Sunday, March 30, 2014

Governor of California Jerry Brown

Edmund Gerald "Jerry" Brown, Jr. (born April 7, 1938) is an American politician who currently serves as the 39th Governor of California since 2011; he previously served as California's 34th Governor[3] from 1975 to 1983. Both before and after his original two terms as Governor, Brown served in numerous state, local, and party positions. He was a member of the Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees (1969–1971), Secretary of State of California (1971–1975), chairman of the California Democratic Party (1989–1991), Mayor of Oakland (1999–2007) and Attorney General of California (2007–2011).

Brown sought the Democratic nominations for President of the United States in 1976, 1980, and 1992, and was the Democratic candidate for the United States Senate in California in 1982, but was unsuccessful in those attempts. He is the son of Pat Brown, the 32nd Governor of California. On October 7, 2013, he became the longest-serving governor in California history measured by cumulative service.

As a consequence of the 28-year gap between his second and third terms, Brown has been both the sixth-youngest California governor (and the youngest since the 1860s) and the oldest California governor in history.

Early life, education, and careerEdit
Brown was born in San Francisco, California, as the only son of four siblings born to Bernice Layne Brown, and District Attorney of San Francisco and later Governor of California, Edmund Gerald "Pat" Brown, Sr.[4] His father was of half Irish and half German descent.[5] He was a member of the California Cadet Corps at St. Ignatius High School, where he graduated in 1955.[citation needed]

In 1955, Brown entered Santa Clara University for a year, and left to attend Sacred Heart Novitiate, a Jesuit seminary, intent on becoming a Catholic priest. Brown left the seminary after three years,[6] enrolling at the University of California, Berkeley in 1960, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1961. Brown went on to Yale Law School and graduated with a Juris Doctor in 1964.[4] After law school, Brown worked as a law clerk for California Supreme Court Justice Mathew Tobriner.

Returning to California, Brown took the state bar exam and passed on his second attempt.[7] Brown then settled in Los Angeles and joined the law firm of Tuttle & Taylor. In 1969, Brown ran for the newly created Los Angeles Community College Board of Trustees, which oversaw community colleges in the city, and placed first in a field of 124.[8]

Secretary of State (1971–1975)Edit
In 1970, Brown was elected California Secretary of State. Brown argued before the California Supreme Court and won cases against Standard Oil of California, International Telephone and Telegraph, Gulf Oil, and Mobil for election law violations.[8] In addition, he forced legislators to comply with campaign disclosure laws. While holding this office, he discovered the use of falsely notarized documents to earn a tax deduction by then-President Richard Nixon. Brown also drafted and helped to pass the California Political Reform Act of 1974, Proposition 9, passed by 70% of California's voters in June, 1974. Among other provisions, it established the California Fair Political Practices Commission.

Governor of California (1975–1983)Edit
First term
Main article: California gubernatorial election, 1974

California Chief Justice Donald Wright (left) swearing in Brown as Governor of California on January 6, 1975
In 1974, Brown ran in a highly contested Democratic primary for Governor of California against Speaker of the California Assembly Bob Moretti, San Francisco Mayor Joseph L. Alioto, Representative Jerome R. Waldie, and others. Brown won the primary with the name recognition of his father, Pat Brown, whom many people admired for his progressive administration.[9] In the General Election on November 5, 1974, Brown was elected Governor of California over California State Controller Houston I. Flournoy; Republicans ascribed the loss to anti-Republican feelings from Watergate, the election being held only ninety days after President Richard Nixon resigned from office. Brown succeeded Republican Governor Ronald Reagan, who had planned on retiring from office after serving two terms.

After taking office, Brown gained a reputation as a fiscal conservative.[10] The American Conservative later noted he was "much more of a fiscal conservative than Governor Reagan."[11] His fiscal restraint resulted in one of the biggest budget surpluses in state history, roughly $5 billion.[12][13] For his personal life, Brown refused many of the privileges and perks of the office, forgoing the newly constructed governor's residence and instead renting a modest apartment at the corner of 14th and N Streets, adjacent to Capitol Park in downtown Sacramento.[14] Instead of riding as a passenger in a chauffeured limousine as previous governors had done, Brown walked to work and drove in a Plymouth Satellite sedan.[15][16]

As governor, Brown held a strong interest in environmental issues. He appointed J. Baldwin to work in the newly created California Office of Appropriate Technology, Sim Van der Ryn as State Architect, Stewart Brand as Special Advisor, John Bryson as chairman of the California State Water Board. Brown also reorganized the California Arts Council, boosting its funding by 1300 percent and appointing artists to the council[8] and appointed more women and minorities to office than any other previous California Governor.[8] In 1977, he sponsored the "first-ever tax incentive for rooftop solar" among many environmental initiatives.[17] In 1975, Brown obtained the repeal of the "depletion allowance", a tax break for the state's oil industry, despite the efforts of lobbyist Joe Shell, a former intraparty rival to Richard M. Nixon.[18]

Like his father, Brown strongly opposed the death penalty and vetoed it as Governor, which the legislature overrode in 1977. He also appointed judges who opposed capital punishment. One of these appointments, Rose Bird as the Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court, was recalled by voters after a strong campaign financed by business interests upset by her "pro-labor" and "pro-free speech" rulings. The death penalty was only "a trumped-up excuse"[19] to use against her, even though the Bird Court consistently upheld the constitutionality of the death penalty.[20] In 1960, he lobbied his father, then Governor, to spare the life of Caryl Chessman and reportedly won a 60-day stay for him.[21][22]

Brown was both in favor of a Balanced Budget Amendment and opposed to Proposition 13, the latter of which would decrease property taxes and greatly reduce revenue to cities and counties.[23] When Proposition 13 passed in June 1978, he heavily cut state spending, and along with the Legislature, spent much of the $5 billion surplus to meet the proposition's requirements and help offset the revenue losses which made cities, counties, and schools more dependent on the state.[12][23] His actions in response to the proposition earned him praise from Proposition 13 author Howard Jarvis who went as far to make a television commercial for Brown just before his successful reelection bid in 1978.[23][24] The controversial proposition immediately cut tax revenues and required a two-thirds supermajority to raise taxes.[25] Proposition 13 "effectively destroyed the funding base of local governments and school districts, which thereafter depended largely on Sacramento for their revenue".[26] Max Neiman, a professor at the Institute of Government Studies at University of California, Berkeley, credited Brown for "bailing out local government and school districts" but felt it was harmful "because it made it easier for people to believe that Proposition 13 wasn't harmful."[17]

Second term
Brown won re-election in 1978 against Republican state Attorney General Evelle J. Younger. Brown appointed the first openly gay judge in the United States when he named Stephen Lachs to serve on the Los Angeles County Superior Court in 1979.[27] In 1981, he also appointed the first openly lesbian judge in the United States, Mary C. Morgan to the San Francisco Municipal Court.[28] Brown completed his second term having appointed a total of five gay judges, including Rand Schrader and Jerold Krieger.[29][30] Through his first term as Governor, Brown had not appointed any openly gay people to any position, but he cited the failed 1978 Briggs Initiative, which sought to ban homosexuals from working in California's public schools, for his increased support of gay rights.[27]

In 1981, California Governor Jerry Brown, who had established a reputation as a strong environmentalist, was confronted with a serious medfly infestation in the San Francisco Bay Area. He was advised by the state's agricultural industry, and the US Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection service (APHIS), to authorize airborne spraying of the region. Initially, in accordance with his environmental protection stance, he chose to authorize ground-level spraying only. Unfortunately, the infestation spread as the medfly reproductive cycle out-paced the spraying. After more than a month, millions of dollars of crops had been destroyed and billions of dollars more were threatened. Governor Brown then authorized a massive response to the infestation. Fleets of helicopters sprayed malathion at night, and the California National Guard set up highway checkpoints and collected many tons of local fruit; in the final stage of the campaign, entomologists released millions of sterile male medflies in an attempt to disrupt the insects' reproductive cycle.

