later tweeted to thousands of people: "One day my time is coming. Until the world realizes what's happening in Syria, they will try and get us all."

Many weeks later, his prediction came true.

One day this fall, Ahmed — not his real name — was on his way to meet another activist. A man approached him from behind.

"He grabbed my arm, and then he beat me on my face. I wear glasses. He broke my glasses," Ahmed says.

The man shoved Ahmed into a car and took him to a building that houses one of Syria's notorious security services.

Once he stepped out of the car, the men covered his eyes with a blindfold — which he still has. It's made of a plastic material, stitched together with crude stitches.

There is blood on it.

The blood came from what Ahmed calls the welcome beating every detainee receives when he arrives at a detention center.

After his welcome beating, Ahmed says they sat him down next to a room where a man was being tortured.

"His scream was filling all the space. He was screaming, screaming, screaming. And after a while, one of the officers come and say, 'You are next. You will be there. We advise you to give confessions.' I said, 'I have nothing to give you,'" Ahmed recalls.

Remaining Silent Under Torture

What they wanted Ahmed to confess was that he had helped organize protests, on the ground and online. They wanted him to confess he'd sent video clips of protests to TV channels like Al-Jazeera. They wanted his email addresses, Skype names, Facebook and Twitter log-ins.

They wanted to prove that he'd committed the crime of being against the government. But Ahmed knew better. He knew what they did to protest leaders. They tortured them until they die. He knew he had to keep quiet.

The next round of beatings came from a club that administered electric shocks. Ahmed says his jailers sometimes used the club to shock detainees in the genitals.

They threatened to do the same to him.

"But then I closed my legs and jumped to another corner," he says.

Still, Ahmed didn't talk. So they transferred him to a jail. A dozen young men huddled in each cell. They were allowed to shower only once a week. Praying wasn't allowed.

Escalating Brutality

One night Ahmed sensed something was different. His jailers administered the usual beatings. But then they threatened to bring in his family.

When he still wouldn't talk they hung him from his wrists with his feet still touching the floor. They forced him to ingest large amounts of salt. Every 10 minutes they punched him in the stomach and poured cold water all over his naked body.

The next day, they raised his feet off the floor.

"So the whole weight of my body was held with my wrists. It was unbearable. I couldn't last [any] more and I told them, 'I will talk,'" he says.

Ahmed had spent the night before making a plan. He wanted to give his jailers enough information to stop the torture but not enough to incriminate other activists. He gave names of people who had already been arrested or escaped from Syria. He invented plans for protests that would never happen.

It was enough to slow down the torture but not enough to release him.

'Freedom Is Precious'

Later, as sanctions against the Syrian regime increased, authorities began releasing some detainees. The idea was to show the international community the regime was serious about reform.

Ahmed was among those released, and after he was freed, he fled Syria. He does not want his current location mentioned, and he still fears for his friends and family inside Syria.

Sanctions against the Syrian regime have been stepped up. And Ahmed is still active in the uprising. As for his ordeal?

"This is a must and I should go through this," he says. "This will help me explain to my son, to my grandson — I don't know if I will have sons and grandsons — but this will help me to tell them how much we paid to get our freedom. To let them know that freedom is precious."

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.