Thursday, September 11, 2014
Multicultural pastor in Britain
A vicar presided over a 'conveyor belt' of sham marriages where brides shared dresses and queued at the church door for up to nine weddings a day to spouses they had never met, a court heard today.
Reverend Nathan Ntege, 55, is said to have conducted 492 ceremonies over 15-months at St Jude's and St Aidan's in Thornton Heath, south London, pocketing £70,000 in the process.
Couples would wait their turn at the back of the church while brides changed into their wedding dresses in the garden, sometimes even sharing the same gown, the Inner London Crown Court was told.
The court heard that one potential bride Omotola Dongo married EU national Ibrahim Dembele on June 30, 2010 at St Jude's church - even though she had already been listed to marry a different man.
Before the ceremony two sets of wedding applications were filled out because she had another man lined up for her husband, it is claimed.
Dongo, who has been convicted of an immigration offence in relation to the ceremony, later submitted an EEA application using a different address to the one on her marriage certificate.
Mr Lucas said: 'Prior to the marriage two sets of Banns applications forms were filled out and it looks as though Ms Dongo had initially got somebody else lined up to marry.
'When the plan to marry that person fell through, she ended up marrying Ibrahim Dembele.
The sham marriages could have been legally void because Ntege did not follow proper church procedure, the court heard.
Church of England representative Alexander McGregor told the court that if an upcoming wedding is not announced in the church three times before the ceremony then it is invalid.
'If couples wilfully and knowingly marry without the Banns being published then the marriage is void,' he added.
'The member of the clergy is committing an offence and the validity of the marriage would be called into question.
'They have to be read three times three Sundays before the wedding by the clergy officiating at the wedding.'
Earlier, the court heard that one woman could barely fit into her dress and the jury was shown wedding pictures of her underwear bulging out because it could not be zipped up, it is said.
Three wedding dresses and other bridal accessories were found at the vicarage where Ntege lived when it was searched by police, the court heard.
Ntege allegedly helped hundreds of illegal immigrants get into the country by marrying them to EU nationals in illegal ceremonies at the 'no questions asked' church.
The sham marriages were like 'cattle markets' with 'bus queues' of couples waiting for their turn, the court heard.
The conspiracy at the church also involved the corrupt verger and secretary, it is alleged.
Ntege, originally from Uganda but now living in Croydon, kept around £70,000 in wedding fees owed to the Diocese of Southwark, it is said.
Church verger Brian Miller, 81, and secretary Maudlyn Riviere, 67, are accused of taking part in the scam by organising the weddings and recording bogus details on the marriage certificates.
Galina Petkova, 51, and Georgia Forteath, 34, were both married in the ceremonies themselves, acted as 'fixers' and helped the illegal immigrants to lie on their application forms, it is claimed.
Innocent Odoh, 34, and Angela Pelachie, 54, also came into the country under false marriages but were arrested after immigration officers became suspicious of their circumstances, it is said. Odoh did not know even his wife's birthday, the names and ages of her children or where she lived, the court heard.
Prosecutor Edward Lucas said immigration officers became suspicious about the number of weddings at the church, which rocketed from six a year to six a day and with nine booked for the same date on one occasion.
He said the majority of them were between people from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and someone from inside the EEA, so they could stay in the UK.
He said: 'Attention was drawn to this parish church due to the inordinate number of weddings taking place at the church, presided over in the most part by Rev Ntege.
Mr Lucas added: 'The Crown asserts that many of these weddings were bogus or sham.
'The weddings were neither conducted correctly or legally and their sole purpose was to facilitate industrial scale abuse of the system of immigration control in the UK.
'They were mainly Bulgarian nationals sourced by the fixers. The number of marriages cannot have taken place at this single church by coincidence.
'Persons wishing to go through with these bogus or sham marriages were introduced specifically to this church because it was a no questions asked church.
'The Rev Ntege was integral to this process because without him there would have been no weddings at the church.
'He was the lynchpin, a vital part of this enterprise, he conducted the marriages in full knowledge of the fact that they were bogus. 'Sometimes it was like a bus queue or cattle market,' Mr Lucas said. 'Brides appeared to wear the same wedding dress.
'One dress was too small and the back couldn't be done up and her black bra was exposed.'
