Wednesday, March 31, 2021
UCLA To Study Vaccine Effectiveness in Health Workers
The research will compare the incidence of positive COVID-19 tests within both groups, as well as the severity of the illness in those who test positive.
3-29-21 NBC-Los Angeles
UCLA received a $4.9 million grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines among health care workers, the university announced Monday. Researchers at the David Geffen School of Medicine will study both vaccinated and non-vaccinated health care workers from 16 medical centers who get tested for the virus after experiencing common COVID-19 symptoms like fever, cough or a loss of sense of taste or smell.
Though researchers expect to gather data over the course of a year, some results will be available very soon, according to Dr. David Talan, a professor of emergency medicine and infectious diseases at UCLA who will co-lead the trial with Dr. Nicholas Mohr, a professor of emergency medicine, anesthesia and epidemiology at the University of Iowa's Carver College of Medicine. The research will compare the incidence of positive COVID-19 tests within both groups, as well as the severity of the illness in those who test positive.
Results are expected to help determine how effective the vaccines are at both preventing infection and lessening the impact of the virus when infection does occur. Talan said gathering results from doctors and nurses whom the public knows and trusts should provide more certainty for those who are still wary about getting vaccinated. "Health care workers all across the world have stepped up to meet the overwhelming needs of patients, families and communities during the pandemic and have been prioritized to be the first offered the COVID-19 vaccine,'' Talan said. "We have an obligation to learn as much as we can about the vaccines' effectiveness and safety."
An estimated 10,000 people, including health care personnel at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center, are expected to enroll in the study. The medical center at UC San Francisco is also among those in the participating network, which includes facilities ranging from Miami to Seattle.
Mohr agreed that the results would have broad application. "We are entering an important next phase of the COVID-19 pandemic," Mohr said. "Studying the experiences of health care personnel will give us insights into how we can protect both health care workers and the general public once vaccines are more widely available."
Tuesday, March 30, 2021
|Cesar Chavez at UCLA: 1979|
An interesting take on Chavez - written by Gustavo Arellano of the LA Times - appears below. Arellano, some old timers may remember, was the 2010 UCLA commencement speaker and faced (nasty) opposition after being selected.* See below.
Woke California pays homage this week to another American hero with a complex legacy
By Gustavo Arellano, LA Times, 3-29-21
Let me tell you about an American hero whom the San Francisco Unified School District Board of Education might find, um, troublesome. He opposed undocumented immigrants to the point of urging his followers to report them to la migra. He accepted an all-expenses-paid trip from a repressive government and gladly received an award from its ruthless dictator despite pleas from activists not to do so. He paid his staff next to nothing. Undercut his organization with an authoritarian style that pushed away dozens of talented staffers and contrasted sharply with the people-power principles he publicly espoused. And left behind a conflicted legacy nowhere near pure enough for today’s woke warriors.
A long-dead white man? A titan of the business world? Perhaps a local politician?
Try Cesar Chavez. The United Farm Workers founder is the first person I always think about whenever there’s talk about canceling people from the past. He’s on my mind again, and not just because this Wednesday is his birthday, an official California holiday.
On Jan. 27, the San Francisco school board voted to rename 44 schools that it felt honored people who didn’t deserve the homage. Some of the condemned make sense — Father Junipero Serra, for instance, or Commodore John Sloat, the Navy officer who conquered California in the name of Manifest Destiny. Others are worthy of debate. Should we really champion Thomas Jefferson, the writer of the Declaration of Independence who also fathered multiple children with his slave, Sally Hemings? Or John Muir, the beloved naturalist who didn’t think much of Black and Indigenous people?
The board’s move was rightfully met with disbelief and derision. In a year when parents are clamoring for schools to reopen, this is what board members spent their time on? And are kids really harmed if they attend a school named after Robert Louis Stevenson or Paul Revere?
Which brings us back to Chavez, the revered labor leader whose bust President Biden recently put on prominent display behind his desk in the Oval Office. On Wednesday, First Lady Jill Biden will travel to Delano, Calif., to celebrate the state holiday with the Cesar Chavez and United Farm Workers foundations, her office announced over the weekend.
He remains by far the most famous Latino activist in this nation’s history, a modern-day secular saint of whom former President Obama said when he dedicated the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument in Kern County in 2012 “refused to scale back his dreams. He just kept fasting and marching and speaking out, confident that his day would come.”
Chavez’s main cause — bringing dignity to farmworkers — remains so radical and righteous that to criticize his personal failures is still largely verboten.
