Nation & World Briefs 05-09-14 New Benghazi probe: House Republicans vote to dig further

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WASHINGTON -- House Republicans on Thursday rammed through a measure opening a new investigation of the deadly assault in Benghazi, Libya, vowing to dig deeper in a search for truth. Democrats declared it merely a political ploy to raise campaign cash and motivate voters.

A bitterly divided House voted 232-186 to establish the panel that Speaker John Boehner insisted would answer questions that linger almost 20 months after the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission. Seven Democrats, many facing tough re-election campaigns, broke ranks and joined Republicans in supporting the probe.

The panel's investigation will be the eighth on Benghazi and will examine the entirety of the attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. Independent, bipartisan and GOP-led probes have faulted the State Department for inadequate security at the outpost, leading to four demotions. No attacker has yet been brought to justice.

Republicans say they're unsatisfied with explanations so far, and they have leveled a range of accusations against President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and other senior administration officials. Chief among them: that the administration misled the American people about the nature of the attack during a presidential election campaign and stonewalled congressional investigators.

Agrees to six-month stay: The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals agreed Thursday to a six-month stay of execution for a death row inmate while an investigation is conducted into last week's botched lethal injection. The court reset the execution date of inmate Charles Warner to Nov. 13. Warner's attorneys requested the delay, and state Attorney General Scott Pruitt said in a court filing Thursday he wouldn't object. While the stay only applies to Warner, the attorney general and governor have said Oklahoma will not carry out any executions until the investigation is finished, which is expected to take at least eight weeks.

U.S. commandos head to Europe: About 200 U.S. special operations forces and support staff will be participating in training exercises across Europe, including in the three Baltic nations, in the coming months as part of America's ongoing effort to reassure allies in the region. The Pentagon said about 40 special operations forces are now taking part in the two-week Exercise Spring Storm in Estonia. And 140 will participate in Exercise Flaming Sword, which is in Latvia and Lithuania this month and will include forces from the U.S. and seven other nations. A third exercise called Namejs will take place in Latvia.

"Hitler Album" donated to U.S. Archive: Adolf Hitler's last known album of artworks stolen by the Nazis during World War II is being donated to the National Archives to mark the anniversary of the war's end in Europe. The leather-bound "Hitler Album" joins dozens of others recovered by the U.S. Army to identify and return stolen art. The album being turned over to the archives Thursday catalogued French collections. The Monuments Men Foundation is donating the album to the archives with one of the last surviving "Monuments Men" who was part of the real recovery team. It's not clear whether any new information can be gleaned from the album.

Famed research pilot dies: Famed research test pilot Bill Dana, who flew the X-15 rocket plane and other pioneering aircraft during the birth of the space age, has died at age 83. Dana died Tuesday at an assisted living facility in suburban Phoenix, according to an announcement by NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center in California. Starting in the 1950s, Dana logged more than 8,000 hours in more than 60 types of aircraft, ranging from helicopters and sailplanes to the hypersonic X-15, which he flew to a maximum altitude of nearly 59 miles, reaching a top speed of 3,897 mph.

Ukraine insurgents to hold vote: In an obscure government office guarded by a man in a red T-shirt armed only with a stick, two photocopy machines churned out ballots Thursday for eastern Ukraine's referendum on secession, as they have been doing around the clock for days. In apparent defiance of a call by Russian President Vladimir Putin to put off the vote, insurgents in eastern Ukraine insisted Thursday they will go ahead with this weekend's referendum as planned.

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