Australia: A statue of Captain James Cook and a memorial to explorers Burke and Wills have been vandalised in Melbourne in the lead up to Australia Day tomorrow. Pink paint was dumped on Captain Cook's head at St Kilda today, with the words "no pride" painted beneath his feet, along with the Aboriginal flag. A bluestone monument near Melbourne Zoo marking Burke and Wills' journey to Australia's interior has also been vandalised, with green paint and the word "stolen" daubed on it. Federal citizenship minister Alan Tudge said the vandalism is a "disgrace".

Venezuela: President Nicolas Maduro confirmed that he will seek a second term as President of Venezuela in an early election already widely rejected by the international community. "I am going to be a candidate ... fulfilling the order of the working class, fulfilling the order of the popular base," he announced in a broadcast on state television. The statement came a day after Venezuela's national constituent assembly approved holding the presidential election by the end of April — months ahead of when presidential voting has traditionally taken place.

Burma: Former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson has resigned from an advisory panel on the massive Rohingya refugee crisis, calling it a "whitewash and a cheerleading operation" for Burma leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The sudden resignation of a former senior US diplomat who considered Suu Kyi a close friend, raises serious questions about international efforts to deal with the crisis. Richardson, a former US Ambassador to the United Nations, castigated Suu Kyi for blaming outsiders for the crisis instead of looking honestly at military actions that have forced nearly 700,000 Rohingya to flee to squalid refugee camps in Bangladesh. "She believes there's a concerted international effort against [Burma], and I believe she is wrong," Richardson said. "She blames all the problems that [Burma] is having on the international media, on the UN, on human rights groups, on other governments, and I think this is caused by the bubble that is around her, by individuals that are not giving her frank advice."

A man swims in a ice hole in the Neva River in St.Petersburg, Russia. Photo / AP
A man swims in a ice hole in the Neva River in St.Petersburg, Russia. Photo / AP

Australia: Sydney rail commuters spent the morning peak packed like sardines in hot, humid carriages due to reduced services across the city as the New South Wales Government tried to head off a 24-hour strike. The afternoon peak is the next hurdle for commuters with the state's transport coordinator predicting the situation will worsen after a "busy, difficult morning" of timetables operating on a Saturday schedule. Trains are running every 15 minutes on a working day, instead of every eight, meaning many city-bound services were jam-packed with workers. Bondi Junction station in the city's east had to be temporarily closed due to overcrowding.

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Columbus firefighters use a ladder truck to extinguish a fire at Carpet Mania in Columbus, Indiana. Photo / AP
Columbus firefighters use a ladder truck to extinguish a fire at Carpet Mania in Columbus, Indiana. Photo / AP

United States: Veterinarians successfully used alternative medical treatments such as acupuncture on three wild animals burned in the Southern California bushfires, although one patient — a 5-month-old mountain lion — did keep eating his fish-skin and corn-husk bandages, vets at the University of California, Davis, said. Rescuers brought two adult bears, one of them pregnant, and the young mountain lion to veterinarians with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and the university. They were found in the Los Padres National Forest. The bears had suffered third-degree burns on all their paws, said Jamie Peyton, chief of the Integrative Medicine Service at the university's vet school. The cub also burned all four paws. Peyton and her colleagues used some of the alternative methods she already employs with other animals, including acupuncture, chiropractic treatment, and cold-laser therapy. Vets carried out the alternative treatments only on days when the bears and mountain lion were already anesthetised for bandage changes or other standard care. The California vets stitched the fish skins to the animals' burned paws, then wrapped the treated feet with bandages of rice paper and corn husks. Ordinary cloth bandages can block animals' intestines if the animals eat them. Both bears were soon walking. Officials released the bears back into the forest last week. They plan to release the cub this week.

Greece: Excavations next to the uninhabited Greek islet of Keros, already identified as the enigmatic hub of a forgotten religion, have now revealed traces of intense industrial activity more than 4500 years ago. Digs last year showed that Dhaskalio, a rocky islet once joined to Keros, was once almost completely covered in "unique monumental structures" of gleaming white marble. It also had metal-working facilities and houses, with a sophisticated drainage system underneath. Greece's Culture Ministry said prehistoric builders created massive terrace walls that made Dhaskalio look like a stepped pyramid.

An archaeologist displays a metal mould for a copper spearhead, or dagger, found on Dhaskalio, Greece. Photo / AP
An archaeologist displays a metal mould for a copper spearhead, or dagger, found on Dhaskalio, Greece. Photo / AP

Britain: Julian Assange's doctors have said that his health is at risk due to his six- year confinement in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Sondra Crosby, Brock Chisholm and Sean Love, writing on the Guardian's website, said that they spent 20 hours over three days assessing Assange's condition. Without giving any particular details, they said that his confinement has had an impact on his physical and mental health. The WikiLeaks founder has not stepped out of the Knightsbridge, west London, embassy since August 2012, when he was granted asylum by Ecuador.

Australia: The adventurous wallaby who stopped motorists in their tracks when he hopped along the Sydney Harbour Bridge has been released back into the wild. The wayward male swamp wallaby was taken to Taronga Zoo in a serious condition due to the stress of his moment in the spotlight a week and a half ago.

The financial skyline of Singapore is reflected in a rain puddle as people jog past at dawn. Photo / AP
The financial skyline of Singapore is reflected in a rain puddle as people jog past at dawn. Photo / AP

France: Rivers across France kept swelling despite a pause in the rain, with train service disrupted in Paris as the Seine River rose and flooded walkways. In one outlying suburb, soldiers were on alert to intervene. In another, small boats were put at the disposal of town folk. Meteo France, the national weather agency, said 23 departments remained on orange alert, the second highest level of vigilance, urging people to limit their movement and to stay vigilant. In Paris, the Seine River reached 5.18m at the Austerlitz bridge in the east, the Transport Ministry said. It was expected to keep rising, reaching 6.10m this — as high as the June 2016 flooding when authorities were forced to close several monuments, including the Louvre Museum.

- agencies