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Trump and Putin meet face to face; the latest US jobs report exceeds expectations; 19 states sue Betsy DeVos over her rollbacks of fraud protections.
Face to face
- When President Trump came face to face with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin for the first time today, they addressed a touchy subject: the 2016 election.
- Their first public meeting was polite and cordial, with a handshake and compliments between the two world leaders. Putin said he was “delighted” to meet Trump in person, while the US president said he hoped for positive developments out of the meeting. [Washington Post / Abby Phillip and David Filipov]
- But behind the scenes, things were much more complicated.
- Trump started the two-hour meeting by asking Putin if his government had meddled in the 2016 election; Putin reportedly denied any such involvement. [NYT]
- They pretty much left things there, agreeing that rehashing the election would hinder a working relationship going forward. [NPR / Miles Parks]
- The two leaders also struck a ceasefire in southwestern Syria. The Russians back Syrian dictator Bashar-Al Assad, while the US supports some rebel groups that oppose him. [Associated Press / Vivian Salama, Josh Lederman, and Ken Thomas]
- Putin went into the talks with a clear set of goals, chief among them easing back sanctions over Russia’s actions in Crimea, and trying to ensure that the US won’t punish the Kremlin for meddling in the 2016 election (Congress is pushing hard for tougher sanctions for that very issue). [Vox / Yochi Dreazen]
- Trump’s demands were not as clear. Embroiled in the Russian investigation that just won’t quit, Trump needed to strike a careful balance so as not to look too cozy with Putin, and prove that he could stand up to a country US intelligence agencies say meddled in the election with the goal of electing Trump. [Slate / Fred Kaplan]
- Ahead of their meeting, Trump was still hesitant to put the 2016 election meddling squarely on Russia. At a news conference in Poland, he appeared to be at odds with his own intelligence agencies by insisting that other countries could have been involved in the interference and that “nobody really knows for sure” if it was Russia. [ABC News / Jordyn Phelps]
- Trump then delivered a speech criticizing Russia for attempting to destabilize elections in the West. [Reuters / Roberta Rampton and Pawel Sobczak]
- The meeting between the two men comes as US intelligence officials say Russia is stepping up its spying efforts, with approximately 150 spies currently in the United States. The latest effort is apparently retaliation for the Obama administration kicking out 35 Russian diplomats suspected of espionage in December. [CNN / Pamela Brown, Shimon Prokupecz, and Evan Perez]
A sunny jobs forecast
- The US economy is making steady gains, adding more jobs than expected last month.
- June saw 220,000 jobs added, an outcome welcomed by economists, especially since the past two months suggested sluggish job growth. [CNN Money / Patrick Gillespie]
- The new report appears to show that more people are looking for work — and having success finding it. [Bloomberg / Patricia Laya]
- While economists had predicted that the US was on track to reach full employment, the June growth shows there is even more room to expand. [NYT / Neil Irwin]
- A closer look at the numbers shows that about 59,000 of the jobs added were in the health care and public assistance sector (a notable comparison to manufacturing, which added just 1,000 jobs). [Betsey Stevenson via Twitter]
- But with the vote on the Senate health care bill looming, there is a very real fear that ending Medicaid expansion and making other steep cuts to the program will put hundreds of thousands of health care workers out of a job. [Vox / Alexia Fernandez Campbell]
- The Senate bill itself is facing steep odds, and will very likely change before a final vote, so it’s difficult to tell how many workers would be impacted by the legislation. However, in its current form, researchers estimate it could kill more than 900,000 health care jobs. [Vox / Alexia Fernandez Campbell]
- The biggest (and most persistent) dull spot in the jobs report is stagnant wage growth. Wages are still below where they were pre-recession, and economists say this points to a larger problem with low worker productivity. [WSJ / Jeffrey Sparshott]
DeVos rolls back fraud protections
- Yesterday, 19 state attorneys general sued the US Department of Education, after Education Secretary Betsy DeVos froze an Obama-era rule that let former students get their debt forgiven if their colleges misled them about job placement rates, graduation rates, and other educational outcomes. [Politico / Michael Stratford]
- The rule is known as the "borrower defense to repayment rule." DeVos delayed the rule in May, saying department officials would eventually rewrite it. [NPR / Bill Chappell]
- DeVos said the rule was burdensome regulation that limited the types of education students can pursue and put taxpayers on the hook to pay for loan forgiveness. [Inside Higher Ed / Andrew Kreighbaum]
- The rule dates back to the collapse of Corinthian Colleges, a major for-profit college chain, in 2015. Even by the standards of for-profit colleges, Corinthian's students struggled to get jobs and pay back their debt after they graduated or dropped out.
