Saturday, 11 April 2009

'Ahoy There You Land Lubbers. Listen to the Pirate Cannons Fire the Facts'

IS THE MEDIA TELLING THE WHOLE STORY?


The Somali pirates who took control of the 17,000-ton “Maersk Alabama” cargo-ship in the early hours of Wednesday morning probably were unaware that the ship they were boarding belonged to a U.S. Department of Defense contractor with “top security clearance,” which does a half-billion dollars in annual business with the Pentagon, primarily the Navy. The ship was being operated by an “all-American” crew — there were 20 U.S. nationals on the ship. “Every indication is that this is the first time a U.S.-flagged ship has been successfully seized by pirates,” said Lt. Nathan Christensen, a spokesperson for for the U.S. Navy’s Bahrain-based 5th Fleet.
The last documented pirate attack of a U.S. vessel by African pirates was reported in 1804, off Libya, according to The Los Angeles Times.

The company, A.P. Moller-Maersk, is a Denmark-based company with a large U.S. subsidiary, Maersk Line, Ltd, that serves U.S. government agencies and contractors. The company, which is based in Norfolk, Virginia, runs the world’s largest fleet of U.S.-flag vessels. The “Alabama” was about 300 miles off the coast of the Puntland region of northern Somalia when it was taken. The U.S. military says the Alabama was not operating on a DoD contract at the time and was said to be delivering food aid.

The closest U.S. warship to the “Alabama” at the time of the seizure was 300 miles away.
The U.S. Navy did not say how or if it would respond, but seemed not to rule out intervention. “It’s fair to say we are closely monitoring the situation, but we will not discuss nor speculate on current and future military operations,” said Navy Cmdr. Jane Campbell.

The seizure of the ship seemed to have been short-lived. At the time of this writing, the Pentagon was reporting that the U.S. crew retook the ship and was holding one of the pirates in custody. At this point, it is unclear if the crew acted alone or had assistance from the military or another security force.

Over the past year, there has been a dramatic uptick in media coverage of the “pirates,” particularly in the Gulf of Aden.
Pirates reportedly took in upwards of $150 million in ransoms last year alone. In fact, at the moment the Alabama’s seizure, pirates were already holding 14 other vessels with about 200 crew members, according to the International Maritime Bureau. There have been seven hijackings in the past month alone.

Often, the reporting on pirates centers around the gangsterism of the pirates and the seemingly huge ransoms they demand.
Indeed, piracy can be a very profitable business, as the following report from Reuters suggests:

A rough back-of-the-envelope calculation shows that the operation to hijack the Saudi tanker, the Sirius Star, cost no more than $25,000, assuming that the pirates bought new equipment and weapons ($450 apiece for an AK-47 Kalashnikov, $5,000 for an RPG-7 grenade launcher, $15,000 for a speedboat). That contrasts with an initial ransom demand to the tanker’s owner, Saudi Aramco, of $25 million.

“Piracy is an excellent business model if you operate from an impoverished, lawless place like Somalia,” says Patrick Cullen, a security expert at the London School of Economics who has been researching piracy. “The risk-reward ratio is just huge.”

But this type of coverage of the pirates is similar to the false narrative about “tribalism” being the cause of all of Africa’s problems. Of course, there are straight-up gangsters and criminals engaged in these hijackings. Perhaps the pirates who hijacked the Alabama on Wednesday fall into that category. We do not yet know. But that is hardly the whole “pirate” story. Consider what one pirate told The New York Times after he and his men seized a Ukrainian freighter “loaded with tanks, artillery, grenade launchers and ammunition” last year. “We don’t consider ourselves sea bandits,” said Sugule Ali:. “We consider sea bandits those who illegally fish in our seas and dump waste in our seas and carry weapons in our seas. We are simply patrolling our seas. Think of us like a coast guard.”
Now, that “coast guard” analogy is a stretch, but his point is an important and widely omitted part of this story.
Indeed the Times article was titled, “Somali Pirates Tell Their Side: They Want Only Money.” Yet, The New York Times acknowledged, “the piracy industry started about 10 to 15 years ago… as a response to illegal fishing.”

Take this fact: Over $300 million worth of tuna, shrimp, and lobster are “being stolen every year by illegal trawlers” off Somalia’s coast, forcing the fishing industry there into a state of virtual non-existence.

