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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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Voyager Probes Aim For Interstellar Space, Four Decades Of Travel

Dec 14, 2011
Originally published on December 14, 2011 12:57 pm

NASA is on the brink of putting a man-made craft into interstellar space for the first time, as Voyager 1 speeds toward the outer edge of our solar system. The Voyager program's chief scientist, Dr. Ed Stone, spoke with NPR's Steve Inskeep about that feat, and what it means for NASA.

But they also talked about how the two Voyager spacecraft are still running, 34 years after their launch. And as you might expect, our two ambassadors to the galaxy are sporting the finest technology of 1977, the year they were launched.

"The computers onboard this spacecraft — it's a totally automated spacecraft — the computers have 8,000 words of memory," Stone tells Steve.

Steve reacts by saying, "That's, well, nothing" — to which Stone replies, "Yes. It's nothing."

Today's smartphones are exponentially more powerful, a fact that has been remarked upon in recent years, as processing power reached new heights in size and efficiency.

The Voyager probes send their data back to Earth via a large dish antenna, which stays pointed at their home planet.

Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 are now about 11 and 9 billion miles from the sun, respectively. In total, here's how far the the two spacecraft have traveled since their launch, as of Dec. 9:

  • Voyager 1: 14,714,066,931 miles
  • Voyager 2: 14,061,424,348 miles

"We have a 23-watt transmitter, transmitting from 11 billion miles out," Stone says.

It's worth noting that that means the Voyagers' transmitters are about 8 times stronger than, once again, a cellphone.

But despite their now-humble technology, the probes require energy to operate — and they're running out of juice. They're powered by heat from the natural decay of plutonium-238, which is translated into electricity by thermocouples.

"Very simple, robust power supply," Stone says. "The radioactive decay half-life is 88 years. And that's one reason that the spacecraft are still working. Because we have a very long-life battery, if you like.

But that battery is running down, and the Voyager craft are losing power. NASA scientists believe they'll be able to get data from the two probes until some time after 2020.

"We do know that our power level drops by 4 watts every year," Stone says. "And so, we have to systematically turn things off, one at a time. By about the year 2020, we'll have to turn off one of the science instruments. And by 2025, we'll have to have all the science instruments off. And that will be the end of the mission."

If they hang on that long, the two probes will have been in service for 48 years.

For anyone wondering about where Voyager stands in comparison to the Pioneer program, Voyager 1 passed Pioneer 10 to become the most distant man-made object in space on Feb. 17, 1998.

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