Forces of the French Republic took part in two days of bombing in support of government forces trying to regain control of Mali. The North of the country has been under the sway of Islamist rebels following an unrelated coup in March. The whole of North Africa has felt the effect of the toppling of Libyan leader, Colonel Gadaffi, with weapons and radicalism destabilising areas of Mali, Chad, the Central African Republic, and southern Algeria. Current French forces on the ground are set to grow from 750 to 2,500. The United Kingdom is providing air logistics to the effort. At the time of going to press, a column of French armoured vehicles was heading North out of the capital, and advanced units were engaged in street fighting.
Rebels in Algeria, which borders both Mali and Libya, have attacked a gas installation jointly run by BP and the Algerian State oil company. Several foreign workers have been taken hostage, and there are unconfirmed reports that a Frenchman has been killed.
The embattled regime in Syria has shown it’s still as potent as ever, launching a series of airstrikes on Aleppo, leaving 52 dead. The strike comes as rumours spread that the Assad inner circle is now residing on a warship, having lost faith in their own security detail.
North Korea has reopened its embassy in Australia. The embassy has been closed since 2008 following financial constraints. The move has been seen as part of a wider move by Pyongyang to open itself up to Western powers in the region. Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr welcomed the initiative.
Pollution levels in Beijing have reached such levels that they can now be seen from space. The Chinese capital has long suffered from the residual effects of sandstorms from the Gobi desert, but this latest covering is man made. How bad is it? Air with miniscule particles above 100 micrograms per cubic meter is considered “unsafe.” This weekend, the U.S. Embassy in Beijing logged concentrations almost as high as 900 micrograms.
The government of Quebec is to push ahead with its ‘Dying with Dignity’ legislation aimed at allowing doctors to help the terminally ill with ending their own lives.
Russia emerged from the mother-of-all hangovers as it comes round from its annual two week long drinking binge to help bring in the new year. Many Russian businesses only reopen on the 9th January. A staggering 1.5 billion litres of alcohol are estimated to have been consumed over the holiday. If you want a physical representation of that, if all the bottles of alcohol that Russians drank over the holiday were lined up along the equator, they would wrap around the world 17 times.
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