South Korea Kicks Somali Pirate Ass

The final score, South Korea; 21 rescued, one wounded ship’s captain, and a recaptured 11,500-ton chemical freighter. Somali Pirates; eight dead, five under arrest, no ransom, and loss of pirate boat.

Commandos attack, and pirates die; South Korean navy show the world how to do anti-piracy

Commandos from the South Korean navy stormed a ship earlier today that had been hijacked by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean, killed at least eight of the pirates in cabin-to-cabin gunfights, captured five other pirates who wisely chose capture over death, and rescued all 21 hostages aboard the 11,500-ton chemical freighter.

The commando force suffered no injuries. The ship’s captain suffered a non-life-threatening gunshot wound during the operation. The South Korean force had a little help from a nearby U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, which also provided a helicopter to transfer the wounded Korean ship’s captain.

See also:
South Korean forces storm hijacked ship, free hostages
Korea pushes ahead with risky operation
South Korean commandos save crew from pirates
South Korean commando raid kills eight Somali pirates
Eight Somali pirates killed as South Korea rescues freighter crew
South Korean Commandos Rescue Freighter Crew, Killing Eight Somali Pirates
S. Korean Navy Frees Crew of Hijacked Chemical Tanker
South Korea delivers setback to Somali pirates, and a warning to North Korea
South Korean raid frees hostage crew from pirates
S. Korean navy rescues hijacked cargo ship, sailors
In ‘Bold Operation,’ South Korean Commandos Kill Pirates, Rescue Crew
South Koreans Fight Pirates Off Ship
Somalia anti-piracy law: MPs block law banning ‘heroes’

Unfortunately, for every successful operation like this, there’s at least a dozen hijackings that the pirates get away with and get paid for. Sooner or later, unless they want to keep paying ransoms every other week,the Western powers are going to have to send forces ashore, hit these Somali bastards where they live, and destroy their piracy infrastructure.

/calling Stephen Decatur

Worst Alibi Ever

I mean seriously, who doesn’t fish with automatic weapons and rocket launchers?

Somali Pirate Suspects Say They Were Fishing For Sharks

Trial began Tuesday for five suspected Somali pirates, aged between 25 and 45, on charges of attacking a vessel sailing under a Netherlands Antilles flag. The accused men say they were simply fishing for sharks and not responsible for the hijacking.

The trial, which is the first-ever European trial of suspected Somali pirates, surrounds the attacking of the Turkish freighter Samanyolu in January 2009.

Prosecutors said the men used rocket launchers and assault rifles to attack the vessel and the crew took refuge. Prosecutors’ account match up with what the vessel’s machinist said in a prepared statement.

The accused, who are facing jail terms of up to 12 years for the attack, told a Dutch court that they are innocent of the charges and were fishing for sharks in the Gulf of Aden, a stretch of sea off the coast of Somalia that has become rife with piracy.

“The intention was to fish,” defendant Farah Ahmed Yusuf, 25, told the Rotterdam district court, claiming that when their ship broke down they tried to get help from the passing Samanyolu.

See also:
‘Pirates’ claim they were just fishing for sharks… with rocket launchers
Dutch to hold first European Somali pirate trial
Somali pirates’ trial begins in the Netherlands
Dutch court scene for piracy trial
The Netherlands starts first trial of pirates in Europe
First European trial of Somali pirate suspects opens
First European trial of Somali pirate suspects opens
First European trial of Somali pirate suspects opens
Prosecutors demand 7-year sentences for piracy
First European Pirate Trial to Start
Dutch trial of five Somali pirates starts
Somalis deny piracy in landmark European trial
Suspected pirates on trial

These heavily armed “fisherman” are damn lucky they’re being tried in the Netherlands and only facing 12 years in prison. Some jurisdictions still deal with captured pirates the old fashioned way.

/Yemen court sentences six Somali pirates to death

They’ll Call Your Piracy And Raise Death

Talk about upping the ante.

