One news item that particularly grabbed my attention in recent days (amongst stories of job cuts, bank failures, growing personal and government debt, and erm, oh yes, the economic downturn) was the story of audacious Somali pirates who had hijacked an oil tanker the size of Wales (OK then, maybe containing oil equal in value to the GDP of Wales).
I don't know why this story grabbed my attention in particular (apart from the fact it was not yet another story about The End of Capitalism). Maybe because it involved pirates that I don't normally hear about. That is, they are not of the kind that make counterfeit CDs, broadcast rock and roll songs from rickety ships in the North Sea, frequent parrot and wooden limb shops on Penzance High Street or even zip around the South China seas in speedboats waving kalashnikovs in the air. Maybe because it was a hijack but not of a vehicle that would be the choice of your average discerning hijacker: a jet passenger airliner. At least with a jet plane you're able to fly to almost anywhere in the world in a matter of hours. But to be honest a fully laden oil tanker is not exactly the fastest and nimblest of vehicles is it? I mean I'm not sure how many knots an oil tanker can do, but instead of scrambling fighter jets to follow its every move I'm sure the Navy could easily casually send out a few canoes and dinghies. Or sit a bloke on the beach with a pair of binoculors.
Then there is the matter of the ransom on demand. $25 million dollars!? How on earth are they going to receive that money and then try to avoid detection afterwards? Do they want it all in used banknotes? Or gold bullion? How about crude oil? Yes, in the current economic climate they would be foolish to ask for the ransom to be paid in Sterling and nobody will be able to obtain that much gold in such short notice. And everbody knows that crude oil is going to get scarser and scarser as the time goes by.
Yes, we demand $25 million in crude oil for the safe return of the crew of the Sirius Star. In fact since it's already carring $100 million of the stuff just tell us where to dump the remaining 75% of its content then we'll be off thank you very much. And no funny tricks or men in canoes following us.
This being my first post in this blog I've forgotten to put a British Chinese spin to this article. Oh well, c'est la vie.