Piracy: New Efforts in Addressing this Enduring Problem

“In an honest service there are commonly low wages and hard labour: in piracy, satiety, pleasure and ease, liberty and power . . . . [A] merry life and a short one shall be my motto.”

— Captain Bartholomew Roberts, aka “Black Bart,” notorious pirate in the seventeenth century

Human beings, whether on land or at sea, have always had to choose between leading an honest, hardworking existence and leading a life of crime. Those who put to sea and choose the latter, we call pirates–and there have been no shortage of them. Pirates have long menaced the high seas, seeking harbors and ports to plunder and pillage for treasure. Although a 1696 trial at the Old Bailey deemed that “piracy is only a sea-term for robbery” that was “committed within the jurisdiction of the Admiralty,” it continues to emerge in new forms over time. As the twenty-first century unfolds, the world again confronts piracy. Rather than the romanticized “Black Bart” Roberts, today’s pirates are often found in small dhows off the coast of Somalia armed with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs). Some supply themselves with modern-age sextants, namely global positioning devices, and walkie-talkies. These new pirates have seized large tankers carrying oil or chemicals–cargoes valued up to $100 million–as far as several hundred miles off the coast of Somalia. In 2008, pirates attacked 141 vessels off the Horn of Africa; in 2010, the number increased to 160 vessel attacks, which resulted in the capture of 53 ships in the region; and in the first half of 2011, there were already 177 pirate attacks. These attacks continue today.

Photo Credit: Green Fire Productions (www.flickr.com/photos/76145908@N08/)

First Major Rulings in the Deepwater Horizon Case

Last week USDC Judge Barbier issued the first set of rulings in the Deepwater Horizon Case. Judge Barbier dismissed a group of the claims against BP. The claims dismissed were mostly comprised of environmental groups who were not seeking monetary damages. The journal will be following the case and frequently posting tidbits as rulings come […]

Surpreme Court of the United States

CSX Transportation, Inc. v. McBride

A railroad employee filed a negligence action against his employer under FELA. The employee was injured while engaging in switching the rail carts, and claimed 1) his employer required him to utilize unsafe switching equipment, and 2) his employer failed to properly train him to use the equipment. In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court […]

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Pacific Fleet (www.flickr.com/photos/compacflt/)

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