1. Gold Coast mother charged with the murder of two of her children, which she allegedly ‘framed as suicides for financial gain’.
A mother has been charged with the murders of her 18-year-old daughter and 26-year-old son - who both had severe disabilities - five years apart on the Gold Coast.
According to AAP, police arrested 51-year-old Maree Crabtree in the south Brisbane suburb of Coorparoo on Wednesday morning and spent several hours questioning her before formally charging her over the deaths.
It's alleged she was responsible for killing her son, 26-year-old Jonathan, whose body was found at an Upper Coomera home on July 18 last year.
Eighteen-year-old daughter Erin's body was found at a Maudsland home on September 4, 2012, where the accused was living at the time.
At the time, both deaths were treated as suicides, but police will allege the siblings' deaths were actually calculated murders committed by the hands of their own mother.
Crabtree is also accused of seriously assaulting her 25-year-old daughter on a number of occasions over several years.
Investigators believe the Queensland mother carried out the killings for insurance payouts, forcing her children to take prescription medication that worsened their conditions and contributed to their deaths.
"These acts haven't been compassionate acts of a stressed mother at her end," Detective Inspector Mark Thompson told reporters after her arrest.
"It was calculated, it was planned and it was executed with an end goal in mind."
Det Insp Thompson would not be drawn on whether Crabtree caused the children's disabilities but said the "family dynamic" was harmful to them.
"The health and wellbeing of these children, we believe, were impacted because of the guidance the children have received from their matriarch, their mother," he said.
Court documents show she allegedly dishonestly received an insurance payout of $567,863, a total permanent disability claim for $238,800 and had attempted to fraudulently obtain a superannuation death benefit of $125,000.
Detective Inspector Mark Thompson said the investigation had been complex as some of the alleged incidents occurred across Australia.
"That is why we are appealing for anyone who may have any information that could assist with the investigation," Det Insp Thompson said.
"Any piece of information, no matter how small, can have a significant impact on our investigation."
— AusoftheYearAwards (@ausoftheyear) January 8, 2018
For two of this year's Australian of the Year nominees their life's work lives on in the hearts and smiling faces of thousands.
Paediatric cardiologist Bo Remenyi received the NT's state award for her lifesaving work in the early intervention, prevention and treatment of rheumatic heart disease in remote indigenous Territory communities.
"It's s disease of poverty and it's preventable," Dr Remenyi told AAP at Government House in Canberra, on the eve of the award ceremony.
"I pick up kids early with heart disease, so we can offer cardiac surgery so they don't die in the next year or so."
Meanwhile, more than 17,000 people across the world with facial deformities and disfigurements have had their bodies and consequently their lives repaired by craniofacial surgeon David David.
Four of the eight state and territory finalists have been recognised for their efforts addressing the high rates of disadvantage among indigenous Australians.
Queensland NRL player Johnathan Thurston, Western Australian psychologist Tracy Westerman, Tasmanian theatre director Scott Rankin and clothing designer Dion Devow from Canberra have each received state awards for their work helping to improve indigenous lives.
Thurston said he hopes to help raise awareness about constitution recognition of the first Australians if he wins the overall award.
He acknowledged past controversies in the early years of his NRL career had taken a toll on his loved ones and he was now passionate about helping other youngsters stay on the straight and narrow.
Johnson founded the charity Love Your Sister and has pedalled at least 15,000km on a unicycle around the country to raise awareness and millions of dollars towards cancer research.
NSW's state winner Michelle Yvonne Simmons is the people's choice, as the favourite on the betting markets.
She's dedicated her life to quantum physics and is working on a computer that could solve problems in minutes rather than thousands of years.
The national Australian of the Year award will be announced in Canberra on Thursday.
3. "I just signed your death warrant." Former Team USA gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar sentenced to 175 years for sexual abuse.
Former Team USA gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar has been sentenced to up to 175 years in prison after it was revealed he had been sexually abusing women and girls under the guise of ‘treatment’ for years, CNN reports.
More than 150 women - including gold medallist Aly Raisman - came forward during his sentencing hearing to tell their powerful stories of surviving his abuse.
"You never healed me. You took advantage of our passions and our dreams," she told her abuser in court, while reading a victim impact statement.
"Imagine feeling like you have no power, and no voice. Well you know what Larry, I have my power and my voice, and I will use them."
In handing down her sentence to the 54-year-old, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina of Michigan's Ingham County Circuit Court said it was an "honour and privilege" to sentence the predator.
"Your crimes have cut into the core of this community and families and many we don't know," she said.
"There was no medical treatment. You did this for your pleasure and your control. You still think that somehow you are right... I wouldn't send my dogs to you, sir.
"It was my honour and privilege to sentence you. I just signed your death warrant."
Nassar pleaded guilty to several counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct in November.
Assistant District Attorney Angela Povilaitis told the court earlier this week the doctor was "perhaps the most prolific child molester in history... who spared no one".
4. If you plan on cooking sausages on the barbie this Australia Day, you're (apparently) doing it wrong.
The only thing that's enjoyed more than a sausage sanga on Australia Day around the country is a game of beach cricket.
