Friday, April 28, 2017

Coming Up Next: Shallow, Biased News!

What do rusted nails, McDonald’s hamburgers and modern television news have in common? They are all trash that is hazardous to human health. While the first two threaten physical health, the garbage spewed by television news insidiously works to corrupt society’s capacity for independent thinking. In pandering to political ideologies on the left and right and the quest for ratings, television news has lost its journalistic credibility, mutating into mass entertainment that passes itself off as intellectual programming.

With the polarization of American politics over the last two decades, television news has become little more than the ideological mouthpiece for both left- and right-wing movements.

Fox News, the leading cable news outlet, is at the forefront of media bias with its conservative-slanting news coverage. Many of the anchors on Fox News programs have a history of making unsubstantiated statements that espouse conservative views while denigrating the left. For example, John Gibson, host of Fox News program the “Big Story,” claimed on his program that “bin Laden told us today that our far left has been working for him.”

Even more disingenuously, Fox News has misreported and mislabeled news items in a fashion that would have benefited conservative interests had they been true. On March 23, 2003, Fox News reported that coalition forces had discovered a “huge chemical weapons factory” in Iraq when no such discovery had been made. More recently, on Oct. 3, 2006, the network mislabeled former Republican congressman Mark Foley as a Democrat during “The O’Reilly Factor.” While there is no evidence that Fox News ran these misrepresentations of reality on purpose, it is interesting that both misrepresentations benefitted the right side of the aisle.

In a mirror image of Fox News, other networks such as CNN, ABC and CBS report in favor of the left, conducting their own false reporting and misrepresentations. In 1998, CNN ran a feature suggesting that Operation Tailwind, a U.S. incursion into Laos during the Vietnam War, was an operation to kill U.S. defectors with nerve gas. Investigations later revealed that CNN had used testimony from a retired admiral living in assisted care and selectively edited quotes from other sources to support its claims. On Sept. 8, 2004, CBS used allegedly forged documents in an attack on President George W. Bush’s National Guard service. In an internal e-mail, ABC political director Mark Halperin suggested that reporters should not “reflexively and artificially hold both sides ‘equally’ accountable.”

While the cases above are obviously extreme examples of misreporting, they point toward a general trend of media bias. In a study conducted by Stephen Farnsworth and S. Robert Lichter, published in their book “The Nightly News Nightmare: How Television Portrays Presidential Elections,” Fox News favored Bush while ABC, CBS and NBC favored Democratic candidate Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) in their 2004 election coverage. These biases directly influence the quality of the programs run on the television news channels, which are little more than rhetorical harangues by one side against the other. While these programs are sold as intellectual debate, they are in truth little more than entertainment.

With the competition between television news channels for viewers and ratings, each side struggles to one-up the other with coverage of breaking news and sensational stories. While this would be beneficial to propagating information about important events in a limited context, the current incarnation of television news grasps at the tiniest of events in an effort to gain an edge over their competitors.

In coverage of the recent death of New York Yankees’ pitcher Cory Lidle, major networks ran footage of the same burning building interposed with talking heads for many minutes without any change in the situation. Similar “coverage” occurs for other breaking stories, and it merely amounts to the network announcing that something is happening and that they have no clue as to what is going on other than what is visible on the screen.

Additionally, television news wastes time covering events that have little relevance to the nation at large. Every time a physically attractive, relatively young white female goes missing, national television descends upon the case like a pack of vultures. Even though there is very little or no information on possible suspects, motives or other circumstances of these cases, there are hourly updates on the unchanging situation.

This sort of worthless coverage characterized the sensationalism surrounding Elizabeth Smart, Laci Peterson, Natalee Holloway and various other cases. While the kidnappings and deaths of these women are certainly unfortunate and reprehensible, a sensational kidnapping generates television coverage greater than that devoted to national and global issues such as federal elections or the war in Iraq. These stories, especially in the case of murders with a suspect on trial, such as the Scott Peterson trial, simply do not deserve the amount of time and effort that television news spends in order to provide around-the-clock updates.

