They’re taking aim. American air strikes hit ISIS positions in Moammar Gadhafi’s homeland yesterday, targeting the extremist stronghold of Sirte. President Obama approved intervention after a request from Libya’s U.N.-backed government. Local ground forces have been fighting against ISIS in the area for some time now, but with few significant strategic gains. Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj says “heavy losses” resulted from the strikes — which signal an apparent U.S. willingness to intervene on the Libyan unity government’s behalf, perhaps hoping to inspire cohesion among anti-ISIS factions.
The Presidential Daily Brief
They’d been delivering aid. Footage and photos on social media showed the wreckage of an Mi-8 military helicopter aflame, and at least one body being dragged away from the scene. It’s unclear which group shot down the helicopter, which was carrying both crew and officers returning from a humanitarian mission to the besieged city of Aleppo. The Kremlin said it believes all five on board are dead, but it’s unclear what the repercussions will be for rebels fighting Russia-backed government forces in Aleppo — and the hundreds of thousands of civilians still trapped there.
Add it to the outrage pile. Donald Trump scrambled to divert an avalanche of criticism Sunday, in the wake of his response to a Democratic National Convention appearance by Muslim immigrant Gold Star parents. Trump implied that Islam precluded mother Ghazala Khan from speaking — which she shot down by speaking publicly — and Khizr Khan had “no right” to criticize him. As prominent Republicans, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, disagreed with their nominee, running mate Mike Pence put out a conciliatory statement to try to clean up the growing campaign crisis.
You come at the king, you best not miss. Turkish special forces have captured 11 soldiers who are accused of trying to kidnap President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during last month’s attempted coup. The group was taken into custody after a gunfight with no reported casualties, and will now join 25 soldiers already arrested on the same charges. The government says it’s detained more than 18,000 people since the putsch July 15, which Erdogan blames on exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen, and a complete overhaul of the nation’s military structure and academies is underway.
She’s got an Olympian challenge ahead. Former journalist Yuriko Koike, who served as Japan’s first female defense minister, beat 20 candidates to win leadership of Japan’s capital after the last governor stepped down amid an embezzlement scandal. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe — who campaigned against her — will now be a key partner as Koike takes the reins of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which is threatening to devour triple its preliminary $7.14 billion budget. She and Abe, whose 20-member cabinet has only three women, will travel together to Rio for the 2016 closing ceremonies.
Sometimes, the global market disrupts you. Uber’s been trying to establish itself in China for three years, but never made a profit — and now it’s reportedly cut a deal with the much-larger homegrown rival ride-hailing app. Uber’s local operations will go to Didi in exchange for a $1 billion investment and a 20 percent stake in the Chinese company. China’s just legalized ride-hailing apps — and will institute new regulations in November forbidding below-cost pricing, which may have spurred the deal.
Taliban take responsibility for Kabul hotel bombing. (NYT)
Key sailing ramp collapses in Rio as Olympics loom. (The Guardian)
Radicalism reportedly fomented in European prisons. (WSJ) sub
Gunman kills woman, wounds three others at Austin nightclubs. (Reuters)
Billionaire’s mother-in-law rescued unharmed from kidnapping in Brazil. (BBC)
All hail the robot cab overlords. An autonomous taxi program was already being tested, but now Delphi Automotive says it’ll dispatch a few self-driving vehicles to ferry people to hard-to-access Singaporean mass transit hubs. With a program already under way in Silicon Valley, the British vehicle electronics supplier is expected to roll out new American and European pilots this year. Initially, Singapore’s six robot jitneys will follow three preset routes — and have a human driver as a safety measure. If that works, by 2019 they’ll branch out on their own.
Finally, some instructions. A Hong Kong hobbyist built a Scarlett Johansson lookalike, the Mark 1, for about $50,000 and now he’s writing a guidebook for others to build robotic girlfriends. Ricky Ma Wai-kay, 42, says his creation was not engineered as a sex toy, but such a market could be enormous — and simple sex bots are already sold in China. The inventor is raising funds for a second prototype with a more expressive face, but he advises lonely buyers against falling in love with his creations.
They don’t age well. Many teenage girls in Botswana see stable, financially successful older men as a safer sexual choice — but their HIV rates are counterintuitively astronomical. Noam Angrist, a data-obsessed 25-year-old MIT grad, is trying to change the country’s perception of stability with his education NGO “Young 1ove.” It uses hip young locals to spread the word amid a hodgepodge of HIV-awareness campaigns. Its effectiveness is being studied — as plans are advancing for an expansion into AIDS-wracked Zimbabwe and South Africa.
Winter is coming to a close. For the first time, HBO’s confirmed longstanding rumors that its megahit fantasy series will end with Season 8. Programming president Casey Bloys told reporters he would love to “take 10 more seasons,” but the showrunners want to wrap up the saga — and it’s premature to talk about a spin-off. Production has been delayed on Season 7, meaning fans of Tyrion Lannister, Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen will have to wait until next summer for the abbreviated seven-episode run.
You can’t putt anything past him. Saturday’s rain meant Sunday’s final day at Baltusrol Golf Club was a 36-hole slog, and Walker soldiered through to capture victory by a single shot over Jason Day, the world’s No. 1 golfer. The 37-year-old Texan slipped in a 3-foot par on the final hole to nip Day, who charged back into the mix with a late eagle. But Walker’s calm consistency won out, completing this season’s peculiar sweep of the majors by first-time winners.