07 30 2016
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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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House Speaker John BoehnerWASHINGTON (CNN) -- House Republican leaders were forced on Thursday to delay rolling out their bill to raise nation's debt limit, after conservatives complained the package failed to include deep enough budget cuts and significant changes to entitlement programs.

The setback comes as Speaker John Boehner prepares to wrestle with his conference over how to ultimately handle short term spending and the prospect of a government shutdown beginning on Tuesday, if Congress does not act to refill federal coffers.

Boehner and his top lieutenants initially hoped to move ahead with their proposal to permit Washington to borrow more money to pay its bills while waiting for the Senate to vote on a plan -- called a continuing resolution -- to keep the government funded through mid-November.

The debt package includes a lengthy list of GOP priorities, including a one year delay of Obamacare, provisions to roll back regulations on businesses, tax reforms, and approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

But the added items have not garnered enough support from House Republicans.

"It definitely has a lot of goodies in it. Things that arguably would grow the economy and would arguably would generate more revenue," Alabama Republican Rep Mo Brooks told reporters, saying he was undecided on how he would vote on the plan.

But he added that the issue of government spending overall must be considered.

"Washington has a spending problem and this debt ceiling bill does not address the problem," Brooks said.

Rep. Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming told CNN that she was also undecided but wanted to see deeper budget cuts on the measure.

"I came here to cut spending and to reduce the size of the federal government so when those opportunities arise I want to take advantage of them," Lummis said.

Some House Republicans questioned the strategy of skipping ahead to the debt ceiling fight before Congress resolved the question on spending and the possible shutdown. They argued the GOP still had some leverage to force a change to Obamacare on that measure.

"I think we need to focus on the CR first. I think it's important that we complete that before we move onto the debt ceiling," Minnesota Republican Michele Bachmann said outside the House floor.

The draft plan GOP leaders had been working on was really a collection of bills previously approved by the Republican-controlled House.

Leaders learned from the last bruising fight in 2011 over the debt limit that a bloc of conservatives would resist any legislation to authorize new borrowing by the Treasury, so they decided to attach sweeteners.

Kansas Republican Rep Tim Huelskamp complained the GOP plan fell short of Boehner's pledge to demand an equal amount of spending cuts for the amount of the increase in new borrowing authority.

He also said it contained "very little" in the way of changes to entitlement programs like Medicare and Medicaid for the elderly and poor.

When asked early on Thursday about the scope of cuts, Boehner told reporters that "in this bill, we have spending cuts and we have issues that will help spur more economic growth. We think the balance is correct."

House Republican leaders likely will need to modify the package.

They need a unified conference because House Democrats won't vote for it, insisting the House should pass an extension of the debt limit without any conditions. Senate Democrats mocked the proposal.

"The House is attaching the Republican Party platform to the debt ceiling. In a week full of absurdities, this takes the cake," Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, said in a written statement.

At an event in Maryland on Thursday, President Barack Obama reiterated that he would not negotiate over the debt ceiling.

As Boehner works to corral his own members on the debt limit vote he also needs to beat the clock to avoid a government shutdown.

Senate Democrats are scheduled to vote Friday on the House GOP passed spending bill and are expected to strip out the provision that defunds Obamacare.

Boehner indicated on Thursday that House Republicans will modify that bill and kick it back to the Senate as the clock ticks down toward the deadline.

The speaker dodged questions on what specifically House GOP would tack on, but he downplayed that this move - with so little time remaining - would increase the chances of a possible shutdown.

"We have no interest is seeing a government shutdown, but we've got to address the spending problems that we have in this town and so there will be options available to us. There's not going to be any speculation about what we're going to do or not do until the Senate passes their bill," Boehner told reporters on Capitol Hill.

Multiple House GOP aides and members have told CNN that there are no final decisions, but the House could add a one year delay of the Obamacare requirement that all individuals enroll in health care coverage.

The administration already allowed a one year delay for corporations to provide coverage.

Another possible option, one most GOP aides believe could be used, is to add a provision that repeals a tax imposed on medical device manufacturers that helps pay for part of the costs of the new health care law.

On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called the medical device tax a "stupid tax," but told reporters he doesn't want to deal with it as part of the stopgap spending bill.

Later, a Reid spokesman clarified that the Nevada Democrat was referring not to the tax itself, but to the idea of attaching that provision to the spending bill, saying the House should pass a "clean" spending measure.

Another option under consideration is adding a provision to the spending bill that repeals federal support for health care premiums that the government covers for members of Congress and their aides.

Under the Affordable Care Act, which is set to take effect in the states on Tuesday, members and their aides would obtain coverage under the new health care exchanges and the government, as their employer, would cover a major portion of that premium.

Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Charlie Dent told reporters he could support a so-called "clean" spending bill that continues funding, but warned "if there's going to be a relaunch it should be something that the Senate will accept before October 1st."

Boehner pushed back on the notion that continued back and forth over the measure only increases the chances of a shutdown. Though he said, "I do not expect that to happen."

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