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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.


Writer Christopher Hitchens Dies At 62

Dec 16, 2011
Originally published on December 16, 2011 3:06 pm

The influential writer and cultural critic Christopher Hitchens died on Thursday at the age of 62 from complications of cancer of the esophagus. Hitchens confronted his disease in part by writing, bringing the same unsparing insight to his mortality that he had directed at so many other subjects.

Over the years, Hitchens' caustic attention was directed at a broad range of subjects, including Henry Kissinger, Prince Charles, Bob Hope, Michael Moore, the Dalai Lama and Mother Teresa.

"If you're at Vanity Fair and you're talking about some of the things that Christopher has taken on, at the top of the list is going to be Mother Teresa," said Graydon Carter, editor at Vanity Fair and a longtime friend.

In 1994, Hitchens co-wrote and narrated a documentary on her called Hell's Angel.

"This profane marriage between tawdry media hype and medieval superstition gave birth to an icon which few have since had the poor taste to question," he said in it.

Hitchens wrote about her for the magazine, too. Carter said it didn't go over so well.

"That's a tough topic to go after," he said. "It was quite negative, and we had hundreds of subscription cancellations, including some from our own staff."

Christopher Eric Hitchens was born in 1949 — the son of a British naval commander and a navy nurse — and by his own account was trained to join the British elite. He studied at a prestigious private school and then at Oxford, picking up along the way a love of smoking, drinking, politics, philosophy and argument. In 2010, Hitchens reviewed his life's path on NPR's Talk of the Nation as he talked about his latest memoir.

"I mean I thought of, at one point, entitling the book Both Sides Now, to describe the various ambivalences and contradictions that I've been faced with, or that I contained: English and American, Anglo-Celtic and Jewish, Marxist and — what shall we say — I've been accused of being this, accused of being a neoconservative and not always thought of it as an insult; internationalist but in a way patriotic," he said.

In his student days, he was a leftist, opposed to the Vietnam War; he later wrote for the New Statesman before coming to the U.S. in the early 1980s to write for The Nation magazine. His anti-American writings, informed by his socialism, yielded over time to a muscular defense of Western and particularly American values. During another of his frequent NPR appearances, Hitchens said he sought to counteract people he considered apologists for Islamo-fascism.

"Because I think it's the principal threat and because I think that it tests our readiness to say that we think our civilization is worth fighting for and is better than those who attack it," he said. "And I look — not just with politicians but full time with commentators, intellectuals, friends, for any note of apology, any sort of weakness or indecision on that point which I've come to consider to be morally and ideologically central."

There was a certain performative element to the certainty he projected in his work for Vanity Fair, Slate and the Atlantic Monthly, among other publications. Sometimes it came across as a stunt, as in his claim in Vanity Fair that women could not truly be funny.

"For most men, if they can't make women laugh, they are out of the evolutionary contest," he said. "With women there's no need to be rendering yourself attractive to men in that way. We already find you attractive, thanks."

The New York Times critic Alessandra Stanley called Hitchens "polymorphously polemic" for that one, but his stunts sometimes spanned to more serious issues as well, such as, in 2008, subjecting himself to waterboarding. He lasted for all of 16 seconds.

"It's annoying to me now to read every time it's discussed in the press — or in Congress — that it simulates the feeling of drowning," he said at the time. "It doesn't simulate the feeling of drowning. You are being drowned, slowly."

Hitchens had all too vivid a glimpse into his own mortality — cutting short a lecture tour by explaining that he had been diagnosed with throat cancer. He borrowed a line from a character in a novel written by his friend Martin Amis: "I lit another cigarette. Unless I specifically inform you to the contrary, I am always lighting another cigarette."

His friend Graydon Carter said in fall 2010 that, if anything, Hitchens' ordeal — which he has chronicled vividly — made the always entertaining dining companion a better listener.

"It slowed it down so he's not as pyrotechnic as it was before," he said. "You get all the great stuff but without all this blinding sort of wizardry with his intelligence in the language."

For years, Hitchens had toured the country debating religious figures about his utter disbelief in the existence of a God. He didn't waver in the face of his inability to treat his disease. To the very end, whatever the argument joined, Hitchens' voice was an original. He is survived by his wife, the writer Carol Blue, and three children.

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