Friday, October 30, 2009

Pirates in the Media: October 2009

Following up Wednesday's Pirates in the News, here's some lighter, entertainment news.

The Cayman Islands is having its annual Pirate Festival coming up, so if you're in the Cayman Islands, and you know you'd like to be, check that out.
The Cayman Islands are hosting their 32nd annual Pirates Week Festival, Nov. 12-22, with music, street dances, food festivals, costumes, games and more in Grand Cayman, Little Cayman, and Cayman Brac.

The town house of Inverness, Scotland flew a pirate flag briefly to promote a Halloween event on the Loch but was taken down after mariners suggested it was in poor taste.

And finally, Columbia Pictures has hired screenwriter Billy Ray, author of Flightplan, Breach, State of Play and The Shooter, to pen their slated film about Captain Richard Phillips' ordeal aboard the Maersk Alabama.
"The studio also optioned the film rights to Phillips' upcoming memoir, "A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs and Five Dangerous Days," which will be published in April by Hyperion.
Billy Ray is currently working on Gears of War and Motorcade.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pirates in the News: October 29, 2009

Pirates are all over the place again, especially since it's Halloween in America and Monsoon Season is well over in the Horn of Africa.
Once again, Pirates take the top spots in desired Halloween costumes for children this year according to the National Retail Federation.

In Modern Pirate news, the top story this week is that a British Couple was captured from their yacht in the Indian Ocean and being held by Somali Pirates. Here's an interview with the sister of one of the pair:

Paul and Rachel Chandler were sailing from the Seychelles Islands to Tanzania on Friday when eight swashbucklers boarded their yacht, the Lynn Rival.

"The British couple are in our hands now. We captured them as they were touring in the Indian Ocean," a pirate who called himself Hassan told Reuters.

Hassan said the couple is healthy and ransom demands will come soon.

Also captured are a number of cargo ships and hostages from non-European countries are in the hands of pirates. Among those:

"The MV Al Khaliq, a Panamanian-flagged bulk carrier, has been hijacked early this morning off Somalia."

"There were 26 crew on board, 24 of whom are Indian and two Burmese."

Nato's closest ship to the Al Khaliq was eight hours away when the ship was seized.

NATO has been patrolling the waters around Somalia extensively, American Drones are being employed to protect shipping, and negotiators have been brought in from all sectors trying to negotiate peaceful exchanges of crews and cargo.

On the legal end of all this, trials continue in Europe and America of Somali pirates captured by the NATO navies. One such man on trial illustrates a key legal issue in the trial of pirates from Somalia, they are often teenagers and whether or not they are legal adults according to the countries prosecuting them is a consistent issue at trial.

A suspected Somali pirate captured after the hijacking of a Spanish fishing boat will face trial in the high court because a second medical test has confirmed he is older than 18, court sources said on Wednesday.

The Spanish navy captured the two Somalis in the Indian Ocean shortly after pirates overran the tuna boat Alakrana on October 2 and took hostage its multinational crew of 36.

The pirates are still in control of the boat from the Basque Country in northern Spain, and have said they will not discuss the crew's release until their two comrades are freed.

A Spanish court had decided to hand the younger suspect over to a juvenile court on Tuesday after an initial test based on samples taken from his wrist suggested he may be less than 18.

This story caught my eye from the Business Daily, the International Maritime Bureau released its yearly reports on pirate attacks and suggested strongly that removing captured pirates from their countries of origin for trial may not be the most effective deterrent.

An international maritime organisation has proposed that suspected pirates arrested off the Somali coast and the Gulf of Aden be investigated and prosecuted in their home turf to boost the war against piracy.

“It is vital that regions in Somalia such as Puntland continue to take firm action in investigating and prosecuting the pirates. This will be a far better deterrent against Somali pirates than prosecution and punishment in a foreign country,” Mr Pottengal Mukundan, the director of the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) said in a statement on Wednesday.

Several countries including Kenya host judicial procedures on suspected pirates arrested in the Horn of Africa nation as part of an international pact under the UN security council.

The IMB, however, observed that such foreign trials had failed to contain the piracy menace even as statistics showed the number of attacks reported this year had surpassed those registered in 2008.

It emerged on Wednesday the number of attacks involving the use of guns had shot up over the nine months to September by more than 200 per cent in the corresponding period of 2009, triggering fresh debate on whether ship owners should deploy armed guards to counter pirates whenever they attacked vessels.

There's always more news out there, but that's an idea of what's been going on this month in pirate news.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Dolphins, Jerks of the Sea: Part 6

As part of my ongoing series on how Dolphins are magnificent jerks:

Dolphins play soccer... with other creatures

From the Sunday Express:

Marine biologists were amazed to see dolphins swim under jellyfish and, with a flick of their tails, shoot them out of the water.

One particularly talented mammal could flip a jellyfish six feet into the air.

Scientists believe the game goes back hundreds of thousands of years and may even explain why dolphins in captivity are so skillful with balls.

Marine expert Jonathan Easter, 23, who was studying the bottlenose dolphins at play in Cardigan Bay, West Wales, said: “They were having fun flipping barrel jellyfish about.

“They swim under the jellyfish then at the right moment flick their tail up and give it a good kick.

“They were not always accurate but when they had a direct hit the jellyfish were kicked out of the water.

“This has never been seen before and it raises more questions than answers.”

