City Desk

The Needle: Lunar Eclipse Edition

Security Theater: The usual delays on the Metro this morning had an explanation—the transit system debuted its random bag searches. Authorities questioned one man for eight minutes at the Braddock Road station, apparently because his bag had some sort of household chemicals on it, but stopped a grand total of zero terrorists. Which is pretty much what we're betting their tally will come to whenever a judge finally issues an injunction stopping this nonsense. -3

Demons Eat the Moon: The last time a total eclipse of the Moon fell on the winter solstice, it was 1638, and there was no such thing as "aggregated news roundup posts," "photo galleries," "NASA," "Twitter," or any of the other things that helped make last night's eclipse such a phenomenon. Though we suspect that eclipse probably got more coverage than this one did in the news pages of the day, insofar as it almost certainly presaged doom and/or witchery. Having woken up in the middle of the night to see the eclipse at its peak, our verdict was twofold: The Moon looks very spooky indeed when shadowed by the Earth, and it's damn cold at 3:15 a.m. on the night of the winter solstice. +5 (if only because none of us are likely to be here in 2094, the next time this happens)

It Takes a Nation of 308 Million to Hold D.C. Back: The big news out of the Census Bureau today was that D.C.'s population had reached 601,723, the first increase the city's seen over the course of a decade since 1950 (when the World War II-driven growth in the '40s sent it soaring up by 21 percent). But if you were paying attention at all to the recent mayoral election—the entire subtext of which was, "Where did all these new residents come from and what the hell do we do with them?"—you already probably had a pretty good idea of what the report would find. As for the country which chooses to disenfranchise the 601,723 residents of its capital, the U.S. clocked in at 308,745,538 people. Which makes D.C. .19 percent of America. Let's aim for .23 percent in 2020! +3

Merry Christmas, Love, Adrian: Around the holidays, it's customary for bosses to make some gesture of appreciation toward their staff (and yes, Washington City Paper writers, if you're wondering, demanding more blog posts does count as a gesture of appreciation). Only in D.C., however, is it customary for the boss to use taxpayer money earmarked for job training for adult District residents to do it. That is, apparently, what Still Mayor Adrian Fenty did recently, shifting $495,000 from jobs programs to "separation pay" for staffers. Coincidentally (or not), the move comes not long after the D.C. Council barred city employees who started after Fenty lost the Sept. 14 primary from getting the separation pay they might otherwise have gotten. Which just goes to show: Sometimes, even the losers win. -3

Yesterday's Needle rating: 55 Today's score: +2 Today's Needle rating: 57

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