- - Sunday, August 14, 2011

NEW YORK

Bill aims to upgrade power plant security

ALBANY — A loophole in the law doesn’t require workers hired at most power plants to undergo FBI background checks even though a federal report warns that the plants are likely routes for terrorists, Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, said Sunday in announcing legislation that would change that.

Mr. Schumer cited a Homeland Security Department report that found disgruntled former employees have sensitive inside information that terrorists might want. The report also says unidentified outsiders have solicited current employees.

Last fall, al Qaeda urged recruits to take jobs in potential terrorist targets such as power plants, where they could inflict significant damage and chaos quickly and easily, the federal report said.

“Power plants and utilities present a tempting and potentially catastrophic target to extremists who are bent on wreaking havoc on the United States, which is why thorough background checks on all workers with access to the most sensitive areas of these operations are a must,” Mr. Schumer said.

“The DHS report is a wake-up call that we must ensure those with access to our most critical infrastructure — and our power supplies — are not compromised by extremist influences.”

His bill would require FBI background checks on all employees of major power plants, Mr. Schumer said.

GOP

Cain encouraged by 5th place in Iowa poll

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain said he got a lot for his money in Iowa’s straw poll.

Mr. Cain said his campaign for the Republican nomination spent nothing on ads for TV and radio and had just four buses to bring people to participate in Saturday’s vote.

The Georgia businessman ended up with 1,456 votes, or 9 percent. That was good enough for fifth place among 10 contenders. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota won the poll with 29 percent.

Mr. Cain told CNN’s “State of the Union” that his showing is encouraging and that his campaign’s momentum is growing. He said he still believes he can win the nomination and the presidency.

CONNECTICUT

McMahon ‘leaning strongly’ toward U.S. Senate bid

HARTFORD | Former wrestling executive and 2010 Republican Senate candidate Linda McMahon said she is “leaning strongly” toward getting into Connecticut’s 2012 Senate race.

Mrs. McMahon told the Associated Press on Friday that she is working with political consultants to “evaluate what’s the best thing to do” and “what makes sense.” She said she expects to solidify that decision over the next four to six weeks.

New state Republican Party Chairman Jerry Labriola Jr. said he also has spoken with former U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays. He says Mr. Shays also is serious about entering the race.

Hartford lawyer Brian K. Hill has announced his GOP candidacy. Vernon Mayor Jason McCoy is exploring a GOP run.

Several Democrats have been in the race for months.

The candidates are seeking the seat of retiring independent Joe Lieberman.

IOWA

Once a fringe candidate, Paul has influence in race

DES MOINES — Rep. Ron Paul is in position to shape the 2012 Republican presidential primary.

Once seen as a fringe candidate, the Texan is giving voice to the party’s libertarian wing and reflecting a frustration with international entanglements.

Mr. Paul placed second in a key early test vote Saturday, coming within 152 votes of winning the Iowa straw poll in Ames. He is boasting an organizational strength he lacked four years ago during his first shot at the GOP nomination.

Mr. Paul retooled his focus on social issues such as abortion to set himself up as a serious player in Iowa, where evangelicals hold great sway.

He also is sticking with his message of liberty and limited government in hopes of attracting tea partyers who have yet to rally behind a single candidate.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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