The Flu Line State: Brace yourself for a pandemic. No, not of the flu, but of coverage of the flu. The region’s flu season is officially underway, with news that someone in Baltimore has come down with swine flu. But unlike last year, vaccines appear to be widely available; at Safeway, where we got our shot recently, they give you a 10 percent off coupon if you get vaccinated. A year ago, word that a Safeway had flu shots available would have led to a riot that destroyed the store. +1

Rosslyn Goes Manhattan: The days when the USA Today building was the only tall edifice you saw looming over the Potomac River looking west from Georgetown are vanishing fast. For one, USA Today moved out of Rosslyn to a monstrous, sprawling complex near Dulles almost a decade ago; for another, the Rosslyn skyline has grown considerably in recent years. It’s about to grow even more: Construction began today on what will be the region’s tallest building. Yet another reason D.C. should seize back Arlington and Alexandria from Virginia! +2

Rally to Restore Media Sanity: At the Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert rallies in two weeks, it’s a safe bet a few things will be in plentiful supply: Irony; iPhones; busloads of New Yorkers the Huffington Post has ferried to our fair city. What won’t be around much: Off-duty journalists. The Washington Post, NPR, and other media outlets have banned staffers from “taking part” in the rally, though it’s not entirely clear how that differs from “observing it,” which the Posties will be permitted to do. Fear not, though: Washington City Paper has issued no such guidelines. So it’ll be the perfect place to track us down and yell at us about [insert topic here]. -2

Blue Line to the Future: Metro will soon be a magical wonderland of working escalators, renovated bathrooms, and spacious platforms. As long as the concept of “soon” encompasses “by 2016, if everything actually stays on schedule.” The transit agency announced plans today to overhaul significant portions of the Blue and Orange lines, during a meeting where they also dropped (for now) all the dopey ideas they had about changing how SmarTrip works. All told, the work will cost $272 million; that’s on top of the $177 million Red Line renovation underway now. Better get riding—WMATA has debt service payments to make! +2

Yesterday’s Needle rating: 32 Today’s score: +5 Today’s Needle rating: 37