Ultimately the infestation was eradicated, but both the Governor's delay and the scale of the action has remained controversial ever since. Some people claimed that malathion was toxic to humans, as well as insects. In response to such concerns, Brown's chief of staff, B. T. Collins, staged a news conference during which he publicly drank a glass of malathion. Many people complained that, while the malathion may not have been very toxic to humans, the aerosol spray containing it was corrosive to car paint.

Brown proposed the establishment of a state space academy and the purchasing of a satellite that would be launched into orbit to provide emergency communications for the state—a proposal similar to one that was indeed eventually adopted. In 1979, an out-of-state columnist, Mike Royko, at the Chicago Sun-Times, picked up on the nickname from Brown's girlfriend at the time, Linda Ronstadt, who was quoted in a 1978 Rolling Stone magazine interview humorously calling him "Moonbeam".[31][32] A year later Royko expressed his regret for publicizing the nickname,[33] and in 1991 Royko disavowed it entirely, proclaiming Brown to be just as serious as any other politician.[34][35][36][37]

Brown chose not to run for a third term in 1982, and instead ran for the United States Senate, but lost to San Diego Mayor Pete Wilson. He was succeeded as Governor by George Deukmejian, then state Attorney General, on January 3, 1983.

Senate defeat and public lifeEdit
In 1982, Brown chose not to seek a third term as governor, instead, Brown ran for the United States Senate for the seat being vacated by Republican S.I. Hayakawa. He was defeated by Republican San Diego Mayor Pete Wilson by a margin of 52% to 45%. After his Senate defeat, Brown was left with few political options.[38] Republican George Deukmejian, a Brown critic, narrowly won the governorship in 1982, succeeding Brown, and was reelected overwhelmingly in 1986. After his Senate defeat in 1982, many considered Brown's political career to be over.[38]

Brown traveled to Japan to study Buddhism, studying with Christian/Zen practitioner Hugo Enomiya-Lassalle under Yamada Koun-roshi. In an interview he explained, "Since politics is based on illusions, zazen definitely provides new insights for a politician. I then come back into the world of California and politics, with critical distance from some of my more comfortable assumptions."[39] He also visited Mother Teresa in Calcutta, India, where he ministered to the sick in one of her hospices.[40] He explained, "Politics is a power struggle to get to the top of the heap. Calcutta and Mother Teresa are about working with those who are at the bottom of the heap. And to see them as no different than yourself, and their needs as important as your needs. And you're there to serve them, and doing that you are attaining as great a state of being as you can."[39]

Upon his return from abroad in 1988, Brown announced that he would stand as a candidate to become chairman of the California Democratic Party, and won against investment banker Steve Westly.[41] Although Brown greatly expanded the party's donor base and enlarged its coffers, with a focus on grassroots organizing and get out the vote drives, he was criticized for not spending enough money on TV ads, which was felt to have contributed to Democratic losses in several close races in 1990. In early 1991, Brown abruptly resigned his post and announced that he would run for the Senate seat held by the retiring Alan Cranston. Although Brown consistently led in the polls for both the nomination and the general election, he abandoned the campaign, deciding instead to run for the presidency for a third time.

In 1995, with Brown’s political career at a low point, in the motion picture Jade, the fictional Governor of California tells an assistant district attorney to drop a case, “unless you want as much of a future in this state as Jerry Brown.” The assistant DA responds “Who’s Jerry Brown?”

Presidential bidsEdit
1976
Main article: Democratic Party (United States) presidential primaries, 1976

Brown at the 1976 Democratic National Convention in New York City
Brown first ran for the Democratic nomination for President in March 1976, after the primary season had begun, and over a year after some candidates had started campaigning. Brown declared, "The country is rich, but not so rich as we have been led to believe. The choice to do one thing may preclude another. In short, we are entering an era of limits."[42][43]

Brown's name began appearing on primary ballots in May and he won in Maryland, Nevada, and his home state of California.[44] He missed the deadline in Oregon, but he ran as a write-in candidate and finished in third behind Jimmy Carter and Senator Frank Church of Idaho. Brown is often credited with winning the New Jersey and Rhode Island primaries, but in reality, uncommitted slates of delegates that Brown advocated in those states finished first. With support from Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards, Brown won a majority of delegates at the Louisiana delegate selection convention; thus Louisiana was the only southern state to not support Southerners Carter or Alabama Governor George Wallace. Despite this success, he was unable to stall Carter's momentum, and his rival was nominated on the first ballot at the 1976 Democratic National Convention. Brown finished third with roughly 300 delegate votes, narrowly behind Congressman Morris Udall and Carter.

1980
Main article: Democratic Party (United States) presidential primaries, 1980
In 1980, Brown challenged Carter for renomination. His candidacy had been anticipated by the press ever since he won re-election as governor in 1978 over the Republican Evelle Younger by the largest margin in California history, 1.3 million votes. But Brown had trouble gaining traction in both fundraising and polling for the presidential nomination. This was widely believed to be the result of the more prominent candidate Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts. Brown's 1980 platform, which he declared to be the natural result of combining Buckminster Fuller's visions of the future and E. F. Schumacher's theory of "Buddhist economics", was much expanded from 1976. His "era of limits" slogan was replaced by a promise to, in his words, "Protect the Earth, serve the people, and explore the universe."

Three main planks of his platform were a call for a constitutional convention to ratify the Balanced Budget Amendment, a promise to increase funds for the space program as a "first step in bringing us toward a solar-powered space satellite to provide solar energy for this planet,"[45] and, in the wake of the 1979 Three Mile Island accident, opposition to nuclear power. On the subject of the 1979 energy crisis, Brown decried the "Faustian bargain" that he claimed Carter had entered into with the oil industry, and declared that he would greatly increase federal funding of research into solar power. He endorsed the idea of mandatory non-military national service for the nation's youth, and suggested that the Defense Department cut back on support troops while beefing up the number of combat troops.

