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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 Tuesday on how he would go about reforming 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.


Panetta On Other End Of Budget Cuts As Role Changes

Nov 18, 2011
Originally published on November 21, 2011 1:41 pm

It's hard to miss the irony: Leon Panetta, as President Clinton's budget guru, backed billions of dollars in Pentagon cuts. Now, as secretary of defense, he's warning that the U.S. could become a "paper tiger" if his department's budget is further reduced.

On Monday, Panetta warned members of Congress that if the bipartisan budget supercommittee fails to agree on a plan, a set of automatic cuts would amount to "doomsday" for the military. In a letter to the ranking Republican member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, John McCain of Arizona, Panetta said the automatic cuts would roll back ground forces to 1940 levels, leaving the Navy with a fleet the size of the one in 1915 and reducing the Air Force to its smallest size ever.

Just eight months earlier, when then-CIA Director Panetta was tapped to replace Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, The Associated Press observed that the move was "a clear signal that the White House perceives the nation's deficit crisis, not the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as its toughest challenge."

Defending Turf

Lawrence Korb, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, thinks it's a simple illustration of an old adage: Where you stand depends on where you sit.

"It's ironic, yes, but it's not the first time it's happened," said Korb, who served as assistant defense secretary under Caspar Weinberger.

Weinberger, like Panetta, had made the transition from the head of the Office of Management and Budget (during the Nixon administration) to the Department of Defense under President Ronald Reagan a decade later.

Despite his years of trying to rein in red ink, Secretary of Defense Weinberger "was exactly like Secretary Panetta, fighting every potential reduction and offering all these apocalyptic scenarios if he didn't get what he wanted," said Korb.

Panetta's warning reflects a worst-case scenario of $1 trillion over 10 years, Korb said. That would still leave defense spending at 2007 levels, in a budget that has doubled since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, he said.

Fiscal Deterrent

Todd Harrison, a fellow at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, thinks that if Panetta's dire warnings are meant by the White House to prod the supercommittee into a decision to forestall the cuts, it could backfire.

"The whole purpose of sequestration was to be a deterrent — it was to scare the supercommittee into agreement. The problem, though, is that if you ratchet up the rhetoric too high and you use too much hyperbole, that deterrent loses its credibility," Harrison said.

He said the military needs to look at reducing systems that played important roles in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but are no longer needed, such as the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle program and unmanned aerial vehicles that are only effective in environments where U.S. forces enjoy air superiority.

"Over the past decade ... the procurement budget nearly doubled and the research and development budget went up two-thirds," Harrison said. "A lot of that spending was a direct result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Korb eyes programs that date back even further to the days of the Cold War. The U.S. still has far too many nuclear weapons and the Navy is larger than the next 13 navies in the world combined, he said.

Strategic Russian Roulette?

But Michael O'Hanlon, a fellow at the Brookings Institution, said he has closely scrutinized defense procurements, and there's little room to cut.

O'Hanlon, who is also the author of The Wounded Giant: America's Armed Forces in an Age of Austerity, said even with a dramatic restructuring of forces, he still has "a pretty hard time getting much beyond" the $400 billion in cuts over 10 years that are already locked in.

"There are some myths out there that it's easy to do, but those myths are just flat wrong," he said.

If the sequestration hatchet strikes, the U.S. will be forced into what O'Hanlon calls "strategic Russian roulette."

"In broad strategic terms, you're going to have to start choosing which crucial interests you defend," he said. "Between the Western Pacific and the Persian Gulf, you're going to have to gamble that one of them is not going to be subject to unrest or challenge by any of our adversaries or competitors."

Even so, O'Hanlon has identified the need for "more clever, economical ways" to create savings. Along with the other experts, he would scale back war planning for only one regional conflict at a time, with contingencies for additional missions. He has also proposed flying crews in and out while leaving naval ships on station, for as long as perhaps two years at a stretch.

Cindy Williams, a research scientist at the Security Studies Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said the trend toward a leaner military is inevitable.

"Even if the [sequestration] triggers don't kick in, Congress and the administration are going to be coming back to the well looking for additional cuts over the next three or four years," she said.

The Pentagon, she said, needs to figure out how big it is going to be and how to structure itself within those limits.

"Then, once it decides that, then it can decide, for example, that it has to cut one-quarter of the personnel in uniform and then trim back procurement programs to make them commensurate with the size of the new force."

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