Modern television news is a disgrace to the ideals of professional, objective journalism upheld by the titans of broadcast journalism such as Edward R. Murrow. Today’s television anchors spit on their profession. There is nothing objective or professional in providing biased and sensational news coverage.

Abstinence-Only Education Leads to Buried Heads, Pregnant Teens

Unrealistic, unscientific and medically unethical.

No, we're not talking about sterilizing proven idiots, or other such happy fantasies. According to a paper released by the Society for Adolescent Medicine, that description applies to an issue close to the hearts of the conservative party: federally funded abstinence-only sex education.

The group has no problem with abstinence in general; in fact, they are vocal in their support of it. It's the “only” part that troubles the group.

“Our concern is with abstinence-only [education] eliminating essential health information for teenagers,” the society announced in a report. The society claims that such programs provide inaccurate information, especially regarding the effectiveness of contraception. But worse, it doesn't help those teenagers who are already sexually active.

And when studies show that 50 percent of American teenagers are having sex by age 17, we run the risk of failing to address the needs of a large portion of the adolescent population.

Some — two former U.S. surgeon generals among them — say that efforts to promote abstinence actually fail to lower levels of sexually transmitted diseases. Joycelyn Elders and David Satcher both announced at a shared news conference in San Francisco that it would be an “injustice” if sexual education did not go beyond encouraging abstinence.

“The vows of abstinence break far more easily than latex condoms,” Elders said.

What about on the other side of the coin? In the last decade the teen birthrate in California has dropped by more than 46 percent, the steepest decline of any state. California Senate Districts 9 (Alameda and Contra Costa counties) and 10 (Alameda and Santa Clara counties) were particularly singled out for praise by the state. This decline is attributed, according to Gary Yates, president and chief executive officer of the California Wellness Foundation, to state and private funding for teen pregnancy prevention programs, including comprehensive sex education and the state's refusal to accept federal “abstinence-only” education funds. Such funds may only be used for programs that do not include “promotion or instruction” of contraceptives.

Apart from the ethical benefits of preventing STDs and teen pregnancies, such programs (which cost about $120 million in state and private funds) save an estimated $968 million in net costs, including “welfare and medical assistance, costs for foster placement and lost tax revenue based on teen parents' lower incomes and consumption levels,” Yates said.

When faced with evidence that abstinence-only education doesn't prevent teen pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases — while more comprehensive sex-ed does — it's a bit worrisome that federally funded abstinence-only programs even exist. And the fact that in 2005 the federal government spent over $170 million (more than twice what it spent in 2001 when Bush first took office) on such programs is even more interesting.

For me though, it's the idea behind these programs that is particularly frightening. It's the idea that teenagers are so impressionable, so clueless, that even talking about sex is enough to make them go out and try it. It's the idea that talking about sex or providing contraception education gives them “permission” to experiment. It's the patriarchal idea that everyone outside of power needs to be protected from ideas that may lead them astray, because they are too weak to make their own decisions.

Let's face it, teens will, and do, have sex. Teenage sexuality is a bit outside the control of the legislature. Teaching abstinence as the end-all of sexual education only promotes ignorant mistakes: the boyfriend who tells his girl that there's no point in wearing a condom since they don't work; the couples who don't know that herpes and gonorrhea have oral forms; the girls who take one birth-control pill before sex and think that they're safe.

It's far better to give teenagers the knowledge necessary to protect themselves, and provide a safety net of information to catch them if they fall. After all, knowledge is power.

Pledge of Brawny Budget Leaves Education in Lurch

There is a lingering stench of hypocrisy in the White House these days.

No matter how many promises for education reform the president gave when he entered office, his actions continue to contradict his declarations. Among the political commotion of the last six years, education remains one issue that deserves more than just the 15 minutes of fame it got when the president first came into power.

Since the Democrats recently regained control of Congress, they have already managed to make progress on one of Bush's biggest failures. Ironically, though, when the donkeys - with enormous bipartisan support - swiftly passed a bill in the House last week to halve interest rates on student loans by 2012, the White House surprisingly jumped ship.

