Volunteers Sought for Zoo Mammal House

Friends of the National Zoo is looking for volunteers to serve as interpreters for visitors to the zoo's Small Mammal House. Applicants must be at least 18 years old, have good communication skills, be able to work three three-hour shifts a month and attend a monthly meeting.

The interpreters will teach visitors about a variety of small mammals, including black howler monkeys, golden lion tamarins, Asian small-clawed otters, naked mole-rats and prehensile-tailed porcupines.

The application deadline is Friday. Training will take place in mid-September. For more information, contact FONZ at 202-633-1105, e-mail or visit


Norton Assails Plan to Shut Walter Reed

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) released a letter yesterday to the Base Realignment and Closure Commission that said the Pentagon has failed to show how closing Walter Reed Army Medical Center in the District will save money or avoid weakening homeland security in the nation's capital.

The hospital is on a base-closing list that will be taken up by the commission starting Wednesday. Its final report is due to President Bush on Sept. 8.

"The gridlock that crippled the nation's capital on September 11th . . . is the best evidence of why the distance to emergency care would matter in case of an attack," Norton said. She cited a congressional audit report stating that the Defense Department has failed to justify claimed savings or account for the cost of replacement facilities.

"Given the high military value of Walter Reed and the increasing uncertainty of [Pentagon] cost and savings figures, it would be risky at best to shutter this flagship facility in the absence of proven cost and savings," she argued in the letter. "The best course would be to retain Walter Reed . . . at its current location, and pursue more cost-effective, incremental renovations."


Malpractice Insurance Subsidies Planned

Insurance Commissioner Alfred W. Redmer Jr. said yesterday that he will provide the state's doctors with a malpractice insurance subsidy next year unless state lawyers tell him he cannot do so.

The Maryland Insurance Administration asked the attorney general's office last week for its interpretation of the law authorizing subsidies. One possible interpretation would cut off subsidies if insurance companies do not raise their rates next year.

The issue arose when the Medical Mutual Liability Insurance Society of Maryland announced it would hold the line on malpractice premiums next year after two years of hefty increases. Medical Mutual insures more than three-quarters of Maryland's private-practice doctors.

Carbon Monoxide Sends Nine to Hospital

Baltimore County fire officials said elevated carbon monoxide levels were found yesterday at an unlicensed day-care operation in Essex. Two adults and seven children were taken to hospitals with minor symptoms, they said.

The townhouse on High Seas Court is two doors down from where a man and his two teenage stepdaughters died of carbon monoxide poisoning a month ago. A water heater with a faulty vent pipe was the source of the carbon monoxide in that case.

In the most recent incident, Capt. Jim Korn of the county fire department said, investigators believe a water heater again was to blame.

Korn said fire crews responded after a carbon monoxide detector went off. The home was evacuated, and firefighters were on the scene for a while before anyone started feeling ill. No one appeared to have suffered life-threatening exposure, he said.

Oyster-Scooping Areas May Be Expanded

Maryland is considering expanding areas in the Chesapeake Bay where financially strapped watermen can use power dredges to scoop up oysters.

The proposal comes at a time when the oyster population in the bay is near a record low, and it is being criticized by environmentalists and some marine biologists. They argue that harvesting more oysters when the population is so low will hurt chances of restoring oyster levels in the bay.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources will hold public hearings this month on a plan to increase from about 30 percent to about 40 percent the portion of the bay where watermen can use power boats to drag metal scoops over oyster bars. Included would be areas off Anne Arundel County, Solomons, Kent Island and Poplar Island.


Southbound I-395 Lanes Close for Paving

Two southbound lanes of Interstate 395 between Washington Boulevard and King Street are scheduled to be closed until noon tomorrow for paving, the Virginia Department of Transportation reported. Two regular southbound lanes and the two southbound high-occupancy vehicle lanes will remain open for motorists traveling through the work zone.

During the next two months, crews will pave the six-mile section of I-395 south between the 14th Street Bridge and Seminary Road. I-395 north will not be affected because it has been resurfaced. No work will take place on I-395 south over Labor Day weekend or from Sept. 9 to 11.

I-66 Detour Expected to Last 2 Months

Beginning Aug. 29, traffic on a four-mile stretch of Interstate 66 in Manassas will be detoured at night for about two months as part of the state's project to widen the highway.

By detouring traffic, the original 90-day construction schedule can be reduced to about 60 days, the Virginia Department of Transportation said.

Westbound traffic on I-66 will be detoured for at least the first two weeks, then eastbound traffic will be detoured for two or more weeks. The detour will alternate between the westbound and eastbound lanes during the two-month period. VDOT will give motorists one week's notice before switching directions.

Traffic will be detoured to Route 29. Motorists should expect the five-mile detour to add 45 to 60 minutes to their trips, particularly if traveling before midnight.

The detour will not be in effect over the Labor Day and Columbus Day weekends, during Nissan Pavilion events, during the President's Cup from Sept. 18 to 25, or whenever weather does not permit construction.

"Desperate people do stupid things."

-- Derrick Kysar of Arlington, testifying about his strolls through the baggage claim areas at the region's major airports, during which he stole luggage containing items worth a total of $2 million. -- B1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Karlyn Barker, Spencer S. Hsu and John Wagner and the Associated Press.