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.

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Religious Groups Want Relief From Birth Control Mandate

Nov 2, 2011

Faith-based health providers got a chance to vent about new federal rules that require them to offer prescription contraceptives as part of their health insurance plans at a House subcommittee hearing today. They also proposed some changes.

But backers of the rules say the revisions sought by opponents would render the requirement meaningless.

Right now, the religious exemption included in the rules "is so narrow that it excludes virtually all Catholic hospitals, elementary and secondary schools, colleges and universities, and charitable organizations," Jane Belford, chancellor of the Archdiocese of Washington, told the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health.

As a result, her organization wouldn't be exempt, she said, and it would have to start offering contraception and sterilization services as part of the health plan it provides to its 3,800 employees.

That change would be anathema to her group and others in the same situation, she said. "Catholic organizations cannot effectively and persuasively communicate the church's teaching that contraception and sterilization are immoral if they simultaneously pay for contraceptives for their employees," she said.

William Cox, head of the Alliance of Catholic Health Care, a California-based group of hospitals and other health care facilities, said most of the entities in his organization have been able to evade a similar state contraceptive coverage law either by dropping prescription coverage or by becoming a "self-insured" health plan, which puts it outside the reach of state mandates.

The federal requirement, however, leaves them no such option.

That's just fine with backers of the rules, who say a woman's access to prescription contraception should be determined by her own conscience, not that of her employer.

"Why should an employer decide for a woman whether she can access the health care services that she and her doctor decide are necessary," said Rep. Jan Schakowsky, an Illinois Democrat. "Why are we talking about allowing some employers to put up a barrier to access at a time when women are struggling to afford and access health care?"

The religious groups, however, want one of two solutions to what they see as an untenable position.

One is for the Obama administration to broaden the exemption in the contraception requirement. It currently allows only organizations that proselytize, primarily hire people who belong to that religion, and primarily serve only people of that religion to be exempt.

The other is for Congress to pass the "Respect for Rights of Conscience Act," a bill that would exempt employers, insurers, and health care providers from providing "specific items or services... contrary to... religious beliefs or moral convictions."

Democrats, however, say that bill is too vaguely written. It could let employers drop coverage not just for contraception, but for things like treatment for alcohol and drug dependence, on the grounds that use of those substances is sinful, said Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.). The same might apply for blood transfusions, or even to AIDS or HIV patients, since some religions disapprove of homosexuality, she said.

At times the debate got testy.

Several times during the hearing, Jon O'Brien, president of the abortion-rights group Catholics for Choice, pointed out that despite the church's teachings, the vast majority of Catholic women in the U.S. use contraceptives and support their coverage in employer health plans.

Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Tim Murphy, a Catholic, grew visibly upset by those remarks. "Asking a group in a survey whether they've acted or thought of acting in a certain way that runs counter to the church's teachings is no more a moral code than asking people if they ever drove over the speed limit is a foundation for eliminating all traffic laws," said Murphy.

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