Practice presentations: real-life situations

Choose a real-life situation from the following list for your 10 minute practice presentation.

1. Apple vs FBI

Apple is opposing a court order issued at the behest of the FBI to unlock an encrypted iPhone 5c used by the shooter who killed 14 people in San Bernardino, California, in December, beginning a showdown likely to fuel the political controversy surrounding privacy software.

2. Sean Penn interviews El Chapo

Author Don Winslow has spoken out about Sean Penn’s infamous interview with drugs baron Joaquín Guzmán, calling it “horribly misguided”. Winslow, who has written two books on the drugs war, penned a piece for Deadline, in which he described his disappointment with the Rolling Stone article that has been the centre of controversy. Penn’s secret meeting with Guzmán, also known as El Chapo, has been criticised, as the notorious drug trafficker was one of the most wanted men in the world. Guzmán was captured as the piece was published three months later.

“Penn’s article had nothing to do with the 40-year, trillion dollar failure that is the ‘war on drugs’ – it was instead a brutally simplistic and unfortunately sympathetic portrait of a mass murderer,” Winslow wrote. “Guzmán was never called to answer the hard questions. That’s a shame, because these questions need answers.” Winslow writes that he found the article to be “horribly misguided” for allowing Guzmán to brag about what he’s done rather than explain the crimes of which he has been accused.

“An entry-level journalist would have pushed Guzmán on the many millions of dollars in bribes he has paid to co-opt police, judges and politicians, about his treaty with the sadistic and hideously violent Zetas when it was convenient to him,” Winslow wrote. “Those questions might have wiped the smile off Guzmán’s face, which Penn reported he had for over seven hours during their interview.”

3. Holiday Starbucks Cups

Every year, Starbucks welcomes the holiday season with the introduction of its red holiday cup. The event is so popular and anticipated, it has even given rise to countdown clocks. More impressively, according to Starbucks, “within the first 48 hours of red Starbucks cups launching last year, a photo of a Starbucks holiday cup was shared on Instagram every 14 seconds.” In previous years, the Starbucks holiday cup has been red with a variety of holiday designs. This year, however, Starbucks decided to pursue a fresh new design and feature a cup that was solid red. Together with its ubiquitous green logo, it made for a very festive, if not minimalist, holiday nod.

According to the Starbuck’s vice president of design and content, “This year we wanted to usher in the holidays with a purity of design that welcomes all of our stories.” Unfortunately, not everyone was so happy about the design, and Starbucks quickly got chastised on social media, accused of being overly politically correct and aiming to destroying Christmas. As the dissent proliferated, the issue also gave rise to as many Starbucks supporters, or at least enough people to express their apathy toward the issue.

4. Movie Rental Arrest Warrant

A man was arrested this week for failing to return a copy of the film he’d rented from a video shop in 2002. Police in Concord, North Carolina, pulled over local man James Meyers on Tuesday while he was driving his daughter to school. An officer came to the driver’s window to tell him his brake light was faulty, asked for his licence, then took it back to the police car. Meyers waited for around 20 minutes for the officer to return – and when he did, he brought unexpected news.

“The guy brings me to the back of the car and goes: ‘Sir, I dont know how to tell you this but there’s a warrant for your arrest from 2002. Apparently you rented a movie and you never returned it.'”

The video store was a family owned operation in the city of Kannapolis, which has long since gone out of business. The officers let Meyers take his daughter to school and go to work – but asked him to present himself at the police department later that day.  When he did, he was arrested, put in handcuffs and taken to the magistrate’s office. Meyers is scheduled to appear in court on April 27th.

5. Tay the Nazi Bot

Microsoft was forced to offer a public apology for the sexist and racist statements of the AI program or Twitter chatbox, called Tay, after it had learned to tweet offensive statements. The AI chatbox compared feminism to cancer and stated that the holocaust did not happen. The Microsoft corporation stated that Tay was a program designed to become smarter through interaction, but certain users had interacted with it by encouraging it to spew hateful invective. It said in a blog post it would revive Tay only if its engineers could find a way to prevent Web users from influencing the chatbot in ways that undermine the company’s principles and values.

6. Boaty McBoatface

The National Environment Research Council (NERC) recently encouraged the public to vote on the name for their new polar research vessel, which will travel to the Antarctic Ocean to study ice sheets, currents and wildlife. The popular vote was for the joke name “Boaty McBoatface”. In actual fact, the NERC will not have to abide by the public vote. Boaty McBoatface is currently leading with more than 27,000 votes, while the second place pick trails with around 3,000. The names Pingu, Usain Boat and It’s Bloody Cold Here have also been put forward. Lord West told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It’s a typical thing of the Brits going mad – normally silly season, rather than this time of the year.” He said the NERC had only expected “marine research fans” to get involved.

7. Identifying Banksy

British academics have used a combinations of maths, criminology and geographic profiling to back up a theory over the identity of mysterious street artist Banksy. Scientists at Queen Mary University of London said the pattern of how Banksy’s artworks were distributed suggested he was artist Robin Gunningham. Gunningham was first named as Banksy by the Daily Mail newspaper in 2008. The research, published in the Journal of Spatial Science, analysed a series of locations of Banksy’s artworks in London and Bristol and mapped them against “anchor points” such as the homes of people suspected of being Banksy to draw conclusions about possible identity. “Our analysis highlights areas associated with one prominent candidate (eg his home), supporting his identification as Banksy,” the paper said.

8. The Legacy of Harper Lee

A cheap, mass-market edition of To Kill a Mockingbird will no longer be for sale following the death of Harper Lee. The estate of the late author announced that from now on only the more expensive trade paperback would be available. This will make it more difficult for schools to be able to afford the title, and will mean less students are likely to read the book. Though the estate have claimed that Harper Lee would have been happy with their decision, they have refused to release the details of her will.

9. Causes of the Zika Virus

As scientists race for answers about the Zika virus and its links to neurological disorders, rumours are filling the vacuum. Genetically modified (GM) mosquitoes, expired vaccines and more recently, the use of larvicide to stop mosquitoes from breeding, have all been blamed. Posts on social media expressing these theories have been widely shared – although rarely by respected scientists. And Brazil’s health authorities have been caught off guard, describing the frenzy as a “real information war” with a “complex scenario of actors, interests and worldviews”.

10. Tears of Joy Face

Every year, Oxford Dictionaries announces their “word of the year”. They chose the “tears of joy” emoji as their word of the year for 2015, sparking debate about what could be considered a word, and how emojis are shaping the way we use language.


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