Top news: Cuba claimed on Tuesday that weapons seized on a ship in Panama and bound for North Korea was
"obsolete defensive weaponry" sent to its isolated ally for repair. Those weapons, about 240 tons worth and which were found hidden in containers underneath a huge sugar shipment, included two Volga and Pechora surface-to-air missile systems, nine missiles "in parts and spares," two Mig-21 Bis -- a version of the Cold War fighter first introduced in 1959 -- and 15 engines for the plane.
"We found containers which presumably contain sophisticated missile
equipment. That is not allowed. The Panama canal is a canal of peace,
not war," Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli said on Radio Tuesday.
A U.S. official quoted by Reuters said that the most likely explanation for the weapons shipment is that the arms and missile parts were being sent to North Korea for an upgrade, with the sugar -- a total of 10,000 tons -- serving as a form of payment. Under the current U.N. sanctions regime, countries are prohibited from providing the North with missiles, missile parts, and advanced weaponry, though small and light arms are currently not on the the list of restricted weaponry. In a statement read on the evening news in Cuba, the island nation argued that the weapons were needed "to maintain our defensive capacity to preserve national sovereignty," adding that "Cuba maintains its commitment to peace including nuclear disarmament and international law."
Upon being detained by Panamanian authorities, the captain of the ship, a North Korean, attempted to slit his throat, probably an effort to avoid the inevitably harsh punishment he will face upon returning to his country. The entire 35-man crew of the ship, the Chong Chon Gang, is now under arrest for resisting Panamanian orders.
Russia/Snowden: President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that he did not expect relations between Russia and the United States to suffer if his country grants asylum to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, who is currently living in the transit area of a Moscow airport as he awaits decisions on the numerous asylum applications he has filed around the globe. On Tuesday, he filed a formal application for temporary asylum in Russia.
- Gunmen killed a prominent pro-Assad television analyst in Lebanon, the first such assassination of an Assad loyalist in the country.
- Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula confirmed that its number two commander, a former Guantánamo Bay prisoner, was killed in a U.S. drone strike.
- The refugee crisis in Syria is the worst since the genocide in Rwanda, with some 6,000 people fleeing daily, according to the United Nations.
- A senior Bangladeshi Islamic party leader was sentenced to death for his role in kidnapping and murder during his country's 1971 war for independence.
- India softened restrictions on foreign direct investment in an effort to jolt its sluggish economy.
- At least 22 students have died and many more have fallen ill after eating tainted school meals in the Indian state of Bihar.
- A British Parliamentary committee concluded that the country's signals intelligence agency had not broken any laws by using data gathered the NSA's PRISM program.
- Britain's Parliament passed a law legalizing same-sex marriage, sending the bill to Queen Elizabeth for her signature, a formality.
- A brewing scandal over the deportation of a dissident Kazakh oligarch is threatening the stability of Italy's ruling coalition.
- Chevron and the Argentine state oil company signed a $1.24 billion deal to develop the country's shale oil deposits.
- A group of 30 fighters from the National Liberation Army, the Colombian rebel group better known as the ELN, surrendered to the government.
- Argentina's foreign minister provided a list of more than 100 names of individuals he claims has been spied on, though he did not specify who had carried out the activity.
- Following demands by human rights groups that he be arrested on war crimes charges, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir fled Nigeria, where he had been attending a conference.
- A few weeks after issuing a warning posed by "anti-gay thugs," a prominent Senegalese gay rights activist was tortured and killed.
- Congolese helicopter gunships hit positions belonging to the rebel group M23 in a third straight day of fighting.