Panama to hand N. Korean weapons-carrying ship to U.N. for inspection


Panama said that it will place the task of evaluating the undeclared weaponry found in a North Korean cargo ship, which Cuba admitted belonged to it but said was "obsolete," in the hands of the U.N. Security Council.

Panamanian Foreign Minister Fernando Nuñez also announced that his government had authorized the issuance of two visas for North Korean diplomats so that they may come to Panama to "provide explanations and inspect" the vessel, which is being held in port.

Panamanian authorities are holding the Chong Chon Gang, on board which on Monday they found hidden in containers weaponry that Havana described as aging equipment on its way to North Korea for refurbishment.

The weapons were hidden amid 10,000 sacks of sugar, which was the only cargo the vessel had declared, and were found during a routine check for illegal drugs.

Panama's security minister, Jose Raul Mulino, characterized as "not very transparent" Cuba's actions in asking the Panamanian government on Saturday, before the weapons had been found, to release the cargo ship without revealing that it was carrying military equipment.




Snowden could leave Moscow airport in a week


Former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden could be allowed to leave the Moscow airport in a week to await a decision on his request for asylum in Russia, an attorney for the American said.

The Federal Migration Service has "a period of seven days" from the time the asylum request is filed, a move that was made on Tuesday, attorney Anatoly Kucherena told reporters.

The 30-year-old Snowden has been stuck in the transit area of Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport since June 23, when he arrived on a commercial flight from Hong Kong.

Immigration officials must provide Snowden with confirmation that his request for temporary asylum was received, allowing him to "leave the airport and move about freely," Kucherena said.




Boehner: Helping migrants brought as kids a matter of "fairness"


The country's top Republican elected official, House Speaker John Boehner, said that legalizing young people who were illegally brought to the United States by their parents is a question of "basic fairness."

"These children were brought here of no accord of their own, and frankly they're in a very difficult position. And I think many of our members believe that this issue needs to be addressed," Boehner told a press conference on Capitol Hill.

The speaker thus allied himself with other GOP lawmakers, like House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and House Judiciary Committee chair Bob Goodlatte, who are working on a bill that would permit these young people to become legal permanent residents.




Zetas cartel boss was behind death threats against Mexico's Calderon


Miguel Angel Treviño Morales, the Zetas drug cartel boss arrested earlier this week, threatened to kill former President Felipe Calderon, the Mexico City daily El Universal reported.

Treviño Morales, alias "Z40," threatened to shoot down the presidential aircraft during a trip Calderon made to the northeastern state of Tamaulipas, aides to the former president told the newspaper.

The Zetas cartel, considered Mexico's second-biggest criminal organization, operates across the country, as well as in Central America and other countries.

Calderon, who governed Mexico from 2006 to 2012, received death threats on at least five occasions, the unidentified former officials told El Universal.




Chinese premier pledges to forge ahead with economic reforms


Premier Li Keqiang has pledged to push ahead with economic restructuring even though China's growth rate in 2013 could be the slowest so far this century, the China Daily reported.

Li made his remarks Tuesday in a meeting with economists and business leaders, saying the switch to a new economic model would be carried out while maintaining stable growth, the Beijing-based English-language newspaper said.

"We should not shift our policy orientation just because of temporary changes in economic indicators," Li said after second-quarter data released Monday showed the Asian giant grew at a 7.5 percent clip, well below the nearly double-digit growth registered two years ago.

China intends to shift its economic model to one less dependent on exports and government investment and more reliant on domestic consumption.




Puerto Rico reaches pact with Justice Dept. to reform police


U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder signed here an agreement with the Puerto Rican government to reform the island's police department, thus settling the Justice Department's suit against the PRPD for civil rights violations.

"This agreement (will) guarantee that the public will not become the victim of excessive force, illegal raids and seizures and systematic discrimination on the part of the police," Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla said during the ceremony.

The conditions of the agreement, the governor said, are designed to promote and ensure better recruitment, hiring and professionalization in the PRPD.

In addition, the agreement guarantees the establishment of internal controls regarding the procedures to be followed in raids, arrests and seizures.




Hundreds of dead rays found in eastern Mexico


More than 350 dead stingrays and manta rays were found on popular tourist beaches in the eastern Mexican state of Veracruz, officials said Wednesday.

The federal environmental protection agency has been asked to investigate the kill in Chachalacas, a district in the city of Ursulo Galvan, located 35 kilometers (21.7 miles) from the Gulf city of Veracruz.

Fishermen and tourists notified officials that hundreds of rays had washed up on the beaches in Chachalacas, an area known for its dunes and popular with practitioners of extreme sports.

The kill is being investigated by marine specialists to rule out the presence of a toxic substance, Veracruz Environment Secretary Victor Alvarado Martinez said.




At least 17 die in Iraq attacks


At least 17 people, including three children, died in violence in Iraq, an official with the Interior Ministry told Efe.

The three children died when a bomb exploded near the Al Suedi River, northeast of the city of Baqubah, in an attack that wounded five other children.

In the same area, armed men opened fire on the vehicle transporting Sheikh Ali Majid al-Yumaili on a highway near the town of Al Yamila.

The sheikh and his wife were killed in the attack, while one of his sons and another relative were wounded.




Attacks in Sinai leave 8 wounded, Egypt says


Five soldiers and three civilians were wounded in a series of overnight attacks on security outposts in the Sinai Peninsula, an Egyptian government spokesman told Efe.

"Terrorist groups" assaulted a barracks, two army checkpoints and the Border Guard's intelligence hub in Rafah, near Egypt's boundary with Gaza, the spokesman said.

The attackers used machine guns, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades, he said, while the Egyptian army deployed helicopter gunships against the militants.