Zoo's Giant Panda Is Possibly Pregnant

The National Zoo's female giant panda might be pregnant, but zoo scientists say it will be 40 to 50 days before they can be certain.

The panda's hormone levels are rising, one indication of a possible pregnancy, the zoo said in a statement yesterday. But the panda, Mei Xiang, could also be experiencing a pseudo-pregnancy, which is common in giant pandas.

Mei Xiang was artificially inseminated March 11 with semen from Tian Tian. Scientists have collected urine samples every week to track her hormone levels and conducted biweekly ultrasound exams to monitor changes in her uterus. The ultrasounds have not shown any evidence of a fetus, but veterinarians say fetuses do not develop until the last weeks of the gestation period.

Mei Xiang, 6, experienced pseudo-pregnancies in 2003 and 2004. This is the third year the zoo has tried to breed the pandas.

Woman on Tracks Killed by Metro Train

Metro officials said Orange Line trains were significantly delayed during part of yesterday's evening rush after a woman was killed at the Minnesota Avenue station.

Officials said the woman was on the tracks when an inbound train pulled into the station at 3:33 p.m. The train operator braked but was unable to stop before hitting and killing the woman, who was pinned between the first car and the platform, officials said.

They said she was in her mid-thirties and from Northeast Washington, but they did not release her name because they had not identified her next of kin.

Orange Line service, which has been slowed by tunnel problems between Foggy Bottom and Rosslyn, was delayed because trains had to share a single track between Cheverly and Stadium-Armory. Metro ran buses until normal service resumed at 5:10 p.m.

Heat Causes Thousands to Lose Power

Thousands of people across the Washington area spent uncomfortable hours without lights, air conditioning or television last night on one of the year's hottest days.

Late afternoon temperatures reached 92 degrees in many places, prompting a demand for air conditioning that, according to one utility company spokesman, burned out some electrical cables.

Shortly before midnight, with temperatures around 80 and humidity high, almost 7,000 homes were blacked out, including 3,300 in Loudoun County and elsewhere in Northern Virginia, 2,100 in Montgomery County and more than 800 in the District, according to reports from three utility companies.

Powell Joins Memorial Fundraising Effort

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund has a new ally in the quest to raise more than $40 million to build a center near the memorial wall: former secretary of state Colin L. Powell.

Powell has joined the fund as honorary chairman and will work with the group's leaders on their four-year effort to build an underground center, which would tell the stories of the more than 58,000 soldiers whose names are engraved on the Wall.


University Censured Over Dismissals

Virginia State University in Petersburg was censured by the American Association of University Professors at a weekend meeting for the dismissal of two tenured faculty members.

The organization maintains a list of schools "not observing the generally recognized principles of academic freedom and tenure."

Virginia State has had administration-faculty disputes in recent years. But university spokesman Thomas Reed said yesterday that the AAUP report was incorrect and based on inadequate information. "We feel all due process was followed," he said.


Partygoers' Parking Tickets Rescinded

Montgomery County police have rescinded about eight parking tickets issued at a backyard graduation party in Bethesda after the department and County Executive Douglas M. Duncan (D) were accused of heavy-handed tactics.

Assistant Police Chief John King said: "They were legitimate tickets. But in this case, where there was no underage drinking, we decided the best route was to rescind the tickets."

Police, who suspected underage drinking at the June 2 party, issued tickets to cars parked near the Bethesda home of Kathy Phelan, where about 80 people were celebrating. Phelan had declined to let police enter the house after they responded to calls of a possible underage drinking party. So the officers created a roadblock and issued parking tickets, a routine procedure.

As it turned out, none of the underage partygoers who submitted to breath tests were drinking, and Duncan was criticized by the Montgomery County Republican Central Committee and others who said the department went overboard.

Duncan said yesterday in a statement that he is "satisfied with the department's actions in the wake of this incident."

Friend of Teen Killed in Fight Pleads Guilty

A friend of an African American teenager killed in a fight in Anne Arundel County -- a death that heightened racial tensions -- pleaded guilty to a weapons charge yesterday, , giving prosecutors their only conviction in the case.

Six white men were charged with manslaughter in Jamahl Jones's death, but a jury found one of the suspects not guilty in May, and charges against the remaining defendants were subsequently dropped. Jones's mother and civil rights leaders say race was a factor in the fight; prosecutors maintain that it was not.

Jones, 17, died in July during a brawl outside a party in Pasadena. He and several others, including Marion Shepherd, had arrived at the party uninvited to help a friend whom they believed to be in distress, authorities have said.

Shepherd, 20, who has been jailed since February, admitted yesterday that he was carrying an unloaded .38-caliber handgun. In exchange for his plea, he received a suspended sentence and probation, and other charges against him were dropped.

Senate Candidate Stabbed in Home

U.S. Senate candidate A. Robert Kaufman was in serious but stable condition yesterday after being stabbed several times in the upper body during an attack Monday at his west Baltimore home.

Police are investigating several motives for the attack, including a possible landlord-tenant dispute. No one has been arrested.

Kaufman, 74, a social activist and perennial Democratic candidate, is seeking to replace Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes (D-Md.).

"I am so impressed with them. Why wouldn't I go hog-wild?"

-- Dani Boyd, a Laytonsville mother of five, on buying end-of-the-year gifts for her children's teachers. -- A1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Karlyn Barker, Petula Dvorak, Steven Ginsberg, Susan Kinzie, Eric Rich, Martin Weil, Clarence Williams and David Snyder and the Associated Press.