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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.


Death Of Iranian Nuclear Expert Adds To Tensions

Jan 11, 2012

An explosion in Tehran Wednesday killed an Iranian nuclear scientist while he was driving his car. It's the fifth such death in five years, and Iranian officials immediately blamed Israel. The attack is the latest manifestation of escalating tensions between Iran and the West.

Television footage showed the street where engineer Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan's life ended, in much the same manner as other nuclear scientists before him, in Tehran rush-hour traffic. Eyewitnesses told Iranian media that a motorcycle pulled up alongside Roshan's car and a man attached a magnetic bomb before speeding away.

There was no claim of responsibility, but officials called it the work of "the Zionists," Iran's term for Israel. It's impossible to say if they were aware of remarks made Tuesday by Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz to an Israeli parliamentary committee. Gantz predicted that 2012 would be a year in which Iran experiences increased international pressure — including, in his words, "events that happen unnaturally."

David Albright, a nuclear analyst at the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington, speaking before the latest assassination, said Tehran must be feeling the pressure financially, diplomatically, and from covert operations:

"It knows that some of its scientists are under threat [of] assassination; there's been cyberattacks; there are efforts to get Iranians to defect. We've called it kind of a third way — all those things are continuing, and that's added to the pressure," he says.

Latest In Series Of Belligerent Signals

The American and European drumbeat for ever more painful sanctions has been greeted by Iranian war games, missile tests and threats to close the vital oil shipping lanes of the straits of Hormuz. U.S. and British warships have since raised their profiles in the Persian Gulf.

Most analysts agree that there is a built-in disincentive for Iran to try to block the straits – the fact that it would also choke off Iran's own oil exports. But Columbia University Middle East expert Gary Sick says there is one circumstance under which Iran might take such a drastic step — if Western sanctions against the Iranian central bank are implemented, because that would mean Iran could no longer get paid for its crude.

"Iran has indicated quite clearly — and I'm not sure this has been understood in the West — they've indicated that if they are no long able to sell their oil, they will regard that as a blockade or an act of war, even if it's done through the banks. In that event, they have said they're not going to just sit on their hands," Sick says.

Groundwork For Diplomatic Solution?

Much of the hostility can be traced to Western fears that Iran's nuclear program includes a drive for weapons capability, which Tehran denies. Iran's announcement that uranium enrichment has begun in a hardened underground site called Fordo near the holy city of Qom hasn't helped matters.

Analyst Mark Fitzpatrick at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London says the most troubling aspect of the move is Iran's current emphasis on enriching uranium to 20 percent, which is closer to weapons-grade. But he also notes that amid all the saber-rattling, Iran has offered to resume nuclear talks with six world powers. No date has been announced, and Fitzpatrick says he's pessimistic about a breakthrough anytime soon, but there may be a diplomatic component to Tehran's insistence on enriching to 20 percent.

"Iran may feel that it's strengthening its hand in any upcoming negotiations, by making more valuable this card of being willing to stop producing 20 percent enriched uranium. It's probably equivalent to the Western view that by ratcheting up sanctions the West strengthens its hand, because it's a sanction that could be later withdrawn in negotiations," Fitzpatrick says.

Analyst Gary Sick says a deal that sees Iran agreeing to stop its 20 percent enrichment may be the only plausible avenue for a diplomatic success in the near future. Whether that's possible in the current climate, and if it is whether that would ease the current tensions, are among the questions now being debated in Tehran and Washington.

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