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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Marian Wright Edelman NNPA Columnist

In the House and Senate budget proposals for fiscal year 2016, passed with only Republican votes at the end of March, there are big winners and big losers. The big winners are defense spending and contractors and very wealthy people and powerful special interests. The big losers are children, our poorest group in America, and struggling low- and middle-income families trying to stay afloat in our economy.

Let’s look at the details:

Very big winners: Defense spending and contractors.

The House and Senate Republican budgets add $38 billion more in defense spending above the Pentagon’s request in fiscal year 2016. Instead of being up front and including it in the regular defense department budget, it was added to a catch-all war fund not subject to budget caps. This is a budget gimmick some conservatives have decried as deceptive and fiscally irresponsible. The $38 billion additional defense spending could provide 2.5 million subsidized jobs to poor families with children lifting 1.2 million children from poverty; and double the Head Start program, which serves only 40 percent of children who need it, for one year. The House Republican budget goes much further adding $387 billion in defense spending between 2017-2025. This amount could lift 60 percent of our children out of poverty for five years.

 Very big winners: Very wealthy people.

People making more than $1 million a year would get a $50,000 average tax cut from the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) in the House budget. The overall taxpayer loss would be more than $1 trillion in revenue over 10 years. The Senate budget includes a last-minute amendment to repeal the estate tax, which benefits only the wealthiest 0.2 percent of Americans with estates worth more than $5.4 million for an individual or $10.9 million for a couple. An estimated 5,400 wealthy estates would save $2.5 million each with a taxpayer loss of $269 billion dollars between 2016-2025. This morally indefensible government giveaway for super rich people could provide housing subsidies for 10 years for 2.6 million poor and near-poor families with children struggling to find a place to live and reduce child poverty by 21 percent; or pay for the president’s $80 billion proposed investment for child care subsidies for all low-income children under 4 and $75 billion for quality preschool for low-income 4 year olds and extend through 2025 Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit improvements that keep 1 million children out of poverty.

Very big losers: Vulnerable children and low- and middle- income families.

Under the guise of balancing the budget and cutting the deficit, recklessly unjust massive cuts of more than $3 trillion over 10 years will undermine lifelines of stability and hope. The House and Senate Republican budgets will cut programs for those who need help most and increase government welfare for those who need help least.

Very big losers: The millions benefiting from health coverage under the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Both Republican budgets seek to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which prohibits discrimination against 129 million children and adults with pre-existing health conditions, helps more than 5 million uninsured 18-26 year olds now covered under parental insurance plans, and extends coverage for some foster care youths to age 26. More than 10 million near poor adults in 29 states and the District of Columbia will lose Medicaid coverage received under ACA. The House budget also proposes to block grant Medicaid, merge CHIP into it, and make deep cuts that will reverse the progress made in reducing the rate of uninsured children by almost half since the late 1990s.

Very biggest losers: America’s future, dream and struggle to become a more just nation.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said at New York City’s Riverside Church on April 4, 1967 that “we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values . . . A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies . . . A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth . . . A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” A year later, Dr. King was assassinated. At his death he was urgently calling for a Poor People’s Campaign to end poverty in the world’s largest economy. How disappointed he would be to see us continue to take from the poor to give to the rich, the rising and huge wealth and income inequality gaps, the bloated military budgets and 45 million poor Americans including 14.7 million poor children in our midst.

I hope every American will break their silence and demand better fairer leadership from these leaders beginning with just treatment of the most vulnerable among us.

Marian Wright Edelman is president of the Children’s Defense Fund whose Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities. For more information go to www.childrensdefense.org.

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