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US and North Korean officials meet for talks in China

BEIJING — The first official talks between the United States and North Korea since the coming to power of the youthful new North Korean leader were “serious and substantial,” the senior U.S. negotiator said Thursday, and would extend into a second day.

The talks, designated by the Obama administration as exploratory, were seen as a way to test whether the new leader, Kim Jong Un, a man in his late 20s, was prepared to meet conditions that would allow for a resumption of long established six-nation negotiations that aim to dismantle North Korea’s nuclear arsenal.

Issues ranging from nuclear matters to nutritional assistance were covered in the talks Thursday, Davies said. He indicated little progress had been made so far.

—Jane Perlez, The New York Times

Holder defends efforts to combat financial fraud

NEW YORK — Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. defended the Justice Department’s record on financial fraud Thursday evening, asserting that the administration’s “record of success has been nothing less than historic.”

In a speech at Columbia University, Holder said, “From securities, bank and investment fraud to mortgage, consumer and health care fraud — we’ve found that these schemes are as diverse as the imaginations of those who perpetrate them and as sophisticated as modern technology will permit.”

Critics have faulted the Justice Department for not pursuing criminal cases against the banking executives whose conduct helped bring about the 2008 global financial crisis and subsequent deep recession.

—Peter Lattman, The New York Times

Census: record number of Americans have bachelor’s degrees

More than 30 percent of American adults hold bachelor’s degrees, a first in the nation’s history, and women are on the brink of surpassing men in educational attainment, the Census Bureau reported Thursday.

The figures show significant gains in all demographic groups, but blacks and Latinos not only continue to trail far behind whites, the gap has also widened in the past decade.

As of March, 30.4 percent of people older than 25 in the United States held at least a bachelor’s degree, and 10.9 percent held a graduate degree, up from 26.2 percent and 8.7 percent 10 years earlier.

—Richard Perez-Pena, The New York Times