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Outside the Circle News

USDA to offer ‘mystery meat’ alternative

On March 24, 44 public schools found their ground beef products labeled “do not use.” The product, dubbed “pink slime,” is a blend of ammonia-treated cow pieces. The cow product has also been found in some varieties of beef sold at Kroger, Safeway, and Stop & Shop grocery stores. The stores have said that they will discontinue selling the beef product, which came from the United States Department of Agriculture’s school lunch program.

Fast food chains such as McDonald’s have also said they would stop using the “lean texturized beef.” In response to an outcry on March 15, in which thousands of people signed online petitions, the Agriculture Department announced that it would offer another beef option. Many schools are planning to utilize the alternative. According to The New York Times, Miami-Dade school district, which is one of the largest in the nation, said it would pay the extra money to get the non-slime option.

Some school districts are eliminating beef products all together. Michael Peck, the director of food and nutrition services for the Boston schools, said they are holding 70,000 pounds of beef in a warehouse until they can determine its contents. The cost of the beef was over $500,000. The primary concern is the use of ammonia hydroxide to kill bacteria in the product.


Hong Kong elects new leader

Leung Chun-ying, age 57, was the victor in Hong Kong’s political race on March 25. His first act of business was to allay the public’s fears that he would restrict civil liberties in Hong Kong or hinder its progress toward democracy. On Sunday, over 1000 pro-democracy protestors attempted to enter the convention center where people were voting. Police were forced to use pepper spray on some of the protestors.

Leung won 689 of the 1132 votes. His five-year term will begin July 1 with the promise that he will protect the values of freedom of the press and assembly. He also promised to give Hong Kong access to better housing, education, and medical care.

Henry Tang, Leung’s opponent, voiced concern regarding Leung’s commitment to political debate and public participation in the selection of the territory’s leaders. However, Tang’s campaign lost popularity after he acknowledged that he was unfaithful to his wife and that he built a basement in his home without proper permits.

Leader of prominent cancer foundation to step down

Nancy G. Brinker, the founder and chief executive of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, has been called to resign. Dara P. Richardson-Heron, the chief executive of Komen’s Greater New York City affiliate, said that this past Tuesday, March 20, Brinker made the decision to step down.

The resignation would be effective starting April 27. Brinker began the foundation in 1982 when her sister passed away from breast cancer. Susan G. Komen is now the world’s largest breast cancer charity, with sponsors such as American Airlines, Bank of America, and Yoplait.

Katrina McGhee, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Komen’s national organization, said she also planned on resigning in May for personal reasons. The call for Brinker’s resignation was in reaction to Komen’s decision to withdraw most of its funding to Planned Parenthood for breast cancer screenings. The decision was then reversed and Brinker publically apologized. A few days later, Karen Handel, Komen’s senior vice president for policy, resigned.

In spite of the reversed decision, over 1000 people signed an online petition calling for Brinker’s resignation. Komen’s board, however, stood behind its president. Board member John D. Raffaelli said in a statement, “We have complete confidence in the leadership of this organization, and in Susan G. Komen’s fundamental strength as an organization delivering research, community health programs, global outreach, and advocacy for people facing breast cancer.”

He continued, “I don’t think anybody can question Nancy Brinker’s commitment to finding a cure for breast cancer.”


R.O.T.C. returns to Harvard

On Wednesday, March 21, Harvard University announced it would be opening an office for the Army Reserve Officers Training Corps (R.O.T.C.) on campus. The group was previously banned from multiple universities for four decades because of the Vietnam War. The bans were continued on the grounds that the military continues to discriminate against gay and lesbian troops.

However, since the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy was lifted in 2010, universities including Harvard, Columbia, and Yale have allowed R.O.T.C. back on campus. According to The New York Times on March 21, Drew Gilpin Faust, president of Harvard, said, “This is a welcome step in the long and distinguished history of military service by members of the Harvard community.”

The supplied office space will be used to hold classes and counseling for new recruits. Harvard also plans to make some athletic amenities available for training, and to cover any costs associated with the group.

In previous years, Harvard students who wanted to be involved in R.O.T.C. made the trek to Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Tufts University for their military courses and training. Eighty-eight second lieutenants from Harvard have been commissioned since 1989, including six who are currently serving.


Former vice president receives new heart

Dick Cheney, previous vice president of the United States, received a heart transplant on Saturday, March 24 after occupying a waiting list for 20 months. The 71-year-old has lived through five heart attacks and was fighting heart failure when he received the transplant.

Cheney’s first heart attack occurred in 1978 when he was 37 years old. He underwent quadruple bypass surgery ten years later. In 2010 Cheney was given a left ventricular assist device, or battery-powered heart pump, which is typically a last resort and used as a place-holder until a donor can be found.

The average wait for a heart generally ranges from six months to one year. In 2010, when Cheney’s name went on the list, there were 3153 other hopefuls in line for a heart. The donation arrived at a good time, as physicians generally recommend against operations of this magnitude for individuals over the age of 70. Cheney is currently recovering in the intensive care unit of Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, Va.

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