In the Nation

Rabbi Menachem Stern will be sworn in as an Army chaplain. The military had barred him because he refused to shave.
Rabbi Menachem Stern will be sworn in as an Army chaplain. The military had barred him because he refused to shave. (LYNNE SLADKY / Associated Press)
Posted: December 09, 2011

Perry, Bachmann exit Trump debate

MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. - Two more Republicans have pulled out of Donald Trump's planned Dec. 27 debate in Iowa before the caucuses there.

Gov. Rick Perry of Texas and Rep. Michele Bachmann have joined Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman, and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas in saying they will not attend. In a statement Thursday, the Perry campaign cited the demands on the candidate before the voting begins.

Trump's involvement as a debate moderator has been criticized by some Republican leaders because he has held out the possibility that he might still run for president.

So far, only Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum have said they will appear at the debate, which is being hosted by Newsmax, the conservative magazine and website, and will be broadcast on Ion Television on Dec. 27.

- N.Y. Times News Service

Group targets voter ID bills

WASHINGTON - An online advocacy group is urging corporations that market to African Americans to stop giving money to a conservative organization working for stricter voting laws. The group, ColorofChange, is targeting companies that support the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, a nonprofit that has helped states pass photo-ID laws, which are criticized by minority and civil rights groups. Its members include legislators and corporations, who pay higher fees to join.

Last year, 14 states approved 25 measures related to voting, from requiring photo IDs at the ballot box to restricting voting by ex-felons. Critics of the laws say they would hurt African Americans, Latinos, students, and the elderly.

Kaitlyn Buss, an ALEC spokeswoman, said ALEC wasn't promoting voter photo ID as an initiative and did not put a lot of effort or resources into the proposed legislation.

- AP

Bearded rabbi can be chaplain

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - An Orthodox Jewish rabbi who was barred from serving as an Army chaplain because he refused to shave the beard required by his faith won a legal fight against the military and will be sworn in Friday.

Rabbi Menachem Stern of Brooklyn will be officially admitted to the chaplaincy in a ceremony at the Shul Jewish Community Center in Surfside, Fla. Stern is a member of the Chabad Lubavitch movement of Judaism, whose rabbis are prohibited from shaving their beards.

Army regulations require men to be clean-shaven except for neatly trimmed mustaches. An Army spokesman, Paul Price, would not comment on the specific settlement in Menachem's case but said any such request is dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

- AP

Elsewhere:

More than a week after a ferocious windstorm cut power throughout the region, Southern California Edison said Thursday it had finally restored power to the last customers left in the dark and cold, some for nearly a week. New figures indicated that 643,000 households and businesses in the region had lost power during the storm Nov. 30 that unleashed winds approaching 100 m.p.h.

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