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Strict rules behind debate’s looser town hall format

The format for the second presidential debate is designed to be a little less stiff — a free-flowing question-and-answer session between the candidates and a studio audience.

But behind the scenes, little is left to chance.

There are 80 participants, culled by Gallup, the polling firm, from a sample of uncommitted voters who live near the debate’s location in Hempstead on Long Island. On Tuesday morning, they are scheduled to arrive at the site to begin rehearsals with the moderator, CNN’s Candy Crowley. They will have prepared questions to ask but will not use them during the prep session. To preserve as much secrecy as possible, they will rehearse with dummy questions.

Crowley will select the participants to call on during the actual debate, which she will determine by reviewing their questions beforehand. The campaigns are not allowed to screen any of them.

There are strict time limits and rules. After the audience member asks a question, his or her microphone will be immediately shut off. The candidate will have two minutes to answer. The other candidate is then given two minutes to respond. Then the moderator will be able to pose a follow-up question of her choosing, with each candidate allowed one minute to respond.

—Jeremy W. Peters, The New York Times

After epic jump, daredevil lands on his feet

ROSWELL, N.M. — A man fell to Earth from more than 24 miles high Sunday, becoming the first human to break the sound barrier under his own power.

The man, Felix Baumgartner, an Austrian daredevil, made the highest and fastest jump in history after ascending by a helium balloon to an altitude of 128,100 feet. As millions around the world experienced the vertiginous view from his capsule’s camera, he stepped off into the void and plummeted for more than four minutes, reaching a maximum speed measured at 833.9 miles per hour, or Mach 1.24.

He broke altitude and speed records set half a century ago by Joe Kittinger, now 84, a retired Air Force colonel whose reassuring voice from mission control guided Baumgartner through tense moments. Early in the jump, Baumgartner began spinning out of control. But as the atmosphere thickened, Baumgartner managed to fall smoothly until he opened his parachute about a mile above ground and landed in the New Mexico desert.

“Trust me, when you stand up there on top of the world, you become so humble,” Baumgartner, 43, said after landing.

—John Tierney, The New York Times

Supreme court to hear case on Arizona voter registration

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to decide whether Arizona may require proof of citizenship in order to register to vote in federal elections. The federal appeals court in San Francisco had blocked the state law, saying it conflicted with a federal one. The Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case early next year, and the law will remain suspended in the meantime.

The state law requires prospective voters to prove they are citizens by providing copies of or information concerning various documents, including birth certificates, passports, naturalization papers or Arizona drivers licenses, which are available only to people lawfully present in the state.

The federal law, the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, allows voters to register using a federal form that asks, “Are you a citizen of the United States?” Prospective voters must check a box for yes or no, and they must sign the form, swearing they are citizens under penalty of perjury.

—Adam Liptak, The New York Times