Pickton victims treated as ‘throwaways’: inquiry commissioner

VANCOUVER – The families of Robert Pickton’s victims have received public confirmation of something they already knew to be true: if their daughters, sisters and mothers weren’t poor, drug-addicted sex workers from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, many of them aboriginal and all living on the margins of society, some of them might still be alive.

If they were a different group of women, living in other, richer parts of town, the police would have done more to find the killer. The public would have been outraged.

Commissioner Wally Oppal comes to that devastating conclusion in his final report from a public inquiry into the case, concluding systemic bias towards Downtown Eastside sex workers was a key factor that allowed Pickton to spend years hunting his victims.

“These women were vulnerable; they were treated as throwaways,” Oppal said Monday as he released his findings.

“Would the reaction of the police and the public have been any different if the missing women had come from Vancouver’s west side? The answer is obvious.”

Instead, the police simply did not do enough, he said. The public was largely indifferent.

Oppal noted that even referring to Pickton’s victims as missing women is a misnomer.

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“The women didn’t go missing,” Oppal told a news conference that was interrupted by applause, jeers, drumming and aboriginal singing.

“They aren’t just absent. They didn’t just go away. They were taken.”

Oppal released a 1,448-page report that chronicles years of critical mistakes and poor leadership within the Vancouver police and the RCMP that allowed Pickton to lure dozens of women from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

The report calls for sweeping change to ensure history does not repeat itself.

But Oppal declined to single out specific officers who acted improperly, instead suggesting the bias was somehow unconscious and didn’t lead to an overt decision to ignore Vancouver’s missing women.

His 63 recommendations include a regional police force for the greater Vancouver area, where poor communication between the Vancouver police and the RCMP exacerbated the problems around the Pickton case. The report calls for new policies for police officers and Crown prosecutors interacting with sex workers and better services for vulnerable women in the Downtown Eastside.

The B.C. government immediately appointed a former lieutenant governor, who is also a prominent aboriginal leader and former judge, to guide the province’s response to the report and announced funding for services for sex workers.

But Justice Minister Shirley Bond said it will take time to deal with the bulk of the recommendations, including the possibility of regional policing.

Some of the families of Pickton’s victims said they were pleased with what they saw and, with some hesitation, said they were optimistic the report might prompt real change despite the inquiry’s shortcomings.

Ernie Crey, whose sister Dawn Crey’s DNA was found on Pickton’s farm, promised to keep pressing the government as loudly as he can to implement the report’s recommendations.

“I was deeply impressed with the report: it was very comprehensive, it canvassed all the issues that troubled me this past decade about the disappearances of these women,” Crey said in an interview at the inquiry.

“There continues to be women in those circumstances suffering the same mental illness as my sister. We’ve gone way past the stage of talking about this. We need to take action.”

On the other hand, Oppal’s fiercest critics, including women’s and aboriginal advocacy groups that were denied funding to participate, maintained the inquiry has always been a failure and its report inadequate. They called for a national inquiry into the phenomenon of murdered and missing women.

Oppal spent eight months hearing evidence about the failed investigations by the Vancouver police and the Port Coquitlam RCMP into reports of missing sex workers and evidence that Pickton was a suspect.

There were reports of missing women in Vancouver dating back to the 1980s, and those disappearances increased dramatically in the mid-1990s.

When relatives and friends attempted to report those women missing, officers and staff with the Vancouver police department told them the women were transient drug addicts who weren’t in any trouble or were simply on vacation.

The first major investigative blunders began in 1997, when Pickton attacked a sex worker at his farm, leaving her with injuries so severe that she died twice on the operating table. Pickton was charged with attempted murder, but prosecutors eventually stayed the case, after which 19 more women later connected to Pickton’s farm disappeared.

Among the many mistakes by police, Oppal’s report counted the failure to test evidence seized from Pickton – later revealed to contain the DNA of two missing sex workers – or follow up with additional interviews with the victim.

