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Harvard, MIT sue Trump government over expulsion of foreign students

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Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology sued the Trump administration Wednesday over an order that would require international students to take classes in person this fall, despite rising coronavirus caseloads that are complicating efforts by colleges and universities to offer in-person learning.

The lawsuit represented a swift response to an unexpected order issued this week by the federal government, as universities rush to protect the status of thousands of international students. It also marks a new battle line in the war between President Trump and education leaders over how to safely reopen schools in the midst of his reelection bid.

“We will pursue this case vigorously so that our international students — and international students at institutions across the country — can continue their studies without the threat of deportation,” Harvard’s president, Lawrence S. Bacow, told the Harvard community Wednesday.

On Wednesday, Northeastern University in Massachusetts joined the suit, with Joseph E. Aoun, the school’s president, saying the new guidance “creates chaos for international students and has the effect of weakening American higher education — one of our nation’s signature strengths.”

On Monday, the federal Student and Exchange Visitor Program announced that visas would not be issued to students enrolled in schools that are fully online this fall. Under the rule, those students would be barred from entering the country. And to keep their visas, students already in the United States would need to leave the country or transfer to a school with in-person instruction.

The rule has not been published yet, but the guidance issued Monday stunned university officials and panicked students. Though international students were previously required to take classes in person, the government had offered schools and students flexibility this spring, after the pandemic shut down most campuses. And it had said that the new guidance would remain in effect for the duration of the emergency.

So as university officials worked to finalize fall plans, many assumed that their international students would be allowed in the country even if they weren’t in the classroom. With cases rising across the country, most colleges are at least prepared to switch to fully virtual instruction if needed. Others, including Harvard and the sprawling California State University System, have already announced plans to offer little to no in-person instruction.

Harvard has about 5,000 international students, and MIT 4,000. In their lawsuit, the universities argue that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s decision was designed to force universities to conduct in-person classes, part of an apparent political strategy from the Trump administration to pressure schools, from kindergarten to graduate school, to fully reopen this fall, even as virus cases soar.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts, seeks a temporary restraining order that would quickly stop the government from enforcing the policy. The schools argue that the rule violates the Administrative Procedure Act, which governs rulemaking by federal agencies.

The Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Carissa Cutrell, a spokeswoman for ICE, said the agency “is unable to provide further comment due to pending litigation.”

The lawsuit cites remarks from acting deputy secretary of homeland security Ken Cuccinelli on Tuesday, in which he said the directive “will … encourage schools to reopen.”

The decision also reflects the administration’s continued efforts to limit and reduce the presence of international students in the country, the lawsuit argues.

The Trump administration contends the new policy will provide more flexibility for colleges and universities. Cuccinelli indicated Tuesday that international students could remain in the United States as long as they receive at least some face-to-face instruction.

“Anything short of 100 percent online classes,” he told  an interview. Cuccinelli denied that the administration was seeking to “force” universities to offer in-person teaching. But he acknowledged that the administration wants to spur movement in that direction. “This is now setting the rules for one semester, which we’ll finalize later this month that will, again, encourage schools to reopen,” he told.

The ICE ruling frightened international students, who worried they risked deportation if their schools were not providing classes in person.

“That’s horrifying — I couldn’t sleep,” said Mita Rawal, who’s studying pharmacology at the University of Georgia. “It’s not just me, it’s my son, he goes to school here. If I had to pack up my bags and go to Nepal,” she said, and then broke off.

She had already been through a tumultuous spring and summer, with a sudden need for a computer for her own studies and a secondhand laptop for her 5-year-old son’s schooling, paid for with the help of an emergency grant from a nonprofit. Her dissertation was put on hold, and she was unable to travel home for the summer.

And then news broke from ICE. “I had not anticipated in my wildest dreams that I would be in this situation,” she said.

Outraged faculty are mobilizing to defend international students. Some are brainstorming ways to work around the administration’s policy, creating makeshift classes for international students.

Dana R. Fisher, a sociology professor at the University of Maryland at College Park, said she woke up Wednesday to 25 emails from terrified students. She had fielded even more frantic emails the day before. On Twitter, she offered an independent-study course to any student who needs to take an in-person class this semester. Dozens are interested, she said.

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Pastor of Jacob Blake’s mother launches 40 days of humility, prayer, fasting for racial healing

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Insight Church Pastor James E. Ward Jr. says he is on a mission to bring racial healing to the nation and “God’s blessing to black America” through 40 Days of Humility, Prayer, and Fasting. And he’s hoping America will join him.

