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, 16 July 2019

1. New York Times Reporter Leaves Following Implosion of Trump Taxes Team
Daily Beast

David Barstow, a four-time Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter at the New York Times, is coming to Berkeley to direct the Investigative Reporting Program at the Graduate School of Journalism. He will be replacing Lowell Bergman, who founded the program in 2006 and retired in June. For more on this, see our press release at Berkeley News. A brief on this topic appeared in Politico.
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2. Scientists catch chemical bonds exploding
Cosmos

Aiming to understand and possibly manipulate photochemical reactions, a team of Berkeley chemists is using some of the shortest available laser pulses, lasting one quintillionth of a second, to explode chemical bonds and understand and visualize the process. The work is featured here as Cosmos Magazine's 'Image of the Day.' Doctoral chemistry student Yuki Kobayashi is the study's first author. For more on this, see our press release at Berkeley News. Other stories on this topic appeared in Tech2.org and Bioengineer.
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3. Urinary Tract Infections Affect Millions. The Cures Are Faltering.
New York Times (*requires registration)

Urinary tract infections, or U.T.I.s, that are antibiotic-resistant are making the common illness increasingly dangerous and difficult to treat. Dr. Lee Riley, an epidemiology and infectious diseases professor at Berkeley's School of Public Health, co-authored a study published last year, which found that 12 strains of E. coli in poultry match common urinary tract infection strains. He's currently working on a project funded by the C.D.C. to determine whether urinary tract infections need to be classified and reported as food-borne illnesses.
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4. City, Cal envision a bee-friendly Berkeley
Berkeleyside

Joining Bee Campus USA and Bee City USA, a Berkeley town-and-gown team aims to limit pesticide use and boost the presence of native plants that feed bees and other pollinators. The effort has been led by undergraduate environmental science major student Taylor Rein, working with CALPIRG, Herbicide Free Cal, the campus's head groundskeeper Theron Klose and Pete Oboyski, collections manager and senior museum scientist at the Essig Museum of Entomology. "Pollinators form a remarkable society of their own, one which displays inherent beauty and forms a distinct thread in the wonderful collection of life," Rein says. "I am struck by awe in spring by the several colonies of native bees on campus and the surge of honey bees foraging in the summer that I find it hard not to be fascinated." Oboyski adds: "It's something I feel like anyone can get behind without any real controversy. ... Who doesn't want pretty flowers in their yard? Who doesn't want to encourage wildlife. ... The challenge is thinking about all the different kinds of pollinators that are out there and also what it takes to maintain that kind of landscape."
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5. Uber and Lyft drivers were paid up to $100 to protest a bill that could make them employees
Los Angeles Times (*requires registration)

Apparently seeking to avoid paying all of their drivers a more livable wage, Uber and Lyft offered financial rewards to drivers willing to lobby in Sacramento against Assembly Bill 5, which aims to force the companies to treat their contractors as employees. Calling it a "worrying trend," Ken Jacobs, chairman of Berkeley's Center for Labor Research and Education, says: "While it is always good for people to engage in the legislative process, the power relationship inherent in employment raises concerns about coercion. ... That is, do workers believe they will gain an advantage on the job for participating, or fear retaliation if they don't? It is especially worrisome in the context of employer threats over what actions they will take if the AB 5 passes."
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6. Amazon pledges to 'upskill' 100,000 workers by 2025
ABC News

Amazon has announced it will invest $700 million on an "Upskilling 2025" pledge to boost the skills of as many as 100,000 employees. Weighing in on the move, labor professor Harley Shaiken says: "Amazon's mega-size globally makes it a good investment to provide skill training for U.S. employees. ... The move, along with the $15 an hour wage, could well boost morale. That said, there have been real concerns about workplace and health and safety issues in fulfillment centers, aka warehouses." Link to video.
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7. Utility customers will pay $10.5 billion for California wildfire costs under bill sent to Newsom
Los Angeles Times (*requires registration)

Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected to sign Assembly Bill 1054 this week. The new legislation would change the way California pays for wildfire damage caused by utilities. According to a recent analysis by public policy lecturer emeritus Steven Weissman, PG&E residential customers could expect their bills to double within eight years if recent wildfire trends continue and state laws go unchanged. He adds that Edison customers could see similar and increases and that the rates of San Diego Gas & Electric Co. customers could rise even faster, if that company faced similar liabilities. His analysis didn't compare rate effects under the governor's plan, but he says: "Dollars have to come from somewhere. ... It's either ratepayers, taxpayers, shareholders or victims. As these wildfires might pile up, you're going to reach a point of saturation very quickly, where either ratepayers can't pay their bills, shareholders won't buy the stock and on down the line. There's no substitute for doing what we can to prevent wildfires. What a bill like this does is buys a little time."
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8. It Was Never About Busing
New York Times (*requires registration)

In an article on school desegregation and busing, recently highlighted in a heated confrontation between Senator Kamala Harris and former Vice President Joe Biden in the second Democratic presidential debate, the author writes: "An economist and professor of public policy, Rucker C. Johnson at the University of California, Berkeley, studied the life outcomes of black children who got access to the trifecta of quality Head Start, increased school funding and desegregation. He saw the entire trajectory of their lives change. Compared to kids stuck in segregated schools, even their own siblings, they were more likely to graduate from high school and more likely to get out of poverty. As adults, they earned more, were less likely to go to jail and even lived longer. The earlier and longer these children got access to integrated schools, Dr. Rucker found, the stronger the results."
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9. Megan Rapinoe: Why is America's newest hero so polarizing?
BBC News

Commenting on the polarizing bravado of U.S. women's soccer star Megan Rapinoe, visiting history lecturer Bonnie Morris remarks: "Women are very careful not to seem too assertive or knowledgeable because it's taken as a kind of cockiness that is a turn-off to men. ... Nobody knows what to do with Megan because she's attractive, smart and a fantastic athlete. ... She's earned the right to present herself as capable, but still people don't want to let her show pride." Indicating that a double standard is at play, she says male athletes can be brash and pound their chests without backlash, but because Rapinoe is a pink-haired lesbian willing to take on President Trump, she is startling people who haven't encountered anyone like her before. "Many people would prefer she score a goal and not say anything because they don't want to deal with an American hero who is a proud dyke heartthrob." While society has made progress accepting LGBT athletes in recent decades, she says we still have a long way to go. But having a smart, high-achieving lesbian win for the US on a world stage gives her hope. "People are realizing that homophobia is a waste of talent and achievement," she says.
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10. 'I'd drink my jacuzzi': how earthquake scientists prepare for the 'big one'
The Guardian

Asked about his personal earthquake preparedness, earth and planetary science professor Roland Burgmann says: "When it comes to earthquake preparedness, you have to think about how you'll do as a family or neighborhood without utilities or outside help for at least three days. And you may not be able to get back inside your house if it's not safe. ... Our camping stuff was stored in the garage, but instead I took it all and moved it outside, so we could camp, cook, and live in our yard. I also put a big box of survival gear in the trunk of my car. ... And then you're supposed to store water as well -- so that's where the jacuzzi comes in. It's not usually water you'd want to drink or cook with, but it is a huge water supply. Our barbecue has propane tanks which would allow me to cook food using the jacuzzi water for a few weeks without power. It's not what I would usually use to drink from, since we've been sitting in it, but when it comes to an emergency, it would work. We might want to put a little bleach in it. ... Actually, after I first heard from the Guardian, I finally bought a solar cellphone charger earlier this week. I also made sure I still have a flashlight in my night table."
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