28 de Sep de 2022


Might makes right on the high seas

For years, Panamanian politicians have been wringing their hands over what to do with Panama’s out of control crime spree. They face two...

For years, Panamanian politicians have been wringing their hands over what to do with Panama’s out of control crime spree. They face two alternatives: using a “mano duro” to kill or incarcerate criminals, or extend a “mano suave” handshake to train and rehabilitate.

The handshake solution has been an utter failure and Panama now has a per capita homicide rate greater than Mexico and outgunned cops on the beat are using 38-caliber single-shot revolvers against 9 millimeter semi-automatics.

Perhaps, the recent piracy threats from Somalia can show us what method works best.

“MANO DURO” WORKS WITH PIRATES. Lethal force recently used by the US and French governments to free captured ships and hostages taken by Somali pirates has been a resounding success —two ships recovered, only one hostage killed and a handful of pirates dead or captured.

Nevertheless, deadly response is only part of the solution.

Piracy and kidnapping is a capital crime punishable by death in many jurisdictions throughout the world. Presently, the entire world, with the exception of France and the US, is treating piracy as simply a mugging at sea.

France’s Premier Sarkozy refused to negotiate with pirates several weeks ago and, instead sent in special commandos to free a hijacked yacht.

One hostage’s life was lost and two hijackers were killed. This is in stark contrast to France’s earlier hijack “mano suave” approach where the yacht’s owner paid $2.15 million for the release of the ship and its 23 passengers and crew.

Other measures that can be taken: SEA MARSHALS PROGRAM Sea Marshals are to vessels what Air Marshals are to commercial airliners. They are armed law enforcement officers who board, sweep, search, protect, escort, and maintain control of vessels to prevent hijacking or acts of terrorism.

Sea Marshals/Boarding Officers operate under the jurisdiction of the United States Coast Guard and the Department of Homeland Security. They have authority to enforce all maritime laws.

Private enterprise has also moved into the Sea Marshal business.

One firm will pay $1,500 a month for each of 50 applicants that meet the following criteria:

“1) Age 30-50; 2) Completion of SWAT/Anti-terrorism /Special Forces /Airborne) courses; 3) Valid passport; 4) STCW Certification (Ship Safety course); 5) Current vaccinations; 6) Valid medical examination; 7) Good Physical Condition; 8) English conversational ability.”

BLOCKADE KEY PORTS. In the first and second Barbary Wars, blockades were used effectively about 10 kilometers outside the ports and brought the wars to a quick conclusion. Today, a similar NATO blockade would cut the access of pirate ‘mother ships’ that sail 300 km + carrying and supplying smaller boats used to board vessels.

WINDOWS AXES XP SUPPORT. Last week, a salesman in a Panama City electronics store told me that computers using the XP operating system, which debuted in 2001, will be obsolete by the end of April. I asked if this was only for Panama or worldwide. Everywhere, he replied as he started listing the advantages of Windows’ new computers running the Vista system.

I didn’t bite. A check on the Internet confirmed that the salesman’s spiel was only partially true. Yes, Microsoft will end mainstream support for Windows XP by the end of April, despite the fact that most computers (including netbooks) still use the XP application,

So, should you dump your present XP-equipped computer in favor of a new one running the latest Vista program? Of course, not. Mainstream support is used to correct bugs in Windows and during the eight years XP has been sold, most of its bugs have been addressed. And another thing not mentioned by the salesman: Microsoft will continue to close XP security holes until 2014.

Wait another five years before buying a new Vista-equipped PC. Prices will be much lower, and the new operating system should have been sufficiently ‘debugged’ by then.