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, 24 January 2020

1. Do Oakland Police Violate Human Rights Law?
The Crime Report

Oakland, one of the nation's most violent cities, has more than 2,000 cold homicide cases currently outstanding, and a new report by Berkeley Law's International Human Rights Law Clinic argues that the Oakland Police Department's failure to solve homicides affecting the black community, as well as it's discriminatory treatment of victims' family members, is causing widespread trauma and may be a violation of international human rights law. According to the report: "In the last decade, approximately 76 percent of the city's homicide victims were black. During that time period, police made arrests in approximately 40 percent of Oakland homicides involving black victims and approximately 80 percent of homicides involving white victims. ... The OPD does not have protocols for official death notification by police of next of kin, interaction with family members at the crime scene, or communication with family members during the investigation. Many family members reported that police did not return their phone calls or update them about the investigation." For more on this, see our press release at Berkeley News.
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2. First Blue LED Emission from a Perovskite
IEEE Spectrum

An unprecedented blue light-emitting diode, or LED, using the inexpensive and natural mineral perovskite has been created by a team of Berkeley researchers led by chemistry professor Peidong Yang. Until now, perovskite LEDs have only put out red or green light, so the innovation offers new promise for electronic displays, but it also suggests potential instabilities in other applications, such as solar cells and transistors. For more on this, see our press release at Berkeley News.
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3. Germany Rejected Nuclear Power -- and Deadly Emissions Spiked

Germany has been decommissioning its nuclear power plants over the past decade, with 11 plants shut down to date, and another six due for closure by 2022. The shift stemmed from antinuclear sentiment that resurged with the Chernobyl disaster in the mid-1980s and then came to a head following the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown. However, a new study by Berkeley, UC Santa Barbara, and Carnegie Mellon researchers has found that coal plants largely replaced the lost nuclear power, leading to a 5% increase in emissions. Worse, the researchers estimate that resulting particle pollution and sulfur dioxide probably killed an additional 1,100 people a year from respiratory or cardiovascular diseases. All told, they estimate the social cost was roughly $12 billion a year, which is billions more than it would have cost to hold steady with nuclear power plants, even when meltdown risks and nuclear waste storage costs are taken into account. Link to the study at the National Bureau of Economic Research.
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4. 2020 NAS Award for Scientific Reviewing: Christina Maslach, University of California, Berkeley
National Academy of Sciences Online

Psychology professor emeritus Christina Maslach has won the National Academy of Sciences Award for Scientific Reviewing for her pioneering research on job burnout and the well-being of workers. The award comes with a $25,000 prize. She and other winners will be honored in a ceremony on April 26 at the NAS's annual meeting. For more on this, see our story at Berkeley News.
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5. PG&E bankruptcy exit plan doesn't need Newsom's approval -- but actually it does
Los Angeles Times (*requires registration)

PG&E's plan to come out of bankruptcy will only require approval from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court and the California Public Utilities Commission, but Governor Gavin Newsom's opinion will matter too. That's because his "voice is an important one for the CPUC as it considers whether or not to approve a plan," says public policy lecturer Steven Weissman, a former CPUC administrative law judge. "The CPUC shares the governor's interest in ensuring energy policy is consistent and well coordinated across numerous state agencies."
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6. Op-Ed: The Myth of the Urban Boomer
New York Times (*requires registration)

While there may be more baby boomers downsizing and returning to urban areas, they are not retaking our cities, as many believe, assures Jed Kolko, a senior fellow at Berkeley's Terner Center for Housing Innovation. "The story line is wrong," he writes. "Boomers today are actually less urban than previous generations of older people." Discussing the numbers and trends, he concludes: "For developers and public officials in cities, the rising number of older city dwellers is real, and it matters. There is growing demand for the housing features and public services that many older adults prefer. More of the urban housing stock will need to be homes that work for seniors. But that's not because boomers love cities or are more drawn to urban living than previous generations -- just the opposite. It's simply that there are more of them, almost everywhere."
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7. His role ceremonial so far, Roberts' views could still impact impeachment trial
San Francisco Chronicle (*requires registration)

Attorney and media studies lecturer William Bennett Turner, a First Amendment expert who used to teach law at Harvard and argued cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, has called attention to an article that Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in 1978. In the article, Roberts questioned a Supreme Court decision ruling that the KQED public television station could not have access to Alameda County's Santa Rita Jail because the First Amendment does not protect access to information or sites controlled by the government. Roberts had written that the ruling "should not be considered as standing for the proposition that there is no First Amendment right of public access to government-controlled institutions," and that constitutional standards could be defined for "limiting the right of access within workable bounds" in such cases. Speaking of Roberts' power today, Turner says: "It would be nice if he could recapture his enthusiasm for the public's right to know. ... He's got an opportunity in presiding over impeachment" and in Supreme Court cases that also involve President Trump.
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8. President Elizabeth Warren: Here's what it would mean for California
San Francisco Chronicle (*requires registration)

If Elizabeth Warren were to become president, her tax plan -- placing an annual 2% tax on people with more than $50 million in wealth, plus 1% more for those worth more than $1 billion would affect roughly 18,750 California households at the $50 million mark and roughly 900 billionaires, according to an estimate by economics professor Emmanuel Saez. He and fellow Berkeley economist Gabriel Zucman have advised both Warren's and Bernie Sanders' campaigns, supplying the research behind their wealth-tax plans. They found last year that -- for the first time in U.S. history -- the nation's 400 richest households paid a lower effective tax rate than the poorest 50% of households.
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9. Letter to the Editor: Move Stanford's King Institute to UC Berkeley
Mercury News (*requires registration)

Responding to the article, "Amid tech glory, MLK legacy lives in humility: Historian fears King collection is not a priority for Stanford" (Jan. 20), Mercury News reader Andrea Bloom writes: "What a sad representation of Stanford's priorities by Clayborne Carson, director of the King Institute at Stanford. ... Amidst one of the largest endowments of a U.S. university, this key institute's future is at risk. Perhaps relocating to UC Berkeley, the King Institute would find a home at a university where social justice is embedded in its DNA? ... UC Berkeley houses numerous organizations, institutes and multidisciplinary programs that promote social justice...."
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10. Robert Greenberg's mission to spread music knowledge -- without picking up an instrument
San Francisco Chronicle Online (*requires registration)

Alum Robert Greenberg, the music historian in residence at SF Performances, often takes the stage with the Alexander Quartet and SF Performances to explain classical music to audiences. "I'm a contextualizer," he says. "And, to a certain degree, an entertainer." He also writes weekly columns for his website and is busy creating a podcast series for Audible on Beethoven, commemorating the composer's 250th birthday this year. Raised in New York, Greenberg arrived at Berkeley in 1978 to start his doctoral studies in composition, and he says that after just six hours: "I said to myself: 'I'm home, this is it.' ... The sky is sapphire blue. ... Everything looks magnified, like you could touch Marin with your hands from Berkeley. The air had that beautiful, pure smell you never, ever have on the East Coast. I've never left."
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