Commercial ship strikes back in deadly shootout with Somali pirates

Private security guards protecting a commercial ship shot dead a Somali pirate Tuesday, the first recorded incident of its kind.

The pirate attack on the Panamanian-flagged MV Almezaan occurred off the coast of Somalia, and comes at a time when increasing numbers of commercial ships are hiring private armed security units to protect them during their passage through the Indian Ocean to the Red Sea. While US and French Navy crews have killed Somali pirates before during hostage rescues on the high seas, today’s shooting shows that the Somali piracy problem is potentially growing more violent.

“This could be the beginning of a violent period,” says E.J. Hogendoorn, head of the Horn of Africa program at the International Crisis Group’s office in Nairobi. “If [the pirates] see guys with shiny barrels pointing at them, they might fire first.”

‘Pirate’ dies as ship’s guards repel attack off Somalia

A suspected pirate has been shot dead as private guards repelled an attack on a cargo ship off Somalia, in what may have been the first such incident.

Guards aboard the Panamanian-flagged MV Almezaan returned fire after the ship was attacked – the third time in a year that pirates had targeted the ship.

The EU naval force (Navfor) said a team from an EU warship found the dead man after responding to a distress call.

Six other suspected pirates were detained by a Spanish Navfor ship.

The ESPS Navarra found one pirate mother ship and two skiffs. The mother ship was destroyed after the suspects were taken into custody, Navfor said.

Navfor spokesman Cmdr John Harbour told the BBC News website that he believed there was strong evidence to prosecute the six suspects detained.

“All the evidence suggests that there was a fire-fight,” he said.

Bullet-holes were found in the skiffs in which they were found, he added.

See also:
Security guards shoot dead Somali pirate in attack on MV Almezaan cargo ship
Pirate killed in failed hijacking off Somalia, EU says
Somali pirate killed by private guards
Somali pirate killed by ship’s guards in thwarted attack
Suspected pirate shot dead off Somalia
Private guards kill Somali pirate for first time
Somali pirate killed in cargo ship hijack shooting
In First, Private Guards Kill Somali Pirate
Somali Pirate Killed By Private Security Guards
Pirate shot dead in attack on UAE ship
Suspected pirate shot, six arrested

Well, maybe the pirates will think twice now that the stakes have been raised to this point. Finally, these commercial ships are applying the proper penalty to pirates that’s been accepted throughout history.

/the only good pirate is a dead pirate!

Investing In Piracy

Not getting enough return on your traditional Wall Street bond, stock, and options investments?

Somali sea gangs lure investors at pirate lair

In Somalia’s main pirate lair of Haradheere, the sea gangs have set up a cooperative to fund their hijackings offshore, a sort of stock exchange meets criminal syndicate.

Heavily armed pirates from the lawless Horn of Africa nation have terrorised shipping lanes in the Indian Ocean and strategic Gulf of Aden, which links Europe to Asia through the Red Sea.

The gangs have made tens of millions of dollars from ransoms and a deployment by foreign navies in the area has only appeared to drive the attackers to hunt further from shore.

It is a lucrative business that has drawn financiers from the Somali diaspora and other nations — and now the gangs in Haradheere have set up an exchange to manage their investments.

One wealthy former pirate named Mohammed took Reuters around the small facility and said it had proved to be an important way for the pirates to win support from the local community for their operations, despite the dangers involved.

“Four months ago, during the monsoon rains, we decided to set up this stock exchange. We started with 15 ‘maritime companies’ and now we are hosting 72. Ten of them have so far been successful at hijacking,” Mohammed said.

“The shares are open to all and everybody can take part, whether personally at sea or on land by providing cash, weapons or useful materials … we’ve made piracy a community activity.”

Haradheere, 400 km (250 miles) northeast of Mogadishu, used to be a small fishing village. Now it is a bustling town where luxury 4×4 cars owned by the pirates and those who bankroll them create honking traffic jams along its pot-holed, dusty streets.

