THE REGION

Rally and March Planned Near Capitol

Protesters will hold a rally and march near the West Front of the Capitol during tonight's State of the Union address by President Bush.

The rally, for which a permit has been obtained, will begin at 6 p.m. at the Capitol Reflecting Pool and will feature musical performances and speeches. The march, for which a permit has not been obtained, is planned for about 10 p.m., beginning at Fourth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW. The demonstrations are organized by local activists in the recently formed Shirts Off Coalition, which is made up of anti-capitalist, Green Party and pro-Palestinian groups.

D.C. police also announced yesterday that they will activate their network of surveillance cameras to monitor "suspicious or unusual activities" during the annual presidential address.

The 14 cameras, placed around downtown and in Dupont Circle, will be turned on at 5 p.m. and turned off at 11 p.m., barring "unusual circumstances," police said.

U.S. Capitol Police said that the Capitol Square will close to "unauthorized pedestrians" at 6 p.m. today and that the following streets will be closed starting at 7:30 p.m.: Second Street between D Street NE and D Street SE; D Street between Second Street SE and Washington Avenue SW; Washington Avenue SW between D Street and Independence Avenue SW; Independence Avenue SW between Washington Avenue and Third Street SW; Third Street between Independence Avenue SW and Constitution Avenue NW; Constitution Avenue NW between Third Street and Louisiana Avenue NW; Louisiana Avenue NW between Constitution Avenue NW and D Street NW; and D Street between Louisiana Avenue NW and Second Street NE.

Hearings on Metro Fare Increases

Metro announced yesterday that it is planning nine public hearings on proposals for fare increases. The transit agency asked that people wanting to speak send their names, addresses, telephone numbers and organization affiliation, if any, no later than five days before the hearing to Harold Bartlett, chief of staff, Metro, 600 Fifth St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001. The schedule is as follows:

Feb. 24, 7:30 p.m., Arlington County Board Room, 2100 Clarendon Blvd., third floor; Feb. 25, 7:30 p.m., Garnet-Patterson Middle School, 2001 10th St. NW; Feb. 26, 7:30 p.m., Malcolm X Elementary School, Alabama Avenue and Congress Street NE; Feb. 27, 7:30 p.m., Metro headquarters, 600 Fifth St. NW.

March 3, 7:30 p.m., Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, 600 Kenilworth Ave., Riverdale; March 4, 7:30 p.m., Fairfax County South Government Center, 8350 Richmond Hwy., Alexandria area; March 5, 6:30 p.m., Montgomery County Council Office Building, 100 Maryland Ave., Rockville; March 12, 7:30 p.m., Oakton High School, 2900 Sutton Rd., Vienna; March 13, 7:30 p.m., Alexandria City Hall, 301 King St.

MARYLAND

GOP Talks to Curry About Party Switch

Members of the administration of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) have talked to former Prince George's county executive Wayne K. Curry about joining the Republican Party, but Ehrlich's top deputy said last night that he is not holding out high hopes for a switch.

Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele (R) said that he has talked to Curry, one of the most prominent Democrats to join Ehrlich's transition team, but that Curry has given him "no indication" that he would change parties. "There's no orchestrated effort" to get Curry to switch parties, "but there's always hope," Steele added.

Yesterday, Robert Novak, a conservative talk-show host, speculated on CNN's "Inside Politics" that Curry "may switch to the Republican Party" and could run against Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.).

Curry, reached last night at his home, declined to comment.

Pond Searched in Anthrax Investigation

Federal authorities yesterday sent divers through the ice of a secluded Frederick County pond near the former home of a scientist who has been described by authorities as "a person of interest" in the October 2001 anthrax attacks.

FBI spokeswoman Debra Weierman said the search was "just a continuation of our investigation on the anthrax case." She declined to provide more information.

It was the second time in seven weeks that investigators have searched ponds in the Catoctin Mountains on land owned by the city of Frederick, where Steven Hatfill, a former Army biological weapons researcher, lived. Hatfill has denied involvement in the attacks.

Ruling to Stand in AME Zion Case

The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday refused to hear a case involving the African Methodist Episcopal Zion church and a Prince George's County congregation that split with the denomination in 1999 and kept $40 million in assets.

From the Heart Ministries had been ordered by Prince George's County Circuit Court to turn over $38 million to $40 million in property -- including two sanctuaries, a school and a Lear jet -- to the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church.

Then the Maryland Court of Appeals ordered a new hearing for the Temple Hills church, saying the lower court was wrong to grant summary judgment in the case. AME Zion went to the Supreme Court, arguing that a new hearing would subject it to an "unconstitutional intrusion into the denomination's self-governance" in violation of the First Amendment. But the Supreme Court yesterday declined to hear the case, letting stand the appeals court ruling.

Most of the 24,000 members of From the Heart Ministries broke away from the AME Zion denomination after their pastor, the Rev. John A. Cherry, said he heard the voice of God say, "Get out of Zion."

THE DISTRICT

Heat Repaired at Two D.C. Schools

D.C. school officials said yesterday they had fixed a broken gas meter that caused a heating problem at Roosevelt Senior High School and MacFarland Middle School. They said both schools would open on time today.

Classes at MacFarland were canceled yesterday because of the lack of heat. About 500 seventh- and eighth-grade students were sent home; 185 sixth-graders walked to Powell Elementary School and 70 special education students were taken to Sharpe Health School. Roosevelt students remained at their school after its heating system began functioning yesterday morning, officials said.

MacFarland and Roosevelt share a heat-producing plant.

"This is not a case of espionage or attempted espionage. This may be a case of bad judgment bordering on stupidity."

-- Defense attorney Jonathan Shapiro, in his opening remarks

in the trial of spy suspect Brian P. Regan. -- Page B1

Compiled from reports by staff writers David A. Fahrenthold, Jo Becker, Paul Schwartzman, Manny Fernandez and Lyndsey Layton and the Associated Press.