Sunday, November 1, 2009

An "Alternative" Look at Somali Pirates

One of the purposes of this blog is to set the record straight on maritime topics as they are reported in the media, and I freely admit that most of my sources are what you would call "mainstream media." I just happened to pick up the collection called Censored 2010: The Top 25 Censored Stories of 2008-09 edited by Peter Phillips and Mickey Huff and found the #2 most underreported story of the year -- in the editors' view, anyway -- is "Toxic Waste Behind Somali Pirates." The article paints an interesting picture of the origins of the pirates: that they started out as local fisherman defending their home waters from toxic waste dumpers and illegal fishermen from other countries that moved in when the Somali government collapsed, thus leaving the country's waters undefended.

The annual Censored collection has a definite point of view. The introduction to this year's volume, by freelance journalist Dahr Jamail, is largely a condemnation of Israeli actions in Gaza. The editors openly declare
In the thirty-three years of Project Censored, the absence of real news from corporate media has never been more complete. Lies, deception, propaganda, superficial coverage, and overt censorship are on the rise. We cannot be polite about this anymore. Corporate media is irrelevant to working people and destructive to democracy. Look elsewhere for real news, as you won't find it in the mainstream press.
A definite point a view indeed, one I don't completely agree with. "Alternative" news outlets definitely play an important role, though, and I don't want to disregard that on this blog.

In terms of the Somali pirates story, I would say at least two of the three sources cited by the Censored editors -- Al Jazeera and The Huffington Post -- are "mainstream," if not traditional, news outlets. The three sources Project Censored cites are

"Toxic Waste" Behind Somali Piracy by Najad Abdullahi of Al Jazeera English.

You Are Being Lied To About Pirates by London Independent columnist Johann Hari in The Huffington Post.

The Two Piracies In Somalia: Why The World Ignores The Other? by Mohamed Abshir Waldo on the Somali news website Wardheer News.

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