Berkeley in the News Archive

The links to the stories summarized on this page are time sensitive, so stories might no longer be online at that URL. We also include links to the original source publication itself.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

1. Janet Yellen confirmed as Federal Reserve chairman
Washington Post (*requires registration)

The U.S. Senate has confirmed Professor Emeritus Janet Yellen as the next chair of the Federal Reserve. Her nomination passed easily in a 56-26 vote, and she will take office February 1. “She has proven through her extensive and impressive record in public service and academia that she is most qualified to be the next chair,” Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) said. “Americans should feel reassured that we will have her at the helm of the Fed as our nation continues to recover from the Great Recession.” She is the first woman appointed to the powerful position. Stories on this topic appeared in more than 1000 sources worldwide, including the Los Angeles Times, Sacramento Bee, and Associated Press. Full Story

2. Suburban pollution cancels savings from dense urban cities
San Francisco Business Times (*requires registration)

A study led by energy professor Daniel Kammen has found that suburbs produce half of all household greenhouse-gas emissions, even though they account for less than half the U.S. population. The suburban pollution cancels out the energy-saving achievements of residents in urban areas with good public transportation. According to co-author Christopher Jones, a doctoral student, color-coded pollution maps show metropolitan areas that "look like carbon footprint hurricanes, with dark green, low-carbon urban cores surrounded by red, high-carbon suburbs." Other stories on this topic appeared in the Sacramento Bee Online and Atlantic Cities. Full Story

3. ‘Super-Earths’ and ‘mini-Neptunes’ abound among planets outside our solar system
Washington Post

At the annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society on Monday, astronomy professor Geoff Marcy presented data showing that about 85 percent of planets found by NASA’s Kepler space telescope are “mini-Neptunes” or “super-Earths.” He said that these planets orbit close to their parent stars and that it is possible scientists will discover an abundance of small, rocky planets at more distant orbits. “We know very little about how life got started and in what environments it might flourish,” he said. “We’re really in the dark about the biology aspect of these planets.” Other stories on this topic appeared in USA Today and the Christian Science Monitor. Full Story

4. Rising Stars: Jennifer Doudna, CRISPR Code Killer

Berkeley molecular and cell biology professor Jennifer Doudna is profiled. She developed a genetic engineering technique that many scientists are now confirming is a tremendous breakthrough in the fight against hereditary diseases. “It’s been very exciting to see work that started very much as a backwater kind of project, very much basic science, come to such fruition,” she says. Full Story

5. All Things Considered: Calif. Toxin Law Warns Consumers, But Can Burden Businesses

Law professor Eric Biber discusses California's Proposition 65, which requires businesses to warn consumers about the risks of exposure to chemicals that may cause cancer. Professor Biber says the list of potentially toxic chemicals has become so long that it's confusing to businesses that are trying to comply with the law, and that lawsuits have exacerbated the problem. "The law uses a citizen-suit provision in which anyone can sue a company for violating the law," he says. "The problem is it does create an incentive for more and more people to sue." He adds that these suits have helped make California the most litigious state in the union, and that the suits disproportionately affect small businesses. Link to audio. Full Story

6. Op-Ed: Media focus on 'moral injury' masks disregard of civilian war suffering
Sacramento Bee

Journalism Dean Edward Wasserman writes about the media's interest in the "moral injury" of war veterans, saying that while it's important to heal the many types of scars veterans carry, the focus on this issue "comes amid a gaping absence of media attention to the horrendous damage suffered by others in the same wars." He illustrates his point with the comparative suffering of a regretful drone operator and the wedding party he obliterated for little military "value." Dean Wasserman's conclusion is that U.S. obliviousness to the greater suffering "has consequence, as policymakers in Washington once again talk boldly of military strikes in Syria, in Libya, in Iran, secure in the belief that they won't be answerable for the impact of such actions." Full Story

7. Forum with Michael Krasny: Power Vacuum in the Middle East
KQED Radio

Public policy professor Michael Nacht, former assistant secretary of defense for global strategic affairs, joins a discussion of violence and shifting power in the Middle East. Link to audio. Full Story

8. From Petraeus Scandal, an Apostle for Privacy
International New York Times

Law professor and privacy expert Paul M. Schwartz, director of the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology, is quoted in a story about Jill Kelley's lawsuit against three federal agencies for revealing her identity after she filed a report about threatening emails sent by a woman with whom Gen. David H. Petraeus, then director of the C.I.A., was having an affair. Professor Schwartz says her attorneys “made a pretty good facial claim that the government violated the ‘no disclosure without consent’ rule.” Full Story

9. Battle for Survival May Yield the Rain Forest’s Diversity
International New York Times (*requires registration)

Integrative biology professor Paul V. A. Fine comments on obstacles faced in current research into the chemical evolution of insect and plant life inside highly diverse tropical forests. “It takes so much time just to identify all the chemicals in a single leaf,” he says, and when scientists capture insects from plants to study their counterdefenses, they face the unknown all over again. “Almost every single one of them is a new species." Full Story

10. Daily Ticker Blog: How you may have lost $9,000 — without even knowing it
Yahoo! Finance

Economics professor Brad DeLong wrote recently that unless the U.S. returns to its pre-2008 growth trajectory, future economic historians will regard the Great Recession, not the Great Depression, as the worst business-cycle disaster of the industrial age. According to his calculations, the gap in real economic output per person has amounted to a loss of roughly $9000 per person each year since 2008 -- the equivalent of a year's worth of mortgage payments on a $200,000 home. Full Story

11. Boeing contract underscores decline of union clout
Los Angeles Times

Labor professor Harley Shaiken comments on settled union negotiations at Boeing Co. "In the larger context, there were some important gains that the machinists won long term, specifically at least 8,000 machinist union jobs at Boeing and possibly as many as 20,000 jobs in the region," he said. "In this global context, to have the most advanced manufacturing sited in a unionized setting is an important victory — that came at a high cost." Full Story

12. Bay Area BizTalk Blog: $765 a square foot? Tower price blows away expectations
San Francisco Business Times Online (*requires registration)

The Invesco tower at 101 Second Street in San Francisco is under contract to sell for about $297 million, significantly higher than expected. Ken Rosen, chair of the Fisher Center for Real Estate and Urban Economics at Berkeley, had warned in October that pricing in the city had become inflated. “I would be very careful of buying anything above what it costs to build,” he said. “It makes me uncomfortable that we are seeing that again in San Francisco. It’s a mistake." Full Story

13. El Cerrito Journal community briefs: Bicyclist dies in crash
Contra Costa Times (*requires registration)

Stefano "Steve" Maranzana, an assistant manager of the Health and Safety Team in the Office of Environment, Health and Safety, died after a bicycle crash on the Ohlone Greenway in El Cerrito the evening of December 20. He was a project manager of Tobacco-Free at Berkeley. Full Story

14. Real Time Economics Blog: Bernanke to Speak at Brookings Event
Wall Street Journal Online (*requires registration)

Economics professor Christina Romer will join Federal Reserve Chief Ben Bernanke and others speaking at an event at the Brookings Institution on January 16. Full Story

15. Opinion Shop Blog: An appreciation of journalist Susan Rasky
San Francisco Chronicle Online

Senior journalism lecturer Susan Rasky, who passed away at the age of 61 last week, is remembered for her journalistic talent, teaching, and mentorship of the next generation of journalists. The writer concludes: "Democracy is never a spectator sport; opinion journalists’ role is to get the community into the game. Susan Rasky will be missed as one of the best coaches in the field." Full Story

Today's Edition of UC Berkeley in the News