Category Archives: Academia

California Governor Newsome Loses Power || Oct 11 2019

The Blame Game: Gov. Newsom slams PG&E over ‘unacceptable’ power outages and failure to fix systems  || LA Times

 

“At a news conference Wednesday evening, PG&E officials signaled that these types of massive shut-offs during fire season might be the new normal.

Sumeet Singh, vice president of PG&E’s community wildfire safety program, said customers should anticipate similar shutdowns in the future until the utility has finished its wildfire safety plan, “unless the weather changes significantly and the vegetation condition and the fuel-loading condition, and land and the forest management, changes significantly within the state.”

“We understand that this power shut-off is difficult for our customers and communities. Please check on your neighbors, friends and family and know that we will work safely, and quickly as possible, to restore power across the region,” Singh said.

The power shut-offs have prompted backlash, with some residents saying they create a whole new set of dangers as they try to keep up with news about fires. Critics worry that communications and evacuations will be hampered when the power is out, especially if traffic signals don’t work and cellphone service is affected.

There also was concern about how those with health issues who rely on electrically powered medical equipment to stay alive would cope without power.

.. ..

The outage prompted UC Berkeley to cancel classes for a second consecutive day. University officials say some buildings are running on generator power for “life safety, animal care and support of critical research infrastructure.” However, the generators cannot power the entire campus.

The Oakland Zoo also remained closed after the region lost power overnight. The zoo had closed ahead of the planned blackout, and staff rushed out to purchase additional generators to power exhibits for animal safety. The gas they have will power the generators for about four days, Darren Minier, assistant director of animal care, told the San Francisco Chronicle.

In Southern California, residents have anxiously watched how the power shutdowns have affected other parts of the state, wondering if it was a glimpse of what was to come for them.

.. ..

About two hours northwest of Sacramento in Clearlake, residents entered their second full day without power. At the local Safeway, which had a generator to provide electricity, customers searched for ice and charcoal hoping to save or cook the groceries in their refrigerators.

At a nearby senior center, PG&E set up a charging station in a back room for cellphones and medical equipment. At least 150 people had visited Wednesday, said representative Conrad Asper. By lunchtime Thursday, there had been more than 250.

Paul Spillane, 79, expressed what was a common sentiment at the center: frustration with PG&E.

“I think it’s an outrage,“ he said of the blackouts. “I say it’s the three most miserable days I’ve had since I’ve been up here. I haven’t been eating properly or anything.“

Amee Peterson, 66, said she feels so dirty from a lack of hot showers that she’s considering boiling water on the barbecue to wash her hair. On Wednesday night, she ate cake for dinner because she couldn’t cook. Peterson, who has post-traumatic stress disorder, fibromialgia and other conditions, said she received automated calls warning her of the blackout, but they were not specific. When the power cut out at 1 a.m. while she was reading a book, she was surprised. Even more frustrating, she said, has been the lack of clarity on when power might return.”

….read more at: LA Times

UCLA Professor Caught Stealing Secrets for China | Jul 11 2019

UCLA prof guilty of conspiring to steal missile secrets for China, could face more than 200 years in prison

|| Campus Reform

“A jury found an electrical engineer and University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) professor guilty of exporting stolen U.S. military technology to China.

UCLA adjunct professor Yi-Chi Shih was convicted June 26 on 18 federal charges, Newsweek reported, and could now lose hundreds of thousands of dollars, while also facing up to 219 years behind bars for numerous violations of the law. These include conspiracy to break  the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), committing mail and wire fraud, lying to a government agency, subscribing to a false tax return, and conspiring to gain unauthorized access to information on a protected computer, according to a Department of Justice news release.

“Schemed to export to China semiconductors with military and civilian uses, then he lied about it    

Shih and co-defendant Kiet Ahn Mai tried to access illegally a protected computer owned by a U.S. company that manufactured semiconductor chips called monolithic microwave integrated circuits (MMICs). MMICs are used by the Air Force and Navy in fighter jets, missiles and missile guidance technology, and electronic military defense systems.

