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.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

1. Berkeley in the News will take a break from Wednesday, June 21, through Monday, June 26. Publication will resume on Tuesday, June 27.

2. Worried about losing health care? You're in good company
Sacramento Bee

A newly released poll by Berkeley's Institute of Governmental Studies has found that Californians supporting the Affordable Care Act outnumber opponents by a ratio of 2 to 1. The numbers represent a record level of support for Obamacare, with 56 percent of Californians concerned that they or family members could lose their insurance if it is repealed or changed, as the Trump administration and Republican-led Congress intend. According to Mark DiCamillo, the poll's director, while it's not clear what might come of the Senate's secretive drafting process for an ACA replacement, "people are seeing that health care is likely to be reduced and they are not clear where that will happen. ... But a good segment of people worry it will fall on them." For more on this poll, see our press release at Berkeley News. Other stories on this topic appeared in the Mercury News and KPCC Southern California Public Radio.
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3. Great Mariel Boatlift Debate: Does Immigration Lower Wages?
Wall Street Journal (*requires registration)

Back in 1990, economics professor David Card opened a debate that rages on today about the economic impact of the Mariel boatlift, which brought some 125,000 Cuban refugees to Florida in 1980. In his paper, he compared Miami with four similar cities in the U.S. that hadn't absorbed masses of refugees, concluding: "The Mariel immigration had essentially no effect on the wages or employment outcomes of non-Cuban workers in the Miami labor market." Now, supported by likeminded politicians in Washington, a long-time rival economist Cuban-born George Borjas of Harvard -- is having "his moment," Professor Card says. Borjas argues that the boatlift led to a large decline in wages for low-skilled local workers. But Card's take, which refutes the supply-and-demand view of immigration, is still the majority view of the economics establishment.
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4. A bitter scientific debate just erupted over the future of America's power grid
Washington Post (*requires registration)

Energy professor Dan Kammen is among a number of prominent environmentalists backing a new peer-reviewed study correcting mistakes in a 2015 study co-authored by Stanford professor Mark Jacobson, which had projected the U.S. could be entirely powered by clean energy sources by 2055. The new report argues that the study -- which had been seized upon by Sen. Bernie Sanders, environmental groups, and celebrity activists had made modeling errors and unsupported assumptions. "We thought we had to write a peer reviewed piece to highlight some of the mistakes and have a broader discussion about what we really need to fight climate change," says the new report's author -- Christopher Clack, founder of Vibrant Clean Energy.
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5. Is California's Investment in Needy Students Paying Off? There Are Few Signs The Achievement Gap Is Closing
Berkeley Patch

A CALmatters analysis has found little evidence that California's aggressive push to provide extra funding to struggling public schools has changed anything at all, and education and public policy professor Bruce Fuller is not surprised. He says: "The state has spent tens of billions of dollars trying to lift poor kids and not one penny evaluating whether any of it is working. ... That's outrageous. We're heading into year five. It's time to discern what's effective and where we're just wasting money."
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6. Billionaire Tom Steyer at a crossroad: Run for California governor or go after Trump?
Los Angeles Times

Billionaire Democrat Tom Steyer is weighing a couple of choices about his future whether to spend his money running for governor of California next year or fund a campaign to impeach Donald Trump. As this article says, "Steyer must consider whether his time and money would be better spent fighting Trump and the Republican-led Congress, or bloodying fellow Democrats over the next year." A poll released in March by Berkeley's Institute of Governmental Studies may discourage the latter option, since it found his support among the various potential governor candidates to be in the single digits.
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7. Power Causes Brain Damage
The Atlantic

Two decades of research have led psychology professor Dacher Keltner to conclude that subjects under the influence of power act as if they've suffered traumatic brain injury showing more impulsivity, less risk-awareness, and becoming less capable of seeing other people's points of view. He calls the result a "power paradox," where once we gain power, we lose some of the abilities that gave us power in the first place.
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8. More Than a 'Summer Slump': How the Loss of Structure Affects Academics
Chronicle of Higher Education (*requires registration)

With the fixed schedule of classes and the academic community dispersed, professors and graduate students often slip into what some call a "summer slump," in which a sense of isolation, depression, and anxiety can overwhelm academics. Anthropology professor Rosemary Joyce says she has witnessed the phenomenon for years. "There's so much shame about things in academia," she says. "People in all walks of life sometimes can't cope with their life, and academics are not different. But we don't talk about it, and not talking about is unhealthy." Noting that three-quarters of a professor's life is strictly scheduled, and one-quarter lacks structure, she says: "There's this time, and at the end of it, you're going to look back on it as a critical time that proved your worth. ... Did you get the book done? Did you get the article done? ... We have this mythical belief that everyone will come out of it at the other end OK. ... You don't end up as a faculty member unless you did survive it. That doesn't mean that there weren't people in my generation who got so stressed out that they left. They did leave. We just never talked about them."
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9. Home being built for Solar Decathlon to be placed in Richmond
Richmond Standard

After two years of planning, a team of Berkeley and University of Denver students collaborating with the city of Richmond has begun construction on an energy- and water-efficient home for the U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon competition. The design is for an 800-square-foot, single-story home with an 800-square-foot deck. It's designed to accommodate the stacking of additional units on top, and the walls are moveable so the unit can be changed from a one-bedroom to a two-bedroom unit. After the competition, it will be disassembled and relocated to Richmond.
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10. 13.7 Cosmos & Culture Blog: The Neurobiology Of Father's Day Cards
NPR Online

Common Father's Day greetings get no pass from psychology professor Tania Lombrozo. After helping her daughter pick out a card, she had to do some research on the "neurobiological underpinnings" of the messages they'd seen on the shelf. She concludes with the pithy "best dad on earth" message, saying: "You don't need neurobiology to know this one's statistically unlikely to be true. But I'm pretty sure dad will overlook the minor inaccuracy and be happy to hear it just the same. After all, it's just a greeting card."
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