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, 21 January 2014

1. Brace yourself for California's driest winter in 500 years: UC Berkeley professor
San Francisco Business Times (*requires registration)

Geography and earth and planetary science professor Lynn Ingram, a paleoclimatologist, has studied fossilized records in California, including old tree rings, and estimates that the state hasn't been this dry since 1580. She warns that the 20th Century was a particularly wet one, and development in California -- including dams and irrigation systems -- occurred under those favorable conditions. That infrastructure and the assumptions on which it was built may not hold up during a long dry spell, she says. "We might be heading into a drier period now. ... It's hard for us to predict, but that's a possibility, especially with global warming." Full Story

2. Op-Ed: California drought: We can preserve Bay Area's water supply
San Francisco Chronicle

David Sedlak, co-director of the Berkeley Water Center and deputy director of ReNUWIT, a Berkeley-affiliated partnership that takes a comprehensive approach to urban water systems, writes about the need for more efficient technology to protect the Bay Area from the effects of drought. "With strategic investments and proactive public policies, we can create a drought-proof water supply for the Bay Area, provided that we have the will to do it," he writes. "Historically, citizens of the Bay Area have been reluctant to invest in local water sources because they have been told that their imported water supplies are adequate. Although that has been true for decades, it may not be a safe bet in the future." Full Story

3. Morning Edition: Drought Emergency Declared In California Gov. Brown

Agricultural and resource economics professor Michael Hanemann, director of Berkeley's California Climate Change Center, discusses California's drought emergency. Link to audio. Full Story

4. Wonkblog: Want to help the middle class? Don’t kill corporate taxes
Washington Post

Economics doctoral student Owen Zidar co-writes this blog about a proposal to abolish the corporate income tax in order to help American workers. The bloggers indicate their new research indicates the proposal is wrong –that this plan would benefit shareholders more than workers. "We find that, across the country, most firms choose to pay higher taxes and locate where their productivity is highest, rather than chase tax incentives," they say. "That is, technology firms will still want to locate in Silicon Valley even if California were to raise its corporate rate modestly." Full Story

5. LA to receive list of possibly dangerous buildings
Washington Post

UC researchers have agreed to give the city of Los Angeles a list of 1,500 older concrete buildings included in their study of the seismic safety of a particular building type. The researchers emphasize that their list should not be regarded as a list of dangerous buildings, but rather a list of buildings that require further examination. Engineering professor Jack Moehle said, “We would like to be helpful to the city, to help them move forward” on this issue. Other stories on this topic appeared in the Los Angeles Times, UPI, and San Francisco Chronicle (see "Quake Study" brief toward end of roundup). Full Story

6. Tech Chronicles: Study: 40 percent of S.F. shuttle riders would move without chartered bus service
San Francisco Chronicle

A study by graduate students Danielle Dai and David Weinzimmer has found that if tech companies didn't provide bus service from San Francisco to Silicon Valley, 40 percent of riders say they would move closer to work. The study is bound to come up this afternoon at an MTA board discussion of a pilot program that would charge chartered buses a fee to use Muni stops. Full Story

7. Eye in the sky captures wildlife passing by
San Francisco Chronicle

A brief toward the end of this outdoors column mentions that Berkeley scientists have received a $4.9 million grant to study the Eel River watershed in the Redwood Empire. The columnist asks: "The question is, when the study is complete, will anything get done to improve fish populations?" Full Story

8. Facebook asks Cal psychologists to help it become more 'tender'
San Francisco Business Times

The social website Facebook is working with a team of Berkeley psychologists to help the company create a more "tender" community. The "compassion research team" includes neuroscientist Emiliana Simon-Thomas, science director of the Greater Good Science Center, postdoctoral psychology researcher Paul Piff, and psychology professor Dacher Keltner. They are creating emoticons and pop up text that helps Facebook users express their feelings about posts they don't like but which are not strictly offensive under the company's guidelines. Full Story

