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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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Why Is Times Columnist Gail Collins So Obsessed With Mitt Romney's Dog?

Dec 20, 2011

Plenty of folks have their unshakable obsessions. Indiana Jones sought the Holy Grail. Captain Ahab pursued the Great White Whale. For New York Times columnist Gail Collins, it's her fixation on the voyages of an Irish Setter named Seamus.

"For some reason, the idea that you've got this guy who would drive all the way to Canada with an Irish setter sitting on the top of the car — it absolutely fascinated me," Collins says.

By "this guy," Collins means Mitt Romney — as in the Republican presidential candidate — and the trip is a family vacation back in 1983 when Romney put the dog in a crate tied to the top of the family station wagon and drove off.

One of Romney's sons told the Boston Globe about the episode back in 2007 as a humorous illustration of his dad's penchant for planning. The stops during the drive were strictly scheduled even when the dog fouled the sides of the car. As a dog-lover, Collins says she finds Seamus' treatment objectionable — as a liberal columnist — she calls it a miracle.

"I don't know what it is about that factoid that interests me more than Ron Paul's theories about the Federal Reserve — or anything else about any of these other candidates," Collins says.

She has already cited the dog in just shy of three dozen columns. Why would she do that? Collins says such moments can reveal character — in this case, Romney's rigid emphasis on efficiency.

"When I started writing columns, I thought that my goal would be to get people more interested in politics and to try and do it in a way that did not cause them to want to throw themselves out the nearest window. And Seamus works very well on that front," says Collins.

Collins mentioned the dog so often that Dartmouth political science professor Brendan Nyhan started keeping a running tally. "She's trying to be funny — I get that. I appreciate a good campaign story as much as the next person. but I do think it's representative of the way that the media focuses on trivia, things that are so inconsequential. Mitt Romney is not running for dogcatcher — he's running for president of the United States," Nyhan says.

Nyhan is a Democrat and blogger for the Columbia Journalism Review — and he says he's not a Romney supporter.

"The deeper problem here is the way that pundits want to put candidates on the couch and psychoanalyze them, so this is being used to illustrate some sort of deeper underlying flaw in Mitt Romney's personality. But Gail Collins is not a psychologist and I'm not sure how much this really tells us about whether he'd be a good president," Nyhan says.

When the story was first published in the run-up to the 2008 presidential primaries, animal rights activists belonging to groups such as PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, criticized Romney. It's not one of the campaign's favorite tales.

Back then, Romney said, "You know PETA has not been my fan over the years. PETA was after me for having a rodeo at the Olympics — and very very upset about that. PETA was after me when I went quail hunting in Georgia — and they're not happy that my dog likes fresh air."

This time around, a Romney campaign spokeswoman didn't reply to several requests for comment. I should point out that Collins has brought up Seamus six times in her blog postings too. When I talked to Collins last week, I asked her whether all that attention was fair to Romney.

"He did it!" she said, laughing. "Is it fair to Seamus who got put on the roof of the car? I think it's pretty fair. Yeah, sure."

Collins says she and the tale of Seamus will be strapped together at least until the end of the primaries.

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