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, 13 December 2017

1. Pharmacies now can offer birth control to women without a prescription, but few do
Los Angeles Times (*requires registration)

More than a year after a new California law allowed women to acquire birth control pills without doctors' prescriptions, a study by assistant social welfare professor Anu Manchikanti Gómez indicates that only 11 percent of the state's pharmacies are accommodating women with the service. The explanation, the study found, is that pharmacists are not required to make use of the law, and some are resistant because of issues relating to liability, staffing, and lack of reimbursement for the service. There is also an issue of women not being aware they can request the service when it's not offered. As Professor Gómez says, "It's hard to have demand for a service that doesn't exist." For more on this, see our press release at Berkeley News.
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2. What fire researchers learned from Northern California blazes
High Country News

Berkeley fire ecologists at the Blodgett Research Forest in California's Sierra Nevada have long conducted experiments with prescribed burns and thinning strategies that could be used to reduce the risks of wildfire. However, forest managers continue to concentrate on putting fires out, which exacerbates the conditions that make fires so volatile statewide. In this article, Sasha Berleman, a doctoral alum of Berkeley's forestry program, and Brandon Collins of Berkeley's Center for Fire Research and Outreach discuss the science and their recommendations to land managers, as well as the dire global warming implications of carbon emissions unleashed during massive fires.
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3. The very real health dangers of virtual reality

As brand new virtual reality headsets fly off store shelves, some safety warnings are in order. Aside from the risks of something that makes one "blind" to the environment, one of the biggest health concerns relates to the technology's potential effects on a user's vision. Optometry professor Martin Banks, who studies visual perception in virtual environments, says: "There are a variety of potential issues. ... One is how we affect the growth of the eye, which can lead to myopia or nearsightedness. ... Looking at tablets, phones and the like, there's pretty good evidence that doing near work can cause lengthening of the eye and increase risk for myopia. ... We're all worried that virtual reality might make things worse. ... The research has been done primarily in young adults ... so we don't really know what is going to happen to a young child."
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4. Fees paid by juvenile inmates to be refunded in Contra Costa County
East Bay Times (*requires registration)

The Contra Costa Board of Supervisors has approved refunds of fee overpayments for juvenile inmates' "cost-of-care," and some 465 affected families should benefit. Many California counties began eliminating the fees in recent years, prompted by Berkeley research. The researchers found that the fees disproportionately harmed families that could least afford the payments, often further destabilizing family economies and increasing the overall youth recidivism rate.
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5. Trump's Stand-In Bureaucrats May Have Overstayed Limits

President Trump's lack of alacrity in filling key government appointments is leading to a situation that could bring acting officials' decisions to court. The problem relates to the 1998 Federal Vacancies Reform Act, which states that positions vacated during a presidential transition can't be filled by acting officials for more than 300 days unless a permanent nominee is pending Senate confirmation. For the Trump administration, that mark passed in mid-November. "For almost all positions, if you're serving in violation of the Vacancies Act, anything that you do is void as a matter of law," says law professor Anne Joseph O'Connell.
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6. Op-Ed: Why helping big business doesn't help Americans
San Francisco Chronicle (*requires registration)

Despite Republicans' claims that their planned corporate tax cut -- the largest in U.S. history --will "restore our competitive edge," public policy professor Robert Reich says the cuts are, in fact, "designed for one thing: to boost their share prices, not to boost the vast majority of Americans." He says he doesn't blame American corporations, which are "in business to make profits and maximize their share prices, not to serve America." Instead, he blames "politicians like Trump and the Republicans who are trying to convince Americans that tax cuts on American corporations will be good for Americans."
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7. Pacific Film Archive filling screens year-round in new home
San Francisco Chronicle (*requires registration)

Since moving to the new Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive building downtown last year, the organization's film curators have been "filling the screens year-round." And, as this critic says, "Among other series, they're offering limited runs of movies that cover a range of cinematic styles and appeal to a wider audience." This December, there are a number of highlights on the program, ranging from the new French documentary "Faces Places" to a digital restoration of the classic 1945 noir film "Mildred Pierce," the documentary "California Typewriter," and Clint Eastwood's "Unforgiven." For this article, senior film curator Susan Oxtoby comments on each film's virtues. About "Mildred Pierce," she says it is "a terrific noir and one of [Joan] Crawford's best roles ever. The restoration was beautifully done," and although it might seem like an odd holiday choice she quips that "for anyone who might need a little escape, or a twisty look at familial relations, this is just the thing." For more on the archive's programming, visit BAMPFA.
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