Friday morning news: July 20, 2018

Trump, Putin to meet again as White House fends off critics » President Trump is planning another meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, this time in Washington.

The president has asked National Security Adviser John Bolton to invite Putin for a follow-up meeting, presumably at the White House.

Meantime Putin told reporters Thursday he agrees with President Trump’s assessment of their first summit.

PUTIN (translator): Finally the full formal meeting happened, which allowed us to talk directly, and it was successful generally – led to useful arrangements. We will see how things develop further because certain forces in America try to minimize the results in Helsinki. 

President Trump on Thursday tweeted—quoting here— “The Summit with Russia was a great success, except with the real enemy of the people, the Fake News Media. I look forward to our second meeting so that we can start implementing some of the many things discussed.”

The president said topics on the agenda for a second meeting would include: terrorism, nuclear proliferation, cyber attacks, trade, Ukraine, Mideast peace, and North Korea.

Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin says another meeting between the leaders is not a bad idea.

JOHNSON: I’d much rather be talking to adversaries than not talking to them. I would rather improve relations with them rather than see them further deteriorate, and the way you do that is through discussion. 

But President Trump has been fending off widespread criticism from both sides of the aisle since the summit. The White House has had to issue multiple clarifying statements after the president seemingly contradicted U.S. intelligence on Russian election meddling.

He’s also drawn criticism for seemingly suggesting he may consider letting Russia question U.S. diplomats in exchange for Moscow letting the U.S. interview 12 Russians just indicted for U.S. election meddling. And on Thursday, the U.S. Senate issued a stern rebuke, passing a non-binding resolution condemning that idea.

AUDIO: The yays are 98, the nays are zero. The resolution is agreed to. 

But the  White House on Thursday called it a non-issue, saying Putin’s proposal was “made in sincerity,” but President Trump “disagrees with it.”

Unemployment claims lowest in nearly 50 years » Meantime, amid ongoing Russia controversies, the president hoped to draw a little attention to the booming U.S. job market.

The Labor Department says jobless claims fell by 8,000 this week, dropping the total number of new claims to about 207,000. That is a 48-year low.

The president trumpeted those numbers on Thursday when he hosted business leaders at the White House.

TRUMP: We will truly make America greater than ever before. That’s what’s happening – greater than ever before. And I think it’s happening faster than anyone ever thought. 

He welcomed executives from top employers like FedEx and IBM to a ceremony, where nearly two dozen companies and trade groups signed a pledge to provide new training and apprenticeship programs.

The White House says the pledge will help train about 3.8 million students and workers for new jobs.

That comes on the heels of Federal Reserve report, noting employers are having a hard time finding skilled workers.

Senators champion faith-based help for separated families » More than two-dozen senators penned a letter to the president Thursday, urging the Trump administration to keep families together and to enlist the help of faith-based groups in reunifying families separated at the border. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin reports.

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Republican James Lankford of Oklahoma and Democrat Michael Bennett of Colorado led the bipartisan group of 25 senators. They called on the White House to “prioritize reunification of families,” while Congress works on a permanent fix. And they urged the president to make it “the default position” of the United States “to keep families together.”

The lawmakers also encouraged the White House to allow faith-based organizations to pitch in. They mentioned several charities by name, including: Sojourners, Catholic Charities USA, World Vision, the National Association of Evangelicals, and World Relief.

The letter said those charities, and others, stand ready provide critical services for children and families in need.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin.

Wildfires spread in Oregon, California » A fast-spreading Oregon wildfire has claimed its first victim. 64-year-old John Ruby was found near a burned-out tractor in a rural wheat field. Investigators believe he was attempting to plow a fire line to prevent the flames from spreading.

Many farmers have tried desperately to salvage crops during harvest season as the blaze spreads. But dry conditions and strong wind gusts continue to fuel the fire. It’s consumed more than 80 square miles since Tuesday.

Mackenzie Urness, who lives near the fire in the town of The Dalles says she’s seen wildfires before…

URNESS: But it’s never I feel like affected as many people as this one has. It’s really just like wiped through here, wiped through family, relatives, just completely took down their house. 

Authorities asked residents of nearly 900 homes to evacuate or be ready to go.

Meanwhile in California, the Ferguson fire continues to spread. One firefighter has died, and two more suffered injuries. Ferguson firefighter Brandon Vaccaro says safety remains the top priority as fire crews battle not only the flames, but the weather as well.

VACCARO: Over the last couple of days, we’ve been well over 100 degrees, and will be probably for the next couple of weeks. That heat takes a huge toll on the firefighters who are out working 12 and 24 hour shifts on the fire line. We need to keep them fed, well fed, and hydrated. 

The Ferguson fire has spread to the Sierra Nevada just west of Yosemite National Park. But the park has thus far remained open.

Other western states, including Colorado and Utah have battled massive blazes that have torn through land gripped by drought.

I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: a preview of the first-ever religious freedom ministerial in Washington, D.C. Plus, Word Play with George Grant. This is The World and Everything in It.

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) President Donald Trump, accompanied by first lady Melania Trump, waves to members of the media as they arrive on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, July 18, 2018. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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