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The Sirius Star is a Saudi freighter the size of an aircraft carrier, which is being held by a small band of Somali pirates. With a load of two million barrels of crude oil and a crew of twenty-five, the ship is a valuable hostage for the pirates and a potential environmental disaster if negotiations fail and an oil spill occurs. There been more than two hundred incidents of piracy this year. Guest host Sara Terry explores what’s happened to millions of dollars in ransom paid for the release of other vessels, who the pirates are and why they aren’t being caught by naval forces. Also, the Fed targets consumer spending and mortgage rates, and the perils of budget cutting. Can Barack Obama's team really root out waste in the federal budget?

Banner image: In this handout image supplied by the US Navy, the Liberian-flagged oil tanker MV Sirius Star is at anchor off the coast of Somalia November 19, 2008 in the Indian Ocean. Photo: William S. Stevens/US Navy via Getty Images

Ocean Titans

Daniel Sekulich

Making News Fed, Treasury Target Consumer Spending, Mortgage Rates 5 MIN, 32 SEC

President-elect Barack Obama held another press conference today, this one to announce two more members of his economic team, and to re-state his campaign pledge of reviewing the federal budget line by line to reduce waste and strengthen needed programs. Current Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson announced another multi-billion dollar stimulus package, this one to make more lending available to consumers. Neil Irwin is a financial reporter for the Washington Post.

Neil Irwin, New York Times (@Neil_Irwin)

Main Topic The Perils of Modern Piracy 34 MIN, 49 SEC

Somali pirates want $15 million in ransom money for a Saudi tanker carrying $100 million worth of crude oil. The capture of the Sirius Star, which was taken earlier this month, is the most daring modern pirate escapade to date, and this morning, there's news that yet another cargo freighter has been captured, this one from Yemen. That brings the total of ships now being held by pirates to seventeen. There've been more than 200 incidents this year, with a doubling of attacks off the Somali coast. That’s bad news for a world in which eighty percent of international goods travel by sea. Why has the coast of east Africa became such a dangerous place for shipping? What has caused the resurgence in piracy on the world's oceans? Who are the pirates targeting? Why can't they be stopped? How is the international community responding to the problem?

Daniel Sekulich, author, 'Terror on the Seas'
Roger Middleton, Africa Analyst, Chatham House
Joe Angelo, Deputy Managing Director, Intertanko
David Cockroft, General Secretary, International Transport Workers' Federation
Mark Tempest, member, Maritime Law Association

Reporter's Notebook Can Obama Trim the Fat off the Federal Budget? 8 MIN, 9 SEC

At his press conference today, Barack Obama again vowed to go over the federal budget line by line looking for wasteful spending. The President-elect reiterated his promise as part of his efforts to revive the economy. It's the kind of promise politicians seem to make over and over, without ever making substantial change. Will he really be able to tackle programs protected by special interests? What’s ahead for Obama's team? John Cranford, national editor of Congressional Quarterly, has been writing about the federal budget for 20 years.

John Cranford, National Editor, Congressional Quarterly

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