07 30 2016
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The Wake of Vanport
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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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EDITOR'S NOTE: Mexican voters went to the polls for their national election on Sunday, July 1, and by Sunday night, Mexico's IFE (Federal Electoral institute) had declared a winner: Enrique Peña Nieto of the PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party), the party that ruled Mexico for 71 years, from 1929 to 2000.

New America Media editor Jacob Simas spoke to author Richard Rodriguez about the election result, and what it can tell us about Mexico today.

Jacob Simas: Mexicans have voted the PRI back into power, and it just feels a bit like someone making amends with an abusive spouse.

Richard Rodriguez: The PRI is a remarkable Mexican invention. The Institutional Revolutionary Party -- already in its title, it suggests a compromise. Life is a compromise between change and stability, between corruption and optimism. I think that what a lot of people in Mexico are feeling right now, at a time, curiously enough, of some economic stability -- Mexico is growing, even faster than its rival Brazil -- is uncertainty of the future. The United States is an unreliable neighbor, even a dangerous neighbor, with this enormous, unsatisfied drug habit. And in relationship to the US, I think that Mexicans are feeling alone -- needing to look elsewhere for the future, but needing the reassurance of the past.

America is a very good country, but it's also a deeply hypocritical country: We always tend to blame other people for our sins, as we do now. We blame Mexico, Mexican drug gangs, Mexico's cynicism, for our drug habit. Never realizing, of course, that our own drug habit has overturned Mexico, as it did Colombia, Afghanistan, Thailand, Bolivia... Mexico, by comparison, is a very cynical country. It has always been formed by a deeply Catholic notion of original sin; that is, that people fail. This is the generosity of Mexico -- it tolerates the failure of human beings. People get drunk; people spend too much money; people stagger along through life; which is why, whenever the gringos wanted to sin, Mexico always was willing to build border towns to satisfy the gringo appetite.

But the problem with cynicism of course, is that you suddenly get into a reformist mood, like the previous PAN party did, thinking, "We're going to clean out the corruption of Mexico." You can't do that without realizing that the army and the police force that is going to help you clean out the corruption, is itself corrupted. So the violence of the last few years that Mexicans have faced, has really been a violence of it's own making. And I think Mexicans were horrified by the extent of the violence, which has now moved into areas quite beyond the drug trade -- like the kidnapping of people of all ages in Mexico, even across all economic levels.

I think Mexico wanted to go back to an earlier economic arrangement that it had, with evil. The PRI has worked out this agreement: We will shake hands with evil, we will allow evil into the society, as long as we also have agreements with evil. Rather like the mafia. You won't shoot at grandmothers, you won't kidnap kids and so forth; that there are rules that also bind evil from getting out of control. And in some sense, that's what I feel Mexico is interested in now. Shaking hands with evil, in order to control evil, and putting away this PANista dream of controlling evil, because Mexico has neither the police force to do it, or now even the will to continue doing it. Americans say that the drug deaths are a Mexican problem. Now, Mexicans are more or less saying that drug trafficking, the drug scandal, is an American problem. Let the Americans deal with it. Let the traffic flow north, if that's where the traffic is going to grow. But don't let Mexico die, to satisfy the appetite of Americans.

JS: This all begs the question, is there any going back? Or have the horrors of the last several years taken Mexico past the point of no return?

RR: That's a very good question, because the strength of the drug cartels now is such that in many ways, they are more powerful than the governors in the states where they operate. And it may be too late to shake hands with the devil.

What Mexico is also interested in right now is, in some sense, a fantasy. And this couple, this glamorous couple that was created by the fantasy machines of Televisa, which is a brilliant enterprise -- feeding a brown country these light shades of brown and even blonde erotic fantasies, now giving Mexico its dashing Latin lover (Enrique Peña Nieto), and his lover, the telenovela queen (Peña's wife, Angelica Rivera) -- it suggests in some way that Mexico wants to dissolve into its own fantasy. And that's worrisome, when a country, at a moment of some seriousness, wants to retreat that far. But is it any different, I wonder, than Americans voting for Ronald Reagan because they saw him in a movie? Are we not equally, as Americans, inclined these days toward fantasy solutions?

What's shocking to me about Mexico is just the manipulation of images by these corporate enterprises, Azteca and Televisa in particular, at a time when the country really is testing both, mainly through digital media. It's a possibility to remake the image of Mexico, and the young are increasingly dissatisfied with the fantasies that come down from Televisa. So in some ways, that's the more interesting struggle that's going on in Mexico. Will Facebook be the challenge to Televisa? Will Twitter be the challenge to Televisa? And what is the ultimate face that Mexico wants to see itself as, if not this agreeable face of the pretty white president?

JS: It could very well be the face of a narco traficante, a drug trafficker.

RR: Yes, indeed -- who doesn't have a face, because he's headless on the side of a freeway. Or, sometimes these guys - particularly the sons of these gangsters - end up in their Armani sports jackets, looking very dapper and not at all like the monster, but like corporate executives. The triumph of capitalism has always been its ability to take criminal money and wash it. Some of the great American fortunes of the nineteenth century began as criminal enterprises, and then after several generations they become sanctified, by education and beautiful wives, and they become the old families of America. Maybe in some sense, the face of the Mexican drug lord will be, in two or three generations, a pretty boy who has a Harvard degree, who plays tennis in France.

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