Brown opposed Kennedy's call for universal national health insurance and opposed Carter's call for an employer mandate to provide catastrophic private health insurance.[46] As an alternative, he suggested a program of tax credits for those who do not smoke or otherwise damage their health, saying: "Those who abuse their bodies should not abuse the rest of us by taking our tax dollars."[46] Brown also called for expanding the use of acupuncture and midwifery.[46]

As his campaign began to attract more members of what some more conservative commentators described as "the fringe", including activists like Jane Fonda, Tom Hayden, and Jesse Jackson, however his polling numbers began to suffer. Brown received only 10 percent of the vote in the New Hampshire primary, and he was soon forced to announce that his decision to remain in the race would depend on a good showing in the Wisconsin primary. Although he had polled well there throughout the primary season, an attempt to film a live speech in Madison, the state's capital, into a special effects-filled, 30-minute commercial (produced and directed by Francis Ford Coppola) was disastrous.[47]

1992
Main article: Democratic Party presidential primaries, 1992
When Brown announced his intention to run for president against President George H.W. Bush, many in the media and his own party dismissed his campaign as having little chance of gaining significant support. Ignoring them, Brown embarked on a grassroots campaign to, in his own words, "take back America from the confederacy of corruption, careerism, and campaign consulting in Washington".[48] In his stump speech, first used while officially announcing his candidacy on the steps of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Brown told listeners that he would only be accepting campaign contributions from individuals and that he would not accept over $100.[49] Continuing with his populist reform theme, he assailed what he dubbed "the bipartisan Incumbent Party in Washington" and called for term limits for members of Congress. Citing various recent scandals on Capitol Hill, particularly the recent House banking scandal and the large congressional pay-raises from 1990, he promised to put an end to Congress being a "Stop-and-Shop for the moneyed special interests".

As Brown campaigned in various primary states, he would eventually expand his platform beyond a policy of strict campaign finance reform. Although he focused on a variety of issues throughout the campaign, he highlighted his endorsement of living wage laws and opposition to free trade agreements such as NAFTA; he mostly concentrated on his tax policy, which had been created specifically for him by Arthur Laffer, the famous supporter of supply-side economics who created the Laffer curve. This plan, which called for the replacement of the progressive income tax with a flat tax and a value added tax, both at a fixed 13 percent rate, was decried by his opponents as regressive. Nevertheless, it was endorsed by The New York Times, The New Republic, and Forbes, and its raising of taxes on corporations and elimination of various loopholes which tended to favor the very wealthy, proved to be popular with voters. This was, perhaps, not surprising, as various opinion polls taken at the time found that as many as three-quarters of all Americans believed the current tax code to be unfairly biased toward the wealthy. He "seemed to be the most left-wing and right-wing man in the field... [calling] for term limits, a flat tax, and the abolition of the Department of Education."[50] Brown scored surprising wins in Connecticut and Colorado and seemed poised to overtake Clinton.

Due to his limited budget, Brown began to use a mixture of alternative media and unusual fund raising techniques. Unable to pay for actual commercials, he used frequent cable television and talk radio interviews as a form of free media to get his message to voters. In order to raise funds, he purchased a toll-free telephone number, which adorned all of his campaign stances.[51] During the campaign, Brown's repetition of this number combined with the moralistic language used, led some to describe him as a "political televangelist" with an "anti-politics gospel".[52]

Despite poor showings in the Iowa caucus (1.6%) and the New Hampshire primary (8%), Brown soon managed to win narrow victories in Maine, Colorado, Nevada, Alaska, and Vermont, but he continued to be considered a small threat for much of the campaign. It was not until shortly after Super Tuesday, when the field had been narrowed to Brown, former Senator Paul Tsongas of Massachusetts, and frontrunner Governor Bill Clinton of Arkansas, that Brown began to emerge as a major contender in the eyes of the press. On March 17, Brown forced Tsongas from the race when he received a strong third-place showing in the Illinois primary and then defeated the senator for second place in the Michigan primary by a wide margin. Exactly one week later, he cemented his position as a major threat to Clinton when he eked out a narrow win in the bitterly-fought Connecticut primary. As the press focused on the primaries in New York and Wisconsin, which were both to be held on the same day, Brown, who had taken the lead in polls in both states, made a gaffe: he announced to an audience of various leaders of New York City's Jewish community that, if nominated, he would consider the Reverend Jesse Jackson as a vice-presidential candidate.[53] Jackson, who had made a pair of anti-semitic comments about Jews in general and New York City's Jews in particular while running for president in 1984, was still despised in Jewish communities. Jackson also had ties to Louis Farrakhan, who said Judaism was a "gutter religion," and with Yasir Arafat, the chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization.[53] Brown's polling numbers suffered. On April 7, he lost narrowly to Bill Clinton in Wisconsin (37%–34%), and dramatically in New York (41%–26%).

Although Brown continued to campaign in a number of states, he won no further primaries. Although overwhelmingly outspent, Brown won upset victories in seven states and his votes won to money raised ratio was by far the best of any candidate in the race.[54] He still had a sizable number of delegates, and a big win in his home state of California would deprive Clinton of sufficient support to win the Democratic nomination, possibly bringing about a brokered convention. After nearly a month of intense campaigning and multiple debates between the two candidates, Clinton managed to defeat Brown in this final primary by a margin of 48% to 41%. Although Brown did not win the nomination, he was able to boast of one accomplishment: At the following month's Democratic National Convention, he received the votes of 596 delegates on the first ballot, more than any other candidate but Clinton. He spoke at the convention, and to the national viewing audience, yet without endorsing Clinton, through the device of seconding his own nomination. There was animosity between the Brown and Clinton campaigns, and Brown was the first political figure to criticize Bill Clinton over what became the Whitewater controversy.[51]

Mayor of Oakland (1999–2007)Edit

Mayor Jerry Brown (left) with U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (middle) and San Francisco Supervisor Gavin Newsom (right).
What would become Brown's re-emergence into politics after six years was in Oakland, California, an "overwhelmingly minority city of 400,000."[55] Brown ran as an independent "having left the Democratic Party, blasting what he called the 'deeply corrupted' two-party system."[55] Prior to taking office, Brown campaigned to get the approval of the electorate to convert Oakland's weak mayor political structure, which structured the mayor as chairman of the city council and official greeter, to a strong mayor structure, where the mayor would act as chief executive over the nonpolitical city manager and thus the various city departments, and break tie votes on the Oakland City Council.[55] He won with 59% of the vote in a field of ten candidates.[55] The political left had hoped for some of the more progressive politics from Brown's earlier governorship, but found Brown "more pragmatic than progressive, more interested in downtown redevelopment and economic growth than political ideology".[56] As mayor, he invited the U.S. Marine Corps to use Oakland harbor lands for mock military exercises as part of Operation Urban Warrior.[57]

The city was rapidly losing residents and businesses, and Brown is credited with starting the revitalization of the city using his connections and experience to lessen the economic downturn, while attracting $1 billion of investments, including refurbishing the Fox Theatre, the Port of Oakland, and Jack London Square.[55] The downtown district was losing retailers, restaurateurs and residential developers, and Brown sought to attract thousands of new residents with disposable income to revitalize the area.[58] Brown continued his predecessor Elihu Harris's public policy of supporting downtown housing development in the area defined as the Central Business District in Oakland's 1998 General Plan.[59] Since Brown worked toward the stated goal of bringing an additional 10,000 residents to Downtown Oakland, his plan was known as "10K." It has resulted in redevelopment projects in the Jack London District, where Brown purchased and later sold an industrial warehouse which he used as a personal residence,[55] and in the Lakeside Apartments District near Lake Merritt. The 10k plan has touched the historic Old Oakland district, the Chinatown district, the Uptown district, and Downtown. Brown surpassed the stated goal of attracting 10,000 residents according to city records, and built more affordable housing than previous mayoral administrations.[58]

