City Desk

The Needle: Spreading Like Wildfire Edition

Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires: It's been sunny and pleasant out for weeks now, which has been fun (unless you're an allergy sufferer), but now we're learning that there's a down side. Federal officials issued a "red flag warning" for the possibility of wildfires in the region, as a result of the lack of rain recently. By this time in a typical year, we'd have gotten four more inches of rain than we have. We'd be inclined to blame climate change, but we don't want to become an issue in the Republican presidential campaign. -3

Virginia Is Not For Drunk Drivers: Get a DUI in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and soon, you won't be able to drive without activating your car through a built-in blood-alcohol test. The state's new law is drawing criticism from lawyers who represent DUI offenders—which, we presume, isn't only because the breath locks, if they work as planned, would cut down on repeat DUI charges. Of course, you can still buy any gun except a machine gun in Virginia without so much as telling someone your name. No word on whether there are plans to install Breathalyzers on trigger locks. +1

Waiting For Walmart: The panic about Walmart's arrival in D.C. can now be pushed back slightly. The world's largest retailer has announced that only one of its planned six stores in the District will open by the end of next year—one of its two Ward 4 stores, the one heading to Georgia Avenue and Missouri Avenue NW. Prediction: There will be an even larger inventory of cheaply made, mass-produced consumer goods on hand by the time the stores actually start selling it. +1

Pillowfights, Bad For Quality Of Life: The Needle is, as you know, a somewhat arbitrary measure of how various news items affect quality of life in the District. Which is the only reason news of an organized weekend pillowfight for adults made it in here—because that sort of thing a) should otherwise be ignored, and b) is very bad for quality of life. What next, snowball fights on U Street? Oh, wait. -4

Friday's Needle rating: 56 Today's score: -5 Today's Needle rating: 51

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