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French Navy Seizes 11 Accused of Pirate Attacks

French forces detained 11 people suspected of being pirates during an assault on what they described as a pirate “mother ship” in the Indian Ocean off Somalia on Wednesday.

On Tuesday evening, an American cargo ship was attacked in the same region, and its distress call was answered by the Navy destroyer Bainbridge. Last week the Bainbridge responded after pirates attacked another American-flagged ship and took its captain hostage. On Sunday, Navy commandos killed the pirates and rescued the captain, Richard Phillips. Captain Phillips was still on the Bainbridge when it responded to the attack on Tuesday.

Pirate activity has sharply increased in recent months in the open seas off the Horn of Africa, drawing assertive military operations by the American and French navies. Last week, French naval forces freed a yacht, the Tanit, in an operation in which two pirates and a hostage were killed. Three pirates taken prisoner in that episode have been sent to France.

China Sees a Slight Lift in Spring Factory Orders

Chinese manufacturers say orders are starting to recover from their steep plunge over the winter, but demand from Europe and, especially, the United States remains anemic.

Although exporters here for the opening of Asia’s biggest trade fair cited a small uptick in orders for the coming months, the overall Chinese economy slowed in the first quarter of this year mainly because of slower exports. The National Bureau of Statistics announced on Thursday morning that the economy grew 6.1 percent in the first quarter, roughly in line with expectations.

The first quarter growth rate means that the Chinese economy expanded much faster over the winter than any other major world economy, although more slowly than many in China have come to expect, and slower than its 6.8 percent pace in the fourth quarter.China’s slowdown has been felt most keenly by export-oriented factories and their workers, which are heavily concentrated in the Shanghai area and here in Guangzhou. By contrast, “domestic consumption has been holding up very well,” said Frank Gong, an economist in the Hong Kong offices of JPMorgan.

Control Of Cybersecurity Becomes Divisive Issue

The National Security Agency has been campaigning to lead the government’s rapidly growing cybersecurity programs, raising privacy and civil liberties concerns among some officials who fear that the move could give the spy agency too much control over government computer networks.

The Obama administration is expected to complete an internal cybersecurity review on Friday and may publicly announce its new computer-security strategy as early as next week, White House officials said Thursday. That plan will determine the scope of cybersecurity efforts throughout the federal government, they said, as well as which agencies will take leading roles in protecting the government’s computer systems.

The security agency’s interest in taking over the dominant role has met resistance, including the resignation of the Homeland Security Department official who was until last month in charge of coordinating cybersecurity efforts throughout the government.