Berkeley in the News Archive

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Thursday, 30 January 2014

1. UC Berkeley libraries saved with influx of cash
San Francisco Chronicle

After a two-year study of UC Berkeley's library system, a new plan devised by retiring Provost George Breslauer and Academic Senate Chairwoman Elizabeth Deakin will give the libraries a life-saving infusion of an additional $6 million per year, beginning in the 2014-15 fiscal year. The system will also reduce its costs by $2 million by drawing down on reserve funds and increasing efficiency. "Even with dramatic advances in information technology, Berkeley's magnificent library remains the heart of this university," Chancellor Nick Dirks says. "I see this as a crucial investment in support of our commitment to world-class teaching, research and public service." Full Story

2. Seafloor carpet catches waves to generate energy (w/video)
Nanowerk News

Assistant mechanical engineering professor Reza Alam and postdoctoral researcher Marcus Lehmann are working on a novel seafloor "carpet" that could harness the energy of ocean waves. The researchers had noticed how muddy seabeds dampen the effect of incoming waves, and aimed to capture the effect with a thin sheet of rubber over piston-like cylinders that absorb wave energy and capture it. “There is a vast amount of untapped energy in the oceans, and with increasing worldwide demand for power, the need to find cleaner alternatives to fossil fuels is critical,” Professor Alam says. “We are also seeing greater population growth along coastal cities, so the ocean-based system we are developing would produce electricity in a carbon-neutral way right where it is needed.” Link to video. Another story on this topic appeared in HydroWorld. Full Story

3. Economix Blog: State of the Union: Few Horatio Alger Stories
New York Times Online (*requires registration)

In President Obama's State of the Union address, he made several references to the modest backgrounds of accomplished people, including himself. The allusions spoke to the issue of upward mobility, which was also the subject of a recent study co-authored by Berkeley economists. The researchers found that the likelihood of a person escaping the socioeconomic class he or she was born into has remained stagnant over the past couple of decades. The authors further noted that the interaction between stagnant mobility and increasing inequality means that "the consequences of the 'birth lottery' — the parents to whom a child is born — are larger today than in the past." Full Story

4. Op-Ed Column: Pre-K, the Great Debate
International New York Times (*requires registration)

"Research shows that one of the best investments we can make in a child’s life is high-quality early education," President Obama said in his State of the Union address on Tuesday. This commentary reviews the evidence behind that statement, citing a study by assistant public policy professor Alexander Gelber. He found that parents of children in Head Start are significantly more likely to read to their children, and spend more time reading to them, even years later. They are also more likely to take them to museums, and fathers living elsewhere spend an extra day a month with them. Full Story

5. Op-Ed: The pope, the pill and the court
Los Angeles Times

Public health professor Malcolm Potts writes about the legal challenge a group of Colorado nuns has filed against the Affordable Care Act's requirement that they offer contraceptive coverage to their employees. He says: "The nuns' action highlights the misunderstandings and theological errors behind the Vatican's condemnation of what it terms 'artificial contraception.' And it also overlooks an important medical point: The nuns might have something to gain from taking oral contraceptives." Full Story

6. All Things Considered: Adult Obesity May Have Origins Way Back In Kindergarten

Nutrition lecturer Joanne Ikeda is concerned that studies indicating obesity risk often starts as early as kindergarten could lead parents to overreact at any sign that their babies or toddlers are getting a little chubby. "Putting [young children] on a calorie-restricted diet can stunt their growth in height," she says, and that will not solve the problem. "What you want to do ... is help them have healthier lifestyle habits and they will grow into their weight." Link to audio. Full Story

7. Softening law on hard drugs creates unlikely bedfellows
San Francisco Chronicle

Barry Krisberg, a senior fellow at Berkeley's law school, has been advising and supporting a law enforcement-backed effort to place a measure on the California ballot next November reducing the charge for drug possession from a felony to a misdemeanor. He says: "If they can get it to the ballot, it will pass. ... There's been polling on this, and 60 percent of Californians say just because someone uses drugs, they don't want that person to be incarcerated. ... The fact is ... with these November ballot issues, nothing really happens until October. But when you put it on the public ballot, that means we are going to have a public conversation. And I say, good, let's have that discussion." Full Story

8. Raiderette wages investigated by U.S. Labor Dept.
San Francisco Chronicle

Ken Jacobs, chairman of Berkeley's Center for Labor Research and Education, comments on a U.S. Department of Labor's investigation of the Oakland Raiders in connection with a lawsuit filed by one of its cheerleaders. The suit alleges that the team didn’t pay minimum wages and illegally required the cheerleading squad to pay fines and travel expenses. Rosen says that employers facing such investigations have a strong incentive to reach a settlement for back-wage payments, particularly an image-conscious employer like a pro sports team. "This doesn't reflect well," he said. "I can imagine that this would be something (the Raiders) would want to resolve. ... If this practice is common for the other teams, you might very well see other investigations." Full Story

9. Fleeing abuse victim cleared of DUI charge

Law lecturer Nancy Lemon, a leading authority on domestic violence, testified in the case of Marlise Paulo, who has since been acquitted of a DUI, after the jury determined it was necessary for her to drive in order to escape harm from her boyfriend, who had become belligerent and threatening. Lemon testified that Paulo suffered from battered woman syndrome and had a clear history of being abused physically and emotionally by that boyfriend over several years. This story will air Thursday evening on KTVU, and a video link should be available online by Friday. Full Story

10. 'Xtreme Bugs': Hall of Science makes insects at home
San Francisco Chronicle

"Xtreme Bugs," an exhibit featuring more than 100 bugs on display in naturalistic habitats, is set to open at the Lawrence Hall of Science. Gretchen Walker, director of the hall's public science center, says the exhibit will let people to get up close and personal with bugs they might not otherwise have a chance to see. Particularly for families, she notes, this experience can be eye-opening and fun. The exhibit will run through Sept. 1. Full Story

11. Berkeley: BAM/PFA exhibit engages visitors in creative process
Oakland Tribune

An experimental, collaborative exhibit called The Possible, about the creative process, has opened at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive and will run through May 25. The project, curated by Oakland artist David Wilson, is designed to let visitors learn about creative processes in a variety of mediums, participate in art projects, and see their work displayed in the galleries. A number of Sunday workshops will be offered. Full Story

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