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.

Thursday, 19 May 2022

1. Gavin Newsom's inflation relief package could drive up prices even more, experts say
The Sacramento Bee

An $18.1 billion inflation-relief package proposed by Gov. Gavin Newsom will put salve on key pain points for Californians most affected by rising gas and grocery prices but also likely will cause prices to tick up just a tad more, leading economists say. The Newsom package also won't likely stave off a possible recession, the fear of which tanked the markets on Wednesday, experts said. Economist James Wilcox of the University of California, Berkeley, said: "People who have cars are paying a lot more for gas, and it's really hurting them. The more they're putting into the gas tank, the less they've got to spend in the ... store, for example. It is painful. It's making life more difficult for them. Giving them $400 will put some salve on that sore spot."
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2. A catastrophic failure': computer scientist Hany Farid on why violent videos circulate on the internet
The Guardian

In the aftermath of yet another racially motivated shooting that was live-streamed on social media, tech companies are facing fresh questions about their ability to effectively moderate their platforms. Payton Gendron, the 18-year-old gunman who killed 10 people in a largely Black neighborhood in Buffalo, New York, on Saturday, broadcasted his violent rampage on the video-game streaming service Twitch. So how do tech companies work to flag and take down videos of violence that have been altered and spread on other platforms in different forms – forms that may be unrecognizable from the original video in the eyes of automated systems? On its face, the problem appears complicated. But according to Hany Farid, a professor of computer science at UC Berkeley, there is a tech solution to this uniquely tech problem. Tech companies just aren't financially motivated to invest resources into developing it.
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3. Why China is still obsessed with disinfecting everything
MIT Technology Review

As China grapples with its biggest-ever spike of covid cases, the government's decision to keep pushing the narrative that surfaces pose a significant infection risk means time and money are being poured into the wrong things during a crisis, scientists say. The policy of prioritizing disinfection is part of a wider state-controlled narrative that's politicizing the health crisis and is designed to legitimize the government's response. Outside China, most countries long ago gave up encouraging people to disinfect things as a way to avoid covid. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance a full two years ago, in May 2020 to reflect the fact that it's mostly unnecessary. Instead, the overwhelming consensus is that aerosols and droplets transmit the virus much more readily than surfaces. "People only have the bandwidth to do so many protective health behaviors. It's ideal for them to be focusing on the things that are going to have the biggest impact on reducing their risks," says Amy Pickering, an assistant professor of environmental engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. "And that would be mask-wearing, social distancing, avoiding crowded indoor spaces."
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4. Do Airline Climate Offsets Really Work? Here's the Good News, and the Bad.
The New York Times (*requires registration)

Carbon offset programs have become ubiquitous. You've probably seen them as check-box options when booking flights: Click here to upgrade to a premium seat. Click here to cancel your greenhouse gas emissions. It's an appealing proposition — the promise that, for a trivial amount of money, you can go about your business with no climate guilt. But if it sounds too good to be true, that's because, at least for now, it is. The most basic problem with carbon offsets "is that you're trading a known amount of emissions with an uncertain amount of emissions reductions," said Barbara Haya, the director of the Berkeley Carbon Trading Project at the University of California, Berkeley. "But there's also the whole trading approach of companies being able to buy their way out of their responsibility to reduce their own emissions."
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