. . .

“Piracy-related business has become the main profitable economic activity in our area and as locals we depend on their output,” said Mohamed Adam, the town’s deputy security officer.

“The district gets a percentage of every ransom from ships that have been released, and that goes on public infrastructure, including our hospital and our public schools.”

. . .

Haradheere’s “stock exchange” is open 24 hours a day and serves as a bustling focal point for the town. As well as investors, sobbing wives and mothers often turn up there seeking news of male relatives missing in action.

. . .

Piracy investor Sahra Ibrahim, a 22-year-old divorcee, was lined up with others waiting for her cut of a ransom pay-out after one of the gangs freed a Spanish tuna fishing vessel.

“I am waiting for my share after I contributed a rocket-propelled grenade for the operation,” she said, adding that she got the weapon from her ex-husband in alimony.

“I am really happy and lucky. I have made $75,000 in only 38 days since I joined the ‘company’.”

See also:
Bandit Bourse? Somali pirates hijack oil tanker, organize ‘stock market’
Pirate stock exchange helps fund hijackings
Somali pirates set up ‘stock exchange’
Avast ye! Somali pirates create exchange for stolen loot
Invest in Your Favorite Somali Pirate
Somali Pirate Haven Is the Ultimate Deregulated Free Market

Crime pays.

/until the civilived world finally gets good and tired of having its ships constantly hijacked and sends Mr Cruise Missile to pay Haradheere’s “stock exchange” a visit

Did Activision/Infinity Ward Screw The PC Pooch?

I am a PC gamer. I am a huge fan of COD4, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, I think it’s the best FPS PC game ever released and its sales figures back up that claim. As with all games of this genre, while the single player experience is fun, the multiplayer mode is why you buy the game and what gives the game its replay value. In this regard, COD4 is awesome, absolutely without peer, IMO.

So, as you might imagine, ever since they announced a release date for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, I have been waiting in eager anticipation. Now, imagine my surprise when it turns out that Activision/Infinity Ward, in MW2, has stripped out all the multiplayer features that made COD4 such a success. Not only is this a major multiplayer experience downgrade (which they’re charging $10 more for), but it seems that this was done deliberately, as a slap in the face to the PC gaming community!

Modern Warfare 2: The Battleground for PC Gaming?

Every once in a while (every 10 minutes or so), the death knell of PC gaming is cried out by someone or other. And once in a while, it seems like they might be right. PC gaming is not, however, going anywhere. With such an open platform that allows anyone to get in without buying a dev kit, there will always be something to play. Nonetheless, the release of Modern Warfare 2, to me, signals one of the loudest shots fired from the bow of a major publisher against PC gaming.

Freelancer Mitch Dyer commented on his twitter feed earlier today that he was ranked one million something in Modern Warfare, meaning that in just 12 hours, the game has sold over a million copies on one platform. Any doubt that this game would be huge should be a distant memory by now.

The two console versions are pretty much feature-identical, as far as I know. It comes down to preferences for controllers and online service. Beside that, they’re the same game.

But then there’s the PC version.

The thing about PC gamers is, they expect certain things out of their games, things that have always been there as far back as Quake. First and foremost is the exclusion of support for dedicated servers. Back in the Quake II days, I remember logging into the same server (Nostromo) every night over the summer to play deathmatch over dial-up. On the 360 and PS3, matchmaking is an accepted part of the platform.

To not have that, as little an inconvenience as it may be in reality, seems like a major affront to PC gamers. Having the option to get familiar with a server and the group that shows up there has always been one of the benefits of the game, along with having the option to vote users off the server if they’re being disruptive without having to wait for an admin to get to it. Also, when the game isn’t hosted by a player, no one gets the home field advantage and no one affects the game when they pull the plug mid-match.

