Global weapons transfers are on the rise
New data today from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute shows transfers of major conventional weapons rose by 22 percent in 2005-09, compared with the previous five-year period. The United States remains the biggest arms supplier, accounting for 30 percent of weapons exports, while China and India are the biggest importers of conventional weapons. SIPRI added Singapore and Algeria made the top-10 list of major weapons importers for the first time. SIPRI also said Iran was the second-largest customer for China's arms industry over the past five years.
Blackout leaves nation in the dark
A power failure plunged nearly the entire population of 17 million into darkness Sunday, rattling a country already anxious after last month's 8.8-magnitude quake. The outage struck around nightfall and affected a 1,200-mile stretch from Taltal in the north to Chiloe in the south, according to the Interior Ministry's emergency office. Officials blamed a transformer failure that caused a ripple effect and ultimately caused a total collapse of the Central Interconnected System grid.
Obama's sunshine pledge uneven
The Obama administration's first year of efforts to improve access to government information has yielded mixed results, according to an audit of Freedom of Information Act requests to be released today. Less than a third of the 90 federal agencies that process requests for information have significantly changed their practices, the report says. The departments of Agriculture and Justice, the Office of Management and Budget and the Small Business Administration earned high marks for completely or partly fulfilling more requests and denying fewer during fiscal 2009. The departments of State, Transportation and Treasury, NASA and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission have fulfilled fewer and denied more in the same period.
• The U.S. attorney's office in the District of Columbia has found more than 100 cases since the mid 1970s that need to be reviewed because of potentially falsified and inaccurate tests by FBI analysts.
U.S. Internet fraud losses double
U.S. citizens reported losing more than $550 million in 2009 in Internet fraud, falling prey to a variety of increasingly sophisticated scams, according to a report by the Internet Crime Complaint Center. The loss was more than twice that reported in 2008, according to the agency, a partnership of the FBI and the privately funded National White Collar Crime Center, which tracks Internet crime around the world.
Mock broadcast creates panic
Georgians were panicked by a hoax television news program Saturday announcing the Russian army had invaded and killed President Mikhail Saakashvili. Russia and Georgia fought a brief but bloody war in 2008, a conflict still fresh in the minds of Georgians who have since seen two de facto independent provinces erect firm borders.
France: Voters scarred by economic crisis dealt President Nicolas Sarkozy and his conservative leadership a stern blow by strongly favoring leftist candidates in regional elections.