The chips were exported to Chengdu GaStone Technology Company (CGTC), a Chinese company, without a required Department of Commerce license. Shih previously served as the president of CGTC, which made the Commerce Department’s Entity List in 2014 “due to its involvement in activities contrary to the national security and foreign policy interest of the United States – specifically, that it had been involved in the illicit procurement of commodities and items for unauthorized military end use in China,” according to court documents cited by the DOJ.

Shih “schemed to export to China semiconductors with military and civilian uses, then he lied about it to federal authorities and failed to report income generated by the scheme on his tax returns,” U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna said, according to the DOJ release. “My office will enforce laws that protect our nation’s intellectual property from being used to benefit foreign adversaries who may compromise our national security.”

See more at: Campus Reform

 

Ex-State Department Worker Gets 40 Months In Prison For Secret Dealings With China

|| DelawarePublic.org

 

 

“A former State Department employee was sentenced to 40 months in prison for concealing her interactions with two Chinese intelligence agents, along with the extravagant gifts they gave her in exchange for government information.

Candace Claiborne began to work as an office management specialist at the State Department in 1999, according to court documents. She had a top secret security clearance and served overseas in such cities as Baghdad, Beijing and Shanghai.

But she ignored her responsibility to report foreign contacts, prosecutors said as they announced her sentence on Tuesday.

“Claiborne was entrusted with privileged information as a U.S. government employee, and she abused that trust at the expense of our nation’s security,” Acting Assistant Director John Selleck of the FBI’s Washington Field Office said in a statement. “The targeting of U.S. security clearance holders by Chinese intelligence services is a constant threat we face,” he added.

Over the course of five years, Chinese agents allegedly gave Claiborne and her family “tens of thousands of dollars” in gifts and perks – including wired cash, a monthly stipend, overseas trips, tuition at a Chinese fashion school and an apartment that was fully furnished. In exchange for the gifts, Claiborne gave them a window into the State Department’s inner workings through copies of internal documents about dignitary visits and other topics.

Prosecutors said she told a co-conspirator that the agents were “spies” and wrote in her journal that she could “Generate 20k in 1 year” by working with one of the agents.

Federal public defender David Walker Bos, Claiborne’s attorney, did not immediately respond to NPR’s request for comment.

Her arrest came in March 2017 after a sting operation in January of that year. An FBI agent, posing as a Chinese agent, approached Claiborne on a street in Washington, D.C. She welcomed him to her home and their lengthy discussion ended with the undercover agent thanking her for helping the “Ministry,” NPR previously reported.

After the arrest, she pleaded not guilty to charges of obstruction and making false statements to the FBI. In April 2019, she pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to defraud the United States. In the plea agreement, prosecutors agreed to drop the other charges.

A judge ordered Claiborne detained pending sentencing, but she requested to self-surrender on June 5, the document stated.

In addition to a 40-month prison sentence, Claiborne received three years of supervised release and a fine of $40,000.

Her sentence comes after former CIA officer Jerry Chun Shing Lee pleaded guilty this spring to spying for China – and as U.S. officials have warned that Chinese espionage is the country’s most serious security threat.”

See more at: DelawarePublic.Org

President Signs Executive Order Protecting Free Speech on College Campuses | Mar 21 2019

Trump Signs Executive Order to Protect Free Speech on College Campuses

|| PJ Media

“On Thursday, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to protect free speech on college campuses.

“In America, the very heart of the university’s mission is preparing students for life as citizens in a free society, but even as universities have received billions and billions of dollars from taxpayers, many have become increasingly hostile to free speech and to the First Amendment,” the president said.

He mentioned the case of Hayden Williams, a field representative for the Leadership Institute who got punched in the face in Berkeley, Calif.

“You see people being punched hard in the face, but he didn’t go down,” Trump said of Williams. “I said you have a better chin than Muhammad Ali.”

Trump took Williams on stage at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) earlier this month.

