March 1, 2024

HIV-Positive Patient Cleared of AIDS, Chevron and Exxon Go Big on Shale, and More—This Week in the News

Author: The Great Courses
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In a fast-moving, ever-shifting world, news is continuously breaking. The Great Courses is here to help you understand the full story behind the soundbites. Here are a handful of stories for the week of March 4, 2019, and their accompanying lectures on The Great Courses Plus.

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Second HIV-Positive Patient Cleared of AIDS Virus
Three years after he received a bone marrow transplant from an HIV-resistant donor, an HIV-positive man in Britain has become the second known adult worldwide to be cleared of the AIDS. This breakthrough is long overdue given this disease has affected 33 million—3 million of which are children. Learn the scientific facts behind this virus and why it was so difficult to find a vaccine or cure.

Unpaid Taxes Results in Seizing and Selling of Family Pug
A German city seized a woman’s pug because she owed the local government money, then sold the pet via eBay’s classified section. While the seizure and sale were legal by the standards of this German city, this was the first time an animal had been taken by the city over debts. Learn how the United States views takings and eminent domain: what constitutes a “taking” of private property and see how the Supreme Court has struggled with interpreting the Takings Clause.

Chevron, Exxon Go Big on Shale
Exxon Mobil and Chevron announce plans for big increases in oil and natural gas production from the Permian Basin, the top U.S. shale field, with Exxon aiming to produce 1 million barrels a day by 2024 and Chevron targeting 900,000 barrels per day by end of 2023. Look at some of the newest trends in oil and gas production, the difference between conventional and unconventional oil, the geology of oil sands and oil shales, and the risks of fracking.

Man Faked His Own Abduction to Avoid Gambling Payout
Owing $50,000 in a championship football squares game payout, a New York man faked his own abduction and robbery to avoid paying what he owed. What happens when kidnappings go wrong? Get the answers with historical examples including the Black September kidnapping of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics and recent cases that illustrate how today’s technology is helping thwart infant abductions.

Woman Wins $10K by Reading Fine Print on Insurance Policy
It pays to read the fine print in any contract and a woman from Georgia demonstrated this by winning $10,000 in a secret contest, reading the fine print of her new insurance policy. While you may not win $10K by reading the fine print of contracts for loans or credit cards, you can benefit in other ways. Take some of the fear out of contracts by delving into the basic structure of car loans and credit card statements.

World’s Largest Bee Is Spotted for First Time Since 1981  
On an island of Indonesia, the Wallace’s giant bee—Megachile pluto—was spotted for the first time in decades. Females have been measured up to at least an inch and a half long, with a tongue that’s nearly an inch long. Explore adaptations of some of the most important insects on our planet, including ants, bees, and butterflies.

Alex Trebek Announces Stage-4 Pancreatic Cancer
Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek revealed that he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, about 1.6 percent of Americans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in their lifetimes. First, examine the endocrine functions of the pancreas—which produces insulin and glucagon. Then, explore the new avenues of cancer treatments that are at the frontiers of science.

Court of Law Rules The Oxford Comma as Necessary
Drivers for Oakhurst Dairy sued the company over its failure to grant them overtime pay due to ambiguity in the wording of the rules—specifically a lack of a comma before the word “or” that changed the presentation of activities that were exempt from overtime pay. The judge maintained that without that comma, the distinction was not clear-cut and favored the drivers, costing the dairy an estimated $10 million.Punctuation shapes and clarifies meaning, and it organizes language on the page. Review the modern rules regarding the punctuation marks that structure sentences: commas, semicolons, colons, and dashes.

Did You Spring Ahead?
For 2019, daylight saving time began Sunday, March 10, at 2 a.m. and ends at 2 a.m., Sunday Nov. 3. But if we can “arbitrarily” move time, how do we really measure the passing of it? Look at how the notion of keeping time has developed through history.

We will be diligently monitoring current events and sharing updates on a regular basis, linking the latest headlines to our courses, so you can get the context, history, background, deeper meaning, and—especially—the facts. Our goal is to help our lifelong learners apply the knowledge they gain from our courses to the real world and become better-informed citizen about the present-day issues that concern us all.

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