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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When she heard about President Obama's announcement about offering temporary immigration relief to undocumented immigrant youth who came to the United States as children and were educated here, Judy Mendez, 29, thought it was too good to be true.

"Maybe I can finally go home," she said.

Mendez grew up in the United States, attended elementary school and high school in Texas, and delivered twins there. She now lives in Tijuana, Mexico, where she moved "temporarily" in order to apply for legal status in the United States. That was over five years ago. She thought she was doing the right thing.

As it turns out, she wasn't.

According to the official criteria published by USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services), people must presently live in the United States to qualify for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which offers a two-year "deferral" of deportation for people who came to the country when they were under 16. While it does not provide a path to citizenship or residency, the policy will grant temporary employment authorization. But since Mendez already left the country, she is ineligible.

When Obama first announced this policy, he explained, "These are young people who studied in our schools. They play in our neighborhoods. They're friends with our kids. They pledge allegiance to our flag. They're Americans in their heart, in their minds, in every single way, but one: on paper."

The Justice Policy Institute estimates that approximately 936,930 young immigrants in the United States may qualify. But based on the criteria recently released by USCIS, many who came here as children, went to school here, and are essentially American would be excluded. Anyone who has ever been convicted of a felony and, in some cases, a misdemeanor – is excluded. Even a misdemeanor DUI will disqualify people from the program. Any misdemeanor sentenced by 90 days or more in jail also triggers ineligibility, including a conviction for simple drug possession or shoplifting.

Department of Homeland Security says that it has not determined whether it will treat juvenile court cases as convictions. According to the official policy, records from juvenile court "will be assessed on a case-by-case basis." According to the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, "DHS has not shown much leniency against youth with juvenile delinquency histories" in the past.

Many of the young people excluded by the policy have strong ties to the United States, including American citizen family members.

Griselda Ramos, a 29-year-old mother of three American citizen children, whose parents and six siblings are all U.S. citizens, was brought here when she was 5 years old. Once she came, she never left. All of her childhood memories are from the United States. She grew up here, went to school here, and started a family here.

"I was a legal permanent resident," Ramos explained, "I passed my [citizenship] test and everything." But she never became a citizen.

"When I passed my test and everything, they sent me to an immigration court with a judge because I had a domestic violence charge," Ramos said, during a recent interview in Tijuana, Mexico, where she has been for the past three months.

"He was hitting me, so I was defending myself," she said, adding that she was five months pregnant at the time.  "I did have bruises." But, she explained, she pled guilty to get out of jail, and she thought that would be the end of it.

Instead of becoming a citizen, Ramos was deported almost a year ago. She hasn't seen her children – ages 2, 4, and 7 – since.

"Every time I talk to them, they want me back," she said. They are living with her mother in Colorado. She doesn't want to bring them to Mexico, because she can't support them financially. "I'm not even stable, I don't have money, I don't have a place, nothing," she said. Plus, she worries that they won't get the services they need, especially because her two oldest have special needs. "One receives SSI," she explained, because of developmental delays, and "the other one receives therapy with a psychologist."

On the other hand, she said she feels torn because her kids need her. She's looked into the possibility of returning to the United States. "I have to wait here for 20 years before I can apply for the waiver," Ramos said. "And it all depends if they want to accept my application." By the time she's eligible for re-entry into the United States, her children will be adults.

"Every time I walk on the beach and I see the border I just want to jump over there," she said sadly. Desperate to reunite with her children, she has already tried twice. Both times, she was caught. U.S. Customs and Border Patrol apprehended 340,252 attempting to enter the country without permission last year, including 286,154 along the Mexican border.

For many like Ramos, surviving in Mexico without any relatives or family is challenging.

"When I first got in to TJ, I was in shock," she recalled. "Especially seeing the mountains with houses, and all the people outside." Unable to find work since she doesn't have a Mexican birth certificate, she's caught in perpetual limbo. "My mom told me, 'You don't exist in Mexico,'" she said.

Photo credit: Erin Siegal/ Redux Pictures

This story was produced with support from a Soros Justice Media Fellowship.

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