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Silver Standoff: A gunman strolls into the Discovery Communications headquarters in downtown Silver Spring and takes hostages, apparently in an attempt to get the cable conglomerate to stop airing shows that encourage people to have babies. Why? Because the gunman is nuts. The alleged suspect, James Jay Lee, was arrested in the same place two years ago after another strange protest, though that one ended peacefully. TV coverage of the incident maybe played up how much it inconvenienced rush hour commuters a bit more than was really reasonable. But hopefully, Montgomery County police will be able to resolve the situation without more violence. UPDATE: Police shot Lee, freeing the hostages and taking him into custody. -10
Earl-y Warning: Driving to the beach on Labor Day weekend can be unpleasant enough. But if you’re thinking of driving to the beach on Labor Day weekend while Hurricane Earl churns up the East Coast, Maryland authorities have a message for you: Don’t do it! The storm is only expected to deliver a glancing blow to Ocean City and other Maryland and Delaware beaches, but significant erosion could be a problem. Virginia beaches, meanwhile, have a hurricane watch. Here in D.C., the weather should be nice all weekend. Just nice enough, in fact, to make you wish you’d ignored Maryland authorities and gone down to Ocean City. -4
Not So SmarTrip: Fare card machines suddenly refuse to allow Metro passengers to pick up employee-provided SmartBenefits during the morning rush hour, accepting only cash or credit cards to add value to SmarTrip cards. Metro officials say it’s a “technical issue,” but don’t elaborate. Considering the new “peak of the peak” fares just took effect for morning rush hour a few days ago, riders show impressive restraint by not starting riots demanding better service. -3
Get Your Washington Times for $1: The hot new trend in the media business, apparently, is selling a newspaper or magazine for $1. Not a copy of the newspaper or magazine; the actual publication, including offices, computers, reporters, editors, and—chances are—massive debts. Newsweek kicked things off last month. The latest outfit joining the craze? The Washington Times, which is on the verge of a transfer from Preston Moon, a son of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, founder of the Unification Church, to Doug Joo, a Moon ally. The transaction means the paper is likely to go back to the days of weird conservative dogma. But it also means the paper is likely to keep publishing. +2
Yesterday’s Needle rating: 42 Today’s score: -15 Today’s Needle rating: 27