News

Monday, August 19, 2019

California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond said during a press conference on Wednesday morning that Jewish Americans “must be included” in a controversial ethnic studies curriculum for high school.

“Jews are being attacked at this time in synagogues,” Thurmond said in the media room at the California Department of Education in Sacramento. “Acts of hate are happening against the Jewish people. They must be included.”

The press conference was called in response to negative public feedback received since the draft curriculum was released for comment in June, but particularly in the past few weeks.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

In a show of unity, 11 California lawmakers representing the Jewish and Latino legislative caucuses toured Otay Mesa Detention Center in San Diego on Aug. 9 after increasing scrutiny about conditions at the facility.

The legislators conducted interviews and met with detainees at the center, which is overseen by private prison company CoreCivic and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“Visiting the Otay Mesa detention facility was powerful and profoundly sad,” said Assemblyman Marc Berman (D-Palo Alto), a member of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus. “We all have a responsibility to highlight what is going on at the border. But I do think Jews have a unique history and experience that allows us to empathize with today’s migrants that much more.”

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Opinion: Too few Bay Area students have access to computer science courses

Despite growing up under the shadow of Apple and Google, children aren’t learning essential skills

 

Marc Berman and Lisa Andrew

The Mercury News

August 11, 2019

 

What exactly is computer science, and why is it important to our children’s future?

Monday, July 8, 2019

BERKELEY, Calif. (KGO) -- There's a race to defuse a powerful political weapon: computer-generated fake videos. Researchers at UC Berkeley are leading the charge to fight the fake news technology.

Millions of people saw distorted video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, posted to social media in May. Simple edits to the video, made it sound like Pelosi was drunkenly slurring her words, when she was not.

"That really wreaks havoc on democracy, on society and our personal safety," said Hany Farid, a Computer Science Professor at UC Berkeley.

Farid and graduate student, Shruti Agarwal, are developing software to combat deepfake technology -- content synthesized through artificial intelligence.

An example of a deepfake video, can be seen in filmmaker Jordan Peele's PSA from 2018 about the danger of the videos.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Homelessness has come to California’s public colleges, just as it has to every other institution in the state. In the community college system, a recent report found that 19% of nearly 40,000 students surveyed had been homeless at some point during the previous year. Some community college campuses have food banks, and all are required by law to make showers in their athletic facilities available to homeless students. But few of the 114 community college campuses offer housing to any of their 2.1 million students, let alone homeless ones.

So Assemblyman Marc Berman (D-Palo Alto) has come up with a creative idea: Why not let homeless students who live in their cars park overnight on campus? Although that’s not a solution for homelessness, it would offer a short-term fix for homeless students with cars who are already working on a long-term answer — getting a college degree to broaden their options and increase their earning power.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A California lawmaker is proposing to restrict the sharing of manipulated videos depicting politicians amid mounting concerns that increasingly convincing "deep fakes" could give rise to misinformation in the approaching 2020 election.

But as policy makers grapple with an emerging technology, proposals to regulate videos have spurred debate about free speech and the government's role in regulating political discourse.

Assemblyman Marc Berman, a Democrat from Palo Alto, Calif., has proposed a law barring anyone from distributing audio or video of a candidate they know is altered to mislead voters, unless the material includes a disclaimer that is was manipulated.

The proposed law would only apply to the 60 days before an election. A candidate depicted in a "deep fake" could take a person spreading the offending material to court.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

President Donald Trump's administration on Tuesday dropped its plan to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census, a decision a local state assemblyman lauded as a "huge victory."

The action came in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last week in which the panel by a 5-4 vote said Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross's stated reason for including the question — allegedly to aid voting rights enforcement — "seems to have been contrived."

The high court said the agency could not include the question unless it was supported by a reasoned explanation.

The decision to drop the question was confirmed by the Commerce Department, which conducts the once-a-decade population count.

Ross said in a statement, "I respect the Supreme Court but strongly disagree with its ruling. ... The Census Bureau has started the process of printing the decennial questionnaires without the question.