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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 the Permanent Court of Arbitration in 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.


Iowa Republicans To The GOP: Please Don't Ask Us Who Won

Jan 19, 2012
Originally published on January 20, 2012 12:56 am

How embarrassing for Iowa GOP officials. How embarrassing for Iowa Republicans as a party. How embarrassing for Iowa.

But on the other hand, who told the world to hold its breath earlier this month, awaiting the latest word on who had edged ahead in the Iowa caucuses?

That would have been us. The news folks. Up all night to bring you the latest information — or misinformation, as it turns out.

And who told the world to care about these homey little midwinter Midwestern klatches in the first place?

That, too, would have been us.

So if we stare with incredulity at the latest "oops" from Des Moines, we have to wipe some egg off our own faces first. Having done so, we press on.

Iowa Republicans, after two weeks of trying to decide who won the caucuses they held earlier this month, announced Thursday that they simply could not tell.

At a news conference in Des Moines, we were told that Rick Santorum appeared to be 34 votes ahead, reversing the outcome that favored Mitt Romney on the morning after caucus night by eight votes.

It seems that eight of the precincts (out of 1,774) were not fully able to report on the preferences of those who showed up to participate on Jan. 3. Something happened to the records of who was for whom.

"Maybe a door was open and they just blew out," said one Republican in Des Moines, perhaps only half in jest.

You know how it goes. You have a few of your neighbors over on a winter night, everybody talks politics. Some are for this guy, some for that guy. Somebody calls for a vote and you collect all the little slips and you announce a tally. Then you move on.

And sure, later on, you go looking for the paper trail and some of it's gone. Lost under a doily on the divan or stuck to the bottom of a casserole dish on its way back to the kitchen. You know, things happen.

This is the risk inherent in the quaint and charming way Iowans conduct these caucuses every four years. To call it informal is to gussy it up. This is clubhouse stuff, far from the buzz and whir of a modern computer-driven vote-and-tally operation.

In past years there may well have been comparable shortfalls between caucus night and the end of the certification process. But no one cared, because the result wasn't close.

This is the sense in which the Iowa fiasco recalls the far more serious and damaging events that took place in Florida in November and December of 2000. In that case, millions of ballots were involved in a potential statewide recount that would determine the electoral vote of a Top Five state and thereby the winner of the Electoral College.

When Florida state officials decided against a recount and the U.S. Supreme Court upheld their decision (overruling a contrary ruling by the Florida Supreme Court), a razor-thin margin in Florida had overturned the popular vote result nationwide, and George W. Bush was the president-elect.

Compared with that tumultuous time, and all the consequences that followed, the confusion over this year's Iowa caucus results may seem a minor matter. It was clear on caucus night that Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator, and Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, had each won about a fourth of the vote, while Texas Rep. Ron Paul had a little better than a fifth. The other candidates were trailing well behind.

But because so few votes separated the top two candidates, the fascination with that count occupied many reporters and news organizations well into the wee hours. The significant showing for Paul received far less attention.

Any serious analysis of the Iowa result had to start with Romney getting about what he got in the caucuses in 2008, with far less effort than he'd expended in the state four years ago. Second, it was clear Santorum had consolidated about three-fourths of the vote that former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee had enjoyed in the 2008 caucuses, making him the favorite of the evangelical wing of the party — at least for the moment.

But Romney got more mileage out of the tie because he then won New Hampshire, enabling him to say he was the first non-incumbent Republican candidate for president ever to win both the first caucuses and the first primary. That added force to the inevitability argument at the center of his campaign pitch.

Losing the chance to say he won Iowa takes one of the arrows out of Romney's quiver. And it does so just as his campaign momentum is sputtering for other reasons related to his high income and low tax rate.

But all this raises the question of why we overcover Iowa and New Hampshire in the first place. And the answer, as ever, is that we, the political reporting claque, cannot resist anything that looks like a scoreboard. We are desperate for something metric, and we are desperate for early returns. It hardly matters how many or from where. Or how they are counted.

That sort of desperation is bound to get you in trouble, sooner or later.

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