Law + Policy

Stunned Legislature Halts Move to Diversify Colleges Amid Asian American Backlash

A proposed state constitutional amendment that aimed to diversify California’s public universities—but which some opponents dubbed “the most racist bill in the history of California”—has been put on ice. At least for now.

This week’s news that Senate Constitutional Amendment 5 will not be taken up by the state Assembly marks a dramatic reversal of fortune for the bill, which sailed through the Senate in January on a 27-to-9 vote.

Is 2014 the Tipping Point? Activist Researcher Fights to Raise Wages of Restaurant Workers

Big tips make headlines. Consider the almost $500 gratuity on a $6 bill received by a Steak ‘n’ Shake waitress in Indianapolis, or the $1,000 that host Ellen DeGeneres gave Edgar Martiroysan, the pizza delivery guy at the Academy awards. But reality is far less lucrative for most restaurant workers, many of whom struggle to make ends meet in a notoriously low-paid industry.

Finally, A Way to Diversify Cal Universities? Or “The Most Racist Bill” in State History?

Shien Biau Woo is a self-professed liberal. As a Democrat, he was lieutenant governor of Delaware and was once the party’s nominee for the U.S.  Senate. The organization he co-founded, the 80-20 Initiative, advocates for equal rights and opportunity for Asian Americans and twice endorsed Barack Obama.

And yet, says Woo: “Some liberals—and I classify myself as a liberal—they’re crazy. They have crazy theories.”

California Universities Form Alliance to Diversify the Top of the Ivory Tower

Throughout academia, key fields remain decidedly male and monochromatic—particularly math, engineering, and the physical and computer sciences. And despite the pride it takes in being progressive, UC Berkeley is no exception.

That’s why this week the university announced it is forming an alliance with Caltech, UCLA, and Stanford to encourage more underrepresented minority Ph.D. candidates to pursue postdoc and faculty positions within these fields.

Blowing Racial Dog Whistles: Berkeley Prof Blasts Conservatives For “Coded Messages”

Sarah Palin recently posted one of Martin Luther King’s most famous quotes on her Facebook wall: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” And then she topped it with a zinger aimed at Barack Obama. “Mr. President, in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. and all who commit to ending any racial divide, no more playing the race card.”

Olympic Irony: Sochi Has Been Renowned Among Gay Men as a Cruising Mecca

This week, the eyes of the world will turn to Sochi, the site of the upcoming Winter Olympics. The U.S. delegation, headed by former Secretary of Homeland Security and just-installed UC president Janet Napolitano, includes three out athletes—tennis legend Billie Jean King, ice hockey player Caitlin Cahow, and figure skater Brian Boitano, an Olympic gold medalist who only disclosed his sexual orientation publicly after President Obama tapped him as part of the group.

Tweaking Toxic Avengers: California Questions the Consequences of Prop. 65

Way back in 1986—when it was still Morning in America and women wore padded shoulders and men slathered on so much hair gel their coiffures looked molded in aspic—a citizen referendum passed in California that foreshadowed the current Era of Open Data. Ever since, Proposition 65 has required companies with more than 10 employees to post notices about carcinogenic compounds found on site, and granted private citizen the right to sue businesses that don’t prominently display the requisite warnings.

The Unblinking Eyewitness: Should All Police Start Wearing Body Cameras?

Editors’ note: Minutes after the announcement that a Missouri grand jury would not indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for shooting unarmed black 18-year-old Michael Brown, Brown’s family released a statement urging that police be required to wear body cameras to record their interactions. The Obama administration and some law enforcement officials have also endorsed the idea. This article delves into the potential pros and cons.

Science Wants to Be Free

On January 6, 2011, 24-year-old hacker and activist Aaron Swartz was arrested by police near the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for downloading several million articles from an online archive of research journals called JSTOR. After Swartz committed suicide in January 2013, questions were raised about why MIT, whose access to JSTOR he exploited, chose to pursue charges, and about what motivated the U.S. Department of Justice to demand jail time for his transgression.

From the Winter 2013 Information Issue issue of California.

Trouble When Rain Comes: California’s Concrete Flood Channels are Decaying

Things have been feeling pretty desiccated here in the Golden State, but the return of the rains has been inevitable. And they could come as a deluge. At that point—when Corte Madera Creek swamps Marin, the Russian River jumps its banks and transforms Guerneville into a brimming slough, and much of the San Joaquin Valley turns into a duck marsh—well, we may miss these bluebird days.

“Not Enough” from Napolitano: Critics balk at $5 million in aid to undocumented students

New UC President Janet Napolitano’s announcement of a $5 million aid package for undocumented immigrant students appears to have done little—well, make that nothing—to assuage those most fiercely opposed to her appointment. If anything, it has sharpened the attacks. Characterizing the aid as an insincere response meant to deflect criticism, they continue to demand she simply resign.

Crash Course: Cal and its surge of foreign freshmen struggle to adjust to one another

The first time Larry Zhou traveled outside of China, it was to start his freshman year at Berkeley in 2010. The University’s bid to admit more international students—they would enhance campus diversity and pay sticker-price tuition—brought a surge of foreign arrivals with Zhou. More than a third came from Chinese territories.

Zhou, now a senior, had studied British English in high school in Suzhou, about 65 miles west of Shanghai. He did so well on a language test that his school encouraged him to study abroad, and he garnered a high verbal SAT score as well.

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