THE REGION

Metro Warns of Weekend Delays

Four Metro stations on the Blue and Orange lines will be closed today and tomorrow, and delays are expected on parts of the Red and Green lines because of weekend track work, transit officials said.

The Minnesota Avenue and Deanwood stations on the Orange Line and the Benning Road and Capitol Heights stations on the Blue Line will be closed through the weekend. Metro will operate free shuttle bus service between Stadium-Armory and Cheverly and between Stadium-Armory and Addison Road. Anyone traveling between those locations should plan for at least 30 extra minutes of travel time, Metro officials said.

While the stations are closed, Orange Line trains will operate in two sections: from Vienna/Fairfax-GMU to Stadium-Armory, and from New Carrollton to Cheverly. Blue Line trains will operate from Franconia-Springfield to Stadium-Armory and from Largo Town Center to Addison Road.

To speed the flow of trains into downtown Washington and Northern Virginia, every other Orange and Blue line train traveling to Stadium-Armory will end at Eastern Market and return to Vienna/Fairfax-GMU and Franconia-Springfield.

On the Green Line, all trains will share one track between Greenbelt and Prince George's Plaza today and tomorrow from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. as Metro officials test trains. Riders should expect delays of 10 to 15 minutes, transit officials said.

And on the Red Line from midnight tonight until closing, all trains will share one track between Judiciary Square and Rhode Island Avenue, resulting in delays of 10 to 15 minutes, officials said.

More information is available at www.metroopensdoors.com or by calling 202-637-7000 or TTY 202-638-3780.

VIRGINIA

Woman Admits Putting Kids in Trunk

A woman accused of locking her young children in her car trunk because they misbehaved pleaded guilty yesterday to two felony child abuse charges, authorities said.

Tamatha Parker of Culpeper avoided trial by entering the plea in Fredericksburg Circuit Court. Sentencing is scheduled for December.

The charges stemmed from a June 25 incident during which an off-duty police officer confronted Parker in a Wal-Mart parking lot. The temperature that day was about 90 degrees.

Parker, 33, admitted putting the boy and girl, both 5, in the trunk because they had misbehaved in the store. She told police she was only trying to scare the children and did not plan to leave the parking lot with them in the trunk.

Potts Barred From Gubernatorial Debate

A federal judge in Charlottesville denied an attempt by Sen. H. Russell Potts Jr., a Republican from Winchester and independent gubernatorial candidate, to be included in tomorrow's debate between Jerry W. Kilgore (R) and Timothy M. Kaine (D).

Potts had filed a lawsuit alleging that he was being unfairly excluded from the debate, which will be moderated by University of Virginia professor Larry Sabato and sponsored by the university's Center for Politics and the NBC-12 television station in Richmond.

The lawsuit accused Sabato and the center of violating his First Amendment rights. Potts contended that he is a legitimate candidate, having collected 24,000 signatures, and his attorneys asked the judge to let him into the debate or issue an injunction stopping it.

U.S. District Judge Norman K. Moon ruled that appearing in the debate would help Potts's campaign, but he said the sponsors used a reasonable standard -- which required Potts to get 15 percent support in two public polls -- to exclude him.

Potts's advisers could not be reached for comment or to indicate whether they planned an appeal.

THE DISTRICT

Senate Confirms Two Judges for D.C.

Two of President Bush's choices for judgeships in the District were confirmed yesterday by the Senate. John R. Fisher, the longtime chief of appeals for the U.S. attorney's office in the District, will become a judge on the D.C. Court of Appeals. Juliet J. McKenna, now a magistrate judge at Superior Court, will become a judge on the court.

Fisher fills a vacancy created by Judge Annice M. Wagner's decision to retire. McKenna fills a spot that opened with the retirement of Nan R. Shuker.

The Senate also confirmed the nomination of Kenneth L. Wainstein as U.S. attorney for the District. Wainstein, a veteran prosecutor and former FBI official, had headed the U.S. attorney's office on an interim basis since May 2004. Bush nominated him in May.

MARYLAND

Overloading Cited in Water Taxi Accident

A water taxi that capsized last year in Baltimore Harbor, killing five, may have lacked the stability to carry the load of passengers it took on board that day, according to documents released yesterday by federal safety officials.

The U.S. Coast Guard had approved the Lady D pontoon boat to carry up to 25 people, but the tests had been based on a sister ship and contained errors. The Lady D also was different enough from its sister ship that its stability was different, investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board concluded.

The Coast Guard regulations assumed an average passenger weight of 140 pounds, according to the documents. The Lady D had an average passenger weight of 168 pounds when it flipped in a sudden squall that swept the harbor, making it 700 pounds overweight.

"It is clear there are a number of factors that point to the vessel having inadequate stability to carry a passenger load of 25 people," investigators wrote in a report drafted last year.

Accused Staffers Get Democrats' Aid

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee said yesterday that it has spent $3,500 on legal fees for two former staff members who resigned after accessing the credit report of Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, a likely candidate for the Senate seat of Paul S. Sarbanes (D), who is retiring.

Committee spokesman Phil Singer said it is "standard procedure" for Democratic and Republican party committees to pay fees at the outset of such cases. Katie Barge, the committee's former research director, and Lauren Weiner, who began researching Steele before he formed an exploratory committee in June, are being represented by private attorneys.

The matter is under investigation by the U.S. attorney's office for the District. It is illegal to knowingly and willfully obtain a credit report under false pretenses.

"They don't believe in it. Just because they never used it, I never used it, so it was just a mysterious thing to me."

-- Alan Chien, 35, an engineer who emigrated with his family from Taiwan when he was a toddler, on the automatic dishwasher. -- A1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Lyndsey Layton, Michael D. Shear and John Wagner and the Associated Press.