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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J. David Cox Sr. at TSA press conference

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Some Transportation Security Administration airport screeners should be given firearms and arrest powers to protect the larger workforce from shootings like last week's tragedy in Los Angeles, the head of the screeners union said Monday.

J. David Cox Sr. proposed creating a "new class of TSA officers" that would have law enforcement status.

Those officers -- and not airport police -- should be entrusted to protect checkpoints, Cox said.

"We want to make sure we are doing everything possible to secure screening areas," said Cox, national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents the nation's 45,000 transportation security officers.

Friday's shooting has reignited the debates over the proper role of airport screeners and how best to protect the workforce charged with protecting the American public. Ideas run the gamut, from giving screeners guns to taking away their police-like badges.

Critics say the Transportation Security Administration erred in 2005, when in an effort to professionalize the workforce and boost morale, it reclassified screeners as "officers." The title wrongly implies that screeners carry guns and have arrest powers, critics say, and gives the public a skewed view of their jobs.

In 2007, the agency issued screeners uniforms with blue shirts, and the next year, it replaced the embroidered logos with metal badges.

The result, critics say, is a work force of more than 45,000 people who hold the job of "officer" in name only.

"Despite their title and appearance TSA transportation security officers are not in fact federal officers," Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tennessee, said Monday. Arming the officers "would only make matters worse," said Blackburn, who has sponsored legislation to prevent the workers from wearing metal badges and using the title "officer."

In his two public appearances since the shooting, TSA Administrator John Pistole, a career FBI agent before moving to the TSA in 2010, has sidestepped questions about whether the officers should be armed.

Officer safety "is something we have dealt with really since the standup of TSA, knowing that in many respects TSA employees are the first line of defense when it comes to airport security particularly," Pistole said Saturday.

"And so given this tragedy, we will obviously look at and review our policies with airport police both here at LAX and of course around the country."

Officer safety is "something that we have to assess, evaluate and then see what the best approach is, knowing that in the final analysis we can't guard against all threats and all risks," Pistole said.

Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge called the idea of arming officers a "a big mistake."

"You have literally hundreds and hundreds of armed police officers roaming every major airport in America. And I don't think arming another 40 or 50 or 60 thousand people ... would have prevented this incident from happening," he said.

"When the individual removed the firearm, began firing, the response mechanism kicked in. So I personally think (arming screeners) is a bad idea."

Both Pistole and Ridge spoke before Cox proposed creating a new tier of TSA offices.

Providing guns to all 45,000-plus officers would be a weighty challenge. Currently, the federal air marshals are the only TSA officers who carry weapons, and most were drawn from the ranks of law enforcement or the military.

A change would be time-consuming, distracting officers from their mission: finding people and items that present threats to aircraft.

And the change would introduce weapons into checkpoints, where they could be grabbed by deranged passengers and used against officers.

Mission creep

Meanwhile, airport police department unions have complained about TSA "mission creep."

Mission creep "threatens the security of the airport," representatives of the American Alliance of Airport Police Officers wrote in a letter to Pistole in September 2012.

"TSA has expanded the scope of their authority beyond screening areas to more traditional 'police' work without clear lines of delineation with airport police, jeopardizing public safety, contributing to a break in chain-of-command, and delaying timely law enforcement responses," the group wrote.

"TSA agents are attempting to investigate and/or correct (security) breaches," the letter said, endangering the public, delaying police involvement and causing travel disruptions.

TSA employees should be restricted to conducting passenger and bag screening, the letter said.

The letter was signed by Marshall McClain, president of the Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Association, and Paul Nunziato, president of the Port Authority Police Benevolent Association.

McClain said the TSA never responded to the letter.

In the letter, the alliance said airport police have had a "long and productive" history working with federal law enforcement officers and the TSA's air marshals. "The only federal entity with which our officers experience constant tension is with TSA non-law enforcement operations," it reads.

What's next

Although congress could decide to give TSA officers guns or remove their badges, there is a range of other options.

Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, specifically mentioned the increased use of VIPR teams, which pair armed air marshals with other agencies to patrol airports and other transportation venues.

"I think that with better coordination with local law enforcement should help tremendously," McCaul said on CNN's State of the Union with Candy Crowley.

But McCaul placed little stock in other suggestions such as moving checkpoints closer to terminal doors.

"It's very difficult to stop these types of attacks," McCaul said. "Anybody can show up, as we saw in the (Washington Navy Yard shooting) with the shotgun, in this case with the semi-automatic.

"It's almost like an open shopping mall. So, it's very difficult to protect. But these VIPR teams, I think, with local law enforcement can't provide that needed security. We are going to be reviewing this along with the director of TSA."

Ridge expressed a similar sentiment.

"At the end of the day, I think there are certain kinds of risks for which there is no sensible, thoughtful, reasonable, economically appropriate way to abandon or to eradicate. And this happens to be one of them, at airports," Ridge said.

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