Berkeley in the News

Berkeley in the News is a daily selection of articles and commentaries in the news media that mention UC Berkeley. The views and opinions expressed in these articles do not necessarily reflect the official policies or positions of the campus.

Friday, 19 December 2014

1. This is the final edition of Berkeley in the News for 2014. Publication will resume January 5, 2015.

2. Wonkblog: The surprising link between things that make us happy and things that save energy
Washington Post Online (*requires registration)

A new study by doctoral energy and resources student Joseph Kantenbacher offers insight into the relationship between happiness-inducing activities and energy savings. Analyzing how people use their time when they’re not working, he identified activities that tend to use a lot of energy (per unit of time), and those that use little. "A number of the least energy intensive activities that I found -- sleeping, socializing, hobbies, and so forth -- are enriching personally," he says. "So they make people happy to do them, but they also are relatively low consuming activities."
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3. Birds 'heard tornadoes coming' and fled one day ahead
BBC News

A team led by postdoctoral environmental science, policy and management fellow Henry Streby has discovered that golden-winged warblers were able to sense an approaching storm system long before significant changes in barometric pressure occurred in their environment. The scientists made the discovery while experimentally placing tiny electronic sensors on the wee birds to see if their migrations could be tracked. The sensors worked so well that the researchers were able to note that the birds had fled their breeding ground in the Appalachian Mountains to the Gulf of Mexico a day or two -- and 250 to 600 miles -- ahead of a deadly supercell system that would later develop into 84 tornadoes. "This was just a pilot season for a larger study that we're about to start," Streby says. "These are very tiny songbirds -- they weigh about nine grams. ... The fact that they came back with the geolocators was supposed to be the great success of this season. Then this happened!" Stories on this topic appeared in dozens of sources around the world, including the Atlantic, Guardian, National Geographic, Tech Times, CBS News Online, Voice of America, and KGO Radio--link to audio.
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4. Satellite maps global carbon dioxide levels
Nature Magazine

NASA's carbon-monitoring satellite -- Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) -- was launched in July and is now successfully transmitting high-quality CO2 data back to Earth. OCO-2 has "the sharpest eyes in the sky,” atmospheric science professor Inez Fung says. This story also appeared in Scientific American.
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5. Fixing the broken talent flow
Washington Post (*requires registration)

A story about the decline of the middle class mentions that a team of researchers from Harvard and Berkeley has found the U.S. regions with the largest middle classes are the ones with the most upward economic mobility.
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6. Sunday Review: Why Are Our Schools Still Segregated?
New York Times (*requires registration)

A commentary about the continuing shame of segregated schools in the U.S. cites associate public policy professor Rucker C. Johnson, who found in a 2014 study that students who spend their childhoods in segregated schools can look forward to a life on the margins. That would include being more likely to be poor, more likely to go to jail, and less likely to graduate from high school, go to college or graduate from college if they do attend. They are also more likely to live in segregated neighborhoods as adults, and their children are more likely to attend segregated schools, thereby repeating the cycle.
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7. Code Switch Blog: The Walkout Protest: Past And Present
NPR Online

A story about recent national walkouts protesting police brutality discusses some of the history of walkouts in student activism. In early March 1968, more than 15,000 students, of primarily Mexican descent, walked out of high schools in East Los Angeles in a series of demonstrations demanding bilingual and bicultural education programs, changes in curriculum to teach a more complete history of Mexican-American contributions and people, and the hiring of more teachers and staff of Mexican descent. Ethnic Studies Professor Emeritus Carlos Muńoz was one of the 13 organizers subsequently arrested on conspiracy charges. "Political issues of Mexican-Americans came on the agendas of local, state and federal governments," he says. "We were 'discovered,' and we expanded the paradigm of race in this country." The walkouts were one the first major protests by Mexican-Americans and helped launch the Chicano civil rights movement.
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8. Berkeley effigies' powerful racial message was hurt by unclear intent
Los Angeles Times

Columnist Robin Abcarian says that the "powerful message" behind an anonymous artist group's installation of lynched effigies on campus in a statement about police brutality in Missouri and New York was "muted, if not canceled out, by the unclear intent." She quotes Rev. Michael McBride, of the Way Christian Center, who said he rushed to campus Saturday after a tearful student called to tell him about the effigies. "As their pastor and a surrogate parent to many of them, I think it was deeply insensitive and inappropriate," he said, noting that -- at very least -- the Black Student Union deserved advance notice. What would have happened, he asked, "if swastikas started popping up everywhere and were intended to be a teachable tool to remind people about the Holocaust but no one was there to associate them with the lesson?"
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9. Black folks in nature
KALW Local Public Radio

