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Sleep for the Mall: Tourists love to troop around the Mall, and now, some of them will be paying for it. Not through access charges, though; Marriott has announced it’ll donate $5 per room at area hotels to the Trust for the National Mall through September. By which point the grass down there will really need the help. Also, former First Lady Laura Bush has joined in the cause, and all told, officials want to raise $350 million. At only $5 a pop, that’s a lot of hotel stays. +2
No Autopilot: That jerky feeling as a Metro train glides toward the front of the subway platform, then the operator realizes it’s not quite in the right spot, will continue. Metro officials say the manual mode they ordered after the fatal Red Line crash nearly two years ago is here to stay, at least for a while. The theory behind the order is that it’s safer; no word on whether the real goal is to reduce the risk of future injuries by just making people find other modes of transportation to avoid the jerky rides. -2
Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got that Statehood Swing: The latest weapon in the District’s battle for statehood: Go-go. Local legend Chuck Brown will headline a concert on Capitol Hill next week to promote the cause. Because the concert is taking place in federal D.C., a panel discussion will open for him. We just hope Sen. Joe Lieberman doesn’t get confused if Brown plays “Run Joe.” +2
Go to the Beach! Please!: Gas prices have dipped lately, but weeks of media hysteria over how much it costs to fill up the tank may have officials at nearby resorts a little nervous that Washingtonians won’t bother driving a few hours away for summer fun. Ocean City has decided it has the solution: Give gas away. Originally, the city was going to give out $1 million in gas cards at beachfront hotels; they’ve scaled that back to $100,000 now, probably to prevent the town’s year-round residents from burning down city hall. Still, who doesn’t like a free trip to the beach? +1
Yesterday’s Needle rating: 58 Today’s score: +3 Friday bonus: +2 Today’s Needle rating: 63