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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.


Catholic Groups Fight Contraceptive Rule, But Many Already Offer Coverage

Dec 2, 2011

The Catholic Church says new federal regulations requiring employers to provide no-cost prescription birth control as part of their health insurance plans infringe on their religious liberty.

"If we comply, as the law requires, we will be helping our students do things that we teach them, in our classes and in our sacraments, are sinful — sometimes gravely so," Catholic University President John Garvey wrote in The Washington Post. "It seems to us that a proper respect for religious liberty would warrant an exemption for our university and other institutions like it."

But while some insist that the rules, which spring from last year's health law, break new ground, many states as well as federal civil rights law already require most religious employers to cover prescription contraceptives if they provide coverage of other prescription drugs.

While some religious employers take advantage of loopholes or religious exemptions, the fact remains that dozens of Catholic hospitals and universities currently offer contraceptive coverage as part of their health insurance packages.

"We've always had contraceptive birth control included in our health care benefits," said Michelle Michaud, a labor and delivery nurse at Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz, Calif. "It's something that we've come to expect for ourselves and our family."

Dominican is part of the Catholic Healthcare West System. A spokeswoman for the 40-hospital chain confirmed that it has offered the benefits since 1997.

Michaud, who was raised Catholic but doesn't practice now, says she doesn't see any problem for a Catholic hospital to provide a benefit that conflicts with the religion's teachings.

"Oh no, because they don't just employ Catholics," she said. "They may be Catholic, but who they employ are not necessarily Catholic." At the same time, said Michaud, "even practicing Catholics would want to have birth control options."

Indeed, studies have shown that the vast majority of Catholic women in the U.S. use artificial birth control.

But while Catholic Healthcare West began offering coverage before it was legally required, today the landscape is quite different. According to the National Women's Law Center, 28 states currently require contraceptives to be offered in health plans that also cover other prescription drugs; eight of those laws include no exemption for religious organizations.

Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., also offers contraceptive coverage to its employees – though not to its students.

That's a relief for Andrea Waters, who works at the university's law school. She's 26, Presbyterian and lives with her boyfriend.

Without the coverage, she says, "I think I'd have to reevaluate what I spend monthly" in order to afford birth control pills.

Now some religious employers have been able to skirt state requirements by becoming "self-insured," rather than buying insurance from a company. That makes them subject to federal, rather than state regulation. But they are wrong if they think that gets them out of having to offer contraceptive coverage, says Sarah Lipton-Lubet of the American Civil Liberties Union.

"Institutions like hospitals and universities ... you're required to include contraception coverage in your insurance plan where you include coverage for other prescription drugs, as a matter of basic gender equality," she says.

That's the result of a ruling in 2000 by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. It found that employers whose health plans offer prescription drugs and other preventive services but not contraceptives violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, 1978 civil rights law that amended the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

And what does contraception have to do with pregnancy discrimination? "Prescription contraception is a form of health care that is unique to women, and the consequences of the inability to be able to access contraception, those fall primarily on women," Lipton-Lubet says.

The EEOC ruling isn't technically binding unless people who are being discriminated against take action. That happened recently when some faculty members at a small Catholic college in North Carolina filed a complaint. The EEOC ruled in their favor.

What the Catholic Church's leaders are now seeking from President Obama is a broader exemption from the new rules, which would let them not offer — or stop offering — contraceptive coverage. They have the strong backing of Catholic members of Congress like Pennsylvania Republican Tim Murphy.

"The foundation of our country is not to impose laws that restrict the ability of persons to practice their faith," he said.

But Lipton-Lubet of the ACLU says this isn't a fight about religious liberty.

"What the bishops and their allies are asking for is the ability to impose their religious beliefs on people who don't share them," she said.

A decision by the administration on the rules is expected soon.

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