Turning to the broader problem, Trump said, “Under the guise of speech codes and safe spaces and trigger warnings, these universities have tried to restrict free thought, impose total conformity, and shut down the voices of young Americans like those here today.”

More:

Mario Savio and the Free Speech Movement of 1964 at UC Berkeley –

From Wikepedia:

“With the participation of thousands of students, the Free Speech Movement was the first mass act of civil disobedience on an American college campus in the 1960s.[4] Students insisted that the university administration lift the ban of on-campus political activities and acknowledge the students’ right to free speech and academic freedom. The Free Speech Movement was influenced by the New Left,[5] and was also related to the Civil Rights Movementand the Anti-Vietnam War Movement.”

Mercury News Calls for Firing of UC President Napolitano Over Recent Financial Scandals | Nov 26

Editorial: After audit debacle, fire UC President Napolitano

|| San Jose Mercury News

“For the good of the University of California system, it’s time for President Janet Napolitano to go.

When a state audit revealed in April that her office was sitting on $175 million of undisclosed reserves, we sharply criticized her, but stopped short of calling for her firing.

But now an independent report released last week shows how Napolitano and top assistants interfered with that audit to try to ensure her office was cast in a positive light.

Despite her public mea culpa, Napolitano doesn’t fully own responsibility for her serious transgressions. The buck stops at the top. Not at her two senior assistants, who recently resigned.

The Office of the President should be run to better the UC system, not to protect Napolitano’s reputation.

UC regents last week chastised her for “poor judgment” that set in motion an “unacceptable” course of conduct. Nevertheless, the board declared it “fully supports her continuing leadership.”

She should have been shown the door.

Napolitano heads the 10-campus university system and her office serves as the administrative center. Last year, the state auditor sent surveys to each campus trying to ascertain how well the office was performing. The answers were to be kept confidential.

But Napolitano directed campus chancellors to first submit the responses to her office for review. A independent investigation, commissioned by the regents and headed by former state Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno, reveals the extent of the meddling.

In a conversation with us Monday, Napolitano continued to insist that she was trying to help the campus chancellors. But, the Moreno investigation found, the chancellors never wanted help.

She claimed her lawyers had approved her office reviewing the answers. In fact, UC attorneys advised that, while pre-screening the survey responses was legal, it was a bad idea.

The Office of the President, the attorneys presciently warned, “should think carefully about creating an appearance that (it) is biasing the results of the survey, which likely would be a subject of criticism in the final audit report.”

When UC Santa Cruz sent its answers directly to the auditor, Napolitano called the chancellor of that campus. She was “furious,” the chancellor recalled, and proposed that he withdraw the survey answers, which he did.

The Moreno investigation found that officials at campuses self-censored answers, knowing that Napolitano’s office would review them. Even still, Napolitano’s staff sent back five campuses’ survey responses for changes.”

….Continue reading more @ Mercury News

 

 

New York Times Censors Civil Libertarian Dershowitz | July 19, 2017

NYT Refuses to Publish Dershowitz’s Defense of Trump

|| Townhall

“The New York Times recently refused to publish liberal Alan Dershowitz’s op-ed in defense of President Trump. Dershowitz, an avid supporter of two-time presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, is well-known in cable news and legal commentary, and has appeared in conservative and liberal outlets alike, including CNN, The Washington Post, Washington Times, Fox News and the Times itself.

In an interview with the Washington Examiner, Dershowitz discussed his multiple attempts to contact editors at the Times and his belief that the once-unbiased newspaper looks exclusively for certain opinions to publish.

“I said that I thought the readers of the New York Times were entitled to hear or read the other side of the issue whether there were crimes committed…And I really do think The New York Times does not want its readers to hear an alternative point of view on the issue of whether or not Trump administration is committing crimes,” he said of the op-ed he submitted to the Times, offering a different point of view.”

