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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.


Weak Economy Curbs U.S. Health Spending

Jan 9, 2012
Originally published on January 10, 2012 8:47 am

No, it's not quite going down. But health care spending in 2010 rose at the second-slowest rate in the last half-century.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reports that total health spending in the U.S. increased by 3.9 percent in 2010, just a notch above the slowest rate since the government started keeping track — 3.8 percent in 2009.

Overall, the U.S. spent $2.6 trillion on health care in 2010, or $8,402 per person. That's 17.9 percent of the nation's gross domestic product.

But despite claims from Republicans that the federal health overhaul, signed into law in March 2010, is already causing health spending to surge, these numbers don't bear that out, says lead author Anne Martin.

"Although some provisions of the Affordable Care Act were in effect in 2010, their impact on health spending was minimal," Martin told reporters on a conference call.

What, then, accounts for two straight years of historically slow growth in health spending? Mostly the poor economy.

"A substantial loss of private health insurance, and lower median household income, contributed to extraordinarily low growth in the use and intensity of health care goods and services in 2010 as individuals remained cautious about their spending," Martin said.

Yet many voters seem to be under the impression that the health law is raising, not lowering, health care spending.

So what accounts for that?

"If I had to answer it truthfully, mostly the answer is politicians lie the blue from the sky to serve their purpose," said Princeton health economist Uwe Reinhardt. "It would be hard to imagine how the Affordable Care Act could have driven up health spending in the last year, simply because it really doesn't start until the year 2014."

In fact, Reinhardt says that President Obama "could turn this on the Republicans and claim that his health care bill has controlled health care spending. That wouldn't, in my view, be true, either. But he can do it. I hope he will, just to teach the other side a lesson."

The White House is close to doing just that. In a blog post accompanying the study, Obama's deputy chief of staff, Nancy-Ann DeParle, says the new numbers "show why the Affordable Care Act is so important. And we're confident the law will continue to help hold down cost growth in the years ahead."

And this slowdown in spending, of course, is relative; the 3.9 percent rise is more than double 2010's overall inflation rate of 1.6 percent.

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