Ntege also pocketed more than £69,000 in wedding fees as most of the ceremonies were paid for in cash, it is said. 'It's more than just a coincidence that during the same period he transferred £55,560 to Uganda,' Mr Lucas told the jury.
On one occasion there were nine weddings booked for one day and brides would queue out the door waiting for their turn, the court heard.
Women would change in and out of their wedding dresses in the church or garden outside and couples had never met each other before the big day, it is said.
'The weddings themselves were somewhat farcical,' Mr Lucas said. 'Brides would share the same wedding dressed and queue up at the back of the church, waiting to be married.
'One witness said that he often saw women getting changed into dresses inside the church or in the church garden.
'False addresses were routinely recorded and weddings were conducted with few or no guests,' Mr Lucas said. 'They were processed by Ntege and his team like a conveyor belt. 'It was a complete sham and they knew it.'
Miller was present at a number of the bogus weddings to 'give them some legitimacy' Mr Lucas told the court. 'He knew full well that the weddings were entirely bogus,' he added.
'Riviere was the church secretary and had a key role in liaising with participants, collecting cash and recording entirely bogus details on the certificates. She was also present at many of the weddings.
'She and Miller were part of a team processing and run it an inordinate number of sham marriages.'
Petkova and Forteath acted as fixers sourcing foreign nationals and lying on immigration application forms, it is claimed.
'They helped arrange the weddings and maintain genuine marriage on the forms,' Mr Lucas said.
'They both appear on marriage certificates in ceremonies at St Jude's.
He added: 'The individuals involved were totally unknown to each other prior to the weddings.
'This was wide-spread abuse of the system of immigration control of illegal foreign nationals in the UK.'
Ntege claimed he was conducting an 'experiment' at his church to try and boost congregation numbers, a court was told.
'While it is no doubt, at first sight, laudable that Rev Ntege managed to boost attendance at that church the fact remains that the church authorities were completely unaware of the experiments of this church,' Mr Lucas said.
'Rev Ntege knew of course precisely what he was doing with regard to bogus marriages during the course of this so called experiment.'
Ntege denies making a financial profit from the church and claims he would not charge people for weddings if they could not afford to pay. He claims he never asked anyone to give false addresses but refused to answer any questions in his police interview, the court heard.
Petkova came to the UK from Bulgaria in 1994 as a visitor, the court was told. She made various applications to remain in the country which were eventually granted. Despite having a long-term partner and daughter together she married Dmytro Glinskyy in December 2009.
Mr Lucas said it was 'inconceivable' that the marriage was genuine.
Petkova also filed 'bogus employment records' for many of the applicants in the scam.
Miller attended many of the weddings and 'must have known what was going on', Mr Lucas said.
'The only explanation for him continuing to have a role was that he was sorry to the sham marriages.'
Ntege and his gang continued to carry out the conspiracy even after warnings from the Archdeacon of Southwark and immigration officers, the court heard.
'They knew these were not marriages of love but of convenience and whose only purpose was for one of the participants to remain in the UK,' Mr Lucas said.
Ntege, of Thornton Heath, Croydon, denies 14 charges of commissioning a breach of UK immigration law and one of fraud by abuse of position between 15 January 2007 and 31 May 2011. Riviere, of Thornton Heath, Croydon, faces 15 charges of commissioning a breach of UK immigration law. Miller, of South Croydon, denies seven charges of commissioning a breach of UK immigration law. Petkova, of Enfield, North London, denies seven of the same charges. Forteath, of South Norwood, faces two charges of commissioning a breach of UK immigration law.
Pelachie, of Florida Road, Croydon, denies one count of commissioning a breach of UK immigration law and another of deception in relation to UK immigration law between 20 April 2010 and 10 January 2011.
Odoh, of Lewisham, southeast London, faces a charge of commissioning a breach of UK immigration law and another of deception in relation to UK immigration law between 18 May 2011 and 29 February 2012.
Federal Judge: U.S. Constitution Doesn’t Require Redefinition of Marriage
Does the U.S. Constitution require the states to redefine marriage? Earlier today a federal judge said no. Judge Martin L.C. Feldman upheld Louisiana’s constitutional authority to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman—as 78 percent of Louisiana voters did in 2004.