….Continue reading more @ Townhall

California Democrats Sue College Students for Gathering Recall Signatures | July 9, 2017

California Democrats Are Apparently Suing Some College Republicans For Being Republicans

|| Hot Air

“Do you recall that little dust-up out in California over the massive new gas tax they passed? It resulted in a recall effort to remove freshman state senator Josh Newman from office, along with a petition to repeal the tax hike. That prompted state Democrats to circle the wagons, going so far as to change the rules to make it much harder to gather the required signatures to recall any legislator. Normally that would be a dicey move in most other states because the same rules would be used against them, but hey… this is California. The Democrats control pretty much the entire government so they really don’t need to worry about it.

That apparently wasn’t enough for them, though. Since some of their constituents were uppity enough to actually attempt the recall, the state Democratic party decided to teach them a lesson once and for all. They’re suing a group of College Republicans for having the audacity to actually collect signatures. (Daily Wire)

In keeping with the rules, opponents of the massive tax hike gathered nearly 90,000 signatures in a matter of weeks just to get the initiative moving. Since the Democrats can’t seem to stop them under the standing rules, this lawsuit must be the next best way they see to remove some players from the field and intimidate the rest.

Is it just me or does this sound like something out of a George Orwell novel? The Democrats are seeking to use the power of the judicial branch to eliminate the opposition and, very likely, frighten others into silence. And it’s all being done under the vague accusation of “misleading” the people who signed up for the proposal. The signature forms all made it clear that the purpose of the initiative was to recall Newman. And how could any volunteers discuss the issue without bringing up the tax hike, given that this was the impetus for the recall effort in the first place? If that was too confusing to some voters, leading them to think they were trying to recall the tax hike, then what of it? That’s the end goal anyway, though it takes a couple of steps to do it.

I find it hard to believe that this sort of lawsuit would gain much traction, but then again… this is California we’re talking about. Anything is possible out there as long as it fits in with the overarching liberal narrative. Thankfully there should be some sort of appeals process in place. But if they manage to get away with this then you may as well shut out the lights and let the state secede from the nation. Democracy will be pretty much toast.”

….Continue reading more @ HotAir

 

California Democratic Party Sues Conservative College Students In Unprecedented Move

|| DailyWire

“Three members of the Cal State Fullerton College Republicans have been named in a lawsuit backed by the California Democratic Party in retaliation for their work to recall State Senator Josh Newman, who was the pivotal vote in support of April’s $52 billion gas tax increase.

The Democrats’ lawsuit, which was filed in Sacramento Superior Court last Thursday, alleges that the College Republicans and other conservative activists “misled” voters in their successful signature gathering effort to recall Senator Newman. The suit names Amanda McGuire, Brooke Paz, and Ryan Hoskins (pictured below) as defendants in the suit, for volunteering their weekends to talk to constituents about the cost of Newman’s vote to the district’s taxpayers.

The recall effort gathered nearly 85,000 signatures in a matter of several weeks, due to constituents’ frustration and anger at Newman’s vote on the gas tax. The Democrat Party has alleged that recall organizers, which also included dozens of local conservatives of all ages, lied to voters about the true nature of the recall campaign by claiming that the recall would repeal the gas tax.

Brooke Paz, who serves as Public Relations Director for the College Republicans told Daily Wire, “This lawsuit is a baseless attack on the character of hardworking and passionate activists, as well as a shameful intrusion on the democratic processes that are my right as an American citizen.”

“As we just celebrated the 241st anniversary of our independence, my God-given rights are being threatened by the California Democrats simply because they disagree with me and my colleagues,” Paz continued. “Our elected representatives are supposed to govern by the people and for the people. The people do not want higher taxes, and as proven by the incredible amount of signatures we’ve gathered for this recall petition, the people do not want Newman.”

Once Democrats in the state legislature realized that the recall petition was moving forward at a record pace, they scrambled to develop a number of subversive methods that would stop the lawful recall by the voters. Democrats, who hold a two-thirds supermajority in both the Assembly and Senate, and hold all eight statewide elected offices, worked to change the rules on signature verification, tried to alter contribution limits, and fought for legislation that would push the election further back.

