City Desk

The Needle: Sea Foam Edition

The Newspaper Rent Is Too Damn High: From Rockville to Arlington, from Fairfax to Southern Maryland, the Washington Post has offices around the region to cover the Virginia and Maryland suburbs. Now all but two of them—in state capitals Richmond and Annapolis—will soon be a thing of the past. Post management won't renew their existing leases on office space at the other suburban bureaus, but they will still keep reporters covering the turf they're in. Some of the savings on rent will be used for better mobile technology, apparently—so look for a Postie toting an iPad at the next Prince William County school board meeting. -1

Sewage, Sea Foam, Same Thing: When Fox 5 reporter Tucker Barnes reported on Hurricane Irene's approach live from Ocean City covered in what the Internet quickly decided was toxic sewage, he became a viral video sensation (which, if he was actually covered in sewage, might not be such a good thing). His Facebook fan page blew up; Fox 5 sent out a press release bragging about the video. Now it turns out the foam was probably... just foam. Ocean City authorities say their water treatment plant was off-line, and nothing leaked from it during the storm. By now, though, like all viral video sensations, Barnes is but a distant memory for Twitter, anyway. +1

Not Actually The DMV: Figuring out that people in the D.C. area can't drive doesn't take a lot of work; all you have to do is look outside (actually walking, biking, or driving on local streets may be too frightening to contemplate some days). But Allstate Insurance conducted a fairly extensive study, nonetheless, and confirmed what we all knew: D.C. ranks 193rd out of 200 cities for safest driving. Fort Collins, Colo., took first place. -2

Aftershocking: Last week's earthquake, possibly concerned that people are starting to talk about Hurricane Katia, continues its struggle for relevance. Another aftershock was recorded early this morning, registering magnitude 3.4—the strongest aftershock in a week after the 5.8 magnitude initial temblor. That seismic activity plus the California-like weather we've had lately—low humidity, highs in the low 80s—might be confusing, but don't worry: You are actually no closer to Los Angeles than you were last month. -1

Yesterday's Needle rating: 56 Today's score: -3 Today's Needle rating: 53

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