THE REGION

Gas Prices Won't Deter Holiday Motorists

High gas prices will not keep Washington area vacationers from traveling for Labor Day, with almost 500,000 residents set to drive away for the long weekend, according to a AAA Mid-Atlantic survey released yesterday.

Including plane and rail travelers, more than 530,000 Washington area residents -- more than 11 percent of the population -- plan to hit destinations more than 50 miles away.

"They'll go to their familiar hunting grounds: the beaches, the mountains, those sorts of things," said AAA spokesman John Townsend. Top destinations include seashore towns such as Virginia Beach and Ocean City, along with state parks, lakeside resorts and amusement parks.

The survey showed a decline of 4,000 travelers from last year, but Townsend attributed the dip to school calendars rather than gas prices. Increasing numbers of schools begin classes before Labor Day, leaving parents reluctant to take their children out of town for the holiday weekend.

"One of the worst things you can do is go away for a three-day weekend with your kids and rush back through traffic and expect those kids to be back in school the next day," he said.

VIRGINIA

Selective Service Registration Challenged

A Blacksburg couple who oppose war are challenging a Virginia law that they say unfairly denies their son a driver's license unless they register him with the Selective Service.

Catherine Snyder and Christopher Beattie contend in court documents that a three-year-old state law designed to boost sagging Selective Service registration rates is unconstitutional.

Under the law, males younger than 18 seeking a driver's license must have a parent or guardian authorize Department of Motor Vehicles officials to forward their information to the federal agency. Selective Service officials then register the teenagers once they reach their 18th birthday, in line with federal requirements. The military draft was abolished after the Vietnam War, but registration is required in case the draft is reinstated.

The couple's lawsuit -- filed in Montgomery County (Va.) Circuit Court last month -- contends that the law represents an "unwarranted intrusion" on parents' rights to raise a family according to their religious and moral beliefs.

MARYLAND

Rape Reported on Montgomery Campus

A 47-year-old woman was raped Monday night on the Montgomery College campus in Rockville, authorities said yesterday.

The victim, who lives in Rockville, was grabbed by a man as she walked in the 900 block of Hungerford Drive near North Campus Drive about 10:45 p.m., Montgomery County police said. The assailant pulled her into a wooded area, where she was threatened with a knife and raped.

Police said the victim, who was not a student or employee, notified police about two hours after the attack, after she went home. The attacker left the scene on foot, they said.

Authorities described the assailant as a white man in his thirties, 5 feet 5 inches tall with a medium build, a bald or closely shaved head and a mustache. During the attack, he was wearing a white T-shirt with numbers or letters on it, blue jeans and white sneakers.

Man on Road Died of Natural Causes

A man who was found dead Monday on the shoulder of a road in Bethesda died of natural causes, authorities said yesterday.

Arquimedes Loyola, 53, of Colesville took the bus from his home and was walking to his job near Seven Locks Road and Bradley Boulevard, where a woman later found his body.

Loyola, who lived in the 13000 block of Clifton Road, was last seen Sunday about 3:30 p.m. and did not arrive at work.

There were no obvious signs of trauma to his body, police said.

State's Poverty Rate Rose Again in 2004

Maryland's poverty rate rose in 2004 for the second straight year, the U.S. Census Bureau said yesterday in a report that highlighted the state's economic extremes.

On the whole, Maryland is wealthy, boasting the third-highest median household income -- $57,424 -- in the nation, the American Community Survey found.

But poverty, though afflicting a relatively small share of the population, is persistent. The bureau reported that 473,000 Marylanders, or 8.8 percent of the population, were living in poverty last year. That was up from 8.2 percent in 2003 and 8.1 percent in 2002.

Baltimore, with a poverty rate of 23.9 percent, was among the nation's 10 poorest jurisdictions with populations of 250,000 or more. Montgomery and Howard counties, with median household incomes of more than $82,000, were among the 10 richest.

Shareese DeLeaver, a spokeswoman for Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R), pointed out that Maryland's poverty rate was fifth-lowest in the nation, "so while it's not good by any stretch of the imagination, we are faring a lot better than a lot of our sister states."

THE DISTRICT

D.C. Judge Named Head of National Group

D.C. Superior Court Judge Herbert B. Dixon Jr., who has been on the bench for 21 years, has been named chair of the National Conference of State Trial Judges.

The conference is an arm of the American Bar Association, and Dixon, 58, became chair of the state trial judges conference this month during the ABA's annual meeting in Chicago.

Dixon is a former presiding judge of Superior Court's civil division. An advocate of expanding the role of technology in the courtroom, he is the co-chair of an ABA committee on court technology, and he is an adviser to a courtroom technology project at the College of William and Mary School of Law.

AU Dean to Fill In as Acting Provost

American University announced another change to its administration yesterday: While Cornelius M. Kerwin serves as acting president, Ivy Broder, the dean of academic affairs, will fill in for Kerwin as acting provost. Broder joined the economics faculty at AU in 1975.

Kerwin is leading the university while the Board of Trustees continues an audit of President Benjamin Ladner, who was placed on administrative leave last week pending the outcome of an audit of his personal and travel expenses.

"I know there's been a lot of discussion about day laborers. But the people down there were more than helpful and willing to do what they could do."

-- Lt. Bruce Guth of the Fairfax County police, after a day laborer was charged with murder in the stabbing death of a Fairfax County contractor. Police said other day laborers were crucial in helping them make the arrest. -- B1.

Compiled from reports by staff writers Henri E. Cauvin, Clarence Williams and Susan Kinzie and the Associated Press.