News Wrap: Afghanistan reports progress against Taliban forces

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An Afghan National Army (ANA) soldier gestures as they arrive in Nad Ali district of Helmand province, southern Afghanistan August 10, 2016. REUTERS/ Abdul Malik - RTSMD3R

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JUDY WOODRUFF: The battle for the Iraqi city of Mosul is on. Iraqi forces and their allies opened an offensive today to wrest the city from Islamic State forces.

The operation is being backed by American airstrikes and U.S. ground troops in support roles. By this evening, both Iraqi and U.S. military officials said the assault is ahead of schedule. We will have a full report right after the news summary.

Government forces in Afghanistan are reporting progress against Taliban fighters around a key city in the south. They say they have pushed back insurgents outside Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand Province, with the help of U.S. airstrikes. One Afghan commander estimated that hundreds of Taliban fighters were killed in the last 24 hours alone.

In the U.S. presidential campaign, Republican Donald Trump hammered away again today at his claim that the election is being rigged against him. And the ongoing furor over Hillary Clinton’s e-mails took a new turn.

Lisa Desjardins has our report.

LISA DESJARDINS: Hillary Clinton was off the campaign trail today, but her words from the past were back in the news.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), Presidential Nominee I didn’t e-mail any classified material to anyone on my e-mail.

LISA DESJARDINS: That was March of last year. Clinton also said she never received classified e-mail. But notes from the FBI’s investigation out today indicate that, last year, a senior State Department official asked to declassify one e-mail that went to Clinton’s private server.

Separately, the official also offered to let the FBI put more agents overseas. The FBI refused to reclassify the e-mail, but cited someone in its records division as saying that that person believed the State Department had an agenda, which involves minimizing the classified nature of the Clinton e-mails in order to protect State interests and those of Clinton.

The State Department said today it was simply trying to understand the classification.

MARK TONER, State Department Spokesman: So the allegation of any kind of quid pro quo is inaccurate and doesn’t align with the facts.

LISA DESJARDINS: Late today, the FBI also said there was no quid pro quo involved.

Meanwhile:

DONALD TRUMP (R), Presidential Nominee: This is a rigged system, folks.

LISA DESJARDINS: Donald Trump’s repeated words this weekend questioning the integrity of the election reached a new level on Twitter this morning. He wrote: “Of course there is large scale voter fraud happening on and before election day. Why do Republican leaders deny what is going on?”

On Sunday, Trump’s V.P. nominee, Mike Pence, seemed to be on a different page.

CHUCK TODD: Will you accept the results of the election?

GOV. MIKE PENCE (R), Vice Presidential Nominee: We will absolutely accept the results of the election.

LISA DESJARDINS: But today near Cincinnati, Pence was pushing the idea of election problems.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Voter fraud cannot be tolerated by anyone in this nation, because it disenfranchises Republicans, independents, Democrats, conservatives and liberals in America.

LISA DESJARDINS: In Washington, the Democratic V.P. nominee, Tim Kaine, seized on the Trump criticism, while making a stop at his current workplace, Capitol Hill.

SEN. TIM KAINE (D), Vice Presidential Nominee: When you criticize the system, who are you criticizing? You’re criticizing American voters, and you’re criticizing local elected officials in cities and counties and states who have been running elections, you know, for decades and decades and decades. The criticism is completely unjustified, and it’s a guy who’s whining because he’s a big bully who’s getting beaten, and now he’s starting to whine.

LISA DESJARDINS: And amid the increasing tension, investigators are looking into pre-election violence. Over the weekend, someone threw a firebomb through the window of a local Republican office in North Carolina. No one was hurt. Officials from both parties have disavowed the attack.

For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Lisa Desjardins.

JUDY WOODRUFF: We will look more closely at Donald Trump’s warning about a rigged contest and its implications after the news summary.

In Syria, the ravaged city of Aleppo may get a brief respite this week from Russian airstrikes and Syrian ground assaults. Russia’s military announced today a humanitarian pause for eight hours on Thursday. But the U.S. State Department dismissed the idea as too little, too late.

Meanwhile, Russian and Syrian airstrikes continued today, killing dozens. The attacks came as European Union leaders met in Luxembourg and condemned Russia’s air campaign.

FEDERICA MOGHERINI, Foreign Policy Chief, European Union: Priority number one now is to save Aleppo, to save the people of Aleppo. And that is why our strong call is on Russia and on the Syrian regime to stop the bombing on Aleppo and to continue talks with the U.S. and other key players on the ground to avoid the catastrophe, first of all, the humanitarian catastrophe in the city.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The E.U. foreign ministers stopped short of agreeing to impose sanctions against Moscow.

Hard-liners in Iran released video today of an Iranian-American businessman who’s been held there for a year. Siamak Namazi was arrested in 2015 just days after the Iran nuclear deal was adopted. There’s no word on the charges against him. Namazi’s father was arrested later, after going to Iran to try to win his son’s release.

Back in this country, Vice President Joe Biden hoped that the cancer moonshot initiative he leads is going to double the pace of research. Meeting with President Obama, the vice president talked up efforts to speed the development of diagnostics and new drugs.

VICE PRESIDENT JOSEPH BIDEN: There is a need for a greater sense of urgency, because there is — there are available answers now to some cancers, and there is enormous opportunity in sharing data.

I am confident, absolutely confident that we will be able to accomplish in the next five years what otherwise would have taken us 10 years.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The $1 billion cancer moonshot began eight months ago. It aims for collaboration across government, industry, and medicine.

The nation’s high school graduation rate has reached a new record high. According to federal data released today, 83.2 percent of students earned their diplomas on time in the past school year. Rates improved among all racial and ethnic groups, despite the fact that the test scores in math and reading have been dropping.

And stocks fell on Wall Street today, as declining oil prices dragged down energy shares. The Dow Jones industrial average lost nearly 52 points to close at 18086. The Nasdaq fell 14 points, and the S&P 500 slipped six.

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