Somali pirates suspected of first ship hijacking since 2012
An oil tanker has been hijacked by suspected pirates off the coast of Somalia, reports say, the first such hijacking in the region in five years. The ship sent a distress signal on Monday evening, saying it was being approached by high-speed boats. The Aris 13, a Comoros-flagged oil tanker belonging to a Greek company, disappeared off the coast of the east African nation Monday according to a spokesman for the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO), based in Dubai. The gunmen have told a local official they are fishermen whose equipment was destroyed by illegal fishing vessels. Piracy was rampant off the Somali coast until increased patrols by European naval forces contained the problem. The vessel was en route from Djibouti to the Somali capital, Mogadishu, and was then diverted towards the port of Alula in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland. Its tracking system has reportedly been switched off.
EU workplace headscarf ban ruled legal
Employers will be allowed to ban workers from wearing headscarves, top European court rules. But the ban on the “visible wearing of any political, philosophical or religious sign” must be based on internal company rules requiring all employees to “dress neutrally”, it ruled. It is the court’s first decision on the issue of women wearing Islamic headscarves at work.
20 million at risk of starvation in world’s largest crisis since 1945, UN says
Somalia and three other countries desperately need aid to save more than 20 million people from starvation and diseases, the United Nations said. The UN pleaded with the world to come to the rescue of Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and northeast Nigeria. “We stand at a critical point in history. Already at the beginning of the year we are facing the largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the UN,” UN humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien said Friday. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres made a similar appeal this week, warning that the crisis facing Somalia has been “neglected” by the world. “Let’s not forget that each one of these people is an individual case of extreme suffering,” he said. “There is a moral obligation for us all to do everything we can to support these people.” Money is needed in Somalia — and quickly. In addition to drought and famine, diseases, such as cholera and measles are beginning to spread.
Facebook updates policies to prohibit surveillance
Facebook now explicitly prohibits companies and organizations from using its services for surveillance. An update to its policies on both Facebook and Instagram prohibits developers from using “data obtained from us to provide tools that are used for surveillance.” Monday’s policy change come on the heels of investigations from the ACLU, which found social media monitoring companies sold their services to law enforcement, who targeted individuals through Twitter (TWTR, Tech30), Facebook (FB, Tech30) and Instagram. The spy tools often disproportionally targeted communities of color. Social media surveillance is a growing concern, especially among people who use Facebook and Twitter for activism. At the SXSW Interactive festival on Monday, Matt Cagle, attorney for the ACLU of Northern California, hosted a panel on how law enforcement uses social media tools — and how Facebook’s new policies could help stop invasive data collection.
Egypt extracts torso of ‘Pharaoh Ramses II’ statue from mud
The torso of a huge statue, possibly 3,000 years old, has been lifted from the ground in Egypt. It could depict a famous pharaoh. The statue’s giant head and other fragments were extracted from the same site last week. The relics were found in the north-east of Cairo, close to the temple of Ramses II, also known as Ramses the Great, and experts believe it may represent him. The statue was found in wasteland inbetween apartment blocks on the site of the ancient capital, Heliopolis.