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, 12 August 2014

1. Top Obama Housing Official Carol Galante to Step Down
Wall Street Journal (*requires registration)

Federal Housing Administration Commissioner Carol Galante has announced that she will step down to take an adjunct professorship in Berkeley's city and regional planning department in January 2015. In addition to the professorship, she will direct the Berkeley Program on Housing and Urban Policy and serve as co-chair of the Fisher Center for Real Estate Policy Advisory Board. "This is a compelling opportunity for me to continue with work I am passionate about and also return home to California," she says. Stories on this topic appeared in more than a dozen sources, including the Washington Post. Full Story

2. Bits Blog: What Cars Did for Today’s World, Data May Do for Tomorrow’s
New York Times (*requires registration)

Berkeley’s Big Data research center AMP Lab is discussed in a story about developments in the "world-changing ecosystem of digital hardware and software, spreading into every area of our lives." Created two years ago for research into new kinds of large-scale computing, it has been spinning out companies, such as Databricks, which uses new kinds of software for fast data analysis on a rental basis. The company plugs into the million-plus computer servers of the global system of Amazon Web Services, and will soon work inside similar-size megacomputing systems at Google and Microsoft. Another company spun out of the lab this year is Mesosphere, which enables a kind of pooling of computing services, increasing the efficiency of million-computer systems. “What is driving all this is the ability to collect, store and process data at a speed and granularity never seen before, over wide areas,” says computer science professor Michael Franklin, the lab's director. “When you do this, you can see patterns you never saw before.” Full Story

3. How Close Is Too Close? Industry Courts Computer Scholars
Chronicle of Higher Education (*requires registration)

Speaking of the increasingly intimate relationship between universities and industry, computer science professor and department chair Michael Franklin says: "It used to be if you got a Ph.D., it was a career-limiting move in some ways. ... The idea was that you weren’t practical. [Now] Google realizes they need people with that advanced training and thinking ability. Industry is not looking at academia as just an ivory tower anymore." Top computer-science programs are eager to capitalize on the industry's interest in supporting research that benefits their businesses. Berkeley's Big Data research center AMPLab, for example, counts Yahoo, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Intel, and the Chinese telecom giant Huawei among its sponsors. The lab’s annual budget is between $5-million and $6-million, half of which comes from industry, according to Professor Franklin, the lab's director. Full Story

4. Six Californias? GOP probably wouldn't be helped by bust-up, study finds
Los Angeles Times

Political science professor Jack Citrin, director of Berkeley's Institute of Governmental Studies, and Ethan Rarick, director of the institute's Matsui Center for Politics and Public Service, crunched some numbers connected to the initiative to split California into six states, concluding that the breakup would be more likely to benefit Democrats than Republicans. Of the six states, three would remain strongly Democratic, two would tilt Republican, and one would be very competitive. Furthermore, Democrats would hold the majority of statewide offices, as well as seven of 12 U.S. Senate seats. In presidential races, Republicans would improve their chances of picking up a state or two, but it wouldn't be enough to change the outcome of a tight election, like that of 2000. Full Story

5. Tall, Ancient and Under Pressure
New York Times (*requires registration)

Scientists are rushing to find ways to protect ancient Western trees, such as redwoods, sequoias and bristlecone pines, from the ravages of drought, forest fires and climate change. One of the biggest changes affecting these species is the significant reduction in coastal fog, which usually makes up as much as 40 percent of the trees' water intake, through their needles. Integrative biology professor Todd Dawson says that the reduced availability of fog has, paradoxically, resulted in increased growth of some trees -- with less fog cover, there is more light -- but on the warmer and drier southern and eastern edges of the redwood range, he says: “They are self-pruning. ... The crowns are beginning to thin out, and they are dropping needles.” Full Story

6. Judge Ends Marriage Equality's Undefeated Streak Since SCOTUS Ruling
Talking Points Memo

Law professor Jesse Choper comments on a Tennessee state judge's upholding of a law banning recognition of same-sex marriages. "As for what it all means, I think the simple answer is that the fact that one trial judge in one state issues an opinion is wholly insignificant." Full Story

7. Debra J. Saunders Token Conservative Blog: John Yoo: Do you feel safer?
San Francisco Chronicle

Law professor John Yoo discussed the Senate Intelligence Committee investigation report that Senator Dianne Feinstein, chair of the committee, has said will be released soon. He said that Feinstein is wrong in her belief that enhanced interrogation techniques provided no usable intelligence. He also said that the committee is too partisan and unlikely to yield new and compelling information. Speaking of current terrorism trends, he says: "You have a president who basically has tried to reverse the major elements of the Bush policies, not just on terrorism, but on foreign policy. Under which administration is America’s situation better off?" Full Story

8. Letter: End the Gaza Massacre, Boycott Israel: What Eve Ensler, Angela Davis, Judith Butler, Chandra Talpade Mohanty and More Are Demanding

A coalition of feminists, including rhetoric and comparative literature professor Judith Butler, sent a solidarity statement in response to the Israeli attack on Gaza. Reprinted here, it concluded: "We call upon all people of conscience to stand with Palestine and to join the worldwide actions in which communities and civil society are stepping up in critical ways. We recognize that all our struggles for social, racial, gender, and economic justice and for self-determination are deeply interconnected and can only gain strength and power from one another. As Audre Lorde taught us, 'When we can arm ourselves with the strength and vision from all our diverse communities then we will in truth all be free at last.'" Full Story

9. Khmer Rouge diary: ‘Everyone works like animals’
Washington Post

Passages from a diary kept by a Cambodian school inspector from 1975 to 1979 are excerpted here. The rare documentation took place when the Khmer Rouge ruled the country in a regime responsible for the death of an estimated 1.7 million citizens. The translations were made by associate ethnic studies professor Khatharya Um and verified by the Associated Press. Full Story

10. Men Often Mentored by Women at the Pool
New York Times

Cal's renowned women's swim coach Teri McKeever is mentioned in a story about the growing trend of women coaches mentoring male athletes. She will be the head coach of the U.S. women's team at the upcoming Pan Pacific Championships in Australia, repeating a role she played at the 2012 Olympics, where she was the first woman to serve in that capacity. Asked if she could be a men's coach, Olympic medalist Anthony Ervin says, "I don't see a reason why not." When Ervin was considering a comeback in 2011, he trained with Coach McKeever. “I definitely had some nurturing spirit from her when I was first getting back into the swimming thing, and I absolutely, absolutely needed that. Much too early I put too much pressure on myself and defeated myself before I even began. So she was integral for that when I jumped back into the pool.” Full Story

11. Cal's Dykes has 'mixed feelings' about bigger schools playing smaller ones
San Francisco Chronicle

The NCAA board of directors decided last week to grant the five major conferences, including Berkeley's Pac-12, the power to make some of their own rules, including whether to schedule opponents from smaller conferences. Cal's head football coach Sonny Dykes is undecided on that matter, since he knows from his experience at Louisiana Tech that smaller schools are often paid to play with major conference teams, and that money can decide whether they're able to afford a football team in the first place. He says: "I've got some mixed feelings about it. ... College football should be for a lot of people. I see it maybe differently than some people do. I don't see it just about the money, I see it a little bit about the experience for student athletes and fans and that type of thing. ... If you start not playing those games, then you're going to see people cutting programs, cutting non-revenue sports, all the things that happen as a result. I'm not sure that's good for college athletics." Full Story

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