07 30 2016
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  • Russian hackers likely responsible for hacking attack on Clinton HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Giddy if exhausted, Hillary Clinton embarked on a post-convention Rust Belt bus tour just hours after becoming the first female presidential nominee of a major political party. The celebratory mood quickly evaporated amid fresh revelations that hackers had breached a program used by her campaign and Republican nominee Donald Trump promised to sharpen his barbs. "Remember this," Trump said during a rally Friday in Colorado Springs, Colorado. "Trump is going to be no more Mr. Nice Guy." And for the first time he encouraged his supporters' anti-Clinton chants of "lock her up." "I've been saying let's just beat her on Nov. 8," Trump said, "but you know what? I'm starting to agree with you." About an hour later, Clinton aides acknowledged that a hacking attack that exposed Democratic Party emails also reached into a computer system used by her own campaign. The FBI said it was working to determine the "accuracy, nature and scope" of the cyberattacks. Campaign spokesman Nick Merrill said the newly disclosed breach affected a Democratic National Committee data analytics program used by the campaign and other organizations. Outside experts found no evidence that the campaign's "internal systems have been compromised," Merrill said, but he gave no details on the program or nature of the attacks. Partnerships with modern e-commerce companies can allow sophisticated tracking, categorization and identification of website visitors and voters. President Barack Obama and cybersecurity experts have said Russia was almost certainly responsible for the DNC hack. The House Democratic campaign committee reported Friday that its information had been accessed. The developments followed the leaking of DNC emails earlier in the week that pointed to a pro-Clinton bias by party officials during her primary contest against Bernie Sanders. In the furor that followed, party chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz resigned just as Democrats launched their convention. Clinton and her running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, will attempt to return attention to their positive economic message on Saturday, with campaign stops through economically struggling areas of Pennsylvania and Ohio. "When we take that oath of office next January, we know we can make life better. We know we can create more good jobs," she told voters gathered at an outside market in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Clinton cited an economic analysis by economist Mark Zandi, a former economic adviser to 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain, that found more than 10 million jobs could be created in her first term if her economic proposals were put in place. Zandi's analysis of Trump's plans found they would cost the country 3.5 million jobs and lead to a "lengthy recession." Joined on the bus tour by her husband, Bill Clinton, Kaine and his wife, Anne Holton, Clinton stopped at a toy and plastics manufacturer in Hatfield, Pennsylvania, where she and Kaine cast Trump as a con artist out for his own gain. "We don't resent success in America but we do resent people who take advantage of others in order to line their own pockets," Clinton said. Trump is also focusing on Ohio and Pennsylvania, two states where he might make headway with blue-collar white men. That group of voters has eluded Clinton and may be a hard sell after a Democratic convention that heavily celebrated racial and gender diversity. Clinton is playing up economic opportunity, diversity and national security. Democrats hammered home those themes this week with an array of politicians, celebrities, gun-violence victims, law enforcement officers and activists of all races and sexual orientation. Their goal is to turn out the coalition of minority, female and young voters that twice elected Obama while offsetting expected losses among the white men drawn to Trump's message. Democrats continued contrasting their optimistic message with the more troubled vision of the state of the nation presented by Trump and others at the GOP convention a week earlier. Kaine called the "very dark and negative" event a "journey through Donald Trump's mind." "That's a very frightening place," he told thousands of supporters in Philadelphia. Clinton told voters that they faced a "stark choice," calling the coming election the most important one in her lifetime. "This is a moment of reckoning for our country. I don't recognize the country that Donald Trump describes," she said.___Lemire reported from Colorado Springs, Colorado. Associated Press writer Eric Tucker in Washington contributed to this report.
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  • SEATTLE (AP) — Genetically modified wheat not approved for sale or commercial production in the United States has been found growing in a field in Washington state, agriculture officials said Friday, posing a possible risk to trade with countries concerned about engineered food. The Food and Drug Administration says genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are safe and little scientific concern exists about the safety of those on the market. But critics say not enough is known about their risks, and they want GMOs labeled so people know what's in their food. Several Asian countries temporarily banned U.S. wheat imports after genetically modified wheat was found unexpectedly in a field on an Oregon farm in 2013. It also popped up in a field at a university research center in Montana in 2014. It wasn't immediately clear how altered wheat cropped up in Washington. But the U.S. Agriculture Department said there is no evidence it has entered the market. If it did, the FDA concluded that "it is unlikely that the wheat would present any safety concerns if present in the food supply," the department said. A farmer discovered 22 plants in an unplanted field, and the wheat was developed to be resistant to the herbicide known as Roundup, created by seed giant Monsanto, the USDA said. An agency spokeswoman did not know where in the state it was found. Federal officials said they were working with the farmer to ensure that none of the modified wheat is sold. Out of caution, the agency said it is holding and testing the farmer's full wheat harvest, but so far it has not found GMOs. The plants are a type of wheat that had been evaluated in limited field trials in the Pacific Northwest from 1998 to 2001 but never commercialized, Monsanto said in a statement. It said the type found in Washington state is similar to the one discovered in Oregon three years ago; it has the same inserted DNA but in a different location. No variety of genetically engineered wheat has been approved for commercial use or production in the U.S. GMOs are plants or animals that have had genes copied from other plants or animals inserted into their DNA. Most genetically engineered crops are corn and soybeans eaten by livestock or made into popular processed food ingredients like cornstarch, soybean oil or high fructose corn syrup. Only a handful of modified fruits and vegetables are available, including Hawaiian papaya, some zucchini and squash and a small percentage of sweet corn. The FDA also has approved for consumption a genetically engineered salmon that would grow faster than traditional salmon, but it's not yet available in grocery stores. South Korea said Friday that it will inspect U.S. wheat imports for genetically modified wheat, the Yonhap News Agency reported. The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety said it has asked the USDA for information on the unapproved wheat and inspection methods. The USDA said it has validated a test that Monsanto developed for the herbicide-resistant wheat, which would be available to trading partners. "Trading partners will get the tests. I believe that once they have those in place, they'll continue buying," said Glen Squires, CEO of the Washington Grain Commission, a state agency that represents wheat farmers. "We don't anticipate any major disruptions." The USDA also said it has beefed up oversight of genetically engineered field trials and now requires developers to apply for a permit for those involving GMO wheat starting this year. In 2014, genetically modified wheat plants were found at a university research center in Huntley, Montana, where it was legally tested by Monsanto in the early 2000s. The plants in eastern Oregon were found in a field that had never conducted such tests, and the USDA closed its investigation two years ago unable to determine how the wheat got there. Different strains were found in each state. The Washington Association of Wheat Growers and the Washington State Agriculture Department referred questions to federal authorities.
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  • Six current or former state employees were charged Friday with misconduct and other crimes in the Flint water crisis 
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  • Hillary Clinton cast herself as a unifier for divided times, an experienced leader steeled for a volatile world 
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Hip-hop is a global cultural phenomenon that continues to evolve in many different music and art forms, languages, dialects, and creative formats throughout the world.  As we look back over the last 30 years or more, it is important to understand that hip-hop continues to help shape the consciousness and aspirational values of hundreds of millions of young people.  In fact, I would strongly posit that hip-hop as a transcendent and transformative cultural force has helped to irreversibly change the world into a better place. 