Feldman noted that Louisiana’s marriage law furthers two important interests: “linking children to an intact family formed by their biological parents, as specifically underscored by Justice Kennedy in Windsor” and “safeguarding that fundamental social change … is better cultivated through democratic consensus.” That is, Feldman noted the two central issues in this debate—the policy question: What is marriage, and the legal question: Who gets to define marriage.
Feldman ruled that, consistent with the U.S. Constitution, citizens and their elected officials should get to define marriage, and they can define it as the union of man and woman if they choose to. In response to those who argue that there is no rational basis for such marriage laws, Feldman writes: “The Court is persuaded that a meaning of what is marriage that has endured in history for thousands of years, and prevails in a majority of states today, is not universally irrational.”
Feldman cites the Supreme Court’s decision in the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) case, U.S. v. Windsor, as support that Louisiana has the right to define marriage for itself. Feldman writes: “Windsor repeatedly and emphatically reaffirmed the longstanding principle that the authority to regulate the subject of domestic relations belongs to the states, subject to indistinct future constitutional guarantees that in Windsor were, by its expressed limits, left open and rather inexact.”
When the Supreme Court struck down part of DOMA, Justice Anthony Kennedy explained, “The significance of state responsibilities for the definition and regulation of marriage dates to the Nation’s beginning.” Taking Kennedy at his word, Feldman emphasizes the basic equality of state citizens and the vital importance of democratic debate. Just as citizens are free to redefine marriage to include same-sex relationships, so too are citizens free to retain the historic definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman—as citizens in a majority of states have done.
Our federal Constitution is silent on what marriage is. Judges should not insert their own policy preferences about marriage and declare them to be required by the Constitution. As Feldman notes, “it is not for this Court to resolve the wisdom of same-sex marriage.The nation is witness to a strong conversation about what is marriage.” The courts should uphold the freedom of the American people and their elected representatives to make marriage policy.
Feldman accepts that Louisiana’s voters had a rational basis to define marriage as the union of a man and woman:
Louisiana’s laws and Constitution are directly related to achieving marriage’s historically preeminent purpose of linking children to their biological parents. Louisiana’s regime pays respect to the democratic process; to vigorous debate….The fact that marriage has many differing, even perhaps unproved dimensions, does not render Louisiana’s decision irrational.
Feldman rightly questions where the re-definition of marriage will lead:
Must the states permit or recognize a marriage between an aunt and niece? Aunt and nephew? Brother/brother? Father and child? May minors marry? Must marriage be limited to only two people? What about a transgender spouse? Is such a union same-gender or male-female? All such unions would undeniably be equally committed to love and caring for one another, just like the plaintiffs.
This again highlights the importance of respecting the authority of citizens and their elected officials to make policy about marriage. As Feldman emphasizes, marriage policy should be worked out by the people in the states: “Federalism is not extinct. Federalism remains a vibrant and essential component of our nation’s constitutional structure.” The debate about marriage cannot be put to rest by a court-imposed 50-state solution. This is the people’s decision.
The gobsmacking hypocrisy of commentators crying over the leaking of celebrity pictures
I have some questions, potentially awkward questions, for the commentators currently fulminating against the leaking of nude photos and videos of various female celebs: What if the hacker had discovered a private video showing an actress or singer saying something racist or homophobic? And what if he had published that video instead of the nude ones? Would you still be outraged by his encroachment into an individual's private space, or would you congratulate him for exposing celebrity prejudice?
Recent events suggest it would be the latter – that if the hacker had found a video of a famous woman being hateful he would have been hailed as heroic rather than branded a pervert. In recent months, you see, the private text messages, emails and telephone conversations of various well-known people have been leaked and pored over with widespread media approval. We have watched as the woman who leaked football chief Richard Scudamore's private and embarrassing emails was celebrated for her bravery rather than denounced for her lack of respect for a man's privacy. We heard the world cheer in unison as former American basketball boss Donald Sterling was expelled from his sport over an entirely private phone conversation he had, which was secretly recorded and leaked. More recently, some of the same media outlets now outraged by the leaking of private photos from female celebrities' mobile phones were only too happy to republish and sternly condemn less-than-PC private text messages sent by two British football officials on their mobile phones.
