10 things you need to know right now

Water starts to fill the Lake Eyre basin in central Australia Photo by Trevor Wright MANDATORY CREDIT : Trevor Wright
Water starts to fill the Lake Eyre basin in central Australia Photo by Trevor Wright MANDATORY CREDIT : Trevor Wright

1 Heavy rains have started to fill Australia's huge desert lake. Pictures taken by pilot Trevor Wright show water filling dry salt plains 700km north of Adelaide. The vast Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre has seen rainfall of over 150mm. It fills only a few times in a century, the BBC reported.

2 German police are investigating reports that women were sexually assaulted and mugged in Cologne during New Year's celebrations. About 90 complaints were filed to police, with a third involving sexual assault. At least one victim was raped and many were groped. The Guardian reports that between 500 and 1000 men are thought to have been behind the attacks in the city centre. It is unclear whether they were acting as a group or in separate gangs. Women reported being tightly surrounded by groups of men who harassed and mugged them. Police said the crimes were committed by people who were largely North African or Arabic in appearance.

3 US President Barack Obama has unveiled his tighter gun control measures, saying, there's "no excuse not to try". He cried as he talked about the victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook school massacre.

"Every time I think about those kids it gets me mad," he said. Background checks will be required for all gun purchases and there will be new legal penalties for illegal gun sales. Obama said: "The gun lobby may be holding Congress hostage right now, but they can't hold America hostage." Democrat front-runner Hillary Clinton called it "a crucial step forward on gun violence" and added "our next President has to build on that progress - not rip it away". But Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz called the measures "unconstitutional" and Speaker Paul Ryan accused Obama of "dismissiveness".

4 California is braced for two weeks of heavy storms with up to 40cm of rain. The weather front is generated by the El Nino system. Much of the area has suffered from bushfires and drought and may bring some water relief.

5 An Indian boy has scored more than 1000 runs in a single innings to set a new world school cricket record. Pranav Dhanawade, 15, hit 1009, breaking the previous record of 628 set by Arthur Collins in 1899, the BBC reported. He hit 59 sixes and 127 fours before his side at a Mumbai inter-school event declared at 1465.

6 French President Francois Hollande unveiled plaques in memory of the victims of the three-day Charlie Hebdo attack a year ago. Embarrassed officials misspelled the name of one of the victims, Georges Wolinski, on a plaque and corrected the error. Asked what her cartoonist husband would have thought of the typo - a "y" instead of the "I" at the end of his name - wife Maryse suggested it was no joking matter. "He didn't like it at all when [his name was misspelled]."

7 Port Lincoln father Damien Little battled mental illness for three years before taking his life and those of his sons, his family said. His mother, Sue, told the Adelaide Advertiser: "We tried to help him, we all did. But you can't help somebody who can't help himself."

8 Reuters reports that China will not require would-be parents to obtain approval to have two children under the new "two-child policy" in what is a further relaxation of controls. A government document said families would be allowed to "independently arrange childbearing" without applying for approval. The National Health and Family Planning Commission had said last October that couples would need approval first.

9 Spain finally has some good news on the jobless front with the Labour Ministry announcing an 8 per cent drop in unemployment last year from 2014 to 4.04 million. It is the largest annual decline since 1996. Spain has had five hard years of recession with unemployment blowing out from 8 per cent in 2007 to 27 per cent in 2013.

10 A giant golden statue of Mao Zedong has been built in China. Nearly 40 years after Chairman Mao's death, the 36m statue has been raised near the village of Zhushigang in Henan province. It is made of steel and concrete and covered in gold paint. It cost a reported 3 million yuan to build.

- NZ Herald

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