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Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Disappearing Act (at Berkeley) - Part 3: She Has Sung & It's Apparently Over

‘Free Speech Week’ is officially off, UC Berkeley announced Saturday morning.
“Representatives of the Berkeley Patriot student organization have informed UC Berkeley’s administration that all of the events scheduled for the coming week have been canceled,” said Cal spokesman Dan Mogulof in an emailed statement. “It is extremely unfortunate that this announcement was made at the last minute, even as the university was in the process of spending significant sums of money and preparing for substantial disruption of campus life in order to provide the needed security for these events.”
The event, sponsored by conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, had been scheduled to start Sunday and was expected to bring a host of right-wing speakers to the famously left-leaning school, which has been battered with claims in recent months that it doesn’t support conservative free speech. The official announcement ends days of speculation and uncertainty around whether the event would take place.
In a Saturday letter to the school, an attorney for Berkeley Patriot, Marguerite Melo, wrote, “On their behalf, you are hereby notified the Berkeley Patriot is canceling all Free Speech Week activities it sponsored.” The letter accused administrators of putting up roadblocks and said the group was “contemplating initiating litigation against the responsible parties and the administration for violation of our clients’ civil rights.”
But in a separate email chain obtained by this news organization, Lucian Wintrich, one of the supposed speakers, told Mogulof the event had been a set-up from the start. “It was known that they didn’t intend to actually go through with it last week, and completely decided on Wednesday,” Wintrich wrote in an email around 10 a.m. Saturday morning.
“Wait, whoah, hold on a second,” wrote a clearly surprised Mogulof. “What, exactly, are you saying? What were you told by MILO Inc? Was it a set-up from the get-go?” “Yes,” came Wintrich’s one-word response...
Note: Despite the threat of a lawsuit against Berkeley, look for the reverse to happen to recover the university's costs.

The Disappearing Act (at Berkeley) - Part 2

Poof!
More on the rapidly disappearing "free speech week" at Berkeley:

...Right-wing provocateur Ann Coulter, one of the highest profile speakers, said Friday that she won’t attend. Nor, reportedly, will former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, another high-profile speaker on the agenda.

Mike Wright, a student leader with the Berkeley Patriot, said Friday the group had not decided whether to cancel Free Speech Week. But he said, “We are concerned about threats and our safety.” ...

Full story at:
http://m.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Cal-student-group-backs-out-of-Free-Speech-Week-12221042.php

The Disappearing Act (at Berkeley)

Poof!
RE: The rapidly disappearing act at Berkeley

...Yiannopoulos says he's coming back with a lineup of high-profile conservatives, but the star power faded Friday when conservative commentator Ann Coulter announced she's not coming. Coulter told The Associated Press that Yiannopoulos' team was in touch with hers about speaking but she heard "the administration was dead set on blocking this event" so she decided not to bother...

Full story at:
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-ann-coulter-berkeley-free-speech-20170922-story.html

Friday, September 22, 2017

End of Title 9 Dear Colleague Letter (Kind of)

News reports indicate that Secretary of Education De Vos has scrapped the Title 9 "Dear Colleague" letter:

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos scrubbed Obama-era guidance for universities investigating sexual assaults on campus, replacing the program with temporary rules.

DeVos has called the existing rules unfair against those accused of an assault.

“Schools must continue to confront these horrific crimes and behaviors head-on,” she said in a statement Friday. “There will be no more sweeping them under the rug. But the process also must be fair and impartial, giving everyone more confidence in its outcomes.”

DeVos released a temporary Q&A to guide schools on investigating assaults under the Title IX law, which prevents sexual-based discrimination in higher education.

It will allow them to choose which set of standards they want to use when probing an assault.

Her move does away with a 2011 directive that became known as the “Dear Colleague Letter," on how to enforce the 45-year-old Title IX law...

Full story at http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/devos-obama-era-rules-title-ix-article-1.3513555

Note: Item from before the announcement:

...Under the guidance of the (Obama-era) letter, which was issued in 2011, colleges are mandated to adjudicate cases based on a "preponderance of evidence," a lower standard of proof that finds guilt in cases where an assault is more likely to have occurred than not. Ms. Napolitano said that the "preponderance" standard is appropriate in sexual-assault cases, adding that the University of California would continue to employ it regardless of whether the federal government dictated as much...

Source: http://www.chronicle.com/article/Napolitano-Riffs-on-DeVos/241251

Free Speech Website/Video at Berkeley

UC-Berkeley has created a free speech website* with a video by Chancellor Christ in preparation for the so-called "free speech week" that is supposed to occur next week. (But, if you have been following our blog posts, who knows if it will?)

The video is embedded in the website from an unlisted URL on YouTube. Such things can be taken down over time, particularly if things don't work out so well. So we have archived the video where it won't disappear.

You can see it at our alternative website at the link below:

===
*http://freespeech.berkeley.edu/

Thursday, September 21, 2017

New 9 Director

UCLA officials announced the appointment of a new director for the campus Title IX office Tuesday.
Mohammed Cato will replace interim Title IX coordinator Jessica Price and will start in his new position Sept. 25. Price took over for Kathleen Salvaty after she became Title IX coordinator for the University of California system.
The Title IX Office operates under the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and is responsible for UCLA’s compliance with policies and procedures to prevent and respond to gender discrimination, sexual harassment and sexual violence...
Cato received his bachelor’s degree from UC Irvine and a law degree and master of urban planning degree from UCLA. He will transition to UCLA from his current role as the assistant director of the Equal Opportunity Office and deputy Title IX coordinator at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington.

