✔ FC here. Good day fellow Dukies.
Welcome to Fact Checker Too.
Historical note: on this date (April 11) in 2007, North Carolina Attorney General Cooper declared the three Duke lacrosse players "innocent."
✔✔ This is a key week for the Brodhead Administration in its march into China. With the faculty in revolt, we'll be watching to see if there are any moves away from the imperial attitude that has propelled this folly so far, toward full disclosure and respect for the input of all stakeholders.
✔ As if Duke's entry into China weren't enough of a public relations disaster already, there's a big bomb waiting to go off. FC has obtained interviews and documentation -- in exchange for a promise to save it while the story was being considered by a major national newspaper. That paper is very interested. Very. This will not be pretty.
As we continue to snoop, Duke's deal with Wuhan University looks more and more curious. We're told the dialects spoken in Kunshan-Shanghai and Wuhan are so far apart, they are "mutually indecipherable."
And needless to say, Global Vice President Jones has not responded to our question: did he or did he not mean Wuhan University when used the word "weak" in briefing the Academic Council on possible Kunshan partners. By process of elimination, we believe the reference was to Wuhan.
✔✔ Not every international venture is foundering: from King Faisal Hospital, Kigali, Rwanda, word that Duke neurosurgeons performed 10 delicate operations, and taught teams of local doctors and nurses to carry on.
Heavy surgery: brain tumors, spine tumors, spine fractures and malformations. Last fall Duke donated neurosurgical equipment to the hospital, enabling operations with the patient awake. This way, surgeons can watch for responses and lower the risk of damage to functional areas of the brain.
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✔✔ The big news in the Midwest this week is that Seth Petreikis of Dyer, Indiana is being admitted to Duke. No no, not as an undergraduate. He's only 8 months old and it's life or death surgery to give him a new thymus. We are told this gland produces T-cells that ward off infections. Without this, doctors predict he will die by age 2.
Seth has had a rough start: he's already had open heart surgery. And until there was an uproar, the insurance company that runs Medicaid for Indiana refused to pay for the thymus procedure because it is considered experimental.
We believe Seth's doctor -- who has stayed out of the news -- will be Dr. M. Louise Markert, professor of pediatrics and director of the laboratory of thymus transplantation. The only person in the world doing this kind of surgery.
✔ TUMMIES: A newly discovered hybrid gene appears to play a direct role in some stomach cancers. This from researchers at Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School in Singapore, one of their first discoveries.
PR handout: The hybrid gene is a fusion of two separate genes, and is one of the first described in gastric cancer, which is the most lethal malignancy worldwide after lung cancer. The disease kills an estimated 740,000 people a year, including nearly 11,000 annually in the United States.
✔ Scientists at Johns Hopkins and Duke have joined to discover a "switch" in the brain that allows neurons to stop dividing so these cells can migrate toward their final destinations in the brain.
We took that from the press release, because it's way beyond us. We are assured this may be relevant to making early identification of people who go on to develop schizophrenia and other brain disorders.
"This work sheds light on what has been a big black box in neuroscience," said Nicholas Katsanis, Ph.D., co-senior author of the work and Jean and George Brumley Jr., MD, Professor of Developmental Biology, Professor of Pediatrics and Cell Biology. "It helps answer the question of what happens when neurons stop dividing and start moving along to populate the brain."
✔✔ MORE RESEARCH. So what's been happening to the endangered leatherback sea turtle which nests on Florida beaches. In terms of numbers, a Duke led study shows awesome population growth, 10.2 percent every year since 1979. "Very encouraging news," says Larry B. Crowder, director of the Duke Center for Marine Conservation. "It suggests that conservation and recovery efforts mandated under the Endangered Species Act are paying off region-wide."
Well maybe. "Nesting is increasing even where beach protection has not been enhanced. Changing ocean conditions linked to climate variability may be altering the marine food web and creating an environment that favors turtles by reducing the number of predators and increasing the abundance of prey, particularly jellyfish."
