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Posted at 08:34 AM ET, 03/25/2011

Cherry blossoms, sunshine and snow

Good morning. It’s Friday — and we’re close to the end of a very busy news week. Virginia Gov. Robert Mc­Don­nell has vetoed a bill that would have required public school students in the state to get at least 150 minutes of PE a week. The Virginia State School Board has a plan designed to encourage local school systems to adopt standards for how Facebook, Twitter and other social networking tools should be used by teachers. In the District, a traffic controller has been suspended after the tower at Reagan National Aiport was left unattended early Wednesday; and in Montgomery County, we’re learning more about a possible motive behind two shootings in Olney.

Clouds vs. sun. Looks like it’s going to be a bit of a battle today. We can only hope the sun wins. The Capital Weather Gang says we’ll have a mix of clouds and sun today. Temperatures will be on the chilly side for this time of year — in the mid-40’s and possibly 50 in some spots (most likely those that get to see the sun). Saturday should be much like today but Sunday — ohhh — Sunday. It appears the threat of snow is still hanging in the air.

Coming up:

Cherry blossoms! The National Cherry Blossom Festival kicks off this weekend with Family Day on Saturday. The National Parks Service said the trees are expected to enter their peak bloom period on March 29 — but could this weekend’s forecast for Sunday snow change that? Some other tidbits: Here’s our handy traveler’s guide to the festival. (You can clip and carry it with you). Also, if you’d like to avoid the crowds at the Tidal Basin, here are some other great spots around town where you can get your cherry blossom fix. Also, a photo gallery of D.C.’s iconic cherry blossom trees.

Street closures for the National Marathon. A reminder that the National Marathon will be held on Saturday, which means street closures throughout the District. Here’s a map that will help you get around the detours. Dr. Gridlock also offers some tips.

Metro turns 35 on Sunday. We’ll take a look at how the transit system is holding up as it enters its mid-30’s. With a new board and a new CEO in place, what does the future hold for WMATA? Its leaders have pledged a safer, more efficient system — but at a time of record budget deficits, will they be able to deliver on that promise?

Today’s headlines:

D.C. losing its black majority? Fewer African Americans are living in the District — a place once nicknamed “Chocolate City.” According to new Census figures released Thursday, the number of African Americans residing in D.C. plummeted by more than 11 percent during the past decade. The black population dropped by more than 39,000 over the decade, down to 301,000 of the city’s 601,700 residents. At the same time, the non-Hispanic white population skyrocketed by more than 50,000 to 209,000 residents, almost a third higher than a decade earlier. We visit several D.C. neighborhoods, including Petworth, Bloomingdale and Southeast, to talk to residents about how their city has changed. Use this interactive map to examine how your neighborhood has changed over time.

Asleep on the job. The lone controller on duty Wednesday morning in the control tower of Reagan/National Airport says he fell asleep after working his fourth consecutive overnight shift, forcing two large passenger planes carrying 165 people to land on their own. He has been suspended and was also given a drug test. The FAA has launched an investigation into the matter and Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood has order that an additional air traffic controller be added to the over night shift at Reagan/National — as is the case at other major airports including Dulles International and Boston Logan.

Metro’s watching you. Metro officials said Thursday they will install cameras at all station entrances — part of a push to reassure riders at a time when the number of serious crimes such as robbery and assault are on the increase. In all, 153 cameras will be put into place. They will film exterior entrances of the system’s 86 stations with high quality video that officials hope will enable them to identify crime suspects.

In short. A man was killed Thursday night in Temple Hills (Post); a construction worker working on a house project in NE died Thursday night after a trench collapsed (Post); a judge has dismissed a lawsuit that attempted to block the construction of a new music club in Silver Spring (The Gazette).

That’s it for now. Be sure to check back with Post Local for more updates and headlines throughout the day. Let us help you plan you weekend with our guide to the National Cherry Blossom Festival (where to eat, where to park, how to avoid the crowds). If cherry blossoms aren’t your thing, the Going Out Guide has a list of new movies, great restaurants or free stuff you can do around town.

By  |  08:34 AM ET, 03/25/2011

 
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