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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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With Iowa Vote Looming, Gingrich Struggles To Stay Atop GOP Field

Dec 16, 2011
Originally published on December 16, 2011 8:36 am

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich got front-runner treatment Thursday night in Iowa during the final GOP debate before that state's crucial Jan. 3 caucuses, taking a pounding for his years as a highly-compensated Washington influence peddler.

With the former House speaker on his heels early in the night, fending off particularly harsh attacks from Rep. Michele Bachmann, former national poll leader Mitt Romney managed a careful bounce-back from a poor debate performance last week.

Romney, a Mormon who has never appealed to the state's influential Christian conservative voting bloc, nonetheless drew strong applause for his sustained attacks on President Obama, characterizing him as a timid world leader.

"This has to be the American century," he said.

With his challengers staking out positions that ranged from abolishing courts and subpoenaing judges (Gingrich) to challenging reports that Iran is developing a nuclear capability (Texas Rep. Ron Paul), Romney appeared to re-emerge as the candidate best positioned to do well against the incumbent president.

He is expected to get a key Republican endorsement Friday morning from South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Politico reported after the debate. That state holds its primary in January.

The Fox News event had been anticipated as a potential game changer in Iowa, with opportunities for struggling candidates like Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum to gain last-minute traction with undecided voters.

But there was little to suggest that their performances, even Perry's growing comfort on stage, would translate into much movement in the polls. And fireworks expected between frontrunners Gingrich and Romney, who this week characterized the former speaker as "zany," never ignited.

Romney may have been content to let other candidates and a barrage of anti-Gingrich television ads do the attacking on his behalf.

What Thursday's event in Sioux City did provide, in addition to a double-down by candidates on their anti-abortion and anti-same sex marriage positions, was a stark look at why so many Republicans, in Iowa and beyond, desperate to make Obama a one-term president, are struggling to commit to any of the candidates.

It was the issue that Fox News host Brett Baier raised first in the debate: electability. The question of who of the seven candidates can defeat Obama is paramount in the minds of Republican voters, he said.

Under tough questioning from Baier and the rest of the Fox News panel, Gingrich defended his conservative record, and pushed back on Bachmann's characterization of the $1.6 million he earned from taxpayer-backed mortgage giant Freddie Mac as a typical Washington scam.

Gingrich continued to insist, as he has in the past, that he never worked as a lobbyist, and that he believes in the goal of helping families buy homes.

"He cashed paychecks from Freddie Mac," Bachmann said, adding that she was "shocked" when Gingrich defended the agency as a government-sponsored enterprise akin to a credit union.

"You don't need to be within the technical definition of a lobbyist to be an influence peddler," said Bachmann.

It was a bad stretch for Gingrich, who rallied by the end of the debate with his conservative crowd-pleasing call to dismantle courts that, he says, have become "grotesquely dictatorial."

Bachmann expressed similar anti-judicial branch sentiments, but Paul cautioned that getting rid of courts and subpoenaing judges whose decisions one might not like is "opening up a can of worms" and "an affront to the separation of powers."

The proper procedure for removing judges, Paul said, is impeachment.

Bachman also mixed it up vigorously with Paul over the issue of Iran's nuclear capabilities and U.S. military spending.

The anti-war Paul, who has been picking up steam in the polls, may have frozen his movement with Iowa Republicans Thursday with his emotional — almost angry — assertion that saber-rattlers are selling "propaganda" that Iran is close to developing a nuclear capability to justify another war.

"You cannot solve these problems," he said, "with war."

Though Iowa's likely GOP caucus-goers, dominated by Christian conservatives, heard the candidates underscore their anti-abortion and anti-same sex marriage bona fides, this was not new information.

It was Romney, with his focus on Obama and with his challengers seemingly disinterested in attacking him, who came away from the debate appearing strengthened.

Under vigorous questioning by debate moderators, Romney, who made millions as head of a private equity firm that bought and sold companies, defended his record there despite the failure of some of the enterprises.

And he also attempted another explanation of his changing position on abortion, for example. He once supported a women's right to legal abortion.

"Where I was wrong," he said, "I've tried to correct myself."

Though Gingrich rallied, and joked that he'd been editing himself so as not to appear "zany," — a reference to Romney's description of him in a recent New York Times interview — Bachmann's sustained attack and sharp questioning from the debate moderators may contribute to what appears to be his weakening in the polls.

Bachmann, who won the Iowa GOP straw poll in August, had a strong night, but has a lot of ground to make up. She has been running a distant fourth or fifth in most recent polls.

Game changer? Not Thursday night. But there are still 19 days to go before the official Iowa start of the 2012 presidential contest season.

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