What could possibly go wrong - Part 2

A $200 million gift promotes alternative therapies at a California medical school — and critics recoil

When billionaires Susan and Henry Samueli this week announced a $200 million donation to the University of California, Irvine to launch a new health program dedicated to integrative medicine, they drew a standing ovation and glowing coverage.

But for those who have been watching the steady creep of unproven therapies into mainstream medicine, the announcement didn’t go over quite as well.

“This is ultimately a very bad thing,” said Dr. Steven Novella, a neurologist at Yale University and longtime critic of alternative therapies.  “It’s putting emphasis and the imprimatur of a university on things that have been discarded as medical fraud for 50 years.”

University of Alberta health law professor Tim Caulfield, who has made his name debunking celebrity health fads, has raised red flags about the adoption of alternative therapies — from “energy healing” to homeopathic bee venom to intravenous mineral infusions — at top medical centers including Duke, Johns Hopkins, and UC San Francisco. The new school at UC Irvine “is more of the same, and I find it very frustrating,” he said. “I worry this legitimizes practices that aren’t valid.”

But two physicians at UC Irvine who will lead the new initiative — both with solid pedigrees in traditional medicine and years of experience conducting  research funded by the National Institutes of Health — pushed back against those depictions.

They argue that medical schools are too slow to adopt  new approaches, including alternative therapies that show clinical promise — and that UCI can do so in a way that is solidly grounded in science.

“We take patient safety as our highest calling and we will never deploy any approach — integrative or not — that put patients at risk,” said Dr. Howard Federoff, a board-certified internist and Ph.D who serves as CEO of UC Irvine’s health system and runs a lab working to develop a blood test for Alzheimer’s disease. “Any non-proven or non-evidence based approach? We will not deploy it.”...

Full story at https://www.statnews.com/2017/09/20/uci-integrative-medicine-gift/

Sharing

The University of California will chip in at least $300,000 to help UC Berkeley pay security costs for controversial speakers, an unprecedented step as criticism mounts over the financial toll the events are taking on the campus.

“Free speech is not free, it turns out,” UC President Janet Napolitano told the Los Angeles Times’ Washington bureau on Wednesday. She said UC would underwrite security costs through “Free Speech Week” — which begins Sunday and will feature right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos and others — but that such support may not continue.

“The question, or the rock and the hard place that Berkeley is in, and other university campuses, is the value put on free speech and the safety and security issues that are implicated,” Napolitano said.

“Milo and his cast of speakers will be on Sproul Plaza, which is a public space … and we will underwrite the safety and security expenses associated with that. At a certain point, that position — i.e. that we will have these speakers and pay for the security costs associated with that — may not be sustainable.”

The mounting costs to the campus — which is struggling to reduce a crippling budget deficit from $150 million last year to $56 million by June — are sparking growing concern.

Berkeley has shelled out at least $1.4 million in security costs since February, when Yiannopoulos’ last appearance sparked violent protests. The campus spent $200,000 on security for that event, $600,000 for conservative commentator Ann Coulter — whose event ultimately was canceled by the sponsoring campus groups — and an estimated $600,000 for the talk last week by conservative writer Ben Shapiro, according to UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof...

Full story at http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-uc-berkeley-security-20170920-story.html

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Med School Assn. Opposes Latest Obamacare Repeal Effort

Note: UC's various medical schools are part of this organization.*

Medical Schools Oppose Plan to Kill Obamacare

By Andrew Kreighbaum, September 20, 2017, Inside Higher Ed

The Association of American Medical Colleges came out against the latest effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act in a letter to senators Tuesday. The Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson bill has been gaining momentum as Republicans attempt to meet a Sept. 30 deadline to pass repeal legislation with a simple majority in the Senate through a process known as reconciliation. But AAMC's president and CEO, Darrell G. Kirch, told senators they should pursue a bipartisan health-care deal through the committee process. And he said the latest repeal legislation failed to meet key principles the group considers fundamental to a successful health-care system.

"These principles include offering high-quality, affordable health insurance to all; preserving and fortifying the safety net through Medicaid and other policies; and encouraging innovation in the delivery system, among others," Kirch wrote. "The GCHJ legislation does not meet these principles, as it repeals the individual and employer mandates, repeals Medicaid expansion, and caps traditional Medicaid funding. Under this legislation, the number of uninsured patients nationwide will increase dramatically and important existing patient protections will be at risk."

He added that the proposal should be scored by the Congressional Budget Office before further action. But the CBO will only have a partial analysis of the legislation available by the Sept. 30 deadline.

Source: https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2017/09/20/medical-schools-oppose-plan-kill-obamacare

Letter from AAMC:
https://www.aamc.org/download/482922/data/aamclettertosenateongraham-cassidyproposal.pdf
===
*https://members.aamc.org/eweb/DynamicPage.aspx?webcode=AAMCOrgSearchResult&orgtype=Medical%20School

China Reported to Retaliate Against UC-San Diego

Beijing has a lesson for overseas universities: Don’t invite speakers who oppose the Communist Party to big events. A branch of the Chinese government has barred Chinese scholars from receiving state funding to study at the University of California, San Diego, according to people at the school. The freeze highlights how Beijing is steadily placing pressure on overseas universities to suppress viewpoints that run counter to Communist Party orthodoxy.

