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Facebook and the humanities: Pondering what would Oedipus do

Timothy Hampton, professor of French and comparative literature, director of the Doreen B. Townsend Center for the Humanities | March 21, 2018

No less disturbing than the recent news that the personal data of millions of Americans was culled from Facebook by the shady research firm Cambridge Analytica and provided to the Trump campaign, has been the behavior of the masters of Silicon Valley.  The CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, has so far been mostly silent. This … Continue reading »

Lack of oversight puts Americans’ privacy at risk across entire tech, information industry

Jennifer King, Ph.D candidate in information science at UC Berkeley’s School of Information | March 20, 2018

As fallout from the revelation of Cambridge Analytica’s misuse of Facebook user information continues, many are mistakenly calling this incident a breach. Facebook is right to claim this incident was no breach — this is Facebook’s platform working exactly as designed. I know, because I too created a survey app on Facebook for the express purpose of … Continue reading »

What economics and cars can tell us about guns

David Zilberman, professor, agriculture and resource economics | March 18, 2018

For years I have been teaching classes on applied economics and policy and a key concept that economists stress is externalities. Activities of individuals may cause unintentional harm to a third party. Pollution from production of steel is a classic example. But car accidents are another. And economic theory and common sense suggest that people who … Continue reading »

Trump v. Scalia on violent video games

William Turner, Lecturer in media studies |

In response to the Florida school shooting, President Donald Trump promptly convened a White House summit on what to do about violent video games. He said he has been “hearing more and more people say the level of violence on video games is really shaping young people’s thoughts.” He expressed concern about some of the … Continue reading »

Why doesn’t the American public use its power over the gun business?

Brian DeLay, Associate professor of history | March 7, 2018

As teenagers in Parkland, Florida, dressed for the funerals of their friends – the latest victims of a mass shooting in the U.S. – weary outrage poured forth on social media and in op-eds across the country. Once again, survivors, victims’ families and critics of U.S. gun laws demanded action to address the never-ending cycle of mass shootings and routine violence ravaging American … Continue reading »

Kerner@50: Why the Kerner Report matters for racial equity today

Stephen Menendian, assistant director, Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society | February 25, 2018

Fifty years ago this week, a special commission assembled by President Lyndon B. Johnson released a blockbuster report. Tasked with investigating the causes of more than 150 civil uprisings that erupted across the nation in 1967, the “National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders,” led by Governor Otto Kerner, squarely placed the blame on white racism. … Continue reading »

Protests in Iran: not a crushing end

Mahmood Monshipouri, visiting associate professor, Middle Eastern Studies | January 22, 2018

Several days of protests in cities small and large around Iran in the recent eruption of political unrest served as yet another reminder that Iran’s Islamic Republic titanic vessel has collided with an iceberg of new protest waves. The Islamic Republic of Iran, which has traditionally relied on recruits from smaller towns and villages and … Continue reading »

Brazil’s electoral reform: The more things change, the more they stay the same

Liz McKenna, Ph.D. Candidate, Sociology | December 16, 2017

This blog was originally published by Nexo and cross-posted by CLAS Berkeley. In the stream of sensationalist stories coming out of Brazil, electoral reform seems among the least newsworthy. The updated rules of the political game, however, reveal exactly how the deck gets stacked against democracy—and how incumbent elites tinker with institutions to consolidate power over … Continue reading »

Trump’s Jerusalem decision and its fallout

Mahmood Monshipouri, visiting associate professor, Middle Eastern Studies | December 8, 2017

President Trump’s announcement that the United States now officially recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has tossed the peace process between the Israelis and the Palestinians into a political tailspin on an unprecedented scale, while raising new tensions in the region and at worst, inciting a fresh round of violence:  in that this discursive disruption could … Continue reading »

Urging action to oppose GOP tax plans

Carol Christ, Chancellor | December 6, 2017

This post was co-authored with Fiona Doyle, UC Berkeley’s vice provost for graduate studies and dean of the graduate division. Right now, Congress is considering tax reform proposals that would harm the financial security of students and their families, and threaten the research, education, health care and public service missions of universities. Numerous provisions would … Continue reading »

Roots and branches of Honduras’ electoral crisis

Rosemary Joyce, professor of anthropology |

Observers from the Organization of American States have issued a preliminary report on the election that took place November 26, and is still unsettled. Even the short English summary exudes alarm about a profoundly flawed process: “The tight margin of the results, and the irregularities, errors and systemic problems that have surrounded this election do … Continue reading »

Punishing school students for online speech

William Turner, Lecturer in media studies | December 4, 2017

On November 29, a San Francisco federal judge untangled a really messy “school speech” case and ruled that students who posted or praised racist Instagram comments were not protected by the First Amendment. Judge James Donato decided that although the online posts, including “likes,” were “speech” under the First Amendment, the out-of-school posts were subject … Continue reading »

About last night: Honduras elections

Rosemary Joyce, professor of anthropology | December 2, 2017

Last night, the incumbent president of Honduras declared a state of emergency, suspending the constitutional guarantee of the right to move freely around the country. He ordered the armed forces and the police, whose militarization he has promoted, to remove protests that have closed roads, taken bridges, and occupied public spaces throughout the country. In … Continue reading »

Why Is the Supreme Court taking all these free speech cases?

William Turner, Lecturer in media studies | November 15, 2017

If the U.S. Supreme Court wanted to enlist the First Amendment to advance politically conservative causes, it’s certainly giving itself the opportunity this year. The court has complete, unreviewable discretion to choose the cases it will decide. It’s not random selection. Each term, the court agrees to decide only 70-75 cases, selected from about 8,000 … Continue reading »

Professors are losing their freedom of expression

Erwin Chemerinsky, Berkeley Law dean |

By Erwin Chemerinsky and Howard Gillman, chancellor and professor of law and political science at UC Irvine With so much attention focused on whether controversial speakers such as Milo Yiannapoulos or Richard Spencer should be allowed to appear on campus, an even more basic issue has been obscured: universities punishing faculty who, outside of professional … Continue reading »

Explaining Orthodox Jews’ growing support for the Trump presidency

David Henkin, professor of history | November 9, 2017

(This is cross-posted from the site, Public Books, where it appeared as the 24th installment of The Big Picture, a public symposium on what’s at stake in Trump’s America, co-organized by Public Books and NYU’s Institute for Public Knowledge.) Exit polls conducted during the 2016 election yielded a fact about the political allegiances of American Jews that … Continue reading »

Who’s talking to whom about free speech?

William Turner, Lecturer in media studies | November 8, 2017

I came across this picture of the current Supreme Court justices. It must have been taken in an unguarded moment just before their annual formal portrait. In my imagination the justices are chatting about their views on the First Amendment. It looks as though Clarence Thomas is trying out one of his unorthodox theories of … Continue reading »

Trump’s unintended support for immigrant civil rights?

Sarah Lakhani, law student and Human Rights Center fellow | November 1, 2017

Amid the predictably restrictive border policies enumerated in President Trump’s seven-page document recently delivered to Congress is a proposal to hire 370 additional immigration judges to ostensibly “ensure swift return of illegal border crossers.” While on the surface this may sound like another brick in the anti-immigrant border wall being constructed by the Trump administration, … Continue reading »