City Desk

The Needle: Would You Like Bombs With That? Edition

Do You Have a Reservation, Mr. Bin Laden?: Sure, those sneezeguard salad bars are a dismal way to dine. But you didn't realize they could literally kill you—until now. Inspire, the magazine published by Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (the Yemeni branch of the international terrorist conglomerate), suggests "a random hit in a crowded restaurant in Washington, D.C., at lunch hour" might be just the way to strike back at the Great Satan and its bureaucrats. We're just waiting for some downtown BID to suggest food trucks, not crazed radicals, are behind the threat. Which we don't recommend you actually worry much about. -1

Egg Flambé: Finally, the world has learned what fate befalls D.C. firefighters who cook eggs naked in firehouses: they are suspended without pay. Such is, at least, the fate of the firefighter who pulled that stunt at a firehouse at 14th and Newton streets NW over the summer, apparently as a way of winding down after a retirement party. Seems some new allegations have also been made against the firefighter in question, which isn't entirely a surprise. Someone who strips nude in the presence of his colleagues might have committed other offenses? Like they say: Where there's smoke, there's fire. -2

Stand to the Right: In each Metro station, there are stairways that look suspiciously like escalators. They seem like they could move, they're often right next to escalators, and sometimes they're even marked "escalator." Except they're so rarely in service that they must just be stairs. Now an independent audit has confirmed that in fact, they're supposed to be escalators, and no, they don't often work, mostly because mechanics need more training, don't stick to maintenance standards, and don't have much supervision. Hey, walking's good for you, anyway! -3

Let's Talk About Sex, Baby: Parents at Hardy Middle School freak out over a survey given to students asks about whether they're transgender, whether they know how to put on condoms, and other topics that apparently kids aren't supposed to be exposed to. The problem, of course, is that the whole reason the school gave the survey is that kids are exposed to such topics all too early these days. The real puzzle? Given all the energy they spend freaking out about the school's principal being canned by Michelle Rhee, how did the parents manage to get worked up over this, too? -2

Yesterday's Needle rating: 46 Today's score: -8 Today's Needle rating: 38

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