TOP STORIES:

BENGHAZI ATTACK

WASHINGTON — House Republicans are set to begin a special investigation of the deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, raising the stakes in a political battle with the Obama administration as the midterm election season heats up. By Bradley Klapper. Eds: Vote expected after 2:30 p.m. EDT.

AP video.

UNITED STATES-VENEZUELA

WASHINGTON — Congress is moving closer to imposing economic penalties against Venezuela's government. State Department officials will brief a Senate committee Thursday on violent street protests that have rocked the country for weeks, and a House panel will finalize its version of a sanctions bill Friday. By Bradley Klapper.

UNITED STATES-THAILAND

WASHINGTON — Thailand is a long-standing U.S. ally and military partner, but Washington will be wary of wading into the nation's turbulent politics after the judicial ouster of the Thai prime minister heightened the risk of conflict. By Matthew Pennington.

UNITED NATIONS-NUCLEAR TALKS

UNITED NATIONS — Nuclear experts from Iran and six world powers had "a useful meeting" in New York ahead of political talks next week aimed at reaching an agreement to limit Iran's ability to produce nuclear weapons, the European Union said. By Edith M. Lederer.

CUBA-US EXILES DETAINED

HAVANA — Four Cuban exiles from Miami are being held for planning "terrorist actions" against military targets on the island, Havana authorities say in announcing the first such arrests in years. By Peter Orsi and Andrea Rodriguez.

ARGENTINA-ECONOMY

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Argentine automakers are reducing production and suspending factory workers as sales plunge because of a gathering storm of economic trouble. By Michael Warren.

BRAZIL-LAND OCCUPATION

SAO PAULO — Thousands of impoverished Brazilians living illegally on land near the World Cup stadium where the opening match will be played next month say they were driven from their homes by rent increases spurred by the arena's construction. By Adriana Gomez Licon.

AP Photos.

With: BRAZIL-WORLD CUP PROTESTS. AP Photos.

VENEZUELA-WATER RATIONING

CARACAS, Venezuela — With the dry season running longer than usual, authorities have imposed a rationing plan that will leave some of Caracas' 6 million people without water for as many as three days a week. By Jorge Rueda.

JAMAICA-PLANE CRASH INVESTIGATION

KINGSTON, Jamaica — An investigation into a plane accident almost five years ago at a Jamaican airport has concluded that an American Airlines jet flying in from Miami botched the landing and the flight crew may have been fatigued. By David McFadden.

AP Photo.

CARIBBEAN-HIV PREVENTION

KINGSTON, Jamaica — Jamaica and other Caribbean nations with laws outlawing male homosexuality have some of the globe's highest rates of HIV among gay men. Experts say widespread prejudice inhibits access to treatment, but there's a growing effort to diminish that stigma in clinics and reach gay men with help. By David McFadden.

AP Photos.

BUSINESS:

RECESSION-POPULATION

UNDATED — The 2008 financial crisis did more than wipe out billions in wealth and millions of jobs. It also sent birth rates tumbling around the world as couples found themselves too short of money or too fearful about their finances to have children. Six years later, birth rates haven't bounced back. For an overcrowded planet, this is good news. For the economy, not so good. By Bernard Condon.

AP Photos.

ALIBABA-IPO

SAN FRANCISCO — Alibaba Group, the king of e-commerce in China, is dangling a deal that could turn into one of the biggest IPOs in history. By Michael Liedtke.

AP Photos.

ARTS and ENTERTAINMENT :

MUSIC-PAUL SIMON

NEW YORK — Paul Simon performs a rousing set and accepts an award from New York University in his first public appearance since he and wife Edie Brickell were arrested on disorderly conduct charges. By Mesfin Fekadu.

AP Photo.

ANCIENT CAMBODIAN STATUE

PASADENA, California — The Norton Simon Museum has agreed to return a 10th century statue that may have been looted from a Cambodian temple during that country's genocidal civil war in the 1970s.

AP Photo.