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By Jim Puzzanghera, Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON — Private employers added a surprisingly strong 281,000 net new jobs in June, the most since late 2012, payroll firm Automatic Data Processing Inc. said Wednesday.

The figure was up sharply from 179,000 in May and is a positive sign heading into Thursday’s official jobs report from the Labor Department.

Analysts had expected the closely watched ADP report to show that private-sector job growth improved in June, but had anticipated an increase of just 213,000.

The June figure was the best since ADP reported 293,000 net new private-sector jobs in November 2012.

“The job market is steadily improving,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, which assists ADP in preparing the report.

“Job gains are broad-based across all industries and company sizes,” he said. “Judging from the job market, the economic recovery remains fully intact and is gaining momentum.”

Economists project that the government will report on Thursday that the economy added about 211,000 net new jobs in June, down from 217,000 the previous month. The unemployment rate is forecast to hold at 6.3 percent, its lowest level since September 2008.

AFP Photo/Mark Wilson

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Actor as Donald Trump in Russia Today video ad

Screenshot from RT's 'Trump is here to make RT Great Again'

Russia Today, the network known in this country as RT, has produced a new "deep fake" video that portrays Donald Trump in post-presidential mode as an anchor for the Kremlin outlet. Using snippets of Trump's own voice and an actor in an outlandish blond wig, the ad suggests broadly that the US president is indeed a wholly owned puppet of Vladimir Putin– as he has so often given us reason to suspect.

"They're very nice. I make a lot of money with them," says the actor in Trump's own voice. "They pay me millions and hundreds of millions."

But when American journalists described the video as "disturbing," RT retorted that their aim wasn't to mock Trump, but his critics and every American who objects to the Russian manipulations that helped bring him to power.

As an ad for RT the video is amusing, but the network's description of it is just another lie. Putin's propagandists are again trolling Trump and America, as they've done many times over the past few years –- and this should be taken as a warning of what they're doing as Election Day approaches.

The Lincoln Project aptly observed that the Russians "said the quiet part out loud" this time, (Which is a bad habit they share with Trump.)