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Say It Ain’t So, Howie: A Monday without the Washington Post Style section delivering a mild scolding from Howard Kurtz to some media organization for violating his keenly honed sense of ethics is like a day without finding something irritating to read in the morning paper over breakfast. (What, you thought we were going to say “sunshine?”) So the announcement today that Kurtz is leaving the Post for the Tina Brown-er pastures of the Daily Beast was, to say the least, unsettling. What next? David Broder joining Twitter? Sunday morning talk shows actually producing content that informs viewers? We like our mainstream media to stay right where it belongs: in print, a little bit behind the times without realizing it, and kind of boring. +3

It’s a Family Affair: The District is facing a $175 million budget shortfall. So it’s only natural that the D.C. Council spent this morning passing a bill to protect animals like raccoons, foxes, pigeons, and sparrows from overzealous pest control officers. The legislation as passed didn’t—as rumored—actually set up any special protections for rats and mice. But it would require animal control experts to keep “family units” together when removing wild animals from homes. No truth to reports that Republicans on Capitol Hill are considering their own measure to ensure D.C. doesn’t recognize gay raccoon marriages. -1

Babies-R-Us: Two explanations have been offered for the news that D.C. Public Schools enrollment is up this year—either the reforms pushed by Michelle Rhee are working, drawing more parents to send their kids to public schools, or the bad economy means parents can’t afford private school anymore, so they’re opting to go the free route instead. Now the federal government says both are wrong. The real reason DCPS enrollment is up? There are more school-age kids out there. So presumably private and charter schools will also see their rolls grow. We’re just waiting for the Post to say the baby boom is the legacy of Snowmaggedon. +2

White House Goes Solar: Dealing with Pepco may be easier for the residents of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW than it is for many other Washingtonians who install solar power. The Obama administration will put solar panels and a solar hot water heater on the White House, in an attempt to demonstrate the benefits of green living. D.C. residents are eligible for big grants from the District for solar installations. It’s unclear whether President Barack Obama qualifies for the help, but since the U.S. Department of Energy is sponsoring the project, he probably doesn’t need it. Wisely, Obama resisted a campaign to get him to put the solar panels Jimmy Carter installed back up; Democrats have enough problems this fall without setting up easy Carter-Obama punch lines. +3

Yesterday’s Needle rating: 46 Today’s score: +7 Today’s Needle rating: 53