Saturday, April 30, 2022

Where do we go from here?

The good news is that after creeping up for a few weeks, new weekly claims for unemployment benefits in California have leveled off and even turned down a bit. The bad news - although not reported that way in the news media - is that first quarter real GDP at the national level turned down. News stories report that this turning down is just a fluke and note that it was due to an increased negative international trade balance, inventories falling, and reduced federal, state, and local government spending. But at the end of the day, the negative number means less economic activity in the U.S.

If consumers and others are relying more on imports (things not made in the U.S.), if foreigners have less desire for U.S. exports, and if governments are spending less, why is that considered a fluke? If inventories are falling, you surely want to know why? Are suppliers not restocking their inventories because they think a slowdown in demand is coming soon? Maybe with the Federal Reserve threatening more interest rate hikes to deal with inflation, they have reason to expect such a slowdown. Maybe higher interest rates mean that the cost of maintaining inventories is higher. 

In short, there is a lot of uncertainty out there. The chickens have yet to hatch. So maybe it's too soon to count them.

As always, the new claims data are at

The Eleven

Top row (from left): Walter Allen, Blaire Van Valkenburgh, Haruzo Hida and Brad Shaffer. Middle row: Min Zhou, Peter Narins, Patricia Gandara and John Agnew. Bottom row: George Varghese, Wilfrid Gangbo and Leonid Kruglyak.

11 UCLA faculty members elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

The campus is No. 2 in the nation in the number of honorees

Stuart Wolpert | April 28, 2022 | UCLA Newsroom

Eleven UCLA faculty members were elected today to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the nation’s most prestigious honorary societies. A total of 261 artists, scholars, scientists and leaders in the public, nonprofit and private sectors were elected, including honorary members from 16 countries. UCLA had the second most honorees among colleges and universities, preceded only by Harvard. Stanford was third, UC Berkeley fourth, and MIT and Yale tied for fifth. In February, UCLA was No. 1 in the number of professors selected for 2022 Sloan Research Fellowships, an honor widely seen as evidence of the quality of an institution’s science, math and economics faculty.

UCLA’s 2022 American Academy of Arts and Sciences honorees are:

John Agnew

Distinguished professor of geography

Agnew’s research focuses on political geography, international political economy, European urbanization and modern Italy. Among his many awards is the 2019 Vautrin Lud Prize, one of the highest honors in the field of geography. In 2017, Agnew was selected to deliver UCLA’s Faculty Research Lecture.


Walter Allen 

Distinguished professor of education, sociology and African American studies

Allen, UCLA’s Allan Murray Cartter Professor of Higher Education, is the director of UCLA’s Capacity Building Center and the UCLA Choices Project. His expertise includes the comparative study of race, ethnicity and inequality; diversity in higher education; family studies; and the status of Black males in American society.


Patricia Gandara

Research professor of education

Gandara is co-director of the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles at UCLA and chair of the working group on education for the UC–Mexico Initiative. Her publications include the 2021 books “Schools Under Siege: Immigration Enforcement and Educational Equity” and “The Students We Share: Preparing U.S. and Mexican Teachers for Our Transnational Future.”


Wilfrid Gangbo

Professor of mathematics

Gangbo’s expertise includes the calculus of variations, nonlinear analysis, partial differential equations and fluid mechanics. He is the founder of EcoAfrica, an association of scientists involved in projects in support of African countries, and is one of the UC and Stanford University faculty members who launched the David Harold Blackwell Summer Research Institute.


Haruzo Hida 

Distinguished research professor of mathematics

Hida is an expert on number theory and modular forms. A highly honored mathematician, he has spoken about his research at numerous international conferences and was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1991 and the Leroy P. Steele Prize for Seminal Contribution to Research from the American Mathematical Society in 2019.


Leonid Kruglyak

Distinguished professor of human genetics and biological chemistry

David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Kruglyak is UCLA’s Diller-von Furstenberg Professor of Human Genetics, chair of the department of human genetics and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. He studies the complex genetic basis of heritable traits, which involves many genes that interact with one another and the environment, and his laboratory conducts experiments using computational analysis and model organisms. He has been the recipient of many awards, including the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Innovation Award in Functional Genomics, the Curt Stern Award from the American Society of Human Genetics and the Edward Novitski Prize from the Genetics Society of America.


Peter Narins

Distinguished research professor of integrative biology and physiology, and of ecology and evolutionary biology

Narins’ research focuses on how animals extract relevant sounds from the often noisy environments in which they live. His numerous honors and awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Acoustical Society of America’s 2021 silver medal in animal bioacoustics and election to four scientific societies: the Acoustical Society of America, the Animal Behavior Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the International Society for Neuroethology.


Bradley Shaffer

Distinguished professor of ecology and evolutionary biology

Shaffer, the director of the UCLA La Kretz Center for California Conservation Science, is an expert on evolutionary biology, ecology and the conservation biology of amphibians and reptiles. His recent work has focused on conservation genomics of endangered and ecologically important plants and animals of California, global conservation of freshwater turtles and tortoises, and the application of genomics to the protection of endangered California amphibians and reptiles.


