The Diplomat - China’s Soviet Lessons - “It was the CPSU (Communist Party of the Soviet Union) that collapsed first. CPSU leaders did not understand economics and they steadfastly avoided reform because they dogmatically believed in their model. The CPSU never renewed itself and did not adapt with the times… In seventy-plus years, there was no development of democratic politics. Once they began, under Gorbachev, they were too late and the reform strategy was erroneous – which was the precipitating cause of the collapse.”
The Atlantic - The Coming Crisis in Central Asia - In his State of the Union speech on February 12, U.S. President Barack Obama declared that by the end of 2014 "our war in Afghanistan will be over." This step, long expected, will decrease security in neighboring Central Asia. Flows northward from Afghanistan of terrorists and narcotics will put at greater risk a region already weakened by corruption, despotism, and ethnic and water tensions. The West should do more to enhance security in Central Asia, comprised of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
The Guardian - North Korea threatens to follow up nuclear test and 'destroy South Korea' - "As the saying goes, a new-born puppy knows no fear of a tiger. South Korea's erratic behaviour would only herald its final destruction," North Korean diplomat Jon Yong Ryong told.
Reuters - Militants kidnap French family in north Cameroon - Islamist militants from neighboring Nigeria abducted a French family of seven, including four children, in northern Cameroon on Tuesday, French President Francois Hollande said.
How Life Works - Explanation: How Brain Training Can Make You Significantly Smarter - As many people hit middle age, they often start to notice that their memory and mental clarity are not what they used to be. We suddenly can't remember where we put the keys just a moment ago, or an old acquaintance's name, or the name of an old band we used to love. As the brain fades, we euphemistically refer to these occurrences as "senior moments."
The Washington Post - Pope struggled to lift sacred secrecy of Vatican finances - Pope Benedict XVI signed off on one of the last major appointments of his papacy Friday, approving a German lawyer and financier to head the Vatican's embattled bank.
RIA Novosti - Russian Church Urges Separate Laws for Pilgrims, Tourists - “Some people go to pray and others go sightseeing. They do not feel comfortable together,” Hieromonk Nikodim said.
Radio Free Europe - In Russia, Reasons To Fear Year Of The Snake - The September 11 terrorist attacks, the Tiananmen Square massacre, and the start of the Great Depression all took place in "snake" years.
Russia Today - Russia to continue softening punishment for economic crimes - Russian MPs want to limit on-trial custody in cases of economic crimes, and have an independent judge rule on any custody hearing.
Xinhuanet - Defense Exhibition and Conference 2013 held in Abu Dhabi - pictures
BBC - Brit awards to 'make amends' for cutting off Adele speech - The pop star was interrupted as she accepted the best British album prize, as the TV show was running over time.
Bloomberg - Iran Says Can Ease Nuclear Fears if Rights Recognized - Iran can ease western states’ concern over its nuclear activities if they fully recognize its right to operate a civilian nuclear program, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said, days before international talks in Kazakhstan.
Eurasianet - Kazakhstan: Widening Social Divide Fuels Protest Mood - In the official narrative of Kazakhstan’s post-Soviet history, President Nursultan Nazarbayev is lauded for fostering widespread prosperity while maintaining inter-ethnic harmony. Lately, though, the official paeans to Nazarbayev’s virtues haven’t been able to drown out voices of doubt about Kazakhstan’s development path, voices that reflect an ever-widening rich-poor gap and urban-rural divide.