But it isn’t just the theft of seafood. Nuclear dumping has polluted the environment. “In 1991, the government of Somalia collapsed,” wrote Johann Hari in The Independent. “Its nine million people have been teetering on starvation ever since — and the ugliest forces in the Western world have seen this as a great opportunity to steal the country’s food supply and dump our nuclear waste in their seas.”

According to Hari:

As soon as the [Somali] government was gone, mysterious European ships started appearing off the coast of Somalia, dumping vast barrels into the ocean. The coastal population began to sicken. At first they suffered strange rashes, nausea and malformed babies. Then, after the 2005 tsunami, hundreds of the dumped and leaking barrels washed up on shore. People began to suffer from radiation sickness, and more than 300 died.


This is the context in which the “pirates” have emerged. Somalian fishermen took speedboats to try to dissuade the dumpers and trawlers, or at least levy a “tax” on them. They call themselves the Volunteer Coastguard of Somalia — and ordinary Somalis agree. The independent Somalian news site WardheerNews found 70 per cent “strongly supported the piracy as a form of national defence.”

As the media coverage of the pirates has increased, private security companies like Xe/Blackwater have stepped in, seeing profits. A few months ago, Blackwater executives flew to London to meet with shipping company executives about protecting their ships from pirate attacks. In October, the company deployed the MacArthur, its “private sector warship equipped with helicopters” to the Gulf of Aden. “We have been contacted by shipowners who say they need our help in making sure goods get to their destination,” said the company’s executive vice-president, Bill Matthews. “The McArthur can help us accomplish that.”

According to an engineer aboard the MacArthur, the ship, whose crew includes former Navy SEALS, was at one point stationed in an area several hundred miles off the coast of Yemen. “Security teams will escort ships around both horns of Africa, Somalia and Yemen as they head to the Suez Canal… The McArthur will serve as a staging point for the SEALs and their smaller boats.”

All of this is important to keep in context any time you see a short blurb pop up about pirates attacking ships. “Did we expect starving Somalians to stand passively on their beaches, paddling in our toxic waste, and watch us snatch their fish to eat in restaurants in London and Paris and Rome?” Hari asked. “We won’t act on those crimes — the only sane solution to this problem — but when some of the fishermen responded by disrupting the transit-corridor for 20 percent of the world’s oil supply, we swiftly send in the gunboats.”

*** Understand the facts - The general media tell you lies.


Just as it seemed that this drama was coming to an end, the story has taken a very bizarre turn.
It seems as though the pirates essentially tricked the ship’s “all-American” crew into handing over the Alabama’s captain, Capt. Richard Phillips.

After reports, based on Pentagon sources, emerged that the ship had been retaken by the US crew, word came from the ship that the captain of the “Alabama” had been taken by the pirates onto a lifeboat. The details of how exactly the four pirates managed to get the captain onto a lifeboat are still sketchy, but it seems a little bit like a scene out of a Marx brothers movie. The ship’s second mate Kenn Quinn was interviewed on CNN and described how the crew was essentially tricked into handing the captain over to the pirates. Quinn spoke to CNN’s Kyra Phillips:

Quinn: When they board, they sank their boats so the captain talked them into getting off the ship with the lifeboat. But we took one of their pirates hostage and did an exchange. What? Huh? Okay. I’ve got to go.

Phillips: Ken, can you stay with me for just two more seconds?

Quinn: What?

Phillips: Can you tell me about the negotiations, what you’ve offered these pirates in exchange for your captain?

Quinn: We had one of their hostages. We had a pirate we took and kept him for 12 hours. We tied him up and he was our prisoner.

Phillips: Did you return him?

Quinn: Yeah, we did. But we returned him but they didn’t return the captain. So now we’re just trying to offer them whatever we can. Food. But it’s not working too good.”

As TV Newser pointed out, “Later Phillips gave what may be the understatement of the day: ‘It sounds like the pirates did not keep their end of the deal.’”

UPDATE: At least one nuclear-powered U.S. warship is reportedly on its way to the scene of the hijacking off the coast of Somalia of a vessel owned by a major Pentagon contractor. A U.S. official told the Associated Press the destroyer USS Bainbridge is en route while another official said six or seven ships are responding to the takeover of the “Maersk Alabama,” which is part of a fleet of ships owned by Maersk Ltd., a U.S. subsidiary of a Denmark firm, which does about a half-billion dollars in business with the U.S. government a year.

