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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Editor's note: Donna Brazile, a CNN contributor and a Democratic strategist, is vice chairwoman for voter registration and participation at the Democratic National Committee. She is a nationally syndicated columnist, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and author of "Cooking With Grease: Stirring the Pot in America." She was manager for the Gore-Lieberman presidential campaign in 2000.

(CNN) -- A remarkable thing just happened in Congress. Republicans and Democrats sat down together to work out a budget. This hasn't happened since 2009.

House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan -- Romney's running mate, you'll recall, and the hero of fiscal conservatives -- told Politico, "Let's understand what we're doing here, we're going back to regular order. ... This is how the founders envisioned the budget process. We want to get back to that."

Ryan's comment is both encouraging and puzzling. Departure from the regular order of compromise through conference committee manifested itself in an iron gridlock that, in turn, has left 63 percent of the nation thinking our political system is in decline.

So although it's encouraging that Ryan, a Republican leader from Wisconsin, is attempting to make the system work again, we should remember why Congress became so dysfunctional.

There have been fiscal crises before -- 17 shutdowns since 1976, now 18. There have been almost suicidal economic policies -- fights over tariffs, trade and taxes have been bread and butter issues since Colonial days. Admittedly, the disaster known as the sequester is something new.

I can't recall a time when a trifecta of fiscal irresponsibility happened almost simultaneously.

One reason has been the Republicans determined effort, since the election of President Obama, to undermine the process of compromise. This is not a secret. The result has been to undermine the efficacy of government and the good standing of the Republican Party.

It may be that Republicans, following the principle of enlightened self-interest, have recognized that no one has all the answers and that compromise for the good of the country -- doing one's sworn duty -- is what they were elected to Congress to do.

But I'm skeptical. Ryan, along with Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, voted against the bill that ended the shutdown and both "ultra-conservatives" are members of the conference committee, the committee that's supposed to restore Congress to "regular order."

Ryan "in effect sided with the people who are using (brinkmanship) as a strategy to get their ends. I think that's not a good sign," said Maryland Democrat Rep. Steny Hoyer, House Democratic whip.

The committee has a deadline: The bill to fund the government expires on Jan. 15 and the debt ceiling -- and another looming default -- comes hard on its heels on Feb. 17. "Regular order" must be restored, a compromise found, by the end of December.

The media, shocked that our reality isn't a reality show, is beginning to understand the issue. Bob Schieffer, host of CBS's "Face the Nation," asked Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, "...wouldn't it be a good idea, maybe, to start re-engaging before early next year to try to lay some groundwork...?"

McConnell practically dismissed the question -- he said the committee was going to come up with a proposal -- then returned to the conservative war cry of all cuts and no revenue. McConnell said, "It seems to me, that's the best way to go forward as we go into the discussions that we will have in January and February."

This, despite the fact that the deficit is shrinking, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The sequester took teachers out of schools and police officers off their jobs, grounded Air Force planes, docked Navy ships and could cost up to 900,000 jobs in a year. The federal furloughs, according to Goldman Sachs, also slowed personal income growth. Not good for the economy or the country.

McConnell, apparently, isn't expecting the "regular order" to be restored. But then, he was in charge of the final negotiations in 2011, leading Congress to the brink of defaulting on our debt and the first ever lowering of our nation's credit rating.

McConnell said "We're not going to do this again in connection with the debt ceiling or with a government shutdown," in an interview published in the conservative National Review titled "McConnell's exit interview." Let's hope there's no hidden escape clause.

Escape clause or poison pill. McConnell has repeatedly called on President Obama for "leadership," but when he spells out what that means, it comes down to the president abandoning his principles and mandate and paying the extortion demanded by ultraconservatives.

Meanwhile, this week millions of disabled elderly veterans and children will start to see their food stamps cut. Private charities across the nation are being overwhelmed with demands beyond their capacities. Yet sadly, Republicans want to make even more cuts. This is wrong. Whatever happened to "We the people"?

The middle ground in Congress has all but disappeared. The founders intended competing principles and interests to check excesses and create a balance in our politics that would benefit "we the people." Gerrymandered districts and a hyped-up fight-night media offer a partial explanation of why we seem to have neither checks nor balances.

I wish with all my being that holding the government of the people as hostage, demanding political ransom, is dead. Maybe at the end of the 2014 election, it will be.

Until then, pray, but don't hold your breath that we'll return to any "regular order."

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Donna Brazile.

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