City Desk

The Needle: No Hostages Edition

Phillips Flames Extinguished: A fire in a museum is about the worst nightmare any curator could have. So when the Phillips Collection started blazing this morning, it would have been easy to panic. But museum workers spirited artworks out of the building as soon as they realized the fire had started, and the areas directly below the fire held only offices, no exhibits or art storage. There wasn't even much water damage. That's how we like our potentially catastrophic fires—nice and tidy. +2

Sharks Patrol These Waters: The Potomac River conjures up quite a few images—fireworks on the Fourth of July, occasional floods in low-lying parts of Alexandria, a nice body of water to leap into out of frustration while stuck in a traffic jam on the 14th Street Bridge. It did not, however, often bring to mind the movie Jaws—until now. Willy Dean, who cast a net in the Potomac in St. Mary's County, Md., on Monday in hopes of catching rays for a marine biologist, found an 8-foot bull shark instead on Tuesday morning (the shark now resides in his freezer). Finally, a way to fight back against the snakeheads! +4

Calm Down, Earl: Weather officials downgrade Hurricane Earl to Category 3, as sustained wind speeds drop to 125 mph. Chances of any real disruption to life in the District from the storm are now diminishing rapidly. Just to be safe, D.C. officials send out an emergency alert reporting that "if in fact Hurricane Earl changes its path," we should "rest assured that District agencies are prepared to respond immediately." Somehow, the whole situation was more comforting before we found that out. +2

Red Line to Red Ink: Bringing Metro in line with the National Transportation Safety Board's recommendations after last year's fatal crash near Takoma will cost almost $1 billion. Most of the tab would go to replacing 300 old cars, of the 1000 series model that pancaked in the crash. Sadly, the NTSB made no recommendations at all that might convince Metro to keep elevators in better shape or prevent buses from running over pedestrians. Presumably, to pay for the safety upgrades, it will soon cost $9.85 to ride one stop downtown. But hey, at least you'll survive the trip! -2

Yesterday's Needle rating: 27 Today's score: +6 Bonus points because no one was taken hostage today: +2 Today's Needle rating: 35

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