Berkeley in the News

A daily selection of stories about UC Berkeley and higher education that have appeared in the local and national media.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

1. Berkeley in the News will be on hiatus from Thursday, April 17, until Monday, April 21.

2. Nancy Pelosi is UC Berkeley commencement speaker
San Jose Mercury News (*requires registration)

Chancellor Nicholas Dirks has announced that U.S. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi will deliver the 2014 commencement address at Memorial Stadium on May 17. "We are honored to welcome Nancy Pelosi to deliver the keynote address at our 2014 commencement," he said. "Leader Pelosi's groundbreaking career represents the very best in public service for our state, our country and the world. Our graduates will benefit greatly from her experience and wisdom as they set out to make their mark on the world."
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3. UC Berkeley students vie for Obama's keynote attention
San Jose Mercury News (*requires registration)

A team of Berkeley students is fighting hard to persuade President Obama to give the keynote commencement address at Berkeley in 2015. Undaunted by the president's recent announcement that he would give UC Irvine's commencement address, Junior Elias Saigali says: "There is a way to pull this off. … It's finding that way and finding a way to execute it perfectly."
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4. Congresswoman urges better protections against campus sexual assault
Los Angeles Times

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Hillsborough) visited UC Berkeley yesterday to meet with students and discuss new ways of fighting sexual assault on college campuses. She announced plans to introduce federal legislation to toughen laws and said she would press for more aggressive action against sexual assault. “The prevalence of sexual assault on campuses is an epidemic,” Speier said in an interview. “It’s going to take money, resources, enforcement and a dramatic change in the culture” to fix. She appeared with six students who have filed federal complaints, and they said they were encouraged by a meeting they had on Monday with Chancellor Nicholas Dirks. "He gave us a chance to talk to him, which no administrator has ever done," Sofie Karasek said. “It was really quite a shock -- he was very polite." Spokeswoman Claire Holmes said the university would continue to strengthen its efforts against sexual assault. "We know we can get better, and we are committed to improving in any way we can,” she said. Other stories on this topic aired on KGO TV and KNTV -- link to videos.
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5. Cal hires Tennessee's Cuonzo Martin as men's basketball coach
San Francisco Chronicle

Former Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin has been appointed Mike Montgomery's successor as the Cal men's basketball coach. Moments after his confirmation Tuesday morning, Kingsley Okoroh, a 7-foot-1 center who had committed to Tennessee tweeted that he'd be coming to Cal instead. Coach Martin will have a five-year contract. His experience includes six years as a head coach on the NCAA Division I level, with a 63-41 record in three seasons at Tennessee and a 61-41 record for three seasons at Missouri State. He played at Purdue under Gene Keady and had a brief professional career before he started coaching at his alma mater in 2000. Stories on this topic appeared in hundreds of sources nationwide, including ESPN (link to video), Contra Costa Times, San Jose Mercury News, USA Today, and Washington Post (AP).
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6. Morning Edition: Is Obamacare A Success? We Might Not Know For A While

Most insurers are reporting that only 80 to 85 percent of the people signing up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act are actually paying their premiums. "This is not at all surprising," says Ken Jacobs, the director of Berkeley's Center for Labor Research and Education. The labor center just published a study of who's signing up for coverage in California, and the researchers predict that fully half the people who enroll in a plan through the California health exchange won't keep it for a full year. "We have people who are starting in the nongroup market, and they get a job with job-based coverage and they leave," Jacobs says. "Or their income goes down and they end up going into Medicaid." Meanwhile, some others who have Medicaid experience a boost in income during the year and don't qualify anymore, "so they go into the exchange," Jacobs says, "or they get a job with job-based coverage and they leave the exchange." Link to audio. Jacobs was also quoted in a story about Richmond's proposed minimum wage hike in the San Francisco Chronicle Online.
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7. Is a global wealth tax the key to reducing income inequality?
Washington Post

Research co-authored by economics professor Emmanuel Saez has shown that up to 70 percent of the income in the top 0.1 percent goes to "supermanagers," the chief executives and other industry leaders in the U.S. Another story citing research by Professor Saez appeared in the New York Times Online.
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8. Tight Job Market in U.S. Cities Prompts Higher Pay
Bloomberg Businessweek

