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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.


Payroll Tax Cut's Last Hurdle Cleared: House Gives 'Unanimous Consent'

Dec 23, 2011
Originally published on December 23, 2011 1:35 pm
(This post was retopped with the latest news at 1:30 p.m. ET.)

Marking the end of the latest pitched political battle in Washington, President Obama said this afternoon that Congressional approval of measures to extend for another two months a payroll tax cut and benefits for the long-term unemployed is "good news just in the nick of time for the holidays."

"I said it was critical for Congress not to go home without preventing a tax increase" and the expiration of the long-term jobless benefits, Obama said, "and I'm pleased to say they've got it done."

He then repeated that after the holidays he wants Congress "to keep working, without drama, without delay, to reach an agreement that extends this tax cut as well as long-term unemployment insurance, through all of 2012."

The president also repeated his oft-cited estimate that the payroll tax cut means an extra $40 in every paycheck for a typical family.

We followed the day's news on the extension and its approval today. Read through to see how the story developed.

Our original post and an earlier update:

As with everything happening in Congress these days, the deal reachedThursday to pass a 2-month extension of a payroll tax cut and jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed isn't a "done deal" just yet.

And for it to be "done" later today will require the "unanimous consent" of House members — something that sounds rather daunting as one of the most partisan years in recent memory draws to a close.

As Politico wonders this morning, the key question is: "Will House frosh comply?"

"At least two House freshmen [have] left open the possibility that they would object to the unanimous consent to extend the tax holiday by two months while congressional conferees work out a year-long deal," Politico reports. They are Rep. Mo Broooks (R-Ala.) and Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.).

Basically, as CBS News explains, the plan is for a few of the House members who haven't already left Washington for the holidays to meet in the Capitol this morning and move to pass the extensions by "unanimous consent." It's a procedure that allows things (usually those that aren't controversial) to be passed so long as no lawmaker stands up to object.

If all goes as planned, the very slightly tweaked package also get "unanimous consent" from the Senate (where there is strong, bipartisan support and it's already been approved once).

But if any House member decides he or she doesn't like the deal, then the full House would have to reconvene — probably next week — for a roll call vote.

We'll keep an eye on what's happening and report back.

Earlier today, NPR's Tamara Keith talked with Morning Edition host Renee Montagne about the deal and the reversal by House Republicans who had opposed it.

Update at 9:33 a.m. ET. Senate Says Yes:

In a procedure that look about one minute, the Senate by "unanimous consent" just agreed to the plan. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) where there. Reid read the language of the measure. Warner, who was presiding, lowered the gavel after there was no objection. The House is expected to open at 10 a.m ET.

Update at 10:06 a.m. ET: The House of Representatives just approved the deal reached Thursday to extend both the payroll tax cut and jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed.

We explained earlier that the measure was to be passed by "unanimous consent," which basically means that unless a member stood up to object it would be approved. There were no such objections.

Earlier, as expected, the Senate also approved the plan by "unanimous consent."

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