That’s why there was never any call by the San Francisco school board to remove Chavez’s name from an elementary school in the Mission District. Or for the same fate to befall city schools named after Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, even though the former once advised a teenage boy in Ebony magazine that his homosexuality was a “problem,” while the latter called white people “devils” and spoke at a rally along with the head of the American Nazi Party.
History — life — is not an easy-peasy snap-judgment call. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde: Every saint had a past, and every sinner has a future. And Chavez is perhaps as great an example of this in California history. It’s a thought that took me my adult life to realize and appreciate — and accept.
I remember when I first heard about him: freshman year in high school, when my white teacher lectured that he was a grand warrior for Mexican Americans like me. I agreed — and then realized my teacher wasn’t talking about the legendary Mexican boxer Julio Cesar Chavez. When I asked my mom — who was picking strawberries in El Toro as a teenager when the UFW was winning national attention — if she knew who Chavez was, Mami didn’t have a clue.
But once I learned the basics about his life — his marches, boycotts and famous hunger strikes; his embrace of social justice and an ascetic lifestyle; his use of Mexican motifs like the stylized Aztec eagle that serves as the UFW’s symbol — Chavez entered my pantheon of heroes through my college years.
That changed in graduate school, when I read a 1992 memoir by Philip Vera Cruz. The Filipino immigrant was already a legendary labor organizer when he helped Chavez establish the UFW and stayed by his side until 1977, when he criticized Chavez for hanging out with the Philippines’ president, Ferdinand Marcos, and quit.
Vera Cruz’s memoir decried the organization he helped to found as turning “very ethnocentric. When [UFW Mexican members] called out ‘Viva la Raza’ or ‘Viva César Chávez,’ they didn’t realize that all these ‘Vivas’ did not include the Filipinos,” he wrote. “As a matter of fact, they didn’t include anyone but themselves.”
I didn’t even know until reading Vera Cruz’s book that Filipinos helped to start the original grape strike that led to the UFW.
I learned more about Chavez’s faults as I progressed through my journalism career. How he once lashed out at Dolores Huerta — who had urged him to use more sympathetic language for immigrants in the country illegally than “wetbacks” — by saying, “You [Chicano liberals] get these hang-ups.… They’re wets, you know. They’re wets, and let’s go after them.” How he organized group exercises for UFW higher-ups that consisted of people taking turns screaming and intimidating others over their perceived faults.
My immature mind decided he could be a hero to me no more, and so he wasn’t.
As the years went on, I delighted in pointing out his bad deeds whenever possible. I took as inspiration the work of Miriam Pawel, a writer, who in the pages of this paper in the mid-2000s detailed a UFW that she painted as far removed from the union Chavez and others had established. She continued her work with a well-received 2014 biography on him that I just got around to reading this past pandemic year.
I’m friendly with Pawel, so I’d send progress reports as I went through her book. It confirmed in wrenching detail why I felt Chavez wasn’t worthy of adulation, I thought. She encouraged me to read it all the way to the end, where I’d find a “surprise.”
And there it is, on Page 475: Pawel asked a former Arizona UFW leader who had parted ways with Chavez long ago whether he still thought of him as a great man. “Palms up, he held his right hand above his head and lowered his left near the floor,” Pawel wrote. “On balance, he said, the good outweighed the bad. It was not even close.”
When I asked Pawel recently if problematic people like Chavez should have their names stricken from schools and other monuments, her answer was quick: “Of course not. The fact that heroes have flaws don’t make them any less heroic. We’ve gone from hagiography to tearing people down."
During her book tour, Pawel feared that audience members might take issue with all the Chavez warts her book exposed. “But the response was, ‘Yeah, we get it, we get he was human,’” she said. “They were not surprised to hear that he was more complicated than a two-dimensional postage stamp.”
And so on Cesar Chavez Day, let’s remember that the hero was a man. And that Man, invariably, is no saint.
The Arellano commencement address (2010):
Chavez speaks at UCLA (1972):
Or direct to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlLs_fVBWzM
Monday, March 29, 2021
Days after announcing it’ll stop issuing academic degrees in a couple of years, Mills College is forging new ties with UC Berkeley in its bid to financially survive while shifting its mission. In a letter to the school community Thursday, Mills President Elizabeth Hillman announced a new program in which Mills will host 200 of UC Berkeley’s freshman students at its Oakland campus starting this fall. UC Berkeley calls it the Changemaker in Oakland Program.
Indeed, Mills is undergoing major change. It’s preparing to cease operating as a standalone liberal arts college and transition into an “institute,” although it remains unclear exactly what that means. The UC Berkeley program will “provide a new source of revenue that will help support services for Mills students during our transition period,” Hillman said...