In June, UCSD hosted the Dalai Lama to speak at its school-wide commencement ceremony for the 2016-2017 academic year. The invitation generated controversy among some members of school’s Chinese student population. The Chinese government strictly controls information within its borders about the Dalai Lama, who it views as a separatist and a symbol of China’s feudal past. Many Chinese citizens hold these same views...

The application freeze does not bar undergraduates, graduate students, or other academics from attending UCSD—it merely prevents scholars from obtaining CSC funding to do so. As a result, these specific measures alone will likely do little to curb the school’s influx of Chinese students. In the fall of 2015, Chinese students made up 10.6% of UCSD’s student population and 55.7% of its international student population...

Full story at https://qz.com/1080962/china-is-retaliating-against-the-university-of-california-san-diego-for-inviting-the-dalai-lama-to-speak-at-commencement/

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Listen to the Regents Afternoon Meeting of Sept. 13, 2017

With this post, we complete our archiving of the Sept. 2017 Regents meetings. Here is a summary from the Bruin (below). It might be added that there was reference to the upcoming rebidding on the Los Alamos lab as well:

...Academic and Student Affairs Committee (includes labs subcommittee)
  • UC Irvine Chancellor Howard Gillman apologized for rescinding a large number of new student admission offers during the summer for those who did not submit transcripts and test scores on time. Gillman said the university had to over-enroll students because more applicants had accepted offers than the university expected.
  • Ruben Canedo, a research coordinator at UC Berkeley and co-chair of the UC’s Global Food Initiative Basic Needs committee, said the UC will be releasing a Basic Needs report in November with details on students’ experiences with food and housing insecurity.
  • Several regents, including Regent John Perez and Newsom, said they think the University should do more to help student athletes and make sure that they are performing well academically. Michael Williams, director of athletics at UC Berkeley, said the campus provides student athletes with academic support and mentoring, and said that athletes at UC Berkeley have been improving their academic performance.
Finance and Capital Strategies Committee
  • The committee approved plans and funding for several construction projects, including the Northern Regional Library Facility at UC Berkeley, a science and engineering building at UC Irvine and a medical building at UC San Francisco. However, several regents, including Makarechian, said they think the costs for the building in UC Irvine are too high, and asked the campus to look into offsetting some of the construction costs.
  • Napolitano said the University needs more funding to support increases in enrollment and added the University also faces costs for compensation increases from collective bargaining and expanding and maintaining infrastructure. She added that any tuition increases proposed for the 2018-2019 year would be offset by need-based financial aid, with a third of the revenue from a tuition increase going to financial aid.
  • Brostrom gave the regents updates on the UC’s development of its budget for 2018-2019. Brostrom said when developing the budget, the UC is considering costs associated with enrollment growth, improving the student to faculty ratio, employee retirement benefits and financial aid. He added the UC is looking into additional sources of funding, including a tuition increase.
  • Brostrom said that while the UC has not yet developed a specific tuition proposal, it is currently consulting with campus and student leaders. He added the UC will present its budget proposal for approval by the regents during the board’s November meeting.

Link below to audio: (Academic & Student Affairs with labs)

Finance and Capital Strategies:

Berkeley May Cancel - Part 2

Cancelled?
The "free speech" event at Berkeley next week is looking progressively more dubious, although "progressively" is probably not the preferred word of its sponsors. From the Washington Post:

Organizers of the “Free Speech Week” at the University of California at Berkeley insisted Monday that the event will go on, despite school officials’ announcement that some large indoor venues could not be rented for the events.

“We’ll do it outdoors if we need to,” said Pranav Jandhyala, a sophomore who is a member of the Berkeley Patriot, the student group that invited provocative writer Milo Yiannopoulos and others to campus. He said that conservative commentator Ann Coulter, frequent critic of Islam Pamela Geller and former chief White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon are all planning to speak there next week.

Coulter, and a spokeswoman for Bannon, did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday. Geller said she is planning to speak. University officials released a list of speakers they said had been confirmed that did not include Coulter, Geller or Bannon...

Full story at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2017/09/18/organizers-of-free-speech-week-at-uc-berkeley-vow-to-hold-events-even-if-they-cant-get-indoor-venues/

Somewhat related: A UCLA faculty member does a study on student attitudes toward the First Amendment/free speech for Brookings:
https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2017/09/19/study-casts-doubts-student-support-free-speech
and
https://www.brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2017/09/18/views-among-college-students-regarding-the-first-amendment-results-from-a-new-survey/

What could possibly go wrong?

Orange County philanthropists Susan and Henry Samueli will donate $200 million to UC Irvine, one of the largest gifts ever to any public university, to create a college that educates medical students in holistic practices as well as traditional ones and treat patients with a wide-ranging perspective...

“Susan has completely converted me into an advocate for integrative health,” (Henry Samueli) said. “When I feel a cold or flu coming on, rather than run to the doctor, I run to Susan to figure out which homeopathic remedy or Chinese herb I should be taking.”...

Full story at http://www.ocregister.com/2017/09/18/uci-receives-200-million-gift/


What do ducks say?

