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.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

1. UC scientists hunt clues to Earth's past in space volcanoes
San Francisco Chronicle

After studying massive volcanic eruptions that occurred on Jupiter's moon Io during a two-week period last August, Berkeley astronomers are wondering what clues the eruptions might offer about the volcanic forces that shaped Earth and the surfaces of other planets in the inner solar system billions of years ago. Astronomy professor and department chair Imke de Pater says: "I was just blown away when I saw that third eruption. ... I realized that something incredible must be happening ... and it was telling me that there must be many more eruptions than we thought, and that if we could watch Io more often we might find out what's really happening on that moon -- perhaps (learning) about Jupiter's influence on Io's deep mantle or even closer to its surface." Stories on this topic appeared in dozens of sources worldwide. Full Story

2. Study says sports, energy drinks not any healthier than soda

Pat Crawford, director of Berkeley's Atkins Center of Weight and Health, has led a study of sports and energy drinks, as well as flavored and vitamin waters, finding them packed with sugar and other additives that could pose health risks, especially for children. She says: "These are nothing more than sugary drinks masquerading as healthy beverages." She notes that the promises on packaging to boost performance, energy, concentration, or vitamin levels are not scientifically supported, and that the large quantities of sugar, untested herbal supplements, and caffeine in the drinks could contribute to greater risk of childhood obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. As for vitamin claims, she says: "Many of our foods are fortified with vitamins already, so the body just excretes the extra vitamins." Link to video. Another story on this topic aired on KPCC (Southern California Public Radio) -- link to audio. Full Story

3. Op-Ed: California's slow ride to new transit
San Francisco Chronicle

Ethan Elkind, director of the Climate Change and Business Program at the UC Berkeley and UCLA law schools, has written a new report about public transportation planning in California. He concludes that public transit projects are taking longer to plan, approve and build, and urges California commuters to demand answers about slow projects. "This situation should not be acceptable to Californians. While we want to ensure careful transit planning with proper community input, safety and cost-effectiveness, the multiyear processes are unnecessary and counterproductive. We must accelerate high-priority transit projects, which are vital for our economic competitiveness, quality of life, and environment." To that end, he recommends that Californians demand their leaders engage in strict oversight of construction management and awards, reform state laws, and allow local agencies to prioritize infrastructure development. Another story on this topic aired on KPCC (Southern California Public Radio) -- link to audio. Full Story

4. Streetcars and urban renewal: Rolling blunder
The Economist

Assistant city and regional planning professor Daniel Chatman remarks on a frequent error of American public transportation planning, particularly the favoring of streetcars, which tend to serve more affluent riders, such as tourists and shoppers, over busses, which are nimbler and help the people who need public transportation the most. Poorer residents are mainly served by buses, if at all, he says, adding, “The economics of many light-rail and streetcar projects is abysmal.” Full Story

5. Op-Ed: Making Math Education Even Worse
Wall Street Journal (*requires registration)

Mathematics Professor Emerita Marina Ratner writes about the new Common Core math standards, concluding: "For California, the adoption of the Common Core standards represents a huge step backward, which puts an end to its hard-won standing as having the top math standards in the nation. The Common Core standards will move the U.S. even closer to the bottom in international ranking. ... The teaching of math in many schools needs improvement. Yet the enormous amount of money invested in Common Core—$15.8 billion nationally, according to a 2012 estimate by the Pioneer Institute—could have a better outcome. It could have been used instead to address the real problems in education, such as helping teachers to teach better, raising the performance standards in schools and making learning more challenging." Full Story

6. The 1% may be even richer than you think, research shows
Financial Post

Studies conducted separately by European Central Bank economist Philip Vermeulen and Gabriel Zucman, a visiting scholar at Berkeley, show that the wealth of the super-affluent -- hidden by tax shelters and nonresponse to questionnaires -- is undercounted. Zucman has collaborated with economics professor Emmanuel Saez in estimating the net wealth of America's richest 0.1%, and after adding in estimates of how much money is hidden in offshore tax havens, they believe that small sliver of the population held 23.5 percent of all U.S. wealth in 2012. He says the measurement of assets for Europe's ultra rich could be more difficult to assess, since about 10% of their wealth is in offshore accounts, compared to 4 percent in the U.S. Full Story

7. In Silicon Valley, American dream materializes fast
San Francisco Chronicle

Entrepreneurship lecturer Steven Blank discusses the kinds of opportunities the Bay Area offers to immigrants, saying that a teacher from Spain – Quim Sabrià – is a perfect example. Sabrià had a good idea for teaching languages with the aid of videos that could be customized, and he found mentoring and support for his startup at an incubator in California. "He might have gotten the idea in Spain, but he came to Rome in the middle of the empire to execute it," Blank says. "You're not an outlier when you're thinking crazy thoughts. ... The model of immigrants is some kids banging on the border. ... This is another immigration story not being told. This is what immigrants really want to do with the American dream." Full Story

8. She The People Blog: ‘The Second Shift’ at 25: Q & A with Arlie Hochschild
Washington Post Online

Sociology Professor Emerita Arlie Hochschild discusses her book The Second Shift: Working Families and the Revolution at Home on the 25th anniversary of its publication. The book documented the revolutionary changes involved with women and mothers joining the workforce, concluding that women were doing about twice the housework and child care as men, even when they work full time. Research shows that this is still the case. Professor Hochschild was also quoted in an article on Marketwatch on the topic of another one of her books, The Outsourced Self: What Happens When We Pay Others to Live Our Lives for Us. Full Story

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