...UCLA Health, which took ownership of the [Olympia] property in January and is leasing it back to Alecto while it winds down services, said it provided the company with “the ability to keep Olympia Medical Center’s doors open” long enough to help see the community through the pandemic. UCLA Health is exploring plans to turn the property into a mental health facility...
Sunday, March 28, 2021
UC Santa Cruz has joined a newly formed consortium of institutions to ensure the preservation, stability, and future development of what has become the single most widely used online resource for anyone interested in slavery across the Atlantic world.
The , previously hosted at Emory University, will now function as a cooperative academic collaboration through a contractual agreement among six institutions: Emory University, the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Omohundro Institute of Early American History & Culture at William & Mary, Rice University, and three campuses of the University of California that will assume a joint membership — UC Santa Cruz, UC Irvine and UC Berkeley.
Slavevoyages.org had its origins in the 1960s, when historians began collecting data on slave ship voyages and estimating the number of enslaved Africans to cross the Atlantic from the 16th through 19th centuries. Over the years, the data was transferred from punch cards, to laptop computer, to a CD-ROM published in 1999, until it ultimately landed on a website at Emory University in 2008.
“Twenty years and four million viewers after its first appearance as a CD-ROM, the future of 48,000 slaving ventures recorded in SlaveVoyages is finally secured for posterity," noted Henry Louis Gates Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and director of Harvard’s Hutchins Center, a consortium member.
Gates has described SlaveVoyages.org as “a gold mine” and “one of the most dramatically significant research projects in the history of African studies, African American studies, and the history of world slavery itself.”
SlaveVoyages.org is the culmination of both independent and collaborative work by a multidisciplinary team of international scholars and historians — including UC Santa Cruz history professor Greg O’Malley.
He helped create the Intra-American Slave Trade Database, which was added to www.slavevoyages.org as a companion to the much older Transatlantic Slave Trade Database in 2019. It documents more than 11,500 trading voyages that moved enslaved people from one port in the Americas to another.
O’Malley compiled the foundational data set of about 7,600 voyages for the Intra-American Database in research for his first book Final Passages: The Intercolonial Slave Trade of British America, 1619-1807, and then partnered with UC Irvine professor Alex Borucki and other scholars to expand the coverage to all of the Americas and take the project online.
“One powerful thing that the Intra-American Slave Trade Database reveals is just how ubiquitous slavery was in the Americas,” O’Malley noted. “We don’t just document voyages to the obvious places we all think of associated with slavery, such as Virginia, South Carolina, or Jamaica. The Intra-American database shows voyages delivering enslaved people as far north as Newfoundland and as far south as Argentina.”
“All of the original 13 colonies that would become the United States appear in the database receiving shipments of enslaved people. And ships registered in every colony traded slaves elsewhere as well. So slavery was not just a southern problem or atrocity. It was an American one, and I mean ‘America’ as both the entire U.S. and the entire hemisphere. Slavery was virtually everywhere in the Americas, in varying degrees, and white colonists across all the colonies profited from slave trading.”
O’Malley serves on the Operational Committee for the whole website, which reviews data submitted by researchers for inclusion, responds to the many inquiries from the media and the website’s users, and plans future developments. In that capacity, he was involved in the outreach to other institutions about consortium membership, meeting with staff at the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the Omohundro Institute for Early American History and Culture as part of recruiting them to join…
Saturday, March 27, 2021
The Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) has put out a report on the proposal which very politely notes that "over the past few decades, the state has experienced considerable challenges successfully implementing IT projects." (Within UC, think UCPath.) Not surprisingly, LAO suggests that the legislature approve a slower, more methodical approach toward implementing the project.
Mentioned in the LAO report is the fact that "each public higher education segment has an agreement with the Employment Development Department (EDD) that allows it to identify the quarterly earnings of its graduates. The data are matched using social security numbers, which most students provide when they apply to college." Apparently, the idea of the proposed system is to integrate all of the separate systems the segments have for analytical purposes.
The LAO's report is at https://lao.ca.gov/reports/2021/4409/cradle-career-data-system-032621.pdf.
Friday, March 26, 2021
Antonio Calcado, executive vice president and chief operating officer at Rutgers, said the vaccine requirement had been thoroughly reviewed by the university’s Office of General Counsel. He said the university, which currently is conducting about 97 percent of its classes online, wants to find a way to bring students back to campus safely...
Note: UCLA has required other vaccinations in the past. Presumably, it could require one for coronavirus.