Brown had campaigned on fixing Oakland's schools, but "bureaucratic battles" dampened his efforts. He concedes he never had control of the schools, and his reform efforts were "largely a bust".[55] He focused instead on the creation of two charter schools, the Oakland School for the Arts and the Oakland Military Institute.[55] Another area of disappointment was overall crime. Brown sponsored nearly two dozen crime initiatives to reduce the crime rate,[60] although crime decreased by 13 percent overall, the city still suffered a "57 percent spike in homicides his final year in office, to 148 overall".[55]

Attorney General of California (2007–2011)Edit

Brown in 2009
In 2004, Brown expressed interest to be a candidate for the Democratic nomination for Attorney General of California in the 2006 election, and in May 2004, he formally filed to run. He defeated his Democratic primary opponent Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo 63% to 37%. In the general election, Brown defeated Republican State Senator Charles Poochigian 56.3% to 38.2%, one of the largest margins of victory in any statewide California race.[61] In the final weeks leading up to Election Day, Brown's eligibility to run for Attorney General was challenged in what Brown called a "political stunt by a Republican office seeker" (Contra Costa County Republican Central Committee chairman and state GOP vice-chair candidate Tom Del Beccaro). Plaintiffs claimed Brown did not meet eligibility according to California Government Code §12503, "No person shall be eligible to the office of Attorney General unless he shall have been admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the state for a period of at least five years immediately preceding his election or appointment to such office." Legal analysts called the lawsuit frivolous because Brown was admitted to practice law in the State of California on June 14, 1965, and had been so admitted to practice ever since. Although ineligible to practice law because of his voluntary inactive status in the State Bar of California from January 1, 1997 to May 1, 2003, he was nevertheless still admitted to practice. Because of this difference the case was eventually thrown out.[62][63]

As Attorney General, Brown represented the state in fighting death penalty appeals and stated that he would follow the law, regardless of his personal beliefs against capital punishment. Capital punishment by lethal injection was halted in California by federal judge Jeremy D. Fogel until new facilities and procedures were put into place.[64] Brown moved to resume capital punishment in 2010 with the execution of Albert Greenwood Brown after the lifting of a statewide moratorium by a California court.[65] Brown's Democratic campaign, which pledged to "enforce the laws" of California, denied any connection between the case and the gubernatorial election. Prosecutor Rod Pacheco, who supported Republican opponent Meg Whitman, said that it would be unfair to accuse Jerry Brown of using the execution for political gain as they never discussed the case.[66]

In June 2008, Brown filed a fraud lawsuit claiming mortgage lender Countrywide Financial engaged in "unfair and deceptive" practices to get homeowners to apply for risky mortgages far beyond their means."[67][68] Brown accused the lender of breaking the state's laws against false advertising and unfair business practices, the lawsuit also claimed the defendant misled many consumers by misinforming them about the workings of certain mortgages such adjustable-rate mortgages, interest-only loans, low-documentation loans and home-equity loans while telling borrowers they would be able to refinance before the interest rate on their loans adjusted.[69] The suit was settled in October 2008 after Bank of America acquired Countrywide. The settlement involved the modifying of troubled 'predatory loans' up to $8.4 billion.

Brown in 2009
In 2004, Brown expressed interest to be a candidate for the Democratic nomination for Attorney General of California in the 2006 election, and in May 2004, he formally filed to run. He defeated his Democratic primary opponent Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo 63% to 37%. In the general election, Brown defeated Republican State Senator Charles Poochigian 56.3% to 38.2%, one of the largest margins of victory in any statewide California race.[61] In the final weeks leading up to Election Day, Brown's eligibility to run for Attorney General was challenged in what Brown called a "political stunt by a Republican office seeker" (Contra Costa County Republican Central Committee chairman and state GOP vice-chair candidate Tom Del Beccaro). Plaintiffs claimed Brown did not meet eligibility according to California Government Code §12503, "No person shall be eligible to the office of Attorney General unless he shall have been admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the state for a period of at least five years immediately preceding his election or appointment to such office." Legal analysts called the lawsuit frivolous because Brown was admitted to practice law in the State of California on June 14, 1965, and had been so admitted to practice ever since. Although ineligible to practice law because of his voluntary inactive status in the State Bar of California from January 1, 1997 to May 1, 2003, he was nevertheless still admitted to practice. Because of this difference the case was eventually thrown out.[62][63]

As Attorney General, Brown represented the state in fighting death penalty appeals and stated that he would follow the law, regardless of his personal beliefs against capital punishment. Capital punishment by lethal injection was halted in California by federal judge Jeremy D. Fogel until new facilities and procedures were put into place.[64] Brown moved to resume capital punishment in 2010 with the execution of Albert Greenwood Brown after the lifting of a statewide moratorium by a California court.[65] Brown's Democratic campaign, which pledged to "enforce the laws" of California, denied any connection between the case and the gubernatorial election. Prosecutor Rod Pacheco, who supported Republican opponent Meg Whitman, said that it would be unfair to accuse Jerry Brown of using the execution for political gain as they never discussed the case.[66]

In June 2008, Brown filed a fraud lawsuit claiming mortgage lender Countrywide Financial engaged in "unfair and deceptive" practices to get homeowners to apply for risky mortgages far beyond their means."[67][68] Brown accused the lender of breaking the state's laws against false advertising and unfair business practices, the lawsuit also claimed the defendant misled many consumers by misinforming them about the workings of certain mortgages such adjustable-rate mortgages, interest-only loans, low-documentation loans and home-equity loans while telling borrowers they would be able to refinance before the interest rate on their loans adjusted.[69] The suit was settled in October 2008 after Bank of America acquired Countrywide. The settlement involved the modifying of troubled 'predatory loans' up to $8.4 billion.[70]

Proposition 8, a contentious voter-approved amendment to the state constitution that banned same-sex marriage was upheld in May 2009 by the California Supreme Court.[71][72] In August 2010, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ruled that Proposition 8 violated the Due Process and the Equal Protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.[73] Brown and then Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger both declined to appeal the ruling.[74] The state appeals court declined to order the men to defend the proposition and scheduled a hearing in early December to see if there is "legal standing to appeal Walker's ruling."[75]

Governor of California (2011–present)Edit
Third term
Main articles: California gubernatorial election, 2010 and California gubernatorial election, 2014

Brown at an campaign rally in Sacramento two days before the election of 2010
Brown announced his candidacy for governor on March 2, 2010.[76] First indicating his interest in early 2008, Brown formed an exploratory committee in order to seek a third term as governor in 2010, following the expiration of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's term.[77][78]

Brown's Republican opponent in the election was former eBay president Meg Whitman. Brown was endorsed by the Los Angeles Times,[79] The Sacramento Bee,[80] the San Francisco Chronicle,[81] the San Jose Mercury News,[82] and the Service Employees International Union.[83] Brown won the race 53.8% to Whitman's 40.9%.

