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Thursday, July 3, 2014;

ProPublica: Journalism in the Public Interest


A Disappearing Planet

by Anna Flagg, Special to ProPublica


Today's extinction rates rival those during the mass extinction event that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

CLICK on turtle for story...


China may build an undersea train to America



China is planning to build a train line that would, in theory, connect Beijing to the United States.

According to a report inthe Beijing Times, citing an expert at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, Chinese officials are considering a route that would start in the country's northeast, thread through eastern Siberia and cross the Bering Strait via a 125-mile long underwater tunnel into Alaska.

China to America underground trai"Right now we're already in discussions. Russia has already been thinking about this for many years," says Wang Mengshu, the engineer cited in the article. The proposed "China-Russia-Canada-America" line would be some 8,000 miles long, 1,800 miles longer than the Trans-Siberian railroad. The tunnel that the Chinese would help bore beneath the icy seas would be four times the length of what traverses the English Channel.

That's reason enough to be skeptical of the project, of which there are few details beyond what was attributed to the one official cited by the state-run Beijing Times.

Meanwhile, a report in the state-run China Daily insists the country does have the technology and means to complete a construction project of this scale, including another tunnel that would link the Chinese province of Fujian with nearby Taiwan.

In the past half decade or so, China has embarked on an astonishing rail construction spree, laying down tens of thousands of miles tracks and launching myriad high-speed lines. It has signaled its intent to build a "New Silk Road" -- a heavy-duty freight network through Central Asia that would connect with Europe via rail rather than the old caravans that once bridged West and East. A map that appeared on Xinhua's news site outlines the route below, alongside a parallel vision for a "maritime Silk Road."

SilkRoad - map

Screengrab from


While some of its neighbors watch China's rise warily, the main plank of Beijing's soft power pitch has always been its stated desire to improve economic ties and trade with virtually everyone.

"China’s wisdom for building an open world economy and open international relations is being drawn on more and more each day," trumpets the Xinhua report that accompanies the map above, according to the Diplomat.

To that end, Beijing has assiduously resurrected the narrative of the ancient Silk Road as well as given prime billing to the tales of China's famed Ming dynasty treasure fleets, which sailed all across the Indian Ocean. Seen in such grand historic perspective, a tunnel to Alaska doesn't seem too far-fetched.


Rural communities could get shortchanged as FCC moves to erode Internet network neutrality

Network neutrality, or "net neutrality," prescribes equal treatment for users of the Internet; there is no "fast lane." Companies cannot pay extra to have their web pages load faster, but that could change, and wouldn't be good news for rural America, Edyael Casaperalta writes for the Daily Yonder.

The Federal Communications Commission said last week that it consider "new rules on Internet traffic that would allow broadband providers to charge companies a premium for access to their fastest lanes," as The Wall Street Journal reported. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said the FCC won't vote and release the rules until May 15, but would act with transparency, and Internet providers would not be able prioritize certain content or block any legal content. Some groups are not too confident the results will be favorable. The Daily Kos is even asking people to sign a petition. "The FCC will consider this "pay-to-play" rule on May 15th, so let's nip it in the bud now," the Daily Kosreports.

The Washington Post noted in February that the agency has "a trump card" to hang over the head of Internet providers: reclassifying them "as regulated utilities under Title II of the Communications Act. Doing so would entitle the FCC to reinstate all the old rules about traffic blocking and discrimination that were just eliminated by the court."

Net neutrality matters, but not many rural people have joined the discussion, which may be because rural and Native American communities still comprise the majority of those who cannot access telecommunications services, Casaperalta writes. Of the 19 million Americans who do not have access to fixed broadband networks, 14.5 million live in rural areas, and almost a third live in tribal lands, according to the FCC's latest Broadband Progress Report.

"Net-neutrality advocates fear that without rules in place, big companies like Netflix, Disney, and ESPN could gain advantage over their competitors by paying ISPs to provide preferential treatment to their company's data," writes Brad Chacos for PC World. The net neutrality debate has been going on for years. In 2010, the FCC passed rules that earned them criticism from both the liberals and right-wingers. The Daily Beast's headline said that that ruling "boils down to one fact: there will soon be a fast Internet for the rich and a slow Internet for the poor."

Meanwhile, the FCC also announced last week that it was planning to raise the standard download speed that can be called broadband to 10 megabits from 4 megabits. "This is a great step! But there’s a chance weaker net-neutrality rules will compromise the ability of rural communities to enjoy these faster speeds. What good are faster speeds if the information rural people want is stuck in the cheaper slow lane?" Casaperalta writes.