The Skokie, Illinois, preacher recently catapulted to the national stage through his connection to Julia Jackson, one of his most devout parishioners and mother of 29-year-old Wisconsin father Jacob S. Blake, who was shot multiple times by a police officer in Kenosha on Aug. 23. Blake is currently “in a spinal injury rehabilitation center in Chicago.”

His shooting was one of several primarily deadly encounters between black men and local law enforcement that sparked civil unrest over racial justice and inequality since the killing of George Floyd in the custody of Minneapolis Police Department officers in May.

“The issue that we see in society surrounding race, the protest, the rioting, those things communicate to us that there is a serious problem in our nation and unfortunately in most cases we are not … equipped to solve the problem that we know needs to be solved,” Ward told The Christian Post in an interview Friday.

He is convinced that when it comes to race, America is wrestling with a deep-rooted spiritual problem that must be addressed with a spiritual response. And that’s why he launched the national spiritual prayer movement on Sept. 25 that will culminate with a livestreamed prayer for the nation on Nov. 2 from Washington, D.C.

“40 Days asks all Americans to fervently pray and fast before God for racial harmony and healing in America prior to the national presidential election,” the movement said in a statement to CP.

The group has also launched an initiative called the Zero Victim Community Development Corporation, which was “prayerfully designed to restore and strengthen black lives and families across our country.”

“Part of the expression of our prayer is prayer with action and this new Zero Victim Development Corporation is us engaging to act on behalf of what we believe, and really beginning to target how to bring God’s blessing to black America,” Ward said.

Even in a socially disruptive election year when Christians remain deeply divided on issues of race and politics, Ward is convinced that if people are able to humble themselves in prayer, America can fix its race problem.

“I’m very much aware of the disparity of folks looking at what I call a singular issue through multiple lenses. And that’s basically what you see happening in society where it’s individuals looking at the same bottle. One person is looking at the logo on the front side and the other person is looking at the nutrition label on the backside,” explained Ward.

“The exact reason we are calling ourselves to 40 days of humility, prayer and fasting, not just prayer and fasting, 40 days of humility, prayer and fasting, [is] because there’s a brokenness that we have to have. We have to check our opinions, our own sentiments, self-serving ideologies, identifying selfishness in our own life. It begins with humility and when I start with humility it means I’m willing to give up and enter into surrendering into something deeper through the avenue of prayer and fasting.”

Blake was shot seven times in the back by officer Rusten Sheskey on Aug. 23. The Wisconsin Department of Justice said that a woman called 911 to report that her boyfriend was present and was not supposed to be at the residence. According to audio dispatch obtained by Madison365, Blake had taken the woman’s keys and refused to leave.

When officers arrived at the scene, they encountered Blake, who resisted arrest. They unsuccessfully tried to subdue him with a Taser and Blake then walked around to his vehicle at the scene with armed police officers pointing their guns at his back, according to video posted on social media. Blake opened the driver’s side door of his vehicle and leaned forward. While holding onto Blake’s shirt, the Wisconsin DOJ said Sheskey fired his service weapon.

Blake’s family said the shooting has left him paralyzed from the waist down.

Wisconsin DOJ officials said Blake “admitted that he had a knife in his possession.” It was recovered on the floorboard of the driver’s side of the vehicle.

Brendan Matthews, the attorney representing Sheskey, told CNN that the officer fired the shots because he believed Blake was trying to kidnap a child as he heard a woman say, “He’s got my kid. He’s got my keys.”

There were three children in the back of the car at the time of the shooting.

In an op-ed for The New York Times Thursday, Jacob Blake’s uncle, Rick Blake, described the invisible toll of the shooting on his family, including his brother Jacob Blake Sr., affectionately called “Big Jake.”

“Our story is different from those of many families whose lives have been devastated by police brutality — our Li’l Jake survived. But in mostly every other way, the experience is similar. When the cameras stop rolling, the lights fade and public attention turns away, we’re left with our pain and we return to the battle against racism and for justice and reform,” Rick Blake wrote.

Rick Blake described how his brother, who suffers from diabetes, heart disease and chronic neuropathy, was forced to venture out during the pandemic from his home to support his son in the hospital and how he paid dearly for it with his health.

