Berkeley in the News Archive

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Tuesday, 15 July 2014

1. Quake-warning system receives a boost in Congress
Chicago Tribune

A congressional committee in Washington has given bipartisan support to a West Coast effort to develop an Earthquake Early Warning System, recommending an initial allocation of $5 million for the project. Associate earth and planetary science professor Richard Allen, director of Berkeley's Seismological Laboratory and one of the project's leaders, says: "This is great news for the West Coast. ... Our demonstration system currently alerts a few test users of earthquakes. This funding will start us on the path to a public system that will benefit everyone." The system will involve deploying sensors along the West Coast that would detect waves radiating from the epicenter of a quake and notify people through phones, radio and TV. It is expected to take about five years to establish. Full Story

2. Drought: Water pumping causing Valley to sink, could trigger earthquakes
KFSN TV (Fresno)

As the California drought drags on and state and federal water supplies to Central Valley growers has been cut off, farmers are relying more on ground water to irrigate their crops. However, earth and planetary science professor Roland Burgmann has estimated from satellite measurements that the valley has sunk so much as a result of all the pumping that it has actually pushed the Sierra Nevada mountains up six inches – growth that "would normally take millions of years," he says. The extreme subsidence could also trigger earthquakes, he warns. "So when we are flexing up, removing water from the surface, that also introduces tension across the San Andreas Fault which runs right along the Central Valley," he notes. The more immediate concern, he says, is all the damage the subsidence can do to roads, bridges, rail lines and canals. Link to video. Full Story

3. Yet another warning coming on drought's damage to California economy
San Francisco Business Times (*requires registration)

Scientists from UC Davis are releasing a comprehensive forecast of the California drought's economic impact on agriculture. Earlier this year, a Berkeley researcher warned that this could be California's driest season in 500 years. Full Story

4. UC student group objects to pro-Israel nominee for regent
San Francisco Chronicle

Avi Oved, a pro-Israel Jewish student at UCLA nominated to serve as a student representative on the Board of Regents, is facing opposition from the UC Student Association. The association is urging the regents to delay the vote so they can investigate conflict-of-interest charges following his acceptance of campaign funds from the pro-Israel Adam and Gila Milstein Family Foundation. The current student regent-designate, Berkeley student Sadia Saifuddin, is set to become a full regent on Wednesday after Oved is scheduled to be confirmed as the designate. A practicing Muslim, Saifuddin faced opposition too last year, when pro-Israel groups urged the regents to reject her for fomenting a "toxic and hostile" environment for Jewish students by co-sponsoring an Israel boycott and divestment resolution on campus. Saifuddin declined to comment for this story, but when Oved was nominated in May, she praised him as an enthusiastic and capable leader. Oved said at the time: "It's a beautiful statement on behalf of UC to have a Muslim and a Jewish student working together, regardless of political or cultural differences, in order to improve higher education. ... I hope this serves as an example for communities on campus (to) focus on the similarities between one another rather than their differences." Another story on this topic appeared in the San Jose Mercury News. Full Story

5. Berkeley pushes for cancer warning stickers on cell phones
San Francisco Chronicle

Berkeley's City Council is considering an ordinance calling for warning stickers on cell phone packaging to alert users that the devices may emit cancer-causing radiation. Joel Moskowitz, head of UC Berkeley's Center for Family and Community Health, has been studying the issue since 2009, and he believes that cell phones are "one of the top emerging public health risks." Studies cited by the cell phone industry are outdated, he says, recommending that people protect themselves by keeping phones away from their bodies and wearing headsets or using the speaker feature. "With cell phones, distance is your friend." Another story on this topic appeared on WCVB Online (Boston). Full Story

6. Six Californias measure to qualify for 2016 ballot
San Francisco Business Times (*requires registration)

Ethan Rarick, director of the Matsui Center for Politics and Public Service at Berkeley's Institute of Governmental Studies, comments on the initiative to split California into six states. It now claims enough signatures to qualify for the 2016 ballot, and Rarick says that even if Californians were to approve the Six Californias, Congress would never ratify it. “Dividing one state weakens the power of all the other states in the Senate,” he says. “There’s no reason that senators would want to weaken their own power.” Full Story

7. Missing UC Berkeley student found in Sacramento church
Sacramento Bee

Law student Elizabeth Cowan Jimenez, reported missing Wednesday, has been found safe in Sacramento and reunited with her brother. Full Story

8. Berkeley Historical Plaques highlight local history

The Berkeley Historical Plaque Project's website has been redesigned to make it easier for users to click on a map of the city and find sites of historical interest. Berkeley denizens are invited to participate by contributing information about unique Berkeley experiences, so long as the subjects are not living. “The idea is to have a self-portrait of Berkeley by Berkeley,” says Robert Kehlmann, artist, former chair of the Landmarks Commission and the chairman and founder of the project. “There are lots of people out there with lots of knowledge about interesting things, who have lived next door to interesting people. They don’t have to be famous people.” This article highlights one of the project's first stories – about contributions of John Hudson Thomas, a 1904 alumnus of UC Berkeley's graduate architecture program. Full Story

9. Sinosphere Blog: What’s an Overseas Study Tour Without the Studying?
New York Times Online (*requires registration)

The Chinese Ministry of Education has put out a statement calling for study-abroad programs to focus more on studying and less on fun. The popular trips usually include visits to schools and universities, but may also include sightseeing. Shinyway International is one company offering such trips, and a two-week tour starting in late July will feature the UC Berkeley and UCLA campuses, with side trips to the Golden Gate Bridge and Disneyland. The tour is for fourth to ninth graders, and it costs about $6,000. Full Story

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