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 SomaliaScandinavia's offer of sanctuary to refugees from Somalia in the 1990s appears to have had some unintended, and unwelcome, consequences. Dozens of young ethnic Somalis living there have embraced jihad, returning to the Horn of Africa to join the al Qaeda affiliate Al-Shabaab.

Norway's Intelligence Agency PST is still investigating whether one of the attackers at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi had lived in Norway. The 23-year old had come to Norway with his family at the age of nine as a refugee, but according to Norwegian media had become unsettled after being unable to find work and begun to frequent jihadist websites.

In a statement last week, the PST said it had not yet been determined whether the man took part in the attack, but added: "Based on the information that we have uncovered this far in the investigation ... the suspicion of his involvement has been strengthened."

If it is confirmed, the Norwegian citizen will become the latest in a lengthening line of Somalis from Scandinavia who have either joined Al-Shabaab or planned terror attacks in their adopted homelands.

The Al-Shabaab commander known as Ikrima who was targeted by US Navy SEALs in an unsuccessful raid in Somalia earlier this month also spent several years in Norway. Kenyan counter-terrorism sources told CNN they suspected Ikrima had a hand in the Westgate attack and was connected to the suspected Norwegian gunman.

Morten Storm, a Dane and former intelligence informant who penetrated Al-Shabaab and spent time with Ikrima, told CNN that Danish intelligence are particularly concerned about the threat of a Somali terrorist operative who works closely with Ikrimah called Abu Musab al Somali.

Storm says Danish intelligence told him of their concern that al Somali was planning terrorist attacks inside Denmark after intercepting communications between him and militants there.

Al Somali -- who also goes by the name Abu Muslim -- came to Denmark as a young refugee, was granted permanent resident status, and settled in Copenhagen. In 2005, al Somali travelled to Somalia where he joined other foreign fighters affiliated with the Islamic Courts Union, an Islamist militia that evolved into Al Shabaab. A year later al Somali travelled to Yemen to broker a weapons deal with al Qaeda, according to Storm.

After serving about two years in jail al Somali returned to Somalia, where he joined Al-Shabaab. According to Storm, who exchanged messages with al Somali, he also worked closely with Jehad Serwan Mostafa, an American Shabaab operative wanted by the FBI, and Abdelkadir Warsame, a Somali Al-Shabaab operative who was arrested navigating the sea between Yemen and Somalia by the United States in 2011.

Ikrima's name also featured in the trial of two Swedish Somalis who were arrested in 2010 after allegedly training with Al-Shabaab in Somalia. Swedish authorities accused them of planning to return to Somalia to carry out terrorist attacks. A phone intercept between a senior Al Shabaab figure in Somalia and one of those arrested was introduced during the trial. "You should contact this brother -- his name is Ikrima," the senior figure said on the phone.

After being convicted the pair were subsequently acquitted by an Appeals court, but it nevertheless noted the men were in contact with, and sympathetic to, Al-Shabaab.

Analysts estimate there are several hundred committed Al-Shabaab supporters across Scandinavia.

There are about 25,000 ethnic Somalis in Norway, 17,000 in Denmark and 44,000 in Sweden. The great majority arrived after Somalia collapsed as a state in 1991. Most have been grateful for sanctuary but a very small minority have become radicalized, especially among those who came to Europe as children.

Scandinavia is known for its generous welfare system, but the arrival of the refugees has created a new kind of inequality. Ethnic Norwegians for example, all receive monthly payments from the country's oil sales, but immigrant families do not qualify.

In one of the most bizarre cases, two teenage sisters of Somali origin left their home in Norway last week -- apparently headed to Syria.

According to a Norwegian police statement: "The family that reported the missing girls is deeply concerned by the purpose of the journey and fears they might have gone to Syria." The Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang reported that the sisters, aged 16 and 19, left a message saying for their family saying Muslims in Syria were being "attacked from all directions."

Among ethnic Somalis who have tried to carry out acts of terrorism in Scandinavia is Mohamed Geele, who first moved to Denmark in 1995 at the age of 12. Three years ago, he tried to murder Kurt Westergaard, the Danish cartoonist responsible in 2005 for a controversial depiction of the Prophet Mohammed. Police arrived minutes after Geele forced his way into Westergaard's house in Aarhus with an ax.

Geele had already been under observation by Danish security services because of his suspected close links to Al-Shabaab. He is now serving a nine-year sentence for attempted murder. Of all al Qaeda's affiliates none has made more noise about the cartoons than Al-Shabaab. Some analysts believe that is because Scandinavian Somalis brought their anger over the issue with them when they travelled to Somalia to join Al-Shabaab.

The group has explicitly threatened another Scandinavian cartoonist, Lars Vilks. In a 2011 video subtitled in English and Swedish, Abu Zaid Sweden -- a Swedish-Somali member of the group -- said: "We will catch you wherever you are."

And he added: In whatever hole you are hiding -- know what awaits you -- as it will be nothing but this: slaughter," as he simulated slitting his throat.

Michael Taarnby, one of Denmark's leading experts on Al-Shabaab, told CNN in 2011: "Intelligence services have very little understanding of what's going on. Recruiting informants has been an uphill battle because Somalis don't trust them to protect them."

"Those attracted are usually quite young -- there's the usual issue of a clash of cultures -- of being stuck between east Africa and Scandinavia and not knowing where they belong," Taarnby told CNN.

Al-Shabaab has recruiters in several Western countries who try to persuade young Somalis to join the group in Somalia, and help them get there, according to Western counter-terrorism officials.

There is also evidence that jihadists of non-Somali backgrounds in Scandinavia have gravitated toward Al-Shabaab. One reason is the increased mixing of Somali nationals with extremists of Arab and south Asian descent in hardline Salafi mosques across Scandinavia.

Munir Awad, who is Lebanese-born but lived in Sweden, was one of four men convicted of a plotting a Mumbai-style attack against the offices of a Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, in 2010. The newspaper had printed cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed several years previously. Awad was suspected of having joined up with jihadist militants in Somalia in 2006 before fleeing the country, according to a Danish security source. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

The numbers of militants traveling from Europe to Somalia is believed to have slowed in the last two years because of setbacks suffered by Al-Shabaab in Somalia, its internal power struggle, stories of mistreatment of Western recruits, and the magnetic pull of jihad in Syria. But Scandinavia's intelligence services remain concerned about a terror pipeline to, and from, east Africa.

 

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