City Desk

The Needle: Ho Ho Ho Edition

War on Christmas: Federal officials are preparing to ditch the color-coded alert system that's been stuck on yellow virtually every day since it debuted in 2002. But it's always red alert near the Pentagon, which is why the discovery today of a blinking Christmas ornament in a trash can in the Metro station there caused officials to shut down and evacuate the stop for an investigation. Fortunately for the commuters stuck outside during the panic, it wasn't particularly cold out today. Wait, what? Oh. -2

Room Service: Working for a luxury hotel in the District often means a chance to glimpse powerful people coming and going (and we don't just mean Eliot Spitzer at the Mayflower). Unless, that is, you're a Muslim who works for the Mandarin Oriental, in which case your bosses will tell you to stay away from floors occupied by visiting delegations of Israeli government officials. That's what happened at the hotel in Southwest over the weekend, when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was staying there. This might, though, present a good Middle Eastern peace plan; just move all the Israeli settlers into the now-purged-of-Muslims Mandarin, and voila—no more conflict! -1

Maryland ♥ South Korea: Living in Maryland, instead of D.C., could have its perks. There's the blue crabs, the fact that jousting is the state sport, and—of course—the whole "voting representation in Congress" thing. Add to that list now the fact that Maryland drivers will automatically qualify for South Korean drivers licenses, and the Old Line State looks pretty good. Koreans will qualify for a Maryland license without taking a test, too, which is sure to alarm Fox News Channel. Even worse: Maryland has the same arrangement with France! +1

Hoard Bread, Milk, and Toilet Paper: The District and its suburbs always handle snow with the equanimity one might expect from residents of the capital of the world's mightiest nation—by closing schools, driving like lunatics, and generally freaking out. Prepare for the first major installment of such hysteria tomorrow afternoon. No less an authority than Bob Ryan says light snow showers could yield the season's first accumulating snow during the evening commute. We'll see you all in April, when it's safe to go outside again. -2

Yesterday's Needle rating: 54 Today's score: -4 Today's Needle rating: 50

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