Brown was sworn in for his third term as governor on January 3, 2011, succeeding Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger. He will be up for re-election in 2014. Brown is working on a budget that would shift many government programs from the state to the local level, a reversal of trends from his first tenure as governor.[84]

On June 28, 2012, Governor Brown signed a budget that made deep cuts to social services with the assumption that voters would pass $8 billion in tax hikes in November 2012 to close California's $15.7-billion budget deficit. "This budget reflects tough choices that will help get California back on track," Governor Brown said in a statement.[85]

Governor Brown has stated: "We need budget cuts. We need the continued growth of the economy for a long period of time. We’re suffering from the mortgage meltdown that killed 600,000 jobs in the construction industry. … We’re recovering from a national recession slowly—over 300,000 jobs [gained] since the recession. We’ve got a million to go. That needs to continue, but that depends not only on Barack Obama and the Congress and the Federal Reserve, but also on [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel, China, the European Union, and the self-organizing quality of the world economy."[86]

In September 2012, Brown signed legislation sponsored by California State Senator Ted Lieu that prohibits protesters at funerals within 300 feet, with convicted violators punishable with fines and jail time; the legislation was in response to protests conducted by the Westboro Baptist Church.[87]

In the November 2012 general elections, voters approved Brown's proposed tax increases in the form of Proposition 30. Prop 30 raised the state personal income tax increase over seven years for California residents with an annual income over US$250,000 and increased in the state sales tax by 0.25 percent over four years. It allowed the state to avoid nearly $6 billion in cuts to public education

Joe Green and Alison Pincus and photo taken by Billionare Mark Pincus

In the Fall of 2003, while an undergraduate at Harvard University, Joe Green helped Mark Zuckerberg (who would later found Facebook) create Facemash, a website that allowed users to compare and rate the faces of Harvard undergraduates for attractiveness. Both Green and Zuckerberg were threatened with explusion by Harvard's administrative board.[3][4]

Green had reportedly attempted to persuade Mark Zuckerberg to create a social network centered around politics, but Zuckerberg created Facebook instead.[2]

In light of the trouble with Facemash, Green's father advised him against collaborating with Zuckerberg on projects similar to Facemash in the future. As a result, Green declined Zuckerberg's offer of shares in Facebook. Had Green accepted, these shares would have been worth billions of dollars at the time of the Facebook IPO.[3][4]

Joe Green is a social entrepreneur based in Silicon Valley in the United States. He is the co-founder (along with Sean Parker) of Causes, a company most famous for its Facebook app designed to encourage philanthropy and make giving a social experience. He is also the president and one of the founders (along with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and many others) of FWD.us, a 501(c)(4) group created to lobby for immigration reform, improvements to education, and investment in technological breakthroughs with benefits to the masses, all in a United States-specific context.[1]

Life and career
School
In his high school in Santa Monica, Green was interested in politics and community activism. According to a Los Angeles Times story, Green "ran for the local school board when he was 17 and campaigned for a living wage for Santa Monica hotel and restaurant workers."[2]

College
In the Fall of 2003, while an undergraduate at Harvard University, Joe Green helped Mark Zuckerberg (who would later found Facebook) create Facemash, a website that allowed users to compare and rate the faces of Harvard undergraduates for attractiveness. Both Green and Zuckerberg were threatened with explusion by Harvard's administrative board.[3][4]

Green had reportedly attempted to persuade Mark Zuckerberg to create a social network centered around politics, but Zuckerberg created Facebook instead.[2]

In light of the trouble with Facemash, Green's father advised him against collaborating with Zuckerberg on projects similar to Facemash in the future. As a result, Green declined Zuckerberg's offer of shares in Facebook. Had Green accepted, these shares would have been worth billions of dollars at the time of the Facebook IPO.[3][4]

Green studied under Marshall Ganz, who sparked his interest further in community activism and grassroots organizing. Ganz was pivotal in helping the Democratic Party with its grassroots organizing. In 2004, Green worked on Democratic nominee John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign. In 2005, Green started Essembly, a nonpartisan social network that helped connect people with others who shared their political views.[2]

Causes
In 2007, Green co-founded Causes (a for-profit business) along with Sean Parker, famous for co-founding Plaxo and for his early involvement with Facebook and Napster.[5] The Causes platform enables users to create grassroots groups that take action on a social issue or support a specific non-profit organization. These groups, individually called a "cause," are building blocks for most activity on the site. To fundraise, a cause must identify a registered nonprofit in the United States or Canada.[6]

NationBuilder
Joe Green co-founded a company called NationBuilder that enabled politicians to create their own campaign websites with minimal technical knowledge, and he became President of the company in March 2012.[7] In February 2013, Green stepped down from his role as President of the company.[8]

FWD.us
In April 2013, a lobbying group called FWD.us was launched with Joe Green as the president.[9][10] The group, with staff in both Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C. and with most of its contributors from the Silicon Valley area, aims to lobby the United States government for its vision of immigration reform, improvements to education, and enabling breakthrough technologies with benefits widely distributed to the public.[11][12] Prior to the launch of the group, a prospectus prepared by Green for prospective donors was leaked to Politico. Green admitted to some factual inaccuracies, outdated information, and misleading statements in the prospectus when questioned about it.[13]

Investor
Green is an investor in and adviser to Asana, a company that enables workplace collaboration through a web interface.[1][8] In February 2013, Green joined Andreessen Horowitz as an entrepreneur-in-residence.

Alison Pincus

Alison Pincus is the Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer of One Kings Lane. A digital media veteran, Alison was inspired to co-create One Kings Lane to converge her passion for e-shopping and design. Alison oversees business development and strategic partnerships.

In this role, Alison and her team are driving alliances with web upstarts, media properties, ecommerce entities and talent to grow membership, increase brand awareness, and enhance the shopping experience at One Kings Lane. Alison serves as a spokesperson and evangelist for One Kings Lane. Previously, Alison held digital marketing and business development positions at The Walt Disney Company, NBC and Hachette Filipacchi.

Alison received her MBA from UCLA Anderson School of Management and her BS from UC Berkeley. As a food lover, Alison was ecstatic to be included in Food & Wine’s “40 Under 40†in 2010. She loves the outdoors and wishes she had more time to tweet and FB about her favorite new discoveries.

Arturo S. Rodríguez, President United Farm Workers of America

As president of the United Farm Workers of America, Arturo S. Rodriguez is continuing to build the union Cesar Chavez founded into a powerful voice for immigrant workers by increasing its membership and pushing historic legislation on immigration reform and worker rights.

Rodriguez is leading the UFW in bringing about meaningful change for farm workers by making it easier for them to organize and negotiate union contracts. He seeks to fundamentally transform American agriculture by creating jobs offering workers decent pay, comprehensive health coverage, retirement security, protections against toxic poisons, job security and guarantees against discrimination and sexual harassment. Under Rodriguez, the UFW is working to offer innovative alternative representation through benefits and services, and to extend innovative representation to workers temporarily brought to work in U.S. agriculture. His goal is also preserving America’s food supply through a strong and viable agricultural industry.

Since the Texas native took over the helm of the UFW upon the passing of its legendary founder in 1993, Rodriguez has increased union membership with aggressive organizing and negotiating campaigns. Among recent UFW victories are agreements with one of the nation’s top five largest vegetable growers, the biggest strawberry employer in the United States, the top U.S. rose producer, the country’s largest winery, the biggest dairy in the U.S. as well as winery workers in Washington state.

Recent historic UFW legislative achievements include a 2011 law signed by Gov. Jerry Brown helping farm worker organize when growers deny them the right to have a union; a 2002 California law signed by then-Gov. Gray Davis letting farm workers call in neutral arbitrators to hammer out union contracts when growers refuse to negotiate agreements; and a 2005 regulation the UFW convinced then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to issue, the first state regulation in the nation to help prevent farm and other outdoor workers from dying or becoming ill because of extreme heat. Rodriguez negotiated with growers to fashion the agricultural provisions in the bipartisan immigration reform bill passed by the U.S. Senate in June 2013; they would provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented farm workers in this country.