Blaire Van Valkenburgh 

Distinguished research professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology

Van Valkenburgh, UCLA’s Donald R. Dickey Professor of Vertebrate Biology, focuses on the biology and paleontology of carnivorous mammals such as hyenas, wolves, lions and sabertooth cats. She is a leading expert on the evolutionary biology of large carnivores, past and present, and analyzes the fossil record of carnivores from both ecological and evolutionary perspectives.


George Varghese 

Professor of computer science

UCLA Samueli School of Engineering

Varghese, UCLA’s Jonathan B. Postel Professor of Networking, devoted the first part of his career to making the internet faster — a field he calls network algorithmics — for which he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2017, the National Academy of Inventors in 2020 and the Internet Hall of Fame in 2021. He is now working to jump-start an area he calls network design automation to provide a set of tools for operating and debugging networks.


Min Zhou

Distinguished professor of sociology and Asian American studies

Zhou, UCLA’s Walter and Shirley Wang Professor of U.S.–China Relations and Communications, is director of UCLA’s Asia Pacific Center. Her research interests include migration and development, Chinese diasporas, race and ethnicity, and urban sociology.


“These individuals excel in ways that excite us and inspire us at a time when recognizing excellence, commending expertise and working toward the common good is absolutely essential to realizing a better future,” David Oxtoby, president of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, said of this year’s honorees. “Membership is an honor, and also an opportunity to shape ideas and influence policy in areas as diverse as the arts, democracy, education, global affairs and science,” said Nancy C. Andrews, chair of the academy’s board of directors. 

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences was founded in 1780 by John Adams, John Hancock and others who believed the new republic should honor exceptionally accomplished individuals. Previous fellows have included George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela and UCLA astrophysicist Andrea Ghez. The academy also serves as an independent policy research center engaged in studies of complex and emerging problems. Its current membership represents some of today’s most innovative thinkers across a variety of fields and professions and includes more than 250 Nobel and Pulitzer prize winners.


Friday, April 29, 2022

For now, the money rolls in...

The projection above from the Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) suggests - as we pretty much already know - that state revenues will likely run ahead of the governor's projections back in January.* We also know that the same LAO is warning that in the future - but not quite yet - the combination of the Gann Limit and other constitutional provisions will cause budgetary problems as more revenue will create a need to spend beyond the added revenue.**

But that's tomorrow. Politico is summarizing legislative objectives:***

California’s swelling coffers mark a sharp reversal from early in the pandemic, when unemployment spiked and officials braced for steep budget cuts. Instead, a booming stock market and tech sector have brought in record revenues, even as Californians with lower incomes contended with job losses and sky-high housing costs. Other states are also awash in cash.

Atop the spending list is a proposal to send $8 billion in payments to taxpayers, a move that Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) and Senate Budget Chair Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) pitched as a way to combat rising costs of energy and consumer goods. The plan would also include rebates to small businesses and nonprofits to help repay federal unemployment debt, along with grants that could be used to offset new costs from the state’s supplemental Covid-19 sick leave program.

The rebate proposal is reminiscent of the Golden State Stimulus checks the state mailed out last year. Meanwhile Gov. Gavin Newsom has proposed an $11 billion relief package to offset rising gas prices. The governor is expected to reveal an updated state spending plan next month. ...Around $43 billion — would go to bolster the state’s budget reserves under the Senate proposal, which the LAO in November estimated to be north of $21 billion for the 2022-23 fiscal year.

The Senate proposal also calls for large increases in education spending. The plan would increase the base funding schools receive by $5 billion for the upcoming year and by $10 billion in 2024-25. Those dollars would come out of a separate pool of revenue that the state is constitutionally required to spend on K-12 schools.

Nearly $5 billion would be directed to universities and community colleges for deferred facilities maintenance and expansion of student housing, a dearth of which has led to criticism of the state’s three public higher education systems. Another $1 billion would be earmarked for preschool programs and waivers to support childcare for low-income residents.

Other spending proposals laid out in the plan:

— $1 billion on developing the state’s Medi-Cal program for undocumented residents, with the goal that the first-in-the-nation program start on June 1, 2023, rather than 2024 timeline currently scheduled.

— $18 billion for climate resiliency programs, including $7.5 billion to build a new state water system and rebalance existing water supplies, and $6.6 billion for wildfire prevention.

— $3 billion in each of the next three years to expand Project Homekey, which converts hotels into housing for homeless residents, and to provide funding for local homelessness programs.

— $2.7 billion for affordable housing projects and home ownership programs, including $1 billion for a new fund to help first-time homebuyer purchase homes with little or no downpayment.

— $20 billion for infrastructure projects laid out in Newsom’s January budget proposal.

We have noted that given the LAO's warning of trouble ahead - but not yet - UC should focus on getting all it can now. "Compacts" are nice, but easily broken. At a recent meeting with CUCEA and CUCRA, the UC emeriti and retirees associations, UC President Drake spoke about current good relationships between the governor, the legislature, and UC. Let's see how that plays out in the upcoming May Revise, due on May 13.






Or direct to

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Navitus Concerns Discussed by Drake

UC switched to a new pharmacy provider last January 1 and the transition did not go smoothly. Although there had been assurances that there would be substantial overlap with the prior provider in terms of drug coverage and approvals, there were substantial complaints from plan participants about denials and coverage. 

