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, 13 November 2018

1. Understanding the Link between Sleep and Anxiety, and Other Findings from the Neuroscience of Sleep
Forbes

Overnight, sleep deprivation triggers anxiety as well as altered brain activity patterns in healthy adults, according to preliminary findings by psychology and neuroscience professor Matthew Walker, director of Berkeley's Center for Human Sleep Science and postdoctoral fellow Eti Ben Simon. It's been known that people with anxiety disorders often have trouble sleeping, but this research reveals that sleep loss can also cause anxiety, suggesting a vicious cycle. "The results [of the research] suggest that sleep therapy could reduce anxiety in non-clinical populations as well as people suffering from panic attacks, generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other conditions," Ben-Simon says. "For healthy people, research shows that one night of recovery sleep brings systems back online and brings anxiety levels back to normal." For more on this, see our press release at Berkeley News. Another story on this topic appeared in Washington Post.
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2. Making the Message Simple and Direct
Inside Higher Ed

Many prospective low-income college students who qualify for financial aid don't apply for it, and that means they either don't attend college, or they borrow too much, experts say. But a new experiment by the California Policy Lab -- based at Berkeley and UCLA -- and the California Student Aid Commission suggests that changes in the messages sent to students could make them significantly more effective. Scrutinizing the current letter for flaws that could confuse or discourage applicants, the researchers designed new versions of the letter that simplified and clarified certain concepts and included more encouraging language. The results of the experiment showed that while 62 percent of students who received the original letter followed through with the essential first step of setting up an account, 67.6 percent of those who received the simplified letter followed through, and 69 percent of those who received a letter that was both simplified and more encouraging did. "Small fixes can dramatically improve a program's success," a statement issued by Evan White, the lab's director, said. "That's a lot of new students now able to attend college and improve their career options."
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3. Op-Ed: Whitaker's Appointment Is Unconstitutional
The Atlantic

President Trump's appointment of Matt Whitaker to replace Jeff Sessions as attorney general was a legal mistake, and "the White House should hurry to select a permanent attorney general before any more damage is done," writes law professor John Yoo. Taking in a swirl of political implications, Professor Yoo warns that the president, as well as his critics, should exercise caution: "While a constitutionally handicapped attorney general remains in office, it is not only the special-counsel investigation that he cannot supervise. Every action of the Justice Department might fall before challenges to Whitaker's appointment. That could render vulnerable not just the high matters of state, such as the investigation into the Trump campaign, but the regular enforcement of federal law by FBI agents and prosecutors across the nation, every day. Liberals no less than conservatives should oppose a hiatus in the execution of federal law. The only way to cure it is for the president to quickly nominate an attorney general from the deep pool of qualified candidates, and for the Senate to speedily confirm him or her, so that our officials can get back to the business of carrying out the nation's laws."
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4. The Health 202: The dialysis industry spent more than $100 million to beat a California ballot measure
Washington Post (*requires registration)

Weighing in on the dialysis industry's successful $111 million effort to convince California voters that they shouldn't support a measure aimed at reining in their profits and forcing them to reinvest in patient care, Ken Jacobs, chair of Berkeley's Center for Labor Research and Education, says it would be a "reasonable assumption" to expect a replay two years from now. Citing the industry's poor record for patient care, specifically by for-profit companies, he says: "It's also reasonable if you look at how profitable the industry has become for DaVita and Fresenius [two of the state's leading dialysis companies], it's not surprising they would spend more than $100 million to stop regulation. ... They have a good deal and they want to keep that good deal."
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5. Alien theory is 'wild speculation,' says astronomer who found strange interstellar object
Boston Globe

A new paper by Harvard astronomers suggests that a strange cigar-shaped interstellar asteroid discovered through a telescope at the University of Hawaii's Haleakalā Observatory could be light sail, or solar sail, built by an alien civilization. But the astronomer who first spotted it is calling their idea "a bit of wild speculation" and "not true based on the data." Astronomy professor Steven Beckwith, director of Berkeley's Space Science Laboratory, agrees. "The evidence for a light sail from some distant civilization is too weak to make a convincing case," he says, "but it is, nevertheless, fun to think about."
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