Thursday, November 20, 2008

America Loves Pirates, But Maybe Not Somalian Sort

johnny depp as pirate jack sparrowYesterday I listened to NPR news on the "seizure Monday of a supertanker carrying $100 million of crude oil off the coast of Somalia," and how East African piracy might drive up oil prices. Hmm, do pirates threaten the world's energy security?

The whole time I listened to the story, I kept thinking of Johnny Depp, whose fictional Jack Sparrow character is based on an actual pirate, and Errol Flynn's silver screen swashbuckling adventures. Yes, I'm old enough to know about Errol Flynn. I connected the Somali pirates to Hollywood pirates and thought how shallow of me. However, today I dropped by NPR and saw that a story up, "Why do Pirates Have Us Hooked?," that discusses the romanticizing of piracy in light of Somalian pirates seizing booty.
Now come the Somali pirates, parading through the news: neo-buccaneers from the Horn of Africa wreaking unholy havoc on international shipping lanes. The Somali pirates have hijacked more than a dozen ships and crews, including a Saudi Arabia-owned supertanker laden with crude oil. They want $10 million in ransom for the tanker. That will buy one big bottle of rum. And, arguably, make pirate-lovers think twice.

... Or will the Somalis do for pirates what Jurassic Park did for dinosaurs — make them not so lovable? (NPR)
Here, have a listen. You might also enjoy this interview on East African pirates, how they take down ships, and a National Geographic journalist who went through pirate training.

Finally, here's CNN footage about "the biggest tanker ever seized by pirates."

That network also reports some pirates are living lavish lives.

More from NPR: Pirates 101: Fact or Fiction on the High Seas, 2006.

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