Oppal also said the fact that Pickton had been accused of trying to kill a sex worker in 1997 should have served as a massive red flag for investigators later, especially when several informants implicated Pickton in the disappearances of other women from the Downtown Eastside.

That began a litany of failures that quickly multiplied.

Oppal’s report noted that senior officials within the Vancouver police were reluctant to accept the possibility a serial killer was at work in the city, dismissing evidence from their own officers, including geographic profiler Kim Rossmo, who floated the theory in 1998. The department handed the investigation to a single officer who joined the force’s missing persons unit with no homicide experience and no support from her bosses.

In Port Coquitlam, RCMP officers allowed their investigation to lay dormant for months at a time. When Mounties attempted to talk to Pickton in late 1999, they granted his brother’s request to wait until the rainy season when he wouldn’t be so busy on the farm. Eventually, Pickton was interviewed, but it was poorly handled by officers without any interrogation training.

The Mounties and Vancouver police started an RCMP-led missing women task force in 2001, but its investigators operated under the mistaken belief that women were no longer disappearing.

Vancouver police and the RCMP have issued public apologies for not doing enough to stop Pickton, but both tempered those apologies by insisting officers did the best they could with the information they had at the time. Both spent considerable time at the inquiry blaming each other.

Oppal’s report chides the RCMP for not delivering an apology to families in the inquiry room, which he said was “most disappointing. Instead, the RCMP’s apology came at a news conference in January featuring the force’s assistant commissioner for B.C., and only after a senior Mountie declined to apologize while in the witness box.

On Monday, the Vancouver police said it had already taken measures to ensure the same mistakes are not repeated, including overhauling its missing persons unit, while the RCMP largely declined comment, saying the force still needs to digest the report and its conclusions.

Bond promised not to allow the report’s calls for change to remain unfulfilled.

“It is my ardent hope that British Columbia never has another chapter like this in its history,” Bond, her voice breaking as she fought back tears, told the same roomful of reporters that gathered to hear Oppal.

Bond said the government would implement Oppal’s call for immediate funding for a 24-hour centre in the Downtown Eastside for sex workers by announcing $750,000 to help the WISH drop-in centre expand its service. She also said planning will begin to address Oppal’s call for a transportation service along the so-called Highway of Tears, a notorious stretch of highway in the province’s north where a long list of women and girls have vanished or been found murdered.

As for the rest of the report, Bond appointed Stephen Point, whose term as lieutenant governor ended just last month, to shepherd the government’s response. Point will chair a new advisory committee on the safety of vulnerable women.

Oppal’s recommendations also include a regional police force for greater Vancouver – an area with several municipal forces and RCMP detachments that operate independently from one another. B.C. recently signed a 20-year deal with the Mounties, as did the municipalities that use the RCMP as their local police force.

Bond avoided questions about whether she supports a regional force in the Vancouver area, instead saying the idea merits further discussion.

The recommendations included changes to missing person policies used by police, new training for officers and creating “equality audits” to measure police forces’ policies for protecting sex workers and vulnerable women.

He also called for changes to policies used by Crown counsel in cases that include vulnerable women, particularly those involving vulnerable women as witnesses.

As hospitalization of Nelson Mandela extends into 10th day, icon misses grandson’s initiation

JOHANNESBURG – As Nelson Mandela remains hospitalized after undergoing surgery and recuperating from a lung infection, the 94-year-old anti-apartheid leader missed the return of his grandson from an initiation ceremony.

Bambatha Mandela had been in the bush for days for the ukwaluka ceremony of Mandela’s Xhosa people, learning about the culture and ultimately undergoing a circumcision carried out by a traditional surgeon. Footage shot by AP Television News on Sunday showed the 23-year-old grandson of the struggle icon wrapped in a blanket, his face painted red, returning to their family homestead in Qunu, in South Africa’s Eastern Cape.

Men and women awaited Bambatha Mandela with meat from a freshly slaughtered sheep. Some women sang traditional songs, others laughed and called out to their friends.

