City Desk

The Needle: Pregnant Panda Edition

Pandas Try Artificial Insemination At National Zoo

Winter Storm Washed: The first time snow was forecast for D.C. after Vince Gray was sworn in as mayor, it missed the city. The District's luck changed last week, but now it looks like the Gray administration's snow plan—don't let it snow—is working again, as an ice storm that was originally projected for the region should steer north of the city. The federal government, not taking any chances, will let workers telecommute or take unscheduled leave, anyway. +1

Panda Procreation: Butterstick watchers of the world, unite! The National Zoo is officially holding its collective breath, as trainers attempted artificial insemination of Mei Xiang over the weekend. The artificial insemination was the backup plan; Tian Tian tried, but failed, to mate with Mei Xiang on Saturday. The Zoo should know by the spring whether another cub is on the way. If not, China may replace the panda couple—presumably under the manufacturer's warranty provision in the lease for the animals. +2

Casa de Clinton: Sure, most Washingtonians couldn't just sign some papers and become a running back in the NFL. But if you've got $2.5 million lying around, you could at least pretend. Redskins star Clinton Portis has listed his McLean home for sale, complete with an "open and airy solarium." Alas, no mention of a "shark tank/pool/grotto complex," like former Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas had at his pad. +1

What It Takes: Running for president isn't easy; there's all the trips to Iowa and New Hampshire, the fundraising, the questions about where you were born, and of course, the requirement in the Constitution that you be 35 years old. A shortcut is available instead—you could just win the Nationals contest to be a racing president. There's no age minimum, and in fact, being over 35 is unlikely to help, but you do have to be between 5'7" and 6'6" to fit the costumes. As it happens, that's helpful if you want to do it the hard way, too. +2

Yesterday's Needle rating: 47 Today's score: +6 Today's Needle rating: 53

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