– By Jeremy Scahill
Jeremy Scahill, an independent journalist who reports frequently for the national radio and TV program Democracy Now!, has spent extensive time reporting from Iraq and Yugoslavia. He is currently a Puffin Writing Fellow at The Nation Institute. Scahill is the author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army. His writing and reporting is available at RebelReports.com

29 comments:

Vest said...

On joining a pirate ship a new crew member asked his Captain, "Capt'n I see you only have one leg; what happened"
Captain replied "Got shot off by a cannon ball"
The new pirate then said "See you lost your arm too"
The capt replied " yep lost in a sword battle"
The new pirate laughing said "I see you lost your left eye too Capt; how come"
The pirate Captain replied.
"That was not funny young man, but a very sad day. You see when the ship came into port,I went ashore to get my arm fixed up at the hospital. When coming back aboard ship, a seagull shit in my eye. It was the same day I had this bloody hook fitted.

BTW. The more serious injuries created during engagements by Wooden Warships were caused by wood splinters.

Mind you a direct hit by a cannon ball would have been more serious.

Lower Deck Lawyer said...

"Avast there and Shiver me Timbers-
Slivers of timbers"

It WOOD be a better fial'e from a cannon ball.mike.

Jimmy said...

I love the sea
I loved working at Naval Dockyard Mumbai


in my next life
I hope to be a sailor boy
or girl

Aggie said...

It is a rather sad situation in that part of the world. I can understand them wanting to patrol their waterways, but holding people/boats for exhorbitant ransom is only going to buy them a Warship load of trouble in the end.

Jimmy said...

Pirates are of many types


Casanova wud steal your woman, when u were away at work, or at sea

Robin Hood was a pirate on land

Wally's MUM. said...

Jimmy, Bushrangers like Ned Kelly could be bush pirates. Dick Turpin was a highway man in Merry England, and just a thought mate if you dont stop taking the piss i'll rip off yer dick and poke yer turnip on a stick.

Jimmy said...

Hohohoho
how u gonna do that Wally?


I am safe here in Mumbai, India
and the Indian Govt dont give VISA to LD Lawyers


and other riff raff

Jimmy said...

I am blessed
I am sitting at home on the PC
flirting on the net with older babes


I have a good excuse to sit at home
and do housework

cooking, cleaning, waterimng the palants, feeding the cat


and my wife
u c my wike has Parkinsons
she needs me at home to move

and cook for her



I enjoy doing house work
dunno why women like A and K complain


house work is far better than working at any office

no dress code for one
I am sitting bare shirt in my undies here

Graeme said...

CAKE OR BED

A HUSBAND IS AT HOME WATCHING A
FOOTBALL GAME WHEN HIS WIFE INTERRUPTS,

HONEY,
COULD YOU FIX THE LIGHT IN THE HALLWAY?
IT'S BEEN FLICKERING FOR WEEKS NOW.

HE LOOKS AT HER AND SAYS ANGRILY,
FIX THE LIGHTS NOW?
DOES IT LOOK LIKE I HAVE
ENERGY AUSTRALIA WRITTEN ON MY FOREHEAD?
I DON'T THINK SO.

FINE,

THEN THE WIFE ASKS,
WELL THEN, COULD YOU FIX THE FRIDGE DOOR?
IT WON'T CLOSE RIGHT

TO WHICH HE REPLIED,
FIX THE FRIDGE DOOR?
DOES IT LOOK LIKE I HAVE WESTINGHOUSE
WRITTEN ON MY FOREHEAD?
I DON'T THINK SO

FINE, SHE SAYS
THEN YOU COULD AT LEAST FIX THE STEPS
TO THE FRONT DOOR?
THEY ARE ABOUT TO ! BREAK

I'M NOT A CARPENTER AND I DON'T
WANT TO FIX STEPS
HE SAYS, DOES IT LOOK LIKE I HAVE
BUNNINGS WRITTEN ON MY FOREHEAD?
I DON'T THINK SO
I'VE HAD ENOUGH OF YOU.
I'M GOING TO THE PUB!!!!

SO HE GOES TO THE PUB AND DRINKS FOR A
COUPLE OF HOURS.................

