Top News Stories for Today – July 8, 2017
Trump presses Putin on Russian election meddling
President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke for more than two hours Friday at the G-20 summit in Germany, their first face-to-face meeting. Trump reportedly pressed the question of the Kremlin’s involvement in the 2016 election, but Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Putin denied involvement and that Trump accepted his assurances.
US officials have already disputed that characterization. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who was present at the meeting along with Lavrov, said that Putin’s denial of the hacking was a “substantial hindrance” to US-Russian relations going forward. Still, Tillerson said that overall Trump and Putin had “positive chemistry,” and the two even shared a joke at the press’ expense before their meeting NPR, The Week
US, Russia agree Syria cease-fire
The US and Russia have agreed to a cease-fire in southwest Syria. The development was announced by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Friday, shortly after President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin wrapped up their face-to-face meeting at the G-20 summit in Germany.
The cease-fire, which Jordan and Israel have also agreed to, is slated to take effect Sunday at noon Damascus time. “This is our first indication of the US and Russia being able to work together in Syria,” Tillerson said. Though both countries are fighting against the Islamic State in Syria’s war, they have opposing allegiances, with Russia backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the US supporting rebel groups pushing for Assad’s ouster. The Associated Press, Reuters, The Week
McConnell on health bill
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Thursday that if his party fails to muster 50 votes for its plan to rewrite the Affordable Care Act, it will have no choice but to draft a more modest bill with Democrats to support the law’s existing insurance markets.
The remarks, made at a Rotary Club lunch in Glasgow, Ky., represent a significant shift for the veteran legislator. While he had raised the idea last week that Republicans may have to turn to Democrats if they cannot pass their own bill, his words mark the first time he has explicitly raised the prospect of shoring up the ACA. The Washington Post
US adds 222,000 jobs in June
The Labor Department reported Friday that the economy added 222,000 nonfarm jobs in June, exceeding an average forecast of 180,000 new jobs in a MarketWatch survey of economists. Also, May’s gains, initially reported at 138,000, were adjusted up to 152,000. The unemployment rate edged up from 4.3 percent, a 16-year low, to 4.4 percent as more people entered the labor force looking for work.
Economists said before the report was released that any sign of continued strong hiring would provide support for the Federal Reserve officials’ plans to start reducing the central bank’s $4.2 trillion portfolio of Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities, which it bought up to boost the economic recovery following the Great Recession. MarketWatch, Reuters, The Week
New Spider-Man movie expected $100m in opening weekend
Spider-Man: Homecoming is on track to have a blockbuster opening weekend, with experts projecting the film will rake in at least $100 million in the US and as much as $200 million worldwide. The latest installment in the Marvel series previewed Thursday night to strong reviews, with 48 percent calling it “excellent” and 38 percent rating it “very good,” Variety reported.
The Spider-Man flick, which stars Tom Holland as Peter Parker, also marks the weekend’s sole major release, giving it a strong lead over likely second-place contender Despicable Me 3, which is projected to bring in $39 million in its second weekend. Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst at comScore, predicted that Spider-Man’s opening would be “one of the biggest debuts of the summer.” Variety, Vanity Fair, The Week
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