Christian Colleges Flourish in Distance Learning Environment

The combination of America’s religious character, its large and well-organized evangelical population, its sophisticated online education market, and the big-tent approach to Christian education taken by many of its faith-based universities has set the stage for rapid expansion of Christian-oriented distance learning. Investing heavily in online has already allowed some institutions to enroll many more students than they ever could have hoped to at a physical campus. Grand Canyon University, which enrolled about 3,500 students at its peak as a traditional university in the mid-1990s, was forced to reinvent itself as a for-profit online university earlier this decade after coming close to financial ruin. Now it serves 36,000 students, about 90% of whom are distance learners. Grand Canyon is not the only Christian institution taking cues from the for-profit sector in an effort to maximize the market for online education. Indiana Wesleyan University years ago enlisted a subsidiary of the Apollo Group, the company that owns the for-profit juggernaut University of Phoenix, to help with online recruitment. That subsidiary, an online-education consulting firm called the Institute for Professional Development, has 17 other higher-education partners, most of them Christian institutions. Meanwhile, online enrollment at the nonprofit Liberty University has boomed to 45,000 — nearly twice as many online students as the 25,000 that its late televangelist founder, Rev. Jerry Falwell, Sr., prescribed as a goal only three years ago, and significantly more than its 12,000 or so on-campus learners.

Theology School Integrates Studies of Different Faiths

The venerable Claremont School of Theology, which has taught Methodist ministers and theologians for more than a century, will try an unorthodox approach this fall: cross-training the nation’s future Muslim, Christian and Jewish religious leaders in classrooms scattered around Southern California as they work toward their respective degrees. The experimental approach launched last week is intended to create U.S. religious leaders who not only preach tolerance in an era of religious strife, but who have lived it themselves by rubbing shoulders with those in other Abrahamic faiths. The idea already faces resistance from more conservative elements in some religious communities; its architects say that only underscores the need for such an approach.

  • Tolerance, a New World Order tactic, is meant to dilute the truth about the One True God and make Christ just another role model

Schools Unsure about New Arizona Immigration Law

Arizona’s immigration law that goes into effect next month has some school and law enforcement officials wondering whether students being sent to detention face the possibility of being deported. There is no clear line that will determine when school resource officers (SRO) — police officers or sheriff’s deputies assigned to work in schools — can investigate a student’s immigration status under the new law. The law requires an officer to determine a person’s immigration status if they are stopped, detained or arrested and there is “reasonable suspicion” they are in the U.S. illegally. Many school officials agree that a student who brings a gun to school, is caught with drugs, threatens the life of a teacher or is involved in gang activity is committing a serious crime and can have their immigration status checked by police. But issues such as school fights and petty thefts are less clear.

BP Cut Corners while Constructing Oil Well

Big oil industry executives defended the safety of offshore drilling in front of Congress on Tuesday and said common industry standards weren’t deployed at the BP-owned well that’s caused the worst U.S. oil spill in history. BP repeatedly cut corners on safety as it rushed to complete its deepwater oil well in the Gulf of Mexico, overlooking concerns raised by its contractors and some of its own employees, according to documents released Monday by congressional investigators. Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., chairman of the committee, and Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., head of an investigative subcommittee, said preliminary evidence points toward questionable choices by BP. “Time after time, it appears that BP made decisions that increased the risk of a blowout to save the company time or expense,” they wrote. In the days leading to the accident, BP was focused on spiraling costs and missed deadlines instead of safety, according to documents released by the committee. Scientists have released their revised estimate of how much oil is spewing into the Gulf of Mexico each day. They now calculate the daily disaster at between 1.47 million and 2.52 million gallons/day.

Federal regulations require tests to ensure cement can hold back oil in problem-plagued wells, but BP chose to do without the test. BP opted to use a single metal casing in the well despite internal documents saying it was riskier than adding a second liner down the shaft. In the days before the blowout, BP did not follow its own operations plan and the recommendations of Halliburton when it did not flush drilling mud from the well. Flushing the mud can detect a leak. The oil firm did not install a sleeve at the top of the well to ensure that it did not leak. A computer simulation performed three days before the blowout by Halliburton, a BP subcontractor responsible for cementing the well, predicted a leak was likely because of uneven cement inside the well shaft. BP rejected Halliburton’s suggestion to add special equipment to ensure the cement was adequate. President Obama, in the first televised Oval Office message of his presidency, sought to quell rising anger over his response to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico by saying he will demand that BP’s chairman set aside whatever money is needed to compensate those who have been harmed by the company’s “recklessness.”

