Berkeley in the News is a daily selection of articles and commentaries in the news media that mention UC Berkeley. The views and opinions expressed in these articles do not necessarily reflect the official policies or positions of the campus.
Friday, 13 January 2017
1. The Berkeley campus will be closed on Monday, January 16, in observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Publication of Berkeley in the News will resume on Tuesday, the 17th.
2. Clarivate Analytics Unveils Top 100 Innovators List
The University of California has been named one of Clarivate Analytics' 2016 Top 100 Global Innovators. The report honors corporations and institutions around the world based on an analysis of data indicating their prioritization of innovation. On average, the honorees invested 9.1 percent more in research and development than the S&P 100. Clarivate Analytics is a new brand, following the sale of Thomson Reuters' Intellectual Property & Science division to Onex Corporation and Baring Private Equity Asia, but the innovators report is now in its sixth year. For more on this, see UC's press release at the University of California News.
3. Editorial: Why tuition increases make sense at UC and CSU
Itemizing the many ways in which a UC education "remains a comparatively good deal," the editors of the Sacramento Bee argue that UC President Janet Napolitano's suggested tuition increase is "modest and reasonable." They say: "The state faces a possible economic slowdown, and potentially costly conflicts with the incoming Trump administration. Nobody wants to pay more for tuition, but lawmakers will have their hands full and likely won't be willing to buy out the $88 million that would be generated by the increase."
4. Commentary: Why 'Dreamers' at UC should feel very lucky
Associate editor Foon Rhee, of the Sacramento Bee, writes about Donald Trump's threat to end President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive order, protecting "Dreamers" – undocumented students who were brought here illegally as infants and children. Rhee notes that UC's estimated 4,000 undocumented students are "probably the most legally protected of any undocumented young people in America," and they're lucky that the system's president, Janet Napolitano, has declared that the university won't participate in any deportation efforts against students.
5. University system creates post to deal with sexual violence
San Francisco Chronicle (*requires registration)
A new coordinator position has been created to oversee Title IX efforts at all of the UC system's campuses. The job's objective is to combat sexual violence and harassment, including supervising the investigations and sanctions in cases of policy violations. UC President Janet Napolitano selected UCLA Title IX attorney Kathleen Salvaty for the position. She will start on February 6. "Hiring Kathleen is a critical next step in making sure our recently overhauled policies to prevent, adjudicate and sanction sexual misconduct at UC are properly, and consistently, carried out," Napolitano said in a statement. Stories on this topic appeared in more than a dozen sources. For more on this, see UC's press release at University of California News.
6. Wonkblog: What Ben Carson got wrong about government assistance
At his confirmation hearing Thursday, Ben Carson -- Donald Trump's nominee for head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development -- repeated a popular conservative theory when he suggested that public housing assistance leads to "generation after generation living in dependent situations." Many economists reject the idea that public benefits discourage recipients from working. For example, research by Berkeley's Center for Labor Research and Education has found that roughly half the workers in low-paying industries such as fast-food, child care and home-care depend on public assistance.
7. Trump's Cabinet So Far Is More White and Male Than Any First Cabinet Since Reagan's
New York Times (*requires registration)
Donald Trump's selections for his cabinet thus far are significantly less diverse than those of the last three presidents. In a comparison of different presidents' choices, law professor Anne O'Connell notes that secretary of treasury and secretary of defense "have never been a woman or a person of color."
8. Maryland's Harris meets with Trump — perhaps about NIH post
Washington Post (*requires registration)
Donald Trump appears to be considering replacing Dr. Francis Collins with Maryland Rep. Andy Harris as chief of the National Institutes of Health. Calling for new leadership, molecular and cell biology professor Michael Eisen had written a letter to Trump, saying that the NIH had "lost its way" under Collins, and that it has become increasingly difficult for both established and beginning researchers to obtain funding. He charged that Collins has "systematically undermined the effectiveness of the institution and overseen a decline of American science." Asked about Harris, Professor Eisen says he doesn't know enough about him, but his interest is encouraging. "He clearly cares about the NIH and wants it to be successful. ... It's a really good sign he would be willing to leave Congress to take on a somewhat thankless job. It signals to me he really wants to make the agency work."
9. Neuroscience Can't Explain How an Atari Works
MIT Technology Review
Postdoctoral researcher Eric Jonas, of AmpLab, Berkeley's Big Data research center, has co-authored a study testing neuroscience tools used to study the brain to see if they would work on a simpler system – the computer chip of an Atari game. He and his colleague, Konrad Kording of Northwestern University, wanted to see how accurately their software could describe the chip's activity during gameplay. Their conclusion: they still couldn't "get anywhere near an understanding of the way the processor really works," and brain researchers need to keep in mind that their tools may not be able to describe a brain's function either. "While some of the results give interesting hints as to what might be going on," Jonas says, "the gulf between what constitutes 'real understanding' of the processor and what we can discover with these techniques was surprising."
10. Researcher: WhatsApp has 'bug' that could be exploited
Cryptography and security researcher Tobias Boelter, a graduate student in Berkeley's electrical engineering and computer sciences department, discovered a flaw in the WhatsApp software, now owned by Facebook and used by more than 1 billion people. The bug would allow messages to be intercepted despite end-to-end encryption, posing a threat to privacy. Although Boelter has been active in continuing to study the problem and raise awareness with the company and online, Facebook insists no one can intercept WhatsApp messages, including the company and its staff. Another story on this topic appeared in the Guardian.
11. What to See in New York Art Galleries This Week
New York Times (*requires registration)
An exhibit highlighted in Manhattan, at Galerie Lelong, features paintings with an interesting Berkeley connection. The Samuel Levi Jones exhibit is called "Burning All Illusion," and as this critic writes: The paintings "resemble sedate geometric abstractions, structured around the traditional artist's grid. Step closer, however, and you see it's not paint on the surface, but book covers ripped from their sources and arranged, quiltlike, on the canvas. Step even closer and you can make out a few titles, although most have been removed: 'Reference Library of Black America: Volume II'; 'Race and Ethnicity in the United States'; 'West's Illinois Digest' volumes on homicide or assault. ... The book covers came from the library of the African American Studies department at the University of California, Berkeley, which was deaccessioning obsolete items. They are, of course, very charged objects. The existence of such a library shows some kind of progress for African-Americans. Yet, seeing the torn-off covers reminds us of how differently laws have been — and still are — applied to various Americans."