Monday, September 18, 2017

Strawberry Settlement

For those blog readers who have followed the Davis drama, this item from the Sacramento Bee appears to be the grand conclusion:

Fear not, strawberry lovers. A nasty lawsuit over the strawberry breeding program at UC Davis – the wellspring of about half of California’s strawberry crop – is history.

The university on Friday settled a lawsuit against two berry breeders who quit UC Davis, formed their own company and began developing new strawberry varieties without the school’s permission. The scientists can continue using some of the strawberry plants they developed at UC Davis, but have to return others. They also will forfeit $2.5 million in royalty payments they stand to collect from the university for work they did at Davis.

The lengthy dispute has been closely watched in the food industry. California’s $1.9 billion-a-year strawberry crop accounts for more than 80 percent of the nation’s supply. About half of the berries grown in California are grown with seeds developed in UC Davis’ greenhouses.

Over a two-decade run, UC Davis plant breeders Douglas Shaw and Kirk Lawson bred new generations of plumper and sweeter strawberries that boosted sales and helped cement California’s leadership in the business. While many of the largest strawberry growers breed their own varieties, including Driscoll Strawberry Associates of Watsonville, the UC varieties have been licensed by major brands like Dole and California Giant, as well as many independent farmers.

The strawberry breeds have generated tens of millions of dollars for the University of California, and Shaw and Larson have earned millions themselves through a royalty-sharing arrangement.

The relationship soured, though, and Shaw and Larson quit UC Davis in 2014. They formed a company called California Berry Cultivars in Orange County. The divorce quickly turned messy. UC sued the two men and their new company, saying they had violated their “duties of loyalty” by attempting to breed new varieties using plants that were the property of UC Davis. California Berry sued back, accusing the university of stifling innovation by refusing to grant Shaw and Larson a license to use the plants.

“If you want more and better strawberries on your table … you should care about whether the university should be able to keep these varieties in a lockbox,” the breeders’ lawyer Greg Lanier said in an interview earlier this year. “Strawberry farmers need new varieties to battle changing weather – it’s rain, it’s drought, it’s changes in what pesticides you can use.”

UC won. In May, after five days of trial testimony in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, a jury found that California Berry had improperly used the UC plants. But the case wasn’t over. Damages hadn’t been sorted out, and after the jury rendered its verdict the judge said he believed UC Davis was as guilty of “bad conduct” as the two scientists. Settlement negotiations ensued, leading to the agreement filed in court Friday.

University officials declined to comment on the settlement. California Berry’s chief executive, A.G. Kawamura, a former secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, couldn’t be reached for comment.

Source: http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/article173591931.html

Yes, but

The Chronicle of Higher Ed runs a flattering piece largely about Secretary to the Regents Anne Shaw:

Six times a year, 10 days ahead of each meeting of the University of California system’s Board of Regents, a notice goes out to the public. In that document is a carefully prepared agenda, complete with extensive background write-ups and relevant attachments — compliance reports, audits, budget documents.

Anne Shaw, secretary and chief of staff to the board, is responsible for these meticulous preparations. But Ms. Shaw, like many university board secretaries, fills far more roles than just that of fastidious note taker and organizer. Board secretaries are diplomats — strategic advisers who have the ear of the president and the responsibility of liaising with the governing board...

Ms. Shaw and her staff of about eight essentially exist as the bridge between the two most powerful entities in a university: the chief executive and the trustees. Much of the work of the president’s office will eventually come to the governing board for approval: new degrees and programs, approval of tuitions and fees, budgets, all end up on board agendas.

Ms. Shaw is a conscientious record keeper, archiving information from public commenters at board meetings — for example, their opinions on the system’s immunization and vaccine policy. Following up after a meeting, Ms. Shaw and her staff will take down "reminders" about questions regents had that couldn’t be answered at the time. She and her staff will then work to compile and present that information to the inquiring regent...


The reference on archiving caught the eye of yours truly, who continues to note that the Regents do not really archive the recordings of their meetings. They post them for only one year. Yours truly, in contrast, does archive them - at considerable time cost. So we ask for the umpteeth time, why - if the Regents are now putting their meetings on YouTube for just one year - they can't just leave them their indefinitely? How about the UC Regents stepping into the 21st century in that regard? The only answer we have ever gotten regarding the one-year rule is that CSU does it that way. Is that a reason? Let CSU be CSU. Bad practice there is no excuse for bad practice at UC.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Listen to the Regents Meeting of Sept. 14, 2017

Yes, we have a gap in our coverage so far of the recent Regents meeting, namely the afternoon of Sept. 13th. We will fill that gap in a later posting. But, in the meantime, below is a link to the audio of the full board meeting of Sept. 14th, which in part summarizes what came out of the various committees that met the day before, both morning (which we have covered) and afternoon.

Some of the topics on the 14th: DACA (in the public comments), controversy - with some negative votes - on a pay increase for chancellors, discussion of the state auditor's report on contracting out procedures, the rebidding of the management contract for the Los Alamos lab, pension funding and the gap between the assumed earnings rate of 7.25% and the actual long-term earnings rate in the past of 6.7%, and the cost of carbon neutrality in construction standards for UC.