But why? After all those years of pushing their baby, the ""No Child Left Behind"" Act, it seemed incredulous that the same people would nix such a promising proposition for education reform. After all, it significantly diminishes the benefits of improving elementary education if students will mature only to find skyrocketing tuition fees coupled with a drought in reasonable loan opportunities. Instead of putting their so-called ""improved"" education to use, they would find disappointment in an unfriendly system.

Confusing as it is, there was some motivation behind the idiocy - not that it will make us feel much better about the president's disregard for American youth. Sadly, they were looking out for the big guys - specifically the lenders who will finance the $6 billion operation, according to a January article in the New York Times. They also reported that the bill plans to reduce ""the 30 or so largest lenders' government-guaranteed profits on student loans"" - much to their dismay.

Of course, this was not the bias the White House gave as reason for its opposition. Rather, the statement released spoke of a need to provide low-income students with grant money and decreased higher education costs, thereby shifting blame to colleges for not making college affordable enough for the average citizen.

But, on this stage of political drama, the truth behind the curtain suggests a starkly contradictory image of the president than the do-good facade presented by the White House.

The president's 2006 budget advertised none of his formerly mentioned solutions and severely cut education funding, making things like an increase in grant aid almost impossible. Commenting on the 2006 budget, the Washington Post noted in February 2005 that of the 150 programs that faced budget cuts, ""one out of every three of the targeted programs [concerned] education."" It cut the education budget by a half billion dollars, and ended 48 education programs, including the Perkins loan program set up to offer middle- and low-income students low-interest loans. Instead, the budget misguidedly directed useless funding to ""No Child Left Behind"" testing.

The 2007 budget, however, was even uglier, with education funding taking a $3.5 billion hit. Still, the president managed to once again increase funding for the ever-unsuccessful ""No Child Left Behind"" Act.

With snowballing hits like these, how the White House expects colleges to lower tuition rates is a wonder to anyone.

Considering the White House's spotty history, its opposition is insulting and the president's empty promises are useless to students seeking an education. Neither can buy them one.

What students need is an abandonment of hypocritical chatter and a sincere welcoming of bills that support pragmatic education reform.

And so, congratulations to the Democrats are in order. Despite a uncooperative executive branch, they have managed to offer some hope of relief to students, an issue that has received too little attention from the current administration. Much kudos is also due to the 124 Republicans who supported the House bill and in effect proved that bipartisan politics are not always impossible.

As for the White House, hypocrisy stinks. And we can smell it.

Jordan on My Mind

This morning I found myself in the company of 12 Jordanian students, their two translators and their group leader. The experience was astounding — nothing went right. The directions I gave the coordinator were not relayed to their shuttle driver correctly and the group ended up near the back entrance to Porter's Pub instead of the Faculty Club parking lot. After tracking down the shuttle, I boarded it to become their temporary guide. Thinking of my own trips to unknown campuses for Mock Trial, I was shocked to hear the students singing; my groups usually just slept. We stepped out in front of Mandeville Auditorium in the pouring rain.

Population: 5,906,760 Religion: 92 percent Sunni Muslim Official Language: Arabic Independence: 1946 Government: Constitutional monarchy

The profiles of these students are impressive. Brought as guests of the U.S. government, each participant in the Leadership Development and Civic Responsibility program sponsored by the U.S. Embassy, Amman has already achieved impressively noble things in their respective communities.

Seif Al Madanat is a junior at Petra University. He is studying pharmacy, has won gold and silver medals for his school's gymnastics team and teaches French as a volunteer to first-, second- and third-grade students. Eman Arabyat is studying computer engineering at the Al-Balqaa' Applied University and wants to be the official spokesperson for Jordan. She won second place in a national competition for writing an article about the ""Jordan First"" national development initiative. Each of the other 10 candidates has a resume just as prestigious. Having attempted to memorize their profiles before meeting with them, I was daunted.

It was my responsibility, as editor of a college newspaper, to welcome the delegation and answer their questions regarding journalism, life at UCSD or any combination of the two. As any good reporter should, I had my pen and pad of paper ready and my tape recorder was on. We began with a discussion about the obvious cultural differences they had seen in the past two days of their visit. Because of the fact they had only seen tourist traps, the students were wise to qualify their answers. Many of them said they had not seen enough culture to make a comparison.

