Tangled Web

It had been a long day at school for Avery Doninger. Her principal, Karissa Niehoff, told her about scheduling conflicts the school was having with "Jamfest" -- a battle of the bands contest Doninger worked to coordinate as junior class secretary for her Burlington, Conn., high school. Doninger believed because of those conflicts, the event would be effectively canceled.

Conventional wisdom

Inside, American flags will drape over the walls while balloons float to the floor below. Music will keep the mood light and delegates on their feet. Outside, protesters will rattle chain-link fences and scream insults as riot police stand ready to squash violent protests.