  • Greed triumphs once again

Permanent Majority by Silencing Minority

The Family Research Council.says, “If you can’t guarantee re-election, legislate it! Unfortunately, that’s the net effect of a bill called the DISCLOSE (Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections) Act. Essentially, H.R. 5175 would try to blunt the effectiveness of groups like FRC by limiting what we can say before the November elections. If, for instance, FRC Action decided to run a TV ad about a particular candidate, this bill would force us to reveal the names of our top donors on the spot-even if those donors didn’t fund that specific project! Congress is hoping that these rules would deter organizations like us from educating voters about candidates’ record on certain issues. And what a coincidence! These reporting requirements would take effect just in time to protect vulnerable Democratic incumbents from conservative ads. As more primaries hint at some major upheaval this fall, House leaders are racing pass the Act.”

Volunteering in America on the Rise

Americans spent 100 million more hours helping their communities last year, a new federal report says, and the number of people getting involved went up by 1.6 million to 63.4 million, according to a report being released Tuesday by the government-run Corporation for National and Community Service. The rise in volunteers comes as the nation struggles to regain its economic footing amid high unemployment. The report points to lower volunteer rates in states with high rates of unemployment and in cities with high rates of foreclosures. The report reflects those serving through more formal organizations and nonprofits, and doesn’t capture those giving in other ways like neighbors helping neighbors.

.Doctors’ Medicare Pay Cut Delayed

The Obama administration has delayed a deep pay cut for doctors treating Medicare patients. The 21% cut was scheduled to take effect tomorrow. The cut technically took effect June 1, but the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has delayed claims until Friday. The administration is expecting Congress to intervene this week. The House has passed legislation to provide a fix through 2011 but Republicans have blocked action in the Senate, saying there are no offsets for the $23 billion cut. Majority Leader Harry Reid said he hoped to have the bill passed by the end of the week.

Americans get Most Radiation from Medical Scans

We fret about airport scanners, power lines, cellphones and even microwaves. It’s true that we get too much radiation. But it’s not from those sources — it’s from too many medical tests. Americans get the most medical radiation in the world, even more than folks in other rich countries. The U.S. accounts for half of the most advanced procedures that use radiation, and the average American’s dose has grown sixfold over the last couple of decades. Too much radiation raises the risk of cancer. That risk is growing because people in everyday situations are getting imaging tests far too often. CT scans — “super X-rays” that give fast, extremely detailed images — have soared in use over the last decade, often replacing tests that don’t require radiation, such as ultrasound and MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging. Radiation is a hidden danger — you don’t feel it when you get it, and any damage usually doesn’t show up for years. Taken individually, tests that use radiation pose little risk. Over time, though, the dose accumulates. Doctors don’t keep track of radiation given their patients — they order a test, not a dose. Except for mammograms, there are no federal rules on radiation dose.

Economic News

The number of families in homeless shelters increased 7% to 170,129 from fiscal year 2008 through fiscal year 2009.

It looks like the nearly six-week run in lower gasoline prices is just about over. Gasoline prices have dropped about 8% since hitting $2.93 a gallon on May 6 on the back of lower oil prices. Pump prices fell 0.3 cent to a national average of $2.698 a gallon Monday. Experts expect that prices likely will climb beginning in July

Israel

Israel will significantly ease its bruising land blockade of the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, officials said, in an effort to blunt the widespread international criticism that has followed a deadly Israeli commando raid on a blockade-busting flotilla. The three-year-old embargo has shuttered hundreds of Gazan factories, put tens of thousands of people out of work and brought the territory’s fragile economy to a standstill. Travel restrictions that confine most of Gaza’s 1.5 million people to the territory are also likely to remain in effect. Israel, with Egypt’s cooperation, has blockaded the Palestinian territory by land and sea ever since Hamas militants, with a violent anti-Israel agenda, seized control of Gaza in 2007.

Mexico

Monday was another bloody day in Mexico’s drug war. An ambush killed 10 Mexican federal police and an unknown number of suspected drug cartel hit men in Michoacan state, and 17 inmates died in suspected drug- related violence in Sinaloa. Gunmen blocked a Michoacan highway with a big truck and fired on a police convoy with automatic weapons and other guns. Michoacan is the headquarters for the notorious “La Familia,” one of Mexico’s deadliest drug cartels. It is also the home of President Felipe Calderon. Mexico‘s drug cartels are becoming increasingly skilled at ambushing police and soldiers, luring them into traps, cutting off escape routes with flaming vehicles and overwhelming their targets in commando-style raids. The attacks have driven the death toll of police and soldiers to record levels this year and fueled fears that government forces, often outgunned by the cartels, are now being out-strategized as well.