Family members had hoped Nelson Mandela would be home for the ceremony, but government officials say Mandela remains under care at a hospital in South Africa’s capital, Pretoria. Mandela, imprisoned for 27 years by South Africa’s former white-ruled government, always lamented the fact he was unable to visit and stay in touch with his family.

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Mandela, South Africa’s first democratically elected president, was admitted to the hospital on Dec. 8, the government has said. At first, officials said he was undergoing tests and later they acknowledged he had been diagnosed with a lung infection.

The Nobel laureate has a history of lung problems, after falling ill with tuberculosis in 1988 toward the tail-end of his years in prison before his release and subsequent presidency. While doctors said at the time the disease caused no permanent damage to his lungs, medical experts say tuberculosis can cause problems years later for those infected.

On Saturday, Mandela underwent endoscopic surgery to remove gallstones, a procedure in which a patient usually receives sedatives and an anesthetic to allow a surgeon to put an endoscope down their throat, authorities say. The surgeon then can remove the gallstones, which are small, crystal-like masses that can cause a person tremendous pain.

Mandela’s 10-day hospital stay, his longest since leaving prison in February 1990, has sparked increasing concern about a man who represents the aspirations of a country still struggling with race and poverty. South Africa, a nation of 50 million people, reveres Mandela for his magnanimity and being able to bridge racial gaps after centuries of white racist rule.

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Jon Gambrell can be reached at 杭州桑拿按摩论坛杭州夜生活twitter杭州龙凤/jongambrellAP .

Muskrat Falls hydroelectric development in Labrador gets green light

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – Official approval in Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia has pushed the Muskrat Falls hydro megaproject from an idea three decades in the planning toward a $7.7-billion venture billed as Canada’s new energy warehouse.

Premier Kathy Dunderdale sanctioned the development late Monday with full ceremony and a choir in the lobby of the St. John’s legislature as Nova Scotia private utility Emera (TSX:EMA) simultaneously approved it.

She called it a turning point in her province’s history.

“Harnessing the vast hydroelectric power of the Lower Churchill is a promise that has been hovering on the horizon for 50 years but has remained just out of reach for successive governments of Newfoundland and Labrador,” she told a crowd of supporters.

“The most important benefit of this development is that it allows us as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to stand tall and proud on the national stage, knowing that as our forebears persevered to etch an existence on the edge of the North Atlantic, so will we with unrelenting focus and steadfast determination overcome all obstacles and transform challenges into success.”

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Muskrat Falls, a joint venture between Newfoundland and Labrador’s Crown corporation Nalcor Energy and Emera, is expected to produce power by 2017.

Nalcor would build the dam and power station in Labrador as well as transmission lines on the island of Newfoundland. That is expected to cost about $6.2 billion.

Emera would build a 180-kilometre subsea link that would transmit the power from Cape Ray in southwestern Newfoundland to Lingan, N.S., in Cape Breton.

At a news conference late Monday in Halifax to announce Emera’s decision, company CEO Chris Huskilson said the cost of the subsea link has been revised to $1.52 billion.

“This is a go,” Dunderdale told reporters as the St. John’s sanction ceremony wrapped up.

Nalcor has already spent $317 million on preliminary engineering and construction work at the Muskrat Falls site near Happy Valley-Goose Bay. With official approval, that work is about to escalate, said Nalcor President and CEO Ed Martin.

“We’re ready to go and we’ll start moving our heavy equipment tomorrow.

“We’re moving ahead with the project.”

Critics say Dunderdale has not proven the case for Muskrat Falls, and have accused her of fast-tracking a project without legislative committee scrutiny or debate that could burden future generations if it soars over budget.

She has responded to skeptics by releasing a series of government-commissioned reports in recent weeks. They conclude the project is a viable, cleaner source of renewable energy that would wean the province off fossil fuels.

Dunderdale has refused further review by the province’s Public Utilities Board since it declined to endorse Muskrat Falls last spring, citing a lack of updated information.

