Storm Aftermath Hampers Cleanup

Winds the Latest Challenge to the Weather Weary

As area residents continued to clean up the sodden and sometimes sewage-laden aftermath of repeated downpours and heavy snowfalls, winds gusting to almost 50 mph added to the region's weather woes, uprooting trees and knocking out power for thousands.

Ehrlich Vows Cuts if Slots Don't Pass

Governor Lashes Out at Busch for Criticizing Plan

Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) threatened to slash the state budget, including education funds, unless lawmakers legalize slot machines at four horse tracks. The governor criticized House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel), who has condemned Ehrlich's gambling plan, saying it would place slot machines at tracks in poor, predominantly black neighborhoods in Baltimore and Prince George's County. In a private meeting with members of the horse-racing industry, Ehrlich accused Busch of "playing the race card." That prompted an outburst from white clergy and others and set up a confrontation between Busch and Ehrlich, who were close friends in the House of Delegates from 1987 to 1995.

Malvo Admits Slaying, Prosecutors Say

Suspect Calls Muhammad 'Spotter and Helper'

Fairfax County prosecutors said for the first time that Lee Boyd Malvo admitted shooting and killing an FBI analyst outside a Home Depot store in October and that he "has also admitted to killing a number of other victims himself with the aid of his codefendant, who acted as his spotter and helper." In court papers, Chief Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Raymond F. Morrogh wrote that Malvo and John Allen Muhammad were equal members of a "sniper team."

Md., Va. to Place Alien Oysters in Bay

States Hope to Replace Native Chesapeake Mollusk

Maryland and Virginia have agreed for the first time to introduce 1 million nonnative oysters to open waters of the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, setting aside long-standing fears of unleashing unknown environmental consequences in the mid-Atlantic region. The decision reflects how increasingly desperate the states are to find a surrogate for the native Chesapeake Crassostrea virginica, which once was the most plentiful oyster in the world but has been devastated by disease and over-harvesting.

Board Grants Md. Waiver for Snow Days

Districts Can Open Schools on State Holidays

The Maryland State Board of Education gave schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick authority to waive two required makeup days for Feb. 18 and 19, when much of the Washington region was buried under two feet of snow. At the same time, the board granted school districts permission to open schools on state-designated holidays, such as Memorial Day, to make up for other weather-related closings.

Intercounty Connector Study to Speed Up

Proponents Hail Decision on 40-Year-Old Project

The U.S. Department of Transportation said it has decided to speed up an environmental review of the proposed intercounty connector. Proponents hailed the decision as a kick start for the 18-mile road that would link the Interstates 270 and 95 corridors. The project has been under consideration for more than 40 years.

Across the Region

Arundel Allows Field Trips; Students Work Online

* After canceling trips out of state and even nearby because of terrorism alerts, Anne Arundel County school officials will let students take school trips that don't require travel by plane or boat.

* As students elsewhere were sledding and watching TV, students from Queen Anne School in Upper Marlboro attended classes via the Internet, where they found assignments, homework and live discussions with teachers and classmates.

Slow going: Weather conditions created bumper-to-bumper traffic jams throughout the Washington region.