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The U.N. has released a report suggesting that piracy off the coast of Somalia has dropped to the lowest level in seven years. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon credited the decline to improving international policing and prosecution as well as better security and information sharing.
One Scottish merchant Navy officer reported last week that there might be additional reasons for the drop – Britney Spears. The officer told a U.K. paper that blasting songs like Britney Spears' "Hit Me Baby One More Time" and "Oops, I Did It Again," is effective in deterring approaching pirates.
This isn't altogether surprising. Loud noises have successfully fended off pirates in the past and repetitive music has been used as an interrogation tactic for years. One operative at Guantanamo reported that among others, "I Love You" by that cuddly purple dinosaur named Barney was used in interrogations at the Naval base there. A prisoner detained in Kabul told Human Rights Watch that Eminem's "The Real Slim Shady" played for 20 days on end. And in 1989, the U.S. Army played music to smoke out Manuel Noriega from the Vatican embassy in Panama City, while in the 1990s, the FBI used Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots Are Made for Walking" to try and force cult leader David Koresh out of the Waco compound.
Somali piracy may be at a low, but just last week, the White House said it was concerned by a disturbing increase in piracy on the other side of Africa after two U.S. sailors were taken hostage in the Gulf of Guinea. If pop music is at all a useful tool, go ahead and as Britney Spears says, hit them, baby, one more time.