Atrocities such as the Boston bombing are hard to tackle, but gun crime isn't
Sunday 21st April 2013,
, Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Nobody knows why he did it. But that hasn't stopped them speculating. In retrospect, from the testimony of those who knew him, there were signs. But nobody could have predicted anything on this scale. What influences came to bear? What motives could there be? What would drive a young man to wilfully murder as many innocents as possible, leaving the country both vulnerable and mournful?
The Iron Lady is dead but Thatcherism lives on
Thursday 11th April 2013,
, Photograph: Cathal McNaughton/Reuters
In 1966, a little more than a year after Martin Luther King won the Nobel peace prize, only 33% of Americans had a favourable view of him, as opposed to 63% who viewed him unfavourably. It's not difficult to see why. He was a civil rights leader in a country where 85% of whites thought blacks were "moving too fast for racial equality". He had also become a vocal opponent of the Vietnam war. Just six days after King's death in April 1968, the Virginia congressman William Tuck blamed King for his own murder, telling the House of Representatives that King "fomented discord and strife between the races ... He who sows the seed of sin shall reap and harvest a whirlwind of evil."
Prisoner soul: the Huntsville penitentiary band
Wednesday 10th April 2013,
The huge prison that dominates downtown Huntsville, Texas, is so intimately embedded into the life of the town that the rituals associated with it barely register. Every couple of hours a whistle blows marking the moment at which the prisoners are counted to make sure none have escaped. Roughly twice a month, when there are executions, vigils are held at the gates.
Chicago's South Siders vow to fight to the last in battle to save their schools
Tuesday 9th April 2013,
, Photograph: Charles Rex Arbogast/AP
Keyshawn Wells rose before officials of the Chicago public school system at a meeting on the closing of his school, Mahalia Jackson elementary, and made his case. The room was silent as Keyshawn, who has impaired hearing, signed his presentation. As his two-minute time limit approached, he signed "thank you". Then GC Middleton, a teacher at the school, broke the silence, telling officials at the Monday night meeting: "If you want to know what he said, please come to Mahalia Jackson."
How Did Margaret Thatcher Do It?
Chicago schools fight closure as drive for charter schools continues
Monday 8th April 2013,
, Photograph: M Spencer Green/AP
Like a condemned man taking time out for a manicure, Mahalia Jackson elementary school on Chicago's south side will have its gardens replanted in the next week or so. Then, if the city's school board has its way, just as the new flowers reach full bloom it will prepare to close its doors for good.
Warning. This article on gay marriage contains optimism
Sunday 7th April 2013,
, Photograph: J. Scott Applewhite/AP
When Michael Wetherbee, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer, rose to argue in favour of gay marriage before the Minnesota supreme court in 1971, one of the judges turned his chair round and refused to look at him. The petition was summarily dismissed. "The institution of marriage as a union of man and woman ... is as old as the book of Genesis," the ruling stated.
Law and disorder: the destructive dynamic of America's segregated cities
Friday 5th April 2013,
, Photograph: John Minchillo/AP
On Saturday evening, a large number youths (by one account, as many as 500), most of them black, rampaged through downtown Chicago's Magnificent Mile, fighting each other and generally creating mayhem. The ruckus had been planned ahead of time on social media.