The U.S. military carried out two airstrikes in Libya against ISIS fighters in what it says will be an ongoing campaign. The strikes took place Monday in the city of Sirte. Pentagon officials said the campaign would continue until ISIS has been driven from the city, which it took over last year. The Pentagon said Libya’s Western-backed unity government, known as the GNA, requested the airstrikes. The so-called unity government is one of three competing governments that claim legitimacy in the country. This is Pentagon spokesperson Peter Cook.
Peter Cook: "The goal of GNA is to eliminate ISIL from Sirte and from the country. And we’ll be working closely with them, and they’ll be determining the pace and the success of this campaign, arguably. They will be—they have their forces on the ground conducting their efforts, and this will be in support of their efforts. ISIL’s numbers had been reduced. They had made significant progress in Sirte already, on their own. And we believe this can make a difference, hopefully in a short amount of time, and we’ll see."
The strikes come almost five years after the U.S. helped depose Muammar Gaddafi in a revolution that has devolved into civil war. Between 2011 and now, U.S. special forces have carried out raids in the country, and there have been airstrikes targeting specific individuals. We’ll have more on Libya with Phyllis Bennis later in the broadcast.
In breaking news, Syrian activists say gas has been used near the northern Syrian city of Saraqib. Activists told Reuters they suspected the gas was chlorine and that it had affected more than 30 people. The alleged attack took place close to where rebels shot down a Russian helicopter earlier Monday. Syrian government forces have repeatedly been accused of using chemical munitions in the five-year war against rebels seeking to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, including during an attack in Damascus in 2013 that killed hundreds.
In news from the campaign trail, top Republicans and veterans groups are criticizing Donald Trump after he refused to back down from his comments attacking Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the parents of a Muslim U.S. soldier who died in Iraq. On Monday, Arizona Senator John McCain, who spent time as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, wrote, "I cannot emphasize enough how deeply I disagree with Mr. Trump’s statement. I hope Americans understand that the remarks do not represent the views of our Republican Party, its officers, or candidates." House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also publicly criticized Trump. None of the three, however, pulled their endorsement of Trump. Khan’s son, Humayun, was killed by a car bomb while serving in Baquba, Iraq, in 2004 and was posthumously awarded a Bronze Star and Purple Heart. Trump’s battle with Khizr Khan began Thursday night, when Khan addressed the Democratic National Convention.
Khizr Khan: "Donald Trump, you’re asking Americans to trust you with their future. Let me ask you: Have you even read the United States Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy."
On Sunday, Trump responded to Khan while on ABC, implying Khan’s wife, Ghazala Khan, had not spoken at the convention because she was not allowed to as a Muslim woman.
Donald Trump: "I saw him. He was, you know, very emotional and probably looked like a nice guy to me. His wife, if you look at his wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say. She probably—maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say. You tell me. But plenty of people have written that."
On Monday, Khizr Khan spoke on CNN.
Khizr Khan: "We want to maintain our dignity. We want to maintain my family’s dignity, my son’s dignity and sacrifice. And he should listen to America, what America and the world is telling about the remarks, about the lack of empathy. And that’s all I wish to convey to him, that a good leader has one trait, earlier, I said: empathy."
Later in the broadcast, we’ll bring you the comments of both Khizr and Ghazala Khan, a rare glimpse of them as they visit their son’s grave in Arlington National Cemetery.
This comes as Gold Star families published a letter on Monday demanding Trump apologize for his statements to the Khans. Gold Star families are those that have lost loved ones serving in the U.S. military. The letter read: "Your recent comments regarding the Khan family were repugnant, and personally offensive to us. When you question a mother’s pain, by implying that her religion, not her grief, kept her from addressing an arena of people, you are attacking us. When you say your job building buildings is akin to our sacrifice, you are attacking our sacrifice." This comes as The New York Times is reporting Donald Trump received five deferments during the U.S. war in Vietnam.
Republican vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence had to defend the mother of a soldier from the crowd’s boos at one of his rallies Monday. The crowd booed Catherine Byrne, whose son serves in the U.S. Air Force, after Byrne asked Pence about Trump’s treatment of Muslim Gold Star parents the Khans.