The veteran farm labor organizer was first introduced to Cesar Chavez through his parish priest in his hometown of San Antonio, Texas in 1966. He became active with the UFW's grape boycott as a student at St. Mary’s University in 1969. At the University of Michigan in 1971, where he earned an M.A. degree in social work, Rodriguez organized support for farm worker boycotts. He began serving full time with the UFW in 1973, when he first met Chavez, who became his mentor for 20 years. Rodriguez has more than 40 years experience organizing farm workers, negotiating UFW contracts and leading numerous farm worker boycott and political drives across North America.

Rodriguez and his wife Sonia live near the UFW’s headquarters at Keene, in California’s Tehachapi Mountains.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Detection of waves in space buttresses landmark theory of Big Bang

Cambridge, Massachusetts:  One night late in 1979, an itinerant young physicist named Alan Guth, with a new son and a year's appointment at Stanford, stayed up late with his notebook and equations, venturing far beyond the world of known physics.

He was trying to understand why there was no trace of some exotic particles that should have been created in the Big Bang. Instead he discovered what might have made the universe bang to begin with. A potential hitch in the presumed course of cosmic evolution could have infused space itself with a special energy that exerted a repulsive force, causing the universe to swell faster than the speed of light for a prodigiously violent instant.

If true, the rapid engorgement would solve paradoxes like why the heavens look uniform from pole to pole and not like a jagged, warped mess. The enormous ballooning would iron out all the wrinkles and irregularities. Those particles were not missing, but would be diluted beyond detection, like spit in the ocean.

"SPECTACULAR REALIZATION," Guth wrote across the top of the page and drew a double box around it.

On Monday, Guth's starship came in. Radio astronomers reported that they had seen the beginning of the Big Bang, and that his hypothesis, known undramatically as inflation, looked right.

Reaching back across 13.8 billion years to the first sliver of cosmic time with telescopes at the South Pole, a team of astronomers led by John M. Kovac of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics detected ripples in the fabric of space-time - so-called gravitational waves - the signature of a universe being wrenched violently apart when it was roughly a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second old. They are the long-sought smoking-gun evidence of inflation, proof, Kovac and his colleagues say, that Guth was correct.

Inflation has been the workhorse of cosmology for 35 years, though many, including Guth, wondered whether it could ever be proved.

If corroborated, Kovac's work will stand as a landmark in science comparable to the recent discovery of dark energy pushing the universe apart, or of the Big Bang itself. It would open vast realms of time and space and energy to science and speculation.

Confirming inflation would mean that the universe we see, extending 14 billion light-years in space with its hundreds of billions of galaxies, is only an infinitesimal patch in a larger cosmos whose extent, architecture and fate are unknowable. Moreover, beyond our own universe there might be an endless number of other universes bubbling into frothy eternity, like a pot of pasta water boiling over.

In our own universe, it would serve as a window into the forces operating at energies forever beyond the reach of particle accelerators on Earth and yield new insights into gravity itself. Kovac's ripples would be the first direct observation of gravitational waves, which, according to Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity, should ruffle space-time.

According to inflation theory, the waves are the hypothetical quantum particles, known as gravitons, that carry gravity, magnified by the expansion of the universe to extragalactic size.

"You can see how the sky is being distorted by gravitational waves," said Andrei Linde, a prominent inflation theorist at Stanford. "We are using our universe as a big microscope. The sky is a photographic plate."

Marc Kamionkowski of Johns Hopkins University, an early-universe expert who was not part of the team, said, "This is huge, as big as it gets."

"Although I might not fully understand it," Kamionkowski said, "this is a signal from the very earliest universe, sending a telegram encoded in gravitational waves."

The ripples manifested themselves as faint spiral patterns in a bath of microwave radiation that permeates space and preserves a picture of the universe when it was 380,000 years old and as hot as the surface of the Sun.

Kovac and his collaborators, working in an experiment known as BICEP, for Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarization, reported their results in a scientific briefing at the Center for Astrophysics here on Monday and in a set of papers submitted to The Astrophysical Journal.

Kovac said the chance that the results were a fluke was only one in 3.5 million - a gold standard of discovery called five-sigma.

Guth pronounced himself "bowled over," saying he had not expected such a definite confirmation in his lifetime.

"With nature, you have to be lucky," he said. "Apparently we have been lucky."

The results are the closely guarded distillation of three years' worth of observations and analysis. Eschewing email for fear of a leak, Kovac personally delivered drafts of his work to a select few, meeting with Guth, who is now a professor at MIT (as is his son, Larry, who was sleeping that night in 1979), in his office last week.

"It was a very special moment, and one we took very seriously as scientists," said Kovac, who chooses his words as carefully as he tends his radio telescopes.

Linde, who first described the most popular variant of inflation, known as chaotic inflation, in 1983, was about to go on vacation in the Caribbean last week when Chao-Lin Kuo, a Stanford colleague and a member of Kovac's team, knocked on his door with a bottle of Champagne to tell him the news.

Confused, Linde called out to his wife, asking if she had ordered Champagne.

"And then I told him that in the beginning we thought that this was a delivery but we did not think that we ordered anything, but I simply forgot that actually I did order it, 30 years ago," Linde wrote in an email.

Calling from Bonaire, the Dutch Caribbean island, Linde said he was still hyperventilating. "Having news like this is the best way of spoiling a vacation," he said.

By last weekend, as social media was buzzing with rumors that inflation had been seen and news spread, astrophysicists responded with a mixture of jubilation and caution.

Abraham Loeb, a Harvard-Smithsonian astronomer who was not part of the team, said: "It looks like inflation really took place. Since 1980, this was really speculative physics."

Max Tegmark, a cosmologist at MIT, wrote in an email, "I think that if this stays true, it will go down as one of the greatest discoveries in the history of science." He added, "It's a sensational breakthrough involving not only our cosmic origins, but also the nature of space."

Michael S. Turner, a cosmologist  at the University of Chicago, hailed it as the kind of discovery that could lead eventually to resolving riddles like dark matter and dark energy, writing in an email, "I am starting to feel like a 20-something-year-old postdoc!"

Lawrence M. Krauss of Arizona State and others also emphasized the need for confirmation, noting that the new results exceeded earlier estimates based on temperature maps of the cosmic background by the European Space Agency's Planck satellite and other assumptions about the universe.

"So we will need to wait and see before we jump up and down," Krauss said.

Corroboration might not be long in coming. The Planck spacecraft, which has been making exquisite measurements of the Big Bang microwaves, will be reporting its own findings this year. At least a dozen other teams are attempting similar measurements from balloons, mountaintops and space.

Spirals in the Sky

Gravity waves are the latest and deepest secret yet pried out of the cosmic microwaves, which were discovered accidentally by Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson, both then at Bell Labs, 50 years ago. They got the Nobel Prize.

Kovac has spent his whole career trying to read the secrets of these waves. He is one of four leaders of BICEP, which has operated a series of increasingly sensitive radio telescopes at the South Pole, where the air - thin, cold and dry - creates ideal observing conditions. The others are Clement Pryke of the University of Minnesota, Jamie Bock of the California Institute of Technology and Kuo of Stanford.

