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Old Cars: AAA reports that in the District, the average age of cars taken to mechanics has increased, since people feel like they can’t afford new ones. “The cars that are showing up to be repaired are an average of nine years old,” AAA Mid-Atlantic’s John Townsend says. That’s up three years from 2008, when the average age of a car was six years old. Does this mean that the economy is actually good for mechanics, then? At any rate, as today’s Needle-er was raised by people who kept one car for 20 years and another for 16, this sounds like a good thing. +3

Sick Valley?: Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton is very concerned about the health of residents of Spring Valley: She wants another health check up for people who live on the former defense site. According to WTOP, “A 2007 community health study gave Spring Valley a clean bill of health, but experts at Johns Hopkins University recommended further study.” On one hand, fair enough: The people who moved to the area had no idea what kinds of chemicals were in their land. On the other, between her concern for the affluent, exclusive neighborhood and the fact that she’s one of the wealthier members of Congress, this may be some ammunition for the 99 Percent.. -1

99 Problems: The fact that Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas, Jr. may owe a few hundred dollars may seem like small potatoes, but considering the thousands of dollars in taxpayer money Thomas is accused of misappropriating for personal use, Alan Suderman asks a good question: Why isn’t he paying even his most basic bills? -3

More Evidence That Dogs Are The Best: A Southeast family was awoken this morning by the barking of their Yorkshire Terrier who was upset by a fire in the house. According to WJLA: “The family was asleep when the fire started, but their dog, Papa, started barking and awoke them. All five members of the family were able to get to safety, officials said.” Good boy! +5

Friday’s Needle rating: 55 Today’s score: +4 Today’s Needle rating: 59