""The biggest difference I see, is in Jordan, citizens are [physcially] much closer to each other,"" Al Madanat said.

Mohammad Al Omari, a senior at Yarmouk University who is studying graphic design and is involved in his school newspaper and radio, described his observations on the heterogeneity of American culture.

""What I think, in order for us to identify issues [to discuss], I do believe the mix in American society is much greater than the mix in our society,"" he said.

It was sometime before Al Omari's comments that I realized my tape recorder wasn't working, and it would not work for the rest of the event. Several students jumped up and, with the help of the interpreters, composed a list of themselves in the numerical order in which they were sitting: it happened in minutes. Again, I thought back to my own writing workshop's paltry attempt at self-organization, a twenty minute ordeal, and was amazed at the polite efficiency with which this group worked.

The initial conversations were strained, unaided by infrequent technical difficulties. We began with a technical analysis of their education system, as compared with my own experiences. The grades are similar, except at the end of their 12th year, they take an exit exam that not only determines which college they can attend, but the majors from which they can choose. They were shocked when I told them the outlying community of La Jolla didn't welcome the students and had tried to put obstacles in the way of the university's formation.

""The local community requests a university, the city wants the university,"" said Noor Al Tarawneh, who is studying chemical engineering at Mu'tah University and wants to work in criminal investigation, specializing in DNA analysis.

The dialogue became more relaxed, or I just became more relaxed. Our discussion of journalism had extrapolated to a discourse on education and the value of earning a college degree. I learned that the students' families were just as demanding in their expectations; we bonded over the limitations of our parents.

""Our parents believe that education is the most important thing,"" Arabyat said. ""Jordan is a developing country, our youth are our resource. We are following our parents' dream. If they have a lot of money, they risk it and put us in [medical programs].""

When the conversation ended and discussion about available places for lunch began, each student made sure to come and thank me for talking. It was a humbling experience, being thanked by these students, some of whom had been in the presence of the King of Jordan, despite an uncooperative tape recorder and difficulties in translation. Before they had all filed out of the Guardian office, Muna Abdi, one of the interpreters, leaned forward with a smile and pointed at my tape recorder. It had been on hold the entire time. ""That's happened to me before,"" she said. ""Those things are great for lecture.""

Candidates Face Off at Election Debate

Publicizing their platforms for this week's A.S. election, the four presidential candidates debated in Price Center on April 6 on issues such as student life, student control of fees, the rapport between students and the administration, the university's relationships with the La Jolla and San Diego communities, the importance of UCSD athletics and the prospect of free beer provided by the university.

Sanh Luong/Guardian
A.S. presidential contenders participated in a debate in Price Center on April 6, focusing on issues of campus life and student control and fielding questions from audience members. From right, the candidates are Junaid Fatehi, Dan Palay, Marco Murillo and Michael Hirshman.

A.S. Associate Vice President of Diversity Affairs Marco Murillo of the Student Voice! slate, Earl Warren College Junior Senator Dan Palay of the SHOCK! slate and independents Warren junior Michael Hirshman and Revelle College senior Junaid Fatehi first offered opening statements, then debated questions posed by both a panel of moderators and the audience.

The candidates agreed that a lack of social life at UCSD is a big issue for the A.S. Council, though they sometimes disagreed on the causes and potential solutions.

Fatehi argued for a more open-minded campus.

""This campus is very segregated,"" he said. ""When you go to Geisel ... you see all the different types of Asians - Koreans, Japanese, Chinese - standing together; you see the whites standing together; you see the 1.1 percent of blacks standing together. That is a problem in my opinion. We need a lot more mingling. And I think the best way to go about that is more free beer.""

Murillo said that closer bonds between the A.S. Council and student organizations could foster a better campus social atmosphere, and he also encouraged more programming on campus during the weekends.

Hirshman also emphasized the importance of student organizations, and proposed reducing the paperwork necessary for them to operate. He pointed out that UCSD students as far back as the 1960s have been disappointed with the social life on campus, a fact he felt exposed the problem as deeply rooted in UCSD's culture.

