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Posted at 8:15 AM ET, 11/23/2010

Lori's A.M. Buzz: Free food. Enough said.

By Lori Aratani
Washington Post editors

Good morning. The warmest day of the week will be . . . today. The Capital Weather Gang says temperatures are expected to be in the high 60's (parts of the area might even hit 70.) But we won't see a lot of sunshine. It'll be partly to mostly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of showers in the afternoon. Wednesday should be cool and dry and Thursday -- sigh -- it looks like there's going to be rain.


Coming up.:

Thomas investigation. Today is the deadline for D.C. Councilman Harry Thomas (D-Ward 5) to turn over documents subpoenaed by D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles as part of an investigaton of Thomas' nonprofit organization Team Thomas. Thomas said Monday he would meet today's court-imposed deadline. Nickles is investigating the group,which provides grants to children and community-based groups in the Northeast Washington neighborhoods Thomas represents. Team Thomas is not registered with the Internal Revenue Service and had its license revoked last year by the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.

Military cutbacks in Virginia. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and members of the state's congressional delegation are scheduled to meet with Defense Secretary Robert Gates today to talk about plans to close military installations in Virginia. Pentagon officials say the plan to close the facility is part of a larger effort to reduce spending by the Pentagon. But McDonnell and other Virginia officials claim the closure does not make military sense, and that the Defense Department has not provided adequate justification for the closures. (WAMU)

Thanksgiving getway. AAA's Lon Anderson will be online today at 1 p.m. to chat about your Thanksgiving getaway. Have a question about roads or those full-body scans? Submit it here. Also, as you're plotting your getaway be sure to check our holiday travel guide. Do you know what the biggest traffic bottleneck is for Thanksgiving travelers? Here's Dr. Gridlock's nomination.


Today's headlines:

Guilty. After three-and-a-half-days of deliberation, a jury found Ingmar Guandique guilty of first-degree felony murder in the killing of Washington intern Chandra Levy -- a case that drew national attention because of the victim's links to her hometown congressman Gary Condit. Guandique, a 29-year-old illegal immigrant from El Salvador, will be sentenced in Feburary and faces life in prison without parole. Guandique is already serving time for other crimes. Afterwards, jurors -- including a single holdout who took the weekend to think about the case -- talked about what led them to a guilty verdict, despite the lack of scientific evidence. Do you agree with the jury's findings?

Higher taxes in D.C.? D.C. Mayor-elect Vincent Gray said Monday, he might have to raise taxes to close a budget shortfall expected to exceed $500 million in the next two years. Raising taxes is not something he's eager to do, but because 80 percent of District revenue comes from property, sales or income tax revenue, Gray said it is not possible "to raise significant revenue" unless he targets "one or more major tax categories." About three-fourths of the District's budget is "fixed costs" such as salaries, federally mandated programs, Metro payments and interest on debt.

Changes in Metro benefits. Thousands of Metro riders -- many of them federal workers -- could be faced with cuts in their commute benefits by the end of the year. Unless Congress acts to extend a program funded as part of the Obama Administration's economic stimulus legislation, they could see their commute benefit drop from up to $230 a month back down to $120 month. Also, early next year, Metro will begin separating parking and transit benefits -- to comply with an IRS reading of the law. Prior to the IRS' interpretation of the law, commuters could pull from either account to pay for parking and transit costs.

In short. A student pilot learned an important lesson after being intercepted by U.S. fighter jets after the pilot and plane crossed into restricted airspace in the Washington area on Monday afternoon (Post); Reagan National Airport has won a dubious distinction: worst food in the nation -- and when you think of all the bad food out there, well, that's kind of a big deal (Washington Examiner);


Other items:

Free pancakes. To celebrate the opening of their 1,500 restaurant, the folks at the International House of Pancakes -- IHOP -- are giving away a free short stack of butter milk pancakes to the first 1,500 people who come to their Columbia Heights store. Even if you miss out on the free pancakes, there'll be pancake-sculpting by local D.C. pastry chefs (who knew?) along with live entertainment and a ribbon cutting ceremony. The restaurant is located in the DCUSA shopping center (also home to Target and Best Buy) in Columbia Heights.

They fly through the air . . . Researchers at Virginia Tech have received money from the Department of Defense to do research on flying snakes. (Yes, you read that correctly.) Initial research on the reptiles was sponsored by the National Geographic Society, but recent work and a paper were funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The agency is involved in advanced military technologies of all kinds, and researcher John Socha said the physical dynamics of snake flight (and how other creatures stay in the air) is of great interest to the agency.

That's it for today. Thanks for reading and have a great day. Be sure to check back for more updates and don't forget about our Thanksgiving travel chat today at 1 p.m. with Lon Anderson of AAA.

By Lori Aratani  | November 23, 2010; 8:15 AM ET
Categories:  Crime and Public Safety, DC, Loris AM Buzz, Maryland, Virginia, Weather  
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