Morning Brief: Somali pirates get serious

Top Story All of this media attention may be going to Somali pirates’ heads. Pirates seized a wheat-laden merchant ship bound for Bandar Abbas, Iran, off the coast of Yemen yesterday. A Thai fishing boat and a Greek tanker were also hijacked in separate incidents. All told, eight ships have been taken in the past ...

591465_081119_sirius2.jpg
591465_081119_sirius2.jpg

Top Story

All of this media attention may be going to Somali pirates' heads.

Pirates seized a wheat-laden merchant ship bound for Bandar Abbas, Iran, off the coast of Yemen yesterday. A Thai fishing boat and a Greek tanker were also hijacked in separate incidents. All told, eight ships have been taken in the past two weeks.

Top Story

All of this media attention may be going to Somali pirates’ heads.

Pirates seized a wheat-laden merchant ship bound for Bandar Abbas, Iran, off the coast of Yemen yesterday. A Thai fishing boat and a Greek tanker were also hijacked in separate incidents. All told, eight ships have been taken in the past two weeks.

Other pirates are demanding ransom for the Saudi oil tanker (above) they seized on Monday. The tanker, which contains an estimated $100 million worth of crude oil, is now parked off the Somali coast near the pirate haven of Harardhere.

“Piracy is disturbing everything in Somalia, disturbing normal life, disturbing trade and commerce, disturbing the movement of humanitarian aid,” the Somali prime minister, who has little power to stop the attacks, admitted Tuesday.

“It’s got a lot of people’s attention and is starting to have impact on the commercial side,” said Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, of the pirate attacks.

“The key problem,” lawyers David Rivkin and Lee Casey argue in today’s Wall Street Journal, “is that America’s NATO allies have effectively abandoned the historical legal rules permitting irregular fighters to be tried in special military courts.”

Meanwhile, the Indian navy is fighting back. An Indian warship returned fire on pirates in the Gulf of Aden, blowing up one of three small vessels.

U.S. Presidential Transition

Eric Holder, a former prosecutor, is emerging as a top candidate for attorney general.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is in negotiations with the Obama transition team, the Financial Times reports.

Karen DeYoung reviews the latest scuttlebutt on senior national security council jobs.

Rahm Emanuel, the incoming White House chief of staff, laid out the Obama administration’s priorities in a speech to American CEOs.

Economy

The U.S. Congress had harsh words Tuesday for Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.

U.S. automakers appear to losing their bailout bid, for now.

National oil companies are said to expect prices to fall to $40 a barrel.

Americas

Mexico’s federal authorities have replaced 500 police officers in Tijuana. And a top liaison between national police and Interpol has been arrested for allegedly leaking sensitive information to drug cartels.

A hard-core group of Yemeni prisoners may prove the toughest challenge in closing the Guantánamo Bay prison.

Asia

As its economy slows, China is retreating on some of its environmental progress.

Police in the southwestern city of Longan, China, battled thousands of rioters. Expect more such incidents, the United Nations warns.

Indian IT executives see tough times ahead.

Middle East and Africa

Iraq’s prime minister accused critics of the security pact with the United States of wanting U.S. troops to stay.

Fighting may be coming to a halt in Congo, but battle lines remain blurry. Community groups say atrocities are widespread.

Iran’s new interior minister, an ally of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was narrowly approved.

Europe

Sharia law is making inroads in Britain, to the dismay of some.

A Spanish judge abandoned his inquiry into the crimes of Francisco Franco.

Italy is moving to crack down on lazy bureaucrats.

Today’s Agenda

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation is holding a forum on free trade.

U.S. President George W. Bush dedicates the new flag gallery at the National Museum of American History in Washington.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration opens a satellite office in Beijing.

Photo: AFP/Getty Images

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