Mao Zedong, Probiotics, and the History of Rosh Hashanah—In The News 9/10/18


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 September 10, 2018, and their accompanying lectures on The Great Courses Plus

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The Terrible Tragedy of 9/11
September 11 marks the date of one of the most catastrophic and heartbreaking attacks on U.S. soil in history. With almost 3,000 fatalities and $10 billion in damage, the events of 9/11 continue to influence us even today. Relive the timeline and review the influence the terrorist attack has had on our ideas of security, politics, and world relations.

The Making of a Judge
The confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court nominee, Brett M. Kavanaugh, have uncovered very few distinct points of view on his opinions when it comes to controversial issues such as abortion and the current investigation surrounding President Trump. Take a deep dive into two landmark Supreme Court cases: Roe v. Wade and the Watergate tapes case of Nixon v. United States to see why these issues matter.

L’Shanah Tovah
Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) began at sunset on Sunday, Sept. 9 and ends at nightfall on Tuesday, Sept. 11. This is one of the most important holidays in the Jewish calendar and is packed with mitzvahs, special foods, and traditions. Yom Kippur—the Day of Atonement—marks the culmination of the 10 Days of Awe, a period of introspection and repentance that follows Rosh Hashanah. Learn more about the lunisolar calendar and why it is so important in the Jewish tradition.

Bell of the Ball
Jocelyn Bell Burnell was famously excluded from the 1974 Nobel Prize in Physics after discovering pulsars in the 1960s. Her thesis advisor, Anthony Hewish, was credited and awarded the prize for the discovery of the first pulsars, sharing the honor with fellow astronomer, Martin Ryle. Now, more than 30 years later, at the age of 75, Bell Burnell has been awarded a $3 million Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics. She will use the prize money to set up a special scholarship fund to counter “unconscious bias” in the physics community. Uncover exactly what these pulsars are and what part Bell Burnell played in this discovery.

Are There Pros to Probiotics?
It’s recently been postulated that probiotics are not only NOT as good for us as we’ve been led to believe but may actually hurt our digestive systems. Explore the truths behind probiotics: what they are and whether they help with issues like tooth decay and irritable bowel syndrome.

State of Our Nation
On Sept. 9, 1776, the Continental Congress formally changed the name of our nation to the “United States of America” rather than “The United Colonies”. Virginian Richard Henry Lee wrote, “Resolved, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states.” Look back at the events that led to the formation of our country.

The Lasting Legacy of Mao
On Sept. 9, 1976, at the age of 82, Mao Zedong died from complications of Parkinson’s disease in Beijing, China. Review the complex and contradictory figure of Mao, key events of his early life, and his revolutionary embrace of violence and ruthlessness.

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.