President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder speak on the situation in Ferguson, Missouri, where nightly riots have occurred following the shooting on August 9, 2014 of an unarmed African American teenager by police, prior to a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, August 18, 2014. (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

When President Obama addressed the nation Monday on crises in war-torn Iraq and Ferguson, Mo., millions likely waited with anticipation for inspiring and defining words.

Across the country, the attention was focused not on the Middle East but on what the president would have to say about Ferguson, which has swirled in turmoil since police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown 10 days ago.

Some might have thought the president would deliver a speech like those of yesteryear, the kind of remarkable insight then-Sen. Obama delivered in 2008, when he distanced himself from the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and gave a thorough presentation of race relations in the United States. That speech helped right his presidential campaign and cement his reputation as an orator.

But the campaigner full of hope has yielded to a president grounded in reality. As much as he may have wanted to, he steered clear of indicting the justice system.

As writer David Swerdlick has noted, President Obama must “represent the American system … with all its attendant flaws.”

So after days of criticism that he has been absent from the discussion on Ferguson — where police have pointed their guns at even law-abiding protestors and lobbed tear gas at their feet — Obama seemed to step cautiously into the fray on Monday.

FERGUSON, MO – AUGUST 17: A woman is helped from the street after bing overcome by tear gas when a demonstration over the killing of teenager Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer was attacked by police August 17, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Despite the Brown family’s continued call for peaceful demonstrations, violent protests have erupted nearly every night in Ferguson since his August 9, death. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Appearing tired and resigned, the president announced that the Justice Department has opened an investigation into the death of Brown and that Attorney General Eric Holder will arrive in Ferguson Wednesday to meet with investigators and members of the community.

Though the president spoke to the tension in Missouri, where people are outraged that another young black man is dead – and that authorities have yet to charge the officer – gone was the sparkling delivery of days past.

His muted delivery sparked complaints that the president is out of touch with black people. Still, the president spoke to a central truth:

“In too many communities around the country a gulf of mistrust exists between the local community and local law enforcement,” Obama said. “Too many young men of color are left behind and seen as objects of fear.”

Anyone who longed to hear the president use his bully pulpit to speak forcefully on police abuses, or deliver a soaring speech that appeals to the nation’s better instincts, was sorely disappointed.

Trying to avoid any impression that he is “putting my thumb on the scale one way or the other,” Obama urged people in Ferguson not to give in to anger while the justice system inches forward.

Although the president said that constitutional rights to speak freely, to assemble and to report in the press “must be vigilantly safeguarded” and that there is “no excuse for excessive force by police,” his relatively guarded comments may indicate he is not able to bridge the black-white divide as so many of his supporters want him to.

Although the president asked Americans “to seek our shared humanity that’s laid bare by this moment,” the question for many is when there will be a shared, and equal, sense of justice.

There’ll be no school this week in the Ferguson, Mo., school district, as efforts to quell violence related to a police shooting fail to stop the unrest.

The announcement appears on the St. Louis Post-Dispatch website:

“We believe that closing schools for the rest of this week will allow needed time for peace and stability to be restored to our community,” the district said in a statement.

Classes had been scheduled to begin Aug. 14, but have been repeatedly  postponed. Some parents are giving children life lessons, writes Tim Lloyd of St. Louis Public Radio:

Bobby Lee Brown, no relation to Michael Brown, walked along Canfield Drive on Monday morning. The tall man with a full beard has his hand on the back of his son Donovan. Brown’s off of work today and planned on taking Donovan to his first day as a fifth grader at Robinwood Elementary School.

“This morning he didn’t understand why there wasn’t any school,” Brown said. “So I had to sit him down in front of the TV and tell him to look at the news.”

With schools closed, National Guard members deployed, and reporters from around the world publishing dramatic accounts and photos, some Ferguson residents are concerned about how the violence paints the community.

Luke Taylor, a digital producer here at MPR, writes in an email:

This video was shared with me by my wife’s cousin, who has a friend who lives in Ferguson, Mo. It’s an insider’s view of the community; a community many people could see themselves being part of.

As unrest continues, New York Times reporters Monica Davey, John Eligon, and Alan Blinder write that residents seem puzzled and frustrated by changing approaches to law enforcement.

“It almost seems like they can’t decide what to do, and like law enforcement is fighting over who’s got the power,” said Antione Watson, 37, who stood near a middle-of-the-street memorial of candles and flowers for [Michael] Brown, the 18-year-old killed on a winding block here.

“First they do this, then there’s that, and now who can even tell what their plan is?” Mr. Watson said. “They can try all of this, but I don’t see an end to this until there are charges against the cop.”

Related story:

The emotional and economic toll on Ferguson, Missouri [Marketplace]

I admit to having a minor phobia about blood-sucking insects and arachnids. I empathize with volunteers enlisted to drag sheets through fields to gather specimens in the pursuit of scientific research.

As kids, my friends and I used to push our bikes across a dewy meadow at dusk and sneak into adjacent woods to watch drive-in movies through binoculars.

It wasn’t long until we became aware that we were covered with so many wood ticks — dozens, a hundred maybe — that we named the meadow “Tick Field.”

Back then we cared little about the disease-carrying potential of these nuisances. Not so today, when mosquito- and tick-borne illnesses are of increasing concern to those who spend time outdoors.

A study is underway in western Wisconsin, funded by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Joe Knight writes in the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram that the study aims to document seasonal variations in ticks and to ascertain the percentage that carry the bacteria that cause Lyme disease.

Since May, Health Department staff members and student volunteers have been conducting “tick drags” once per week at the two county parks, alternating parks each week. The process involves dragging a weighted 4-foot-by-4-foot piece of cloth through tall grass. Ticks that cling to the cloth are collected and plopped into containers of alcohol.

Preliminary results show that about one-fourth of the deer ticks collected early this season contained the bacteria. A microbiologist with the Eau Claire City-County Health Department calls that proportion “incredibly high.”

Furthermore, Knight reports:

Health officials are working on two apparently new species of bacteria, yet unnamed, that are carried by deer ticks and have caused diseases in small numbers of people in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Meanwhile, out west, our colleagues at Southern California Public Radio report that the authorities are getting tougher on property owners who neglect their pools.

In years past, [Orange County's] vector control — the agency responsible for keeping the county safe from infectious mosquitoes — has taken to chucking insect-eating fish into neglected pools that they couldn’t get access to, usually from a neighbor’s backyard.

This year, it’s added a new approach to its arsenal: warrants.

An attorney for the district tells KPCC that the county has sought two such warrants from a judge. The warrants grant them access to a list of neglected pools in the area.

I wonder what happens to the fish.