At a joint Zoom meeting of CUCEA and CUCRA yesterday, UC president Drake expressed concern about the bumpy transition and indicated that if the problems could not be fixed in the short term, a new pharmacy provider might be needed.

You can year the audio of his remarks below. At one point, Berkeley Professor Bob Anderson asks a question:

More Complete Information on Berkeley Lockdown

A more complete story of the Berkeley lockdown last Thursday is now available from Berkeleyside. See below. The individual who made the threats was part of the campus Underground Ambassadors program. Note that although the campus deleted the website of the Underground Ambassadors program, as the article below points out, the website - including photos, etc. - is readily available from Google cache. So apart from the Berkeley lockdown story, this episode is also a reminder that once you put things on the web, it is hard to make them disappear. 


UCPD: Student’s threats to shoot UC Berkeley staff led to lockdown

The district attorney’s office has charged Lamar Bursey with two felony counts of making criminal threats against staff members.

By Emilie Raguso, April 27, 2022, Berkeleyside

A 39-year-old student in a UC Berkeley program for formerly incarcerated individuals threatened to shoot at least two staff members last week after being placed on academic suspension, court records show. The threats, which appeared in an April 21 email to UC Berkeley staff members, according to the University of California Police Department, prompted a campus-wide lockdown Thursday.

On Monday, the Alameda County district attorney’s office charged Lamar Bursey of Hayward with two felony counts of making criminal threats against two UC Berkeley staff members. The San Francisco Chronicle was the first to report the arrest. According to court and UCPD records, Bursey had been placed on academic suspension after causing disturbances on campus on the morning of April 14 in the Valley Life Science Building and the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union. Few details about those incidents have been released, but UCPD told Berkeleyside that Bursey had threatened a UC Berkeley staff member that day. Last week, authorities say, the situation escalated when Bursey sent an email shortly before 6 a.m. stating that he would come into the office that day and planned to cause harm. “Stop playing with me,” he wrote, according to court papers. “Depending on who I feel was helping or not, 2 people on this email will get shot.” UCPD said one of the people who received the email “was scared for his life and the life of others.” He told his boss he would not return to campus until the situation was resolved. Another staff member was also concerned, according to court records, and “thought she would be shot by BURSEY if she came into work. Out of fear for her safety” she did not go into the office.

UC Berkeley locked down campus Thursday morning, canceling all classes and advising community members not to go outside while authorities attempted to find Bursey. He was located in Oakland at the Summit Campus of the Alta Bates Summit Medical Center early Thursday afternoon and was “taken into custody without incident,” according to court papers. Authorities have not shared details about how they found Bursey or why he was in the hospital. As of this week, Bursey remains in custody at Santa Rita Jail and is scheduled for a plea hearing Monday, according to court records. No bail amount is listed.

“The safety of the campus community was our top priority throughout this incident,” UCPD Lt. Sabrina Reich told Berkeleyside on Wednesday. “Thanks to the efforts of our officers and other coordinating campus units, we were able to safely resolve the situation without injury.”

Bursey had been a transfer student in UC Berkeley’s Underground Scholars program, according to a 2021 study on worker-led research to which he contributed. When the study was published last year, he was a second-year transfer student and was majoring in sociology. He also “worked as the outreach coordinator and assistant board director of Reentry Services” and “has experience working in retail, sales, and warehouse operations,” according to his bio in the report. UC Berkeley had removed Bursey’s biography from its website — along with the bios of other Underground Scholars “ambassadors” — as of this week.

But, according to a cached version of the bio that was available through a Google search, Bursey became a Laney College student in 2016, then joined UC Berkeley’s Underground Scholars program in the spring of 2017. He “began working as an Ambassador; identifying formerly incarcerated students on campus and providing them with resources to successfully transfer to UC Berkeley” and other UC campuses.

As described by UC Berkeley, the Underground Scholars program aims to build a “prison-to-university pipeline through recruitment, retention and advocacy.” According to court records, prior to this week, Bursey had faced charges in 10 criminal cases in Alameda County between 2003 and 2015. Most of the cases were related to misdemeanor property crimes and drug offenses, including DUI. Several cases included misdemeanor battery charges as well. UC Berkeley’s Chancellor’s Independent Advisory Board on Police Accountability and Community Safety is slated to hold a forum at 5 p.m. Wednesday about last week’s events. “We know that it impacted everyone, was stressful and disruptive, and may have been activating for people who have experienced threats, violence, or similar circumstances in the past. We are proud of our peers and colleagues who reacted in a spirit of community and care by sheltering in place with each other, being on call and in emergency meetings for hours, and checking in on colleagues and friends,” according to the event description.

“We know that expertise on safety, justice, belonging, and wellbeing is located in all corners of campus and rooted in people’s lived experiences and professional, community, and academic experiences. This meeting intends to recognize and build on that expertise,” the description continued. The board said it planned to use input from the forum to make recommendations related to “crisis prevention, response, and messaging moving forward.”


Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Follow up on the lockdown that took place at UC-Berkeley

From the San Francisco Chronicle: A 39-year-old UC Berkeley student is facing felony charges for allegedly threatening university staff members in an incident that prompted an extended campus-wide shelter-in-place order while authorities searched for him last week. Alameda County prosecutors on Monday charged Lamar Bursey of Hayward with two counts of felony criminal threats. The university had placed Bursey on academic suspension for an incident that occurred April 14, a week before the alleged threats to staff, according to a declaration by UC Berkeley police filed in Superior Court. Officials did not detail what happened in the earlier matter.