Written by Melissa Landon   Posted at 4/30/2014 11:01:00 AM

May 8, 2014

EKU RN-BSN program now 100% online


by Jerry Wallace

RICHMOND, Ky. -- As more and more employers require registered nurses to continue their education, Eastern Kentucky University is preparing to meet the needs of working nurses by offering its widely known, fully accredited RN-BSN program 100 percent online in Fall 2014.

EKU has offered quality nursing programs on its main campus for generations and has served as a catalyst for positive change through distance education by providing classes across central and eastern Kentucky.

As a pioneer in the use of interactive television as a medium to expand educational opportunities, Eastern’s Department of Baccalaureate and Graduate Nursing played a significant role in enhancing the quality of health care in rural Kentucky.

In Spring 2013, the University began offering numerous online degrees in nursing, including the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree as well as MSN and post MSN certificate options in Family Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, Nursing Administration and Family Nurse Practitioner, and Public Health. More than 250 students are now enrolled in those programs. Program Coordinator Dr. Beverly Hart attributes the success in large part to the faculty’s hands-on approach to online learning and their commitment to students’ engagement and achievement

“The faculty set high expectations, serve as role models, and provide needed support throughout the program,” said EKU Nursing student Bridget Roberts.

Hart said that the Online RN-BSN program will offer the progressive, stimulating curricular opportunities students expect from EKU Nursing programs in a format that is convenient to adult learners. Students can choose from a full-time option that allows them to graduate in as little as one year or a part-time option that will take just under two years to complete. They will receive credit for prior learning and have the convenience of completing their clinical projects in their own community.

A one-day optional orientation session will take place on the Richmond campus Aug. 15. Students will have the opportunity to meet their instructors and advisers, get to know each other and participate in a workshop to build their computer skills in preparation for Fall courses.

EKU Nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. They also incorporate the standards of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, including evidence-based practice and professional nursing communication and collaboration.

Applications are due July 15. Classes begin Aug. 19. For more information, visit or call 859-622-8560.

Consistently recognized as having some of the nation’s best online degree programs, Eastern Kentucky University strives to make quality education accessible to everyone. EKU is an accredited, brick-and-mortar institution celebrating more than 100 years of student success. EKU Online offers more than 25 undergraduate and graduate degree options in a variety of fields, representing Arts & Sciences, Education, Justice & Safety and Health Sciences.

MONDAY, APRIL 07, 2014

Businesses that rely on high-speed Internet leave major cities to get cheaper, better service;

While some rural areas continue to lack broadband access, a new trend is emerging among businesses whose survival relies on faster Internet speed. Several are closing up shop in metropolitan areas and heading for smaller cities and towns that offer high-speed, fiber-optic cable connections at better prices and better availablity, Kate Murphy reports for Personal Tech.

In the U.S. only 7.7 percent of broadband subscribers have fiber connections, which are 100 times faster than wired or wireless service, Murphy writes. Surprisingy, some of the best places to get fiber is outside major metro areas. That has resulted in businesses in places like Seattle, Los Angeles and Denver relocating to towns like Lafayette, La., Chattanooga, Tenn., Wilson, N.C., Kansas City, Kan., and Mount Vernon, Wash.

"These digital carpetbaggers aren’t just leaving behind jittery Netflix streams and aggravating waits for Twitter feeds to refresh. They are positioning themselves to be more globally competitive and connected," Murphy writes. With optic fiber "web pages load instantly. Video and sound are more realistic. And giant amounts of data can be transferred at the speed of light."

While companies save money on fiber, small towns are benefiting from an increase in economy due to the new businesses, Murphy writes. Wilson, whose economy has suffered after the loss of North Carolina's tobacco and manufacturing jobs, has seen its economy grow from offering fiber, with one Los Angeles company relocating to Wilson, where they now get fiber for $150 per month, compared to $1,500 to $3,000 per month around Los Angeles.

Another business owner, Eric Blank, moved his 20-employee information security firm from Seattle to Mount Vernon, Wash., where his cost of service not only dropped from $985 a month to $250 a month, but the connection is much faster, Murphy writes. Plus, small town life is easier for the business. Blank told Murphy, “The fiber connection is the only reason we are in Mount Vernon and the customer service isn’t bad because all you have to do is walk down the street and knock on the door at City Hall.” (Read more)