The Lookout
  • A wooden heart is displayed near Sandy Hook Elementary School. (Dylan Stableford/Yahoo News)

    NEWTOWN, Conn.—As families of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings travel to Hartford to join President Barack Obama at his speech on gun violence later on Monday—and fly with him back to Washington—many residents here said they did not want the gun-control spotlight shone on them.

    More than a dozen people—outside the Newtown General Store, Starbucks and Panera Bread, and at Treadwell Memorial Park less than a mile up the hill from Sandy Hook Elementary—declined to be interviewed on the subject. Some said they wanted to keep their opinions to themselves. Others said they felt the media had exploited them enough and wanted to be left alone.

    "I thought you all had left," one man said cheerily as he strolled along a walking path in Sandy Hook center on one of the first truly warm days of spring.

    Outside Edmond Town Hall, a group of mothers sipped coffee as they watched their children play underneath a sign for a second-run showing of the movie "Argo." They politely

    Read More »from In Newtown, a gun debate does not rage on—at least in public
  • George Mason high school basketball players on a school bus. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post via Getty)One in 9 students in middle and high schools in the 2009-2010 school year were suspended at least once, according to a new report by a civil rights group concerned that the high suspension rate may be pushing kids to drop out of school altogether.

    Most out-of-school suspensions were handed out for relatively minor infractions, such as violating the dress code or using a cellphone, the UCLA's Civil Rights Project found in the report, called "Out of School and Off Track: The Overuse of Suspensions in American Middle and High Schools."

    The report estimated that 2 million students were suspended that year, based on discipline data from 26,000 middle and high schools. That figure doesn't include the more serious punishment of expulsion, or the number of students who faced in-school suspensions.

    The report highlighted racial disparities in suspensions, an issue the U.S. Education Department is investigating in several school districts, including Los Angeles. A quarter of black students in middle and high school were suspended during the year, compared with 7.1 percent of white students. One in 3 black middle school males was suspended at least once, the report found.

    Some schools had a particularly high rate of suspensions. In 519 of the high schools studied, more than half the student body had been suspended over the course of a year. Out of all the school districts studied, Chicago had the most secondary schools (82) that suspended at least a quarter of their student body in the year period.

    The report's authors argue that students who are suspended are more likely to drop out of school altogether. They point out that students who are suspended might not be supervised by an adult for the duration of their out-of-school time, which they believe makes it an ineffective form of discipline.

    Read More »from 1 in 9 middle and high schoolers suspended during school year
  • Kim Jong Un on horseback in an undated photo (KNS/Getty Images)

    Politicians and pundits painted a pretty bleak picture of the situation in North Korea on the Sunday talk-show circuit, with South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham predicting a "major war" breaking out if Kim Jong Un attacks South Korea.

    "The North Koreans need to understand if they attack an American interest or an ally of this country, they're going to pay a heavy price," Graham said on NBC's "Meet The Press" on Sunday. "I could see a major war happening if the North Koreans overplay their hand this time, because the public in South Korea, the United States, and I think the whole region, is fed up with this guy."

    "I think we have to convince this new, young, inexperienced leader that he's playing a losing hand," former U.S. Defense Under Secretary Michèle Flournoy said. "The only way out of the box to get the economic development he wants, to get the progress that he wants, is to ratchet back the rhetoric. Come back into compliance with the international obligations."

    Since assuming power in late 2011, the provocative Kim has defied U.N. sanctions by continuing to develop North Korea's missile program.

    "He's kind of reckless right now," Gen. James Thurman, the top U.S. military commander in South Korea, said on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos" on ABC. "If they decided to, you know, resume hostilities, I think we've got to be ready to go."

    Earlier Sunday, U.S. officials said Thurman, who was expected to travel to Washington this week to appear before the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, will instead stay in Seoul as "a prudent measure."

    When asked to speculate on the outcome of a war, Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said: "The North loses and the South wins, with our help. That's what happens."

    Read More »from Is North Korea on the brink of war?


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