DAYBREAK DAILY: Virginia paves way for transgender prep athletes

ABC7 WEATHER: Partly cloudy with highs in the mid 50s.

NEWSTALK: Today’s guest (10 a.m., NewsChannel 8) is D.C. Mayor Vince Gray.

‘GOOD MORNING WASHINGTON’: Among the reports – Powerball winner; Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) will be joined by Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro) General Manager Richard Sarles and Metro Police Chief Ron Pavlik to announce new legislative reforms that would deter cell phone theft and help put the safety and security of personal information stored on mobile devices back in the hands of consumers; P.G. County eyes pothole repairs; much more, beginning at 4:30 a.m. M-F.

TRANSGENDER PREPSTERS: Come one, come all, per the Richmond Times-Dispatch, “The Virginia High School League on Wednesday approved the participation of transgender athletes in prep sports. The motion passed by 27-0 vote of the league’s executive committee, which is made up of school principals and athletic directors, among others, from throughout the state. . . A person is considered transgender when he or she identifies with a gender other than his or her birth sex. This includes changes in dress or appearance.

“But to comply with the league’s policy, the athlete will have to make physiological changes, too. The athlete must have undergone sex reassignment, including surgical removal of the external sex organs and the ovaries or testes. He or she must undergo hormonal therapy such that it minimizes gender-related advantages in sports competition. If the student stops taking hormonal therapy, he or she will be required to participate in the sport of his or her birth gender.”

TERPS SECURITY BREACH: Of hackers, per ABC7—WJLA, “The University of Maryland says it had just recently doubled its number of IT security engineers, analysts, and security tools. But still, hackers somehow managed to carry out a sophisticated attack early Tuesday morning. "It's scary," says student Ricky Bailey. "I just got the email about an hour ago, and I don't think people realize how serious it is just yet."

“In a letter sent on Wednesday evening, President Wallace Loh said that the database that was breached contained more than 300,000 records of faculty, staff, students, and affiliated personnel from the College Park and Shady Grove campuses since 1998. Those records include name, social security number, date of birth, and university ID number.”

RIGHT TO AN ATTORNEY?: It depends, per the Baltimore Sun, “Maryland’S judiciary administrators have asked the state's top court to throw out a landmark ruling that poor defendants have a constitutional right to public defenders at their first bail hearings. The request came this week as lawmakers attempt to respond to the decision, discussing sweeping changes to the way the state handles defendants before trial.

“But in this week's court filing, the attorney general's office questioned whether the legislative proposals would give low-risk defendants a better chance of being quickly freed, arguing the opposite could happen. Maryland now provides public defenders to defendants when a judge reviews the bail amount set by a district court commissioner. But the state's highest court ruled in September that suspects also have a right to representation when their bail is set, a requirement that could cost the state $30 million per year.”

CORCORAN CONUMDRUM: A beginning or an end?, per the Washington Post, “If the Corcoran Gallery of Art had to be swallowed up by a larger and healthier institution to survive, we might celebrate Wednesday’s announcement that its collection will be devoured by the National Gallery of Art. The National Gallery is hands down the most prestigious and respected steward of fine art in Washington, and its reputation is international. But this is not a swallowing of the Corcoran — this is the end of the Corcoran and its final dismemberment.

“Everything that was darkly whispered about the Corcoran’s board over the past few years has come to pass: After decades of erratic and often incompetent leadership, it has seen the institution through to its demise. They will hand over the art to the National Gallery, which will take the pick of the lot and then distribute the rest through some program yet to be announced.”

REDSKINS RINGERS IN RICHMOND: General Assembly hoops, per the Virginian-Pilot, “Each year the Virginia Senate gets a thorough trouncing by the House in basketball. Senators say it's not their fault - the younger delegates have the advantage of speed and better cartilage. But after years of ribbing by their more sprightly counterparts, they'd had enough. At this year's game on Tuesday, they fought back with a secret weapon - three Washington Redskins.