She says her majority Progressive Conservative government expects to pass enabling legislation for the project before month’s end – even if it means sitting into Christmas week, as threatened by the opposition Liberals and NDP.

Former premier Danny Williams announced Muskrat Falls just before leaving politics two years ago. He took in the ceremony Monday and said he has no concern that his legacy will be tied to the project, for better or worse.

“I take great comfort in Ed Martin and his team,” Williams said when asked about the potential for major cost overruns. “Inflation happens. And if it happens, then obviously they have to control it. But from a project management perspective, we couldn’t have a better person at the helm. So I think we’ll be well served and I feel very good about it.”

Muskrat Falls would be capable of generating up to 824 megawatts of electricity, 170 megawatts of which would go to Nova Scotia annually for 35 years. That would serve about 10 per cent of that province’s power needs.

The project has been on the drawing board in one form or another for more than 30 years. In 1980, it passed an environmental assessment but was set aside due to market access and financing issues.

Liberal Opposition Leader Dwight Ball said sanction of Muskrat Falls was premature. He cited several loose ends, including a Federal Court challenge over the extent to which it was assessed for environmental impacts. The NunatuKavut Community Council, representing the Inuit-Metis of southern Labrador, has protested the project over claims that its members have been unfairly excluded from benefits as the development encroaches on traditional hunting grounds.

“All environmental approvals are not in place, the aboriginal claims are not settled, the regulatory process in Nova Scotia has not even started, and the premier refuses … any regulatory oversight for this project in our province,” Ball said in the legislature. “And she has signed a loan guarantee, a term sheet really, on cheese cloth.”

Muskrat Falls got a boost last month when Prime Minister Stephen Harper signed off on a binding term sheet for a federal loan guarantee that would cut borrowing costs by about $1 billion. Ball says the deal is fraught with conditions and that Emera still has until July 2014 to opt out of the project.

The government says it has looked at alternatives.

“We’ve examined all options,” Natural Resources Minister Jerome Kennedy told the legislature Monday, including refurbishing the province’s aging oil-fired power plant. “We’ve looked at wind and natural gas, Mr. Speaker. And the reality is that Muskrat Falls is $2.3 billion cheaper than the next closest project.”

NDP Leader Lorraine Michael called the sanction hoopla a pomp and circumstance sales job that was “way over the top.”

“We have a loan guarantee with over 20 conditions that have to be met and put in place, one of which is that Emera has to make its proposal to their Utility and Review Board.” That regulatory assessment could take another year, Michael said.

“This was all about trying to get Newfoundlanders and Labradorians on their side. And I actually found it rather disgusting, to tell you the truth.”

NASA preps mission-ending moon impact

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Ebb and Flow chased each other around the moon for nearly a year, peering into the interior. With dwindling fuel supplies, the twin NASA spacecraft are ready for a dramatic finish.

On Monday, they will plunge – seconds apart – into a mountain near the moon’s north pole. It’s a carefully choreographed ending so that they don’t end up crashing into the Apollo landing sites or any other place on the moon with special importance.

Skywatchers on Earth won’t be able to view the double impacts since they will occur in the dark.

“We’re not putting out an all-points bulletin to amateur astronomers to get their telescopes out,” said mission chief scientist Maria Zuber of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Earthlings may be shut out of the spectacle, but the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter circling the moon will pass over the crash site and attempt to photograph the skid marks left by the washing machine sized-spacecraft as they slam into the surface at 3,800 mph.

After rocketing off the launch pad in September 2011, Ebb and Flow took a roundabout journey to the moon, arriving over the New Year’s holiday.

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More than 100 missions have been flung to Earth’s nearest neighbour since the dawn of the Space Age including NASA’s six Apollo moon landings that put 12 astronauts on the surface.

The imminent demise of Ebb and Flow comes on the same month as the 40th launch anniversary of Apollo 17, the last manned mission to the moon.

