Horror in Mexico

Mexican drug lords, having diversified into human smuggling, have committed a monstrous atrocity:

Gunmen from a drug cartel appear to have massacred 72 migrants from Central and South America who were on their way to the U.S., a grisly event that marks the single biggest killing in Mexico’s war on organized crime.

Mexican marines discovered the 72 bodies—58 men and 14 women —on Tuesday after the lone survivor of the massacre, a wounded migrant from Ecuador, stumbled into a Navy checkpoint the previous day and told of being shot on Monday at a nearby ranch, Mexican officials said on Wednesday.

When the marines went to investigate, they were met with a hail of gunfire from cartel gunmen holed up at the ranch, which sits 90 miles from the U.S. border. One marine and three alleged gunmen died during a two-hour battle, which ended when the gunmen fled in a fleet of SUVs, leaving behind a cache of weapons.

The Ecuadorean migrant told investigators that his captors identified themselves as members of the Zetas drug gang, said Vice Adm. Jose Luis Vergara, a spokesman for the Mexican navy.

An Ecuadorean citizen escaped from a remote ranch in eastern Mexico and stumbled wounded to a highway checkpoint, where he alerted Mexican Navy marines. One marine was killed in a firefight after marines went to investigate the ranch.

“This illustrates that organized crime has no limits or moral qualms about what they are prepared to do,” Alejandro Poire, head of the government’s national-security council, told a news conference.

The incident highlights the extent to which Mexican drug gangs, which used to focus exclusively on ferrying narcotics such as cocaine to the U.S., have diversified into other lucrative criminal activities such as human smuggling and extortion.

At the going rate of $5,000 to $7,000 charged by smugglers to cross the U.S. border, the 72 people represented about $500,000 to the drug gang, said Alberto Islas, a Mexico City-based security consultant. The gang may have simply killed the migrants after they refused to give them more money than they had already given them, he said.

Mexican officials said they didn’t know why the migrants—believed to be from El Salvador, Honduras, Ecuador and Brazil—were killed. Mexican newspapers, citing an unnamed federal official, speculated that the migrants were killed for either refusing to give the drug gang more money to cross the border, or for declining to join the gang’s criminal activities as drug couriers, gunmen or prostitutes.

via 72 Bodies Found in Rural Mexico – WSJ.com.

“And then they are all mine”

Al Mohler, himself a seminary president, discusses the agenda of some college professors:

On many campuses, a significant number of faculty members are representatives of what has been called the “adversary culture.” They see their role as political and ideological, and they define their teaching role in these terms. Their agenda is nothing less than to separate students from their Christian beliefs and their intellectual and moral commitments.

A good many of these professors deny this agenda, but from time to time the mask is removed. Writing at the “University Diaries” column at the site InsideHigherEd.com, a professor of English revealed this agenda with amazing candor. Responding to an argument about the power of intellectual elites, this professor dropped any effort to hide the real agenda:

“We need to encourage everyone to be in college for as many years as they possibly can,” this professor wrote, “in the hope that somewhere along the line they might get some exposure to the world outside their town, and to moral ideas not exclusively derived from their parents’ religion. If they don’t get this in college, they’re not going to get it anywhere else.”

This professor minces no words. The college experience, the argument goes, is the best (and perhaps last) opportunity for someone to break students’ commitments to the moral convictions “derived from their parents’ religion.”

Similarly, writing in a Seattle newspaper, a teacher of English and college adviser at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois reveals this ideological agenda in even more shocking terms. Bill Savage reacts to the fact that the so-called conservative “red” states are “outbreeding” the “blue” states, which are more liberal in voting patterns. Identifying himself as a political liberal with no children of his own, Savage acknowledges that he and his fellow liberals have a lower fertility rate than conservatives. Nevertheless, he insists that educated urban liberals need not despair. He expresses confidence “that blue America’s Urban Archipelago can grow larger, more contiguous, and more politically powerful even without my offspring.” How?

“The children of red states will seek a higher education,” he explains, “and that education will very often happen in blue states or blue islands in red states. For the foreseeable future, loyal dittoheads will continue to drop off their children at the dorms. After a teary-eyed hug, Mom and Dad will drive their SUV off toward the nearest gas station, leaving their beloved progeny behind.”

Then what? He proudly claims: “And then they are all mine.”

Non-denominational

Sarah Pulliam Bailey (a regular reader of this blog) has written a good article for Christianity Today on Dinesh D’Souza, a Catholic, assuming the presidency of the King’s College, an evangelical school.  (She quotes me in the article.)  Her interviews shed light on the issue that we discussed yesterday:

“I’m quite happy to acknowledge my Catholic background; at the same time, I’m very comfortable with Reformation theology,” D’Souza told Christianity Today. “I’m comfortable with the evangelical world. In a sense, I’m part of it.”

D’Souza’s wife, Dixie, is an evangelical, and the family has attended Calvary Chapel, a nondenominational evangelical church in San Diego, for the past 10 years. He has been invited to speak in several churches and colleges, including Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church and Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University.

“I do not describe myself as Catholic today. But I don’t want to renounce it either because it’s an important part of my background. I’m an American citizen, but I wouldn’t reject the Indian label because it’s part of my heritage,” D’Souza said. “I say I have a Catholic origin or background. I say I’m a nondenominational Christian, and I’m comfortable with born-again.”

via Dinesh D’Souza to Lead NYC’s King’s College | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction.

