State Department report says 2017 hiring freeze hurt agency

WASHINGTON (AP) — The State Department's internal watchdog says the Trump administration's 2017 hiring freeze had devastating effects on the agency throughout the world.

The department's inspector general says the freeze had an overwhelmingly negative impact on morale and on core functions like serving Americans overseas and protecting diplomats.

Nearly all domestic offices and overseas missions surveyed told the inspector general that the freeze had a "negative or very negative effect on morale." The report released Friday said 96% of embassies and consulates and 95% of offices in the U.S. told the IG that the freeze had negative effect on their security, consular and administrative operations.

The report also found that the State Department failed to coordinate the freeze with a broader management reform under then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Administration moves to enforce abortion restriction

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration is setting a timetable for federally funded family clinics to comply with a new rule that bars them from referring women for abortions.

The move comes as Planned Parenthood is threatening to leave the program over the restrictions, and a federal court in San Francisco plans to hear arguments in a lawsuit to block the regulation.

The Department of Health and Human Services sent notices to program participants Friday saying they must certify by Sep. 18 that they're complying with most major provisions of the rule. Separately, plans on how the clinics intend to comply are due Aug. 19.

HHS says it will work individually with clinics making a "good-faith" effort. The agency says it has received no official notice from service providers planning to drop out.

Trump gets letter from North Korea, says more talks likely

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump said Friday that he received a "beautiful" three-page letter from Kim Jong Un and predicted that the two leaders would have more talks to try resolving the standoff over North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

Trump has said he's not bothered by the flurry of missiles that Kim has launched in recent days, rattling U.S. allies in the region. The president said they were all short-range missiles and reiterated that North Korea has never broken its pledge to pause nuclear tests.

Trump said Kim told him in the letter that he was upset about recent U.S.-South Korea military exercises, which North Korea sees as a threat.

The two leaders have met three times — in Singapore, Hanoi and the Korean Demilitarized Zone late last month — but no new talks have been scheduled. At their second meeting in Vietnam in February, Trump rejected Kim's demand for widespread sanctions relief in return for dismantling the North's main nuclear complex, a partial disarmament step.

Trump said he'd received the letter on Thursday. "It was hand-delivered. It wasn't touched by anybody," Trump told reporters on Friday at the White House.

"It was a very positive letter. I think we'll have another meeting. He really wrote a beautiful, three-page letter ... a really beautiful letter."

El Nino fades so forecasters expect busier hurricane season

WASHINGTON (AP) — Government meteorologists say this year's hurricane season may be busier than initially expected now that summer's weak El Nino has faded away.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center said Thursday the Atlantic season looks more active than normal as peak hurricane season begins. Forecasters now expect 10 to 17 named storms, with five to nine hurricanes and two to four major ones.

In May, they forecast a normal season, one or two fewer named storms and hurricanes.

Forecaster Gerry Bell says the end of El Nino means more hospitable hurricane conditions. El Nino is the periodic warming of parts of the Pacific that affects weather worldwide and dampens storm activity.

Hurricane season is June through November. So far, there have been two named storms, with one hurricane.