Ebb and Flow focused exclusively on measuring the moon’s lumpy gravity field in a bid to learn more about its interior and early history. After flying in formation for months, they produced the most detailed gravity maps of any body in the solar system.

Secrets long held by the moon are spilling out. Ebb and Flow discovered that the lunar crust is much thinner than scientists had imagined. And it was severely battered by asteroids and comets in the early years of the solar system – more than previously realized.

Data so far also appeared to quash the theory that Earth once had two moons that collided and melded into the one we see today.

Besides a scientific return, the mission allowed students to take their own pictures of craters and other lunar features as part of collaboration with a science education company founded by Sally Ride. Ride, the first American woman in space, died of pancreatic cancer in July at age 61.

Scientists expect to sift through data from the $487 million mission for years.

Obtaining precise gravity calculations required the twins to circle low over the moon, which consumes a lot of fuel. During the primary mission, they flew about 35 miles above the lunar surface. After getting bonus data-collecting time, they lowered their altitude to 14 miles above the surface.

With their fuel tanks almost on empty, NASA devised a controlled crash to avoid contacting any of the treasured sites on the moon.

The last time the space agency intentionally fired manmade objects at the moon was in 2009, but it was for the sake of science. The crash was a public relations dud – spectators barely saw a faint flash – but the experiment proved that the moon contained water.

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Most of Canada likely in for green Christmas

TORONTO – Waking up to a winter wonderland on Christmas Day will be more of a dream than reality for many parts of the country, cautions Canada’s top weather man.

Environment Canada’s senior climatologist David Phillips says he hates to be the grinch, but the chances of having snow on the ground on Dec. 25 are looking bleak for many Canadians.

“It’s one of the things where we’re seen united as Canadians, in wanting it to be a white Christmas,” said Phillips.

“We want it on that day to put us in the mood. It’s almost like (having) turkey and toys. It’s just part of the feeling at Christmas time.”

But the reality is that only about a quarter of the population will have that wish come true – especially if you live in Alberta, Saskatchewan or Manitoba.

“There are some areas in Canada that are clearly a done deal,” he said. “Out west, not only is it going to be a white Christmas, it’s going to be a white Easter. They’ve been buried in snow.”

Newfoundland, parts of New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island also have some chances of a wintry Christmas, along with those living in Ottawa, Sault Ste Marie, Ont., Quebec City and Montreal.

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Yet for those living in most parts of Ontario, British Columbia and many other locations, Phillips says it’s a “toss up” that you’ll probably get better weather on Christmas Day for football game than tobogganing.

Environment Canada defines a white Christmas as having at least two centimetres of snow on the ground on the morning of Dec. 25.

According to statistics the agency has kept since 1955, the chances of getting a white Christmas have been dropping across Canada year after year.

“We have this reputation. We are known as the Cold White North. But I don’t think we’re as cold and white as we once were,” said Phillips.

“Our reputation is being undermined. Winter is not… what it used to be. It was more of a done deal. It was more of a guarantee.”

In fact, on average there was an 80 per cent chance of having a snowfall on Christmas Day in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

Fast-forward to the last 20 years, and those odds on average have slipped to 65 per cent, according to Environment Canada.

That’s most true in Toronto where there hasn’t been any snow on the ground on Dec. 25 since 2008. That winter, parts of southern Ontario was repeatedly walloped with snowstorms carrying high winds and bringing near-record snow fall levels.

Phillips says this year, even if you do get a wintry holiday, it is more likely to be a light dusting than a big dump come Christmas Day.

Many of the reasons for the warmer winters can be attributed to climate change, he added.

“The lesson for this is if you get one: embrace it, enjoy it because it is something that future generations will have be dreaming a little harder to get,” said Phillips. “We know the future is warmer and with less snow.”
 

Fla. woman convicted in killings of husband, mom-in-law, hoping for sentence less than life

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WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – A woman from Florida, convicted of orchestrating the fatal beatings of her millionaire husband and his mother, is hoping she’ll get out of prison some day – some day in the distant future.

