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A similar law seems to be in play with the latest hostage drama on the high seas off Somalia, where four pirates have been holding an American sea captain in a life boat under the watchful eye of the USS Bainbridge.
At the moment, other pirates back at their bases in Somalia are holding 18 vessels and 267 sailors, the fruits of several months of attacks on ships off the coast.
The media in the United States has focussed fully on this latest story – a drama with just one American at its centre – while showing rather less interest in the hundreds of other hostages, none of whom is thought to be American.