Then on Thursday [April 21], just before 6 a.m., Bursey sent an email to multiple university staff members in which he threatened to shoot two recipients, the document states. He wrote that staff members were his “resources” and that he slept “outside” the day before, the document said. Bursey told staff members that he would be on campus — “in the office” — from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. that day, according to the declaration. It was unclear what office he was referring to. “Depending on who I feel was helping or not, 2 people on this email will get shot,” the email said, according to police.

One of the email recipients notified a supervisor and said he was “scared for his life and the life of others,” the document said, while another person told authorities that she thought Bursey would shoot her if she went into work that day. The alleged threats prompted UC Berkeley police to issue a shelter-in-place order at 7:30 a.m. due to a “credible campus-wide threat” that lasted more than four hours. In-person classes were canceled, buildings were locked, people were urged to stay indoors and away from windows, and anyone off campus was asked to stay away from the area...

Full story at

Our original post on this matter is at:

UCLA Student Workers Protest

From the LA TimesHundreds of UCLA researchers, student-instructors and other academic workers took to the streets of Westwood on Tuesday afternoon, protesting low pay and what they deemed institutionalized discrimination and harassment at the University of California. The group marched to Westwood and Wilshire boulevards in Los Angeles, shouting slogans and banging pots and pans, before decamping at the intersection, where some supporters sat in a large circle and blocked traffic for more than two hours. Two dozen union leaders were arrested after Los Angeles police declared an unlawful assembly and ordered the demonstrators to disperse.

The protesters were among thousands of academic workers from across the University of California’s 10 campuses and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory who were demonstrating amid tense negotiations over increased pay and expanded protections...

Full story at

LAO Again Warns of Fiscal Danger Ahead

From the Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO):

Gabe Gabriel Petek
Legislative Analyst

Given the persistent strength in state tax collections, it may come as a surprise that California’s General Fund likely faces a budget problem in the coming years. Yet this is the key takeaway from a recent fiscal analysis of 10,000 possible revenue scenarios conducted by our office. In 95 percent of our simulations, the state encountered a budget problem by 2025-26. Notably, the likelihood of a budget problem largely is impervious to the future trajectory of state tax revenues. That is, whether revenues trend upward or downward from here, the state likely faces budget deficits. The central implication of our findings is stark and suggests that in the interest of fiscal resilience, the Legislature should consider rejecting a substantial portion of the Governor’s January spending proposals.

How Can Strong Revenue Trends Present a Budget Risk?

In the brief associated with our analysis, we described how continued revenue growth could increase the state’s constitutional funding obligations enough to cause large recurring budget deficits. Having essentially reached the Proposition 4 (1979) state appropriations limit (SAL), each additional dollar of revenue must be allocated consistent with SAL requirements, generally making them unavailable to fund baseline expenditures. Additionally, the state also must continue to spend required amounts on schools and community colleges and reserve and debt payments, pursuant to Propositions 98 (1988) and 2 (2014), respectively. Together, we estimate that for every dollar of tax revenue above the SAL, the state faces approximately $1.60 in constitutional funding obligations. Based on our scenario analyses, if revenues exceed median expected growth, SAL requirements very plausibly could reach $20 billion to $45 billion by 2025-26. Counterintuitively, therefore, each additional dollar of revenue above the limit worsens the state’s budget outlook.*

Given This Conundrum, How Should the Legislature Consider Responding?

In our brief, we identified several short- and long-term options, with particular focus on the atypical budget risk stemming from upside revenue performance. In the near term, the most jarring of the options is probably the one most conducive to preserving state fiscal resilience. 

We recommended that the Legislature consider rejecting the lion’s share of the Governor’s $10 billion in non-SAL-excludable budget proposals. Further, we note that rejecting the proposed spending alone—even in favor of SAL-excludable outlays—likely would be insufficient since constitutional obligations would accumulate faster than incoming revenue in future years. In addition, therefore, we suggest that the Legislature hold the unspent funds in reserve to help pay for the state’s anticipated SAL-related obligations. Longer term, state policymakers still likely will need to weigh fundamental questions about the size of state government and whether to seek a voter-approved amendment to Proposition 4...

Full story at


Whether the legislature will follow the above recommendations is unclear, since nothing terrible happens immediately. The governor's May Revise budget in an election year - even though the governor essentially has no viable rivals - seems unlikely to comply. If that is the political fiscal environment, UC would do well to get whatever it can now since it is always in the discretionary part of the budget. (The May Revise is scheduled to be unveiled on May 13th.)