Catherine Byrne: "My question for you, Mr. Pence, is, time and time again, Trump has disrespected our nation’s armed forces and veterans, and his disrespect for Mr. Khan and his family is just an example of that; will there ever be—will there ever be a point when you’re able to look at Trump in the eye and tell him enough is enough? You have a son in the military. How do you tolerate his disrespect?"
Gov. Mike Pence: "Well, I thank you for the question. It’s all right. It’s all right. Folks, that’s what—that’s what freedom looks like, and that’s what freedom sounds like."
In more campaign news, Donald Trump has said that if someone harassed his daughter Ivanka Trump the same way women have alleged former Fox News Chair Roger Ailes did to them, he "would like to think she would find another career or find another company if that was the case." Trump’s comments were published Monday in USA Today. Trump has also defended Roger Ailes, whom he describes as a "very, very good person." Trump has said that if Ivanka weren’t his daughter, "perhaps I’d be dating her."
Billionaire investor Warren Buffett has endorsed Hillary Clinton and challenged Trump to release his tax returns. Buffett also ridiculed Trump’s business acumen, saying Trump had let down investors in his businesses.
Warren Buffett: "If a monkey had thrown a dart at the stock page, the monkey, on average, would have made 150 percent. But the people that believed in him, that listened to his siren song, came away losing well over 90 cents on the dollar. They got back less than a dime."
Presumptive Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein has chosen her vice-presidential running mate: human rights scholar and activist Ajamu Baraka. Baraka is presently a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies. He is the founding executive director of the U.S. Human Rights Network. The Green Party’s presidential convention begins on Thursday in Houston, Texas.
Attorneys for accused killer Dylann Storm Roof have filed a motion arguing the death penalty would be an unconstitutional punishment for their client. In June of last year, Roof opened fire at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, killing nine black worshipers, including the pastor, Clementa Pinckney. Roof embraced white supremacist views and was shown in photographs posing with the Confederate flag. In a 30-page motion, Roof’s lawyers said the death penalty would constitute "cruel and unusual punishment," because federal prosecutors have refused to accept offers for Roof to plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence without parole.
A coalition of groups in the Movement for Black Lives has called for reparations for slavery and criminal justice reforms in a sweeping policy platform released Monday. The platform’s six demands are broken down into about 40 policy recommendations touching on topics ranging from abolishing the death penalty to ensuring safe drinking water. Its release comes as nearly daily Black Lives Matter protests continue nationwide, following the police killings of African Americans Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. On Monday, hundreds of activists gathered at New York City Hall. This is Vienna Rye.
Vienna Rye: "We are here today to demand that Bill Bratton be immediately fired, and broken windows policing ended, that reparations are paid to all victims and survivors of racist police brutality, and that the NYPD is defunded and that money is reinvested into black, brown and working-class communities."
Activists have collected more than a million signatures on a petition calling for the impeachment of the judge in the Stanford rape case. In June, California Judge Aaron Persky gave Stanford swimmer Brock Allen Turner a six-month jail sentence for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. Judge Persky said he was concerned a longer prison sentence would have a "severe impact" on Turner. Turner is white, and Judge Persky has since given a harsher sentence to a Latino man who committed a similar crime. This is one of the demonstrators who delivered the petition to Persky’s courthouse on Monday.
Demonstrator: "Basically what we’re focusing on is his bias. He has given lenient sentences to specific classes of people, and then, when faced with other classes of people, he’s given much harsher sentences."
Massachusetts has passed a law intended to equalize pay between men and women. The law prohibits employers from asking prospective hires about their salary histories. It is the first of its kind in the U.S. Many employers require applicants to give a salary history during the initial steps of the hiring process. This disadvantages women, who make less than men on average.
And bells in the tower at the University of Texas at Austin rang at precisely 11:40 a.m. Monday to mark the 50th anniversary of a mass shooting there. On August 1, 1966, UT engineering student and Marine veteran Charles Whitman opened fire from atop the university clock tower. His rampage on campus killed 14 people. Hours earlier, he had also killed his wife and mother, leaving behind a note that read "both dead." A 17th victim of his shooting rampage died decades later as a result of injuries sustained in the attack. At the time, the UT Austin massacre was the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. This year is the first time the university has officially marked the date. This comes as, also on Monday, a new concealed carry law went into effect in Texas, allowing license holders to legally carry guns on campus and inside university buildings for the first time.