I'm sure that by now most of the western world is at least aware of the brouhaha going on with Somali pirates. Recently their ship taking exploits have been reported more than normally, additionally both the USA and France chose to take military action to retrieve hostages instead of the usual ransom.
This situation has been going on for quite some time and modern piracy is alive and well all over the world. What the average person is not aware of though is generally ships are not allowed to have so much as a gun on-board. Instead of fighting off boarders they are to simply let them onboard and go along for the ride because "It would only escalate the situation " (actual quote)
Now I disagree with this strenuously. For oh so many reasons that I don't have the time to get into now (but am tempted to write an essay on) I say arm merchant ships and let them shoot the *very bad words to describe human beings* whenever they try to board. Can't you just see the British Crown three hundred years ago telling it's merchant fleet sailors to play nice with the likes of John Rackham, Edward Teach, Anne Bonny and Mary Read because to fight back would cause escalation of the situation.
*sigh* All of this was sparked by some comments in this
article on non-lethal weaponry that ships might be able to use in their defense. I still say just shoot the buggers.