*Essentially, Prop 4 siphons off "excess" revenue and put it into rebates and other uses. But the revenue nonetheless drives spending obligations on K-14.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

That Harvard Case - Part 3

We noted in a previous posting that there was a case heading to the US Supreme Court dealing with admissions to an elite high school that might have some connection to the pending Harvard and U of North Carolina admissions cases dealing with affirmative action.* Below is the latest:

Supreme Court Allows Elite High School’s New Admissions Rules
A group including parents of Asian American students challenged the new criteria at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Virginia.
Adam Liptak, April 25, 2022, NY Times

The Supreme Court on Monday temporarily approved new admissions criteria at an elite public high school in Virginia that eliminated standardized tests, clearing the way for the use of a policy intended to diversify the student body in choosing the class that will enter in the fall. The court’s ruling rejected a request for emergency relief from a group that objected to the new rules, saying they harmed Asian American students. The court’s brief order was unsigned and gave no reasons, which is typical when the court acts on emergency applications asking the justices to intervene while appeals are moving forward. The court’s three most conservative members — Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Neil M. Gorsuch — said they would have reinstated a trial judge’s ruling blocking the new criteria. They, too, did not explain their thinking. The school, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Va., known as T.J., changed its admissions requirements in 2020 in the wake of protests over the murder of George Floyd.

The school, among the best in the nation, is in Fairfax County, outside Washington, and accepts students from the county and from several surrounding counties and cities. Like admissions criteria at other elite public high schools across the country, the school’s policies have been at the center of fierce debates among politicians and parents about whether and how to diversify enrollment. A related issue is already before the Supreme Court, which will hear challenges to admissions programs at Harvard and the University of North Carolina in the fall. Those programs explicitly take account of race as one factor among many.

The high school’s new program, by contrast, uses race-neutral criteria. In addition to doing away with standardized tests, the program sets aside spots for the top 1.5 percent of students from each public middle school in the area, leaving about 100 openings for everyone else, including applicants from private schools and students who have been home-schooled. Admissions administrators also consider “experience factors,” such as whether students are poor or are learning English or are attending a middle school that was “historically underrepresented” at the high school. The administrators are not told the race, sex or name of any applicant.

After the changes went into effect in 2021, the percentage of Asian American students dropped to 54 percent from 73 percent. The percentage of Black students grew to 7 percent from no more than 2 percent; the percentage of Hispanic students grew to 11 percent from 3 percent; and the percentage of white students grew to 22 percent from 18 percent. Across all of Fairfax County’s public schools, about 37 percent of students are white, 27 percent are Hispanic, 20 percent are Asian and 10 percent are Black.

The changes were challenged by a group called Coalition for TJ, which includes some American parents of Asian American students and which is represented by the Pacific Legal Foundation, a conservative legal organization that says it defends Americans from government overreach. The group argued that the new admissions process amounted to race discrimination aimed at Asian American students. Judge Claude M. Hilton of the Federal District Court in Alexandria ruled for the challengers, saying that the changes were “racially motivated.” The discussion of the planned changes, he wrote, was “infected with talk of racial balancing from its inception.”

“It is clear that Asian American students are disproportionately harmed by the board’s decision to overhaul T.J. admissions,” he wrote. “Currently and in the future, Asian American applicants are disproportionately deprived of a level playing field.”

A divided three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, Va., stayed Judge Hilton’s decision while an appeal from the school board moved forward. That had the practical effect of keeping the new procedures in place for a second admissions cycle. In a concurring opinion, Judge Toby J. Heytens wrote that the high school’s new admissions program was lawful. “The Supreme Court has repeatedly stated that it is constitutionally permissible to seek to increase racial (and other) diversity through race-neutral means,” he wrote. “Indeed, it has required public officials to consider such measures before turning to race conscious alternatives.” Judge Heytens added that it would be impractical to switch back to the old criteria so late in the cycle, with admissions decisions for the fall due this month. “None of the current applicants was required to take the formerly mandated standardized tests, two-thirds of which are no longer commercially available,” he wrote.

Lawyers for the school board told the Supreme Court that a ruling for the challengers would threaten race-neutral means of achieving diversity that the court had at least tacitly endorsed. In Fisher v. University of Texas in 2016, for instance, the court rejected a challenge to an admissions program that included, among other elements, guaranteed admission to top students at every high school in the state. The school board’s brief added that the percentage of Asian American students receiving offers of admission under the new program “substantially exceeded their share of the applicant pool,” adding that “Asian Americans were the only racial group that was substantially overrepresented compared to its share of the applicant pool.”

“Moreover, the Asian American admissions rate under the plan was 19.48 percent, well within the historical 2004-2020 range of 16.8 percent to 25 percent,” the brief said. “Those facts alone foreclose the coalition’s claim that Asian Americans were disadvantaged in the admissions process.”




Faculty Club Reopening in About a Month

From an email of April 25:

Dear Faculty Club Members:

As we approach the finish line on our major renovation project, we’re excited to share with you an update about our reopening plan, which is taking place in two phases.

Phase One, currently underway, involves honoring all private special events, which are made possible with temporary certificates of occupancy.  These events are carefully managed to ensure we are in compliance with UCLA’s Campus Covid Policy and the requirements for limited operation determined by the city of Los Angeles.


Phase Two, reopening with all services for our members and their guests, depends on the Faculty Club being granted its permanent certificate of occupancy. We anticipate passing all inspections and receiving the permit next month. Our target reopening date is May 23rd.


During these last few crucial weeks, we plan to reach out to membership on a regular basis with any changes to our reopening plan.  We are doing our best to welcome you back to a beautifully renovated and significantly upgraded facility.


