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.


An Inside Look At The 'Dark Art' Of Politics

Nov 3, 2011

No one seems to be talking about Herman Cain's 9-9-9 tax plan this week — including Herman Cain. Instead, he's had to deal with allegations that he committed sexual harassment when he was head of the National Restaurant Association.

On Wednesday night, he accused Texas Gov. Rick Perry's presidential campaign of planting the story. Perry's campaign flatly denied it, and Cain has backed off.

Regardless, some political consultants have seen the invisible hand of opposition research during this campaign season — what's known as the "dark art of politics."

Testing One's Mettle

Cain is not the first Republican presidential candidate to be on the hot seat in recent months. Remember the sudden revelation that Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann suffered from migraines? Backed by a note from her doctor, she made that issue go away pretty fast.

Then there was the news story about Perry's hunting camp with the racially derogatory name.

Hmmm — there seems to be a pattern here, says Joe Rodota, a Republican political consultant with offices in California and Washington, D.C.

"What seems to be happening is the second-tier or third-tier candidates get a pop and move immediately into the top rung, and within a week or so, something appears that really looks like the work either of a good investigative journalist or a good opposition researcher — or perhaps both," Rodota says.

And there's nothing wrong with that; voters deserve to know this stuff. What's wrong, perhaps, is that the campaigns seemed to be caught so flat-footed, says Chris Lehane, a Democratic consultant who's worked for President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore, among other candidates.

"The first thing you start off with, actually, is doing opposition research on your own candidate," says Lehane.

That's so you'll know what flak may be headed your way. Lehane says he feels this is so important, he co-authored a movie called Knife Fight, out this fall, in which a consultant played by Rob Lowe tries to talk a woman out of running for office.

"If you are crazy enough to do this, everything will be on the public record — from the dope that you smoked in your college lesbian experimentation period," Lowe's character says in the film.

It sounds slimy, but Lehane says he believes opposition research really does serve the democratic process, by testing the mettle of the candidate and the campaign organization.

"Folks who are going to end up in the presidency are going to be making enormous decisions, under enormous pressure, that have enormous consequences," he says. "Your single hardest day on the campaign trail is going to be your single easiest day as president."

Going Public

In doing research on the opposition, Rodota says, he starts by looking at the story the candidate tells about himself or herself.

"And then I ask the simple question: Is all of this true?" he says.

For example, let's say a candidate says: "I was a star in the business world."

"And then it turns out that they did not have a stellar record in terms of either creating jobs or paying taxes on time," Rodota says. "And in a very simple way, you can illustrate that what the candidate's asserting just isn't true."

You can get just about everything you'll need to do that from public records.

If you get some information, what do you do with it? You don't just send out a press release, Lehane says. You may have a relationship with a particular reporter, or maybe a particular show or newspaper might be the right platform, he says.

"And then you want to have different elements of it, so it's not just merely a one-day story; you want to extend this and make it a multiple-day story," Lehane says. "And so you think of all the other pieces that you will drop out there, so that you take the initial issue and create all sorts of subsequent problems."

Cain has had to deal with those subsequent problems for days — though to him, it must feel like forever.

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