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.
Thursday, 23 October 2014
1. More Price Warnings on Hospital-Led Mergers
A new study led by health economics professor James Robinson found total medical costs 10 – 20 percent higher at hospital-owned physician offices than those at offices owned by doctors, raising new questions about the trend of healthcare consolidation. “The problem with all this is that hospitals are very expensive and complex organizations, and they are not known for their efficiency and low prices,” Professor Robinson says. Another story on this topic appeared in News-Medical.
2. Motorcycle Lane Splitting Poses No Additional Dangers -- UC Berkeley Study
KABC TV Los Angeles
Commissioned by the California Highway Patrol and the Office of Traffic Safety, a year-long Berkeley study of motorcycle lane-splitting has determined that the practice is no more dangerous than motorcycling in general, as long as the rider is traveling at speeds similar to or only slightly faster than the surrounding traffic. However, when the motorcyclist is speeding or riding more than 10 mph faster than the traffic being passed, it becomes significantly more dangerous. California is the only state where lane splitting is not banned. Link to video. An editorial on this topic appeared in the Modesto Bee, and an Associated Press version of the story appeared in Bakersfield Now.
3. I'll Have a Glass of Grapefruit Juice With My Bacon Fat
A new study led by associate nutritional sciences and toxicology professor Andreas Stahl found that mice who consumed sweetened grapefruit juice gained less weight on a high-fat diet than others who drank sweetened water. The mice drinking juice also had better measures of metabolic health, including blood levels of glucose and insulin. The juice did not affect the weight of mice on low-fat diets, although it did make them more sensitive to insulin. The researchers made some caveats clear: the study was small and may not be applicable to humans.
4. The euro crisis: Back to reality
In a story about unsustainable debt in some euro-zone economies, a study co-authored by economics professor Barry Eichengreen is cited. The study had looked at 54 emerging and advanced economies and found that large and sustained primary surpluses are extremely rare.
5. Scientists Consider Repurposing Robots for Ebola
New York Times (*requires registration)
Along with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and other universities, UC Berkeley will be co-hosting a workshop on safety robotics for Ebola workers on November 7. The plan is to give robotics experts a chance to hear directly from medical and humanitarian workers what is needed most in the fight against the virus, although research begun now may not lead to something useful until the next epidemic. Industrial engineering and operations research professor Ken Goldberg worries that the robotics researchers might seem opportunistic if they rush forward with unproven technology. “We don’t want to be seen as capitalizing on the tragedy,” he says. “You don’t want to be seen as, ‘We’re sending in the robots.’ It sounds insensitive and crass.” Another story on this topic appeared in the Daily Mail Online (UK).
6. Workers paid $1.21 an hour to install Fremont computers
Contra Costa Times (*requires registration)
Labor economist Sylvia Allegretto, of Berkeley's Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics, comments on reports that a company in Fremont paid several employees from India as little as $1.21 an hour to help install computer systems. "It's always amazing that some employers think they can go about with this kind of cheating," she says. "These kinds of egregious wage and law violations go on every day. ... There are a lot of violations like this in the restaurant industry."
7. Overweight Women Tend To Earn Smaller Paychecks, Study Claims
NBC News Online
Retired nutritional science lecturer Joanne Ikeda comments on a new study linking overweight women to lower-paying, more strenuous jobs, a trend that is not apparent among overweight men. Professor Ikeda, a member of and scientific adviser to the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance, a civil rights nonprofit, says: "There has been just study after study showing fat people are discriminated against in housing, employment, college admission, even in adoption. ... You can today fire a fat person for no other reason other than they are fat, and you don’t want a fat employee. In the workplace, this is getting worse. ... The whole 'war on obesity' has focused a whole lot of attention on fat people and the general impression of the public is they can be shamed or scared into getting thin. Which is absolutely ludicrous. If every fat person who has been shamed was motivated to somehow get thin, believe me they would be."
8. Bonds should not pay for iPad curriculum, new L.A. Unified head says
Los Angeles Times
Assistant information professor Brian Carver, a member of the board of directors of the California League of Bond Oversight Committees, says that the debate over spending school construction bonds for technology has been going on in districts "up and down the state."
9. Scientists can now edit any gene they want
Berkeley molecular and cell biology professor Jennifer Doudna's founding contributions to the development of a new genetic engineering technique are mentioned in a story about the potential of the breakthrough. The medical possibilities are revolutionary, but the possibility of misuse is something that sometimes wakes her up at night, she says. "And it is easy enough to use that anybody with basic molecular biology training can use it for genome editing. That’s a bit scary,” she said in an interview with NPR.
10. Controversy surrounds UO speaker
Integrative biology professor Tyrone Hayes is profiled as he prepares to give the keynote speech at the University of Oregon Herbicides and Health Conference on Friday. Professor Hayes' research on the environmental impact of the common weed killer atrazine has made him a controversial figure, celebrated by environmental activists and loathed by the chemical industry.
11. Berkeley Taps Bill Maher for Graduation Speaker
National Review Online
Comedian and political commentator Bill Maher, host of HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher, is scheduled to give the keynote address at Berkeley's winter graduation ceremony Dec. 20.
12. Berkeley, A Look Back: UC gets a federally funded building...
Contra Costa Times (*requires registration)
A Throwback Thursday item notes that the former home of the UC Printing Department, now under reconstruction as the future home of the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, was nearing completion on October 23, 1939. It was the only permanent building on campus funded with federal 'New Deal' money during the Great Depression.
13. Berkeley’s Uncharted fest unites innovators in quest for ideas
San Francisco Chronicle (*requires registration)
The second annual Uncharted: The Berkeley Festival of Ideas takes place this Friday and Saturday at various sites around the city. Sponsored by Berkeleyside, the festival features public discussions on a variety of current and thought-provoking topics. One of the highlights will be Nobel Laureate Randy Schekman's discussion, entitled "To Boldly Go ... The New Frontiers of Medicine.” Another story on this topic appeared in San Francisco Magazine.
14. How to Watch Today’s Solar Eclipse
Berkeley's Lawrence Hall of Science is hosting a solar eclipse-watching event for museum guests today, Thursday, from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Activities will include observations through solar telescopes, a Q&A in the planetarium, and model demonstrations. Eclipse-viewing glasses are also available for purchase in the store.