With thanks for your patience as we enter the home stretch and looking forward to seeing you very soon, 

Jane Permaul, President 

Luciano Sautto, General Manager

Monday, April 25, 2022

UCLA Slang

Professor of Linguistics Pam Munro spoke to a joint Zoom meeting of the UCLA Emeriti and Retirees Association recently on the subject of slang used by UCLA students. You can see the program at the link at the bottom of this posting.

Pam Munro (AKA Slanglady) has been studying the slang used by UCLA students — and others — since 1983. What is slang? Is it just bad grammar? Is it just X-rated language? Does it change faster than standard language? We'll find out, and learn a number of brand-new words in use by UCLA students this year. "I consider it vital to make linguistic findings available to native speakers and other interested laymen through accurate, accessible descriptive and pedagogical materials, including dictionaries. I am particularly interested in working out better ways to make dictionaries, since I feel that this process generally illuminates most aspects of grammar."

Click on link below:

Or direct to

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Regents are meeting April 27th but... can't see them. They're meeting behind closed doors: 


Date: Time: Location: April 27, 2022 9:00 a.m. 

1605 Tilia Street, Davis, CA 888 7th Avenue, New York, New York 300 E. University Drive, Suite 300, Tempe, Arizona 

Agenda – Closed Session 

S1(X) Action Recommendations for Election of Officers and Appointments to Standing Committees and Subcommittees for 2022-2


Presumably, the results will be announced at the next open meetings of May 17-19.

In the meantime...

Or direct to

Saturday, April 23, 2022

NIL ain't nothing anymore

Thanks to a US Supreme Court decision, college athletes are now allowed to monetize their Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL). From 247sports:

UCLA Announces New NIL Initiative -- The Westwood Exchange

by David Woods, 4-21-22   

On Thursday, UCLA announced the Westwood Exchange, a new NIL initiative aimed at making it even easier for UCLA athletes to connect with potential partners on Name, Image, and Likeness opportunities in a robust marketplace.

The exchange is designed as an online portal for business owners, donors, alumni, and fans to register with the school to connect with athletes on potential ventures. This should provide a more direct opportunity for fans to connect with athletes and enhance UCLA's position in the NIL marketplace, which has grown increasingly competitive as other schools have partnered directly with donor collectives to engage in what is effectively legal pay-for-play.

The exchange can be located at the link below:


From the website:

"The Westwood Exchange is a student-athlete NIL business registry, custom-designed for businesses, donors, alumni, and any other interested NIL dollars wishing to connect with student-athletes. Registered businesses can search, filter and initiate conversations with your student-athletes to discuss an NIL deal. Once the NIL deal between a registered business and your student-athlete is completed, the business will use the Westwood Exchange to create a transaction that will produce a direct payment to the student-athlete and automate a disclosure to the INFLCR Verified Compliance Ledger. The institution does not have to get involved in the deal and all transactions within the Westwood Exchange are consolidated into one 1099 at the end of the year for easier tax reporting purposes for registered businesses and athletes."


After an individual registers with the exchange, they'll have access to a portal which allows them to connect with UCLA athletes who have indicated their own interest in pursuing NIL opportunities. 


Friday, April 22, 2022

Still Watching

We continue to keep an eye on the slow upward creep of new California weekly claims for unemployment insurance - a series we track as an indicator of the state of the labor market and economy. There are, of course, other things to worry about in terms of the direction of the economy - mainly macro things such as inflation. For right now, and for the May revise budget next month, there is however little chance of anything derailing the outlook for rising revenue. But it's always good to recall:

As always, the new claims data are at

Another Security Lockdown: This Time at Berkeley

Back on February 1, the UCLA campus was subject to a lockdown due to a security threat.* There was an actual shooting incident at UCLA back in 2016.** Something similar happened at UC-Berkeley yesterday. From the Daily Cal:

After Thursday morning’s lockdown, UCPD located the suspect at an off-campus site at about 2 p.m. and determined there is no longer a threat. 

An hour after UCPD lifted its shelter-in-place order for UC Berkeley following a campuswide threat, campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof held a press conference to offer more details. Mogulof confirmed the suspect issued threats against specific campus members around 7:30 a.m., and campus issued a shelter-in-place order once UCPD deemed the threats credible.

“The threats that UCPD was made aware of this morning were extraordinarily serious and very credible,” Mogulof said at the conference. “When threats like that are received, we’re not going to take any chances when it comes to the safety of the community.” 

While Mogulof said campus will return to normal tomorrow, he noted neither campus nor UCPD can offer more information at the time due to “unique and complicated privacy concerns.” Mogulof noted that more information will be released in the coming days.  






UCLA recently circulated (or possibly re-circulated) an instructional video on what to do in an active shooter situation.

Or direct to

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Watch the Regents Off-Cycle Meeting of April 18, 2022

A second April off-cycle meeting was held by a Regents committee - this one last Monday - of the Public Engagement and Development Committee. The theme was transfers from community colleges to UC and particularly to UC-Davis since the meeting was held there. Only one speaker presented by phone in the public comments session on transfers to HBCUs. President Drake made some introductory remarks. It was noted in the presentations that community college enrollment dropped during the pandemic. So, community college leaders in part see encouraging the transfer route as a way to regain lost enrollment. It was noted that there was a shortage of STEM faculty at community colleges since other employers are more attractive.

