►FedEx has agreed to pay $370,000 in fines to resolve allegations that it violated export regulations by processing paperwork for and shipping computer hardware that could be used to produce IEDs. “Government documents say the [U.S. Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security] stopped FedEx-processed shipments of an Intel PC Dialogic Board and computer peripheral equipment from reaching the Dubai company, Mayrow General Trading,” the Commercial Appeal reports. “Investigators linked Mayrow General Trading to an American-made computer circuit found in 2005 inside an unexploded roadside bomb in Iraq.” FedEx also shipped flight simulation software to a university in Beijing that is restricted from receiving U.S. security sensitive items. The other three shipments involved printer parts sent to Syria without required U.S. licenses. A spokesperson from FedEx says rare errors and discrepancies were what allowed the shipments to be processed. There were only six shipment incidents from 2004 to 2006. The shipments came to light after FedEx submitted electric freight forwarding documents to the government.
►The average ransom payment to Somali pirates has increased from $600,000 to $4.7 million. Currently 172 hostages are being held by pirates. More than 60 firms offer armed maritime protection off the coast of Somalia. The number of pirate attacks has increased and attacks have escalated in violence, but the number of successful hijackings has fallen. This information comes from a newly released report from the International Maritime Bureau's Piracy Reporting Centre.
►An Australian police commissioner says he feels he made “the right call” when he made the decision to lock residents out of a town for eight days after Queensland was devastated by flooding and a storm three times the size of Hurricane Katrina last winter. “I understand how frustrated they must have been and how traumatized they were. But at the end of the day that decision was made in their best interests because it was a very dangerous environment - broken glass, gas bottles, wrecked cars. Letting people back in to find their own loved ones would have been horrendous for them.” Queensland assistant commissioner Steve Gollschewski told The Age.
►In other news, the Obama Administration on Friday will announce a proposed legislation that would allow undocumented immigrants to remain in the U.S. while applying for legal status if leaving would cause a hardship for a spouse or parent. ♦ The Pentagon inspectors general's office has opened a formal investigation into whether the DoD provided Sony filmmakers working on a movie about Osama bin Laden access to classified information. ♦ And an Oklahoma university says there have been no major crimes on its campus since October 2010 after increasing the number and visibility of security guards. The increase came after the campus had threes shootings the year prior.