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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Scientific denialists have been around since, well… the beginning of recorded science. One group of denialists refused to believe that the earth was round. Another group insisted that the sun revolved around the earth until long after scientific evidence had proved it works the other way around. A group of denialists wants us to believe that President Obama is Muslim, while another group, called "birthers," continues to challenge his presidency because they refuse to believe he was born in the United States.
It should come as no surprise that there are AIDS denialists as well. Typically they either reject the fact that AIDS exists, disagree that HIV causes AIDS, claim that AIDS is caused by the very medications designed to treat it, or try to dissuade people from getting HIV tested.
Given the magnitude of the AIDS epidemic in Black America, we cannot allow ourselves to be either distracted or bamboozled by these types of dubious claims. In fact, we should consider AIDS denialists not only dangerous, but even enemies of our community. I completely understand how some of us might be nervous about getting tested.
Nearly 500,000 of the 1.2 million Americans living with HIV/AIDS are Black. Nearly 40 percent of Black Americans have a family member or close family friend who is living with or has died from HIV/AIDS. I have been living with HIV for nearly 30 years. Those of us living with HIV/AIDS or who have lost family and friends to it know painfully well that the connection between HIV and AIDS is not theoretical.
I also know first hand the benefits of getting HIV-tested early, receiving love and support from family and friends, and having access to appropriate care. I thank God that no denialist was by my bedside in 1996, when my doctors thought I had less than 24 hours to live and insisted I start new medical therapies. I am alive today and am living proof of the benefits of medical treatment.
Whether we're talking about their blood pressure, blood glucose, blood cholesterol or HIV status, every person needs as much information as possible to make informed decisions about their health. An HIV test tells us whether we have the virus that causes AIDS. When people who are HIV-positive know it, they can obtain the same kinds of life-extending and life-saving care and treatment that has helped me, including medications that can delay or even prevent some life-threatening conditions.
People who know their HIV status are also more likely to take precautions to prevent their partners from becoming infected than people who don't know they are positive. That's why I believe that all of us need to take responsibility for knowing our own and our partners' HIV status, and everyone should have access to HIV testing regardless of their ability to pay. Knowledge also empowers us with choices, including the option of whether to have unprotected sex or even to have sex at all. Knowing is greater than doubt.
Can the results of an HIV test be incorrect? Yes, but rarely. Similar to other screening tests—for various cancers, diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol, etc. —the test yields a very low number of inaccurate results. This is why positive HIV-test results are always confirmed by an additional test and why sexually active individuals are encouraged to get tested at least once a year even if they have tested negative in the past.
Acknowledging and confronting our risk of HIV/AIDS can be scary. Sometimes it seems easier to allow myths and misinformation to paralyze us and prevent us from taking action. But it would be tragic if we were to allow urban legends, conspiracy theories and fear-mongering about HIV/AIDS and HIV testing to drag us backwards so that we relive the suffering and death that existed during the 1980s.
There is a drastic difference between the healing and self-empowerment that happens in communities that confront HIV/AIDS directly and the death and devastation that takes place in communities that do not. Black Americans represent nearly half of the nation's new HIV/AIDS cases and nearly half of the AIDS-related deaths because for far too long, we either pretended that AIDS was not real or that it was somebody else's problem. Fortunately, in recent years Black leaders, institutions and community members have started to mobilize to confront HIV directly and honestly.
Ask anyone infected with or affected by HIV/AIDS, and they will tell you that AIDS is no joke. Knowing is greater than doubt.

Phill Wilson is the President and CEO of the Black AIDS Institute.


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