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.


Fake Mission Accomplished For Mars500

Nov 5, 2011


SCOTT SIMON, host: Six men in Moscow are readjusting to life on Earth today after enduring a long simulated mission to Mars. They spent 520 days locked inside a fake spaceship. The hatch was opened yesterday.

NPR's Nell Greenfieldboyce reports that this pretend trip involved real psychological challenges that may still persist.

NELL GREENFIELDBOYCE: Any future mission to Mars would mostly likely be international, so this crew had three members from Russia, one from China and two from the European Space Agency, including Diego Urbina. Back in June of 2010, a little over a week into the fake voyage, he made a video tour of their new home. It was just a few bus-sized modules.

DIEGO URBINA: This is the living room where we spend a lot of our leisure time.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: The small wood-paneled room had a rug, a TV for watching videos, a bookshelf, but no windows to look out at the warehouse they were in. Any contact with the outside was indirect, through video or email. Sometimes, to mimic a Mars mission, there'd be a 20minute delay, or days with no communications at all.

URBINA: Here we have an airlock to which we pass the samples to scientists around the world.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: Blood and urine samples, to test things like stress hormones.


GREENFIELDBOYCE: He made other video diaries, like one during a fake emergency that shut off the lights and ventilation.

URBINA: Everything is very dark. We hope it won't be too long.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: Other sources of stress: boredom, plus no escape from seeing the same people day after day after day.

The European Space Agency says the crew performed as a team with, quote, "no significant conflicts."

DR. CHRISTIAN OTTO: But that doesn't mean that there weren't personal challenges.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: Christian Otto is a physician who works with NASA to study the effects of long-duration missions.

OTTO: I think the 520 day study went a remarkably long way in mirroring what a long-duration space flight would be like - is it a hundred percent? No.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: The crew couldn't float in microgravity. They didn't have the thrill of truly walking on Mars, or the fear of real accidents. But just getting through it was an accomplishment. Otto has done yearlong stints in Antarctica, and says sensory and social isolation is powerful.

OTTO: These experiences in isolation change us.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: He says, the psychological effects linger even after the isolation is over.

The day before the hatch opened, Urbina reported on Twitter, quote: "Amazingly intense and very surreal hours, preparing to enter the most alien of worlds." He seemed to be referring not to Mars, but to the world outside his capsule, right here on Earth.

Nell Greenfieldboyce, NPR News.


SIMON: This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.