You can hear the discussion at:

Berkeley May Cancel

We noted yesterday that the "Berkeley Patriot" which is the supposed organizer of "free speech week" at UC-Berkeley seems to be a flaky organization with a largely non-working website. Some of the speakers that are supposed to come know nothing about the event.

The LA Times reports that the organization has not put down a contractually-required deposit for the event within a specified deadline, raising the possibility that the entire affair will be cancelled.

UC-Berkeley officials said Saturday that organizers of a far-right speakers’ series scheduled for later this month have missed the deadline to reserve two of the largest indoor venues on campus for the event, but that they will continue to work with organizers on planning for the festival.

“The University cannot defend spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to provide security arrangements for events” based on the press releases of organizers, Dan Mogulof, assistant vice chancellor of the university’s Office of Communications and Public Affairs, said in a statement.

Mogulof said the Berkeley Patriot student group that is working with right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos on the “Free Speech Week” festival had failed to meet the university’s requirements to reserve Wheeler Auditorium on Sept. 24 — the first day of the festival — and Zellerbach Auditorium on Sept. 27. He said organizers failed to submit the necessary payments to reserve the halls by 5 p.m. Friday.

Berkeley Patriot also failed to provide the university “with evidence that speakers are actually confirmed, such as e-mails, evidence of travel arrangements, or contracts,” Mogulof said. In both instances, the student organization missed three previous deadlines set by the university, he said.

“This failure to confirm, combined with the refusal to provide unqualified speaker lists and schedules has led the campus to question whether Berkeley Patriot actually intends to, and/or is able to, carry out the proposed events,” Mogulof said in his statement...

Full story at http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-berkeley-security-20170916-story.html

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Listen to the Regents Meeting: Morning of Sept. 13, 2017

We are gradually catching up with archiving the recent Regents meetings.

Just a technical note and rant: The Regents currently put their recording on YouTube for one year. There are various web-based programs by which yours truly extracts the audio from these temporary YouTubes and then archives them. Given the revised format of Regents meetings, there is substantially more to record at the meetings than their used to be, due to the various sessions that go on at the same time.

In one case for the morning meetings, the recording was posted in such a way as to make it impossible to use the online programs to preserve the audio directly. In that case, the audio had to be played into an audio recorder in real time.

All of this hassle could have been avoided if the Regents simply kept their recordings on YouTube indefinitely. We ask for the umpteenth time: Why isn't this being done, especially since the Regents are already posting to YouTube? What is the point of removing the recordings after one year.

Below are links to the audio of the meetings. One highlight from the public comment session of Sept. 13 was the many speakers protesting potential cuts in retiree health care. A cut was proposed and then withdrawn after protest from the agenda of the July meetings due to lack of Senate consultation.

Full Board:


Other links to the morning meeting:

Governance and Compensation:
https://archive.org/details/PublicEngagementAndDevelopment91317AMedited/GovernanceAndCompensation9-13-17AMedited.wma

Public Engagement & Development:
https://archive.org/details/PublicEngagementAndDevelopment91317AMedited/PublicEngagementAndDevelopment9-13-17AMedited.wma  Note: After the meeting ended, the mike remained on briefly and a regent can be heard complaining about state audits and opining that "Sacramento" wants to control the university.

Compliance and Audit:
https://archive.org/details/PublicEngagementAndDevelopment91317AMedited/complianceAndAudit9-13-17AMedited.wma

Possible Traffic Hassle

If you commute to UCLA from the Valley, there may be issues this weekend:

A natural gas pipeline improvement project will prompt some lane reductions and ramp closures near the San Diego (405) Freeway in the Bel Air area this weekend.
The closures are part of a multibillion-dollar safety enhancement program, according to the Southern California Gas Co.
Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., the work will be conducted on North Sepulveda Boulevard at the Moraga Drive on-ramp and off-ramp at the 405 Freeway.
The ramps at Moraga Drive will be closed to traffic, and northbound and southbound traffic on Sepulveda will be reduced to one lane in each direction...

The Next Berkeley Drama

It looks so calm.
Now that one speaker has come and gone without major incident, there is "free speech week" coming up at UC-Berkeley. From the San Francisco Chronicle:

The University of California will uphold its free-speech tradition by hosting provocateurs such as Milo Yiannopoulos regardless of their message, unless they resort to personal threats or attacks on audience members, UC President Janet Napolitano says.
“If we at UC unreasonably limit the ability of speakers like Milo Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter to safely express themselves on our campuses, we are telling the world that we would accept suppression of our own speech,” Napolitano told a legal conference Friday in Sacramento.
She spoke a day after conservative commentator Ben Shapiro spoke at UC Berkeley's Zellerbach Hall under heavy security, while several hundred protesters held a rally nearby but were kept from entering the campus. Yiannopoulos, Coulter and another right-wing commentator, Steve Bannon, former chief strategist for President Trump, are scheduled to appear at UC Berkeley during a four-day event, starting Sept. 24, that sponsors are calling “Free Speech Week.”
A speech by Yiannopoulos at the campus in February was called off after violent clashes, and Coulter canceled a Berkeley appearance in April, saying she had been warned of possible violence.
Some faculty and others want to close down the campus (boycott) during this period. (Editorial note from yours truly: Is it a good idea to give Milo & Co. the ability to shut down the campus by simply announcing an event?) From the Daily Cal:
UC Berkeley faculty members circulated a letter Wednesday morning calling for campus and the Berkeley community to boycott the “alt-right presence” by canceling all classes and campus activities for the duration of “Free Speech Week.”
The letter, signed by about 130 campus staff memberswas written by seven professors from the African American studies, ethnic studies, gender and women’s studies and film departments. These departments house populations of students targeted by the “alt-right,” according to Leigh Raiford, campus African American studies professor and co-author of the letter...
And it turns out that the group sponsoring this event is announcing speakers who aren't confirmed; at least one has never heard of the event:
Although Milo Yiannopoulos released a full list of speakers Thursday that are scheduled to attend “Free Speech Week” at UC Berkeley in the coming weeks, both the campus and the Berkeley Patriot have revealed that not all the speakers have been confirmed.
Yiannopoulos issued a press release naming the speakers who he said were confirmed to speak at the UC Berkeley campus from Sept. 24-27. Prominent speakers on the list include former White House chief strategist and Breitbart editor Steve Bannon and Ann Coulter, whose previous campus event was postponed. Not all the speakers on the list, however, have been confirmed.
Charles Murray, a libertarian conservative political scientist, posted a tweet Friday saying that he has “never heard of this event.”
“I was never contacted by the organizers of this event,” Murray said in an email. “The inclusion of my name in the list of speakers was done without my knowledge or permission. I will add that I would never under any circumstances appear at an event that included Milo Yiannopoulos.” ...

PS: The group that seems to be somehow involved in "Free Speech Week" is something - apparently a newspaper - called the Berkeley Patriot. When yours truly searched for it on the web, there was a link to:
http://www.californiapatriot.org/magazine/. If you click on that link, you get a page of headlines with broken links to the actual text. So maybe it's not surprising that in the article above you find:

The Berkeley Patriot was under the impression that those speakers were confirmed and it’s seeming like some speakers didn’t know that they were invited,” (a spokesperson for the Berkeley Patriot) said. “That’s a big issue and we’re going to try to figure this out with Milo and his team.”...

If you look at the Wikipedia page for the Berkeley Patriot, everything it references in the history of the newspaper went on in the early 2000s. So no one is bothering to update its page. In short, the powers-that-be at Berkeley are dealing with an event that seems to be under the jurisdiction of an entity that at best has a shaky existence. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Patriot. It's not clear even whether its name is Berkeley Patriot or California Patriot.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Illicit Drugs?

A state pharmacy inspector made a surprising discovery last year while conducting a routine records review at a Westside facility that compounded drugs for patients at UCLA medical centers. More than 1,000 IV bags of sterile medications for heart patients and others with serious health issues had been made with expired and potentially dangerous ingredients, according to state Board of Pharmacy records. At least 350 bags of the adulterated medications were delivered to patients in the sprawling UCLA Health system, which includes Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica, the records show.

Whether any patients were harmed is unknown, and UCLA, which owned and operated the compounding pharmacy, has refused to comment. It’s unclear if the university attempted to warn patients who might be at risk or to recall the adulterated medications that were sent to them. UCLA quietly closed the pharmacy within days of the inspection. By then, pharmacist-in-charge Richard C. Graul had already abruptly quit his $173,000-a-year job and declared his license “inactive.”

The inspection triggered an investigation by the pharmacy board, which in July filed an accusation, a formal action seeking disciplinary sanctions against Graul and the off-campus facility, UCLA Medical Center Pharmaceutical Technology. Possible sanctions include license revocation, suspension or “further action as deemed necessary and proper,” according to the board. The accusation, which is pending, alleges that the pharmacy lacked the proper licensing, used expired drugs in compounding sterile medications, and failed to meet state standards for quality assurance and product testing.

Graul, who had been the chief pharmacist since 2005, declined to comment on the inspection results when contacted at his home in Arcadia earlier this year. “No thanks,” he said, then closed his front door. He has not responded to repeated telephone and email messages since then.

Compounding pharmacies combine, mix or alter ingredients of a drug to create prescription medication suited to individual patients. The UCLA facility compounded large quantities of antibiotics, intravenous nutritional products and sterile solutions administered during heart surgeries and other procedures. The expired drugs cited by regulators in the UCLA case include monosodium glutamate monohydrate (MSG) and monosodium aspartate monohydrate (MSA), both of which are used in cardiac surgery and other surgical procedures; clopidogrel, which is used to prevent blood clotting; mexiletine, used to treat arrhythmia; and the hormone estradiol, which in intravenous solutions is sometimes used to treat heavy uterine bleeding.

The expiration dates on those drugs ranged from November 2015 to September 2016, a month before the inspection. Using expired ingredients is potentially dangerous because they can become tainted, lose their potency or change the efficacy of the compounded medication...

Full story at http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-ucla-pharmacy-20170915-story.html

The Buck Stops Here (With 1,013,958 Others)

The University of California board of regents approved on Thursday a $1,013,959 incentive award for Chief Investment Officer Jagdeep Singh Bachher for the 2017 fiscal year. The bonus is in addition to his $652,454 base salary. The compensation and governance committee, after meeting in closed session Wednesday, issued a statement citing "strong" investment results for the June 30 fiscal year as its reason for making the incentive payment. The $10.8 billion endowment returned a net 15.1% for the fiscal year, while the $61.6 billion pension fund returned 14.5%...