Narcy Novack of Fort Lauderdale and her brother, Cristobal Veliz of Brooklyn, were to be sentenced Monday morning in federal court in White Plains, N.Y.

They were convicted in June of hiring hit men to carry out the 2009 beating deaths of Ben Novack Jr. in New York and Bernice Novack in Florida. Ben Novack was the son of the man who built the Fontainebleau hotel in Miami Beach.

The U.S. attorney’s office has asked Judge Kenneth Karas to impose life sentences. Prosecutor Elliott Jacobsen wrote in court papers that Novack and Veliz “engaged in the very worst criminal conduct imaginable.”

Veliz’s attorney has not responded. But Novack’s lawyer, Howard Tanner, told the judge that federal guidelines would be satisfied with a 27-year sentence. Novack is 56.

“She would be released from prison an elderly woman with virtually no possessions or home,” Tanner wrote. But a sentence short of life in prison would give her at least “a chance of reformation and rehabilitation,” he said.

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Prosecutors said Narcy Novack feared that her husband would divorce her, and that a prenuptial agreement would bar her from the multimillion-dollar family estate. Her motives were “hatred, greed and vengeance,” the sentencing memo says.

One key witness at the trial was Rebecca Bliss, a former prostitute and porn actress, who said she was having an affair with Ben Novack when he was killed.

She said Narcy Novack offered her $10,000 to end the affair. According to Bliss, Novack said that, “If she couldn’t have him, no other woman was going to have him.”

The government said Novack recruited her brother and he hired a group of thugs who testified about slamming Bernice Novack in the teeth and head with a plumber’s wrench and beating Ben Novack with barbells and slicing his eyes with a knife.

Veliz testified at length, denying any involvement and blaming Novack’s daughter, May Abad, for the killings. Abad’s two sons stand to inherit the bulk of the family estate, which includes Ben Novack’s large collection of Batman memorabilia.

Narcy Novack did not testify.

In addition to the murder charge, the defendants were convicted of domestic violence, stalking, money laundering and witness tampering.

Most of Canada likely in for a green Christmas Day: Environment Canada

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TORONTO – Waking up to a winter wonderland on Christmas Day will be more of a dream than reality for many parts of the country, cautions Canada’s top weather man.

Environment Canada’s senior climatologist David Phillips says he hates to be the grinch, but the chances of having snow on the ground on Dec. 25 are looking bleak for many Canadians.

“It’s one of the things where we’re seen united as Canadians, in wanting it to be a white Christmas,” said Phillips.

“We want it on that day to put us in the mood. It’s almost like (having) turkey and toys. It’s just part of the feeling at Christmas time.”

But the reality is that only about a quarter of the population will have that wish come true – especially if you live in Alberta, Saskatchewan or Manitoba.

“There are some areas in Canada that are clearly a done deal,” he said. “Out west, not only is it going to be a white Christmas, it’s going to be a white Easter. They’ve been buried in snow.”

Newfoundland, parts of New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island also have some chances of a wintry Christmas, along with those living in Ottawa, Sault Ste Marie, Ont., Quebec City and Montreal.

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Yet for those living in most parts of Ontario, British Columbia and many other locations, Phillips says it’s a “toss up” that you’ll probably get better weather on Christmas Day for football game than tobogganing.

Environment Canada defines a white Christmas as having at least two centimetres of snow on the ground on the morning of Dec. 25.

According to statistics the agency has kept since 1955, the chances of getting a white Christmas have been dropping across Canada year after year.

“We have this reputation. We are known as the Cold White North. But I don’t think we’re as cold and white as we once were,” said Phillips.

“Our reputation is being undermined. Winter is not… what it used to be. It was more of a done deal. It was more of a guarantee.”

In fact, on average there was an 80 per cent chance of having a snowfall on Christmas Day in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

Fast-forward to the last 20 years, and those odds on average have slipped to 65 per cent, according to Environment Canada.

