President Vladimir Putin said that Russia is ready to use nuclear weapons if its sovereignty or independence is threatened, issuing another blunt warning to the West just days before an election in which he's all but certain to secure another six-year term. The Russian leader has repeatedly talked about his readiness to use nuclear weapons since launching a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022. The most recent such threat came in his state-of-the-nation address last month, when he warned the West that deepening its involvement in the fighting in Ukraine would risk a nuclear war.

Asked in an interview with Russian state television released early Wednesday (Mar. 13) if he has ever considered using battlefield nuclear weapons in Ukraine, Putin responded that there has been no need for that. He also noted that he doesn't think that the world is heading for a nuclear war, describing US President Joe Biden as a veteran politician who fully understands the possible dangers of escalation.

US President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump officially secured the requisite numbers of delegates to be considered their parties' presumptive nominees in November's presidential election. It was a foreseeable outcome. Biden faced token opposition in the Democratic primary. Several high-profile Republicans ran against Trump but didn't come close to knocking him off course in his third straight Republican bid. The "presumptive nominee" is designated once a candidate has captured the number of delegates needed to win a majority vote at the national party convention scheduled for the summer. For Republicans, that number this year is 1,215. On the Democratic side of things, it's 1,968.

At 81, Biden is already the oldest president in U.S. history, while the 77-year-old Trump is facing decades in prison as a defendant in four criminal cases. Their rematch - the first featuring two U.S. presidents since 1912 - will almost certainly deepen the nation's searing political and cultural divides over the eight-month grind that lies ahead, reported AP.

Four million people face "acute food insecurity" and one million of them are one step away from famine, said the UN food agency's director in conflict-wracked Haiti, where the prime minister failed to return from a foreign trip and resigned this week, in the face of increasing gang violence. UNFPA's Jean-Martin Bauer told a virtual press conference that he's "ringing the alarm bell" because the recent increase in gang violence has made a very bad situation even worse and displaced an additional 15,000 people - just over the first weekend in March in the capital, Port-au-Prince.

That brings the total number of displaced people in Haiti to over 360,000, he said, and the UN says half of them are children. The country has more than 11 million inhabitants. Bauer said, there were 4 million food insecure and hungry Haitians during the COVID pandemic in 2020 and that number hasn't gone down, but the number on the brink of famine has escalated to one million.

China's national legislature wrapped up its annual session with the usual show of near-unanimous support for plans designed to carry out ruling Communist Party leader Xi Jinping's vision for the nation. The weeklong event, replete with meetings carefully scripted to allow no surprises, has highlighted how China's politics have become ever more calibrated to elevate Xi.

The nearly 3,000-member National People's Congress approved a revised State Council law that directs China's version of the cabinet to follow Xi's vision. The vote was 2,883 to eight, with nine abstentions. Other measures passed by similarly wide margins. The most nays were recorded for the annual report of the supreme court, which was approved by a 2,834 to 44 vote. Zhao Leji, the legislature's top official, urged the people to unite more closely under the Communist Party's leadership "with comrade Xi Jinping at its core."

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