WASHINGTON

Perry takes the lead among GOP hopefuls in latest poll

Buoyed by his recent entry into the 2012 presidential contest, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has jumped past former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and leads the GOP field for the first time, according to a new Gallup poll of Republican voters.

The national survey showed Perry leading Romney by a double-digit margin-29 percent to 17 percent. It also found that Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota got no significant bounce from her victory in an Iowa straw poll, which was overshadowed by Perry’s announcement speech the same day.

Bachmann has dropped three percentage points, to 10 percent, since the previous Gallup poll, conducted in late July. A more relevant measure of Bachmann’s prospects will await the next reputable poll in Iowa, where she and Perry are facing off in the most important early test of the Republican race.

Romney, who has waged an unusually low-profile campaign for a purported front-runner, has seen his support drop steadily for two straight months in Gallup polling. He has lost one-third of his support since June, according to Gallup.

The survey of 1,040 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, released Wednesday, was based on interviews between Aug. 17 and Aug. 21.

WASHINGTON

Probe promised into claims of 9/11 phone hacking

Attorney General Eric Holder is promising 9/11 families a preliminary criminal investigation into a report of possible phone hacking involving the Rupert Murdoch media empire.

Following a meeting Wednesday at the Justice Department that lasted over an hour, the family members and their lawyer said they were pleased that the attorney general made the commitment for a preliminary investigation into whether they were the targets of phone hacking by journalists at Murdoch’s now-shuttered News of the World.

WASHINGTON

Pipeline project to get an environmental go-ahead

The State Department will remove a major roadblock to construction of a massive oil pipeline stretching from Canada to Texas when it releases its final environmental assessment of the project as soon as Friday, according to sources briefed on the process.

The move is critical because it will affirm the agency’s earlier finding that the project will have “limited adverse environmental impacts” during construction and operation, according to sources familiar with the assessment who asked not to be identified because the decision has not been made public.

The department will have to conduct one more assessment – of whether the Keystone XL pipeline is in the “national interest” – before making a final permit decision by the end of the year.

The proposed TransCanada pipeline, which could transport as much as 500,000 barrels of crude oil a day from Canada’s “tar sands” or “oil sands” fields in Alberta has strained President Barack Obama’s relationship with his environmental base and become a proxy for the broader climate debate.

ORANGE, Calif.

Boy tossed by mom from fourth floor dies of injuries

A 7-month-old baby boy who was tossed from the fourth floor of a hospital parking structure died Wednesday, the same day his mother made an initial court appearance on charges of attempted murder and felony child abuse, a police spokesman said.

The child died Wednesday morning at the University of California, Irvine, Medical Center and charges against the mother, Sonia Hermosillo, 31, will be upgraded to murder, said Sgt. Dan Adams, spokesman for the Orange Police Department.

Prosecutors allege that Hermosillo removed a helmet that her son wore for a medical condition before tossing him from the parking structure at Children’s Hospital of Orange County late Monday. She then went back inside the hospital to validate her parking, senior deputy district attorney Scott Simmons said after Hermosillo’s hearing.

MOSCOW

Supply ship on way to space station explodes

An unmanned Russian supply ship bound for the International Space Station failed to reach its planned orbit Wednesday, and pieces of it fell in Siberia amid a thunderous explosion, officials said.

A brief statement from Roscosmos, Russia’s space agency, did not specify whether the Progress supply ship that was launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan had been lost. The ship was carrying more than 2.5 tons of supplies, including oxygen, food and fuel.

Roscosmos said the accident “would have no negative influence” on the International Space Station crew because its existing supplies of food, water and oxygen are sufficient.

BEIRUT

Sanctions imposed against Revolutionary Guard unit

The European Union imposed sanctions Wednesday against the elite unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, saying the Quds Force is providing equipment and other support to help Syrian President Bashar Assad crush the 5-month-old uprising against him.

The sanctions broadened the international pressure against Syria by directly targeting its key ally Iran, which the U.S. and other nations have accused of aiding the crackdown.

— From news service reports