"The South Pole is the closest you can get to space and still be on the ground," Kovac said. He has been there 23 times, he said, wintering over in 1994. "I've been hooked ever since," he said.

In 2002, he was part of a team that discovered that the microwave radiation was polarized, meaning the light waves had a slight preference to vibrate in one direction rather than another.

This was a step toward the ultimate goal of detecting the gravitational waves from inflation. Such waves, squeezing space in one direction and stretching it in another as they go by, would twist the direction of polarization of the microwaves, theorists said. As a result, maps of the polarization in the sky should have little arrows going in spirals.

Detecting those spirals required measuring infinitesimally small differences in the temperature of the microwaves. The group's telescope, BICEP2, is basically a giant superconducting thermometer.

"We had no expectations what we would see," Kovac said. The earlier Planck study had concluded that a parameter r, which is a measure of the swirliness of the polarization, could not be higher than 0.11, which would have knocked many popular versions of inflation. But it was not a direct measurement, as the BICEP team was attempting.

The BICEP measurement of r clocked in at nearly twice that, 0.20, putting the most favored models back into contention.

The strength of the signal surprised the researchers, and they spent a year burning up time on a Harvard supercomputer, making sure they had things right and worrying that competitors might beat them to the breakthrough.

A Special Time

The data traced the onset of inflation to a time in cosmic history that physicists like Guth, staying up late in his Palo Alto house 35 years ago, suspected was a special break point in the evolution of the universe.

Physicists recognize four forces at work in the world today: gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces. But they have long suspected that those are simply different manifestations of a single unified force that ruled the universe in its earliest, hottest moments.

As the universe cooled, according to this theory, there was a fall from grace, not unlike some old folk mythology of gods or brothers falling out with each other. The laws of physics evolved, with one force after another "freezing out," or splitting away.

That was where Guth came in.

Under some circumstances, a glass of water can stay liquid as the temperature falls below 32 degrees, until it is disturbed, at which point it will rapidly freeze, releasing latent heat in the process.

Similarly, the universe could "supercool" and stay in a unified state too long. In that case, space itself would become temporarily imbued with a mysterious kind of latent heat, or energy.

Inserted into Einstein's equations, the latent energy would act as a kind of antigravity, and the universe would blow itself up. Since it was space itself supplying the repulsive force, the more space was created, the harder it pushed apart. In a runaway explosion, what would become our observable universe mushroomed in size at least a trillion trillionfold - from a submicroscopic speck of primordial energy to the size of a grapefruit - in less than a cosmic eye-blink.

Almost as quickly, this energy would decay into ordinary particles and radiation that were already in sync, despite how far apart they wound up, because they had all sprung from such a tiny primordial point, as if the galaxies had gotten together in the locker room to make a plan before going out. All of normal cosmic history was still ahead, resulting in today's observable universe, a patch of sky and stars 14 billion light-years across.

"It's often said that there is no such thing as a free lunch," Guth likes to say, "but the universe might be the ultimate free lunch."

Make that free lunches. Most of the hundred or so models that have been spawned by Guth's original vision suggest that inflation, once started, is eternal. Even as our own universe settled down to a comfortable homey expansion with atoms, stars and planets, the rest of the cosmos will continue blowing up, spinning off other bubbles here and there endlessly, a concept known as the multiverse.

The BICEP data does not reveal what this magical-sounding inflating energy is. Antigravity might sound crazy, but it was Einstein who first raised the possibility of its permeating space in the form of a fudge factor called the cosmological constant, which he later abandoned as a blunder. It was revived with the discovery 15 years ago that something called dark energy is giving a boost to the expansion of the universe, albeit far more gently than inflation did.

So the future of the cosmos is perhaps bright and fecund, but do not bother asking about going any deeper into the past.

As Guth will be the first to say, we might never know what happened before inflation, at the very beginning, because inflation erases everything that came before it. All the chaos and randomness of the primordial moment are swept away, forever out of our view.

"If you trace your cosmic roots," Loeb said, "you wind up at inflation." 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Scientists detect echoes of Big Bang

 In a major discovery for understanding the origins of the universe, US scientists said Monday they have detected echoes of the Big Bang 14 billion years ago. 

The "first direct evidence of cosmic inflation" was found with the help of a telescope at the South Pole, and was announced by experts at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

The detection of these gravitational waves represents the last untested element of Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity, filling in a major gap in our understanding of how the universe was born.

The gravitational waves are ripples that move through space and time, and have been described as the "first tremors of the Big Bang." Their detection confirms an integral connection between quantum mechanics and general relativity.

"Detecting this signal is one of the most important goals in cosmology today. A lot of work by a lot of people has led up to this point," said John Kovac leader of the BICEP2 collaboration at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics).

The telescope targeted a specific area of sky known as the "Southern Hole" outside the galaxy where there is little dust and extra galactic material to interfere with what humans can see with the potent sky-peering tool. 

By observing the cosmic microwave background, or a faint glow left over from the Big Bang, small fluctuations gave scientists new clues about the conditions in the early universe. 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Billionaires with big ideas are privatising American science

Last April, President Barack Obama assembled some of the nation's most august scientific dignitaries in the East Room of the White House. Joking that his grades in physics made him a dubious candidate for "scientist in chief," he spoke of using technological innovation "to grow our economy" and unveiled "the next great American project": a $100 million initiative to probe the mysteries of the human brain.

Along the way, he invoked the government's leading role in a history of scientific glories, from putting a man on the moon to creating the Internet. The Brain initiative, as he described it, would be a continuation of that grand tradition, an ambitious rebuttal to deep cuts in federal financing for scientific research.

"We can't afford to miss these opportunities while the rest of the world races ahead," Obama said. 

"We have to seize them. I don't want the next job-creating discoveries to happen in China or India or Germany. I want them to happen right here."

Absent from his narrative, though, was the back story, one that underscores a profound change taking place in the way science is paid for and practiced in America. In fact, the government initiative grew out of richly financed private research: A decade before, Paul G. Allen, a co-founder of Microsoft, had set up a brain science institute in Seattle, to which he donated $500 million, and Fred Kavli, a technology and real estate billionaire, had then established brain institutes at Yale, Columbia and the University of California. Scientists from those philanthropies, in turn, had helped devise the Obama administration's plan.

American science, long a source of national power and pride, is increasingly becoming a private enterprise. 

In Washington, budget cuts have left the nation's research complex reeling. Labs are closing. Scientists are being laid off. Projects are being put on the shelf, especially in the risky, freewheeling realm of basic research. Yet from Silicon Valley to Wall Street, science philanthropy is hot, as many of the richest Americans seek to reinvent themselves as patrons of social progress through science research.

The result is a new calculus of influence and priorities that the scientific community views with a mix of gratitude and trepidation.

"For better or worse," said Steven A. Edwards, a policy analyst at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, "the practice of science in the 21st century is becoming shaped less by national priorities or by peer-review groups and more by the particular preferences of individuals with huge amounts of money."

They have mounted a private war on disease, with new protocols that break down walls between academia and industry to turn basic discoveries into effective treatments. They have rekindled traditions of scientific exploration by financing hunts for dinosaur bones and giant sea creatures. 
They are even beginning to challenge Washington in the costly game of big science, with innovative ships, undersea craft and giant telescopes - as well as the first private mission to deep space.

