April 8, 2009
Posted: 1508 GMT
It seems we can say history was made today: it is being said that for the first time since 1804, African pirates have managed to hijack an American-flagged ship. The last time anything like this happened, Thomas Jefferson was president of the United States.
Early Wednesday, pirates seized a ship with 20 American crews members off the coast of Somalia. The Laersk Alabama was carrying tons of relief supplies bound for Kenya, according to the company that owns the ship.
With nicer weather, Somali pirates are out vessel fishing again in the Gulf of Aden. They want ransoms paid and they almost always get what they ask for.
British, French, Taiwanese and German vessels have been seized in recent months. Last year, pirates attacked as many as 100 vessels off the coast of Somalia. Nothing seems to deter the assailants. In fact, they're gaining experience, organization and millions in cold hard cash.
It seems Somali pirates are managing to work as teams and are never seen fighting amongst themselves, according to witnesses. In other words, they are managing in the high seas what they have not managed to do on land in lawless Somalia: cooperate and work as a team.
We're asking today in the I-Desk poll: what is the best way to stop pirate attacks off the horn of Africa?
We're live in the region with our Stand Grant and are trying to get in touch with Barbara Starr who is with the Fifth fleet in Bahrain for the U.S. response to the latest events.
Also today: the Italian earthquake. We are live once again with Fionnuala Sweeney on the shaky grounds of L'Aquila. Our team has spoken with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
Speaking of the Italian PM – and in typical Berlusconi style – the Italian leader managed another gaffe today, telling a German journalist the survivors of the earthquake in tent cities should just see themsleves as being on a "camping week-end."
He may have been trying to comfort survivors but many didn't see it that way. At all.
Also on tap: U.S.-Cuba relations. We're live in Havana for more on an American congressional delegation's trip to the Cuban capital.
We'll also talk about Richard Holbrooke's visit to india.
That, and the rest of the hour's top news, at the I-Desk.
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