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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.


What Does Santorum's Iowa Rise Mean? Likely Not Much

Dec 31, 2011
Originally published on December 31, 2011 9:04 pm

Because the news media abhor the absence of drama as much as nature supposedly detests vacuums, Rick Santorum's rise in recent polls of likely Iowa Republican presidential primary caucus voters definitely scratches a journalistic itch.

Santorum's ascent to the top three in Iowa polls, along with Mitt Romney and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, has spiced up the race, especially after the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania spent so many months stuck in the caboose of GOP candidates.

It's a credit to Santorum's emphasis on old-fashioned retail politics, we are told — his visits to each of Iowa's 99 counties — which symbolized just how seriously he took Republican voters in the first official contest of the 2012 nomination process.

Of course, Santorum was making a virtue of necessity; he lacked the kind of money needed to run the copious TV ads or direct-mail campaign of his better funded rivals.

Still, the question is, even if Santorum were to stun everyone and pull a Mike Huckabee Tuesday evening by coming in first, or if he does less well and comes in second, what would that really mean in the scheme of things? The answer: probably nothing.

Santorum is to some degree having his turn as the anyone-but-Romney candidate, benefiting from the declining fortunes, in Iowa at least, of Newt Gingrich, the last not-Romney. As Gingrich has fallen under the weight of negative ads from Paul and a super PAC backing Romney, Santorum has risen.

Santorum has also been boosted by many social conservatives coalescing around him as other candidates who had fished for their votes — Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Texas Gov. Rick Perry specifically — have seen their support take to the lifeboats as their campaigns took on water.

But as was the case with Huckabee in 2008, Santorum could easily find Iowa the high water mark of his campaign.

Unless a political meltdown of historic proportions happens, Romney should win the primary in New Hampshire, a state in which the former Massachusetts governor now enjoys a huge lead.

Then it's on to South Carolina. Four years ago, Huckabee, a Southerner and former evangelical preacher, failed to win the primary in that first-in-the-South state with its large percentage of Christian conservatives. Huckabee came in second to Sen. John McCain, the eventual nominee.

If Huckabee couldn't win the Palmetto State four years ago, how likely is it that South Carolina will give Santorum an encore of what many expect will be a strong performance in Iowa? Not very.

As the National Journal's Ronald Brownstein writes:

Santorum, as a northern Catholic, would face more challenges than a revived Perry or Gingrich in unifying South Carolina's large evangelical protestant vote-which might represent the right's last real chance to slow Romney, depending on the Iowa results. And Santorum has devoted so much time to Iowa — an implicit part of his appeal at his stop in Marshalltown Friday night was that voters should reward the depth of his commitment to the state — that he's established little visibility and virtually no organizational presence elsewhere.

An Iowa win would enormously raise Santorum's profile, of course, but he would not have the time to build the connections in South Carolina that he's accumulated mile by mile here. "Santorum can't replicate there [in South Carolina] what he did here [in Iowa]-which is run for governor," said one senior Romney adviser. Beyond South Carolina, Santorum would be virtually starting from scratch. (It's worth remembering that Santorum too didn't obtain enough signatures to get on the ballot in Virginia.) Santorum also offers Romney the same contrast he's stressed against Gingrich: a career in politics vs. experience in the private sector.

So this moment in the presidential campaign sun for Santorum feels like it will fade rather quickly. It's difficult to see how he would sustain his momentum coming out of Iowa, assuming he wins there.

Still, a late-breaking Santorum surge and potential victory in Iowa would at least give us journalist types some real NEWS to report. And that's certainly worth something, isn't it?

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