HE STARTS TO FEEL GUILTY ABOUT HOW
HE TREATED HIS WIFE, AND DECIDES
TO GO HOME

AS HE WALKS INTO THE HOUSE HE NOTICES
THAT THE STEPS ARE ALREADY FIXED.

AS HE ENTERS THE HOUSE , HE SEES THE
HALL LIGHT IS WORKING

AS HE GOES TO GET A BEER, HE NOTICES
THE FRIDGE DOOR IS FIXED.

HONEY, HE ASKS, HOW'D ALL THIS GET FIXED?
SHE SAID, WELL, WHEN YOU LEFT I SAT
OUTSIDE AND CRIED.

JUST THEN A NICE YOUNG MAN ASKED ME
WHAT WAS WRONG, AND I TOLD HIM.

HE OFFERED TO DO ALL THE REPAIRS, AND
ALL I HAD TO DO WAS EITHER
GO TO BED WITH HIM OR BAKE A CAKE.

HE SAID,
SO WHAT KIND OF CAKE DID YOU ! BAKE?

SHE REPLIED,
HELLOOOOO..
DO YOU SEE SARA LEE WRITTEN
ON MY FOREHEAD?
I DON'T THINK SO!

Jimmy said...

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA


loved dis one
dis shud serve as a warning to all macho hubbys who dont help out with the chores in the house

this nice guy cud have been me.
it is my experience that women dont really go for macho guys


they prefer feminine type guys who love cooking and help out with the dishes after meals


and who cry with them, when watching sentimental movies


I do both A

kate...fb said...

hey Vesty, does it mean the pirate captain hooked out his own eye? poor guy!
Luvsya, Kate.xxx.

gordon the baker said...

Is kate an Albino Brunette

Jimmy said...

I dunno
whats an albino brunette?

Vest said...

Jimmy: I believe Gordon is being unkind to Kate.
Kate is an unpretentious sweet loving, single 24 year old?.
Gordon's interpretation. After much thought, may I suggest, that Kate has Blonde thought processes.
BTW. This phenomena could also apply to many of the dark haired maidens hailing from the Indian Sub Continent.

Jimmy said...

I agree

u r referring to Sri Lankan K
I guess

Davo said...

Ah, me old mate .. or in this case, (shiftin' the macaw from one shoulder t' next) p'raps should say Yessir Cap'n. Ders trute 'n' ders fact, 'n' whatevva makes a good yarn .. heh.

Jimmy said...

I wish English men wud learn to speak English

Vest said...

Jimmy: I did not suggest it was the K from Sydney - an expat S/L.
The K mentioned is a local yokel, quite more-ish but not the sharpest tool in the box.

Jimmy said...

hohohohoho
liar liar pants on fire


u got scared
u didnt want to loose the chick


she black listed for much less

wally said...

Jim SL is not part of thr sub continent

Jimmy said...

WALLY !!!
who allowed u on the Upper Deck



for your kind info

INDIA was one nation comprising Bharat, Pakistan, CEYLON (Sri Lanka)

there was no BANGLA DESH
now get down the LD where u belong

Vest said...

JIMMY: Name one person who got closer to u no Who than yours truly, even though it was a fictional adventure over a period of ten years it had very close marital imputations which her in question and I enjoy having a giggle about occasionaly.

Jimmy said...

Hellppp

I logged onto a Dating site
made a pass for Ali (thinking Ali is she)



Now the bloke wont let go off me
He is putting out all his charm on me


and the girls are thinking I am Gay
what to do?

Jimmy said...

Name one person who got closer to u no Who than yours truly, even though .....

as I was saying, I wish English men spoke English

Jimmy said...

all u beautiful ppl here
meaning Kate, Aggie and Rose



u gotta bear with me
I am bipolar

and am now on a HIGH
must warn u guys


I get real nasty when I am in this state


I might even grab the SLK
and put on her on my knee and ....

Jimmy said...

I cud even do it to Wally
No not VEST

he is much too hairy

Frog said...

Here i am sitting on my lily pad all lonesome and hornier than a cane toad, is there some chick feeling in that direction out there some place, cos im ready to spawn my tadpoles.

Jimmy said...

Heyy Rose
is your old man asleep?

is it safe now?

Vest said...

Jimmy: No I am not, but Rose is. But not for long as I am off to bed right now. Goodnight.

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