Haunting details emerge about woman who gave birth in vegetative state, & more in News in 5.

1. The haunting details we’re learning about the woman who gave birth in a vegetative state.

When a woman in a vegetative state at a US hospital gave birth in late December, it became apparent a crime had been committed.

Now, reports have emerged that the 29-year-old Native American woman, who had no signs of awareness for the past 14 years, was sexually assaulted “several times” while at the Hacienda HealthCare facility in Arizona.

During an on-air report, a CBS journalist said they had “learned she was raped several times”.

Male staff members at the facility have been asked to provide DNA samples as part of their investigations to determine who impregnated the woman, CBS 5 reported.

A spokesperson for Hacienda said the company was cooperating fully to “bring this police investigation to a quick conclusion”.

On Monday the CEO of the facility, Bill Timmons, announced his resignation –  it was unanimously accepted by the facility’s board of directors.

He resigned after reports emerged the woman had given birth on December 29 and that staff were unaware she was pregnant.

A woman who worked at the facility told CBS 5 she believes the baby boy is alive and healthy.

2. The world’s richest man is getting a divorce, so will he still be after it?

Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man, and wife MacKenzie Bezos are divorcing after 25 years of marriage, the couple has announced on Twitter.

Jeff Bezos, 54, has a fortune that has soared as high as $US160 billion ($A223b) thanks to his stake in Amazon, which again became Wall Street’s most valuable company this week, surpassing Microsoft.

Bezos has credited MacKenzie, 48, for her support when he uprooted the young couple from New York to Seattle so he could launch the online bookseller that grew into one of the world’s largest retailers.


MacKenzie, a Princeton graduate who is now a novelist, did accounting for Amazon for its first year after it was founded in 1994.

The couple decided to divorce after a long period of “loving exploration” and trial separation, and expect to continue as partners in joint ventures and projects, according to their joint statement.

The pair have four children.

Amazon shares were down 0.2 per cent in midday trading on Wednesday.

DA Davidson & Co analyst Thomas Forte said the divorce should have no material impact on the company and its shares.

3. Australia is now considering the refugee case of Saudi woman fleeing her family.

Rahaf Mohammed Mutlaq Alqunun
Rahaf Mohammed Mutlaq Alqunun.

The future of a young Saudi woman who fears her family will kill her if she is deported rests with Australia as the government weighs up her plea for asylum.

The United Nations' High Commission for Refugees has referred the case of Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun, 18, to Australia for consideration.

After the UN deemed her a refugee, Australia confirmed it would examine her claim for protection while she remains in Bangkok.

"The Department of Home Affairs will consider this referral in the usual way, as it does with all UNHCR referrals," a Home Affairs spokesperson said.

Ms Alqunun had planned to enter Australia on a tourist visa and seek asylum before she was detained.

The teenager made a desperate plea for asylum after expressing fears her family would kill her if she were sent home, launching a social media campaign that has garnered worldwide attention.

She refused to meet her father and brother who have arrived in Bangkok, Thai immigration chief General Surachate Hakparn said.


"Rahaf's father met with the UNHCR representative to discuss the matter ... naturally the parents are worried about their children as this is a family matter," General Surachate told reporters.

General Surachate said the father denied physically abusing his daughter or trying to force her into an arranged marriage.

He said he wants his daughter back but respects her decision, General Surachate added, and described the man as being a governor in Saudi Arabia.

"He has 10 children. He said the daughter might feel neglected sometimes," General Surachate said.

"But he didn't go into detail."

Before the UN referral to Australia, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton had said there would be no "special treatment" in Ms Alqunun's case.

Health Minister Greg Hunt had said Australia would consider giving Ms Alqunun a humanitarian visa if the UNHCR found her to be a refugee.

- With agencies

4. Man charged after secretly filming young girls at a caravan park, police say.

Young girls were allegedly secretly filmed and photographed at a NSW caravan park by a man now charged with sex crimes.

The 43-year-old was arrested by people at the caravan park in Lake Conjola on December 28 with police alleging he disguised his camera to discreetly take photographs of the girls.

His camera and phone were taken by police on the day before they seized several electronic devices from a south coast home at Milton on Wednesday.

The man was later charged with aggravated and non-consensual filming of a person's private parts and producing child abuse material.

He was released on bail to appear in Milton Local Court on February 14.

5. A week out from Brexit decision - and things aren't looking good.


British Prime Minister Theresa May has suffered an early defeat to her Brexit plans, after parliament demanded the government come up with a plan B if her Brexit deal is voted down.

With less than three months before Britain is due to leave the EU, parliament has begun a five-day battle over May's Brexit plan, set to culminate in a vote by MPs next Tuesday.

May has refused to retreat from her unpopular deal, which envisages close trading ties with the EU after leaving in March.

She is pressing ahead with a vote that she looks set to lose, after failing to win over her nominal Northern Irish allies.

Losing the vote would deepen uncertainty over the future of Brexit, Britain's biggest shift in foreign and trade policy for more than 40 years.

There are several possible outcomes, ranging from a disorderly exit to another referendum.

MPs voted 308-297 on Wednesday in favour of demanding the government come up with an alternative plan within three working days after Tuesday's vote, rather than a planned 21-day limit, in a non-binding motion that nonetheless piles pressure on the government.

There were turbulent scenes in parliament when some in May's Conservative Party accused the speaker of bias.

Responding to the vote, Brexit minister Stephen Barclay told parliament it was the government's intention to act quickly if it lost Tuesday's vote.

"I also want to reassure colleagues that whatever the outcome of this debate, we will respond rapidly, recognising that we must provide parliament with as much security as possible," Barclay said.

Earlier on Wednesday, May called on parliament to back her deal.

She suggested she was confident of getting further assurances from the EU to ease their concerns and offering Northern Ireland more control over the "backstop" arrangement to prevent the return of a hard border with EU member Ireland.

"I've been in contact with European leaders ... about MPs' concerns," she said.

"These discussions have shown that further clarification over the backstop is possible and those talks will continue over the next few days."

The government also offered a concession to the Democratic Unionist Party, saying Northern Ireland would have "a strong role" in any decision between triggering the backstop or extending a transition period if a future relationship with the EU is not in place by December 2020.

That suggestion did little to win over the DUP.

Sammy Wilson, the party's Brexit spokesman, said the only thing that could swing the DUP around is if the backstop were removed.