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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Map of census tracts shows the communities most at risk from health effects Click on the picture to see a full-size map


Multnomah County Health Department has issued a warning that coal trains could damage health. Low-income people and people of color are most at risk because they are more likely to live near train tracks. 

The health report urges county leaders to seek a regional environmental impact statement on plans to export coal. Released March 1, the report says that advocates shouldn't have to prove coal trains will harm our health. It says coal exporters should be required to prove they won't hurt the public.

How Many People Could Be Affected?

One in nine Multnomah County residents, or about 82,000 people live within 500 meters of the rail tracks that could carry coal, and would experience some of any potential ill effects.

"I stress potential ill effects," says Dr. Gary Oxman, a doctor working for Multnomah County. "Everybody knows that bad stuff comes from working in a coal mine. We have a lot less information on what happens to coal affected communities. Studies from Appalachia and England suggest that there are health impacts  particularly on the respiratory system. But how much happens from train transports is not clear."

The report predicts that people of color, poor families and the elderly would suffer the worst potential health effects, especially those living near train tracks in North Portland and St. Johns.  

That's partly because people of color already suffer higher rates of asthma, lung disease, strokes, heart disease and stress in general. And it's partly because higher numbers of those most vulnerable populations are living in the neighborhoods closest to the railroad lines.


"A wide body of research has found that race and ethnicity are associated with health status -- independent of poverty status—because of stress, access to health care, and other factors," the report says. "The geographic areas of highest concern are located near the tracks by Columbia Boulevard and in North Portland neighborhoods (e.g.,Kenton and St. Johns). Residents in some of these areas of concern are already exposed to relatively high levels of diesel particulate matter from living near major roadways and industrial areas. The social groups of highest concern are: communities of color, children, older adults, and people earning low incomes."

Doctor Says Research is Needed

Oxman says more data is needed, showing how much coal dust is likely to enter the air supply from trains.

"We know coal dust is not good for you," he says. "What we don't know is how far the dust will spread, and whether people will inhale it in enough quantities to impact health."

That mystery could be solved, he says, by conducting research studies. And that should happen before a decision is made. 

"From a policy point of view, before we start hauling coal through highly populated areas, it is the responsibility of the railroads and the other organizations involved to prove that it's not harmful."

Plans to export coal through Oregon from the 400-mile wide Powder Mountain basin in Montana and Wyoming, were announced last summer.  Between 16-19 more trains a day, carrying 125,000 tons of coal would pass through the county – a 19-20 percent increase in train traffic.

A Threat to Health?
Known health effects from coal, and also from the diesel used by coal trains, include harm to people's lungs and breathing.  Asthma sufferers, that's 9 percent of the county's population, are particularly vulnerable.

Other concerns include the impact on children's development.

"Coal dust may contain traces of the heavy metals, such as lead, mercury, chromium, and uranium, that are toxic to the human nervous  system," the report says. "Children are particularly vulnerable to heavy metals which can lead to decreases in birth weight and children's growth rate, and intellectual development problems."

Links to cancer have not been proved, the report says, but more research is needed.

Most of the research on coal has been done on people who work in mines and live in mining communities. Far less is known about the impact of coal transportation. The companies say that new technologies can prevent the dust from blowing into our air supply. But the report says no independent research has verified this, and the research that does exist suggests weather conditions, train speed and other factors are important.

"Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, (predicts that) in 2017 the region's airshed will have on average more than ten times the level of diesel particulate that is considered safe," the report says. "However, in general, trains contribute a relatively small percentage (7 percent) of total diesel particulate air pollution in our region."

Ambre Energy, Kinder Morgan, Peabody Energy, Arch Coal, and Cloud Peak Energy are among the companies that want to send coal exports through ports in Oregon and Washington. Coal is in high demand in Asia, as less developed regions ramp up industrial production.

The report focuses on the three Oregon projects and does not look at impacts from coal barges traveling along the Columbia, or coal trains traveling along the Washington side of the Columbia Gorge.

Projects in Coos Bay and St. Helens and a plant in Cowlitz County are among five port projects supported by a coalition of business and labor unions. Coal exports could bring jobs in construction, maintenance of the ports, railcar construction; and also yield increased tax revenues. Opponents say, however, that jobs in agriculture, fisheries and tourism, for example, could be lost if the environment suffers.

Other problems that the report flags are: stress from noise and traffic snarlups; accidents, fires, and derailments. But the report also notes train safety has been improving.

The conclusion:  "Given the well-established risks of exposure to coal dust in occupational settings, the Health Department concludes that more research is needed to assess:

• How coal dust could disperse during coal transportation by rail and the extent that people would be exposed

• What the immediate, cumulative, synergistic and long-term health impacts of this dust could be on a community."

 

 

 

 

 

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