Lots of Christians go to “nondenominational” churches.  But these are independent evangelical institutions that, even though they don’t belong to a larger denominational organization, do have an implicit theology, usually of the Baptist variety.  But Mr. D’Souza is taking non-denominationalism to a new level.  This version embraces Catholicism as well as Protestantism in all of its varieties.  To what extent is this possible?

Presumably, a nondenominational Christian would hold whatever theological position he pleases, and his nondenominational congregation will not insist on theological unity.   An outgrowth of the parachurch mindset, nondenominationalism separates being a “Christian” from involvement in any particular church.  I think it is intrinsically Protestant, since, for Catholics, being a part of a particular institutional church body is crucial.  But still, I can see many Christians approaching their faith in this sense, adhering to C. S. Lewis’s “Mere Christianity” and considering that enough.  Maybe it’s enough for a college.

Those of you in nondenominational churches, would you have room in your fellowship for the denomination known as Roman Catholic Church?  If not, wouldn’t the basis for that exclusion be that you hold to a particular theology and that you constitute a denomination after all?

At any rate, Mr. D’Souza sounds more like a former Catholic and an evangelical, after all, even if he hasn’t changed his church membership.

Yet another study says the oil IS broken down

I admit that I have no idea what is going on with the oil in the gulf.  The latest scientific findings keep changing:

A week after a high-profile paper suggested that the vast Deepwater Horizon oil plume could linger for months, another study claims bacteria are breaking the oil down quickly, and that the plume is likely gone.

The conflict between the results are striking. Other researchers warn that there’s just too little data to draw any conclusions. But the new findings are at least encouraging.

“We saw the same plume they did,” said Terry Hazen, an ecologist and oil spill specialist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, whose research is funded in part by BP. “We found that very large proportions of genes from water in the plume have the ability to produce enzymes that break down the oil.”

As with last week’s study, Hazen’s involved samples taken from the deep-sea oil plume that in late June was 22 miles long, one mile wide and 650 feet thick, and was published in Science.

The previous study, led by researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, found few signs microbial activity around the oil. From those measurements, it seemed that months would pass before bugs broke down the oil.

The WHOI team didn’t look directly at bacteria in the water, but used oxygen depletion — caused by bugs multiplying and going into metabolic overdrive while eating — as a sign of their activity.

By contrast, Hazen’s team extracted microbial DNA from plume water samples, sequenced the genes and identified their functions. Many of the genes produce enzymes that break down some of the compounds in crude oil.

The researchers also identified a previously-unknown strain of ostensibly oil-gobbling Oceanospirillum that doesn’t consume oxygen. Its activity would have gone unnoticed by the WHOI team.

“That particular species becomes dominant in the plume. It out competes some of the other bacteria that are normally present. It can break down the oil quite well,” said Hazen, who noted that the Gulf’s deep-sea microbes have evolved to handle crude oil that seeps naturally from the seafloor.

When Hazen’s team put oil samples in a laboratory setup designed to mimic Gulf conditions, it had a half-life of between one and six days. And according to Hazen, the researchers have found no sign of the plume in the last three weeks, suggesting its breakdown.

via Oil-Gobbling Bug Raises Gulf Hopes … for Now | Reuters.

This study has its critics too.  But their bottom line is that we just don’t know.

Evangelical college picks Catholic President

The King’s College has selected Dinesh D’Souza as its new president.  The New York City school, which is housed in the Empire State Building, was founded by Campus Crusade for Christ and is a conservative evangelical college–a pretty good one, I might add.  The thing is, Mr. D’Souza, a popular conservative author and think tank scholar, is a Roman Catholic.  Do you think an evangelical college can have a Catholic president?  Can a  college be “Christian” in a sense that can embrace both Protestantism and Catholicism?  Would the Catholics deny that the Protestants are members of the Church, and the Protestants deny that the Catholics have faith in the Gospel?  Or is this a great idea whose time has come?

I wish the best for Mr. D’Souza and the college, where WORLD editor Marvin Olasky is the Provost.  Do you think this rather bold experiment will work?

Student Loan scandal update

Yesterday we blogged about the Washington Post’s dependence on income from its ownership of Kaplan, whose for-profit-universities are being accused of defrauding the government.  tODD points out that its universities are only part of the Kaplan empire, doing the math to show that the percentage of the Post’s income from the colleges and from the taxpayers is smaller than the 62% I cited.  Meanwhile, in another case of surprising readers of this blog, one of the original litigators who helped expose the corruption at Kaplan, Mike Aguirre, wrote in.  You need to read his post in the comments.  It tells about how Kaplan officials were caught destroying diplomas of “phantom students” who didn’t really exist, but who apparently were made up by the university just to get student loans.  Mr. Aguirre also noted the staggering sums that flowed into Kaplan from the Title IV student loan plan:

> Finally, I would like to note the following amounts of Title IV funds paid to Kaplan in addition to those identified in the operative complaint.
> In 2005 Kaplan derived more than $500 million of its revenues from Title IV funds. In 2006 Kaplan derived $580 million of its revenues from Title IV funds. In 2007 Kaplan Title IV revenue was $745 million, or approximately 73%, of total KHE revenues. In 2008 Title IV funds accounted for $904 million, or approximately 71%, of total KHE revenues. During 2009 Title IV funds accounted for $1.283 billion million, or approximately 83%, of KHE revenues.


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