Thursday, March 25, 2021
We have looked to the new weekly claims data on unemployment insurance claims as an indicator of the labor market conditions. There was a notable drop in this measure at the US level in the week ending March 20, both with seasonally adjusted and non-adjusted data, but also finally in California. Up until this point, California had been bobbing around for the prior month. Let's hope the trend continues.
As always, the data are at https://www.dol.gov/ui/data.pdf.
The Brookings Institution - a Washington, DC thinktank - has long published a journal, Brookings Papers on Economic Activity. Papers for the journal are first presented in the conference by the authors with discussants. The eventual result is later published. One panel today (via Zoom) dealt with the current coronavirus situation. In particular, UCLA Econ Professor Andrew Atkeson looked at various simulations of the current pandemic.* He noted that the various mitigation measures taken tend to limit the spread of the disease, but they slow it down rather than - in the long run - substantially avoid deaths ABSENT a vaccine. With a vaccine, delaying deaths during the vaccine development process leads to avoiding them over the long run.
*Andrew Atkeson, "Behavior and the Dynamic of Epidemics” https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/BPEASP21_Atkeson_conf-draft.pdf. A summary is available at https://www.brookings.edu/bpea-articles/behavior-and-the-dynamic-of-epidemics/.
The Brookings Institution - a Washington, DC thinktank - has long published a journal, Brookings Papers on Economic Activity. Papers for the journal are first presented in the conference by the authors with discussants. The eventual result is later published. One panel today (via Zoom) dealt with the sustainability of public pensions. The authors of the paper for that panel simulated various scenarios of a sample of public pension plans including UCRP.* (Plans included are listed on Table 2 of the paper.) The authors - among other things - consider whether the plans run out of assets in their trust funds and when. UCRP essentially doesn't run out of assets in any foreseeable scenario. Under some scenarios, the UCRP trust fund runs out in 50+ years. This result is in contrast with CalSTRS, another California plan in the sample, which has more problems.
Basically, the critiques of the paper provided by the discussants was that risk and volatility were not adequately reflected in the paper.
*Jamie Lenney, Bank of England; Byron Lutz, Federal Reserve Board of Governors; Finn Schüle, Brown University; and Louise Sheiner, Brookings Institution, "The Sustainability of State and Local Government Pensions: A Public Finance Approach," https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/BPEASP21_Lenney-et-al_conf-draft_updated_3.24.21.pdf. A summary is at https://www.brookings.edu/bpea-articles/the-sustainability-of-state-and-local-government-pensions-a-public-finance-approach/. The discussants were Deborah Lucas, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Josh Rauh, Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Wednesday, March 24, 2021
Tuesday, March 23, 2021
We have been blogging of late about a push that seemed to come from systemwide somehow to get all faculty salaries back on the civil-service-like official scales that in fact don't apply to most faculty.* Because of various factors - mainly labor market competitive conditions and fiscal squeezes on the university - pay increasingly became off-scale with variations across disciplines. The various campus senates contributed comments on this push were compiled into an 111-page compendium with various viewpoints expressed.** (UCLA contributed only modestly to this compendium.) Apparently, the message that going back to civil service scales isn't going to work came through.
At least one UCLA department has received the following communication:
As a result of feedback in dialogue with deans, department chairs, academic senate and faculty across the campus, Vice Chancellor for Academic Personnel Michael Levine and his team have decided to delay the implementation of the phased program to change faculty off-scale salaries for at least one year and possibly longer. During this period, VC Levine will work with a new committee, the Off-Scale Salary Advisory Committee, as well as the appropriate committees of the Academic Senate to begin to redesign guidelines for determining off-scale components of faculty compensation. The Off-Scale Salary Advisory Committee will be composed of members from the Academic Senate, the College Divisions and the Professional Schools, with each unit nominating its members for participation. The intention of this change from the very beginning has been to enhance equity in faculty salaries. Moving forward, our focus will be on partnering with faculty and with the new committee to determine the best ways to implement these changes with our shared goal of advancing equity.
It would be nice to know where the push is coming from. It doesn't seem to be coming from the Regents - at least if their recent agendas are any guide. Jerry Brown when he was governor might have been the source, but he has been out of office for awhile. Newsom - once becoming governor - doesn't come to Regents meetings unlike Brown, and he has been preoccupied with other matters. (Newsom came to Regents meetings as lieutenant governor because lieutenant governors don't have a lot to do.) So who are the pushers? Will they be happy to let a committee go off and study the matter "for at least one year and possibly longer"?