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, 15 February 2019

1. The Berkeley campus will be closed on Monday, February 18, in observance of the Presidents' Day holiday. Publication of Berkeley in the News will resume on Tuesday, February 19.

2. Glyphosate May Increase Risk of Some Cancers
Laboratory Equipment

Glyphosate, the chemical in Roundup and other widely used herbicides, increases the risk of certain cancers in humans, finds a meta-analysis co-authored by Berkeley researchers. The analysis pertained to six studies, including one of a cohort of 53,760 people who work as licensed applicators of glyphosate, and a key finding was that exposure to the chemical increases the risk of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, or NHL, by roughly 40 percent. "Together, all of the meta-analyses conducted to date, including our own, consistently report the same key finding: exposure to GBHs are associated with an increase of NHL," the researchers reported. "Glyphosate and its metabolites persist in food, water and dust, potentially indicating that everyone may be exposed ubiquitously." Stories on this topic appeared in dozens of sources, including The Guardian (UK), Before It's News, Centre Daily Times, EcoWatch, and the Daily Mail (UK).
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3. There are more female-led startups than ever. But they still face problems like investor bias
San Francisco Business Times (*requires registration)

Bay area startup incubators, including Berkeley's SkyDeck and the Berkeley-affiliated QB3, are striving to boost their numbers of women founding new companies. SkyDeck has fostered more female founders in the life sciences than in other fields, and Caroline Winnett, the incubator's executive director, explains that the life sciences are much kinder to women than other tech sectors. SkyDeck plans to launch a formal three-tiered program this year, called Inclusive Entrepreneurship. It will train companies to provide networks for women and people of color, and to be more diverse in their hiring practices. Speaking of the challenges women face in pitching their businesses to venture capital firms that are rarely led by women, Winnett says: "If you stand up to pitch [as a woman] you cannot make any kind of movements or expression that would indicate lack of confidence or lack of ability. ... It's important for investors to have a diverse set of people making the decisions because otherwise they won't represent the entire market."
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4. The sky is falling? Leading Bay Area economist predicts tech-led recession soon
San Francisco Business Times (*requires registration)

A tech-led recession is looming, Ken Rosen, chair of the Fisher Center for Real Estate and Urban Economics, told an audience at the San Francisco Business Times' Mayors Breakfast Thursday. Noting that he expects the sector collapse by 2022, he said: "We're in a real boom here and this is a bigger boom than we had in the 1990s. This has lasted longer, added a lot more jobs. ... But we're also dependent on one major industry. We don't want to admit this, but it's going to be our Achilles' heel. (Tech is going to create) our next recession." Emphasizing the impact this could have on the overall Bay Area economy, he said that the four leading tech companies -- Apple, Amazon, Alphabet/Google, and Facebook -- are all vulnerable to regulation and declining sales. He added that the area's vulnerability is increased by its large number of unicorns -- companies valued at more than $1 billion -- since many of them wouldn't survive a downturn. "There's quite a bit of risk out there," he said. "Tech companies will see slowing growth. We're driven by capital markets and a substantial number of the companies they're funding will fail."
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5. Will 'basic income' become the California norm? Stockton starts $500 no-strings payments
Sacramento Bee (*requires registration)

The first city-led experiment in universal basic income launches Friday in Stockton, a California city in which one in four residents lives below the poverty line. Called Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration (SEED), it is starting with $500 debit cards distributed to a select group of residents. Economics and public policy professors Hilary Hoynes and Jesse Rothstein just published a study of proposed universal basic income policies for the National Bureau of Economic Research. "A universal payment of $12,000 per year to each adult U.S. resident over age 18 would cost roughly $3 trillion per year," they wrote in the paper, but Professor Hoynes says there could still be benefits to pilot programs like SEED, such as gaining a better understanding of how beneficiaries spend their money, and finding out how modest income increases could affect such things as educational or employment decisions, which could have long-term impact. She says she's not sure universal basic income could solve future mass unemployment resulting from artificial intelligence, but she does believe the ideas involved could usefully inform discussions about wage stagnation among low-skilled workers.
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6. Poor scheduling costs hourly workers sleep and happiness
Fast Company

