September 30, 2023

Quicksand Escapes, Confronting Bullies, 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 February 18, 2019, and their accompanying lectures on The Great Courses Plus.

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One Hiker’s Exciting Quicksand Extrication
A hiker was trapped in quicksand for almost 10 hours at Zion National Park. Although a person cannot “drown” in quicksand, the frigid conditions and lack of cellphone reception made it extremely dangerous. After a helicopter rescue, one of the rescuers who found the hiker told him he was lucky to be alive. These stories of survival seem to be the subjects of cinematic scope, but they happen far more frequently than you might guess. For example, hear the gripping account of Australian Douglas Mawson’s 95-mile trek across Antarctic ice battling hunger, dire circumstances, and deadly crevasses, or read other real-life adventures.

Jussie Smollett’s Police Report Falls Apart
Empire actor Jussie Smollett faces felony charges of disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report about a homophobic and racist attack against him. Hoaxes, and false claims, are nothing new. Plunge into the history of some of the most shocking copycat crimes and hoaxes in history, including the discovery of a confounding “missing link” between humans and apes.

Is it Possible to be Healthy and Obese?
A four-pound weight gain since President Trump’s previous annual medical check-up last year makes him technically obese by the official definition of the term. Find out what the difference is between being obese and merely being overweight and learn why obesity has become such an epidemic.

A Father Physically Confronts His Stepdaughter’s Bully
A Texas man is facing a felony charge after he allegedly slapped his stepdaughter’s 12-year-old bully across the face. Bullying is on the rise, with a recent study released by the nonprofit group YouthTruth claiming one third of middle- and high-schoolers claim they were bullied. Learn about the long-term effects of bullying for both the target and the bully and gain practical strategies to use if your child is the target of bullying—or the one doing the bullying.

Covington Family Sues the Washington Post for Millions
The family of Nicholas Sandmann—the teenager from Covington Catholic High School who was filmed staring down a Native American protester—is suing The Washington Post for $250 million, claiming defamation. While defamation is a hard thing to prove, there’s truth in the alarming prospect that we may never be able to escape our past or reinvent ourselves once something is “out there.”

Russia Military Restricts Smartphone Use
In order to help mask military movement, Russia’s lower house of parliament passed a bill banning military personnel from posting about themselves or colleagues online and restricts the general use of smartphones. Examine privacy protections for data stored on cell phones and computers and look at how the Internet is blurring boundaries between home and work.   

U.S. Coast Guard Member Accused of Plotting Terrorist Attack
An internal Coast Guard program detected an insider threat through suspicious computer activity, resulting in the arrest of a U.S. Coast Guard member who had been planning a wide-scale domestic terrorist attack. Understand how terrorist attacks are plotted and executed, and how their psychological impact can be enormous.

Serial Returns as a Television Mini-Series
The popular true-crime podcast, Serial, was downloaded well over 100 million times and was a component in getting the defendant Adnan Syed a new trial. HBO is picking up where Serial left off, with a mini-series called, The Case Against Adnan Syed. A complicated case, full of secrets and lies, the truth may never be revealed, but that’s not uncommon with homicides, which are unique among crimes. Examine the pyramid of homicidal crimes, including involuntary manslaughter, second-degree murder, and first-degree murder. Also, consider several real-world examples that highlight the issue of culpability in homicide.

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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