UC Berkeley

Bad News Bears: Report dings Cal’s strikingly low admissions bar for student athletes

If they were winning, the news might not seem so bad. But they’re not. And it is.

Cal football is currently 1-10 on the season and has the worst-ranked defense in the country. As of the latest available statistics, they also have the lowest graduation rates of any BCS school—that is, of any major college football program in the country. Only 44 percent of players admitted between 2003 and 2006 graduated within a six-year time frame.

For the men’s basketball team, the rate was even lower—just 38 percent.

Typhoon Torment: They’re likely to grow stronger, devastating communities for years

Typhoon Haiyan was not an anomaly. Researchers confirm that we should expect more such tropical “super storms” as the planet warms inexorably from human activity. And the grim fact is that a good percentage of these massive cyclones will slam into the Philippines. 

“The Philippines is situated in a unique—and unfortunate—spot on the planet,” says Solomon Hsiang, an assistant professor at UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy.

A Walk on the Eccentric Side: Walking tours peruse the ins and outs of Berkeley

Their faces concealed under paper-bag masks, three protesters chant “Down with Emergency! Free India Now!”—an anachronistic reference to a 19-month period in the 1970s when India was essentially a police state. But this Berkeley demonstration is not being staged by a band of confused time travelers.

It is instead a recreation of a real event from the rich history of the Cal campus—and a key stop on the Berkeley South Asian Radical History Walking Tour.

The Dilbert System: Fail until you don’t

The definition of failure is lack of success, but for most people it means much more: Failure destroys hope, it crushes goals, it steals energy, and it strips us bare of our resources. But not everyone sees it that way.   

“I have cultivated a unique relationship with failure. I invite it. I survive it. I appreciate it. And then I mug the shit out of it.”

“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.

Freegans: Driven to Dumpster Dive Not by Poverty, But by Environmental Politics

J.J. is the breadwinner of the house. Of all the weekly chores that are divvied up among members of the south Berkeley cooperative, his is the most enviable. While others get stuck scrubbing pots, pans, and bathroom walls to pay their dues, J.J. is to bike over to a nearby bakery under cover of darkness, peek inside the dumpsters, and load up his backpack.

Nuclear Nirvana: Could thorium someday power a safe, clean, cheap reactor?

Imagine nuclear power, only without the prospect of meltdowns, dirty bombs, and millennia after millennia of nuclear waste. That’s the carbon-free energy of harnessed fission, but free from the specters of Fukushima, Chernobyl, and Three Mile Island. Oh, and the nuclear reactors are special too—they run on a material nearly as abundant as lead.

For the many environmental, political and economic complications that result from our dependence on fossil fuels and the high cost of producing reliable energy, this sure sounds like a silver bullet.

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.

Fanning the Flames: Dire Forecast for the American West

So far, the Rim Fire has been California’s worst wildfire for 2013, scorching more than a quarter-million acres in and around Yosemite and destroying more than 100 homes. Take it as a harbinger.

Field Hazard: Study linking fumigant to smaller babies raises questions

Anxiety is running higher around California’s strawberry fields after a recent study linked the birth of smaller babies to the fumigant methyl bromide: Newborns whose mothers lived within three miles of fields treated with the fumigant weighed an average of 4 ounces less at birth.

But one of the Cal authors of the paper cautioned against leaping to conclusions, noting that the precise degree of the threat to humans has yet to  be determined and that banning fumigants outright could risk decimating communities supported by the strawberry industry.

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