Palay said the campus layout is largely responsible for the university's social shortcomings. A better parking system combined with longer hours at central on-campus locations such as Geisel Library would offer a hub for social life to grow, he said.

Palay also questioned Murillo and Fatehi's commitment to bettering campus social life by pointing out their negative views toward athletics, saying, ""The only entity at a school that everybody at a school can unite behind is athletics.""

This statement, however, prompted a rebuttal from Murillo, who said that his slate represents a coalition of several different groups on campus.

""What I think Dan doesn't understand is that athletics is only one part of UCSD - it's not the entire campus,"" he said.

Fatehi, who opened the debate by apologizing for his behavior at a previous debate in front of Triton Athletes Council, reiterated his anger at the outcome of the athletics referendum.

""Very few people come to UCSD for the amazing athletic department,"" he said. ""We come here because we want to get jobs.""

One of Fatehi's main goals is to have the school provide free beer at athletic events and other nighttime activities to foster student interaction.

""I'm all about free beer,"" he said. When asked about students that might not drink, however, Fatehi answered, ""To those people who don't like beer, well, there is something wrong with you.""

Hirshman said that UCSD can support athletics and other endeavors at the same time, without having to compromise the quality of either program.

Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Joseph W. Watson, who is approaching retirement this summer, sat in the crowd and watched as the candidates addressed the importance of a new vice chancellor in relation to student control over campus resources. Hirshman said he planned to use persuasion and leverage over the administration to work together to get things done.

Murillo, on the other hand, mandated a more direct approach, stating that the reforms pushed forward by current A.S. President and past SV! member Harry Khanna to provide more student control over resources for which students pay are headed in the right direction.

""We have the right to say whether we want [the administrators] to be hired or fired,"" Murillo said.

Palay countered by saying that arguments and a standoffish attitude between students and administrators breed ineffective relations, using last year's Student-Run Television debacle as an example. He said that the A.S. Council must compromise with administrators to achieve anything.

""Arguments go nowhere,"" Palay said. ""The time for protest is over; the time for open dialogue is now.""

Fatehi, however, attributed the sometimes rocky relationship between the administration and students to Watson himself.

""Joe Watson - his tyrannical reign is over,"" Fatehi said. ""And why is that? Because we have taken a hard line with him. We told him, 'You're not right for UCSD' and he gave up.""

Murillo and Palay exchanged criticisms on several issues, making aggressive accusations about each other's ideas and past work. Both claimed that it was the other's current responsibility to promote council programs to the campus, which, they both said, has not been done. Murillo said that Palay was too focused on athletics and did not represent a large enough bloc of students, but Palay said that Murillo, although claiming to have representation from several different organizations, skipped over certain fraternities in his slate recruitment and outreach.

At this point, Hirshman commented on the argument, saying, ""I think there is a little too much bickering.""

Fatehi took a more passive stance.

""I am actually pretty entertained with the green and the pink shirts yelling at each other,"" he said, referring to Murillo's green SV! shirt and Palay's pink SHOCK! shirt.

Regarding the issue of UCSD's involvement with the local community, the majority of the candidates agreed that more outreach is needed.Fatehi was the exception, stating that building relationships with the local community is ""a futile effort.""

In addition, all of the candidates except Fatehi indicated support for the Promoting Understanding and Learning through Service and Education fee referendum, which is designed to help more funding reach campus outreach and retention programs.

The candidates all concluded their arguments by asserting a better social life at UCSD as their primary goal, whether it be achieved via Palay's proposal of longer library hours, Hirshman's promise of better transportation, Murillo's push for more diversity or Fatehi's call for free beer.

A Drug-Out 'Year' of Dogged Loserdom

Year of the Dog"" opens with a compulsory ""awww"" on dozens of blissful canines chasing their own tails 'round a sunlit dog park. And there's Molly Shannon - the latest Saturday Night Live alum compelled to try her hand at sentimentality - as Peggy, smiling down adoringly at a little beagle named Pencil, whose pools of puppy sad-eye soon make it clear that this mother-child relationship runs unnaturally deep: With all the maternal instinct of Britney Spears, Peggy even keeps her dog on her lap while driving, one-upping the infamous tabloid mom by letting Pencil slobber all over her face en route.

