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News Wrap: Oil Prices Fall Amid Hopes of Libyan Crude Returning to Market

August 22, 2011 at 12:00 AM EDT

KWAME HOLMAN: Oil prices around the world fell today on the prospect crude from Libya will return to the marketplace after months of political turmoil. But, in the U.S., benchmark crude in New York trading initially fell, then climbed back up to settle just above $84 a barrel.

And Wall Street had a more stable day, as investors moved to snap up cheap stocks. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 37 points to close above 10,854. The Nasdaq rose more than three points to close at 2,345.

At least three people were killed as anti-government protests continued across Syria today. The demonstrations came after President Bashar al-Assad insisted on state television yesterday that his regime remains strong. He also repeated a pledge to make reforms.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said today it was troubling Assad has broken his word to end the military operations against protesters and make reforms.

And, in Geneva, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights — U.N.’s Human Rights Council, Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe, said it’s time for Assad to step aside.

EILEEN CHAMBERLAIN DONAHOE, U.S. ambassador to United Nations Human Rights Council: It is clear that President Assad believes that he can silence the voices of his people by resorting to the repressive tactics of the past. But he is wrong. It is time for the Syrian people to determine their own destiny, and we will continue to stand firmly on their side.

KWAME HOLMAN: Also today, a U.N. official reported the death toll from the Syrian government’s five-month crackdown has reached 2,200.

Palestinian militants kept up a rocket campaign into southern Israel today, in spite of an unofficial cease-fire. The Israeli military said 15 rockets and mortars were launched overnight, but there were no injuries. The informal cease-fire was agreed to Sunday after last week’s attack on Israelis near the Egypt-Israel border sparked fighting.

In Afghanistan, an Australian soldier was killed by an improvised explosive device while on patrol today. Australia has more than 1,500 troops fighting in Afghanistan, the largest force provided by any country outside of NATO.

The first hurricane of the Atlantic season formed over Puerto Rico this morning. Hurricane Irene is forecast to track just north of Haiti and the Dominican Republican with winds of 80 miles per hour. It could reach the southeast coast of the U.S. by the end of the week. The storm’s heavy rain and winds slammed into Puerto Rico overnight, knocking out power to more than a million people. The governor has declared a state of emergency.

The public got its first look at a new monument honoring the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. today. Located on the National Mall in Washington, the site features a 30-foot-tall statue of the late civil rights leader and a long granite wall inscribed with quotations from some of Dr. King’s speeches. Completing the memorial was a more than 25-year process.

Construction was spearheaded by a foundation headed by Harry Johnson.

HARRY JOHNSON, Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation: Dr. King was so profound at such a young age to say the words that he said that will live forever.

And that’s why we call this a living memorial, that you can walk the wall and you actually get a sense of, is he still talking in 1960 or is he talking in 2011? And I think we all walk away saying this is so relevant today, because we actually can live, see, and place Dr. King in his proper perspective, that these words have meaning now.

KWAME HOLMAN: The memorial will be dedicated at a ceremony on Sunday, the 48th anniversary of the March on Washington. President Obama will be among the speakers.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.