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.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

1. Ann Coulter Says She Will Pull Out of Speech at Berkeley
New York Times (*requires registration)

Commentator Ann Coulter has reportedly sent a message to the New York Times indicating that she is canceling her visit to the Berkeley campus Thursday, citing lost support from her conservative backers. When campus police received credible threats of violence at the proposed event, administrators tried to arrange an alternative date, when her safety and that of the campus community could be better defended. Coulter rejected the proposal, stating that she would come regardless of the threats. However, on Tuesday, one of the conservative groups backing her visit announced: "Young America's Foundation will not jeopardize the safety of its staff or students," and the Berkeley College Republicans, who had initially offered the invitation (without first securing a venue), followed suit. Another story on this topic, which includes the full text of a statement Chancellor Nicholas Dirks released Wednesday morning, appeared in the Washington Post. A column about the controversy appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle.
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2. Berkeley's Dirks Reflects on Tumultuous Tenure
Chronicle of Higher Education (*requires registration)

In an interview about his nearly four years as Berkeley's chancellor, Nicholas Dirks talks about some of the enormous challenges he's faced during his tenure, including declining public support for higher education, dramatic protests and free speech debates, and sexual misconduct cases. Link to video; transcript forthcoming.
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3. AT&T's rollout of broadband serves the rich, shunts mid- and low-income families to the slow lane
Los Angeles Times

AT&T favored the wealthiest communities when it rolled out its Internet service, according to a new report by Berkeley's Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society. "What is really essential infrastructure for connecting people to education, economic opportunity, business relationships and other really critical spheres of life should be rolled out in the public interest and in an equitable and inclusive way," says lead author Eli Moore. "Based on the data we analyzed, it does not appear that AT&T is doing that in low-income and moderate income communities." As this columnist notes: "Berkeley's findings have much to tell us about the drawbacks of leaving the deployment of such important services to market forces."
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4. This Is What Heat Does to Us—and the Economy

A video guide to research about the effects of heat on human society and the economy, highlights a couple of Berkeley studies. One, published in Nature in 2015, found that productivity peaks in all countries when the average annual temperature is around 13 degrees Celsius (55.4 Fahrenheit) and that by 2100, global warming could shrink per-capita GDP by a quarter. Another, published in Science in September, reviewed dozens of studies of temperature and behavior. Link to video.
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5. Why Some Scientists Are Embracing Activism
Wall Street Journal

In a review of some scientists' motivations to participate in science activism, including the March for Science last weekend, doctoral plant biology student Daniel Westcott, gave his perspective. He feels there is a growing "disregard" for science that he finds "disheartening," especially when he considers his career prospects. He believes that many people's lack of interaction with scientists is part of the problem, and that many see researchers as "weird." To correct those stereotypes, he says that he and some of his Berkeley colleagues are organizing visits to community events, such as farmers markets, to talk casually with neighbors about their work.
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6. 13.7 Cosmos & Culture Blog: Science Isn't Partisan, But Public Perception Of Science Often Is
NPR Online

Discussing last Saturday's March for Science and a forthcoming study about people's perceptions of scientists and scientific claims, psychology professor Tania Lombrozo concludes: "Fortunately, most of the research that informs policy isn't about social identity. Studies of energy use and environmental impacts, for example, are unlikely to compare conservatives versus liberals. Studies of educational or health outcomes rarely focus on differences across Democrats and Republicans. Yet scientific claims that become associated with political positions — like anthropogenic climate change — can also become threats to political identity. And that broadens the scope of cases for which partisan politics can skew the perception of science."
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7. Editorial: Higher graduation rates sound good, but what do they really tell us?
Los Angeles Times

This editorial notes that while California's high school graduation rates have reportedly risen some 8.5 percentage points to 83 percent since 2010, education and public policy professor Bruce Fuller points out that 11th grade scores on the state's standardized tests don't correlate. The editors conclude: "The head of California's schools owes it to students to ensure that the piece of paper they receive when they cross the stage will be worth something after the glow of commencement day fades." Professor Fuller was also quoted in a Wall Street Journal story about New York City's pre-kindergarten expansion.
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