That’s most true in Toronto where there hasn’t been any snow on the ground on Dec. 25 since 2008. That winter, parts of southern Ontario was repeatedly walloped with snowstorms carrying high winds and bringing near-record snow fall levels.

Phillips says this year, even if you do get a wintry holiday, it is more likely to be a light dusting than a big dump come Christmas Day.

Many of the reasons for the warmer winters can be attributed to climate change, he added.

“The lesson for this is if you get one: embrace it, enjoy it because it is something that future generations will have be dreaming a little harder to get,” said Phillips. “We know the future is warmer and with less snow.”

Australian bureaucrat wins worker’s compensation over sex mishap

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CANBERRA, Australia – An Australian court has ruled that a bureaucrat who was injured while having sex on a business trip is eligible for worker’s compensation benefits.

The Full Bench of the Federal Court ruled Dec. 13 in favour of the woman, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, and rejecting the appeal of the federal government’s insurer, ending a five-year legal battle.

The woman was hospitalized after being injured in 2007 during sex with a male friend while staying in a motel in the town of Nowra, 160 kilometres south of her hometown of Sydney.

During the sex, a glass light fitting was torn from its mount above the bed and landed on her face, injuring her nose and mouth. She later suffered depression and was unable to continue working for the government.

Her claim for worker’s compensation for her physical and psychological injuries was initially approved by government insurer Comcare, then rejected after further investigation.

An administrative tribunal agreed with Comcare that her injuries were not suffered in the course of her employment, saying the government had not induced or encouraged the woman’s sexual conduct. The tribunal also found the sex was “not an ordinary incident of an overnight stay” such as showering, sleeping and eating.

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That ruling was overturned in the Federal Court in 2012, when Judge John Nicholas rejected the tribunal’s findings that the sex had to be condoned by the government if she were to qualify for compensation.

“If the applicant had been injured while playing a game of cards in her motel room, she would be entitled to compensation even though it could not be said that her employer induced her to engage in such activity,” Nicholas wrote in his judgment in favour of the woman receiving compensation.

In the Full Bench decision upholding Nicholas’ decision, Judges Patrick Keane, Robert Buchanan and Mordy Bromberg agreed last week that the government’s views on the woman having sex in her motel room were irrelevant.

“No approval, express or implied, of the respondent’s conduct was required,” they said.

It is not yet clear how much compensation the woman will be paid.

Comcare was on Monday considering an appeal to the High Court, Australia’s highest legal authority, Comcare spokesman Russ Street said.

“The issue is a significant one,” Street said in a statement. “Workers need to be clear about their entitlements and employers should have an understanding of their responsibilities and how to support their staff.”

Claresholm charity hockey game raises big funds for local amputee

LETHBRIDGE- It’s the kind of story that makes you want to pack up your things and move to a smaller community. 

The Town of Claresholm came together Saturday night to support a local man who recently lost his leg in a work place accident. 

Around a thousand people packed that town’s arena for the annual Fire VS Police ‘Guns N Hoses’ hockey game to raise around $50, 000 for Jason Hemmaway and his family. 

The father of three had part of his leg amputated earlier this month as a result of a work place accident late November.  

He’s currently recovering at a Calgary hospital and is yet to face more surgeries. 

According to his wife, Debra Hemmaway, he wished nothing more than to be able to attend the game. 

“He would love to be here.  I’m actually texting him back and forth telling him the score and everything, so yes if he could be here he would be,” she adds. 

Jason is a volunteer fire fighter and involved in a number of organizations in the community. 

Good friend and an organizer of the game, Kirby Watt tells Global News the decision to make him this year’s fire and police charity game recipient was a no brainer. 

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“He’s given the community so much of himself we thought this would be the way to give back to him.  He’s so involved in so many organizations in town and he’s always the first there to do stuff,” he adds. 

