Thursday's news in under 2 minutes.

1. Video footage of a 20-year-old woman who was planning to hire a hitman to kill her husband is circulating, after Julia Charlene Merfeld pleaded guilty to the charges against her. In the video, Merfeld tells the undercover policeman that having her husband killed is simply ‘easier’ than divorcing him. You can watch the video here:

2. Accused Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has appeared in court overnight. He pleaded ‘not guilty’ to each of the 30 charges against him, some of which are punishable by death. The 19-year-old is allegedly responsible for the deaths of three people after he and his brother detonated homemade bombs in the streets of Boston during the city’s annual marathon. Tsarnaev and his 26-year-old brother Tamerlan have also been accused of killing a police officer at a nearby university. 264 people were injured in the bombings.

3. Kevin Rudd has been criticised for patting the head of a woman with a disability who is seated in a wheelchair, in footage shown on ABC’s 7:30 last night. Disability advocate Stella Young said that the Prime Minister’s behaviour was ‘absolutely gobsmacking’ and further said that “if you could show me video evidence of Kevin Rudd patting the head of an adult non-disabled woman, I’ll eat my words.” Ms Young acknowledged that Rudd had probably not been briefed about how to properly interact with disabled people.

4. A new report from Australia’s Productivity Commission has indicted that children of wealthy parents are more likely to succeed because of their genes. The report found “one explanation for differences in educational attainment between children of low and high socio-economic backgrounds is parents’ cognitive abilities and inherited genes”.

5. Fairfax have revealed that three-quarters of children in NSW who are thought to be at ‘risk of significant harm’ will not have the opportunity to meet and work with a caseworker. According to government figures, 61,308 children were reported to authorities as being at risk last year. Of these children, 44,899 of them were never interviewed by a counselor or caseworker.


6. Online activists have raised more than $50,000 to hire a private detective to investigate Tony Abbott‘s involvement in “Ashbygate”. They claim allegations last year that Former parliamentary speaker Peter Slipper sexually harassed one of his staff, James Ashby are part of a broader conspiracy that can be traced back to Mr Abbott and his office.

7. The director of Australia’s Centre for Alcohol Policy Research has called for the legalisation of marijuana because it causes less harm than drinking. But opponents of the call say that replacing one drug with another is unjustified and that legalisaing marijuana won’t necessarily reduce alcohol consumption.

Robin Room told the Herald Sun: ” I think we need to have the discussion and it makes a lot of sense in terms of, among others, cutting down government costs to have a fairly highly controlled legal (cannabis) market and, while we are at it, tighten up the legal market of alcohol in the same way we tightened up the market of tobacco.”

8. A New York hospital was fined $6600, after almost harvesting the eyes of a woman they believed was dead but was actually just in a coma. News Ltd reported that 41-year-old Colleen Burns fell into a coma after a drug overdose in 2009 and woke up on the operating table, just before she would have been killed in order to have her organs harvested. Sadly, Burns committed suicide a little over a year later.

9. The lawyer for the Captain of cruise ship Costa Concordia, which sunk early last year and was reportedly abandoned, has said that the Captain did not abandon the ship and its passengers but was “lightly thrown off”. The Captain has been charged with manslaughter.