Texas Board Adopts New Social Studies Curriculum

The Texas State Board of Education adopted a social studies and history curriculum Friday that amends or waters down the teaching of religious freedoms, America’s relationship with the U.N. and hundreds of other items. In one of the most significant curriculum changes, the board dilutes the rationale for the separation of church and state in a high school government class, noting that the words were not in the Constitution and requiring students to compare and contrast the judicial language with the First Amendment’s wording. The standards, which one Democrat called a “travesty,” also will be used by textbook publishers who often develop materials for other states based on guidelines approved in Texas, During the months-long revision process, conservatives strengthened requirements on teaching the Judeo-Christian influences of the nation’s Founding Fathers and required that the U.S. government be referred to as a “constitutional republic,” rather than “democratic.” They also rejected language to modernize the classification of historic periods to B.C.E. and C.E. from the traditional B.C. and A.D.

Southern Baptists Post Most Baptisms in 4 Years

Southern Baptist Convention— the nation’s largest Protestant denomination — posted its highest number of baptisms in four years. The baptisms jumped from 342,198 to 349,737 last year, reversing years of decline. Baptist leaders say the numbers show the convention’s renewed focus on reaching nonbelievers is working. “We’ve tried to focus on getting outside the four walls of the church,” said the Rev. Steve Freeman, pastor of Grace Baptist about 30 miles north of Nashville. “We’re taking the Gospel to where the people are.” Not all the Baptist statistics were positive. Monetary donations to the convention dropped by 1.8% last year. Membership declined for the third straight year, down to 16.13 million. Average Sunday morning attendance was up slightly.

Scientists create 1st Bacteria Strain from Man-Made DNA

Genome researchers Thursday unveiled the first bacteria strain with a man-made collection of genes. The long-anticipated advance, reported in the journal Science, is a $40 million milestone in the nascent field of “synthetic biology” and points towards a future of designer microbes manufacturing fuels, chemicals and materials. “This is the first self-replicating cell we’ve had on the planet whose parent is a computer,” says team chief Craig Venter of the J. Craig Venter Institute in Rockville, Md., who called the bacteria “the world’s first synthetic cell.” In this latest study, the team designed a non-infectious gene map for Mycoplasma mycoides bacteria, ordered the map’s chemical constituents and assembled those chemicals into a gene chromosome inside yeast cells. Finally, they transplanted the genome into a different species of bacteria, “and booted it up.” The altered bacteria reproduced as blue colonies of mycoides cells, now held in a freezer and awaiting a museum.

  • Another “advance” that will bring forth both good and evil in this dual-natured world

Obama Facing Mounting Anger for Handling of Oil Spill

Anger grew along the Gulf Coast as an ooze of oil washed into delicate coastal wetlands in Lousiana, with residents questioning the federal government and others wondering how to clean up the month-long mess that worsens with each day. The government is overseeing the cleanup and response, but the official responsible for the oversight said he understands the discontent. “If anybody is frustrated with this response, I would tell them their symptoms are normal, because I’m frustrated, too,” said Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen. “Nobody likes to have a feeling that you can’t do something about a very big problem.” As simple as it may seem, the law prevents the government from just taking over, Allen said. After the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska, Congress dictated that oil companies be responsible for dealing with major accidents — including paying for all cleanup — with oversight by federal agencies.

  • Will oil spill be Obama’s Katrina?

Cleaning Oil-Soaked Wetlands May Be Impossible

Anger grew along the Gulf Coast as an ooze of oil washed into delicate coastal wetlands in Louisiana, with many wondering how to clean up the month-long mess — especially now that BP’s latest try to plug the blown-out well won’t happen until Tuesday. Officials are considering some drastic and risky solutions: They could set the wetlands on fire or flood areas in hopes of floating out the oil. But they warn an aggressive cleanup could ruin the marshes and do more harm than good. The only viable option for many impacted areas is to do nothing and let nature break down the spill. More than 50 miles of Louisiana‘s delicate shoreline already have been soiled by the massive slick unleashed after BP’s Deepwater Horizon burned and sank last month. Officials fear oil eventually could invade wetlands and beaches from Texas to Florida.