A second part of the discussion dealt with attracting more African American students to UCs (and especially to Davis). There are various organizations that facilitate transfers. The committee heard from administrators, students, and alumni on this issue.

As always, we preserve the recording of the meeting since the Regents - for no obvious reason - delete their recordings after one year. You can find this meeting at:

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Straws in the COVID wind

 From Stanford: ... [COVID] case counts have increased by 20% among students and decreased by 1% among employees compared to the week before. According to the dashboard, 212 students are in isolation as of Monday, which is an increase from the 147 students reported last week. The rise in student cases comes after the University lifted the Color COVID-19 weekly testing requirement for vaccinated students on April 11...

Full story at:


From Howard: Howard University will hold only online undergraduate classes (except for lab classes) during the final weeks of the spring semester. Final exams for undergraduate courses will also be online. A letter to the campus from Anthony K. Wutoh, the provost, and Hugh Mighty, dean of the College of Medicine, said the positivity rate on campus increased, from 2 percent to 5 percent, in the last week. It has also increased in the Washington, D.C., area.


Possible VP-Related Traffic Jam in UCLA Area Today and Tomorrow

From Patch newspapers: Los Angeles motorists should prepare for possible delays and closures amid Vice President Kamala Harris's three-day visit to Los Angeles. Harris is staying at her home in Brentwood, one day after speaking for 19 minutes at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in Brentwood a co-host said raised $1 million. 

Harris and her husband will be staying in Brentwood until Thursday, when she will fly to San Francisco. Motorists are advised to avoid the surrounding area if possible, since the Vice Presidential motorcade has the potential to severely disrupt traffic...

Full story at:

Where to put them

From the Bruin: UCLA is considering significant measures to enroll more in-state students, such as expanding course offerings and opening a satellite campus.* Chancellor Gene Block announced new university initiatives in the winter to fulfill the University of California’s goal of adding an additional 20,000 enrollment spots across its 10 campuses by 2030. The initiatives followed an increase in the number of applications to the university. This year, the university received more than 168,000 applications – more than double the number received in 2012, when there were 72,697 applications.

One idea is to increase four-year graduation rates, which would allow the university to enroll more students in incoming classes, Block said. Another way to accomplish this would be to increase the number of summer classes so students have more opportunities to complete their graduation requirements, Block added.** “When students graduate on time, it frees up space so the campus can add more undergraduates without necessarily increasing overall enrollment,” said UCLA spokesperson Ricardo Vazquez in an emailed statement. The university will also look to increase the number of seats available in courses, Vazquez added.

As the UC system’s smallest campus in terms of area, the university needs to pursue options that will not put more pressure on an already stressed campus, Block said... More significant changes are also being considered, such as utilizing online classes and opening a satellite campus, Block’s update said...

Full story at


*There is no cheap land anywhere near the current campus. To find cheap land, you would have to go far away from Westwood to someplace like Palmdale. ????  (Palmdale does have an unused airport.)

**Just a note that the reason UCLA switched from semesters to quarters in the 1960s was to accommodate the incoming baby boomers. The idea was that there would be four equal quarters and thus students would graduate faster. It turned out that students didn't want to attend in summer. The result was that there ended up being effectively three quarters. And since you had added an intersession between the second and third quarters, arguably the university infrastructure was being used less efficiently than with two semesters.  

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Modern Times

Corporations and other organizations hire PR services to tout various announcements, as per above. Yours truly was not aware that academics now do it until: [Screenshot below]

Anyway, welcome Prof. Prineha Narang.

Monday, April 18, 2022

FYI: Snow at a controversial site where (maybe) you wouldn't expect it

We have covered the ongoing controversy in Hawaii about the proposed Thirty-Meter Telescope (TMT) on top of Mauna Kea in which UC has an involvement. There are other telescopes in use there. But because it's Hawaii, not a place associated with cold weather, you may not know that it sometimes snows at that elevation. Above and below are photo taken yesterday. 


Sunday, April 17, 2022

We'll keep an eye on it

We watch new weekly claims for unemployment insurance in California as an indicator of the state of the labor market and the economy. New claims have been creeping up in the past few weeks after falling into the pre-pandemic range. We'll keep an eye on it and hope it's a blip and not the beginning of something.

As always, the latest new claims data are at

Watch Jennifer Doudna at the Regents Special Committee on Innovation Transfer & Entrepreneurship: 4-14-2022

The Regents had an off-cycle meeting of the Special Committee on Innovation Transfer & Entrepreneurship last Thursday. Nobody signed up for public comments. As always, we have preserved the recording since the Regents - for no particular reason - delete their recordings after one year.  

Nobel Prize winning UC-Berkeley faculty member Jennifer Doudna - known for her work on the CRISPR gene editing process - spoke about that process, her institute at Berkeley, and a company she started. She noted that there is testing going on for a cure through gene editing of sickle cell disease. Indeed, it has already been done. Currently, it costs on the order of $2 million but she described work which she hopes will bring down the cost to something like $100,000. Her presentation and subsequent Q&A runs from minute 6:20 for a little over an hour. Blog readers will find that presentation of special interest. 