Sure, the gruelingly mundane, run-of-the-mill secretary type has her charms, but once Regina King (""Miss Congeniality 2,"" ""Ray"") - a bit more amusing, not to mention an actual human being - starts fussing over a broken tooth and how she had to crazy-glue it back together, Shannon's character is quickly upstaged by King's ghetto-fab camp. In fact, Shannon subsequently manages to be upstaged by each overstated caricature in her supporting cast: Laura Dern (""Jurassic Park""), as an anal, fur-loving suburban psycho-mother; John C. Reilly (""Chicago""), as a trigger-happy hick in his pickup; and Peter Sarsgaard (""Garden State""), who uses tongue when kissing his dog - a group of comic force that puts Shannon's generic school-marmy act to shame. If the intent was to create a lackluster protagonist who drabs us almost to tears, writer/director Mike White, responsible for screenplays such as ""The Good Girl"" and ""Nacho Libre,"" has effortlessly succeeded.

But even the film's more colorful characters - who help offset an inherent, contrived awkwardness - lead terminally empty existences, providing no escape from an insipid dynamic that makes each of the film's 97 minutes crawl by flatly. When Pencil dies unexpectedly, the walls of Peggy's fluorescent-lit, nine-to-five cubicle (complete with Cathy cartoons alongside the Pencil snapshots) gradually crumble and she immediately longs to fill the void. But Peggy's friend Layla (King) shrewdly asks what we are all wondering: ""How are you ever going to find a boyfriend if you keep shacking up with dogs?"" So in an attempt to grow closer to Newt (Sarsgaard), an attendant from the vet's office who persuades her to adopt a German shepherd, Peggy goes so far as to become a vegan animal rights advocate. The obsession grows until Peggy - with ivory-tower didacticism - sets on a mission to single-handedly rescue every mistreated homeless pet on the planet.

With ""Year of the Dog,"" White light-heartedly asks the question, ""Can we replace humans with animals?"" But no amount of chewed-up throw pillows or SNL veterans could make a question work whose only answer, in this case, is ""awww.""

Recordings: Voxtrot – Voxtrot

Just in time for summer’s porch nights and lightning bugs, Voxtrot provides the fittingly innocent coos of their self-titled debut. Hailing from the musical haven of Austin, Texas (home to the ballooning South by Southwest Festival), the five-piece band outlines its three-EP follow-up with a mini-documentary (available on the Web site) and 11 shiny new tracks, each suitable to please any poofy 1960s prom queen.

Every neatly packed tune is wrapped so snugly in the sweetly expressive vocals of Ramesh Srivastava - over soft, paced guitar, percussion and assorted strings - that by the end, Voxtrot is one big, bulging indie-pop gift. From opener ""Introduction,"" the band fabricates a faint and elegant world, fading in layered instruments that give way to crystal clear bittersweetness like, ""And you love me just like a stranger/ And you love me just like I am."" But with nary a moment for grievance, ""Kid Gloves"" livens the step with quick guitar strokes, ""Stephen"" spins the theatrics of a Freddie Mercury-worthy spectacle - with spoken word and abundant piano chords - and the drawing chorus of ""Firecracker"" is underscored with a foot-stomping dance-floor rhythm.

Final track and single ""Blood Red Blood"" ends on a strong note, building with insecure outbursts and a steady rise of static intensity. Focusing less on the proceeding Belle and Sebastian-esque murmurs and more on the elements of rock, unkempt horn squawks break the instrumental cookie-cutter and an emotional chant explosion - ""Got to lift your face to the breaking day/ It’ll eat you up, blood red blood"" - proves this season is more than sunshine and rainbows.

Program Would Put Oceans at Arm's Length

UCSD will play a leading role in the recently approved, multimillion-dollar Ocean Observatories Initiative, a nationwide project meant to boost the public's scientific knowledge of the oceans.

