Legalized Marijuana, Middle Eastern Relations, and More—In the News 10/22/18


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 from the week of October 22, 2018, and their accompanying lectures on The Great Courses Plus

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The Genealogical Proof Standard
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren’s DNA test—overseen and analyzed by Stanford University geneticist Carlos Bustamante—concluded with “high confidence” that she has Native American ancestry. Yet, a collection of leading geneticists claim it’s scientifically impossible to know this. Take an in-depth look at the Genealogical Proof Standard, the five-step process that certified genealogists use for proving ancestral identities, relationships, life events, and other biographical details.

The Modern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist who wrote critically of the kingdom and royal family for The Washington Post, has been missing since entering the consulate on October 2. Saudi Arabia’s leadership has denied the allegations of involvement. Consider some of the turning points of Middle Eastern history, specifically the pact between a desert ruler and a religious reformer that initiated a structure of political and religious power that continues to dominate the modern kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Canada Begins a National Experiment
As the first major world economy to legalize marijuana, Canada will be in the global spotlight to see how well it works. It’s not a decision they are taking lightly, however, as there are many open questions to deal with, including how to educate citizens about the risks of addiction. Through the lens of the neuroscientist, tour the effects, and the possible medicinal value, of marijuana.

Meghan Markle Confirms Pregnancy
The Duchess of Sussex is expecting a baby in the spring of 2019. Review the history of royalty with a look back at the 14-year dominance over English politics and government of George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, who rose to be the principal favorite of both James I and his son, Charles I.

New Illness Has the CDC Baffled
Sudden muscle weakness and paralysis have been affecting young children. The symptoms are strikingly like some other viral diseases affecting the nervous system like polio, West Nile virus, and adenoviruses. However, experts haven’t pinned down a cause. Is this the next pandemic that might threaten the very survival of humanity? Learn more about infectious diseases.

Paul Allen’s Legacy
Paul Allen passed away due to complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He was the co-founder of Microsoft and was integral in launching the personal computing revolution. Learn how celebrated entrepreneurs such as Bill Gates selected key managers, including Allen.

Opioid Epidemic Is Getting Worse
The opioid epidemic was declared a national public health emergency in October 2017, but progress has been slow in reversing rates of opioid misuse. Join Professor Thad Polk and explore the causes behind the use of opioids that has seen an upswing in popularity after pharmaceutical companies and doctors advocated their use for chronic pain in the 1990s.

Study Supports Standard Model of Particle Physics
Researchers at Northwestern, Harvard, and Yale universities examined the shape of an electron’s charge with unprecedented precision to confirm that it is perfectly spherical, strengthening the Standard Model of particle physics and excluding alternative models. Examine how in the 1960s and 1970s, physicists developed a comprehensive theory of known fermions and bosons. Now called the Standard Model, this theory fits an impressive amount of data.

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.