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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 Monday on how he would go about overhauling 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.

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Confused About The Iowa Caucuses? Here's A Guide

Dec 30, 2011

At 7 p.m. central time on Tuesday, Jan. 3, the first contest of the 2012 presidential nominating process takes place in Iowa.

As you've heard countless times, Iowans vote in caucuses, which are small political meetings held in 1,774 locations scattered around the state.

NPR political correspondent Don Gonyea has prepared this basic guide to next week's contest.

How It Works

A primary election feels very much like any other election day. Polls are open all day, and voters show up when they want. But a caucus is actually a meeting, with a schedule: It starts at a certain time; party business is conducted; and, at some point, voting.

Matt Strawn, the chairman of the Iowa Republican Party, starts with the basics.

"Well, the first thing is you need to be obviously an Iowa resident who is eligible to vote in the state of Iowa," he says.

You need to show up at the proper precinct, based on your address. You can participate if you'll be 18 years old on Election Day of November 2012. If you're a registered Republican, your name should already be on the list. If not, you can register as a member of the party on the spot, regardless of your political affiliation.

The caucus then gets under way. There will be an explanation of how the evening will proceed, then speeches.

"Each campaign has the opportunity to have one surrogate speak for anywhere from two to five minutes — it depends on what the precinct chair in that precinct allows," says Strawn. "And then after those speeches, there's no questions. ... You go straight to the vote."

Voters get a blank slip of paper, and they write the surname of the candidate of their choice on it. Then, they drop it in a ballot box.

"In my particular precinct, up in Ankeny, which is a suburb of Des Moines, we literally have a sequined red, white and blue shoebox with a hole slit in the top that we pass around the room," he says. "Sounds very cliche and Iowa, but it's the truth — it's what we do."

Then each precinct counts the votes in front of the caucus attendees. Results are then called in to the state party, where precinct totals are added up and released to the public.

It's important to note that no delegates attached to candidates are selected in the Iowa GOP caucuses, so the event is really a beauty contest — albeit one very important to the process of selecting a nominee.

"[It's] a very significant beauty contest, straw poll, you know, whatever terminology you want to use," Strawn says.

Now to the Democrats, where they have their own set of rules for caucuses. This year, though, the most obvious difference is that there's no contest for the nomination since President Obama is seeking re-election. State Democratic Party Chairwoman Sue Dvorsky says the highlight of the evening will be an appearance by the president, via video link, to every single caucus gathering.

"He's going to talk to Iowa Democrats about why this matters, about what he's done, about what he wants to do moving forward, and then ask them for their help — exactly the way he did four years ago," she says.

Dvorsky adds that Democrats will be focusing on congressional and other races, as well.

Right now, above freezing temperatures are forecast for much of Iowa on Tuesday. That could help turnout — which both Republicans and Democrats say would give them a boost at the very beginning of an election year.


Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.