Of course on the publisher side, you get problems like servers with weird settings that encourage cheating and most importantly, servers that don’t verify that your copy of the game is legal. That’s the big thing. By having the entire online game run through a service, you force all your users to verify their copies of the game if they want to play online. Even if it means no clan home servers and worse, no local play.

Another missing aspect is the lack of console access. The best way to describe a PC gamer, to me, is to compare them to those car nuts that build hot rods from scratch. PC gamers build their systems, know the specs of every part in their computer, and have everything set-up just the way they like. Check out their World of Warcraft interfaces when they get to higher levels, and you’ll see something that barely looks like the same game. Similarly, some gamers like to have their shooters set-up just-so. Tweaking the field of view settings and sensitivity of the controls are things gamers expect to have the option to do as necessary. Instead, Infinity Ward has told gamers that they’d like them to play the game as they designed it, regardless of any user preferences that may not conform to what the publisher thinks is important.

Other limitations include restricting the maps to 9v9 (when the first Modern Warfare allowed games with 16v16) and the exclusion of the lean move, in the name of not having to recalibrate the maps. That lower team limit is a major thing for all the clans that formed on Modern Warfare servers trying to make the jump to the sequel. Split the team up? Have Alpha and Bravo teams? Not play the new one?

I won’t even mention that the PC version of the game is selling for the same price—$59.99—as the console equivalents. Oops, I just mentioned it.

All this together makes me think Infinity Ward/Activision is excluding expected features in hopes of discouraging PC users. Maybe not discouraging them, but taking away many of the advantages that have drawn PC users in the past while doing as much as possible to combat piracy. Of course, where there’s a will there’s a way, and there’s always a will in PC gaming, and I won’t be surprised if we see dedicated servers with 16v16 games within a few months.

Whether the mad geniuses of the mod world come up with a solution, Activision’s decision strikes me as a very clear message that PC games—or at least hardcore PC gamers—do not play a large role in their equation. While indie gaming and MMORPGs thrive, I have a feeling that some of the bigger publishers are going to give the PC less and less attention when they have a much more reliable option available.

chart-noscale

See also:
Modern Warfare PC compared to Modern Warfare 2 PC
Modern Warfare 2 PC User reviews low…
PC Gamers Fear Modern Warfare 2 Is A Console Port [Video]
Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 PC Multiplayer Capped at 18 players
Modern Warfare 2 (PC) Capped at 9v9
PC Players Revolting Against Modern Warfare 2
PC Modern Warfare 2: it’s much worse than you thought
Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 PC review
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 PC Review
Activision Not Concerned With Modern Warfare 2 PC Negativity
Modern Warfare 2 Hacks Already Available on PC

Needless to say, I’m extremely dissapointed and conflicted by this fiasco. I was really looking forward to playing this game but, on the other hand, on principle, I don’t want to financially reward Activision/Infinity Ward for their blatantly arrogant and hostile treatment of loyal PC gamers. They expect us to pay more for an inferior product after we’ve already seen that they’re capable of putting out an excellent multiplayer game like COD4. It sucks.

/for now, I guess I’m going to sit back, think about it some more, and wait and see how this controversy plays itself out

The Plot Thickems

Police say ransom demanded in Arctic Sea mystery

A ransom has been demanded for a missing Russian cargo ship which vanished two weeks ago after being involved in a suspected hijacking off the coast of Sweden last month, Finnish police told CNN Saturday.

Authorities said the ransom demand might be from a second group of hijackers who targeted the ship after it was first allegedly hijacked for 12 hours off the coast of Sweden.

“There has been a demand for ransom and the subject is the shipping company, Solchart Management,” Jan Olof Nyholm with the Finnish police told CNN.

An international criminal investigation is under way into the alleged hijacking of the vessel, the Arctic Sea. The last known communication with the vessel was July 31.

The probe, involving Interpol, is being handled by Swedish, Maltese and Finnish authorities in cooperation with authorities from another 20 countries, the Malta Maritime Authority said in a statement Saturday.