But according to 7 News, one chef is warning that chucking a snag on the barbecue during the summer months is actually not the way we should be preparing the tasty treat.
Food blogger Martin, known as 'The Why Chef', says backyard cooks should cook sausages in a frying pan using a low heat with a knob of unsalted butter instead of firing up the grill.
"[Butter] adds to the flavour. You could use oil, but it doesn't compliment the sausage fat," the chef told 7 News.
"Cooking them for a long time at a low heat is going to cook them through sufficiently, allow for the fat to render and caramelise in the pan, and with no worry that they're going to turn into boot leather."
Martin's technique is guaranteed to be a winner at your next backyard barbecue. Well, according to Martin, anyway.
Luckily, the chef added it's 'go for gold' when it comes to popping prawns, bacon and steak on the barbie.
5. The 13 siblings found shackled by their parents in a Californian home will be split up in foster care.
A source close to the investigation confirmed to the news outlet that the six minors would be split between two foster homes.
Meanwhile Riverside County has been granted conservatorship over the seven adult siblings. They will be transferred to an assisted living facility for adults.
All 13 siblings were rescued from their parents' home in California last week after a 17-year-old girl escaped and dialled 911 for help.
She was so malnourished, police at first believed she was just 10 years old. Police found her 12 siblings, aged between 2 and 29, starved and "shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks in dark and foul-smelling surroundings".
The siblings received care at a local hospital after being rescued, with many needing antibiotics, vitamins and nutrition via I.V.
Authorities allege the siblings were not allowed to use the bathroom, were allowed to shower just once a year and fed just one meal a day, as their parents taunted them with pies and treats.
Riverside District Attorney Mike Hestrin told a press conference last week the oldest sibling, a 29-year-old female, weighed just 37kg at the time of her rescue.
Parents David Allen Turpin, 57, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49, were arrested have each been charged with nine counts of torture and 10 counts of child endangerment. If convicted, they face 94 years to life in prison for their alleged crimes.
If you or someone you know is in need of help, please call the National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service on 1800 RESPECT.
6. Sydney Thunder have returned to the top of the WBBL ladder after a win against the Melbourne Renegades.
Sydney Thunder have returned to the top of the WBBL points table after absorbing some nervous moments to down the Melbourne Renegades by four wickets in a low-scoring WBBL clash at Manuka Oval, AAP reports.
After skittling the Renegades for just 68 in 15.5 overs, the Thunder made hard work of the chase, wriggling across the line with four overs to spare.
Ashes-winning captain Rachael Haynes returned to her early-season best after a recent lean spell, top-scoring with 37 on a damp pitch offering pronounced seam movement under overcast Canberra skies.
Wickets fell regularly as Hayley Jensen (3-11) and Molly Strano (2-16) bowled superbly but the Renegades never had anywhere enough runs to defend.
Bookended by a shaky 2-1 start and calamitous 4-4 finish, the Renegades wilted after being sent in following pre-match showers which delayed the toss.
Skipper Amy Satterthwaite top scored with 17 and briefly appeared likely to launch her typical rescue missions but it wasn't to be.
Player-of-the-match Nicola Carey (3-10) did most of the damage for the Thunder with her seamers and was well supported by West Indian allrounder Stafanie Taylor (2-11), after spearhead Rene Farrell (2-10) inflicted the early damage.
Despite suffering a third consecutive defeat, the sixth-placed Renegades are still capable of playing finals.
They will need to sweep the Perth Scorchers in a crunch double-header this weekend in the eastern Melbourne suburb of Camberwell, while cheering on the Thunder to claim at least one win in their double-header against the Heat in Brisbane.
7. A study has found women who have caesareans may have an increased risk of future miscarriages and stillbirths.
Women who have caesareans appear to have an increased risk of future miscarriages, stillbirths and placenta problems, scientists say.
According to AAP, University of Western Australia researchers helped their Scots colleagues analyse data from 80 different studies involving almost 30 million women to try to establish the long-term risks and benefits of caesareans compared to natural births.
And it's a mix of good and bad news for mums, babies and future pregnancies.
The researchers found caesareans were associated with a decreased risk of urinary incontinence and pelvic prolapse for mums.
But women who went on to have further pregnancies appeared more at risk of miscarriage, stillbirth and a host of placenta problems.
And children born by caesareans appeared to have an increased risk of asthma for up to 12 years, and of obesity up to five years of age.
The researchers can't definitively say caesarean deliveries cause certain outcomes.
But they do say women and doctors should be aware caesareans have been associated with long-term risks, including future pregnancies.
"The significance that women attribute to these individual risks is likely to vary," the researchers said.
"But it is imperative that clinicians take care to ensure that women are made aware of any risk that they are likely to attach significance to."
Previous studies have looked at short-term health risks associated with caesareans, including surgical complications, increased likelihood of hysterectomies and death from blood clots.
This study attempted to plug a gap in knowledge about the longer-term risks, as caesareans delivery rates rise worldwide.
The study, which also involved the MRC Centre for Reproductive Health at the University of Edinburgh, was published in the journal PLOS Medicine.
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