Presidential Investigations, Neanderthal DNA, and Hurricane Season—In the News 8/27/18


In a fast-moving, ever-shifting world, news is continuously breaking. The Great Courses is here to help you understand full story behind the soundbites. Here are a handful of stories from the week of August 27, 2018, and their accompanying lectures on The Great Courses Plus

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Presidential Panics
With the recent turn of events regarding Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen, a number of comparisons have been made between the events and actions surrounding Watergate and the current investigation of President Trump. Only time will tell if current events consist of mass political conspiracies or if this is history repeating itself. In the meantime, refresh your memory about the details of Watergate to form your own informed opinion on the matter.

Genome Game
Analysis of the DNA in a bone fragment unearthed in 2012 by Russian archeologists revealed that the chromosomes were a 50-50 mix of Neanderthal and Denisovan, two distinct species of early humans. While researchers speculated that these two groups of ancient humans may have interbred, this is the first direct offspring proven to result from the pairing. Learn about the ancient species and discover how as much as 30 to 40 percent of the Neanderthal genome may be spread through the human population today.

Wild Weather
The Central Pacific gets few named hurricanes and tropical storms—about one every four years. And even then, only two hurricanes have made landfall in Hawaii since the 1950s. Plot the historical tracks of these gigantic storms, sharpen your understanding of what areas are more prone to these storms, and why Hurricane Lane is such a rarity for the region.

Mysterious Moon
Scientists have found definitive evidence of water ice on the surface of the moon. Previously, satellites proved that water exists within the Moon, but not necessarily on the Moon’s surface. The confirmed existence of lunar surface ice opens the door to a new level of speculation and opportunity. Explore how the moon formed and the theories we had prior to actual lunar samples.  

Measles Mania
Measles-vaccination rates in some European countries have often fallen below those in parts of Africa, so it may not be surprising that with 41,000 confirmed cases and 37 deaths, a measles outbreak has hit a record high in Europe. What drives the decision to not get a vaccine? Look at the myths surrounding the safety of vaccines—including the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and its false link to autism in children.

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.