Afghanistan

A string of militant attacks in Afghanistan have killed 12 police officers while six civilians died in bombings. Both NATO troops and Afghan security forces have been suffering heavier casualties in recent weeks. Including the latest deaths, 41 international service members have been killed in Afghanistan so far this month, 27 of them American. The Taliban have declared a summer offensive against NATO forces and those allied with the coalition or the Afghan government — ramping up attacks as NATO troops prepare operations in the Taliban heartland of southern Kandahar province.

Pakistan

An American armed with a pistol and a 40-inch sword was detained in northern Pakistan and told investigators he was on a solo mission to kill Osama bin Laden. The man was identified as 52-year-old Californian construction worker Gary Brooks Faulkner. He was picked up in a forest in the Chitral region late on Sunday. Faulkner told police he visited Pakistan seven times, and this was his third trip to Chitral. The area is among several rumored hiding places for the al-Qaeda leader, who has evaded a massive U.S. effort to capture him since 2001. Khan said Faulkner was also carrying a book containing Christian verses and teachings. When asked why he thought he had a chance of tracing bin Laden, Faulkner replied, “God is with me, and I am confident I will be successful in killing him,” said Khan.

Thailand

Eleven leaders of bloody, anti-government protests could face the death penalty after being charged Tuesday with terrorism during the worst political upheaval in modern Thai history. The leaders, including Veera Musikapong and Nattawut Saikua, had been detained since surrendering to the government on May 19 following weeks of clashes between so-called Red Shirt protesters and security forces in which nearly 90 people were killed and more than 1,400 injured. Most of the dead and injured were protesters, largely made up of rural and urban poor, who demanded a dissolution of Parliament and new elections, claiming the government had come to power through illegitimate means. Since the quelling of the Bangkok protests, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has attempted to implement a reconciliation policy to heal the social and economic rifts in Thai society. But critics said the charges of terrorism will only serve to deepen the divisions and possibly lead to more violence.

Kyrgyzstan

The first United Nations aid plane arrived Wednesday in Uzbekistan to help the thousands of people who have fled ethnic clashes in neighboring Kyrgyzstan, officials with a U.N. Refugee agency said. The U.N. cargo plane carrying about 800 lightweight tents will add to a growing effort to try and aid the estimated 100,000 people who have fled fighting in Kyrgyzstan to refugee camps in Uzbekistan. Several countries, including the United States and Russia, have also sent aid. Relative calm continued in Osh, Kyrgyzstan’s second largest city, Wednesday. But sporadic gunfire could be heard.

Earthquakes

An earthquake has rocked Southern California, shaking the Los Angeles area and causing a momentary pause at the Toronto Blue Jays-San Diego Padres baseball game in San Diego. The U.S. Geological Survey says the magnitude-5.7 quake was centered five miles southeast of Ocotillo near the U.S.-Mexico border. It struck Monday at about 9:30 PT Monday. Several aftershocks, measuring between 3.2 and 3.9, followed. It was felt as a gentle rolling motion in Los Angeles, Long Beach and Orange County. San Diego’s Petco Park swayed during the earthquake, and the public address announcer asked that everyone at the ball game remain calm. The crowd cheered.

A series of powerful earthquakes rattled Indonesia on Wednesday, killing at least three people, triggering landslides and demolishing dozens of homes. A tsunami warning sent panicked residents fleeing buildings to high ground. The 7.0 magnitude quake was centered 18 miles beneath the ocean floor and 125 miles off the northern coast of Papua province, the U.S. Geological Survey said on its website. It was accompanied by a series of strong aftershocks, the highest measuring 6.4.

Weather

Millions are hopelessly trapped in Sudan’s “Valley of Death” during the worst drought in decades. The lack of rain has caused a rampage of starvation and its related diseases. It has become a mass killer that is destroying the lives of refugees in Sudan. According to the United Nations, the number of people in dire need in Sudan has quadrupled – from 1 million last year to a staggering 4.3 million in 2010.

Residents and public workers cleared muck and debris Tuesday from homes and streets a day after record rains caused widespread flooding across Oklahoma. Flash flooding on Monday stranded commuters on washed-out roads and prompted crews to send boats into inundated neighborhoods, rescuing dozens of residents and motorists who sought safety in trees and on rooftops. No injuries were immediately reported across the city. Portions of three interstates and numerous thoroughfares in and out of the metro area were closed. Dozens of stranded motorists were rescued from vehicles in the northern suburb of Edmond. A temporary shelter for displaced residents was set up at a local elementary school. About 300 homes and businesses in two Nebraska towns have been damaged by flooding in recent days.

Regional authorities in southeastern France say 15 people have been killed and 12 are missing in the aftermath of flash floods that followed powerful rainstorms. Unusually heavy rains recently in the Var region have transformed streets into muddy rivers that swept up trees, cars and other objects. S Tens of thousands of people are without electricity, and some schools are closed.ome 1,200 people spent the night in shelters.

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