Finnish police would not say how much ransom had been demanded, or what else they know about the vessel.

“At this point I can’t comment on whether we know the whereabouts of the ship. Our top priority is the threat to life and health, so I can’t release any more details,” Nyholm said. “The investigation has more details, but I can’t say any more.”

The Arctic Sea, which sails under a Maltese flag, was carrying a 6,500-ton cargo of timber from Finland to Algeria when it reported trouble on July 24.

See also:
Finland says ransom demand received for missing cargo ship Arctic Sea
Missing Ship Arctic Sea’s Owner Gets Ransom Demand (Update1)
Ransom demand made for Arctic Sea cargo ship
Ransom Demand Over Missing Atlantic Ship
Owners of missing cargo ship receive ransom demand
Report: Vanished ship’s signal appears off France
How on earth has the ‘Arctic Sea’ vanished?
Thar She Blows?
Where Oh Where Has The Arctic Sea Gone, Where Oh Where Can It Be?
Interpol

Who is demanding ransom and where is the Arctic Sea?

/enquiring minds want to know

Where Oh Where Has The Arctic Sea Gone, Where Oh Where Can It Be?

What Happened to the Missing Ship ‘Arctic Sea’?

Russia’s president has ordered the Russian Navy to take part in the search for the cargo ship “Arctic Sea.” Manned by a Russian crew, the ship vanished two weeks ago off the coast of southern Europe.

President Dmitry Medvedev told Secretary of Defense Anatoly Serdyukov to “take all necessary measures to establish the whereabouts and to find the missing ship ‘Arctic Sea’ with a Russian crew on board, as well as to free [the ship’s crew], should such a need arise,” the Kremlin told Interfax on Wednesday.

The Arctic Sea is a 5,000-ton cargo ship that was carrying timber worth approximately $1.6 million from Finland to Algeria. It left port July 23, and the next morning was reportedly boarded in Swedish waters in the Baltic Sea by a band of masked hijackers in a high-speed rubber boat, who identified themselves as anti-drug police. The 15-man crew was tied up while the hijackers searched the ship.

After 12 hours, they apparently disembarked and sped away, breaking radio and other communications gear but without taking anything of value, the crew reported to the Maltese Maritime Authority, where the ship is registered. Instead of making port after the incident, the ship continued on its trip.

The ship was last heard from July 28, when it radioed the Dover, England, Coast Guard because it was approaching the English Channel. In a call the Coast Guard called routine, the ship said that it was en route to the Algerian port of Bejaia, where it was due to arrive Aug. 4. The last time its position was recorded by tracking equipment was July 30, when it was off the coast of the northern French town of Brest. On Aug. 2, the ship was spotted by Portuguese coastal patrol planes.

But the next day, Aug. 3, Interpol told the Dover Coast Guard that the ship had been hijacked more than a week before and asked the Coast Guard to stay vigilant. By that point, however, the ship had passed through the English Channel and had fallen off the radar.

See also:
Secret cargo theory as hunt for missing vessel Arctic Sea goes on
Hijacked Arctic Sea feared to be carrying secret cargo of drugs
Missing ship may have secret cargo
Russian Navy Joins Search for Freighter
Hunt Intensifies for Missing Cargo Ship
Ship disappears after sail through English Channel
Piracy fears surround Arctic Sea disappearance
Arctic Sea’s unstable sisters
MV Arctic Sea

Unless it sank, I find it hard to believe, in the age of satelites, that they can’t find a 300 ft. ship in the Atlantic. This whole episode is well within the realm of the bizzarre. The Russians cannot be happy about what’s happening. The resolution of this mystery should prove to be quite interesting, if we ever find out for sure.

/given the seemingly professional nature of the presumed piracy, I think we can safely say that whatever cargo the Arctic Sea was transporting, it sure as hell wasn’t timber