CHINA DIGITAL TIMES
A number of sources have confirmed that He Lifeng, a close associate of Communist Party leader Xi Jinping, has been appointed by China’s National People’s Congress to direct the National Development and Reform Commission, a powerful state agency in charge of planning the country’s economy. His appointment is seen as the latest move by Jinping to further bolster his standing in the Party and tighten his grip on power ahead of the upcoming leadership reshuffle at the 19th Party Congress, when a number of Politburo Standing Committee members are due to step down.
Mimi Whitefield and Nora Gonzalez Torres, MIAMI HERALD
The coming year will be one of definitions in Cuba. But right now there is only uncertainty—not only about how the transition will proceed but also about the future of Cuba’s relationship with the United States with President Donald Trump at the helm. In 2013, Raúl Castro told Cuba’s National Assembly of People’s Power, the parliament, that he planned to retire from the presidency of the Council of State and the Council of Ministers on Feb. 24, 2018. His heir apparent became Miguel Díaz-Canel, a party stalwart who at the time was promoted to first vice president of both councils.
Flags have been lowered at the Government Administration Building, Tbilisi and Kutaisi Parliament buildings, the President’s residence in Avlabari and Georgia’s diplomatic missions abroad to mark the day when Georgia lost its independence on Feb. 25, 1921. The Soviet invasion of Georgia put an end to the three-year long Democratic Republic established in 1918 as the country gained independence from the Russian Empire. The parliament unanimously passed a resolution instructing the government to organize various memorial events each year on Feb. 25 to commemorate the hundreds of thousands of victims of political repressions during the communist occupational regime.
About 200,000 Crimean Tatars have left the peninsula since the annexation of Crimea, as the occupying power deliberately creates conditions which encourage an exodus, according to the leader of the Crimean Tatar people, Mustafa Dzhemilev. “About 200,000 Crimean Tatars have already left Crimea. As they respond to our calls: ‘You can not guarantee that my son will not be killed tomorrow,’ we have nothing to answer,”Crimea.Realities portal quotes him as saying.
Protesters marched in central Kiev on Sunday to mark the third anniversary of Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Residents of the Ukrainian capital joined dozens of Crimean Tatars to walk through the streets to commemorate those who either lost their lives or were arrested during the 2014 revolution. Refat Chubarov, Head of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, said: “We respect the bravery of the people who, three years ago, on Feb. 26, 2014, came to the square to limit the chances of Crimea moving into Russia.”
Chelsea Follett, CATO.ORG
A shocking statistic has come to light: Venezuelans lost 19 pounds on average over the past year because of food shortages. Hunger was declining in Venezuela until recently. The percentage of Venezuela’s population suffering from undernourishment fell from 14% in 1991 to “5% or lower” in 2015, the latest year for which the United Nations has data. Since then, the situation has rapidly deteriorated. In a single year, the number of cases of severely undernourished children in Venezuela’s capital city, Caracas, doubled.