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Nation Briefs

Senator vows to delay Obama’s nominees

WASHINGTON – A leading Republican senator said Sunday he would hold up Senate confirmation of President Barack Obama’s nominees to head the Pentagon and the CIA until the White House provided more answers about the Sept. 11 attack against a U.S. installation in Benghazi, Libya.

The White House took aim at South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a persistent critic of Obama’s response to the terrorist assault, by urging quick approval of the president’s second-term national security team and scolding any lawmakers trying to “play politics” with critical nominations.

Graham accused the White House of “stonewalling” requests to release more information about the attack that killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya. “We’re going to get to the bottom of Benghazi,” he told CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

Corn shortage idles 20 ethanol plants

ST. LOUIS – The persistent drought is taking a toll on producers of ethanol, with corn becoming so scarce that nearly two dozen ethanol plants have been forced to halt production.

The Renewable Fuels Association, an ethanol industry trade group, provided data to The Associated Press showing that 20 of the nation’s 211 ethanol plants have ceased production over the past year, including five in January. While most expect to resume, they won’t likely do so until after 2013 corn is harvested in late August or September.

Industry experts don’t expect an ethanol shortage because millions of barrels are stockpiled and the remaining 191 plants are still producing.

But there is growing concern about the high price of corn and what happens if the drought lingers through another corn-growing season.

Lawmaker: U.S. seeing more cyberattacks

WASHINGTON – The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee says the U.S. is vulnerable to cyberattacks that could shut down financial services or destroy information that companies need for daily operations.

Rep. Mike Rogers says 95 percent of private sector networks are vulnerable.

The Michigan Republican says hackers have stepped up attacks since the fall, and he points to China and Iran.

Rogers tells CBS’ “Face the Nation” that the U.S. government has, essentially “set up lawn chairs, told the burglars where the silver is ... and opened the case of beer and watched them do it.”

Associated Press