A story about studies showing that African Americans don't enjoy national parks and other types of recreation in nature as much as people of other ethnicities quotes assistant environmental science, policy and management professor Carolyn Finney, author of Black Faces, White Spaces. "In terms of the majority culture in the United States setting a narrative and tone about the environment and the way we should think about and relate to it," she says, "we black and brown folks have largely been left out of that mainstream conversation.” Noting a study she conducted finding poor representation of blacks in Outdoor magazine photographs, she says blacks do get outside, just not in conventional ways. “People tell me all the time ‘black people don’t have a relationship with wild spaces’. But when I start talking about fishing, ears perk up. And the stories unfold. Memories are released." Link to audio.
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10. A Man of Character — First Asian American chancellor fell victim to US’ fear of China
Northwest Asian Weekly

This article tells the story of former President Bill Clinton's decision to remove the name of former Berkeley chancellor Chang-Lin Tien from his shortlist for Secretary of Energy -- an appointment that would have represented a first for an Asian American serving in a U.S. Cabinet post. The year was 1996, and a breaking campaign finance scandal raised widespread fear that China had influenced the election, making the appointment politically unfeasible. Chancellor Tien "didn’t try to blame anybody,” his former chief of staff John Cummins said, noting that the chancellor -- in typical fashion -- took the loss with “great magnanimity.” The author writes: "Tien had gotten caught up in something larger than himself. UC Berkeley’s beloved chancellor had become, not for the first or last time, a token of the geopolitical tension between the United States and China. 10 years after Tien’s death, recently obtained FBI documents and interviews with some of his family and closest associates show that thoughTien opened doors for minorities with his enormous success as a scientist and an educator, he was nevertheless a lightning rod for a fear of China that consumed the United States in the latter half of the 20th century."
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11. NewsHour: How economic theory can help stop sexual assault
PBS Online

Callisto, an online sexual assault reporting system currently under development at the nonprofit Sexual Health Innovations, could provide improved reporting options for victims of sexual assault on college campuses. The project arose from an idea of "information escrows," proposed by a Yale economist and Cait Unkovic, a Berkeley graduate student. Because the reporting of misbehavior is often difficult or costly for the victims, the idea is that reporting might increase if people had the option to report to a third party who would make the disclosure only if others also reported misconduct by the same individual.
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12. New rules for a rule-maker? Scandal-rocked utilities commission struggles with leadership challenge
San Francisco Business Times (*requires registration)

A story about the "scandal-racked" California Public Utilities Commission and Gov. Jerry Brown's expected appointment of a new commission president quotes law lecturer Steve Weissman, a former CPUC lawyer, staffer and administrative law judge now at Berkeley's Center for Law, Energy and the Environment. He says the commission "is one of the outliers" nationally in placing few limits on informal communications between the regulators and the regulated. "It's like a small town with a certain number of lawyers and judges," he said, "so you see the pattern of their decisions." So far, he adds, it's clear "that in most other places commissioners believe they can make well-reasoned decisions without ex parte (back-channel or private) communications."
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13. Op-Ed: Insider trading is the coin of the realm
San Francisco Chronicle

Public policy professor Robert Reich writes about confidential information as the "coin of the realm in securities markets" and a key factor in insider trading and inequality in America. He says: "Major players on Wall Street have been making tons of money not because they’re particularly clever but because they happen to be in the 'realm' where a lot of coins come their way." He concludes: "None of this would be a problem if the only goal were economic efficiency. The faster financial markets adjust to all available information, confidential or not, the more efficient they become. ... But the ability to profit off inside information that’s not available to average investors strikes many as unfair. The 'coin of the realm' on Wall Street and in corporate boardrooms is contributing to the savage inequalities of American life. ... If Congress and the SEC wanted to reverse this and remove one of the largest privileges of 'the realm,' they could. But they won’t, because those who enjoy those privileges also have a great deal of political power."
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14. Five ways to beat holiday depression
Miami Herald

A round-up of strategies for conquering holiday depression notes that Berkeley research indicates serving others improves physical health and longevity while decreasing stress.
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15. Year in Review: Mark Swed's best classical moments of 2014
Los Angeles Times

Classical music critic Mark Swed notes that half of this year's top 10 classic music events involved early music. "The relevance of Bach and Handel in particular but other Baroque masters as well can be — and this year was — uncanny," he writes. "That's reason to rejoice." Among the highlights was a Cal Performances presentation. "In the spring at Berkeley, Mark Morris turned Handel's 'Acis and Galatea' into a danced opera full of joy," he says.
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16. The It List: Five Things to do in Berkeley this weekend
Berkeleyside

A farewell party at The Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive on Bancroft Way is highlighted as an activity this weekend. The celebration takes place Sunday, Dec. 21, as the museum begins its slow transition to a new building, currently under construction, at the foot of campus. The free, all-day event will include music, dance battles, performance art, and a create-your-own-museum art workshop. The revel will end with a procession from the old building to the site of the new one. Another story on this topic appeared in the San Jose Mercury News.
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