Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: June 2, 2018

Trump says North Korea summit is back on, EU opens WTO case over Trump's tariffs, and more


Trump says North Korea summit is back on

President Trump will meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on June 12 in Singapore after all, he said Friday after talking with a North Korean envoy in the Oval Office. The envoy delivered a large personal letter from Kim, and Trump said he expects the summit to be "very successful." "I don't even want to use the term 'maximum pressure' anymore," Trump said, "because I don't want to use that term because we're getting along." The summit was planned, then scrapped, then stuck in limbo after hostile statements from both parties.


EU opens WTO case over Trump's tariffs

The European Union has opened a case challenging the Trump administration's steel and aluminum tariffs at the World Trade Organization (WTO). The tariffs went into effect Friday morning over the protests of U.S. allies in Europe as well as Canada and Mexico, and European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom initiated the case immediately thereafter. "We are not in a trade war, but we are in a very difficult situation caused by the United States," Malmstrom said, labeling the tariffs "illegal under WTO rules."


U.S. economy adds 223,000 jobs after Trump tweets controversial preview

U.S. employers added 223,000 non-farm jobs in May, the Labor Department reported Friday. Strong hiring helped bring down the unemployment rate from 3.9 percent to 3.8 percent, an 18-year low. Just over an hour before the numbers were released, President Trump tweeted that he was "looking forward" to seeing them. The teaser raised ethical and legal questions and was "the first time a president had ever sent a signal to investors about what the jobs numbers might look like an hour before they came out," said Washington Post economic policy reporter Damian Paletta.


Commerce Secretary Ross in China to promote trade

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross arrived in Beijing Saturday for talks with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, Beijing's chief representative in trade negotiations. Ross will push China to make good on its recent pledge to "significantly increase purchases of United States goods and services," with an aim of reducing the U.S. trade deficit to China from $375 billion to $175 billion annually by 2020. The trip comes just one day after the Trump administration imposed steel and aluminum tariffs on U.S. allies, and strengthening trade with China could offset economic isolation the tariffs may produce.


Pruitt's landlord lobbied the EPA in 2017

J. Steven Hart, the energy lobbyist whose wife charged Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt below-market rent on a Washington condo, lobbied the EPA for three clients in 2017, his former firm has disclosed. When the condo story broke, Hart said he "do[es] not lobby the EPA" and had "no lobbying contact with the EPA in 2017 or 2018." He was previously known to have arranged a meeting between Pruitt and one of the three clients, but the disclosures show Hart did additional work for that client and lobbied the EPA for two previously unknown clients as well.


Lawsuit seeks to compel release of Puerto Rico's hurricane death data

The 2018 hurricane season began June 1, but Puerto Rico is still grappling with the destruction of 2017's Hurricane Maria. The Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics (PRIS) on Friday filed suit to compel the territory's health department and demographic registry to make data on deaths in Puerto Rico publicly accessible on a daily basis. PRIS is an independent government agency, and it opened the lawsuit following the Thursday publication of a Harvard study putting the Maria death toll around 4,500, some 70 times the official estimate of 64.


Dueling U.N. votes on Gaza both fail

The United States vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution Friday which would have offered "international protection" for Palestinian civilians in Gaza after 119 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli security forces in protests this spring. The measure was introduced by Kuwait and received 10 of 15 Security Council votes. Also unsuccessful was a U.S.-introduced resolution condemning Hamas for violence in Gaza and calling on Palestinian groups to stop "all violent provocative actions." Only the U.S. voted yes, while three Security Council members voted no, and 11 abstained.


Google to end work on Pentagon drone strikes

Google will not renew its contract with the Pentagon for work on the Defense Department's drone warfare program, the company announced Friday. While the company will complete its promised work on Project Maven, in which Google has used artificial intelligence and machine learning for drone targeting and surveillance, the contract will not be renewed when it ends in March. About a dozen Google employees resigned in protest of the program, and 4,000 more signed a petition asking the company to eschew all "warfare technology."


New Mexico wildfire prompts evacuations

The Ute Park Fire has forced some residents of Cimarron, New Mexico, north of Santa Fe, to evacuate their homes on Saturday, local officials reported. The fire doubled in size Friday to span 16,000 acres, exacerbated by unseasonably dry weather and strong winds. The fire has destroyed 14 outbuildings at a Boy Scouts camp, but so far it has not destroyed any homes or caused any casualties. The source of the blaze is unknown; there is a campfire ban in place in the area because of drought conditions.


ABC mulls Roseanne reboot without Roseanne

ABC pulled the plug on its hit sitcom Roseanne after its star, Roseanne Barr, tweeted a hateful insult about former Obama White House adviser Valerie Jarrett earlier this week. But the network is now reportedly considering rebranding the show to star Roseanne's daughter, Darlene (Sara Gilbert), salvaging the jobs of the cast and crew and capitalizing on the show's high ratings. Barr's TV husband, John Goodman, is "very interested" in moving past the scandal, and Gilbert has reportedly been in "preliminary" talks with costars and ABC.


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