All Your BlackBerries Are Belong to Us: It’s bad enough that the government is going to shut down, making the U.S. look more and more like the sort of country that used to be relegated to the newsbriefs in the “world” section of newspapers (when newspapers still ran lengthy “world” sections), plagued with bizarre and amusing political and budgetary squabbles. Even more embarrassing: The worst part about it, to many government workers, is the loss of their federal email accounts. Yes, D.C. is a status-obsessed town, where “status” is usually determined by just how obsessed by work you are. Still. If you can’t go a few days without checking your email—oh, wait, sorry, we just have to reply to something real fast and then we’ll finish this item. -1

Congratulations, It’s a Leopard!: The baby boom continues at the National Zoo. Zoo officials say their female leopard, Sita, gave birth to two cubs late last month—and they’re significantly cuter than the baby anteaters born a short while before that. Male leopard Ta Moon is the father. No word on how the possible government shutdown will affect Ta Moon’s ability to take paternity leave. +4

Virginia is for Racially Clueless Politicians: Five years ago, then-Sen. George Allen of Virginia lost his seat, and probably a decent shot at the 2008 GOP presidential nomination, in part because of a controversy that erupted after he called a volunteer for his opponent’s campaign “macaca,” which happened to be a racial slur used mostly to describe people with dark skin (which, gee, the volunteer happened to have). Which means you’d think Allen might be extra sensitive about racial matters now that he’s running again for the Senate. You would be wrong. The other night, talking to NBC4 reporter Craig Melvin (who’s black), Allen asked him—apparently for the second time—what position he played. Melvin never played sports. And Allen may not have assumed he did just because of Melvin’s race—but voters may well wind up wondering if he did. -2

Virginia is Also for Follically Clueless Would-Be Politicians: When he’s not busy firing people on national television, Donald Trump enjoys indulging in the inane fantasy that President Obama wasn’t born in the United States, pretending to be preparing to run for the Oval Office himself—and now, apparently, making wine in the Old Dominion. Trump bought the Kluge Estate Winery and Vineyard near Charlottesville, spending $6 million for 800 acres. Look for Trump Blanc de Noir at liquor stores near you sometime soon. -1

Yesterday’s Needle rating: 63 Today’s score: 0 Today’s Needle rating: 63