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The Brief: Oct. 27, 2015

A new World Health Organization study that categorizes red and processed meats as potential carcinogens has drawn a critic in Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller.

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The Big Conversation

A new World Health Organization study that categorizes red and processed meats as potential carcinogens has drawn a critic in Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller.

Miller on Monday dismissed the WHO study as "another example of politicized science that is not grounded in reality," as reported by the Tribune's Jordan Rudner. Also critical of the study is the Texas Farm Bureau.  A spokesman for the group told Rudner that it was "absurd" to compare red meat to the carcinogenic qualities of tobacco and asbestos.

That these two would stand up for the safety of beef is understandable. Rudner noted that Texas is the country's top beef exporter, which generates more than $800 million in revenue.

The Atlantic's Ed Yong wrote on Monday that a large part of the problem lay in the way in which the WHO presented its findings, which invite misinterpretation by news organizations.

Processed meats like bacon and sausage were included in the highest risk category, or Group 1, which encompasses "established carcinogens."

That designation, Yong wrote, "means that we can be fairly sure that the things here have the potential to cause cancer. But the stark language, with no mention of risks or odds or any remotely conditional, invites people to assume that if they specifically partake of, say, smoking or processed meat, they will definitely get cancer ... Perhaps we need a separate classification scheme for scientific organizations that are 'confusogenic to humans.'"

Trib Must Reads

In Houston Mayoral Race, A Scrum for a Runoff Berthby Patrick Svitek –  With the Houston mayoral election a week away, attention is centering on which candidate will square off in an all-but-certain runoff with state Rep. Sylvester Turner. 

"Bernie"' Back in Court Tuesday for Carthage Murder, by Johnathan Silver – As the 19th anniversary of Marjorie Nugent's murder looms, her killer, Bernhardt "Bernie" Tiede II, returns to an East Texas courtroom Tuesday as attorneys spar in advance of a new sentencing hearing. 

Court to Decide if Autopsy Counts as Health Care, by Edgar Walters – After a mysterious hospital death in Katy more than a decade ago, the Texas Supreme Court seeks to answer a deceptively simple legal question: Should an autopsy be considered medical care?

UT to Supreme Court: We Need Affirmative Action, by Matthew Watkins – In an effort to defend its use of affirmative action, the University of Texas at Austin argued to the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday that it needs to consider race in admissions if it wants a diverse, representative student body

U.S. House Gives Life Support to Export-Import Bank, by Abby Livingston – Targeted for institutional death by conservatives, including many Texans, the U.S. Export-Import Bank gained a small measure of hope on Monday when the U.S House took the first step toward reauthorizing it. 

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The Day Ahead

•    Gov. Greg Abbott will attend and speak at a benefit for victims of the recent Bastrop County fires. The event, hosted by state Rep. John Cyrier, R-Lockhart, will take place at the Southside Market and BBQ in Bastrop at 6 p.m. Proceeds will go to the Bastrop County Long Term Recovery Team.

Elsewhere

Cruz’s Fundraising Strength: Network of Wealthy Donors, The Washington Post 

Jeb Bush embraces famous family for donors, CNN

With Paul Ryan on the rise, Kevin Brady moves to fill in behind, Houston Chronicle

FDA agrees to hear from Texas, Arizona on seized drugs, The Associated Press

San Antonio judge appointed to handle suit to remove Dallas DA Susan Hawk, The Dallas Morning-News

Regents, legislature have final say over campus carryHouston Chronicle

Texas school finance ruling could come any day now, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Cases based on discredited bite-mark evidence will be tough to find, The Dallas Morning-News

Pediatricians urge increase in smoking age to 21Houston Chronicle

Quote to Note

“It’s very fashionable to attack beef these days.”

Gene Hall, a spokesman for the Texas Farm Bureau, on the World Health Organization's study that finds red meat “probably” carcinogenic to humans. Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller said the study is "another example of politicized science that is not grounded in reality." 

Today in TribTalk 

Eliminating roadblocks to improving educator preparation in Texas, by Jim P. Van Overschelde — Educator preparation programs are working diligently to address an impending teacher shortage in Texas by preparing high-quality educators, but roadblocks at the state and federal levels are stymieing progress.

News From Home

If you missed it the first time, be sure to check out Starstruck, the Trib’s first fully immersive multimedia experience. It combines breathtaking timelapse video, sweeping photography and take-you-there audio — and represents a seismic shift in telling a story, this one of Texas once again becoming the center of an emerging space industry.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A Conversation with Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht on Oct. 29 in Austin

•    A discussion about Public Education: The Next Five Years on Nov. 13 at the University of Texas at El Paso. 

•    A daylong higher education symposium on Nov. 16 at Baylor University in Waco. 

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