China Lawmakers Add Defaming Party Heroes to Civil Code Offenses
Christian Shepherd, REUTERS
Lawmakers introduced amendments to China’s nascent civil code to make defaming “heroes and martyrs” of the ruling Communist Party a civil offense, as the leadership moves to strengthen its grasp on the history of the People’s Republic. China’s ongoing National People’s Congress (NPC), an annual meeting of some 3,000 delegates, is currently debating general rules for a civil code. The rules are expected to be passed by the event’s close this Wednesday. Delegates made 126 changes to the most recent draft of the rules, released on March 8, which will serve as a preamble to the final code, expected in 2020, state media said. One addition is the line: “Encroaching upon the name, portrait, reputation and honor of heroes and martyrs harms the public interest, and should bear civil liability.”
Aide: Trump planning to meet with Chinese Communist Party Leader Xi Jinping
David Jackson, USA TODAY
President Trump, who spent months on the campaign trail criticizing China’s trade practices and military posture, is planning to host Chinese Communist Party Leader Xi Jinping soon, a White House spokesman said Monday. “Planning is ongoing” with respect to the timing and location, press secretary Sean Spicer said. The purpose would be “to help diffuse tensions over North Korea and the recent deployment of the THAAD military battery to South Korea,” Spicer added, as well as “a broad range of topics of mutual concern.”
Ladies in White Arrested in Matanzas and Havana
This Sunday about 18 Damas de Blanco were arrested in Matanzas, according to their Twitter account. Cuban activists tried to attend Sunday mass and were arrested in different villages. One opponent also noted the appearance of a pan with blood, the remains of a dove including feathers and coconuts, as a message to local pastor Esney Muñoz.
Two Airlines Already Calling it Quit in Cuba
Ben Mutzabaugh , USA TODAY
Two US airlines are pulling out of Cuba, ending service to the nation only about six months after regular passenger flights resumed for the first time in nearly 50 years. Silver Airways is dropping all nine of its planned routes to the nation by April 22. And low-cost carrier Frontier will do the same, dropping its Miami-Havana route on June 4. In doing so, both Frontier and Silver blamed overcapacity on the recently allowed service between the nations. Additionally, Frontier found the cost of operating in Havana “exceeded our initial assumptions,” spokesman Jim Faulkner said in an e-mail.
North Koreans Reportedly Told to Ignore News About Kim Jong-nam
Yuki Iwashima and Kenichi Yoshida, STARS AND STRIPES
North Koreans working overseas were told by North Korean authorities not to watch reports on the murder of Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, sources close to North Korea in Southeast Asia and other places told The Yomiuri Shimbun. Kim Jong-nam inherited the so-called “bloodline of Mt. Paektu,” which refers to the descendants of North Korean founder Kim Il Sung. It is believed that issuing the order not to watch reports on the murder is aimed at preventing damage to Kim Jong-un’s character when it becomes known that he ordered the assassination.
US VP Pence to Tour Asia Next Month Amid Security Crises
Agustinus Beo Da Costa and Kanupriya Kapoor, REUTERS
US Vice President Mike Pence will visit Japan and Indonesia as part of an Asian tour next month, sources said on Monday, amid concerns the Trump administration is rolling back Barack Obama’s “pivot to Asia.” The tour will include South Korea and Australia, the Nikkei Asian Review reported, with North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs and South Korea’s political crisis likely topics for discussion. The visit will come as North Korea’s latest missile launches and the assassination in Malaysia of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s estranged half-brother add urgency to the region’s security.
Venezuela Jail Search Reveals Mass Grave with 14 Bodies
The number of bodies found in a mass grave in Venezuela’s largest prison has risen to 14, the public prosecutor’s office said in a statement. The General Penitentiary of Venezuela in central Guarico state was closed in October after violent clashes between inmates. The bodies, which are in an advanced state of decomposition, were found during works to refurbish the jail. So far none of the remains have been identified. The grave was discovered on Thursday and the number of bodies found since has risen from seven to 14. Forensic experts are continuing with their search and have not ruled out finding more bodies buried on the prison grounds.
Venezuela’s Maduro Announces “Surprises” in Relationship with US
Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro called his US counterpart “Comrade Trump” and told his people to expect “surprises” in the relationship between the two countries. The socialist leader also hinted a deal is in the works to provide the hunger-stricken country with food imported from the US. “We are bringing products imported by the revolutionary government from several sister nations: Trinidad and Tobago, Panama, Colombia, Mexico, Nicaragua … and even the United States. Comrade Trump is offering me [basic food products] at a good price,” Maduro said Sunday on his weekly TV show. “There are going to be surprises,” he added.