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NY TIMES: WASHINGTON — Weapons sales by the United States tripled in 2011 to a record high, driven by major arms sales to Persian Gulf allies concerned about Iran’s regional ambitions, according to a new study for Congress. Multimedia Graphic Arming the World.Connect With Us on Twitter Follow @nytimesworld for international breaking news and headlines. Twitter List: Reporters and Editors .Overseas weapons sales by the United States totaled $66.3 billion last year, or more than three-quarters of the global arms market, valued at $85.3 billion in 2011.
Russia was a distant second, with $4.8 billion in deals. The American weapons sales total was an “extraordinary increase” over the $21.4 billion in deals for 2010, the study found, and was the largest single-year sales total in the history of United States arms exports. The previous high was in fiscal year 2009, when American weapons sales overseas totaled nearly $31 billion. A worldwide economic decline had suppressed arms sales over recent years. But increasing tensions with Iran drove a set of Persian Gulf nations — Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Oman — to purchase American weapons at record levels. These Gulf states do not share a border with Iran, and their arms purchases focused on expensive warplanes and complex missile defense systems. The report was prepared by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, a division of the Library of Congress. The annual study, written by Richard F. Grimmett and Paul K. Kerr and delivered to Congress on Friday, is considered the most detailed collection of unclassified arms sales data available to the public.
The agreements with Saudi Arabia included the purchase of 84 advanced F-15 fighters, a variety of ammunition, missiles and logistics support, and upgrades of 70 of the F-15 fighters in the current fleet. Sales to Saudi Arabia last year also included dozens of Apache and Black Hawk helicopters, all contributing to a total Saudi weapons deal from the United States of $33.4 billion, according to the study. The United Arab Emirates purchased a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, an advanced antimissile shield that includes radars and is valued at $3.49 billion, as well as 16 Chinook helicopters for $939 million. Oman bought 18 F-16 fighters for $1.4 billion. In keeping with recent trends, most of the weapons purchases, worth about $71.5 billion, were made by developing nations, with about $56.3 billion of that from the United States.
Taken from and read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/27/world/middleeast/us-foreign-arms-sales-reach-66-3-billion-in-2011.html
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Gliese 581 (pronounced /ˈɡliːzə/ and first catalogued as BD-07° 4003) is a red dwarf star with spectral type M3V, located 20.3 light years away from Earth in the constellation Libra. Its estimated mass is about a third of that of theSun, and it is the 89th closest known star system to the Sun. Observations suggest that the star has at least four, and possibly five, planets: Gliese 581 e, b, c,d and f (unconfirmed). g was thought to also exist and be a candidate for habitability, however recent observations by HARPS in 2011 have denied its existence. 
Gliese 581 has been the subject of a “huge amount of attention” in the quest to discover the first habitable planet; in 2010, attention focused on unconfirmed planet g, which would have been close to the middle of the star’shabitable zone, but more recently, in a study published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, planet d “can be considered the first confirmed exoplanet that could support Earth-like life.”
The star system first gained attention after Gliese 581 c, the first low-mass extrasolar planet found to be near its star’s habitable zone, was discovered in April 2007. It has since been shown that under known terrestrial planet climate models, Gliese 581 c is likely to have a runaway greenhouse effect, and hence is probably too hot to be habitable, analogous to Venus. A subsequently discovered planet Gliese 581 d, may be just inside or just outside the outer boundary of the habitable zone (depending in part on the greenhouse properties of its atmosphere), analogous to Mars. The discovery of exoplanet Gliese 581 e, the least-massive planet known around a normal star, was announced in April 2009.
Excitement spiked again in September 2010 with the claimed discovery of Gliese 581 g, orbiting between c and d, believed to be the planet with the greatest likelihood of having conditions suitable for liquid water at its surface found to date because it is within the middle of the habitable zone. However, its existence was later put in “serious doubts” following further analysis.
Taken from and read more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gliese_581