The pirate stock market is booming

Those following the pirate lairs of Somalia have long known that the assailants who hijack ships and terrorize the seas are more organized than they appear (Credit here goes to FP contributor and pirate watcher J. Peter Pham). Far from the sailboat-driving kids they might look like, the pirates are serious business. And business is exactly what they're into.

The business of 'stocks,' to be precise. Reuters reports that the pirates have set up an exchange in Haradheere, the main port used by the buccaneers, where shares are traded in a whopping 72 pirate outfits. The profits have so far bought countless SUVs, other luxury goodies, and even a slice of revenue for the local government programs. Says the pirate interviewed for the piece:

"The shares are open to all and everybody can take part, whether personally at sea or on land by providing cash, weapons or useful materials ... we've made piracy a community activity."

Well no wonder piracy won't go away. Given the options (poverty, militancy, theft), who wouldn't become a pirate? Besides, one wouldn't want to disappoint the shareholders.

As I argued earlier this year, piracy is becoming increasingly like drug trafficking: it's not the little guys who you want to go after. It's the big financial gurus who are making bank. In that vein, news of a 'stock market' of sorts might just be good news. That money must be being laundered somewhere... meaning there's a chance financial sanctions could cut deep. It's pirates' pockets that are their Achilles heels. 

Photo: PIERRE VERDY/AFP/Getty Images


Manny Pacquiao returns to politics


Manny "Pac Man" Pacquiao has suffered four losses in his career. Three were to rival boxers and the fourth was to Philippine congresswoman Darlene Antonino-Custodio for the congressional seat in the First District of South Cotabato, home to General Santos City, the Tuna Capital of the Philippines.

The pound for pound boxing champion of the world will return to politics, this time running in the neighboring district of Sarangani.  The seat will be left vacant for the 2010 elections due to term limits. Pacquiao will be supported by his own party, the People's Champ Movement (Here's hoping Freddie Roach will stay on as campaign manager).

As far as a platform goes, Pac Man told the AP in March, "I want to help [the poor] because I know what they feel right now. It is not easy to help other people. That is a big responsibility. I will focus on that for the meantime."

He told reporters yesterday, "I want only good things for Sarangani... I will work for children, for the health of our countrymen and for their livelihood."

Pacquiao does indeed know what poverty feels like, growing up poor in a country where 30 million people live on less than a dollar a day. He worked as both a baker and a construction worker before he became known as the Mexicutioner.

If he wins the seat, it is not clear if he will fight Floyd "Money" Mayweather Jr. as was expected. This would surely be a disappointment to millions of fans who would like nothing more than to see "Money" knocked out. This will also play a vital role in his bid for a congressional seat; his 2007 loss is often credited to many of his fans who voted against him to make sure he would stay in the ring.

Covering this campaign (the new greatest job in journalism) will also be a Christmas-come-early for hundreds of political writers who will undoubtedly use the politics as boxing analogy ad nauseam. (E.g. Gets back in the ring, ready for a fight, trades jabs, throws in the towel)