Row brews over harness racing horse called Stonethachristian

A public debate is simmering on the brink of Easter as a horse named Stonethachristian continues to race in Australia.   Stonethachristian, which coincidentally has 666 branded on its neck, has been causing a stir in pubs and TABs across the country since it started its harness racing career in Young , NSW, on March 11.   Its co-owner Katrina Martens, a non-practising Christian, says she means no malice and was surprised when Harness Racing Australia approved it ahead of 11 other names she submitted.   Ms Martens said the horse's sire was Christian Cullen, after the former All Black rugby player, and linked part of that name to its offspring, which had been an irritable youngster.

Asylum-seekers burn buildings amid rioting at Villawood, in Sydney's south-west

Authorities have battled through the night to regain control of Sydney's Villawood Detention Centre, where buildings were set alight and rescue workers attacked in violent protests by asylum-seekers.   Up to 100 protesting detainees torched as many as nine buildings inside the detention centre, sparking an explosion of a gas cylinder, and up to nine buildings were seriously damaged by fire.  Authorities this morning said they had regained control of the situation.

SA MP on child porn charges after police raid home

A prominent South Australian MP was last night charged over the possession of child pornography after police raided his home and seized two computers.  Police released a statement to confirm that detectives from the Sexual Crime Investigation Branch had arrested the MP, who cannot be identified, at his home.   The statement identified the offences as including possession of child pornography, possession of child pornography (aggravated) and two charges of taking steps to access child pornography.  The man was charged at the City Watch House and released on police bail. He is to appear in Adelaide Magistrates Court on May 20.

Carbon tax. Obesity. Libya. What Would Jesus Do?

It’s Maundy Thursday, the holy day that one Punch staffer thought for years was “Monday Thursday”; some weird hybrid day.  For many, Maundy (or ‘Holy’) Thursday is the start of a very sacred few days. For most, it’s the last day of work before we gorge, binge, and maybe later repent.   In the Christian tradition, today commemorates the Last Supper; so feasting – particularly if it involves bread and wine - is pretty much encouraged.

US sex webcam roommate to face trial

A man in America has been charged with bias intimidation and other offences after allegedly using a webcam to spy on a same-sex encounter involving his university roommate, who committed suicide shortly afterward in a case that started a national conversation on bullying.  A 15-count indictment was handed up yesterday by a Middlesex County grand jury against Dharun Ravi, who had already faced invasion of privacy charges along with another student, Molly Wei.  The indictment charges Ravi with bias, invasion of privacy, witness and evidence tampering, and other charges stemming from the suicide of his roommate at Rutgers University, 18-year-old Tyler Clementi, in September. The indictment said charges against Wei would not be presented to the grand jury "at this time."

History and Family

Never in Britain’s history has family breakdown hit such heights – new report.   Britain’s levels of births outside marriage are at the highest point for at least 200 years, according to a major new study of the history of the family from a leading think-tank. Cohabitation levels have also soared from under 5% pre-1945 to 90% today.  The inquiry finds that births outside marriage were at low levels throughout the 19th Century and stayed flat until the 1960s. But since then they have soared, from a long-standing baseline of 5 per cent to 45 per cent today.

It's not the 1950s, but 'nuclear' families still rule

We are very conscious in Australia about minorities, their rights and their sense of inclusion. We have come a long way in recognising the special needs of those from non-English speaking backgrounds or people living with disabilities for example.   So it is lamentable that there are so many other groups who feel like a minority despite their numbers being so significant. Our latest research study, Beyond Nuclear Families, demonstrates that shared custody parents are a prime example.   Considering that the divorce rate in Australia still hovers at just below 50 per cent and that so many children grow up in non-traditional homes, it may be surprising just how marginalised and excluded families in such circumstances still feel today.

Religious group upset over Easter release of Lady Gaga’s Judas video

The song was released early last Friday after poor quality snippets of the track were leaked online.   In the song, Lady Gaga uses Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, as a symbol for always “falling in love with the wrong man over and over again” and going “back again to those evil things”.   The lyrics say: “In the most Biblical sense/I am beyond repentance/Fame hooker, prostitute wench, vomits her mind.”   She appears in the video as Mary Magdalene wearing a black cape and dark make-up.

Obama: Jesus' resurrection keeps things in perspective

Obama continued the tradition of hosting an Easter Prayer Breakfast at the White House during Holy Week, one of the most sacred times of year for Christians as they mark the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.   "I wanted to host this breakfast for a simple reason – because as busy as we are, as many tasks pile up, during this season, we are reminded that there’s something about the resurrection ... of our saviour, Jesus Christ, that puts everything else in perspective," Obama said in his remarks.  Though it wasn't exactly a worship service, the brief gathering – held a day after Obama reached out to the Jewish community with an intimate Passover Seder – proved to resonate among the more than 100 guests.