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Posted at 6:20 PM ET, 02/25/2010

Thursday news roundup

By Washington Post editors

Good evening. The snow largely bypassed us today and instead chose to drop on our neighbors to the north, Pennsylvania and New York. D.C. area airports were open, but a number of airlines, including Continental and Southwest, canceled flights up and down the East Coast.

If you’re flying tonight or tomorrow, be sure to call ahead before you go to the airport. In the meantime, the Capital Weather Gang says the fierce winds will continue to pick up speed this evening, and then really go to town overnight and into Friday. Thanks to our super-saturated, recently thawed soil, there could be a problem with falling trees and power poles, which could mean more power outages. Friday temperatures will be in the 30s with a chance of off-and-on snow showers. The strong winds will persist.

Metro hearing concludes. The NTSB concluded three days of hearings on the Red Line crash that killed nine last June. In his closing statement, Robert L. Sumwalt, who chaired the hearing, thanked the 21 witnesses who gave testimony. “From tragedy we draw knowledge to improve the safety of us all," he said. We’ll have more analysis of the three-day hearing later tonight and in your Friday paper.

Today, Metro’s board of directors approved a plan to expand the pool of at-will employees, part of a larger effort to improve safety, according to a WMATA news release. Essentially, this will make it easier for Metro to fire people with or without cause. Under the plan, the pool will grow from 75 to 253 people and will now include all mid-level supervisors, such as superintendents and front-line supervisors. (Post)

Rethinking portfolios. Officials in Virginia are moving to limit an alternative evaluation system that allows students to bypass traditional state tests in favor of “portfolios” of work collected throughout the school year. The students, many of whom have learning disabilities, must meet Virginia standards like those who take state tests, but officials worry that too many people are taking advantage of the alternative system. (Post)

This is only a drill. If you saw armed men and police cars near the Friendship Heights Metro station early Thursday morning, don’t be alarmed. It was all part of an emergency drill, one of several taking place in different spots around the system.

Talk and drive. Virginia legislators killed an effort to ban talking on a cellphone while driving and an effort to make not wearing seatbelts a primary offense. Currently, drivers in Virginia can only be given a ticket for not wearing a seatbelt when they are pulled over for another offense.

In short: A 24-year-old Maryland man has been sentenced for raping a University of Maryland student last February. (Fox 5); His victim talks about the ordeal. (Post); Two people were killed today when they were struck by an Acela train just south of Philadelphia (Post); The University of Maryland has received a grant to turn poplar trees into biofuel (WJLA); The Maryland State Senate has voted to ban BPA from baby bottles. (Post)

Thanks for reading. Have a most excellent evening -- and be sure to check back with us for more headlines.

By Washington Post editors  | February 25, 2010; 6:20 PM ET
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