“The toll on my brother has gone largely unnoticed — except, of course, by members of our family. One night, he sat in the dark on a rock next to the hotel where he was staying, so sick and tired he couldn’t move, his hand swollen to the size of a catcher’s mitt from gout. By chance, the director of the hospital where Li’l Jake was being treated found him and he was taken to the emergency room for treatment,” he explained.

When asked about the Blake family’s revelation, Ward replied: “I think for those of us who have never been through something like this, there is no way to imagine what it feels like.”

Julia Jackson has been leaning on her faith while continuing to support her son’s recovery.

“I know it has to be one of the hardest things that Julia has every dealt with and she’s constantly in need, and I would say Jacob too, of prayer and I think that’s one of the roles that her church family plays for her. Having a church family, having a prayer team that she’s a part of, she has a core group of people around her that are there to encourage her spiritually, emotionally and mentally,” Ward said.

He argued that when shootings like Blake’s occur, people can sometime lose sight of the human toll they bring when they are criticized and politicized in the court of public opinion.

“There are so many negatives things spoken around these situations and publicly I don’t think we always give families the space that they need to grieve,” Ward said.

And it’s one of the reasons he believes a new prayer movement is needed now more than ever.

“It’s the people of America that need to change and when the people of America change, America will change and that’s the beginning of what we are calling for right now,” he said.
Sources: Christian Post

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കാനഡ മലയാളി പെന്തക്കോസ്ത് പ്രാര്‍ത്ഥന സംഗമം നവംബര്‍ 7 ന്

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ടൊറോന്റോ: കാനഡയിലെ മലയാളി പെന്തക്കോസ്ത് സഭകളുടെ ആഭിമുഖ്യത്തില്‍ ഈ രാജ്യത്തിനുവേണ്ടിയും സഭകളുടെ ആത്മീയ മുന്നേറ്റത്തിനും ആനുഗ്രഹത്തിനുമായി നവംബര്‍ 7 ന് വൈകിട്ട് 7 മണിക്ക് നടത്തപ്പെടുന്ന ആത്മീയ സമ്മേളനത്തിന്റെ ഒരുക്കങ്ങള്‍ പുരോഗമിച്ചു വരുന്നു.

കൊവിഡ് എന്ന മഹാമാരിയുടെ നടുവില്‍ കൂടി ലോകം കടന്നു പോകുമ്പോള്‍ കാനഡയ്ക്ക് വേണ്ടി പ്രാര്‍ത്ഥിക്കുവാന്‍ മലയാളി പെന്തക്കോസ്ത് സഭകള്‍ 7 പ്രൊവിന്‍സുകളില്‍ നിന്നും ആവേശത്തോടെ ജൂലൈ മാസം 25 ന് പ്രാര്‍ത്ഥനയായി സൂംമില്‍ കൂടി നടത്തപ്പെടുകയുണ്ടായി. കാനഡയിലെ മലയാളി പെന്തക്കോസ്ത് സഭകളുടെ ചരിത്രത്തിലെ ഒരു പുതിയ അദ്ധ്യായമായി അത് മാറുകയുണ്ടായി. #്തിന്റെ തുടര്‍ച്ചയായി നവംബര്‍ മാസം 7 ന് രണ്ടാമത് മീറ്റിംഗ് നടത്തുവാന്‍ തീരുമാനിച്ചിരിക്കുന്നു.

ഈ മീറ്റിംഗിന് നേതൃത്വം കൊടുക്കുന്നത് കാനഡ മലയാളി പാസ്റ്റേഴ്‌സ് ഫെലോഷിപ്പ് ആണ്. പാസ്റ്റര്‍മാരായ ഫിന്നി സാമുവല്‍,വില്‍സണ്‍ കടവില്‍, ജോണ്‍ തോമസ്, മാത്യൂ കോശി വന്‍കോവര്‍ എന്നിവര്‍ പ്രവര്‍ത്തിക്കുന്നു.

ഈ മീറ്റിംഗിന്റെ പ്രോഗ്രാം കോ ഓര്‍ഡിനേറ്റര്‍സ് ആയി പാസ്റ്റര്‍മാരായ ബാബു ജോര്‍ജ്, സോണി മാമന്‍, വി ടി റെജിമോന്‍ എന്നിവര്‍ വിവിധ കമ്മറ്റികള്‍ക്ക് നേതൃത്വം കൊടുക്കുന്നു. ഈ പ്രാര്‍ത്ഥന സംഗമത്തിന് ഏവരേയും ഹാര്‍ദ്ദവമായി സ്വാഗതം ചെയ്യുന്നു.

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