Obama Calls for New World Order

President Obama on Saturday vowed to press for a new international order “that can resolve the challenges of our times” and help the United States defeat Al Qaeda and other threats to freedom. Delivering the commencement speech at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Obama ticked off a list of lofty goals this new order could accomplish; from combating violent extremism to stopping the spread of nuclear weapons to stemming climate change and sustaining global growth. Saturday’s comments suggest the Obama administration may be ready to more vigorously court the international community’s support, and further distance itself from the “distinctly American internationalism” pursued by George W. Bush.

Ø      First Obama revealed his socialistic agenda, now he begins to openly support the one-world government prophesied in Revelation 13.

GOP’s Djou Wins House Election in Obama’s Hometown

Republicans scored a midterm election victory Saturday when Honolulu City Councilman Charles Djou won a Democratic-held House seat in Hawaii in the district where President Barack Obama grew up — the latest triumph for the GOP as it looks to take back control of Congress. Djou’s victory was a blow to Obama and other Democrats who could not rally around a candidate and find away to win a congressional race that should have been a cakewalk. The seat had been held by a Democrat for nearly 20 years and is located in the district where Obama was born and spent most of his childhood. Republicans see the victory as a powerful statement about their momentum heading into November.

Europe

European Union finance ministers backed tougher sanctions to prevent them running up too much debt in the hopes of winning back market confidence and getting a handle on the debt crisis that is threatening the euro. Current limits on debt and deficits are backed up on paper by heavy fines, which have never been imposed, effectively allowing Greece and others to ignore them and build up massive debt. Germany, which is providing the largest chunks of bailout funds for Greece and the eurozone, is keen on harsher punishments for countries that break the rules to deter them from seeking financial rescue such as such as stripping EU governments of voting rights or development funds or even ejecting them from the euro currency.

Israel

Israeli troops killed two Palestinian militants who had infiltrated Israel from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on Friday. The firefight between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian militants took place across the border from the southern Gaza Strip. Security forces sealed off the entrances to the four Israeli communities in the area, where thousands of people live, until the gun battle was over. The military said it was not aware of any other militants having eluded troops. It said the gunmen entered Israel by cutting the security fence along the border.

Afghanistan

The Taliban claimed responsibility Sunday for a nighttime assault on NATO’s biggest base in southern Afghanistan in which insurgents firing rockets, mortars and automatic weapons tried to storm Kandahar Air Field. It was the second such attack on a major military installation last week. Several coalition troops and civilian employees were wounded in Saturday night’s assault, but there were no reports of deaths. Militants unleashed rockets and mortars about 8 p.m. and then tried unsuccessfully to storm the northern perimeter. One of the rockets hit a shop-lined boardwalk where soldiers go in the evening to socialize.

Iraq

A car bomb exploded Friday at an open-air market in a Shiite town northeast of Baghdad, killing 23 people and wounding more than 50 The bombing struck the town of Khalis, 50 miles north of Baghdad, a former al-Qaeda Khalis is a Shiite enclave in the largely Sunni province of Diyala.stronghold that has seen several powerful blasts. In March, twin bombings struck a restaurant in the same town, killing 57.

Mission News Network reports that Christians in Iraq received a direct threat this week, when a Muslim group warned believers in Baghdad and Mosul to leave the area. In a letter to an Iraqi bishop, the General Secretariat of the Islam Supporters warned Christians to “leave the country of Muslims (Iraq) for good and immediately in the form of mass transmigration.” It continues: “You can follow Pope Benedict XVI and his followers who have disfigured humanity and Islam,” the letter said. “There’s no more room for you, infidels, among the Iraqi Muslims. Our swords shall be placed upon your necks and the necks of your followers and other Christians residing in Mosul.” Jerry Dykstra of Open Doors USA confirms the hostility against followers of Christ. “Christians are just being further marginalized, as we’ve heard the reports of random violence.”

Pakistan

Compass Direct News reports that Muslim teachers at a girls school in Sargodha, Pakistan, have openly beaten and demeaned Christians students to the point that several have quit the school. According to area Christians, the teachers have derided Christian students for their faith, beat them, pressured them to convert to Islam and forced them to clean school bathrooms, classrooms and even teacher’s laundry after class hours. “Christian students are teased and mocked by radical Muslim female teachers from the start of the school day to the end,” said a 16-year-old girl named Sana. “Christian students feel dejected, depressed and frustrated. I am totally broken-hearted because of the intolerance and discrimination.” Christians in Pakistan are often discriminated against for their lower social status.

