What you missed in politics this week: Nov. 1
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    The Beef with Beef

    What’s the news?

    The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently released a study stating that eating processed meats (such as the bacon served at the dining halls every morning) raises the risk of colon cancer. The study found that consuming other red meats could probably heighten risk factors as well.

    Should we all become vegetarians then?

    It’s a personal decision, although the statistics can be frightening. The WHO emphasizes that red meats do not contain the same level of carcinogens as tobacco or alcohol, and does not have to be completely eradicated from the public’s diet. However, the study also finds that every serving of red meat raises cancer risk by 1.1-1.2 percent. To put that into perspective, it’s estimated to contribute to about 34,000 deaths each year worldwide.

    How are health and food organizations reacting?

    These results support the claims of many organizations to try to convince the public to eat healthier. Our federal government’s dietary guidelines advisory committee has discouraged the consumption of red and processed meat for a long time. The American Cancer Society emphasizes choosing fish, poultry or beans instead of these possibly carcinogenic foods, and to smaller portion sizes and cuts if red meat is eaten. However, groups like the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association are still skeptical and questioning this result. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (which advised the WHO on this study) was apparently very divided in this decision, whereas decisions are usually a consensus or unanimous.

    How will this ruling affect our diets here at NU?

    Sydney Doe, a senior in Weinberg and member of NU Veg Society, shared an initiative the NU Veg Society is putting forth: Meatless Mondays. Sydney explained, “It's super easy – just cut meat out of your diet one day a week. It's good for the animals, the environment, and your health!” Similarly, Miranda Cawley, senior in Medill and member of NU Real Food, states, “This new information about the health of red and processed meats should be welcomed, as it provides extra information that can help influence an individual’s choices against the powerful meat lobby.”

    “Ryan” to the Occasion

    What’s the news?

    Representative Paul Ryan was elected Speaker of the House, receiving 236 votes in the House of Representatives. He will succeed John Boehner, who has served as Speaker since January 2011, and at 45, he'll be the youngest speaker of the house in 146 years. 

    Ryan, as in Romney/Ryan 2012?

    That's the one. Paul Ryan is perhaps most well known as Mitt Romney’s running mate in the 2012 election. Although he didn’t become VP, Ryan has continued to make a name for himself in Congress, serving the people of Wisconsin as a member of the House of Representatives. Most recently, he served as Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, an important committee that covers taxes, Social Security and Medicare, amongst other issues.

    What changes will he bring to the House?

    Other House representatives believe Ryan will bring a sense of vision to the position, combined with the necessary leadership skills. “We’ll have a mixture of Newt Gingrich and John Boehner,” Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said in a Washington Post article. “Gingrich was a very good communicator, a big idea guy. John Boehner really fixed the institution, brought integrity to it”.

    How will this affect me?

    As the newly appointed speaker, Ryan will now have more power in setting the legislative agenda for the House of Representatives, including college loans.  Ryan’s proposed federal budget in 2013 would make it harder to receive a Pell Grant and would also double the interest rate for Stafford loans rate from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. Student loans were also addressed in Ryan’s 2015 budget proposal, including a cap on Pell Grant amounts, without accounting for future inflation.


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