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Stanford University

Stanford grad continues fight to get off no-fly list

The federal appeals court ruling last week on gay marriage in California overshadowed other potentially big news in the legal community. 

A quieter decision Wednesday by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has enabled Stanford University Ph.D. graduate Rahinah Ibrahim to clear another hurdle in her now years-long battle over the nation’s no-fly list, conceived to stop suspected terrorists from boarding airplanes.

The three-member panel ruled 2-1 that Ibrahim could continue to challenge [PDF] her 2005 detention at San Francisco International Airport, where police placed her in a holding cell for two hours. The ordeal eventually led to her being barred from re-entering the United States, a prohibition that continues today.

She’d arrived at the airport on Jan. 2, 2005, with her daughter and needed wheelchair assistance due to complications from a hysterectomy. The two were headed for Malaysia, where Ibrahim intended to present her doctoral research at a conference sponsored by Stanford.


Instead, officers from the San Francisco Police Department placed her in handcuffs and gave no reason for why she was being held. The government generally does not disclose if or why an individual is on one of its many watch lists. 

“Unspecified persons,” according to court documents, told Ibrahim that her name had been removed from the no-fly list, but someone later told her it was still there. The following day, authorities permitted Ibrahim to leave the country on a new flight to Malaysia.

Filed under: Public Safety, Daily Report


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Stanford doctor in birth control vote had ties to pill's maker

A watchdog group is calling on the Food and Drug Administration to throw out a joint committee's vote in support of a controversial oral contraceptive because four members of the committee – including a Stanford University professor of obstetrics and gynecology – had ties to the maker of the birth control pill that were not disclosed to the public during the meeting.

Two FDA committees met Dec. 8 to discuss the benefits and risks of the oral contraceptives Yaz and Yasmin and related contraceptives containing the drug drospirenone.

The meeting came amid mounting evidence that drospirenone-containing birth control pills, including bestseller Yaz, have a higher risk of causing potentially dangerous blood clots.

The committee discussed and compared the results of 10 epidemiologic studies of women taking oral contraceptives. Ultimately, the members voted [PDF] 15 to 11 that the benefits of drospirenone-containing oral contraceptives outweighed the risks.


But four of the members who cast crucial votes in support of the contraceptives had ties to Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals Inc., the manufacturer of Yaz and Yasmin, according to public documents unearthed by the Project On Government Oversight and detailed in its Jan. 11 letter to the FDA.


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Stanford to reconsider ROTC after 'don't ask' repeal

Before President Obama signed a law repealing the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in December, a number of elite colleges and universities around the country cited the policy as a significant reason for why they opposed having a Reserve Officer Training Corps program on campus.

Now that the policy’s end is near, will we see a rush to reinstate ROTC in the halls of America’s most vaunted educational institutions? Columbia, Harvard and Stanford universities have commissioned committees to consider reinstatement.

At Stanford University, a committee decided to study the ROTC question last spring and has approached the subject with the academic inquiry of a university seminar.

The 10-member committee has read two books and watched a documentary on the mindset of the American soldier, explored archival documents from when Stanford first banned ROTC in the 1960s, and read five dozen letters from students and others in the campus community, according to the Stanford Report.

Committee chair and Psychology Professor Ewart Thomas told the Stanford Report that while “don’t ask, don’t tell” featured prominently in some people’s objections to ROTC on campus, many other arguments have been presented that the committee will consider.

Filed under: Higher Ed, Daily Report


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Hundreds of California doctors, universities receive Pfizer pay

Several doctors affiliated with university medical centers in California received compensation from pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. in the last six months of 2009 for research, consulting, speaking engagements and other expenses, according to a list disclosed by the company earlier this month.

Academic medical centers also received hundreds of thousands of dollars for clinical trials during the same period. The University of California regents alone got more than half a million dollars in compensation from Pfizer in the six-month span.

Flickr photo by CarbonNYC

Pfizer disclosed the payments on its website as part of an agreement to settle a federal investigation into the illegal promotion of drugs for off-label uses, the New York Times reported.

The company joins Eli Lilly and other companies that have disclosed payments to doctors in recent months. The practice will soon be mandated for all drug- and medical-device companies as part of the new health care legislation. Companies will have to report gifts, entertainment, food, research money and other fees and grants under the new law.

Filed under: Higher Ed, Daily Report


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After 40-year ban, ROTC program may return to Stanford

UPDATE: The Stanford University faculty senate voted this week to form a committee to "investigate Stanford's role in preparing students for leadership in the military, including potential relations with ROTC," a spokeswoman for the university said. The committee would report back to the senate in the next academic year.

Could the days of a 40-year ROTC ban at Stanford University soon be over?

The Faculty Senate will take action today on a report from two professors who argue that bringing the Reserve Officers' Training Corps back to Stanford would be good for the university, students, the military and the nation, according to Stanford's Web site.

The two presenters are William J. Perry, the former U.S. Secretary of Defense from 1994 to 1997, a professor and a senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies; and David Kennedy, a professor emeritus of history.

It's not clear exactly what action the senate might take on the report, but Kennedy hopes the panel will take a step toward reinstating the program – a move that would require plenty of planning and discussion, he said in an e-mail.

During World War II, an estimated 50 percent of undergraduate men at Stanford participated in ROTC. The postwar peak was in 1956, when 1,100 students were officer trainees, according to a 2002 article in Stanford Magazine.

Filed under: Higher Ed, Daily Report
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