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Yes, Virginia, There Is a Space Program: Look out, Florida—the Old Dominion is coming after you. NASA officials will launch a “suborbital rocket” from a facility on the Eastern Shore next week, complete with a safety system that will cause the rocket to self-destruct if it strays from its expected flight path. (Fun!) Might this to kick off a new space race? If so, expect Mayor Adrian Fenty to announce over the weekend that the District has launched a satellite—but that it’ll come crashing down to Earth if Vince Gray is elected. +2
911 Is a Joke: Police in Hyattsville endure a five-hour standoff outside an auto shop before realizing the building was empty. Evidently, someone told officials that someone else had told him that a group of people with weapons might be inside. Which led to the building’s perimeter being secured and a protracted wait for a confrontation with… nobody. In other news, Hyattsville police apparently have very little real crime to worry about. +3
99 Problems, But a Bus Ain’t One: Metro pulls 99 buses from the region’s roads, after an Orion IV model diesel-powered bus burst into flames on the Beltway yesterday. A hydraulic pump may have caused the fire. The bad news: Fewer buses may mean longer waits on some routes. The good news: You’re already used to waiting an absurdly long time for most Metro routes. The really good news: Fewer buses means your chances of getting hit by one decrease. +2
Justin Bieber Is Not a Crook: Maryland authorities won’t press charges against the Canadian teen heartthrob for throwing water balloons at state troopers last week during a performance. A bodyguard apparently kept the cops from arresting Bieber up on the spot. Which raises a good question from a marketing standpoint: at what age would it be better for his career to have done some time? (Yes, that joke was kind of lame. So is this entire item. We’re only running it to get some of the Google search traffic; we don’t actually even know what “Justin Bieber” is.) -3
Yesterday’s Needle rating: 45 Today’s score: +4 Friday bonus: +2 Today’s Needle rating: 51