Public policy professor Jesse Rothstein comments on the latest jobs report, which many economists feel is sending a misleading signal about the health of the economy. “The labor market actually has a fair bit more slack than would be indicated by the national unemployment rate,” he says. “If you believe that, then the same problem has to hold in local labor markets as well.”
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9. Tech Leaps, Job Losses and Rising Inequality
International New York Times (*requires registration)

Economics professor J. Bradford Delong is quoted for having written recently that throughout most of human history every new machine that took the job once performed by a person’s hands and muscles increased the demand for complementary human skills — like those performed by eyes, ears or brains. He also pointed out that no law of nature ensures this will always be the case. Some jobs — nannies, say, or waiting tables — may always require lots of people. Nevertheless, as information technology creeps into occupations that have historically relied mostly on brainpower, it threatens to leave considerably fewer good jobs for people to do.
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10. Gov. Jerry Brown seeks to focus attention on reserve-fund proposal
Los Angeles Times

Political science professor Jack Citrin, director of Berkeley's Institute of Governmental Studies, comments on Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to call a special session of the Legislature to consider part of his budget proposal – the creation of a new reserve fund. Professor Citrin says that the governor has been riding high politically and is trying to seize the moment to push through his proposal, but he's risking a political black eye if it fails. “If the Republicans unite against this, it doesn’t get through. … [Brown] must feel reasonably confident he will get support.”
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11. Slogging forward on climate-change
Boston Globe

A columnist writes about a new report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, saying it has given the world an approximate deadline for taking action to prevent the worst impact of global warming. Taking aim at the ongoing denial of climate change by skeptics, he says: "Doubters might consider Richard Muller, a professor of physics at the University of California at Berkeley and co-founder of Berkeley Earth, who was once such a skeptic himself. … 'Call me a converted skeptic,' he wrote in July 2012. 'Three years ago I identified problems in previous climate studies that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming. Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct. I’m now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause.'"
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12. Forum with Michael Krasny: Unrest in Nigeria
KQED Radio

Geography professor Michael Watts, author of "Curse of the Black Gold: 50 Years of Oil in the Niger Delta," joins a discussion of violence and politics in Nigeria. Link to audio.
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13. CFO Report Blog: Internal Audit: Know When to Disclose
Wall Street Journal Online (*requires registration)

A former inspector general at the Tennessee Valley Authority recounts a story from the early days of his career, when he noticed that employees had signed up for SETI software from UC Berkeley to run on their work computers during idle time. The story went viral, he says, although it was a "fairly modest report." He follows the anecdote with this remark: "I wish public officials and the media had paid as much attention to some of the truly consequential examples of waste and inefficiency in the internal audit reports I worked on or supervised during my years in government auditing. But if you analyze enough audit reports, you can begin to see why certain findings resonate with stakeholders and the public in ways that much more important findings do not."
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14. Latest Publishing Trend: Books That Teach Women to Be Overconfident Blowhards, Just Like Men

An experiment conducted by business psychology professor Cameron Anderson in 2009 is highlighted as a "perfect cautionary tale about how know-nothing sociopaths rule the business world." He gave his students a list of historical names and events, and asked them to mark the ones they knew. The list included fakes, with figures such as “Queen Shaddock” and “Galileo Lovano” and a fictitious event called “Murphy’s Last Ride.” He found that the students who marked the most fakes showed signs of excessive confidence. At the end of the semester, he surveyed the students about their feelings about each other and discovered that those who held the most “respect, prominence, and influence” in the classroom were the very ones who said they knew who “Queen Shaddock” was. “Whether they are good or not,” he said, “is kind of irrelevant.”
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15. Johnny Depp, Wally Pfister go old-school on new tech
USA Today

An article about the making of the new film Transcendence, directed by Wally Pfister and starring Johnny Depp, includes remarks about technical consultation Berkeley engineers provided on the film's theme of artificial intelligence. The article's author reports: "Co-star Paul Bettany says he enjoyed a little nerd research for the role. Bettany, who plays a friend of the Casters, spent hours with scientists from the California Institute of Technology and UC-Berkeley, who spent hours poring over the script. ... 'I remember asking (one researcher) how long until we're able to upload human thoughts and consciousness,' Bettany says. 'He said "30 years." I said he was talking about immortality. He said "Yep." We're on a collision course with technology.'"
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UC Berkeley in the News Archives