The project, which has been in the works since the early 1990s, will place high-tech, unmanned instruments along the sea floor, in the water column and across the surface of the ocean. Television cameras, remote-controlled robots and data-gathering buoys will constantly transmit data directly back to an onshore computer, located at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Since the 1800s, ocean research has been conducted by a team of scientists who sail daily, spending a few hours to deploy instruments and record measurements before heading back to the lab to analyze the data.

""Imagine trying to forecast the weather with only 10 weather stations that only transmit for a couple of hours each day,"" said Steve Bohlen, president of Joint Oceanographic Institutions in Washington, D.C., and the leader of the initiative. ""We're looking to employ instrumentation in the ocean that will work just as modern weather forecasting does, relying on continuous data recording.""

The team of UCSD scientists will assist in the development of the project's essential cyberinfrastructure.

""This is [how] students, scientists and policymakers will view the data collected in real time,"" said John Orcutt, the leading scientist for the campus initiative and a Scripps professor of geophysics, in an e-mail.

Scientists from the Jacobs School of Engineering, the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, the San Diego Supercomputer Center and the UCSD School of Medicine have united to contribute their expertise to the initiative in the hopes that studying the ocean will lead to new discoveries about natural phenomena such as hurricanes, earthquakes and global warming, as well as in the physical, chemical and biological sciences.

The campus was awarded $29 million in federal funding to begin work on the cyberinfrastructure, with the promise that equal amounts will be awarded in each of six subsequent years until completion. Afterward, it will cost between $2-3 million a year to maintain.

""Computer hardware has a lifetime of about three years and software changes even more quickly,"" Orcutt said. ""If we're as successful as we hope, there will be growing demands for new capabilities that may well expand the current estimate.""

Other oceanographic institutes nationwide have been granted millions of dollars to support additional aspects of the project. The initiative is expected to cost $350 million to build, and $15- to $50 million a year afterward to maintain.

Bohlen predicted the entire design system would last a total of only 20 years before technological advances and increased understanding would require a widescale overhaul. At that time, he hopes the American infrastructure will be able to combine with those currently under development in Japan and Europe.

Such a network would extend at least as far as the continental shelf and connect all the oceans in what Bohlen called a ""prototype global ocean-observing system.""

This, combined with the cyberinfrastructure, will open a whole new range of possibilities to get the public involved in the research process.

""Scientists, students, citizens and policymakers can all obtain access to [our] data,"" Orcutt said. ""The intent is to greatly democratize access through methods [like] YouTube.com, GoogleEarth.com and blogs. We hope this approach will significantly increase the size of the oceanographic community.""

Ideally, the project would spark general interest in the understanding of earth's oceans, Bohlen said.

""The public is usually surprised to learn how little we actually know,"" Bohlen said. ""We know more about the moon than about our oceans. This is starting to capture people's imaginations. It is prying into the last frontier on the planet.""

UCSD men’s tennis team takes the ITA West Region Doubles Championship in season- opening...

With a resume like Ang Lee’s, a new intrigue-laced war film promises to be much more than another humdrum roll in the cinematic hay. In the same vein as last blockbuster “Brokeback Mountain,” Lee’s latest showcases talented unknowns, graphic sex scenes and stunning cinematography. But here is where the similarity ends — the seasoned director leaves Montana behind for a war-threatened 1938 Hong Kong, and the Japanese-occupied Shanghai in 1942.

“Lust, Caution” follows a group of six student actors as they resist the encroaching Japanese regime with an underground theater. Thrust to the forefront of these quiet rebels is the angelic Wang Jiazhi (Wei Tang, in her first-ever movie role), forced to become China’s serpent in the grass, slowly whittling away pieces of her identity to become the bourgeois adulteress of Mae Tai Tai.

Lee’s contemporary creation is a visual triumph, weaving its way through wartime realities and the many sacrifices made on every behalf, as Wang slowly seduces the cruel and domineering Mr. Yee (Tony Leung), head of the ruthless, Japanese-collaborating security forces. But before we can write “Lust” off as a hackneyed wartime love story a la “Pearl Harbor,” the film throws us into an interpersonal loop of uninhibited passion and twisted affection. As Wang lures Yee closer to her body and mind, both characters become entangled in a web of love and hate.

