Berkeley in the News

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, 31 July 2015

1. New Insights Into Treating Brain Rhythm Disorders

Tracking the changing rhythms of a healthy human brain engaged in intellectually challenging tasks could help scientists develop more targeted treatments for people with certain brain disorders, such as Parkinson’s, schizophrenia and autism, a new study has found. Co-authored by Bradley Voytek, a recent post-doctoral fellow in neuroscience at Berkeley, the results help explain the mechanism through which brain networks “quickly come together and break apart as needed," Voytek says. "In these brief moments of synchronisation, quick communication occurs as the neurons between brain regions lock into these frequencies, and this measure is critical in a variety of disorders." Stories on this topic appeared in more than a dozen sources around the world, including the Times of India, Futurity, News-Medical, Medical Express, Science Blog, Zee News, New Kerala, Business Standard, and the Health Site.
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2. As a killer fungus looms, scientists call for a ban on salamander imports
Los Angeles Times

If a newly discovered fungus in Asia reaches North America, it could devastate salamander populations and cause a major biodiversity crisis, scientists are warning. As a cautionary measure, they are asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ban live salamander imports until controls are in place to prevent the deadly pathogen from spreading. Called Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans, or Bsal, it is similar to another fungus that has wiped out more than 200 species of amphibians worldwide since 1999, but Berkeley biologist David Wake says: “This fungus is much worse. ... Bsal is an acute infection that just turns them into little masses of slime in three to four days." Stories on this topic appeared in more than 100 sources, including the San Francisco Chronicle, Science World Report, Futurity, TV Newsroom, Tech Times, KALW, and UPI.
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3. UC Berkeley awarded earthquake early warning grant
Contra Costa Times (*requires registration)

Berkeley and three other western universities have been awarded grants totaling $4 million by the U.S. Geological Survey to help roll out the ShakeAlert earthquake early warning system. ShakeAlert gives people precious seconds of notice before severe shaking begins so they can take precautions, such as taking cover and slowing trains. Berkeley’s share is $1.2 million over two years. Stories on this topic appeared in dozens of sources, including the San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News (AP), KPCC Southern California Public Radio (link to audio), CBS SF Bay Area Online, and Boing Boing.
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4. UC Berkeley Named Best Public University in US
KGO Online

Berkeley is the top-ranked public university in the U.S., according to the latest Center for World University Rankings. Overall, Berkeley is ranked seventh among the 1,000 best universities in the world. The ranking is based on measures of the quality of education and faculty, as well as how alumni fare in the workplace. Stories on this topic appeared in dozens of sources, including the Contra Costa Times and CBS SF Bay Area.
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5. Econ 101: Chicago? M.I.T.? Nope, Berkeley's on Top
Bloomberg View

In the debate over which university economics department is the greatest, this commentator votes for Berkeley’s. Calling to mind department luminaries like David Romer, Maurice Obstfeld, Dan McFadden, David Card, Emmanuel Saez, Barry Eichengreen, Brad DeLong and George Akerlof, he says: “Berkeley's influence goes beyond the standard impact of a high-ranking economics department. Researchers at Berkeley during the past four decades haven't just been prestigious and incisive, they have been different. Their research has taken economics in new directions, in terms of both methods and subject matter. It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that the Chicago School has been replaced in prominence and influence by what I like to call the Berkeley Reformation." Another commentary on this topic appeared in the Washington Post.
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6. All Things Considered: Tech Experts Warn Of Artificial Intelligence Arms Race In Open Letter

Fearing an artificial intelligence (AI) arms race, a group of prominent scientists and concerned individuals -- including Stephen Hawking, Noam Chomsky and Steve Wozniak -- have signed an open letter warning about the risks of autonomous weapons development. Computer scientist Stuart Russell, a leading AI researcher, was a driving force behind the letter. In an interview, he advocates a United Nations treaty banning autonomous weapons, adding that people in the AI field “would much rather focus on the positive uses of artificial intelligence," such as self-driving cars and personal assistants that are more intelligent than Siri or Cortana. Link to audio. A blog on this topic appeared on NPR Online.
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7. Forget hunters. Humans pose all kinds of risks to lions.
Washington Post

“It’s frustrating to see vast press coverage on the shooting (albeit repugnant) of one aged lion, while thousands are poisoned, speared and snared every year and no one pays any attention," research zoologist Laurence Frank says about the current media blitz over the search for Cecil the lion’s alleged killer. Frank has conducted predator research in Kenya for 40 years, and says: “Like everyone else in this business, I am beyond sick of the hunting debate and wish there were some way to focus public outrage on the issues that really matter."
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8. What Greece's Tsipras needs: A good tax collector
CBS MoneyWatch

Tax evasion is one of the biggest economic challenges facing the prime minister of Greece, and assistant business professor Adair Morse has documented its practice among highly educated professionals like doctors, lawyers, engineers and accountants. "For every dollar that is reported, 80 cents is not," she says.
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9. Real Time Economics Blog: ‘Boomerang’ Millennials Get Cozy at Home
Wall Street Journal Online

In spite of the economic recovery, a new poll finds that a higher percentage of millennials is living with parents than in 2010. “One thing that’s quite different from previous recessions is there’s a lot of inequality across areas in terms of rents," economist Hilary Hoynes says. “The high price of housing in many of the top American cities would have the potential of affecting a large group of people."
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10. Rising Rents Outpace Wages in Wide Swaths of the U.S.
Wall Street Journal (*requires registration)

“Rents have skyrocketed so much and incomes haven’t kept pace, so we have an affordability crisis in some of our major metropolitan areas for the middle housing market," says Kenneth Rosen, chairman of Berkeley’s Fisher Center for Real Estate and Urban Economics.
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11. Glare of Video Is Shifting Public’s View of Police
New York Times (*requires registration)

“The benefit of being able to hold police accountable in many situations where they are now largely immune is probably worth the cost alone. ... But even more so when you consider how often the same cameras will provide damning evidence against criminal suspects as well," Jonathan Simon, director of Berkeley’s Center for the Study of Law and Society, says about police departments’ increasing use of body cameras.
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12. 13.7 Cosmos & Culture Blog: 15 Questions About Science And Religion, Answered
NPR Online

Psychology professor Tania Lombrozo shares YouTube videos of presentations made at a recent workshop on science and religion. Her presentation addressed the question of whether scientific and religious explanations are philosophically incompatible. Link to videos.
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13. Wariness as Auto Industry Eyes Mexico for Growth
New York Times (*requires registration)

As new contract negotiations begin between the U.S. auto industry and the United Automobile Workers union, one of the union’s key concerns is the possibility of losing jobs to lower-wage countries like Mexico. “In the past two years, there has been about $19 billion in new investments announced for Mexico," says labor expert Harley Shaiken. “This raises enormous competitive issues for the U.A.W. ... These are very high-stakes issues with the union. ... How do they keep jobs if the companies can make more money in overseas plants?"
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14. Raising Floor for Minimum Wage Pushes Economy Into the Unknown
New York Times (*requires registration)

Studies co-authored by economist Michael Reich have supported arguments for raising the minimum wage, a fight that is gaining momentum nationwide. He has repeatedly found that mandated wage increases for low-income workers significantly reduce turnover.
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15. Mark Bittman: California Matters -- Wage Justice Is on the Menu
New York Times Online (*requires registration)

In this episode of the video series “California Matters," New York Times food columnist Mark Bittman, currently on an extended residency at the Berkeley Food Institute, discusses wage justice in the food industry with Saru Jayaraman, director of Berkeley’s Food Labor Research Center. Link to video.
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