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After an international tribunal invalidated Beijing's claims to the South China Sea, Chinese authorities have declared in no uncertain terms that they will be ignoring the ruling.

The Philippines brought the case to arbitration at the Hague, objecting to China's claims to maritime rights in the disputed waters. The tribunal agreed that China had no legal authority to claim the waters, and was infringing on the sovereign rights of the Philippines.

Donald Trump is firing back at Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg after she made disparaging comments about him in several media interviews. He tweeted late Tuesday that she "has embarrassed all" with her "very dumb" comments about the candidate. Trump ended his tweet with "Her mind is shot - resign!":

Donald Trump wrapped up his public tryout of potential vice presidential candidates in Indiana Tuesday night with Gov. Mike Pence giving the final audition.

The Indiana governor's stock as Trump's possible running mate is believed to be on the rise, with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich also atop the list. Sources tell NPR the presumptive GOP presidential nominee is close to making a decision, which he's widely expected to announce by Friday.

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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.


After Uproar, Government Scraps 15-Cent Christmas Tree Fee

Nov 10, 2011

It didn't take before the Obama administration backed down on a plan to tax Christmas trees this holiday season. Shortly after the USDA announced it had approved a 15-cent per tree fee, there was an uproar.

Critics jumped on the fee saying it would amount to a new tax because the growers would just pass the price increase along to consumers. Fox News reports that Rep. Steve Scalise, a Republican from Louisiana, dubbed the fee a "Grinch move" by the Obama administration.

Now the story is not that simple, insists the administration, which contends the fee is not a tax. Instead, it was a fee agreed to by the National Christmas Tree Association to launch an image campaign extolling the wonders of natural trees.

Late last night, however, the administration relented. The AP reports:

White House spokesman Matt Lehrich said the USDA would delay the program, but defended it, saying it was not a tax.

"I can tell you unequivocally that the Obama administration is not taxing Christmas trees," Lehrich said. "What's being talked about here is an industry group deciding to impose fees on itself to fund a promotional campaign."

That said, Lehrich added, "USDA is going to delay implementation and revisit this action."

Yesterday, the Christmas tree association issued a statement, saying the fee was "requested by the industry in 2009 and has gone through two industry-wide comment periods." They say that 90 percent of the comments indicated they were in favor of the program, which would have exempted organic farms and small growers.

As ABC News reports, this kind of program is not without precedent. One of the well-known initiatives paid for by a fee of this kind is the "Got Milk" campaign.

The fee was supposed to raise $2 million for the campaign, reports the Chicago Tribune. It was also intended to fight a decline in the sales of natural trees.

"Fresh-tree sales declined from 37 million in 1991 to 31 million in 2007, according to the USDA. Artificial tree sales, meanwhile, nearly doubled, to 17.4 million, from 2003 to 2007," the Tribune reports.

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