Minimum Wage Increases, Climate Concerns, and More—In The News 10/8/18


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 8, 2018, and their accompanying lectures on The Great Courses Plus

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Amazon Raises Minimum Wage
On Tuesday, Amazon announced it will be raising the minimum hourly wage for all U.S. employees of the company, while phasing out bonus and stock award programs. Survey the pluses and minuses of efficiency wages, piecework, milestone payments, commissions, promotions, stock options, and other incentives.

Did You Get a Presidential Alert?
FEMA sent a presidential alert on Wednesday at 2:18 p.m. ET. These alerts go out in the event of a national emergency, and users don’t have the option to disable them. However, not everyone received the test message. FEMA is encouraging the public to send information to [email protected] and include what device they use, their wireless provider, whether they were using their phone when the alert went out, and whether others nearby received the alert. Learn why cell phone service is sometimes so unpredictable as you explore the cellular network and discover how it works.

Indonesia Tragedy
The death toll from the recent 7.5-magnitude earthquake and 20-foot tsunami that struck theisland of Sulawesi continues to grow. Tsunami, or seismic sea waves, are generated when undersea earthquakes displace huge volumes of water, often with catastrophic results. Understand the physics of why abnormally high “rogue” waves form and the yearly toll they take.

Columbus Day
Monday, October 8, 2018 is Columbus Day, where we celebrate the landing of Christopher Columbus in the Americas in 1492. Take a new look at this famous explorer as you delve into the self-education of Columbus and the lead-up to his legendary voyages. Follow his travels and the impact of his “opening” of the New World.

Climate Change Concerns
Recent studies suggest that global warming could spin out of control in coming decades, with a potential 7-degree rise in global temperatures by 2100. If pushed too far, Earth’s systems can become unbalanced and reach tipping points, with consequences for climate and life that are difficult to predict. Examine the lessons of 850 million years ago, when the breakup of the Rodinia supercontinent caused a cascade of dramatic changes.

A new trade deal was struck between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which replaces NAFTA. The USMCA includes new policies on labor and environmental standards, intellectual property, and digital trade provisions. NAFTA was set up with the intention of lowering and eventually eliminating trade barriers and the results have had both positive and negative impacts. Discover more about the potential comparative advantages of free trade.

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.