Legislator Quits Race Over 'Allegations'

Web Site Says Rep. Schrock Leads Secret Gay Life

Rep. Edward L. Schrock (R-Va.) abruptly dropped out of his race for a third term, citing unspecified "allegations" that he said called into question his ability to represent his Virginia Beach district.

In a statement, Schrock, 63, did not address the nature of the allegations, but he said they "will not allow my campaign to focus on the real issues facing our nation and region."

Schrock's announcement came after a gay activist claimed on a Web site Aug. 19 that Schrock is gay.

Sales, Cigarette Tax Increases Take Effect

Costs Also Rise to Record Real Estate Transactions

A round of tax increases took effect Wednesday in Virginia.

The sales tax rose to 5 cents per dollar, from 4.5 cents. A pack of cigarettes also costs more. Virginia's 2.5 cent-a-pack tax, which was the lowest in the nation, rose to 20 cents. It will increase to 30 cents in 2005.

It also costs property owners more to record real estate transactions and refinancings.

Annandale Detainee in Hamas Probe Free

Potential Witness Picked Up Over Video of Bridge

An Annandale accountant jailed for 10 days as a witness in an investigation of the Islamic Resistance Movement, or Hamas, was released on $1 million bond Tuesday after a closed proceeding at U.S. District Court in Baltimore.

Ismael Selim Elbarasse was freed after he and others posted their homes as collateral to ensure his appearance before a grand jury in Chicago, where Elbarasse is sought for questioning, his attorneys said.

Elbarasse, who was born in Gaza and is a naturalized U.S. citizen, was detained Aug. 20 after police said they saw his wife videotaping the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. He has not been charged with a crime.

No Double Jeopardy in Sniper Cases

Judge Also to Rule on Moving Trial Out of Fairfax

A Fairfax County judge ruled that the prosecution of sniper John Allen Muhammad for terrorism and multiple murders does not qualify as double jeopardy and will not result in a dismissal of the case.

Fairfax Circuit Court Judge Jonathan C. Thacher made the ruling in one of 11 pretrial motions argued by Muhammad's defense team Monday.

Attorneys for Muhammad also formally asked the judge in Muhammad's second murder trial to move the case out of Fairfax, citing heavy publicity and the effects of the shootings on the community. The judge said he would issue a written opinion soon.

Board Proposes Stricter Discharge Rules

Goal Is to Reduce Phosphorus in Chesapeake Bay

The Virginia State Water Control Board has endorsed proposals that would require sewage treatment plants to dramatically reduce the amount of pollution they release into streams and rivers that feed the Chesapeake Bay.

The plan, which could cost $1.1 billion, would target nitrogen and phosphorus discharges from wastewater treatment facilities. The pollutants are blamed for spurring algae growth in the bay, which eats up the oxygen that crabs, fish and plants need.

Across the Region

Metro Trains Passengers; SAT Scores Up

* Metro will begin training a select group of commuters this month in ways to evacuate trains and subway tunnels and to help fellow passengers during a terrorist attack or rail disaster.

* Several Washington area school systems improved their scores on the SAT, including those of the District, the City of Falls Church and Anne Arundel, Arlington, Calvert, Charles, Fairfax, Howard, Montgomery and Stafford counties.

Left reeling: Tropical Storm Gaston was blamed for five deaths and $15 million in damage in Richmond.