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 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.

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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.


Disappearances In Lebanon Haunt Syrian Activists

Nov 8, 2011

Syria's brutal repression of an anti-government movement that began in March continues — even outside its borders. In neighboring Lebanon, the disappearance of an elderly government critic underscores the long reach of the Syrian regime.

Until recently, 89-year-old Shibli al-Aisamy spent most of his time in the United States. As a founder of the pan-Arab Ba'ath Party in the 1960s, Aisamy had once served as a vice president of Syria. He later broke with then-Syrian President Hafez Assad, the father of the current president, Bashar Assad.

Aisamy's family says he was a known opposition figure, who spoke and wrote about the failings of the Syrian regime. But that was 20 years ago. Lately, they say, Aisamy was leading a quiet life.

His daughter, Rajaa Sharafeddine, lives in Lebanon, on a mountain in a town overlooking Beirut. In May, Aisamy visited her there.

His routine was to take a walk twice a day. On May 24, his daughter says, something happened.

"That day, he walked at 4:30 [in the] afternoon. My mother gave him around one hour maximum. So when one hour passed, my mother phoned me, and she was worried. She told me, 'Your father didn't come back,' " Sharafeddine recalls

The two went looking for Aisamy in a car. At first they thought he'd tripped and fallen, as he had two days before. When a night passed with no word from the hospitals, the mother had a bad feeling.

"So my mother said, 'No, something wrong, something happened — to kidnap him,' " Sharafeddine says.

People in town started talking. They said they'd seen three SUVs with tinted windows on the street the day Aisamy disappeared.

Weeks later, a witness came forward and said he saw two men get out of the SUVs and grab Aisamy under the armpits.

"One of them hold him from left side, the other on the right side, and they put him in the car, and they left, fast, quickly," Sharafeddine says.

The family started hearing that Aisamy had been kidnapped and taken to Syria. Now, the family is certain that he is being held in a Syrian prison. His son-in-law, Raja Sharafeddine, says they have pleaded with Lebanese politicians for help.

"He's 90 years of age. He might die between one day and the other. Please release him. Let him die on his bed, beside his granddaughters, grandsons. You know, they never listened," Raja Sharafeddine says.

Aisamy's is not the only case. Three Syrian brothers were recently kidnapped in Lebanon and taken back to Syria. They were seized after distributing fliers about protests against the regime.

Syrian protesters in Europe are regularly beaten by pro-regime thugs. One man in the U.S. was recently arrested for spying on Syrian dissidents.

Nadim Houry heads the Human Rights Watch office in Beirut. He says most countries investigate such behavior. Lebanon — which was basically occupied by Syria for almost 30 years and continues to have a complicated relationship with its neighbor — does not.

So the facts of cases like Aisamy's remain unknown.

"But what we can see is the impact those disappearances have on Syrian activists. And that's very clear. They live in fear in Lebanon. I've been interviewing dozens and dozens of Syrian activists who have sought temporary shelter in Lebanon while waiting for another country, and they are terrified," Houry says.

Aisamy's daughter says she balances fear with faith — faith that the regime in Syria will change and her father will be set free.

"Change is a divine order or a cosmic rule. Everything changes," she says. "You can't stop time. You can't control a country forever."

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