✔Turning to albatrosses and other far-ranging species, innumerable seabirds are killed each year after they become entangled in long-line fishing gear. Duke to the rescue: research suggests these casualties can be cut with precise predictions of when and where the boats are likely to cross paths with seabirds.
✔ And now trees. 18 years of study, 27,000 trees, an epidemiological study. Researchers conclude tree growth and fecundity – that means the the ability to produce viable seeds – are more sensitive to climate change than previously believed.
Among the factors, earlier spring warming, summer drought. The genera particularly vulnerable to variations in climate include pinus (pine); ulmus (elm); fagus (beech) and magnolia. "What we've done is an epidemiological study on trees to better understand how and why certain species, or demographics, are sensitive to variation and in what ways," said the study's lead author, James S. Clark, the H.L. Blomquist Professor of Environment and professor of biology and statistics at Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment.
✔✔✔✔ FC told you over the weekend of charges against 36 year old Shawn Michael Flaugher, arrested and charged with a long series of break-ins at doctors offices in and around Cary. Flaugher was the manager of security systems -- alarms and so forth -- for Duke Police. Turns out, he may have stolen on campus too!!!
Duke Police have charged their co-worker with breaking and entering, larceny, safe-cracking, property damage, as well as possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia.
Oh yes, it gets saucier. Flaughter is also charged with 15 counts of third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor -- after cops found kiddie porn on his Duke computer. Vivid kiddie porn.
Flaugher’s targets including the Duke Child and Family Study Center, cutting security alarm wires at the Duke Primary Care Clinic and cracking a safe at the Duke Pain Clinic.
He's gone from Duke, but PR won't say if he was fired or quit.
A Deputy Fact Checker has tried to trace these crimes through the on-line police logs required by the Clery Act and has been frustrated.
✔✔ Tents on the quad. Reunion weekend. We do not yet have a report on President Brodhead's speech to the alumni -- truncated as it was this year. Only one hour was allocated for Brodhead to receive ten checks from anniversary classes and give what used to be billed as a "State of the University Address." This year he had "Issues and Answers," which is markedly different from questions and answers.
The reunion gift-giving totals as posted on the alumni website are anemic at best, with failure to achieve even modest goals that the alumni department set for itself.
Sample: Class of 2006 celebrating its 5th reunion. It was 1,477 strong at graduation, there was a goal of 500 contributions for the reunion, and the latest tally is 344.
Sample two: 20th reunion, size of class not known as the digitalized records do not go back to 1991. Seeking 534 donations, latest total 314.
These totals may be updated, but we caution that we do not know of any outside audit of these numbers.
Warning: many of the highly watched ratings of colleges include alumni participation.
✔ Did you enjoy the jugglers on campus last Friday. $1,000 of student activities money made the excitement possible. Event called Springternational.
Just think... Professor Erwin Chemerinsky was willing to return to Duke for Moot Court, and money for his airfare and two hotel nights was -- in the not too distant past -- denied by the same clowns who voted the $1,000.
Ah but Chemerinsky may be giving Duke another chance. He and Supreme Court Justice Alito (whose son is in Duke Law) are headed for a "debate" in the next academic year. This ought to be good.
Chemerinsky -- the crown jewel of Duke Law -- left to become founding Dean of the University of California at Irvine's law school. That was just before the big budget crunch hit the U of Cal like a buzz saw -- and he's reported to be very frustrated. Someone should dangle a suggestion in front of him.....
✔ The Russians paid for the airfare and everything else to bring 15 student body presidents to Moscow. Mike Lefevre included: "This was, to be sure, a different country from the one taught in high school."
One unexpected highlight: meeting Duke alumnus Arkady Dvorkovich, a key adviser to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
Wait a second, with Arkady advising Dmitry, and alum Reggie Love standing next to President O'Bama, and alum Xiqing Gao reporting directly to the Chinese premier on the nation's overseas investments.... That's a lot of access.