There is currently fury with anyone who says that if these female celebs did not want their naked photos to be seen, then they shouldn't have taken them in the first place. This is indeed a very stupid and intolerant thing to say. Yet the exact same thing was said of the above cases – that if you didn't want your private offensive comments to be seen or heard by others, then you should never have said them. As a Washington Post columnist said in response to the Donald Sterling case: "If you don’t want your words broadcast in the public square, don’t say them … Such potential exposure forces us to more carefully select our words and edit our thoughts." How is this any different to the horrible idea that if female celebrities don't want their naked bodies seen in public, then they shouldn't ever photograph them?
In essence, then, what we have in the leaked pictures scandal is not something unique. It is merely an upping of the ante in the grotesque modern trend for exposing people's most private moments and intimate thoughts to public titillation or ridicule. Yes, a leaked nude photo is more embarrassing than a leaked stupid conversation – though to some, the exposure of their soul might feel as intrusive as the exposure of their bodies – but in both the principle of privacy is undermined by a perverse, mob-like demand to see and hear everything that goes on in people's private lives, bedrooms and minds. If you did not condemn the public ridiculing and punishment of Scudamore, Sterling and others over their hacked private messages, then I have no interest in anything you have to say about the leaked celeb pics, which are only a more extreme example of this widespread, tragic dearth of respect for private life.
Netanyahu Slams UN: ‘A Hypocritical Organization’
PM Netanyahu blasts the UN for establishing the controversial Schabas commission to probe Israel’s alleged war crimes in Gaza and suggests they focus on the real threat – Islamic terrorism.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once again slammed the United Nations (UN) over its decision to probe Israel’s actions in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge.
Speaking at an IDF naval academy graduation ceremony on Tuesday, Netanyahu praised the IDF as being the most moral military in the world.
“Operation Protective Edge once again proved that there is no power that can stand against our unity and determination. We dealt Hamas the hardest blow it has received since its inception,” he said.
UN Should Investigate Hamas, not Israel
“All of you, IDF soldiers, are part of the most moral army in the world, and we will stand against any attempts of hypocritical organizations to criticize you. If the UN wants to set up a commission of inquiry, let them investigate Hamas’s war crimes instead of the Israeli soldiers who have behaved in an exemplary manner,” relating to the controversial Schabas commission established by the UN to probe Israel’s alleged war crimes committed in the Gaza Strip.
Netanyahu praised the IDF’s achievements during Operation Protective Edge, stating: “In order to demonstrate the magnitude of the military achievement of the IDF and the Shabak (Israel’s security service) and other security forces against Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, it is important to know that the fighting power of the Islamic State (IS) is half of that of the organizations in Gaza, and still the world’s great powers estimate it will take years to fight them.”
IDF Prepared for any Scenario
Referring to recent developments on the northern border and the civil war in Syria, the Prime Minister declared that Israel is prepared to act whenever and wherever it is required to contend with threats. “We are monitoring Al-Qaeda’s operations along the Lebanese border, along our border in the Golan Heights, and we are also monitoring other fronts. The IDF is prepared for any scenario and is prepared to act against any threat, everywhere. This preparation relies on the spirit and bravery of our soldiers,” he said.
Netanyahu further praised the work of Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz. “I thank you for your cooperation. The nation saw they have someone they can count on.”
World’s Perception of Islamist Terrorism is Shifting
Netanyahu estimated that the world’s perception of Islamist terrorism is shifting and called on international leaders to fight it.
“Every day that passes, many world leaders understand that if they do not partake in the war on terrorism, even if the terrorists are far away from their countries, the terrorists will finally get to them. Many now understand a simple truth – Hamas, the Islamic Jihad, Al-Qaeda, the Al-Nusra Front, the Islamic State and Hezbollah, who is supported by Iran, are all part of an Islamic terror network that threatens the entire world and that should be fought, preferably in a joint effort,” he stated.
Netanyahu concluded by addressing Israel’s sacrifices and losses during the last operation in Gaza. “Our citizens fell from the fire of a cruel enemy, and our soldiers fell in the most justified of wars, and they serve as a link in the chain of heroes who have accompanied the Jewish nation throughout its century of Zionism, who ensure our lives in our country.”
Netanyahu made similar comments on Monday during a meeting with US Congressmen Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Gregory Meeks (D-NY), saying: “I think the UN would do itself a great favor if instead of the automatic Israel bashing, they actually turn their attention and their investigative committees against these terrorists who trample every norm on which the UN was founded.”
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.