Thursday, July 01, 2010

Is this another Lindy Chamberlain affair?

Fundamentalist Christians are looked at askance by most Australians. Mainstream jurors were so sure Lindy Chamberlain (a Seventh Day Adventist) was a criminal that they jailed her for four years. Only clear new evidence exonerated and freed her. The "Agape" mentioned below is a New Testament Greek word for "love"

LIKE many suburban couples, Raphael and Patricia Azariah work and study hard, raise their children and attend church every Sunday. Their religious beliefs, however, have thrust the parents of two into controversy - because they are members of the Agape Ministries Church.

Yesterday, the couple spoke to The Advertiser to refute "cruel and malicious" claims they promised their daughters in marriage to older men. They further denied accusations they allowed the girls, aged eight and six, to undergo firearms training. The couple detailed the persecution they have suffered in the wake of police raids on Agape properties that netted guns and ammunition. [Firearms possession in Australia is subject to some controls but is far from totally illegal. Guns can be found on most farms]

"I am not a nutter or a crazy-farm type of person," Mr Azariah said. "I am a person that believes in God, I am a Christian, I am a man who takes the Bible seriously. "Now I have lost my job - we have no employment and no income, and I've lost all that work as a result of what one can only describe as malicious lies."

The police raids, in May, triggered an avalanche of speculation about Agape Ministries. Former members and opponents dubbed it a cult, saying Pastor Rocco Leo defrauded millions from his followers to buy a South Pacific island. Detractors claimed Leo told his parishioners the world would end after microchips are implanted into everyone by the end of 2012. Mr Azariah's mother, Lesley Baligod, said her son and daughter-in-law had "betrothed" their children to much older men in the church.

Yesterday, Mr and Mrs Azariah spoke in the presence of their lawyer, Craig Caldicott, and two fellow church members. Mr Azariah - whose chosen last name means "the Lord is my helper" - joined the church in 1993.

He said there was no truth to any of the allegations. "Agape Ministries has never been a doomsday cult," he said. "It has never been preached, in our church, that the world is going to end. That's contrary to our beliefs, and to the Bible which says God has established the Earth forever. "I do not believe the world is going to end, and definitely not in 2012."

He said "disgruntled former members of the church" had taken that concept "from movies and the Mayan calendar". "And I've never heard anything about an island in Vanuatu," he said.

He said talk of microchips was a "misunderstanding" of comments made during Bible study classes. "People talked about all the media coverage around companies and governments using chips in phones, credit cards and to identify people," he said. "I am aware that some governments may do that, I know that there's tracking devices, but I don't particularly care.

"In Revelations it talks about 'the Mark of the Beast', and it's left for people to interpret that in their own way. "But it has never been taught, in the Agape church, that people are going to be microchipped and that's not a church doctrine."

What had most hurt his family, he said, were the allegations about his daughters Amanda and Danielle. "It is a load of hogwash, and it is without a doubt probably one of the most cruel things I've ever heard," he said.

The couple were accused of letting the girls take part in weapons training at firing ranges on Agape property. "Neither of my daughters have ever held a gun - they would not know how to," Mr Azariah said. "I am not aware of any firing range operated or owned by Agape Ministries."

Media reports led to the Azariahs being investigated by Families SA. "We were totally exonerated," he said.

Mr Azariah said he had given 10 per cent of his earnings to the church willingly. "I believe in it, it wasn't compulsory," he said. He blamed the rumours on former church members who disagreed with Rocco Leo.

He believed one of those former members had provided information to his mother. "The fundamental tenor of the Agape Church is that Jesus died on the cross and was resurrected - we believe in love and forgiveness," he said. "It's for that reason I still love my mother and forgive her for what she's brought up against us."

A University of Adelaide graduate, Mr Azariah made his living as a music teacher at an Adelaide school until the church came under fire. "I probably had about 35 students, and taught another five privately. "Now I have been asked to take unpaid leave until all of this is sorted out.

"My wife, Patricia, had been studying horticulture, but because we currently have no income she is looking for employment."

He said his daughters had "fortunately" not been teased, and had the support of their school and peers.


No punishment for violent African gang?

Members of group that bashed man to partial blindness all avoid prison. Would whites have got off so lightly? What message does this send to other violent African gangs?

A GANG of youths whose bashing of an Indian man blinded him in one eye have all avoided jail. Majang Ngor, 20, the last of the gang to face court, was yesterday given an eight-month suspended jail term for the unprovoked attack on Kanan Kharbanda.

Prosecutors had wanted him jailed for four years. But Judge Susan Cohen said this would be unjust, given the penalties imposed on gang members who were more culpable. Ngor hadn't been an instigator or a ringleader.

At least three other youths - who can't be named because of their age - were given nine-month youth supervision orders in the Children's Court. The Director of Public Prosecutions is appealing against those sentences.

Ngor pleaded guilty in the County Court to recklessly causing serious injury, intentionally causing injury, robbery, and attempted robbery over the March 2008 bashing.

Mr Kharbanda, an accounting student, had been walking a friend to Sunshine station. One of Ngor's group demanded a dollar before hitting Mr Kharbanda in the face. Others joined in, kicking and punching; his friend was also hit and kicked to the ground. Mr Kharbanda suffered a fractured eye socket and broken nose. He has lost the sight in his right eye.

Crime Victims Support Association president Noel McNamara said it was beyond belief that the youths had been let off "scot free". "It's disgraceful. The Indian community has the right - all citizens have the right - to be up in arms about it," he said.

Ngor told police they'd been drinking at a party and one of the group had suggested they go "hustling". He admitted joining the pack, but denied striking either victim.

Judge Cohen said the Sudanese refugee had since worked hard to reform himself. To his credit he'd finished year 12, got a stable job, and had stopped binge-drinking.