Organizers of the recall told Daily Wire that the Democrat Party is desperate for any way to stop the election by any means necessary, which has a high likelihood of forcing Newman out of office only months into his first term.

Amanda McGuire, who is Vice-President of the College Republicans, asserted that “the lawsuit is a shameful and frantic attempt to silence voters of the district. The intimidation tactics espoused by the California Democrats should no longer be tolerated. It’s gone too far when college students are being dragged into court for becoming involved with the issues faced by their local cities. I’m proud to be a part of the party that fights to fix our government on every level.”

“Democrats are desperate to hold on to absolute power – whether it is changing the rules ex post facto on signature verification, or contribution limits, or a lawsuit challenging the validity of signatures – they will stop at nothing to keep absolute power,” said Whitaker. “There is no principle left for them, it’s only power, and it doesn’t matter if we change the rules or ruin the finances of ordinary college students now having to defend their own signatures.”

….Continue reading more @ DailyWire

More ‘Academic’ Lunacy at the University of California | June 02, 2017

UC reverses policy, won’t pick up tab for regents’ parties

|| sfchronicle.com

UC President Janet Napolitano said the practice will stop to avoid questions over the use of fund

“The University of California will no longer pay for its governing board members to throw themselves dinners and parties after a Chronicle report showed that the regents regularly billed the university for their festivities.

Although the events were charged to a private endowment, and thus not covered by public money or tuition, the practice will stop “to avoid any question over use of university or university-associated funds,” Board of Regents Chair Monica Lozano and UC President Janet Napolitano said in a statement Sunday.

Longtime Regent Richard Blum, a wealthy financier and former chairman of the board, said the policy change was his idea. After reading The Chronicle’s story Sunday, Blum said he called Napolitano and suggested it.

“I said, ‘Janet, it’s not worth the aggravation. Let’s have the regents pay for their own dinners,’” Blum told The Chronicle. “I just called Janet and said, ‘Look, for the amount of what it costs to have a dinner, let’s have everyone pay for their own dinner. And if they can’t pay, I’m happy to pick it up.’”

The change in policy came hours after The Chronicle reported that the UC governing board billed the university for nearly a quarter of a million dollars since 2012 for dinners every two to three months.

Some of the banquets were poorly timed: The $270-a-head Jan. 25 banquet was held the night before the regents voted to raise student tuition. And the similarly priced May 17 party happened a few hours after student protesters shut down the regents’ meeting, objecting to both the tuition increase and a $175 million secret fund uncovered by a state audit this year.

The dinners were thrown at luxury destinations, such as San Francisco’s InterContinental Hotel and Palace Hotel. Attendees included the regents, their spouses, UC executives and campus chancellors.

“Up to now, board dinners have been paid for with monies from the Searles Fund, a private endowment that the donor designated for university business costs not covered by state or tuition funds,” read the statement from Lozano and Napolitano. “However, to avoid any question over use of university or university-associated funds, regents will absorb their costs for board dinners from this point forward.”

Revelations of the dinners came as the UC weathered blowback from the scathing audit — including calls by legislators to strip the university system of its independence from state government and Gov. Jerry Brown’s withholding of $50 million in funding if the university system didn’t fix financial problems identified by the review.

Considering that the UC — with its 10 campuses, five hospitals and three national laboratories — has a budget around $30 billion, “it’s kind of silly” to be concerned with the price of dinners, Blum said. “But having said that, there’s the perception problem.”

What’s more, Blum said, paying $250 or more per person — even for fine dining — was “crazy.” By comparison, periodic dinners at the Ritz-Carlton he has hosted for the American Himalayan Foundation, of which he is chairman, cost only $90, he said.

Blum said he asked Napolitano to go through the numbers with him first thing Tuesday morning. He said he wasn’t sure whether the new plan would include the Wednesday night dinners the regents have when they gather every other month for the board meetings or whether it would only cover their celebratory dinners.

A university spokeswoman did not return requests for comment Monday.