✔ She said no to Duke in 2007, refusing to replace Gail Goestenkors when she left for the head women's basketball coach's job at the University of Texas. But now one-time Duke star and assistant coach Joanne Boyle has said yes to the University of Virginia. What changed her mind about leaving the University of California: the budget crunch, with elimination of five varsity teams and other budgets -- including her own -- slashed.
✔ When Julia Gaffield stumbled across a pamphlet that is the only known printed copy of Haiti's Declaration of Independence, it made world-wide headlines. Well back at the British National Archives in London, working on her doctoral dissertation, Gaffield has found another copy -- this one the size of a poster tucked into a collection of maps to keep it from curling up.
✔ Duke Postal Operations is trying to raise awareness of the importance of including box numbers on all mail. About ten percent arrives without this crucial information. “We simply can't look up the box numbers anymore,” says DPO director Mike Trogdon.
✔ MARKETING Duke sociologist Mark Chaves had a working title for his new book on trends in U.S. religion: "Continuity and Change in American Religion."
Not sexy enough to sell. When editors at Princeton University Press got their hands on the draft, they changed the title: "The Decline of American Religion."
After volleying back and forth with statistics showing church attendance and other traditional measures, Chaves states "The burden of proof has shifted to those who want to claim that American religiosity is not declining."
✔✔ Finally, we rip off the New York Times
"Duke Law Students Give Musical Nod to Nixon"
By ROBBIE BROWN
DURHAM, N.C. — His name is not on any campus buildings. His only portrait is stored in a locked closet. And after his scandal-driven downfall, Richard M. Nixon was so stigmatized here at Duke University — where he earned a law degree — that the faculty rejected a proposal to house his presidential library.
But last week, the Duke community took a small, uncharacteristic step toward embracing its most infamous graduate — by performing a play about him. “Tricky Dick,” a musical written by Duke Law School students and starring a 50-person ensemble of professors, administrators and students, was performed Friday at a sold-out arts center in downtown Durham.
And now organizers want to make the zany, cabaret-style show an annual tradition.
“In the past, you couldn’t touch Nixon with a 10-foot pole at Duke,” said Slavik Gabinsky, a recent Duke law graduate who helped create the play. “But this is as much about poking fun at Nixon as celebrating him.”
The play — in which Mr. Nixon is imagined as a young, ethically challenged Duke law student running for student body president — was first performed last year, but with a smaller cast, different script and little acknowledgment from the Duke administration. After rave reviews from attendees, the organizers won a campus award for best student group.
This year, the play received a $5,000 donation from the Allen & Overy law firm, where Mr. Gabinsky works. And the cast now includes a prominent legal ethics professor and a law school dean.
Duke students these days seem less embarrassed by the disgraced former president than amused by him. While historians and Nixon contemporaries may debate the lingering toll of the Watergate scandal, current Duke students seem simply proud to have had an alumnus elected president — even one who was forced to resign.
“Being born after Nixon’s presidency, we don’t have any hard feelings toward him,” said Justin Becker, the president of the Duke Law School student body.
“Maybe, secretly, we’re all proud he went here,” said Mr. Becker, who directed the play and stars as Nixon.
That was not always the case. On political, ethical and general grounds, Duke refused to grant Mr. Nixon an honorary degree for speaking at graduation in 1954, though most speakers get one. Then in 1981, faculty members vocally opposed a proposal to house his presidential library and papers, fearing it would tarnish the school’s reputation. And for years, Duke has not displayed its only painting of Nixon, out of concern it would be vandalized or stolen.
But on Friday, in anticipation of the play, Duke officials moved the painting into the law library, where students posed with it and flashed Nixon’s trademark V sign. The law school is even considering creating a permanent display about Nixon to accompany the portrait, with a plaque emphasizing the successes of his career, like opening relations with China.
“He looks good,” said Mr. Gabinsky, staring at the painting. “They should let him out more often.”