A story about the devastating effects of unpredictable shiftwork, so common in the retail and food service industry, includes the following reference to a study co-authored by assistant sociology professor Daniel Schneider: "Researchers from UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco, publishing in the journal American Sociological Review, used targeted Facebook surveys to poll nearly 28,000 workers at the country's largest 80 retail and food service firms during 2016 and 2017. Those findings, first summarized by the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, which helped fund the study, show that less than half (39%) of respondents report not having a regular schedule. The study makes clear that those without protection typically experience their available hours fluctuating by around 30% weekly, which can mean, of course, 30% less money in a given week. ... Not surprisingly that can lead to unpredictable income issues and difficulty paying bills. The vast majority of those surveyed reported suffering money troubles within the last year. Nearly half of all those surveyed end up working both closing and opening shifts back to back. Many also remain on call (without pay) in case they're needed."
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7. Underneath the asphalt
San Francisco Chronicle (*requires registration)

The planned site of the Oakland A's new stadium -- at Howard Terminal of Oakland's Inner Harbor -- is considered a "brownfield" for the pollutants and contaminants that must be cleansed before the area can be developed. Any remediation strategy will be expensive and complicated, because there are also concerns about contaminants possibly spreading away from the site due to sea level rise and storm runoff. Presently, groundwater flows toward the bay, but in future decades that could be countered by rising sea, explains associate landscape architecture and environmental planning and urban design professor Kristina Hill. "People think that flooding is something that comes sideways in from the ocean, but this kind of flooding actually bubbles up through the soil over a long period of time ... [creating] soupy shorelines," she says. She adds that since groundwater can carry dangerous chemicals, additional monitoring wells to track contaminated water should be installed to protect neighboring communities, "because people's lives are at stake," Professor Hill says. For more on this, see our story at Berkeley News.
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8. After an 'Ambiguous' Apology From Ryan Adams, What's the Right Way to Say Sorry?
New York Times (*requires registration)

After singer-songwriter Ryan Adams was accused of manipulating women and communicating in a sexually explicit way with a minor, he apologized on Twitter, saying that he was "not a perfect man" and he'd made many mistakes. "To anyone I have ever hurt, however unintentionally, I apologize deeply and unreservedly," he said. "But the picture that this article paints is upsettingly inaccurate. Some of its details are misrepresented; some are exaggerated; some are outright false. I would never have inappropriate interactions with someone I thought was underage. Period." Weighing in on his gesture, Christine Carter, a senior fellow at Berkeley's Greater Good Science Center remarked: "We have a pretty good understanding, from research, of what makes a satisfying apology. And the Ryan Adams one does not meet the criteria by any stretch of the imagination." Noting the importance of specificity and transparency in apologies, she said that sharing feelings of sorrow or embarrassment also help show a person has learned something from their mistakes. "What we want to know is that they're not going to do it again. ... With all kinds of mistakes, the fear behind an insincere apology is that the person hasn't learned anything, and that they are not going to make any reparations for their actions."
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9. The Structure of Abstraction
Wall Street Journal (*requires registration)

A retrospective of German-American abstract artist Hans Hofmann, on display at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive from Feb. 27 to July 21, shows in chronological order how Hofmann's work drew on nature and developed into abstraction. The exhibit includes 70 paintings and works on paper, drawn from a range of American museums and private collections, including BAMPFA's own substantive collection of Hoffman works. Among the pieces is "Auxerre," one of his later paintings, which sold in May 2015 for $6.3 million. According to exhibition curator Lucinda Barnes: "It's extraordinary how in his late 70s after he's retired from teaching, Hofmann just creatively explodes. ... It's something that catches me and others by surprise because his late work is so energetic and in a way young in spirit." For more on this, visit BAMPFA.
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