The Editor's Back Fence

Now Read This: A Selection of Links of Interest to Berkeley and Environs

Monday October 04, 2010 - 12:23:00 PM

UC-BP opens a new raptor- and bat-free hall? (From Richard Brenneman's Blog)

UC Berkeley, which bill’s itself as The Nation’s Finest Public Research University™, is opening a new center, and they promise it’s free of bats and raptors.

But there’s at least one old bat who’ll be on hand for it’s dedication today, former Reagan Secretary of State and military/industrial entrepeneur George Shultz, and as for the raptors, what about the center’s namesake, UC Regent Richard Blum, whose been steadily feasting off the carcass of America’s dying public universities for years? 

Shultz, for those who may not recall, was Secretary of the Treasury for Richard Nixon and came to the Reagan cabinet from Bechtel, a company that builds prisons, Iraqi schools, military bases, and, once upon a time, nuclear reactor containment structures. He went back to Bechtel when he left the cabinet and just retired from its board last year, helping the company land nearly $3.2 billion in defense contracts in the last four years alone. 

And Blum, the spouse of Sen. Diane Feinstein, used to own the company that built lots of buildings for the same university system he governs. He’s also in partnership with UC to feed students to the systems schools through the private college system he owns. 

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Always be sure to call it research !
Sunday’s New York Times contained an interesting discussion by their relatively new public editor, Arthur Brisbane, about writers who neglect to attribute facts and ideas to their original author. His piece focuses mainly on a popularization of academic work which appeared in the Times’ Sunday magazine, but links and comments make clear that it’s a problem in journalism as a whole. It’s particularly a problem for online journalism, since it’s become so quick and easy to copy reporting work done by others. Professor Lehrer had the first and last word on the topic years ago, of course: Plagiarize!

UC Berkeley agrofuel: A dream built on deception?
Former Planet reporter Richard Brenneman continues his coverage of the BP-UCB sweetheart contract in a blockbuster new story on his always interesting blog:

" Back when agrofuel entrepreneur Chris Somerville was selling the BP-funded half-billion-dollar agrofuel program to UC Berkeley colleagues, the Monsanto-made millionaire claimed the goal was producing enough fuel to power the nation using only the country’s marginal farmlands.

Wrong, according to stunning research from Tad Patzek, who was one of the leading campus critics of the BP project and who now chairs the Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering and the University of Texas, Austin." 

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