9. Op-Ed: 'The poor' are fast becoming 'us'
San Francisco Chronicle

Public policy professor Robert Reich writes about the "new face of poverty." He describes it as "a face that's both poor, near-poor and precarious working middle class and simultaneously black, Latino and white." Noting that Republican opposition to benefits for the poor could backfire, he concludes: "The new economy has been especially harsh for the bottom two-thirds of Americans. It's not hard to imagine a new political coalition of America's poor and working middle class, bent not only on repairing the nation's frayed safety nets but also on getting a fair share of the economy's gains." Full Story

10. Kamala Harris wins new badges of respect from police
San Francisco Chronicle

In an article about California Attorney General Kamala Harris's newfound supporters in the law enforcement community, political science professor Jack Citrin is quoted, saying: "When you're the incumbent and sure to be re-elected, a lot of people sign up." Full Story

11. UC Berkeley Applications Leap 7.9%
Berkeley Patch

Freshman applications to the UC system were up 6.2% over the past year, in large part because of increased applications from students in other states and countries. Berkeley was the second most popular campus, following UCLA, with 73,711 applications. That represented an increase of 8.9%. Full Story

12. SF Gate Blog: Judge won’t dismiss Occupy suit against UC officials
San Francisco Chronicle Online

U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ruled Friday that protesters who were arrested and beaten by police during a November 2011 Occupy Cal protest can sue campus administrators for allegedly authorizing excessive force and false arrests. UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof noted that the ruling was based on the assumption that the protesters’ allegations were true, and said officials are confident the evidence will ultimately justify their actions and those of the police. He also said campus officials have sought to improve their planning and response to protests since Occupy Cal, increasing communications with organizers. As a consequence, Mogulof said, “we’ve had no repeat of those unfortunate days.” Full Story

13. Smithsonian archives preserve lost and dying languages
Washington Post

A story about the Smithsonian's National Anthropological Archives, which seeks to preserve languages from around the world, mentions that a program manager there is a disciple of Berkeley Linguistics Professor Emerita Leanne Hinton. In the early 1990s, Professor Hinton was one of the first to focus on vanishing Native American languages and ways to keep them alive. She created a project called Breath of Life, bringing indigenous Californians to Berkeley to use the university's archives. This concept of having research serve the people it comes from has spread widely and inspired the Smithsonian's Recovering Voices program. Full Story

14. ‘Enterprise is Where the Money Is’: Why Salesforce Backs Alchemist Accelerator
Wall Street Journal Online (*requires registration)

Astronomy professor Joshua Bloom, also CEO of Big Data analytics company, "graduated" from Alchemist Accelerator, which he describes as “a crash course in how (businesses that sell to businesses) are being constructed.” He says that a speech he gave in May at Alchemist’s Demo Day, in which he was challenged to choose just the right words and body language, was the most difficult presentation he’s ever made. "You have eight minutes and you’re off, and there are a lot of things you have to touch on.” Full Story

15. Scott Adams, Dilbert creator, finds success in his failures
San Francisco Chronicle

Alum Scott Adams, creator of the Dilbert comic strip, has written a new book How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life (Portfolio Penguin). A discussion of his career mentions that he earned his Berkeley master's degree in the evenings while working days as a middle manager at Pacific Bell. "He revisited his doodling habit during tiresome meetings," the article says. "The personalities he encountered at the phone company became the inspiration for many Dilbert characters." Full Story

16. Great Music for the Great War: Concerts in the U.S. and Europe for a Grim Centennial
New York Times (*requires registration)

The upcoming centennial of the beginning of World War I will be marked with concerts in the U.S. and Europe. One of the American commemorations will include a Cal Performances presentation of a new multimedia work by the Kronos Quartet. Called "Beyond Zero, 1914-1918," it will debut on April 6 at Hertz Hall. “A lot of our work has dealt with wars of various sorts,” Kronos founder David Harrington said of the piece by composer Aleksandra Vrebelov and filmmaker Bill Morrison. “It seems to be something that music is continually asked to deal with. It just doesn’t have a choice. Musicians don’t have a choice. We have to find ways of somehow incorporating the kinds of realities that so many people around the world have experienced into the work that we all are a part of.” Full Story

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