Full story at http://www.pionline.com/article/20170914/ONLINE/170919924/university-of-california-oks-1-million-bonus-for-cio-jagdeep-singh-bachher

Sometimes, less is more

In the end, not much happened at the Shapiro talk at Berkeley (compared to what might have happened), which is a Good Thing. From the San Francisco Chronicle:

Conservative political commentator Ben Shapiro delivered his speech at the UC Berkeley campus on Thursdayunder extraordinary security that required attendees to pass through metal detectors and police barrcades that held back hundreds of protesters.

The event at Zellerbach Hall appeared to do what UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ has said she hoped for when she declared a free speech year on campus: provide an open exchange of ideas. Shapiro’s speech included a question-and-answer session in which audience members respectfully challenged his opinions.

Security cost the university an estimated $600,000. Police from all nine Bay Area counties were brought in to keep order on and off campus and to secure Zellerbach and the surrounding area, which was off-limits to anyone without a ticket to the event. The large contingent of law enforcement was a deterrent, said Margo Bennett, of the UC Berkeley police. crowd in the street was loud, but not violent.”

The evening stood in stark contrast to the Feb. 1 fiery chaos that shut down an appearance by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos and resulted in $100,000 worth of damage to the school’s student union and smashed windows at downtown businesses. At that event, black-clad protesters infiltrated police barriers. None of those so-called antifa protesters showed up for Shapiro. Still, UC Berkeley officials said they went to “unprecedented lengths” and used extraordinary measures to prevent a similar result...

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Stepping Down

The director of the Los Alamos National Lab is stepping down after some problems in lab management. UC plays a significant role in the management of the lab - with a history going back to the Manhattan Project. The management contract is up for rebidding by the Dept. of Energy. Yours truly hasn't reviewed the Regents recording of the lab review at the recent meeting to know if there was discussion of this issue. But in 2018, there will be a decision of the Dept. of Energy on who will do the managing in the future. The politics of this matter are evident, given California's policies on immigration, climate change, etc.  
The director of Los Alamos National Laboratory has told employees there that he will retire at the end of 2017, eight months before the private contractor he leads is scheduled to be displaced as the laboratory’s manager.
The announcement on Tuesday follows years of costly turmoil at the nuclear weapons facility and comes on the heels of the Center for Public Integrity’s disclosure in June and August of harrowing safety incidents and other snafus there during McMillan’s tenure.
A laboratory press release about McMillan’s announcement did not say why he was resigning after 6 years as director, ahead of next year’s unusual handover of the lab by his consortium to another group of private companies, still not yet chosen by the Department of Energy. A spokesman for the laboratory, Kevin Roark, declined to elaborate.
But the Center’s articles about the laboratory’s troubles had attracted the concern of Washington lawmakers and the mishaps at the lab had angered senior officials at the Energy Department and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), a unit of the department that directly oversees the lab’s work...

Admissions Rescissions

The recent scandal over admissions rescissions at UC-Irvine led to discussion at the Regents yesterday. (Yours truly has not yet reviewed and archived the recording.) At Irvine, bureaucrats attempted to deal with a situation of unexpectedly large enrollment by un-admitting students on technical grounds, an action that had to be undone when it was revealed in the news media. (Did any heads roll? Doubt it.)

Anyway, the UC prez released the statement below ahead of the Regents meeting:

UC to make process of verifying student admissions information more effective

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

University of California President Janet Napolitano today (Sept. 13) announced the formation of a task force that will review how UC’s nine undergraduate campuses verify academic credentials, such as grades and test scores, that admitted students provide before enrollment.

The Admissions Verification Task Force will evaluate current procedures and recommend policies and best practices in order to standardize and make UC’s academic verification process more effective, efficient and student-friendly.

The review comes in the wake of problems with the verification process at UC Irvine that led to the rescission of a number of admission offers. The campus, which has publicly apologized, has since resolved those problems.

Each summer, UC campuses verify the academic accomplishments of admitted students to ensure they have met all the conditions of their admission to UC. Campuses typically request official high school or community college transcripts, as well as official test scores from testing agencies. 

These documents are used to verify that students have earned a high school diploma, completed all necessary “a-g” courses, maintained at least a C average in their senior year of high school, and in the case of transfer students, completed pre-major requirements for transfer at the junior level.

“As a public institution, the University of California has an obligation to maintain the integrity of its admissions process by verifying the credentials of the students we admit,” Napolitano said. “We are also committed to ensuring that all admitted students are afforded every opportunity to supply the necessary documentation to validate their academic credentials. I expect the task force’s recommendations will help us strike just the right balance between our responsibility to verify and the need to serve as advocates for our students.”

In developing its recommendations to make UC’s admission verification process more efficient and responsive to UC students, the task force will:

  • Consider the effectiveness and timeliness of communications to admitted students regarding the verification of official transcripts, test scores and other documents, as well as the appeals process;
  • Review whether the number and type of solicited documents can be reduced or provided in other, more effective ways;
  • Review the extent to which UC’s need for transcript and test score information is aligned effectively with the ability of K-12 schools, community colleges and testing organizations to generate this information;
  • Assess the needs of the campuses to maintain the academic integrity of the admissions process;
  • Consider the adequacy of the appeals process at each campus; and
  • Recommend practices that may better serve students and the institution in verifying the academic qualifications of admitted students.
  • The task force will complete its review and present its findings and recommendations in a report to the president that will be presented at the November 2017 meeting of the Board of Regents.