Those who criticized the spending said they were pleased with the new policy but questioned why it took a newspaper report to make the change.

“It’s appropriate, if for no other reason than the symbolism,” said Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a regent who did not attend the two most recent parties. “Spending tens of thousands of dollars on dinners is absurd. It rubs people, understandably, the wrong way.”

Some observers, including Jamie Court, president of the advocacy group Consumer Watchdog, and Assemblywoman Catharine Baker, R-San Ramon, said the regents should reimburse UC for their past expenditures.

Jessica Levinson, a law professor and government ethics expert at Loyola Law School, said invoicing the dinners to UC was “distasteful” and “tone deaf,” but at least university officials were swiftly responsive to public pressure.

“We’re talking about money that could be used to educate kids,” Levinson said. “If they wanted to have reasonable business dinners, maybe that’s a different story, but that doesn’t appear to be what happened.”

Chronicle staff writer Kimberly Veklerov contributed to this report.

Nanette Asimov and Melody Gutierrez are San Francisco Chronicle staff writers.”

….Continue reading more @ The Chronicle

 

UC Regents Slammed for Expensive Dinners in Midst of Spending Scandal

|| Breitbart

“The University of California Regents hosted 59 friends for a $258-per-plate dinner at the luxurious San Francisco Palace Hotel the night after they promised to implement greater control over tuition increases.

Breitbart News reported earlier this month that California State Auditor Elaine Howle skewered UC President Janet Napolitano on May 17 before the California Legislature’s joint oversight committee. Howle’s 167-page audit detailed that the UC president’s office “Failed to Disclose Tens of Millions in Surplus Funds, and Its Budget Practices Are Misleading.”

The report alleged that Napolitano’s office systematically overcharged the ten UC campuses to fund its bloated staff of 1,700; spent excessively on employee compensation and executive performance bonuses; and then kept the existence of a $175 million reserve secret when the UC Regents voted on her request to raise 2017-2018 tuitions.

Napolitano told legislators her office accepted all 33 State Auditor budgeting recommendations as “constructive and helpful.” She thanked legislators for calling the hearings, and claimed, “It is my hope that this hearing will enable us to clear the air, and move forward on behalf of our students and the state,” according to the East Bay Times.

Monica Lozano, Chairwoman of the UC Board of Regents, then testified that her Board would implement changes in the UC president’s office and review the $336 increase in tuition this coming school year. Lozano praised the State Auditor’s report and promised that the UC Board of Regents exercise give greater direction over Napolitano’s spending.

But Lozano then hurried down to San Francisco’s Michelin Five-Star rated Palace Hotel, where she joined the UC Board of Regents in hosting a dinner for 59, and charging the $15,199 bill to the University of California. The Palace is part of Starwood’s “Luxury Collection.” It is known for its famed bar, awe-inspiring crystal chandelier, and world class dinning. Room rates range from $505 to $7,550 a night.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the University of California Board of Regents spent $17,600 at the posh Mark Hopkins Hotel on the top of Nob Hill the evening before they voted on January 26 to raise UC tuitions by 2.7 percent.

A UC spokesperson Dianne Klein told the Chronicle that the tradition of four-to-six Regents’ dinners per year, paid from UC endowment funds, goes back for decades. Ms. Klein acknowledged that the UC President’s Office had reimbursed the Regents $225,000 for dinners over the last five years.

A high-profile Regent who appears to have ducked the burgeoning UC spending scandals is current California Lieutenant Governor, and active candidate to replace Governor Brown, Gavin Newsom. His office serves as one of the 26 UC Regents, but he did not attend the January 25 and May 17 dinners. Newsom told the Chronicle that high-class Regents dinners are unnecessary and the cost of recent spending was inappropriate.

Assembly member Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), Chair of the Assembly Budget Committee, who called for the hearings on the critical findings of the State Auditor’s independent audit of the UC President’s Office, has demanded that the University of California’s administrative budget come under the Legislature’s control.”

….Continue reading more @ The SF Chronicle