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.

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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.


Greece Votes To Keep Its Head, For Now

Nov 5, 2011


SCOTT SIMON, host: This is Weekend Edition from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Last night in Athens Prime Minister George Papandreou survived a vote of confidence after pledging he would step aside to forma broad coalition government. Now, this followed last week's $180 billion dollar bailout deal reached with the European Union and Mr. Papandreou's controversial proposal to put that deal to a popular referendum. This comes as the handling of the Eurozone crisis by the French and German leaders continues to aggravate divisions within Europe. NPR's Sylvia Poggioli joins us from Athens. Sylvia thanks for being with us.

SYLVIA POGGIOLI: Thank you, Scott.

SIMON: And explain to us how the prime minister essentially survived the vote by pledging to resign?

POGGIOLI: Well, he indicated that that's what he wanted to do. He would do it. Then he believes there has to be now a very big coalition government. He went to the Chief of State Karolos Papoulias today to start consultations on what he calls a unity government. Last night he told Parliament the bailout deal is so important that it needs broad consensus. So, the idea is that the next government would formally approve the bailout deal in Parliament, otherwise Greece won't get the vital funds and it could go bankrupt in December, and then start implementing the tough measures that have been required by Greece's international lenders.

Then probably by March there would be elections. There's a problem though: the opposition leader, Antonis Samaras, has already ruled out taking part in the coalition, he wants elections immediately. So, this leaves the ruling Socialist Party in a rather awkward situation of creating a coalition with strange bedfellows on the extreme right and to its left.

SIMON: It still sounds like a very confusing political situation.

POGGIOLI: Well, if you remember, Scott, Greece gave the world both the words chaos and Byzantine. Now, the political drama here continues. Last night's confidence motion does not change the fact that the austerity measures which include, you know, radical wage and pension cuts and tax hikes have exasperated many Greeks. They've already lead to big and sometimes violent demonstrations, and after two years of recessions Greek's have very little tolerance for their political leaders.

They see the wrangling as a shameful circus while they get poorer and poorer. Polls show that 60 percent of Greeks reject the terms of the new bailout, so implementing the deal will be even harder for the next government - whatever parties are in it.

SIMON: And let me ask you to look elsewhere in that part of Europe because markets are still reeling about Greece and of course there are growing fears about Italy, a much bigger country, that that might be the next to be afflicted. How serious is the situation in Italy?

POGGIOLI: Well, Italy's debt mountain dwarfs that of Greece. It's $2.70 trillion dollars and Italy has to raise by the end of this year some $72 billion dollars to service it's debt. Yesterday, yields on ten year Italian bonds reached a record, very close to the levels that triggered bailouts for Ireland and Portugal. So, while Italy seems to be following in Greece's downward path it's much, much more worrisome. It's the third largest economy in Europe and a bailout for Italy would break the bank. And what creates even more concern is the perilous state of the government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, which like Papandreou's, has seen it's support within it's ranks plummet. And the parallel with Greece inspired the political cartoonist Plomteaux of the French Daily Le Monde to coin the expression Papasconi; Berlusconi and Papandreou in juxtaposition to the French and German team leaders, Merkozy.

SIMON: So is Italy now under the same kind of scrutiny Greece is?

POGGIOLI: Yes, and even without getting the money, any bailout. The official line is that Italy invited monitoring by the European Union and IMF of its implementation or reforms that Berlusconi has pledged to undertake. But the IMF managing director Christine Lagarde indicated that Italy lacks credibility. The first inspection by international experts starts already next Monday and inspections are expected to take place every three months. But fears of the Eurozone debt crisis spreading to Italy have also increased tensions with the EU.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, whose country is not in the Eurozone warned that everyday the euro crisis is not solved, it has a chilling affect on the British and world economy. So, despite the scope of the crisis and its potential impact on the global economy, EU leaders are again bickering and national interests are prevailing.

SIMON: NPR Sylvia Poggioli in Athens thanks so much.

POGGIOLI: Thank you, Scott. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.