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.
Thursday, 3 July 2014
1. Berkeley in the News will take a break Friday, July 4, in observation of Independence Day. Publication will resume Monday, July 7.
2. High-altitude gene links Tibetans, Sherpas to extinct race
San Francisco Chronicle
A study led by integrative biology professor Rasmus Nielsen has found that a gene that helps Tibetans live at high altitudes can be traced back to Denisovans, a people that lived in Siberia at the same time as the Neanderthals. The finding suggests that Denisovans or close relatives of theirs introduced the gene variant into the modern human species, but it remained rare until people began moving into the Tibetan plateau, when its survival advantage led to its spread through the Tibetan population. Emilia Huerta-Sánchez, a postdoctoral population researcher in Professor Nielsen's lab who has just taken an assistant professorship at UC Merced, made the intricate statistical calculations required to sort the obscure genetic evidence in this study. Stories on this topic appeared in more than 150 sources worldwide, including the Los Angeles Times and Economist. Full Story
3. How Colleges Can Help Students Navigate Their Financial Lives
Chronicle of Higher Education (*requires registration)
The author of this commentary about financial-literacy programs was presenting a talk on the topic at the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators' conference in Nashville this week. He says here: "My co-presenters are from the University of California at Berkeley and Indiana University, two campuses that provide a mix of structured online content, group workshops, and one-on-one coaching in their financial-literacy programs. Those institutions are developing a culture of affordability through changes in philosophy on their campuses." Full Story
4. Op-Ed: Why we still need affirmative action for African Americans in college admissions
Richard Rothstein, a research associate at the Economic Policy Institute and a senior fellow at Berkeley Law's Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy, writes about the continuing need for affirmative action in college admissions for African Americans. Explaining why it is unfair and ineffective to pretend color doesn’t matter, he concludes: "It is remarkable, indeed depressing, that Justice [Ruth Bader] Ginsburg is the only prominent white leader still making a consistent case for race-conscious policy. This vacuum may be what propels [author] Sheryll Cashin to seek a colorblind, second-best alternative, foreseeing, as she puts it, the 'inevitable demise of race-based affirmative action' because opposition to it is 'widely held and not going away,' while its advocates 'stymie possibilities for transformative change.' It should not fall upon Randall Kennedy, Sonia Sotomayor, or Ta-Nehisi Coates to be our most vocal advocates of remedies for racial injustice. Only if white policymakers, not Ginsburg alone, step up will Cashin’s predictions be unfulfilled." Full Story
5. Your Call: What are the implications of the most recent Supreme Court decisions?
Law professor Jesse Choper joins a discussion of recent Supreme Court decisions, including the ruling allowing companies to refuse to provide contraceptive coverage based on their religious rights, the decision that buffer zones around abortion clinics violate First Amendment rights, and other cases involving public sector unions, cell phone searches, and greenhouse gas emissions. Link to audio. Full Story
6. Making Money With the Fed: Don't Get Mad, Get Even
Wall Street Journal (*requires registration)
An analysis of stock performance co-authored by business professors Annette Vissing- Jørgensen and Adair Morse looked at the patterns of stocks performing better in even weeks of the Fed cycle — the week of the policy-setting meeting, two weeks after it, and so on — and found that the pattern is consistent, that it held through three sub-periods from 1994 on, and that international stocks also followed the pattern. Trying to find a reason for the pattern, they looked at the Fed itself and found that while reports and speeches don't fit the mold, the Fed's Board of Governors discount-rate meetings have long tended to fall into the biweekly cycle. Full Story
7. As hundreds flee, Napa fire intensifies fears of devastating dry season
San Francisco Chronicle
With severe drought conditions persisting, California's forests and grassland are extremely parched, and the Butts Fire west of Lake Berryessa in Napa County is raising concerns that this could be one of the state's worst fire seasons in decades. "No one can really remember it being drier than this," says Berkeley forestry specialist Bill Stewart. "We're like two months drier than usual. This is like September, when everything is nearly bone-dry." Full Story
8. Op-Ed: Needed at UC Berkeley: An athletics program to be proud of
San Francisco Chronicle (*requires registration)
Berkeley resident Hank Gehman writes about his view of the opportunities UC Berkeley's search for a new athletic director presents to the university as a whole. Full Story
9. Who Made That Wet Suit?
New York Times Magazine (*requires registration)
This article tells the story of Hugh Bradner's invention of the first wetsuit in 1951. The late Berkeley physicist developed the neoprene suit during "weekend time" for Navy frogmen, trying it out himself in Lake Tahoe in the winter. He was a veteran of the Manhattan Project who helped develop the trigger mechanism for the atomic bomb, and he also invented underwater contact lenses and a sunscreen with fluorescent compounds. He never patented his wet-suit design. Full Story
10. Morning Edition: With Dirt And A Vision, Palestinian Architects Break The Mold
In a story about Palestinian architects who are reviving the tradition of sustainable, earthen housing, architecture professor Ronald Rael remarks that half the world's population lives, works, worships or keeps animals in structures built of earth. He has written a book surveying earth architecture worldwide, and he says that revivals of earth buildings catch on best when they fit in with local values — including style, structure and building materials. "If a community wants to live in a contemporary society," he adds, "that building material needs to be shaped in a way that it's reflective of the society." Link to audio. Full Story
11. Living in a Fool's Paradise
Photographs by environmental design lecturer Janet Delaney accompany this essay about the changing character of urban areas in San Francisco. Her "South of Market" and SoMa Now" series were featured in the exhibition Now That You're Gone … San Francisco Neighborhoods Without US at San Francisco City Hall earlier in 2014. Full Story
12. How to paint van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers,’ in 20 steps
Assistant rhetoric professor Winnie Wong's new book, Van Gogh on Demand: China and the Readymade, tells the story of a Chinese community of rural migrant workers who each year produce more than 100,000 paintings, many of them reproductions of works by famous artists. This article shares a lesson from one of the painters, Zhao Xiaoyang, on how to reproduce Vincent van Gogh's "Sunflowers". Full Story