She said he hadn't caused the worst injuries, but had helped those who did. Violence at railway stations was of major public concern, but the matter was "less serious" than if weapons had been used.

The judge suspended the jail term for 15 months and ordered Ngor to do 40 hours of community work, saying the greatest public benefit would come from his rehabilitation.

Shadow attorney-general Robert Clark said it was extraordinary that none would spend time behind bars and said it is weak sentencing laws that allowed the gang members to walk free. "The victim of this crime will suffer a lifetime sentence with his injuries while the offenders are being let off with just a few hours of community service," he said.

"Imposing suspended sentences does nothing to build respect for the law, yet under John Brumby's weak sentencing laws vicious crimes like this bashing will continue to qualify for suspended sentences. "In contrast, a Baillieu Government will abolish suspended sentences for all crimes so that jail will mean jail," he said.


Gross climate fraud in Australia again

Look at the raw data (jagged blue line) in the second graph below and what you see is essentially a picture of random fluctuations. Amid such large fluctuations, a tiny overall trend is meaningless. And if industrialization has caused what warming there is, how come temperatures were so high in the early decades of the 20th century? Most people rode horses in that era

Retired school principal Kenskingdom was alarmed by this Bureau of Meterology graph, showing a strong warming trend for Victoria:


He checked the data from which the trend, and found it had first been adjusted and turned into “high quality” data. As a BOM spokesman assured him:
On the issue of adjustments you find that these have a near zero impact on the all Australian temperature because these tend to be equally positive and negative across the network (as would be expected given they are adjustments for random station changes).

Actually, no, though. You see, Kenskingdom discovered that the adjustments served to exaggerate Victoria’s warming remarkably:


Kenskingdom goes through the individual stations for you and concludes:

There is a distinct warming trend in Victoria since the 1960s, which has been especially marked in the last 15 years. The first half of the record shows a cooling trend.  BOM’s adjustments have attempted to remove this. 2007, not 2009, was the warmest year in the past 100 years.

Three stations identified as urban in 1996 have been included. Many stations’ data have been arbitrarily adjusted to cool earlier years. Only one station has had its trend reduced.  Two are essentially unchanged. Ten of Victoria’s 13 stations have been adjusted to increase the warming trend, to the extent that there is a warming bias of at least 133%, more likely 143%.

These adjustments, and the Australian temperature record to which they contribute, are plainly not to be trusted. 


Corrupt Afro-Asian cricket nations now dominating cricket governing body

As Andrew Bolt says, the vetoing of John Howard’s nomination as the (eventual) head of the International Cricket Council seems driven by racism and fear of a clean administrator

JOHN Howard has refused to withdraw his bid to be president-elect of the International Cricket Council, despite rejection from its Afro-Asia bloc. In an unprecedented move, the sport's governing body has ignored its electoral process by asking Australia and New Zealand to resubmit its joint nomination after rejecting the former prime minister at yesterday's board meeting in Singapore.

“When people raised some objections and I started to hear murmurs, the suggestion was `he might withdraw',” a disappointed Mr Howard told The Australian from Singapore last night. “I made it very clear I wasn't going to withdraw and I still have that view.”

While there was no vote taken at yesterday's meeting, only three countries _ Australia, New Zealand and England _ were in support of Mr Howard.

On Tuesday night, South Africa, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and the West Indies all signed a letter objecting to Mr Howard as a candidate and refusing to let him speak at yesterday's board meeting. Zimbabwe did not sign despite its opposition. “It's a very serious problem for the ICC and for Australia and New Zealand cricket,” Mr Howard said.

“The two bodies have faithfully followed a rigorous procedure and put somebody forward in good faith and that procedure has just been ignored, swept aside. “I'm doubly disappointed because they haven't given me any reason. It's quite unacceptable for a reason not to be given.”

Mr Howard last night conceded the rebuff could be because of political decisions he had made in the past, including his treatment of Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe. “All I can say in relation to Robert Mugabe is that if that is the reason I wear the negative attitude as a badge of honour because I don't apologise in any way for the criticism I offer of the Mugabe regime,” he told Sky News.

“If it was in some way based on past political reasons then that is a very bad precedent to be establishing for the ICC because there are serving politicians holding positions of authority within the ICC. “I'm not criticising that but I'm just drawing attention to it.”

Speaking from Singapore last night, Cricket Australia chairman Jack Clarke said he was “pretty gutted, frustrated and incredibly disappointed”.

Mr Howard's refusal to back down and the anger expressed by the Australian and New Zealand cricket boards suggests they may renominate Mr Howard. “We remain convinced it is reasonable for his nomination to be supported by the ICC executive board and we are deeply disappointed by the position taken at the meeting,” Cricket Australia and New Zealand Cricket said in a joint statement.

The candidate Mr Howard beat to become New Zealand's joint nomination, former NZC chairman John Anderson, is also unpopular with Mr Howard's most strident opponents, Zimbabwe and South Africa. Sir John sat on the ICC's audit committee that attempted to bring the dubious financial dealings of Zimbabwe Cricket to account two years ago. Instead of backing the investigation, the ICC sacked chief executive Malcolm Speed, Sir John resigned from the committee and the damning audit has never been released.

Last night Mr Speed described the rejection of Mr Howard as “disgraceful”. “I think it's an insult to Australia and New Zealand,” Mr Speed said, suggesting that a “dysfunctional” ICC would be moved from Dubai to Mumbai within two years.


1 comment:

Straightshooter said...

I presume that if Mr. Howard had been black and had treated Australians the way the Socialist Mugabwe has treated his people then there would have been no objections to his appointment.

I would suggest that an alternative Western Cricket Board be set up and we get on with the cricket without this crooked IPCC.

There would be a lot more money left to put intoi the game.