US Continues to Lead World in Weapons Exports
The United States continues to hold the title of the world’s top weapons exporter, supplying almost $23 billion worth of weapons to other countries last year – particularly in the Middle East – according to a new report by IHS Jane's.
Its annual Global Defense Trade Report released on Sunday showed the global defense market rose by $6.6 billion in 2015, up to a total of $65 billion.
“The global defense trade market has never seen an increase as large as the one we saw between 2014 and 2015,” said Ben Moores, senior analyst at IHS. “2015 was a record-breaking year.”
French arms sales more than doubled in 2015 from the year before, rising from $8 billion to $18 billion. If that rate continues, the report said, France will overtake Russia as the second largest defense exporter by 2018.
The increase in global arms sales last year was driven largely by increased demand from countries in the Middle East, which dominated the top of the list and received around $21.6 billion worth of equipment deliveries, including $8.8 billion from the U.S.
Candlelight Vigils Across the Country for Orlando Shooting Victims
Thousands of people held candlelight vigils in several major cities across the U.S. Sunday night for the 50 people shot dead in the worst mass killing in U.S. history.
Twenty-nine-year-old Omar Saddiqui Mateen -- an American born to Afghan parents -- opened fire in the Pulse nightclub in downtown Orlando, Florida early Sunday morning. Fifty people died. Fifty-three people were wounded, some of them gravely.
The nightclub catered to a primarily gay clientele.
Vigils for the shooting victims were held in Orlando itself, as well as in Boston, Chicago, New York, San Francisco and Washington.
In Manhattan, lights on the iconic Empire State Building were turned off in sympathy for the victims. Meanwhile, the spire at One World Trade Center - near the site of the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil - was lit in rainbow colors, the symbol of gay pride.
President Barack Obama ordered U.S. flags to be flown at half-staff in memory of the victims.
Obama declared it an act of terrorism and said the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is leading the investigation. He said no effort will be spared to find out what inspired the killer or if he had any links to terrorist groups.
The grim president again addressed a stunned nation from the White House, saying it is easy for someone to get his hands on a weapon to shoot people in schools, churches, movie theaters and nightclubs. "We have to decide if that's the kind of country we want to be. And to actively do nothing is a decision as well."
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said, "If investigators conclude this was an act of terror directed or inspired by ISIL (Islamic State), it will only steel our resolve to defeat this depraved enemy, prevent the spread of its hateful ideology, and defend our people."
Mateen's former wife said her ex-husband was bipolor. "He was mentally unstable and mentally ill."