US News: Health Care Delays Iran Sanctions; Benghazi Reward; Ethanol Mandate Reduced; Out-of-Control Drone; Hens Abandoned

Fire burns in the U.S. consulate in Benghazi after the attack there on September 11, 2012.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A Senate delay over an unrelated health care issue could be the silver lining for President Barack Obama in his appeal to Congress to hold off on a new round of Iran sanctions.
Republican Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana wants a vote on his measure to make lawmakers disclose which of their aides are enrolling in the president's new health care law as part of an ongoing effort to discredit "Obamacare." He wants a vote as part of the pharmaceutical bill.
That could delay Senate action next week on the annual defense policy bill that is certain to attract an amendment to impose a new round of penalties on Iran.
Obama has spoken to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and other senators in a plea to hold off on sanctions.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The State Department says it has been quietly offering rewards since January of up to $10 million for information about the attack last year on US diplomatic post in Libya.
In a letter sent to Congress Friday, the department says the rewards were not advertised on its website or posters or matchbooks as is usually done. That's because of security issues around the investigation into the attack on the mission in Benghazi that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
Lawmakers have complained the department is not using all the tools at its disposal to catch the perpetrators. The letter says investigators have other ways of publicizing the rewards.
The rewards are for information that leads to the arrest or conviction of anyone involved in the attack.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Obama administration wants to reduce the amount of ethanol in the nation's fuel supply, acknowledging the biofuel law championed by both parties in 2007 is not working as well as expected.
The new proposal announced Friday is unlikely to mean much for consumers at the pump. It could, however, cut into farmers' profits for corn, the primary ethanol source.
Ethanol through federal subsidies is cheaper than regular gasoline, but ethanol also reduces gas mileage. The change would require almost 3 billion fewer gallons of biofuel to be blended into gasoline in 2014 than the law mandates.
Under current plans, the amount of biofuel required would generate more ethanol than many engines can safely handle.

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Navy says an aerial target drone malfunctioned and struck a guided missile cruiser during training off Southern California, causing two minor injuries.
Lt. Lenaya (luh-NEY-yah) Rotklein of the U.S. Third Fleet said the accident on the USS Chancellorsville happened Saturday afternoon while the ship was testing its combat weapons system off Point Mugu.
She said two sailors were treated for minor burns after the ship was struck. She said the ship was heading back to Naval Base San Diego so that officials can assess the damage.
The Navy was investigating the cause of the drone malfunction.
Rotklein said the drone was being used to test the ship's radar. She had no immediate information on whether the drone has malfunctioned before.
About 300 crew members were aboard the ship.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Secretary of State John Kerry and his predecessor, Hillary Rodham Clinton, say Afghanistan is reaching a turning point that will be critical to maintaining advances made by women since the end of Taliban rule.
Kerry says Afghan women and girls have made great progress since 2001, enjoying greater access to education, health care and technology.
But he says many women are concerned that the country could return to the days of Taliban control, when girls were barred from attending school and women were forced indoors.
The U.S. and Afghan government are negotiating whether to leave in place a small U.S. combat force after 2014.
Kerry says Afghan women need a seat at the table of any peace negotiations and the rights of both men and women must be respected.

SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) -- A 7-year-old Afghan boy born with his bladder outside of his body awoke from corrective surgery just in time to say goodbye to the U.S. Army officer who helped make it possible.
The Scranton Times-Tribune reported Saturday ( ) that Bilal Sharif had the surgery Thursday at a New York medical center, but was still sleeping Friday when Maj. Glenn Battschinger came to see him before leaving for a deployment in Africa.
Battschinger says the operation was tremendous success, a happy ending to the 15 months he spent setting up the surgery and flying to the United States with the boy.
Battschinger says his job as a civil affairs officer is to rebuild stability in parts of the world affected by war. He says that includes providing opportunities for children like Bilal.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- Families in cities nationwide have discovered the joys of backyard chickens, and hundreds of cities have approved ordinances allowing the animals.
But the trend also has created a growing problem -- abandoned chickens.
Hens lay eggs reliably only for a few years but can live a decade or more. Many families are hesitant to kill a chicken that has grown up in their yard, so they instead turn them loose or take them to a shelter.
As a result, more old hens are showing up at animal rescue organizations. The problem worsens when the weather turns cold.
Chicken Run Rescue in Minneapolis, for example, saw the number of calls for help climb from six in 2001 to nearly 500 last year.