But it is highly unlikely that the jellyfish share the dolphins’ fun – many do not survive the rough treatment.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Journalist's experiance while in the hands of Somali Pirates

Read the full article here...

Along the route, a confrontation ensues between the pirates onboard while deep in the Gulf of Aden. A section is opposed to the idea of a journalist recording and visiting the highly guarded territory. Two of them turn, pointing their AK-47 rifles at me. At this point I am speechless that the men who only a few minutes ago were friends are baying for my blood.

After more than four hours roaming the Gulf of Aden, we finally come ashore. They lead me to a dark room and hold me hostage for eight hours, often threatening me: “You’re going to die in the next four hours if we don’t get a kill today,” one of them says.

My Sony H4 Zoom recorder is my only companion as I keep the record button on, making sure that I leave evidence even if they end my life. At this point, I reflect on my initial questions that led me to this mission: Who is behind this trade and does it have links to the development that is on going back in Eastleigh? My nose for news is slowly being replaced by a desire to survive the ordeal. I keep praying for a quick intervention. I see July 31 as my last day on Earth.

Eventually, they release me, but not before a parting shot: Western forces must respect Somalia. “You must tell the international community that we are here to stay despite what the U.S., Russia, and France do,” the ringleader, Guled, said. “They should respect our waters and avoid dumping waste here.”

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Pirates in the News: October 8, 2009

So there haven't been a whole lot of pirates in the news, one could say that that is because of policing, but just and possibly more reasonable is the fact that it was just monsoon season, and if you've ever seen a monsoon, you know you don't want to sail in that.

So! with monsoon season mellowed out, here's some news from the Gulf of Aden and elsewhere.

On the Sea:
Somali pirates in two skiffs fired on a French navy vessel early Wednesday after apparently mistaking it for a commercial boat, the French military said. The French ship gave chase and captured five suspected pirates.

No one was wounded by the volleys from the Kalashnikov rifles directed at La Somme, a 3,800-ton refueling ship, French military spokesman Rear Adm. Christophe Prazuck said.

La Somme "was probably taken for a commercial ship by the two small skiffs" about 250 nautical miles (290 statute miles) off Somalia's coast, Prazuck said.

In Europe:

Two men captured in connection with the hijacking of a Spanish tuna boat in the Indian Ocean will be brought to Madrid on orders from a judge, a Defense Ministry official said Tuesday.

As the trawler Alakrana and its 36-member crew remained under pirate control for a fifth day, the wife of one of the sailors said she worried the arrests would stretch out the drama, perhaps causing the pirates to demand the release of the arrested men as a condition for freeing the hostages.

The suspects — identified in court papers as Abdu Willy and Raageggesey — will be brought to Madrid as soon as possible to face preliminary charges of kidnapping, criminal association and theft, the official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity in line with ministry rules. Their nationalities were not given.

and in Business News:

Add The Yachts of Seabourn to the list of cruise lines steering clear of the pirate-plagued waters around Somalia.

The globetrotting luxury line says it has canceled a series of voyages through the Indian Ocean scheduled for late 2010 and early 2011 due to worries about the increasingly brazen attacks on ships in the region.

The 208-passenger Seabourn Legend, which had been scheduled to offer the trips, instead will head to the Caribbean for the winter of 2010-2011, sailing out of Fort Lauderdale and St. Thomas.

The move comes just six months after a widely-reported pirate attack on an MSC Cruises ship in the Indian Ocean prompted that line to swear off future voyages through the region. Britain's Fred Olsen Cruise Lines also recently announced it will no longer sail through the area.

That's what I've got for you today, enjoy pirate fans.

Oh wait,

The EU vows that the war on piracy isn't over.

But the commanding officer of the European Union armada warned Tuesday that it is too early to declare victory over heavily armed Somali pirates in tiny, fast-moving skiffs.

"This is not a thing where we can say 'job done,'" Rear Admiral Peter Hudson said on the sidelines of an EU defense ministers' meeting.

Pirates, the Best Selling Pornographic Movie ever made.

Pirates, the 2005 XXX rated pornographic film broke records, its budget was an unheard of $1 million plus and swept through the AVN, XRCO and Adult DVD Empire awards. Also, in a time when pornographic film sales are suffering hugely due to the free market of the Internet Pirates made bank.

It also played at several small, but mainstream film festivals in a push to appeal to a wider audience.

Taking advantage of the pirate craze that had swept the world in the wake of Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean and getting plenty of publicity about its production, both good and bad-

Several scenes were shot on board a replica of the HMS Bounty in St. Petersburg, Florida. The owners of the ship were not aware of the true nature of the film as they were advised that the film being made was a "Disney-type pirate film for families.
The adult film was groundbreaking for the genre, and has proven that a high budget pornographic film can be lucrative enough to sustain itself and indeed, has justified a sequel.
Which like the first film, is already getting plenty of press for scandals its justified.

I'm not going to pretend to be an expert on pornography or that part of the business, but what I do think this is a compelling argument about new and old media models. The pornography industry is suffering because it's most simple content, videos of people having sex, can be easily accessed for free. This is at least one example of showing how adding story and greater value in the form of storytelling, has transcended the major hurdle facing any pornographic film coming out. People pay for story, people care about story (even when acted by porn stars) and they'll come back again if they enjoyed it the first time.