The concluding session featured a group of student entrepreneurs - most from UCLA - describing their activities.

You can see the video at the link below:

Or direct to:

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Only USC Suing? Where is UCLA?

Screenshot from YouTube video.
USC recently sued "pranksters" who make YouTube videos disrupting classes. See below. It took me about one minute to find a similar disruption at UCLA on their YouTube channel. So, why isn't UCLA suing? And in fact, why aren't criminal penalties being pursued. No requests to YouTube to shut down the channel? From USC Annenberg Media:

USC has filed a lawsuit in hopes of temporarily banning two YouTubers from campus after they disrupted a Holocaust lecture to make a prank video on March 29. Students stormed out of the classroom following the incident in Mark Taper Hall, and Los Angeles Police Department officers arrested two of the suspects at gunpoint, according to the lawsuit. The university cited dangerous and reckless conduct targeting students and faculty while taking over lectures as the main reason for the suit. USC is asking for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction that would prevent the defendants from entering all campuses, medical centers, residences and all other university properties in the county, according to the suit. The university is also asking for compensatory damages, attorneys’ fees and other compensation for the cost of the lawsuit.

The defendants, Earnest Kanevsky, who goes by Eric Kanevsky on his YouTube channel, and Yuoguo Bai, have filmed several prank videos on the University Park Campus and disrupted classes beginning in 2021, according to the lawsuit. At least two videos of Kanevsky interrupting other classes in Taper Hall seem to have been deleted, including one named in the lawsuit where he dressed up as a character from “Squid Game” and another included in a “FUNNIEST PRANKS OF 2021″ recap video. The suit also states that, in the class, Bai pretended to be a student, while Kanevsky walked in later dressed in all black with a silver briefcase, pretending to be a Russian Mafia member attempting to take money from Bai. Kanevksy then asked if anyone named Hugo Boss was in the room, leading Bai to say that he was Boss, according to the suit.

A voice on Kanevsky’s phone yelled expletives at Bai, further interrupting the lecture and causing students to panic, the suit stated. Students began fleeing the classroom in fear when Kanevsky moved to the front of the classroom and told Bai that his father owed him $50,000, according to the suit. The class’s professor, Benjamin Ratskoff, said in the suit that he was worried during the prank by the defendants’ references to Hugo Boss, a Nazi supporter and fashion designer. In an email to students previously obtained by Annenberg Media, Ratskoff said that he is in touch with the university about ensuring a similar disturbance doesn’t happen again.

“While it appears that the event was a part of some kind of prank, the intrusion naturally created panic, as lectures on the Holocaust, antisemitism, and racism have previously been targets for harassment and violence,” Ratskoff previously wrote in an email to Annenberg Media. “I myself made the split-second decision that it was better to follow those fleeing students rather than to wait and see if this was indeed a prank.”


I should note that this story was covered in the LA Times and other media outlets. It's hard to imagine that DA George Gascón, LA City Attorney Mike Feuer, and LA Police Chief Michel Moore (or at least their staffs) are unaware of what happened at USC. LA Mayor Eric Garcetti's State of the City address last Thursday was devoted to public safety. Just saying...

Friday, April 15, 2022

Follow-Up: Yesterday at the Sepulveda Pass/405

We noted yesterday morning that the 405 was largely closed in the Sepulveda Pass due to police activity, thus impeding the commute to UCLA. Below is a follow-up: 

From the LA TimesThe California Highway Patrol identified the gunman they say opened fire on officers on the 405 Freeway on Thursday morning before he was shot. Officers spotted Michael Northcott, 37, standing by a red Ford Mustang parked on the right side of the shoulder of the southbound freeway north of Skirball Center Drive about 2:45 a.m., according to authorities. The vehicle’s airbags were deployed.

When the CHP officers stopped behind him, Northcott reached into the Mustang and pointed a handgun at the officers and started to shoot, according to the CHP. Police shot back at him and hit him several times, the CHP said. Once police were able to determine that the situation was safe for them to approach, they gave medical aid to the suspect until paramedics arrived. Northcott was then transported to a hospital. His condition remains unknown.

None of the officers were injured during the shooting, but their vehicle was struck by gunfire, according to authorities. The 405 was closed for several hours as CHP investigators combed the scene for evidence. Traffic on the freeway snarled for miles as the Sepulveda Pass was closed for most of the morning commute on Thursday. All lanes were reopened around 12:30 p.m., according to CHP’s Southern Division.


Thursday, April 14, 2022

Shutdown of 405 on Sepulveda Pass This Morning

Morning commutes to UCLA may be delayed due to a shooting incident. Reportedly, southbound lanes of the 405 were shut down. From Patch newspapers:

A freeway shooting shut down the San Diego (405) Freeway in the Sepulveda Pass during Thursday morning's rush hour. The southbound lanes are completely shut down at Skirball Center Drive as of 8 a.m., and only one northbound lane has been reopened, said California Highway Patrol Officer Chris Maldonado. Fox 11 News is reporting that the CHP got into some type of altercation with the driver of a red Mustang, and shots were fired. Traffic is being diverted off the freeway at Sepulveda. Drivers are being advised to avoid the area, or try alternate routes such as the Ventura (101) Freeway. However, the hours-long closure has backed up rush hour traffic all over the westside.