Lee uses disturbingly violent sex scenes to demonstrate the frustration between the two lovers as they tear each other apart emotionally. As in Nagisa Oshima’s “In the Realm of the Senses,” clothes are ripped in a lustful rage almost palpable in the characters’ eyes. Lee’s film is swept up and stolen by Wang and Yee as their relationship drives the plot forward, the war taking a backseat to steamy intrigue.

At times, however, Lee slows up the pace to meander through the lives of the other characters that remain, for the most part, white noise. Aside from Wang and Yee, other insurgents, like Kuang Yu Min (Lee-Hom Wang) and Old Yu (Chung Hua Tou) fade into the background without making much of an impression. It’s almost as if Lee is trying to slow the roll of the film to simply peruse a twirl of cigarette smoke or capture the vivid red of Wang’s lips — perhaps to legitimize his scenes of vicious hate-making.

But “Lust” keeps the story intact as it jumps from the lovers’ first meeting to their “serendipitous” encounter five years later. Where the plot lags in places, it makes up for with hand-held images of lust and the constant emotional mystery between Wang and her mark. She is the picture of elusive beauty, her body language all but nonexistent in the wake of such a heart-stopping gaze — in fact, every other scene sees her ignite emotional turmoil all in the bat of eye.

The only faults of “Lust” might be found in the indulgent lengths to which Lee takes his sexual zeal and the amount of time he takes to get to the point. Like “Brokeback Mountain,” Lee’s newest is based on a short story, this time by Eileen Chang. Both take a simple tale of complicated affection and stretch it almost to the breaking point of pace — some two and half hours later.

But moments of remarkable poignancy recline in even the most lethargic of scenes. Like the final clip, which features a simple play of shadows across a rumpled bedsheet, leaving the lasting breath of artistic awe that has lifted Lee to his revered reputation.

UC Dominates White House’s Science Awards

Six UC researchers were honored with the Presidential Early
Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers at a White House ceremony on Nov. 1,
making University of California the recipient of more awards than any other
institution.

John Marburger III, President George W. Bush’s science adviser
and director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy,
presented the honors to 58 scientists and engineers. The awards recognize
exceptional leadership potential at the outset of the recipient’s professional
scientific career.

The award, established in 1996, includes research funding
for a maximum of five years to support critical government missions. It is the
highest honor the U.S. government bestows on scientists and engineers beginning
their independent careers. Recipients are nominated annually by nine federal
departments and agencies.

UCSD’s Brian Keating, assistant professor of physics, and
Katerina Akassoglou, assistant professor of pharmacology, were among this
year’s award recipients for their work in astrophysics and molecular and
cellular mechanisms, respectively.

“We take great pride in the University of California
scholars who have been recognized by these awards,” UC President Robert C.
Dynes said in a press release. “They are making valuable contributions to
scientific discovery in an exciting range of fields, and we look forward with
great anticipation to their continued accomplishments.”


Inflammation Leads to Diabetes, Not Obesity

A recent study conducted by researchers at the UCSD School
of Medicine found that inflammation provoked by immune cells called macrophages
causes insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes. The discovery may break ground
in novel drug development to fight the epidemic of Type 2 diabetes associated
with obesity.

It has been theorized in recent years that chronic,
low-grade tissue inflammation related to obesity, the world’s most prevalent
metabolic disease, contributes to insulin resistance, the major cause of Type 2
diabetes. The research, which utilizes mouse models, proved that disabling the
macrophage inflammatory pathway prevents insulin resistance and the resultant
Type 2 diabetes.

The findings of the research team, led by Michael Karin,
professor of pharmacology, and Jerrold Olefsky, distinguished professor of
medicine and associate dean for scientific affairs, will be published as the
feature article in the Nov. 7 issue of Cell Metabolism.

“Our research shows that insulin resistance can be
disassociated from the increase in body fat associated with obesity,” Olefsky
said in a press release. “We aren’t suggesting that obesity is healthy, but
indications are promising that, by blocking the macrophage pathway, scientists
may find a way to prevent the Type 2 diabetes not linked to obesity and fatty
livers.”

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