Provost and Executive Vice President Michael Brown will chair the task force, whose members will include representatives from campuses, the Academic Senate, the student body and the Office of the President. 

Source: https://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/press-room/uc-make-process-verifying-student-admissions-information-more-effective

Of course, even with reforms, it will be hard to get in:
video
(Click twice if necessary: center & lower.)

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Listen to the Regents Investments Subcommittee of 9-12-2017

The Regents are currently meeting and yours truly, as always, will dutifully archive the audio - since the Regents won't preserve their recordings beyond one year. (But it takes time to capture the audio so there won't be instant posting.)

The Investments Subcommittee met yesterday and had a lengthy discussion. Apart from the usual review of the portfolio returns, the session was devoted in part to a world review, especially of India and Asia, via two outside guests.

You can hear the audio at:


Perhaps of note was the brief remark by one of the guests, Larry Fink (CEO of Blackrock) that in Asia, the North Korean crisis as seen from the U.S. is a non-issue as seen from Asia:

Tied for #1

Source: https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/rankings/national-universities/top-public

Nothing more needs to be said. But a little music wouldn't hurt:

Priorities

From California Today of NY Times: 9-13-17

A stunned look fell over the hot dog vendor’s face as a police officer, ticketing him for lacking a permit, reached into the man’s wallet and pulled out $60. The vendor and a passer-by recording the exchange protested. “That’s not right,” said the cameraman.

“That’s how it works,” replied the officer, of U.C. Berkeley’s police department.

And now, video of the encounter outside a Golden Bears football game Saturday has become a fixation of the internet outrage machine. Uploaded over the weekend, it’s been watched millions of times and prompted demands for the officer’s firing. It’s also reinvigorated a debate in California over civil forfeiture, which allows the authorities to seize cash and property from people suspected of wrongdoing. Last year, the practice brought the state’s law enforcement agencies more than $115 million, according to government figures.

Policing groups argue that it’s an essential tool in combating drug trafficking. Critics say it’s been misused to generate revenue, in some cases from suspects never convicted of wrongdoing. That was part of the reason for a California law that went into effect this year tightening civil forfeiture rules. A spokeswoman for U.C. Berkeley’s campus police, Sgt. Sabrina Reich, said in an email that it was “routine to seize money as evidence of an illegal transaction.” The money, she explained, is needed as evidence.

That rationale drew skepticism from some criminal justice experts. “If the hot dog vendor is operating without a permit, the proper mechanism is to give him a ticket,” said Lee McGrath, senior legislative counsel at the Institute for Justice, a public-interest law firm that has been critical of civil forfeiture practices. “The idea that certain serial numbers on certain bills are evidence is an absurd concept,” he added.

By Monday, the clamor over the case was so intense that the university opened an investigation. In a statement, Vice Chancellor Scott Biddy said in part: “We are deeply committed to building a climate of tolerance, inclusion and diversity, even as we enforce laws and policies.” An online fund-raiser to help the vendor, identified in reports as Beto Matias, has raised nearly $70,000.

Martin Flores, who recorded the video and initiated the campaign, said some of the money would be used to buy Mr. Matias a proper food truck. “I’m going to tell you this,” he said, “when we get the truck for him, he’s going to have a permit. He’s going to be ready to rock ‘n’ roll.”


Source: https://www.nytimes.com/newsletters/2017/09/13/california-today?nlid=17730818 and https://twitter.com/Moreno/status/906764058375766016

The video:

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Running ahead

State revenues are running ahead of revenues for the first two months of the fiscal year, according to the monthly cash report from the state controller. Needless to say, two months does not a year make. But the report is at:
http://www.sco.ca.gov/Files-ARD/CASH/August%202017%20Statement%20of%20General%20Fund%20Cash%20Receipts%20and%20Disbursements.pdf

Getting Bumped at Berkeley

From Inside Higher Ed:

Anthropologists at the University of California, Berkeley, and other scholars are drawing attention to some rescheduling issues on campus. The university's library encouraged the rescheduling of a long-planned lecture by a leading scholar because it coincides with a planned appearance on campus the same day this month by Milo Yiannopoulos, the conservative speaker known for inflammatory statements and drawing protests, some of them violent.
Some reports on social media indicated that Berkeley required the rescheduling, but the administration said only that the library -- where the anthropologist's talk was scheduled -- recommended rescheduling a lecture by Anna Tsing, a professor of anthropology at UC Santa Cruz. (The lecture has been postponed until November.) Berkeley officials have said that they are determined to show the university's commitment to free speech by letting Yiannopoulos speak on campus
An open letter from scholars questions whether something is wrong when efforts to protect Yiannopoulos result in scheduling conflicts for scholarly events planned months ago.
"While we understand the library administration’s concern for the safety and security of people on campus, we are deeply troubled by the fact that the university is willing to prioritize a vitriolic white supremacist speaker, who seeks to disrupt academic life through his performance, over and above a renowned scholar and thinker committed to thoughtful scholarly engagement," says the letter. "If this 'Year of Free Speech' is about giving an equal platform to all speakers, it would seem that it has already failed. Hate speech has taken precedence over academic discourse."
Source (with link to letter):