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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The 2012 Democratic National Convention was an exuberant celebration of President Obama, his accomplishments, and the many ways his presidency has made us better off than we were four years ago.  Between a stirring and incandescent speech by First Lady Michelle Obama, and an impassioned charge by former President Bill Clinton, the delegates were roused and the pressure was high for President Obama to deliver an inspiring charge to those who have already spend hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars to participate in the convention.

Truly, he delivered with a tone that was alternately exuberant, defiant, humorous, and apologetic. Most importantly, he spoke of our country as being at a fork in the road, with choices to be made.  Forward with Obama, backward with Romney.  He challenged the delegates to move forward and embrace his accomplishments. Spirits were certainly high as thousands of delegates left the Time Warner Cable Arena chanting, "Fired up, ready to go."

Why are political conventions held, anyway?  Some are convinced they could've easily collapsed their three or four day schedule to just one or two days, because they are so scripted. Yet, one or two days might not be enough to engender the excitement that was present on Thursday night – the chanting, the hugging, the notion that, despite significant challenges, hard work will bring Democrats a victory in November.  The convention is a tool to bring delegates, who are local leaders, into focused campaign activity. The convention is a tool to get the delegates out to organize and mobilize people.

After the euphoria, though, reality sets in.  In other words, on Friday morning, the reality of unemployment rates sets in.  While the unemployment rate dropped just a bit, from 8.3 to 8.1 percent, the level of job creation does not meet expectations.  In other words, with only 96,000 jobs created, the Republicans have hay to make about the employment situation.  On the other hand, Democrats can clearly say that that President Obama's policies are holding the line, and that absent cooperation on the American Jobs Act, our president is doing the best that he or anyone else can do.

Is holding the line good enough?  The African American unemployment rate is 14.1 percent.  With the underutilization index, Black unemployment rates were nearly 26 percent, which means that one in four African Americans do not have work.  Some say this is an underestimate.  There are 5 million people who are part of the long term unemployed, people who were out of work for half a year or more.  These folks represent 40 percent of the unemployed.  The data can be spun either way.  Not enough?  Holding the line?  Failure?  On the road to progress?

As much as I was fired up by President Obama's speech, and the ones that preceded it, I also listened to it through the lens of Leroy, the brother who has been unemployed, or even out of the labor force, for half a year or more.  Leroy listened, and Leroy applauded, and maybe Leroy even agreed that we are at a fork in the road.  But when Leroy is asked if he is better off than he was four years ago, he is only thinking about his unemployment.  He is thinking that he can't pay his rent.  He is thinking that he is worse off, and a great speech won't make him feel better.

The Democratic challenge is to meet Leroy where he lives, to explain to him that his job prospects might be even more restricted under a Romney-Ryan administration than an Obama one.  The challenge is to move Leroy past his angst and indifference to the same enthusiasm that delegates felt on Thursday night.  The speeches are over and the work now begins.   Speeches won't bring electoral victory.  A solid ground operation and lots of elbow grease will.

After the speech, as people filed out of the Time Warner Cable Arena, I spent some time with the Pacifica team from Los Angeles, Margaret Prescod, Davey D, and others.   Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Ralph Nader, and I talked about the speech and next steps.  Nader is most critical, indicating that President Obama spoke neither of poverty nor increasing the minimum wage.  While he is right, one wonders if, at a fork in the road, these are appropriate criticisms.  Nader is a critic of the two-party political system, but that's all we have now, so we have to work it.

When President Obama wins this election, there will be more euphoria, which is a good thing.  Then, reality must set in, with advocacy for the poor, as well as the middle class, with revisions to the tax code that eliminate corporate welfare, and with a greater commitment to quality education.  From my perspective, too many people enjoy the euphoria and avoid the work.

 

Julianne Malveaux is a Washington, D.C.-based economist and writer.  She is President Emerita of Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, N.C..

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