Young people today in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Europe, South America, the Caribbean and yes here in North America are less patient with poverty, injustice and the status quo.  They want change not only in their poetry and lyrics, but also young people yearn and cry out for a better quality of life now in their lifetime.  They are demanding change, and young people today are making change a socioeconomic and political reality.  Just two years ago, it was here in the United States that young voters made the critical difference in the outcome of the election of President Barack H. Obama.  No one should ever ignore or forget the fact that it was the unprecedented youth voter turnout in 2008 in North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and in Ohio as well as in the other "swing states" that helped to bring current "political change" to America.  Millions of young voters registered and went to the polls for the first or second time in their lives.

Last week marked the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network (HSAN).   For three days, June 12-14, 2001, inside the New York City Hilton, hip-hop artists from every region of the nation, managers, promoters, recording industry executives, media publishers, civil rights and community leaders, grassroots activists, academic and spiritual leaders, and members of the U.S. Congress all gathered together to participate in the pivotal and historic summit meeting under the theme of "Taking back responsibility." 

As a result of the success of the summit, Russell Simmons and I co-founded the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network to harness the cultural relevance of hip-hop music to serve as a catalyst for education advocacy and other socioeconomic and political concerns fundamental to the empowerment of youth.  In other words, HSAN was founded to carry out and to fulfill the commitments made at the 2001 summit and to organize and mobilize the growing hip-hop constituency to be agents and leaders for fundamental change in our communities across America.  It has been a decade of unstoppable struggle and progress.  From 2001 to 2010, HSAN has sponsored more than 75 Hip-Hop Summits in cities in the states of New York, California, Texas, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Louisiana, New Jersey, Washington, D.C., Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Missouri, Kansas, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Mississippi.  We also convened Hip-Hop Summits in Toronto, Canada; Kinston, Jamaica; and in Johannesburg, South Africa. HSAN continues to be a non-profit, non-partisan international coalition of hip-hop artists, entertainment industry leaders, education advocates, civil and human rights proponents, and youth leaders united in the belief that hip-hop is an enormously influential agent for social change which must be responsibly and proactively utilized to fight the war on poverty and injustice.

From Jay Z to Eminem, from Naz to Erykah-Badu, from Beyonce to Master P, from Snoop Dog to Busta Rhymes, from Will Smith to Kanye West, from Dougie Fresh to Foxy Brown, from Jim Jones to Julez Santana, from Chris Brown to Fat Joe, from Tego Calderon to Don Omar, and from Missy Elliot to TI along with more than 300 other artists all of whom gave of their time, energy, money and support to help HSAN make a positive difference.  Whether it was "Get Your Vote Right" to "Get Your Money Right" to "Get Your House Right," or successfully challenging the repressive Rockefeller Drug Laws or rallying to restore $300 million to the NYC public school budget, the hip-hop community always rose to the agenda with direct action and support.

But the best way to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Hip-Hop Summit Network is to continue to raise more awareness and involvement of young people in every state in the U.S. and in every nation in the global community to demand more "progressive" change.  There are strong winds of repression now blowing from those who want to deny the future advancement of humanity.  2012 is fast approaching in the United States and the Tea Party is gearing up to take America backward.  HSAN along with the Hip-Hop Caucus and other organizations will have to mobilize once again.  The Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Republican National Committee should both be challenged to ensure a large youth voter turnout in 2012.   If we have learned anything during the past 10 years, it is that all of us should be willing to give more and do more to insure freedom, justice, equality, and empowerment for all.

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. is Senior Advisor for the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) and President of Education Online Services Corporation.

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