News Wrap: U.S.-backed militias continue gains in Sirte

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Libyan forces allied with the U.N.-backed government prepare to capture university buildings during a battle with IS fighters in Sirte, Libya, August 10, 2016. Picture taken August 10, 2016.  REUTERS/Stringer EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVE.  - RTSMQ6Q

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JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day’s other news: American-backed militias claimed new progress in capturing the Islamic State’s last stronghold in Libya. The militia forces say they have now liberated 70 percent of the city of Sirte. Just a day earlier, they took control of several key sites there, including a sprawling convention center that ISIS fighters had used as a headquarters.

GWEN IFILL: Australia is accusing asylum-seekers of lying about sexual abuse in offshore detention camps. More than 2,000 incidents allegedly happened on the island nation of Nauru. But Australia’s immigration minister rejected the accounts today.

PETER DUTTON, Immigration Minister, Australia: I would just add a word of caution to some of the hype that’s out there at the moment. If people have done the wrong thing, whether it’s security guards, whether it’s people in our employ directly or elsewhere, then there’s a price to pay for that.

But bear in mind that some people do have a motivation to make a false complaint, and we have had instances where people have self-harmed in an effort to get to Australia, and I’m not going to tolerate that behavior either.

GWEN IFILL: Australia refuses to accept asylum-seekers trying to reach its shores by boat. It pays Nauru and Papua New Guinea to hold them instead.

JUDY WOODRUFF: In the Philippines, startling numbers today from a crackdown on drugs. It began under new President Rodrigo Duterte as of July 1. Since then, police report killing 525 suspected dealers who they say put up a fight. In addition, they have arrested more than 7,600 suspects on charges of drug dealing. And another half-a-million people have turned themselves in to authorities. Human rights advocates are protesting the killings.

GWEN IFILL: Back in this country, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration balked at reclassifying marijuana as a lesser drug. Instead, it stays on the list of the most dangerous alongside heroin and ecstasy. There’s a growing push to legalize pot. But the DEA said it still has a high potential for abuse.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The scientists who found lead contamination in Flint, Michigan’s water now say the problem has greatly improved. A team from Virginia Tech University tested 162 homes in July and reported that 45 percent had no detectable levels of lead. That is up from just 9 percent with no lead a year ago.

MARC EDWARDS, Virginia Tech: This really shows that the corrosion control and all the things that are being implemented by the feds and state and city are really working, and Flint’s system is on its way to recover. Now, that doesn’t mean the current situation is acceptable. But this process of healing is going to continue.

JUDY WOODRUFF: For now, however, the researchers say all Flint residents should continue to drink bottled or filtered water.

GWEN IFILL: On Wall Street, stocks followed oil prices higher after an international report forecast greater stability in the oil market. The Dow Jones industrial average gained nearly 118 points to close at 18613. The Nasdaq rose close to 24 points, and the S&P 500 added 10.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And at the Summer Olympic Games, Americans finished one-two in the women’s gymnastics individual all-around. Simone Biles cemented her place as the best in the world, taking gold, and Aly Raisman was right behind her to grab silver.

Also today, American Kayla Harrison successfully defended her Olympic judo title from 2012.

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