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News Wrap: House Democrats to join Benghazi investigation

May 21, 2014 at 6:02 PM EDT
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GWEN IFILL: The U.S. military has stepped up the search for more than 270 schoolgirls kidnapped in Nigeria. President Obama told Congress today that 80 troops are being deployed to neighboring Chad. They will help with intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance flights over northern Nigeria.

The Islamist group Boko Haram abducted the girls late last month, and, today, its fighters killed 48 people in three northern villages. Yesterday, bombings in central Nigeria killed 118 people.

JUDY WOODRUFF: There was heavy new fighting in Libya today, amid fears of growing chaos. The combat came near a main camp and military barracks outside Tripoli. This morning, fires were still burning from midnight rocket attacks that killed two people. About 200 people were evacuated from the area. It was unclear who was involved in the fighting, but a renegade general, Khalifa Hifter, has launched a campaign against Islamist influence in Libya.

GWEN IFILL: Democrats in the House of Representatives have decided to join a new investigation of the attack on U.S. diplomats in Benghazi, Libya. Four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador, were killed there in 2012. Now a Republican-led select committee will investigate, the eighth probe to date.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi acknowledged today that some in her ranks wanted to boycott the effort.

REP. NANCY PELOSI, Minority Leader: I could have argued this either way. Why give any validity to this effort? But I do think it is important for the American people to have a pursuit of these questions done in as fair and open and balanced way as possible. That simply wouldn’t be possible leaving it to the Republicans.

GWEN IFILL: Republicans have charged the White House misled the public about what happened in Benghazi. The Obama administration denies it.

JUDY WOODRUFF: In Afghanistan, Taliban attacks left at least 21 people dead; 10 police officers and three civilians were killed in gun battles and bombs in several provinces. Villagers also found the bodies of eight policemen abducted two weeks ago. Afghanistan faces a presidential runoff election next month.

GWEN IFILL: Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was sentenced to three years in prison today for stealing public funds. Mubarak appeared in a defendants’ cage in a Cairo court along with his two sons. They were given four years each on the same charges of embezzlement.

News of the sentences prompted sharply different reactions across the Egyptian capital.

YOUSSRY AMIR  (through interpreter): Why should he get three years? This is unfair. There is no evidence in the case. Hosni Mubarak and his sons have done nothing. His are the most honorable people in Egypt.

KAMEL ABDEL SHAFI (through interpreter): They should have sentenced them to more than three or four years. He ruled us for a long time and left us broke and poverty-stricken and sick.

GWEN IFILL: Another court sentenced 155 Muslim Brotherhood supporters to jail. They were convicted of violence after President Mohammed Morsi was deposed last July.

JUDY WOODRUFF: China and Russia signed a $400 billion natural gas deal today. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping were on hand in Shanghai to witness the signing ceremony between their two state-controlled gas agencies. The deal is a boost for Putin as he faces Western sanctions over Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

GWEN IFILL: Back in this country, the Transportation Department called for airlines to do a better job letting passengers know how much it will actually cost to fly. Proposed new rules would spell out add-on fees, including the cost of a first and second checked bag, assigned seats and carry-ons. Currently, only bag fees have to be disclosed, but even then, the airline doesn’t have to give an exact price.

JUDY WOODRUFF: On Wall Street, stocks made up much of yesterday’s lost ground. The Dow Jones industrial average gained more than 158 points to close at 16,533. The Nasdaq rose 34 points to close at 4,131. And the S&P 500 added 15 to finish at 1,888.