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Posted at 8:10 AM ET, 02/ 2/2011

Buzz: U-Md.-Duke game, bag tax, bad fish

By Lori Aratani
Washington Post editors

Good morning. It may start out a bit gloomy, but it looks like today is going to be the warmest day we've had in awhile. Lots of interesting stories in the news today. Several Georgetown students offer dramatic accounts of what it was like to be caught up in protests in Egypt -- and the panic they felt as barriers went up and communications were cut. Meanwhile, Prince George's County Schools may be forced to make even more drastic cuts to help balance their budget. And we take a look at efforts to spruce up the "Nation's Front Yard" -- D.C.'s National Mall. Read on.


Coming up:

Heat wave. Compared to our most recent weather patterns today will feel downright balmy. The Capital Weather Gang says the rain should taper off by mid-morning. The winds will move in but temperatures will climb to near 50 degrees. 50 degrees! Thursday should be calm with temperatures in the mid-30's to 40.

No repeats. The University of Maryland faces off against arch-rival Duke tonight in College Park and officials at the university are hoping to prevent a repeat of post-victory mayhem that took place following the Terps 2010 victory. Fires broke out, property was ransacked and 28 people were arrested. There were allegations that Prince George's County Police beat students. And it was all captured on video, which, courtesy of YouTube, cast the school in an ugly, unruly light. Tonight, there's a pregame pep rally and a postgame bonfire in hopes of channeling all the Terp-boosting/Duke-bashing mania to a constructive end. The question: Will it work?

Afraid of his shadow? It's Groundhog Day, and Punxsutawney Phil failed to see his shadow at 7:25 this morning. That means, according to folklore, an early spring.  Meanwhile, a town in western Maryland held its own Groundhog Day ceremonies, complete with groundhog and hot chocolate. (Associated Press)


Today's headlines:

More cuts in Prince George's schools? Prince George's County schools chief William Hite said Tuesday an increasingly grim budget forecast may mean cutting more than 1,100 jobs, paring back kindergarten programs and increasing class size at some schools. The cuts are more severe than what Hite proposed just seven weeks ago, when he presented a budget for fiscal 2012 that would freeze pay and eliminate middle school sports while also cutting hundreds of jobs.

Jack LaLanne would be pleased. The Virginia State Legislature on Tuesday approved a measure that will require public school students in Virginia participate in at least 150 minutes of physical education a week -- part of an effort to help combat growing rates of obesity among young people. Local school officials aren't pleased -- they say the additional time for physical education might mean less time for art and music. They are also concerned about how they'll pay for the programs.

Did the punishment fit the crime? A 14-year-old freshman at Spotslyvania High School has been expelled for using a plastic tube to shoot plastic pellets at his classmates in the lunchroom. Andrew Mikel II, who also faces misdemeanor assault charges, admits it was a stupid prank -- but his father and others, including at least one Virginia state legislator, believe the school system may have carried its "zero-tolerance" policy too far. What are your thoughts?

In short. Maryland Department of Natural Resources Police have seized almost three tons of illegally caught rockfish; (Post);  the Virginia legislature votes to kill a proposed bag tax;  (Associated Press); the annual panda pregnancy watch has begun at the National Zoo (Post)

Other items:

Angel in the Smithsonian? Fans of 1970's and 1980's television will be pleased to know that Farrah Fawcett's orange bathing suit (the one she wore in that poster that hung on many teen boys' walls) is headed to the Smithsonian. (Associated Press)

That's it for now. Thanks for reading and be sure to check back with Post Local throughout the day for more updates and headlines. On the go? You can get your Post Local updates via Twitter. You can also become a fan on Facebook, where you can share your thoughts on stories we post.

By Lori Aratani  | February 2, 2011; 8:10 AM ET
Categories:  DC, Education, Loris AM Buzz, Maryland, Traffic and Transportation, Virginia, Weather  | Tags:  loris am buzz  
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