World News Brief, Wednesday November 19

$100m oil tanker hijacked by pirates in 92nd attack this year; Chinese government imposes lay-off restriction; British foreign minister meets Syrian leader, fighting flares in Gaza; and more

Somali Pirates' Oil Haul

For years now, pirates have swarmed shipping lanes in the Indian Ocean, targeting ships traversing the Gulf of Aden between Somalia and Yemen and other areas off the east African coast. Yesterday the problem was thrust into the international spotlight as a group of Somali pirates seized the largest tanker ever to be hijacked-a Saudi oil tanker, owned by the oil firm Aramco, and estimated to be worth over $100 million (BBC). Al-Jazeera reports the ship is likely headed toward a Somali coastal village controlled by pirate gangs. Officials from the US Navy say it remains unclear whether the pirates have demands or what fate has come to the ship's twenty-five crew members.

The BBC quotes data from the IMB Piracy Reporting Center that the attack marks the ninety-second attack this year on a ship in the region, thirty-six of which have resulted in successful hijackings. The Financial Times reports Western governments have stepped up anti-piracy efforts by funneling money to international maritime guard units-and notes that three separate anti-piracy task forces are now operating in the Gulf of Aden-but also notes that these efforts are fraught with difficulty and seem unlikely to stomp out the problem entirely.


An October 2008 paper (PDF) from the British think-tank Chatham House surveys the problem of piracy in Somalia and its implications for regional trade. The paper concludes that Somalia's failed government facilitates the operations of pirates and that addressing this unrest should be the primary objective of international governments seeking to stomp out piracy.



Pacific Rim: China Layoff Rules

China moved to stem a wave of layoffs (BBC) as unemployment pressures in the country heighten. Beijing imposed rules under which companies can fire no more than forty people at a time without government approval.

SHIPPING: The Korea Times reports over 150 ship-building firms in South Korea face imminent bankruptcy and says Seoul may move to drastically restructure the industry.

TOYOTA: Following yesterday's announcement that Japan has officially entered recession, one of the country's main corporations, Toyota, announced its worst sales forecast (Yomiuri) in twenty-eight years.



Britain's Miliband to meet Syrian President Assad.

Israeli troops push into southern Gaza; fighting flares.

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