Judge Mulling Over Man's Confession

A federal judge is weighing whether to throw out the confession of a Virginia man accused of plotting to kill President Bush because the man says he was tortured in a Saudi prison.

Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, 24, of Falls Church is charged with conspiring to kill Bush and other counts in connection with a terrorist plot to mount a Sept. 11-style attack inside the United States. A hearing on the torture allegations concluded Thursday, and U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee indicated yesterday that he will issue his ruling soon.

Abu Ali's statements to the Saudis, in which he indicated that he joined the plot out of anger over U.S. support for Israel, form the crux of the government's evidence.

Rose Parade Queen Bound for U-Va.

Next year's queen of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses in California is a future University of Virginia student.

Camille Clark, 17, a cheerleader and honor student at La Salle High School in Pasadena, was chosen this week from among more than 1,000 young women who were judged on public-speaking ability, poise, academic achievement, community involvement and personality.

In addition to being a member of the National Honor Society and a cheerleader, Clark is a member of the Junior Classical League and a volunteer tutor at inner-city schools. She will be a freshman finance major at U-Va. in September.

The 117th Rose Parade will be held Jan. 2, Clark's 18th birthday.

Temporary Ramp Off Beltway to Open

A temporary ramp taking motorists from the outer loop of the Capital Beltway to the northbound lanes of Route 1 into Old Town Alexandria is scheduled to open early next week, Woodrow Wilson Bridge project officials said.

The exit will be a mile before the existing one and is part of the same recently opened ramp that connects the outer loop to the southbound lanes of Route 1. Officials warned drivers to keep their eyes open for the exit, because if they miss it, they'll have to cross the bridge into Maryland.

Officials said the temporary ramp is necessary for construction to proceed on a new Route 1 Beltway overpass, which is scheduled to be completed by early 2009. The temporary ramp will be in place for about 18 months, and then a loop-style ramp will open.

After a transition period, officials said they don't expect the temporary ramp to cause traffic delays.

Job Fair Scheduled for Gulf Evacuees

Hurricane Katrina evacuees who have relocated to Northern Virginia are invited to a job fair Oct. 28, co-sponsored by the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce and Fairfax Families Care, a regional coalition of local governments, schools and other nonprofit groups.

The event will be held at the Tysons Corner Marriott from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. About 1,000 evacuees from the Gulf Coast region are staying in Northern Virginia.


Howard Offers Prescription Discount Card

Howard County will join Montgomery and Baltimore counties in offering prescription discount cards to residents. The discount cards, which are free, offer average savings of 20 percent on prescription drugs at participating pharmacies.

CVS, Safeway, Giant, Wal-Mart and some mail-order drug programs will honor the cards.

The benefit applies to drugs that are not covered by an existing insurance policy. The cards should be available before the end of the year at libraries, senior centers and health clinics, according to Howard County Executive James N. Robey (D). There is no registration process, and anyone is eligible, regardless of age, income or insurance coverage.

The program, which is meant to supplement but not replace insurance, was created in December 2004 by the National Association of Counties and is administered by Caremark, a pharmaceutical services company.

About 100 counties nationwide offer the cards or are planning to offer them.

Man Questioned After Raid Is Perplexed

As Maged Hussein sold milk and snacks yesterday in his Baltimore convenience store, he said it was hard to understand why the federal government would suspect him of knowing anything about a plot to destroy the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel.

While customers greeted him with smiles and hugs just three days after his store was raided by federal agents, the 41-year-old Egyptian native said he loved the country where he has found better economic opportunities. He also said he didn't believe that four other men who were taken into custody as part of the investigation posed a threat.

"We're here just to work," Hussein said. "We're not here to destroy anything."

The Baltimore Harbor Tunnel was closed and the Fort McHenry Tunnel was reduced to one lane of traffic in each direction for nearly two hours Tuesday during the raids. The FBI has been unable to corroborate the threat.

Hussein was taken into custody on an unrelated handgun charge and released Thursday. Hussein, who is a U.S. citizen and has been in the country for 23 years, said he cooperated with FBI agents.

Federal agents did not accuse him of being part of the alleged plot, Hussein said. Instead, they repeatedly asked him whether he had heard anyone talk about it.

Barry Maddox, a spokesman for the FBI's Baltimore field office, said yesterday that he didn't know of any developments in the investigation.


NW Water Main Repairs to Detour Traffic

Water main repairs in Northwest Washington will affect traffic on a section of Missouri Avenue over the weekend and may cause lower water pressure in some areas until the work is completed Wednesday evening, according to the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority.

Because of the valve replacement project at Georgia and Missouri avenues NW, Missouri will be closed in both directions to through traffic between Georgia and Colorado avenues until 5 a.m. Monday, according to WASA.

Traffic will be rerouted along Madison Street NW during the closure.

"There's something about hitting midlife, trying to recapture something youthful and just getting exercise back in your life."

-- Kay Briscoe, 49, a Southern Maryland computer analyst

who plays in a Charles County women's soccer league. -- B1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Jerry Markon, Steven Ginsberg, Lisa Rein, Joshua Zumbrun and D'Vera Cohn and the Associated Press.