Sports Commentary: Why Wimbledon Still Thrills

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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.

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Donald Trump picked a military town, Virginia Beach, Va., to give a speech Monday on how he would go about reforming the Dept. 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.

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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.

More than 4 in 10 working Americans say their job affects their overall health, with stress being cited most often as having a negative impact.

That's according to a new survey about the workplace and health from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health.

While it may not sound so surprising that work affects health, when we looked more closely, we found one group was particularly affected by stress on the job: the disabled.

If you've stepped foot in a comic book store in the past few years, you'll have noticed a distinct shift. Superheroes, once almost entirely white men, have become more diverse.

There's been a biracial Spider-Man, a Muslim Ms. Marvel, and just last week, Marvel announced that the new Iron Man will be a teenage African-American girl.

Joining this lineup today is Kong Kenan, a Chinese boy who, as part of a reboot of the DC comics universe, is one of four characters taking up Superman's mantle.

On Tuesday, an international tribunal soundly rejected Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea, an area where China has been building islands and increasing its military activity.

The case before the international tribunal in the Hague was brought by the Philippines, challenging what's widely seen as a territorial grab by Beijing. The tribunal essentially agreed. Beijing immediately said the decision was null and void and that it would ignore it. There are concerns now that the tribunal's decision could inflame tensions between the U.S. and China.

The deaths last week of three African-American men in encounters with police, along with the killing of five Dallas officers by a black shooter, have left many African-American gun owners with conflicting feelings; those range from shock to anger and defiance. As the debate over gun control heats up, some African-Americans see firearms as critical to their safety, especially in times of racial tension.


China Warily Eyes E.U. Bailout

Nov 3, 2011
Originally published on November 3, 2011 7:54 am



It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.


And I'm Renee Montagne. To understand the European debt crisis, it helps to keep track of both the short-term and the long-term. In the short-term, Europeans have agreed on a bailout deal that among other things would cut the debts of Greece. It's being held up by the Greek prime minister's plan to hold a referendum on austerity measures. Europeans have told Greece it's got to decide soon if it wants to be part of the eurozone or not.

INSKEEP: So here's a longer term issue. Last week, European leaders asked cash-rich China to help back the European bailout fund. And some economists are seeing that request as a shift in the global economic order. NPR's Frank Langfitt reports from Shanghai.

FRANK LANGFITT, BYLINE: When French President Nickolas Sarkozy called Chinese President Hu Jintao last week, asking China to pour more money into the EU, it got the attention of a lot of people - among them, Arvind Subramanian, a senior fellow at the Petersen Institute of International Economics in Washington. Subramanian says Europe's plea for help illustrates a big change in global relations.

ARVIND SUBRAMANIAN: It did not turn to the United States because – you know, it's a sign of U.S. economic weakness. There couldn't be any more dramatic illustration of the shift in world power as that request from the EU to China and not the U.S.

LANGFITT: EU officials turned to China because it has more foreign currency reserves than any other country - $3.2 trillion. Subramanian says if the Chinese put more money into the EU, they'll want favors in return.

SUBRAMANIAN: In principle, the list is pretty open-ended. China could say take us off the arms embargo list that you put us on after Tiananmen Square, you know, '89. You know, stop lecturing us about human rights.

LANGFITT: Chinese firms have often been accused of dumping products on foreign markets. Beijing could ask the EU to make it harder for its own companies to file trade complaints over the practice. Europe is desperate, but would leaders there weaken the position of their own firms?

GARY LIU: The EU, they will feel very difficult to make such a deal.

LANGFITT: Gary Liu runs the financial research center at the China-Europe International Business School campus in Shanghai. He says the Chinese are approaching the EU very cautiously. This week, Zhu Gaungyao, China's Vice Finance Minister, said it was, quote, too early to discuss more bond purchases. And with Greece's prime minister calling for a referendum on the rescue plan, its future is uncertain.

LIU: Politically in China it is very risky. Because if you use their money to buy the European debt and then some day the debt defaults, you get nothing. You will be obviously criticized.

LANGFITT: In other words, a debt default could anger the Chinese public. The dominant narrative of the past week has been the EU going hat-in-hand to a China awash in cash and in control. Patrick Chovenec, who teaches at Tsinghua University's School of Economics and Management in Beijing, offers a different narrative. He says China's currency reserves are so big, it has few other options than to invest in U.S. and European bonds. And propping up the EU is in China's self-interest. The EU buys more products from China than anyone else.

PATRICK CHOVENEC: In fact, China is much more like a shopkeeper that keeps on having to allow its customers to run up a tab, for fear that if it doesn't, then they'll stop selling and go out of business. So the creditor in this case is just as dependent as the debtor.

LANGFITT: Chovanec says the solution is to break that cycle of dependency. He thinks China should let its currency, the yuan, rise significantly. That would make European products cheaper and easier for China's growing middle class to buy. And, Chovanec says, instead of just lending its reserves back to Europe, China should put some them to better use.

CHOVENEC: And if China wants to do a real favor for Europe, it will use them to generate demand for European goods or make productive investments in Europe that will actually generate jobs, and earnings and growth in the things that Europe really needs to grow out of its debt problem.

LANGFITT: Of course, such a move would mark a major economic policy shift for China. And there are no signs of that happening anytime soon. Frank Langfitt, NPR News, Shanghai. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.