The new philanthropists represent the breadth of American business, people like Michael R. Bloomberg, the former New York mayor (and founder of the media company that bears his name), Dr. James Simons (hedge funds) and David H. Koch (oil and chemicals), among hundreds of wealthy donors. Especially prominent, though, are some of the boldest-face names of the tech world, among them Bill Gates (Microsoft), Eric E. Schmidt (Google) and Lawrence J. Ellison (Oracle).

This is philanthropy in the age of the new economy - financed with its outsize riches, practiced according to its individualistic, entrepreneurial creed. The donors are impatient with the deliberate, and often politicized, pace of public science, they say, and willing to take risks that government cannot or simply will not consider.

Yet that personal setting of priorities is precisely what troubles some in the science establishment. Many of the patrons, they say, are ignoring basic research - the kind that investigates the riddles of nature and has produced centuries of breakthroughs, even whole industries - for a jumble of popular, feel-good fields like environmental studies and space exploration.

As the power of philanthropic science has grown, so has the pitch, and the edge, of the debate. Nature, a family of leading science journals, has published a number of wary editorials, one warning that while "we applaud and fully support the injection of more private money into science," the financing could also "skew research" toward fields more trendy than central.

"Physics isn't sexy," William H. Press, a White House science adviser, said in an interview. "But everybody looks at the sky."

Fundamentally at stake, the critics say, is the social contract that cultivates science for the common good. They worry that the philanthropic billions tend to enrich elite universities at the expense of poor ones, while undermining political support for federally sponsored research and its efforts to foster a greater diversity of opportunity - geographic, economic, racial - among the nation's scientific investigators.

Historically, disease research has been particularly prone to unequal attention along racial and economic lines. A look at major initiatives suggests that the philanthropists' war on disease risks widening that gap, as a number of the campaigns, driven by personal adversity, target illnesses that predominantly afflict white people - like cystic fibrosis, melanoma and ovarian cancer.

Public money still accounts for most of America's best research, as well as its remarkable depth and diversity. What is unclear is how far or fast that balance is shifting, because no one, either in or out of government, has been comprehensively tracking the magnitude and impact of private science. In recognition of its rising profile, though, the National Science Foundation recently announced plans to begin surveying the philanthropic landscape.

There are the sceptics. Then there are the former sceptics, people like Dr. Martin A. Apple, a biochemist and former head of the Council of Scientific Society Presidents.

Initially, Apple said, he, too, saw the donors as super-rich dabblers. Now he believes that they are helping accelerate the overall pace of science. What changed his mind, he said, was watching them persevere, year after year, in pursuit of highly ambitious goals.

"They target polio and go after it until it's done - no one else can do that," he said, referring to the global drive to eradicate the disease. "In effect, they have the power to lead where the market and the political will are insufficient."

And their impact seems likely to grow, given continuing federal budget wars and their enormous wealth. Indeed, a New York Times analysis shows that the 40 or so richest science donors who have signed a pledge to give most of their fortunes to charity have assets surpassing a quarter-trillion dollars.

There are also signs of a growing awareness, among some philanthropists, that this influence brings a responsibility to address some of the criticisms levelled at them. Last year, a coalition of leading science foundations announced a campaign to double private spending on basic research over a decade - to $5 billion a year - as a counterweight to money rushing into health and other popular fields.

"Today, federal funding of basic research is on the decline," the group said. "The best hope for near-term change lies with American philanthropy."

In the traditional world of government-sponsored research, at agencies like the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, panels of experts pore over grant applications to decide which ones get financed, weighing such factors as intellectual merit and social value. At times, groups of distinguished experts weigh in on how to advance whole fields, recommending, for instance, the construction of large instruments and laboratories costing billions of dollars.

By contrast, the new science philanthropy is personal, antibureaucratic, inspirational. 

And the philanthropists' projects are as diverse as the careers that built their fortunes. 

George P. Mitchell, considered the father of the drilling process for oil and gas known as fracking, has given about $360 million to fields like particle physics, sustainable development and astronomy - including $35 million for the Giant Magellan Telescope, now being built by a private consortium for installation atop a mountain in Chile.

The cosmos, Mitchell said in an interview before his death last year, "is too big not to have a good map."

If the rich donors are to be believed, their financing of scientific research in the years ahead will expand greatly in size and scope. A main reason is the Giving Pledge.

In 2010, Gates, along with his wife, Melinda, and the investor Warren E. Buffett, announced the campaign. So far, roughly a fifth of America's nearly 500 billionaires have signed up, pledging to donate the majority of their fortunes to charity.

A New York Times analysis of the pledge letters made public shows that more than 40 percent of the signers plan to finance studies in science, health and the environment. With personal fortunes in excess of $250 billion, they are promising, at a minimum, to donate more than $125 billion. How much is destined for science is unclear, but several laid out objectives that are fairly extraordinary.

"We want to eradicate diabetes in our lifetime," wrote Harold Hamm, a leading figure in the North Dakota oil rush, and his wife, Sue Ann.

Jon M. Huntsman, a Utah billionaire whose son Jon Jr. unsuccessfully sought the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, said his philanthropy would "make sure cancer is vanquished."

Admirers of the new patrons - and the patrons themselves - say that, over the decades, the surge in donations will probably result in economic growth that helps the United States fend off global challengers. The private gifts, they emphasize, will become especially important if Washington funding continues its downward spiral.

Shortly before he died, Mitchell, the telescope man, spoke of his concern that American science was already losing its competitive edge. He cited the discovery of the Higgs boson, a subatomic particle seen as imparting mass to the universe. The finding was made at a particle accelerator in Europe after tight budgets shut down a rival machine near Chicago.

"We have no excuse, for losing the lead," Mitchell said. "We need to fix it."

Saturday, March 15, 2014

California Hits New Solar Power Record

California set a new record for solar power generation earlier this month and nearly doubled its solar production in less than a year.
The California Independent System Operator (Cal ISO) announced that the state hit a record of 3,926 megawatts on March 7. The next day, it broke that record and surpassed 4 gigawatts with 4,093 MW of solar power generation. The current record is nearly double the peak production of June 2013.
“This shows that California is making remarkable progress in not only getting new resources approved and connected to the grid, but making meaningful contributions in keeping the lights on as well,” Steve Berberich, president and CEO of Cal ISO, said in a statement [PDF].
California’s total installed solar capacity is just over 5.2 GW. The state also has nearly 5.9 GW of wind resources. All renewable power, including geothermal, make up about 15 GW of Cal ISO’s generation mix. The state’s demand in early March was around 28 GW. The state has a goal of 33 percent renewable energy by 2020.
Solar is growing at a rapid pace, and not just in California. In 2013, it was the second-largest source of new generating capacity after natural gas. The price of solar also continued to fall, according to research from the Solar Energy Industries Association and GTM Research. In the fourth quarter of 2013 alone, the United States installed more than 2 GW—nearly half of the year’s total.
The large increase in California is due to large, utility-scale solar plants coming online, and does not include rooftop solar. According toSolarServer, most of the record solar production was from utility-scale photovoltaic with the rest coming from concentrated solar power (CSP). Ivanpah, the world’s largest operating CSP plant, synced to California’s gridlast fall.
Outside of California, North Carolina, Massachusetts, and Georgia more than doubled their total solar capacity from 2012 to 2013. Overall, the U.S. solar market grew 41 percent in 2013, with California installing more than half of that capacity.