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Posted at 8:05 AM ET, 02/ 9/2011

Lori's A.M. Buzz: Hawk, nurse-in, Pepco

By Lori Aratani
Jane Elizabeth

lori aratani

Good morning. It's Wednesday. Lots of news this morning, including the disturbing story of a first-grade teacher in Montgomery County arrested for allegedly assaulting her students. Pepco officials were back on the hot seat in two hearings -- one before members of the Prince George's County Council and another before state legislators in Annapolis. In both instances, Pepco executives vowed to improve customer service.

Coming up:

The sun is back. We'll see sunshine today and the winds will calm a bit. The Capital Weather Gang calls it a "kinder, gentler cold." it will be partly sunny and breezy today with temperatures in the mid-30's. We may get some snow flurries tonight that may leave --at most -- a "dusting" of snow in the southern suburbs. The winds will be back Thursday making it feel chillier than it is, but if you can hold on to the weekend you'll hear those magic words: warming trend. Ahhh.

Maryland and the Census. Last week it was Virginia -- now today it's Maryland's turn. Census officials will release data for Maryland and at least three other states including Iowa, Indiana and Arkansas this week. The new numbers will tell us about population growth in Maryland as well as how the state's demographics have shifted since 2000. As you might recall, Virginia has grown more diverse in the past 10 years, while the Northern Virginia region also has grown dramatically.

Moms to raise awareness. Dozens of women plan to stage a "nurse-in" at the Hirshhorn Museum on Saturday to highlight their federally protected right to breast-feed in public. The "nurse-in" comes after a Jan. 30 incident in which a mother nursing her daughter on a bench in the Hirshhorn was informed by a Smithsonian security guard that she would have to move to the women's restroom.

Today's headlines:

Teacher arrested. A first-grade teacher at Greentree Elementary School in Montgomery County elementary school has been charged with punching and choking as many as half of her young students, according to police. Susan Lee Burke, 35, of Laurel has been placed on administrative leave by the school system. She was arrested and released from county jail Tuesday night after posting a $75,000 bond. Montgomery County school officials said the allegations first surfaced Jan. 4. None of the students were harmed seriously enough to warrant medical attention or show visible injury, police said. We'll continue to bring you the latest developments in this story.

McDonnell loses bid to privatize liquor sales. He won big on transportation, but Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell is not going to win his bid to privatize the state's liquor stores. On Tuesday, despite an aggressive lobbying effort, his plan died quietly in the state legislature without even a vote or hearing. Take a look at what happened to McDonnell's ambitious plan.

Pepco chief pledges to do better. Pepco's top executive Chairman Joseph Rigby told legislators in Maryland Tuesday that the utility's performance was "not acceptable, and we're going to fix it." Rigby also said he will forgo as much as $900,000 in compensation this year. His appearance comes as the company attempts to retool its image in the aftermath of the Jan. 26 snow storm that left thousands in Maryland and the District without power -- some for more than three days. The company has been under fire for a series of outages during last winter's snow storms as well as outages this past summer.

Rhee teacher firings overturned. An independent arbitrator has ruled that 75 probationary teachers who were fired by then-D.C. School's chief Michelle Rhee should be reinstated. Arbitrator Charles Feigenbaum said the "glaring and fatal flaw" in Rhee's action was that the teachers were not given reasons for their terminations. D.C. School Officials said they are reviewing their options.

In short. Prosecutors are seeking life in prison without the possibility of parole for the man convicted of killing federal intern Chandra Levy (Post); a female pedestrian was struck by a vehicle near Union Station Tuesday night and taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries (Post); a retired UMBC professor is suing the university and the state for more than $30M alleging that he was forced to retire under false pretenses. (The Baltimore Sun)

Other items:

Just for bookworms. Good news for book lovers. Organizes of The National Book Festival announced that the annual event will expand from one to two days. The expansion was made possible by made possible by a gift from financier and philanthropist David M. Rubenstein, who donated $5 million over five years for the festival. This year's book festival, which will feature more than 70 writers, will be held Sept. 24-25 on the National Mall.

Virginia is for lovers. has declared that Alexandria is the most romantic city in the nation -- a ranking based on purchases of romance novels, Barry White CDs and other, ahem, items. (The Washington Business Journal)

Born free. The female hawk that took up residence in the Library of Congress' Main Reading Room last month is finally free. After a brief stint in rehab, Shirley (or Jefferson, as she was dubbed by Post readers) was set free on Tuesday.

That's it for now. Thanks for reading and check back with PostLocal throughout the day for more updates and headlines. If you're interested in what's happening in the D.C.-area blogosphere, I'll have a roundup of some of the most interesting posts later this afternoon. Feel like chatting? Here's a full schedule of some of the Post personalities who will be online today, including food critic Tom Sietsema.

By Lori Aratani  | February 9, 2011; 8:05 AM ET
Categories:  AM Buzz  | Tags:  loris am buzz  
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