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AROUND THE NATION

Sikh finishes training in traditional garb

SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- Amid lines of soldiers, one after the other in standard-issue dress uniform and black beret, was one in a turban and full beard Monday -- the first Sikh in a generation allowed to complete U.S. Army officer basic training without sacrificing the articles of his faith.

Capt. Tejdeep Singh Rattan, 31, a dentist, graduated Monday at Fort Sam Houston after the Army made an exemption to a uniform policy that has effectively prevented Sikhs from enlisting since 1984.

"I am overjoyed to serve my country, work with my fellow soldiers and to have completed basic training," Rattan said in a written statement released by the Sikh Coalition, a New York-based advocacy group that pushed the Army to allow him and another Sikh to go on active duty without sacrificing the unshorn hair mandated by their faith. The other soldier, Dr. Kamaljeet Singh Kalsi, is scheduled to undergo basic training this summer. Rattan and Kalsi both offer health care skills that are in high demand in an Army stretched by wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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EPA plans tighter rules on four chemicals

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Environmental Protection Agency is tightening drinking water standards to impose stricter limits on four contaminants that can cause cancer.

In a speech Monday, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said the agency is developing stricter regulations for four chemical compounds: tetrachloroethylene, trichloroethylene, acrylamide and epichlorohydrin. All four compounds can cause cancer.

Trichloroethylene, also known as TCE, and tetrachloroethylene are used as industrial solvents and can seep into drinking water from contaminated ground water or surface water. The other two compounds are impurities that can be introduced into drinking water during the water treatment process.

Jackson said the EPA will issue new TCE and tetrachloroethylene rules within a year. Rules for the others will follow.

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