“The number of foreign tourists visiting London surged by 20 per cent last summer to a new record – making it the world’s most popular destination. Prince George of Cambridge’s birth, Andy Murray’s historic Wimbledon triumph and a long hot spell of weather helped to attract almost 4.9 million visitors to the capital between July and September, official figures revealed today. That was up almost 19.5 per cent on the Olympic summer of 2012 and smashed the previous high of 4.7 million set in 2006.” – Evening Standard
“At least 28 people have been injured in two explosions in Bangkok in the latest attack on protesters demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinatwtra. The attack took place on Sunday, hours after an anti-government activist was wounded when a gunman opened fire at protesters shortly before midnight on Saturday. The Erawan Medical Center said the injured were taken to four different Bangkok hospitals. It was not immediately clear what caused the explosions. The protesters, who control several small patches of the city, are vying to overthrow Yingluck’s government. While the day-time protests have been largely calm in Bangkok, assaults have been reported nightly, including shooting attacks at protest venues and small explosives hurled at the homes of high-profile protest supporters. Protesters also want to derail February 2 elections, called by Yingluck in a bid to quell the crisis.” – AlJazeera
“Afghanistan’s National Security Council has accused “foreign intelligence services” of being behind Friday’s deadly attack on a Kabul restaurant. It said such “sophisticated and complex” attacks could not have been carried out by “ordinary Taliban”. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the suicide assault in central Kabul which killed 21 people. The victims included the local IMF chief and citizens of at least nine nationalities. The National Security Council is chaired by President Hamid Karzai. Friday’s attack saw a suicide attacker detonate explosives outside the gate of the heavily fortified Taverna du Liban, then two gunmen entered the restaurant and started shooting. The gunmen were eventually shot dead by the security forces when they arrived at the scene.” – BBC News
“A state court on Tuesday temporarily froze an order by the Inspector General’s office ousting embattled Bogota Mayor Gustavo Petro and banning him from elected office over a bungled overhaul of the city’s trash collection system. The political fortunes of Mr. Petro appeared to be revived for now, after the court said it was halting the order by Inspector General Alejandro Ordoñez until it determines whether the mayor’s ouster was constitutional. Mr. Petro said in a speech that the court’s decision represented “a victory over injustice.” He has called his ouster a “coup attempt” and said the recent, large rallies against Mr. Ordoñez’s decision were a triumph for his cause. The political fate of Mr. Petro, a former leftist rebel who was imprisoned in the 1980s for being a member of a now-defunct guerrilla movement, has threatened to hinder a year-long peace process between the Colombian government the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, also known as FARC, Latin America’s oldest insurgency.” – WSJ
“Two big property development decisions have been taken by the Western Cape government. Provincial Planning MEC Anton Bredell has approved an application that allows for the possible development of the Wescape mini city on the West Coast, but he has given the thumbs down for plans to develop farmland in the Philippi area. Both are controversial projects, but many will be happy to know the Western Cape government won’t allow any development at Cape Town’s so called bread basket in the Philippi horticultural area. Bredell has however, approved an application by city officials to change the urban edge, paving the way for the development of the Wescape mini city. The R140 billion concept includes the building of 200,000 homes over a 20 year period.” – EWN
Vote in Future Cape Town’s poll on the Wescape decision here.
“There appears to be no end in sight for China’s air pollution problems as Beijing issued its first pollution warning of the new year. The capital, along with Tianjin and a number of cities in Hebei province are again enveloped in a shroud of hazardous smog. Some of Beijing’s most well-known buildings were barely visible on Thursday as the municipal government issued a yellow smog alert. On Thursday, Beijing’s mayor Wang Anshun announced an “all-out effort” to tackle air pollution. He said that coal use would be cut by 2.6 million tonnes and that measures will be taken to stop coal burning in the city and the surrounding areas. China’s central government is also taking the problem seriously and in September the State Council, China’s cabinet, announced a plan to bring improvements in air quality by 2017. Under the plan many polluting factories would be closed and China’s massive reliance on fossil fuels would be reduced.” – The Guardian
“Tens of thousands of Ukrainian pro-EU demonstrators have gathered in the capital Kiev in defiance of new laws aimed at curbing public protests. They braved freezing temperatures to pack into the city’s Independence Square, with some sporting pots or colanders to mock a ban on helmets. The laws were passed on Thursday with a quick show of hands by MPs loyal to President Viktor Yanukovych. The opposition accused Mr Yanukovych’s ruling party of a coup. The president signed the bills into law soon afterwards. One of the laws bans any unauthorised installation of tents, stages or amplifiers in public places. It also permits the arrest of protesters who wear masks or helmets, among other restrictions.”- BBC News