Law + Policy

Red Faced in Blue State? Not a bit, say Cal Republicans

It has been many long and hoary decades since UC Berkeley was the nation’s epicenter of radical politics. Indeed, Cal Republicans have been among the most active groups on campus.  Still, poll after poll demonstrates that the recent zaniness in Washington is hurting the Republican brand.  And that made us wonder if Cal’s Republican students were experiencing a similar backlash.

A Yellen-Led Fed

Next to headlines on the ongoing government shutdown, the prospect of a default on the national debt, and the spike in the price of short-term federal IOUs which, according to one wonk  “ should terrify you,” the news that Berkeley’s own Janet Yellen was tapped to chair the Federal Reserve might have been the least exciting economic news you’ll read all week.

A Bridge by Any Other Name: Willie Brown Span blowback

In its current session, the California Legislature considered 103 bills dealing with highways or highway infrastructure—and roughly one-third of those bills named bridges or roadway sections after people the legislators deemed deserving.

Profs gain free-speech protection to criticize their universities

Academics have a First Amendment right to criticize the administration of their own public universities without being subject to any retaliation for doing so, according to a little-noticed decision last week from a panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

Legal Limits? Berkeley debates cutting law school to two years

To those who have just commenced their law studies at Berkeley’s Boalt Hall, a hearty congratulations!  Now, for your own peace of mind, stop reading.

As those with their eyes on the bar know, law school is no longer the safe bet that it once was. Tuition is up, government grants are withering, and legal jobs are harder to come by yet more essential than ever, given soaring student loan debt among would-be lawyers.

To prevent another Sierra inferno, thin and clean forests

If a transcendent lesson is emerging from the Rim Fire, it’s this: we need to manage our forests aggressively, thinning thick stands of young trees and clearing deadwood on the forest floor. Doing so would reduce fuel in second-growth and third-growth coniferous forests—the kind of fuel that has driven the Rim Fire to become the fifth largest wildfire in the history of the state.

And it would be well worth the cost.

Bridge Over Troubled Bolts: Cal Experts Question Whether New Bridge is Safe

As the Bay Area celebrates the opening of a new Bay Bridge—an eastern span that transportation officials are hailing as elegant and seismically secure—UC Berkeley engineers are expressing serious misgivings about whether the structure is safe. And at least one professor labels it far less stable than the old bridge. 

Shuttle Diplomacy: The social toll of the “Google Bus”

In the love-hate relationship that the Bay Area has with its own economic boom, nothing seems to pack the symbolic punch of the “Google Bus” (an imprecise but convenient short-hand for the private shuttles operated by nearly 40 regional tech and biotech companies.) Especially in San Francisco, these shuttles—double-decked, dark-windowed, and usually unidentified— have come to represent that which separates the coding and DNA-splicing haves from the Luddites and erstwhile English majors who make up the have-nots.

5 Questions for: David Card

1. In 1994 you published a study with Alan Krueger that found that raising the minimum wage would not create higher unemployment. Given the more recent economy and the growing number of fast food and retail workers demanding a $15 per hour wage, do you believe your findings from 20 years ago still apply?

From the Summer 2013 A New Deal issue of California.

Outsourcing The Middle Kingdom

The flight from Johannesburg to the Namibian capital of Windhoek is typically brief and uneventful: a two-hour hop across desert, salt pan and thornveld, then an easy approach and touchdown at the small airport carved out of the bush east of town. Still, the short flight gave me time to peruse my fellow travelers.

From the Summer 2013 A New Deal issue of California.

Putin v. Pussy Riot

I gathered with half a dozen local gay and lesbian activists on a mid-August evening to drink tea, munch on zakuski (snacks), and discuss the regime of creepy Russian president and former KGB thug Vladimir Putin. It was six years since I’d last visited Russia, and this trip was taking place during a troubling time—not just for queer folk, but for everyone eager to weaken Putin’s muscular embrace of power.

From the Winter 2012 Culture Shock issue of California.

5 Questions for:

1: You had eight siblings and put yourself through both undergraduate and graduate school at Cal. You were also the first, and only, Cal student elected to serve on the Berkeley City Council, and you spent much of your University years as a community organizer. How have your college years influenced your time as an assemblymember?

From the Fall 2012 Politics Issue issue of California.

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