Three More Suspected SARS Cases

Two of the Patients Live in N.Va., Officials Report

Virginia health officials reported three new suspected cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS -- two in Northern Virginia -- bringing the statewide total to six. No cases have been reported in the District or Maryland.

One of the new cases was reported in Gloucester County. Health officials did not identify the two Northern Virginia counties. The two Northern Virginia patients were seen at local hospitals and released. They agreed to stay home for 10 days to prevent the spread of the disease.

All three of the individuals had recently traveled to Asia, officials said. Health officials said the cases are not a threat to the general public.

A Loudoun County woman who had traveled to China's Guangdong province is the only other Washington area resident to contract a suspected case of the mysterious respiratory ailment, health officials said.

Pr. William to Cut Property Tax Rate

Levy Would Decline by 7 Cents, to $1.16

Prince William County supervisors unanimously agreed to lower the county's property tax rate by 7 cents for the second year in a row.

The supervisors, all of whom face reelection this fall, will formally adopt a rate of $1.16 per $100 of assessed value as part of their overall budget this week. Even with the rate cut, however, county homeowners will pay an average of $218 more than last year because real estate assessments continue to soar.

Va. Killer Executed by Electrocution

Bramblett Rejected Lethal Injection in Protest

Convicted killer Earl Conrad Bramblett was put to death Wednesday night in Virginia's electric chair, the third inmate in the state to choose electrocution since lethal injection became an option in 1995.

Bramblett, 61, who was sentenced to death for killing a family of four in southern Virginia in 1994, maintained his innocence and said he chose electrocution as a form of protest.

Moran Criticized for AIPAC Remarks

Lawmaker Says Pro-Israel Lobby Seeks His Ouster

U.S. Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.) is under fire again, this time for suggesting at a recent party meeting that a major U.S. pro-Israel lobbying group will raise $2 million and "take over" efforts to unseat him.

A Jewish civil rights group and some Alexandria Democrats are criticizing Moran for saying that AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, has begun organizing against him and will "direct a campaign against me and take over the campaign of a Democratic opponent."

An AIPAC spokeswoman called Moran's comments "ridiculous."

The organization, is not a political action committee and by law cannot raise money for candidates and by policy does not endorse candidates, the spokeswoman said.

Across the Region

D.C. School Contract; Montgomery County Taxes

* The District school system has paid a financial consultant $279,771 over the past six months, an amount far greater than the annual salary of the superintendent or any other school official, under a no-bid contract that also reimburses him for travel to and from his Baltimore home. Dexter Lockamy began working as a school system consultant in December 2001, and he has been paid $425,851 in hourly fees since January 2002, according to school records. His most recent contract expired at the end of last month.

* Montgomery County officials say they won't proceed with a proposed 3-cent increase in the local property tax rate, now that the General Assembly has agreed to raise the state rate on homeowners by 5 cents. County Council members instead introduced a range of potential alternative tax and fee increases, including raises in the energy tax, telephone tax and development impact tax for transportation.

Burying a son: Joe and Rita Rippetoe, the parents of Army Capt. Russell B. Rippetoe, who died in Iraq, arrive at the Arlington National Cemetery grave site.