A U.S. missile strike killed two foreign militant suspects and eight Pakistanis near the Afghan border. The attack late Friday targeted the house of a local resident. U.S drones often hit suspected hide-outs of militants in troubled Pakistani tribal region, which Washington considers a center for the remnants of Taliban, al-Qaeda and Pakistani insurgents. Five women and two children were also wounded in the attack.

Yemen

A U.S.-born cleric who has encouraged Muslims to kill American soldiers called for the killing of U.S. civilians in his first video released by a Yemeni offshoot of al-Qaeda, providing the most overt link yet between the radical preacher and the terror group. Dressed in a white Yemeni robe, turban and with a traditional jambiyah dagger tucked into his waistband, Anwar Al-Awlaki used the 45-minute video posted Sunday to justify civilian deaths — and encourage them — by accusing the United States of intentionally killing a million Muslim civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. American civilians are to blame, he said, because “the American people, in general, are taking part in this and they elected this administration and they are financing the war.”

Koreas

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday that North Korea‘s sinking of a South Korean warship has created a “highly precarious” security situation in the regionand that the Obama administration is working to prevent an escalation of tension that could lead to conflict. Speaking to reporters in Beijing shortly after the White House issued a statement offering Washington’s full and unequivocal support for Seoul, Clinton said all of North Korea’s neighbors, including its chief ally China, understand the seriousness of the matter and want to “contain” it. The U.S. will work with other nations to see that North Korea feels the consequences of its actions and changes its behavior to avoid “the kind of escalation that would be very regrettable,” she said. President Barack Obama has directed the U.S. military to coordinate with South Korea to “ensure readiness” and deter future aggression from North Korea, the White House said on Monday.

Jamaica

Masked men defending a reputed drug lord sought by the United States torched a police station and traded gunfire with security forces in a patchwork of barricaded slums in Jamaica‘s capital Sunday. The government declared a state of emergency as sporadic gunshots rang out in gritty West Kingston, stronghold of Christopher “Dudus” Coke, a Jamaican “don” charged in the U.S. with drug and arms trafficking. His defiant supporters turned his neighborhood and other areas into a virtual fortress with trashed cars and barbed wire. Four police stations came under heavy fire from gangsters roaming the streets with high-powered guns. In barricaded Hannah Town, black smoke spiraled into the sky from one that was set aflame by molotov cocktails.

Nigeria

Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports that three churches and two pastors’ houses in northern Nigeria were demolished last week. A mob burned an old Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) building in Kwasam, Kiru Local Government Area (LGA) along with a new building and pastor’s house on May 19, forcing the pastor into hiding. The church leadership was previously brought to a Shari’a court when Muslims brought a complaint regarding the church’s land. On May 15, a Baptist Church in Banaka, Takai LGA, was demolished for the fourth time. After the previous demolition, a group of Christians from Kastina State paid for the construction of a new building, and also drilled a well for church members to use. However, during the demolition, the well was blocked off completely.

Volcanoes

The ash plume at Eyjafjallajökull has decreased over the past few days, suggesting a decrease in magma flow compared to the weekend, the daily report from the Icelandic Meteorological Office and the Institute of Earth Sciences, at the University of Iceland said. Radar observations showed the plume to be at around 18,000 feet. Scientists have not been able to see the volcano for the past two days due to heavy cloud cover. However radar images show no major changes in the ice cauldrons where the cinder cone is forming. There is almost no lava flowing down Gígjökull. Only two micro earthquakes were recorded at the volcano since midnight Thursday, at depths of four and seven and two miles.

Earthquakes

A series of moderate earthquakes south of the California border on Saturday shook buildings in downtown San Diego but there were no reports of damage or injuries. The U.S. Geological Survey says a magnitude-4.9 earthquake struck at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, centered in Baja California about 16 miles southwest of Calexico. A magnitude-4.8 earthquake struck about three minutes later, followed by a 3.6 quake at 10:59 a.m. Saturday’s earthquakes struck in the same area as the magnitude-7.2 quake that killed two people in Mexicali, Mexico, on April 4. The region has seen a surge in seismic activity since then.

Weather

Polish police say the death toll in massive flooding that has hit several regions across the country has risen to 12. Emergency forces were out in full force on Saturday, using helicopters and boats to monitor the situation and evacuate people in flood-stricken areas. Poland was hit by flooding last week after heavy rains. Southern parts of the country were hit the worst, but northern areas are also being inundated as swollen waters in rivers move north toward the Baltic Sea.

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