- A group of 15 students refused to pay back their federal debt from Corinthian Colleges, citing a passage of federal law that said students could get their debt forgiven if their college had broken the law. [Kinja / Rob Wile]
- Just five people had their student loans forgiven under that clause of law between 1995 and 2015. But the Education Department decided the former Corinthian students were right, and that more than 100,000 students could have their debt forgiven as a result. [Vox / Libby Nelson]
- In an age when college degrees are crucial to getting a high-paying job, many for-profit institutions have entered the market. While some programs are legitimate, others do not deliver on their promises, with students complaining of schools providing them with outdated textbooks, unqualified instructors, and computers so old they didn’t work. [BuzzFeed / Molly Hensley-Clancy]
- The Obama administration took several steps to regulate for-profit colleges — and the Trump administration is rolling them back. It's also delaying putting a regulation known as the "gainful employment rule" into effect; the rule would hold college programs accountable for their students' ability to pay back their debts. [Inside Higher Ed / Andrew Kreighbaum]
- The lawsuit against DeVos and her department is being led by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, who say DeVos's delay is against the law, as it was already finalized by the previous administration. [NYT / Stacey Cowley]
- Even though Democrats have so far failed to capture congressional seats in the recent special elections, they are making a large dent in local races — even in deeply red Jackson, Mississippi. [McClatchy DC / Alex Roarty]
- Gonorrhea is becoming more and more resistant to all antibiotics, according to a new (and terrifying) report from the World Health Organization. [Stat / Helen Branswell]
- On Thursday, the former Trump Taj Mahal had a liquidation sale, where miniature horse statues and leopard-print fainting couches were the prize possessions. [NYT / Nick Corasaniti]
- France plans to become carbon neutral by 2050, stopping the sale of gas and diesel cars 10 years before that. [Reuters / Bate Felix and Simon Carraud]
- Texas has been shifting its focus away from mass incarceration and toward diversion programs, and the state is getting ready to close four prisons as a result. [Dallas Morning News / Brandi Grisson]
- “There is an OUI problem in the state of Maine, but don’t blame it on the nips. It’s a lot more than the nips.” [Tom Saviello to the Portland Press Herald / Megan Doyle]
- “Forced to improvise, she ripped out pages from her notebook and stuffed them into her dress's shoulder openings to create sleeves, witnesses said. An officer who's tasked with enforcing rules in the Speaker's lobby said her creative concoction still was not acceptable.” [Rebecca Shabad / CBS News]
- “North Korea is bad enough when you’re talking about their nuclear and missiles program. But I think we ignore their chemical and biological programs truly at our own peril.” [Rebecca Hersman to Washington Post / Joby Warrick]
- "Cheerios gets villainized, but they’re just one of many manufacturers who are switching to mechanically-optically separated oats.” [Jocelyn Silvester to BuzzFeed / Vanessa Wong]
- “I married my gay, Namibian-born husband in a small Minnesota chapel in a largely all-white community this March. The church was covered with German writing, and since my partner’s family didn’t have the notice to attend, the small audience was almost entirely blue-eyed and blond.” [Jake Clark to NYT / Sheryl Gay Stolberg]
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