D.C. Armory Shelter to Close Tomorrow

The Red Cross announced yesterday that the D.C. Armory will close at noon tomorrow for evacuees of Hurricane Katrina.

Six evacuees remain at the armory, which has served as a temporary shelter for the past month. Workers have been searching for motels where the Red Cross can place the six people.

Three hundred to 350 evacuees passed through the shelter, including 295 who arrived by plane Sept. 6, Red Cross spokesman Cameron Ballantyne said. As of Friday, he said, 55 remained, 49 of whom were placed in hotels and motels over the weekend.

Summer Takes Heavy Toll on Bay Oxygen

An agency that monitors the health of the Chesapeake Bay said oxygen levels in the bay this summer were the worst since scientists started measuring them more than 20 years ago.

Scientists with the Chesapeake Bay Program estimated last May that oxygen levels in the bay would be low this summer. But a dry summer and low winds made the situation worse than expected.

About 3 percent of the bay was anoxic -- or almost without oxygen -- and 21 percent had low oxygen levels. Oxygen levels are lowest in the summer because excess nutrients washing into the bay and bright sunshine fuel the growth of algae blooms, which block sunlight for underwater plants. Low oxygen levels make survival difficult for fish, crabs and oysters.


D.C. Taxis Testing Meter System for Fares

More than 20 District taxicabs outfitted with meters began cruising city streets yesterday as part of an eight-month study that will try to gauge the financial impact of converting from the current zone system.

The meters will be used to gather data and will not determine the fare. For comparison, drivers will record both fares, but passengers will be required to pay the zone rate. The meters have been set to charge $2.50 for the first sixth of a mile and 25 cents for each additional sixth of a mile. That amounts to $3.75 for the first mile and $1.50 for each additional mile. Officials said the rates are comparable to those in surrounding counties and in other major cities.

The study is being conducted by the office of the deputy mayor for planning and economic development. The current system divides the city into eight zones and charges a flat rate. The results of the study will be made public.

High-Rises Recommended for GWU Lot

An Urban Land Institute panel convened by George Washington University has recommended building high-rise office and residential towers where the university's hospital once stood.

The report this week generally supports the university's proposals for creating a town center on the 2.6-acre site bounded by 22nd, 23rd and I streets and Pennsylvania Avenue NW. The panel recommends three buildings 10 to 12 stories tall that would contain about 300 apartments or condominiums, 450,000 square feet of office space and 55,000 square feet for retail use.

GWU wants to use revenue from developing the site to pay for new student housing and classroom and office space on campus. Implementing the proposals would require new zoning approvals for the site and the university campus.

Neighborhood civic groups, which would be asked to weigh in on the zoning issues, have criticized the university's proposals as too big and said they would further drive up housing prices in the increasingly expensive neighborhood.


Rally Held After GMU Student's Arrest

About 100 students attended a noon rally yesterday at George Mason University in support of a student who said he was arrested Thursday by campus police for protesting the presence of a military recruiter in the student center.

Tariq Khan, 27, of Falls Church said he was standing about four feet from a Marine Corps recruiter with a sign on his chest that read: "Recruiters lie. Don't be deceived." Khan, who said he served four years in the U.S. Air Force, said campus police asked him to leave the area after two students ripped off his sign. He said that he refused to leave the area and that police used force to remove him from the center.

Daniel L. Walsch, a school spokesman, said the university was investigating the campus police role in the arrest and whether Khan violated university rules. "George Mason reiterates its deep commitment to freedom of speech," Provost Peter N. Stearns said in a statement read by students at the rally. "We must work to avoid attacks on expressions of free speech, including destruction of signs and other written statements."

Khan said he was charged with disorderly conduct and trespassing.


Ehrlich Response to Stem-Cell Bill Decried

Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley (D) criticized Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) yesterday for not taking a position during the past legislative session on a bill that would have provided state funding for embryonic stem cell research.

"Are we moving forward or sliding back when we fail to invest in groundbreaking stem cell research that could cure us of Alzheimer's, juvenile diabetes and Parkinson's?" O'Malley, who announced his bid for governor last week, asked during a stop at a senior center in Owings Mills.

Ehrlich's spokesman, Henry Fawell, said the governor supports stem cell research and is trying to find ways to assist the biomedical community in its work. But Fawell said there is considerable disagreement about whether funding should be provided by state or federal governments.

In April, Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan, another probable Democratic gubernatorial candidate, accused O'Malley of not being vocal enough in his support of the research.

Sixth Democrat Joins U.S. Senate Race

Potomac businessman Joshua Rales filed papers yesterday to become a Democratic candidate for Maryland's open U.S. Senate seat, saying that a political outsider is in the best position to bring change to Washington.

Robin Rorapaugh, Rales's campaign manager, said Rales will make a formal announcement of his candidacy in coming months but filed yesterday so he could start raising and spending money.

Rales, a former Republican who was raised in Montgomery County, is the sixth Democrat to announce his candidacy for the seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes (D).

"I thought he was okay. He was not ever real friendly, but I knew him for a long time."

-- Grandmaster Mountain Kim, on Andrew Jacobs, a part-time instructor

at his martial arts studio who is charged with

the attempted abduction of two of the studio's students. -- B1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Timothy Dwyer, Paul Schwartzman, John Wagner and Debbi Wilgoren and the Associated Press.