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Metropolitan Panopticon: More and more businesses these days have some kind of surveillance camera set up, keeping an eye on you while you buy your groceries, deposit your paycheck, fill up your gas tank, or run up more unsecured consumer debt. All those cameras are, apparently, making District officials jealous. So the city plans to pull in feeds from private businesses and Metro into a surveillance network, giving authorities the ability to watch just about everyone in any private establishment whenever they want. Naturally, the idea is being justified under the broad umbrella of “homeland security.” We think we’d feel more secure if the local government couldn’t zoom in on us without any reason or advance knowledge, but hey, maybe we’re just soft on terrorism. -4
The Oracle Departs: Whenever the balance sheet started looking scary at The Washington Post, executives could always comfort themselves with one thing: Warren Buffett. Sure, maybe they were throwing money down the drain in a dying industry, publishing newspapers when no one wants information that can’t be distilled into a Facebook post or a 140-character Twitter blurt, but at least the Oracle of Omaha still believed. Those days are now over; Buffett won’t run for another term on the Post‘s board of directors when his seat comes up in May. The news initially sent the paper’s stock tumbling, but then investors remembered that the paper is just a money-losing subsidiary of a very profitable test prep company, and it recovered. -2
Justice and Jury: Every newcomer to the District learns one thing very quickly—no matter how inefficient anything else may be around here, like clockwork, jury duty summons will arrive every two years on the dot. And thus, Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan shouldn’t have been surprised to find herself at the H. Carl Moultrie Courthouse this morning, reporting to serve like any of the rest of us. (She wasn’t seated on a panel, which probably made some judge very relieved not to have a kibbitzer sitting in the jury box.) +1
What’s That Smell?: Nothing says, “Welcome to D.C., tourists!” like a forced evacuation of a large hotel, giving visitors a true immersion in city life. Which is exactly what guests at the Washington Marriott, near 22nd and M streets NW, got today, thanks to a suspicious odor that authorities didn’t know the source of. A handful of nearby streets also closed. On the scale of alarming suspicious things, odors are surely worse than packages, though in the end, this one will probably be traced back to a backpack left unattended that had rotten food in it. -1
Yesterday’s Needle rating: 61 Today’s score: -6 Today’s Needle rating: 55