Owner of the Claresholm Arena, Kris Cope describes the atmosphere inside the arena at Saturday’s game nothing less than electric. 

“I haven’t seen this rink this full in ten years probably,” he says. 

The game also featured a silent auction with so many items being donated, organizers had to start turning some things away. 

Family friend, Frank Keller, says it’s not surprising to see so much support from the Claresholm community. 

“It’s like your own family.  Like we’re such a close knit community that it just feels like a part of you when it happens,” he says. 

The money raised will help pay for medical, travel and rehabilitation expenses but for the family the support is what makes all the difference. 

“I just feel happiness, just joy that everyone comes out and comes together and just having fun,” Debra says. 

There’s an account set up at the Claresholm Credit Union in Jason Hemmaway’s name for anyone looking to donate. 

Twin spacecraft slam into moon to end gravity-mapping mission; site named after Sally Ride

PASADENA, Calif. – A pair of NASA spacecraft crashed into a mountain near the moon’s north pole on Monday, bringing a deliberate end to a mission that peered into the lunar interior.

Engineers commanded the twin spacecraft, Ebb and Flow, to fire their engines and burn their remaining fuel. Ebb plunged first followed by Flow about 30 seconds later.

Afterward, NASA said it had dedicated the final resting spot in honour of mission team member, Sally Ride, the first American woman in space who died earlier this year. By design, the impact site was far away from the Apollo landings and other historical sites.

Ride’s sister, who huddled in the NASA control room for the finale, said it might be time to dust off Ride’s first telescope to view the newly named site.

“We can look at the moon with a new appreciation and a smile in the evening when we see it knowing that a little corner of the moon is named after Sally,” the Rev. Bear Ride said in an interview.

Since the back-to-back crashes occurred in the dark, they were not visible from Earth. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter circling the moon will pass over the mountain and attempt to photograph the skid marks left by the washing machine sized-spacecraft as they hit the surface at 3,800 mph (6,100 kph).

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After rocketing off the launch pad in September 2011, Ebb and Flow took a roundabout journey to the moon, arriving over the New Year’s holiday on a gravity-mapping mission.

More than 100 missions have been flung to Earth’s nearest neighbour since the dawn of the Space Age including NASA’s six Apollo moon landings that put 12 astronauts on the surface.

The loss of Ebb and Flow comes on the same month as the 40th launch anniversary of Apollo 17, the last manned mission to the moon.

Ebb and Flow focused exclusively on measuring the moon’s lumpy gravity field in a bid to learn more about its interior and early history. After flying in formation for months, they produced the most detailed gravity maps of any body in the solar system.

Secrets long held by the moon are spilling out. Ebb and Flow discovered that the lunar crust is much thinner than scientists had imagined. And it was severely battered by asteroids and comets in the early years of the solar system – more than previously realized.

Data so far also appeared to quash the theory that Earth once had two moons that collided and melded into the one we see today.

Besides a scientific return, the mission allowed students to take their own pictures of craters and other lunar features as part of collaboration with a science education company founded by Ride, who died in July of pancreatic cancer at age 61. About 3,600 classrooms around the world participated, sending back 114,000 photos.

Scientists expect to sift through data and images from the $487 million mission for years.

Obtaining precise gravity calculations required the twins to circle low over the moon, which consumes a lot of fuel. During the primary mission, they flew about 35 miles (56 kilometres) above the lunar surface. After getting bonus data-collecting time, they lowered their altitude to 14 miles (23 kilometres) above the surface.

With their fuel tanks almost on empty, NASA devised a controlled crash to avoid contacting any of the treasured sites on the moon. Mission controllers at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory applauded when they lost the signal, one of the rare celebrations of a spacecraft’s demise.

Mission chief scientist Maria Zuber approached Ride’s family about a month ago about naming the impact site. Zuber said she will also petition the International Astronomical Union to name a mountain after the late astronaut as well.

“We looked very hard to find a very prominent feature on the near side of the moon that didn’t have a name,” said Zuber of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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