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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President Barack Obama stepped on a big limb when he threatened "limited action" against Syria because the country's leaders allegedly used chemical weapons against their own people.  There are international bans against the use of chemical weapons, with Syria one of few countries not supporting the ban.  Chemical weapons allegedly killed more than 1,400 Syrians, and the ongoing civil war may have killed as many as 100,000.


President Obama announced his willingness to act on Syria's domestic chemical intrusion before Labor Day, but he has backpedaled and asked for Congressional approval. What will he do if Congress says no?  Will he face the international community conceding that he has less power than he thought, or will he go ahead and take military action without congressional approval?



Reportedly, U.S. troops in the Middle East were ready to follow the orders of the Commander-in-Chief before they got orders to slow down any action.  Perhaps President Obama is finally listening to the sentiment of the American people, who, according to several polls, do not support action against Syria.  Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and dozens of other members of Congress sent the president a letter urging debate on any military action against Syria.  Does the urgency of a strike against Syria recede over time?



Have we learned from the lessons of Iran, Afghanistan, and, yes, Vietnam?  In the last case, "simple" military action led us into a war that lasted for nearly a decade, and the loss of tens of thousands of lives.  The "end" of that war was hardly decisive, with a withdrawal that didn't so much save the day as salvage the our nation's bruised ego.  If allegations against Syria are true, they have clearly crossed a line.  Still, it is not clear that unilateral action from the United States is the solution.  While the United Nations is not always as effective as it might be, I'd prefer United Nations concurrence to United States go-it-along position in this matter.



From Iraq, we must remember that verification of the use of chemical weapons is key to any action.  I'll never forget Secretary of State Colin Powell holding up a small container and saying, "This could be anthrax."  Turns out, it wasn't.  Based on that vivid display, we stepped up our action against Iraq, and a decade later we are still there.  General Powell said that if we broke it, we have to fix it.  We've not fixed it – we are withdrawing, and billions of dollars and thousands of lives later, the situation is almost as murky as it was when we entered that country.



What will we do if Syria chooses to respond to our "limited" military action? Action and counteraction are the first steps to war.  We aren't ready for that.  We've got existing military commitments, and an already-challenged budget, something not often mentioned in the face of this impending crisis.  Military experts say Syrian action could cost about $100 million.  Depending on escalation, we could easily end up in billion-dollar territory.



Meanwhile Congress and the president are on a budget brink.  Government could actually shut down at the end of the fiscal year unless unlikely compromises are made. Will President Obama be forced to offer budget concessions in order to get Republican votes to support limited action against Syria?  If he does, what implications will that have on the domestic budget, especially in the face of budget austerity?  Will the money to cover a Syria strike come from the already-cut food stamps program, from sparsely funded education programs, from already-embattled health care?



Former President Bill Clinton reportedly supports military action against Syria, and regrets that the United States did not get involved in the massacre in Rwanda that claimed nearly 1 million lives.  With Rwanda, though, a bipartisan group of legislators pushed Clinton to take the case against Rwanda to the United Nations and he did not.  President Obama has not suggested United Nations cooperation but instead insisted that it is time to take action.



Where is the peace movement?  Are they shying away from their traditional anti-war stance because President Obama, not President Bush, is in the White House?  Once, you could count on groups like Code Pink to lift their voices against military action.  Now their silence speaks volumes.



There are alternatives to "limited military action" in Syria. Yet, those alternatives have yet to be explored.  We shouldn't involve ourselves in what might be a multi-billion dollar action just so President Obama can sell wolf tickets (or bragging rights) and count on Congress to cash them.



 



 



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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