Zombie colleges make a digital comeback

During the recent episode of The Excerpt podcast: Chris Quintana, an Investigative Education Reporter at USA TODAY, sheds light on the emergence of online zombie colleges. President Joe Biden pledges to withhold arms from Israel in case of a significant incursion into Rafah. The introduction of a new COVID-19 variant named FLiRT is also discussed. Furthermore, Charles Trepany, the Wellness Reporter at USA TODAY, delves into the appeal of rage rituals among women. In other news, the Olympic flame has made its arrival in Marseille.

Click play on the podcast player below to listen in and read the transcript following it.This transcript has been automatically generated and edited for better comprehension. Discrepancies between the audio and text may exist.

Explore More Podcasts: Discover true crime stories, in-depth interviews, and more exciting USA TODAY podcasts here.

Taylor Wilson:

Greetings, it’s Taylor Wilson, and today is Thursday, May 9th, 2024. Welcome to The Excerpt.

Today’s highlights include the surge of online zombie colleges, updates on ceasefire discussions in Cairo, and a closer look at rage rituals.

The resurgence of closed colleges in the online domain is a perplexing phenomenon. I had a discussion with Chris Quintana, an Investigative Education Reporter with USA TODAY, to delve into the realm of zombie colleges. Chris, thanks for joining us.

Chris Quintana:

It’s a pleasure to be here.

Taylor Wilson:

Chris, the tale of these resurrected zombie colleges on the internet is truly intriguing. What insights can you share about these defunct institutions that have now found new life online?

Chris Quintana:

The saga began with an unexpected tip concerning Stratford University, a shuttered educational institution. Alumni raised concerns about the university’s seeming revival on the web. Investigating further uncovered a network of former closed universities operating under new digital guises.

Taylor Wilson:

Looking at potential motives for the creation of these fraudulent websites, what can be discerned?

Chris Quintana:

The motives behind these resurrected online colleges remain shrouded in mystery. Speculation suggests monetization avenues such as application fees and personal data mining. Identity theft concerns have also been raised. The complex web of deceit intertwined with these institutions poses a challenge in unraveling the true intents.

Taylor Wilson:

Is there any visible connection or coherence between these phantom colleges and their web presence?

Chris Quintana:

The interconnections between these entities are multifaceted and sometimes subtly woven. Shared accreditors, replicated program structures, and common visual motifs hint at a networked operation. Parallels in application forms and content further muddy the investigative waters.

Taylor Wilson:

Initiating an application to one of these closed schools led to some startling discoveries. What unfolded during this process?

Chris Quintana:

Submitting an application unraveled a convoluted web of responses and redirections. Initial acceptance notifications from one entity morphed into bizarre correspondences from an entirely different college. The financial demands for accelerated degree programs hinted at the underlying motives driving this elaborate ruse.

Taylor Wilson:

What’s the regulatory landscape like in combating these deceitful practices, and what hurdles hinder enforcement?

Chris Quintana:

The regulatory landscape faces hurdles due to the defunct nature of these institutions. Legal constraints necessitate an active entity for legal action. Identifying the perpetrators and enforcing legal measures pose formidable obstacles. Despite ongoing investigations, the opacity surrounding the culprits lingers.

Taylor Wilson:

Offering advice on identifying such virtual schemes, what tips can you share?

Chris Quintana:

Simple checks like verifying the institutional address on mapping platforms and scrutinizing the domain (.edu for accredited institutions) can help weed out dubious online colleges. Staying informed and vigilant is crucial in navigating the online educational space.

Taylor Wilson:

Chris Quintana, Investigative Education Reporter at USA TODAY, thank you for your illuminating insights. Your work sheds light on an intricate web of deceptive practices. Much appreciated, Chris.

Chris Quintana:

Thank you for having me.

Taylor Wilson:

President Joe Biden’s bold stance on withholding arms from Israel in case of a significant Rafah incursion has drawn attention. Amid escalating tensions, Israel’s military actions have sparked international concern. Ceasefire deliberations in Cairo continue amidst the escalating conflict.

A novel strain of the COVID-19 virus dubbed FLiRT has surfaced, dominating the landscape of infectious variants. According to CDC data, this variant, designated KP.2, accounts for a considerable portion of cases in the US, signaling a shift in the viral landscape. Concerns regarding the mutated spike protein and vaccination rates underpin discussions surrounding this emerging threat.

Delving into the realm of rage rituals, where women are embracing unconventional methods to manage pent-up emotions, Charles Trepany sheds light on this intriguing phenomenon. Exploring the therapeutic nature of these rituals, the appeal and potential impact on mental well-being are scrutinized.

Charles Trepany:

Thanks for immersing me in this topic.

Taylor Wilson:

Charles, the concept of rage rituals is captivating. Could you provide a glimpse into what these rituals entail?

Charles Trepany:

Rage rituals offer a cathartic outlet for emotional release akin to rage rooms. Held amidst natural settings, participants unleash their pent-up frustrations through symbolic acts of destruction. Venting anger through physical actions serves as a transformative experience for many seeking solace in unconventional avenues.

Taylor Wilson:

What are the testimonials from individuals who have undergone these intriguing rituals?

Charles Trepany:

Engaging with participants reveals diverse experiences ranging from profound introspection to cathartic release. The ritualistic process fosters emotional breakthroughs, unearthing suppressed emotions and fostering healing. Witnessing transformations post-ritual underscores the therapeutic value these unconventional practices offer.

Taylor Wilson:

Addressing mental health professionals’ perspectives, how do they view the efficacy of rage rituals?

Charles Trepany:

Therapists acknowledge the merit of anger release as a vital component of emotional well-being. While alternative methods exist, the essence of purging pent-up emotions remains central. Integrating rage rituals within a broader mental health framework advocates for diverse approaches to emotional catharsis.

Moreover, financial considerations amid the rising popularity of such rituals highlight the need for balanced indulgence while prioritizing overall well-being.

Taylor Wilson:

Reflecting on the alignment of rage rituals with women’s experiences, what insights have surfaced regarding women’s resonance with these practices?

Charles Trepany:

Rage rituals resonate deeply with women grappling with societal expectations surrounding anger expression and emotional release. Offering a safe outlet for venting and processing emotions, these rituals empower women to reclaim agency over their emotional well-being. The gendered dynamics of anger and expression find solace and liberation in the immersive experiences sculpted by these rituals.

Taylor Wilson:

Charles Trepany, Wellness Reporter at USA TODAY, your exploration of rage rituals opens a window into a nuanced realm of emotional release. Thank you for sharing your insights. Until next time, Charles.

Charles Trepany:

Thank you.

Taylor Wilson:

Continuing the Olympic flame’s journey, Marseille becomes the latest destination on its symbolic odyssey. Anticipation mounts as the torch weaves its way across France and beyond, building excitement ahead of the Paris games. Join us as we follow this ceremonial relay culminating in a grand spectacle in the City of Light.

Stay tuned for an upcoming episode of The Excerpt featuring Dr. Leah Orchinik, a pediatric psychologist. Discover how the digitally interconnected generation navigates contemporary challenges. Tune in later today at 4 PM Eastern Time to explore this enlightening conversation.

Thank you for tuning in to The Excerpt. Access our podcast on your preferred platforms and smart devices for more engaging content. See you tomorrow with further insights from USA TODAY. I’m Taylor Wilson, signing off.

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