“The strategy was hatched by Portsmouth Sen. Louise Lucas, whose nephew is Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall. He played in last year's game, and said he scored 16 of the Senate's first 18 points. The Senate still lost, so this year he upped the ante by bringing two teammates - wide receiver Josh Morgan and cornerback David Amerson.” { }

UKRAINE UNREST: Of a very shaky truce, per the New York Times, “Ukraine spiraled deeper into disarray on Wednesday as the government of President Viktor F. Yanukovych and several thousand grimly determined protesters, along with their supporters in Russia and Europe, faced off in a confrontation over the fate of this fractured country of 46 million.

“As measures of the turmoil, the authorities announced a nationwide “antiterrorist operation” to keep guns and power from what it called extremist groups, and they dismissed the country’s top general. But very late in the day, they declared that a truce had been reached with political leaders of the opposition, who confirmed that overnight.”

EMAIL TRAIL IN WISCONSIN: And a potential presidential candidate, per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “Thousands of documents unsealed Wednesday link Gov. Scott Walker to a secret email system used in his office that would avoid public scrutiny when he was Milwaukee County executive. The records also show that on the day before he was elected governor in 2010, the secret investigation into links between Walker's county government staff and his political campaign was widened to include four more aides. That same day, search warrants were executed on Walker's campaign and county offices, as well as the homes of some of his assistants.

“The Republican governor spoke to the press only before the records were released, saying he was confident there wouldn't be anything damaging in them beyond what had already led to criminal charges against several former aides and appointees. Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, a Democrat whose office led the John Doe investigation, would not comment on the pre-election timing of the expansion of the investigation and searches, which included the seizure of computers.”

BRIDGEGATE: Um, sorry, per the Bergen (N.J.) Record, “Big things move slowly. So maybe it should come as no surprise that the cumbersome bureaucratic monolith known as the Port Authority took all these months to finally apologize for the gridlock over the course of five days last September that virtually shut down Fort Lee.

“The big moment arrived just after lunch on Wednesday, at a gathering of the Port Authority board of commissioners at the agency’s offices in Manhattan. The mea culpa was delivered by Chairman David Samson, a close friend of Governor Christie and a man under fire for what may be his own conflicts of interest. His apology was as terse as a recipe. “On behalf of the board of commissioners, we are deeply sorry for inconvenience caused to our travelers,” Samson said. That was it.”

KEYSTONE COPS: Or something like that, per The Hill, “President Obama defended his administration’s “extensive” review of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline on Wednesday, while acknowledging that Canadian leaders had expressed concern that the years-long process had become “a little too laborious.” Speaking at a joint economic summit with the leaders of Mexico and Canada, Obama said the U.S. was taking time to review the project because it “could potentially have significant impact on America's national economy and our national interests.”

“During a break at the day-long conference in Toluca, Mexico, Obama said Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper lobbied him to approve the project, which would carry oil from the Alberta tar sands to the Gulf of Mexico. But Obama said that approval process would “proceed along the path that’s already been set forth.” “The State Department has gone through its review,” the president said. “There's now a comment period in which other agencies weigh in. That will be evaluated by Secretary of State Kerry, and we'll make a decision at that point.”

POLITICO PLAY: “President Barack Obama doesn’t see disagreements with Russia over conflicts in Syria and Ukraine as a revival of competition on “some Cold War chessboard,” he said Wednesday, but will keep pushing Russian President Vladimir Putin to side with the will of the people in both nations.

“I don’t think this is a competition between the United States and Russia. I think this is an expression of the hopes and aspirations of people inside of Syria and people inside of the Ukraine,” Obama said during a news conference in Toluca, Mexico, that came at the end of the North American Leaders’ Summit, an afternoon and evening of joint meetings with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.”

TOLERANT SHALLAL: He has the grade to prove it, per City Paper, “Busboys & Poets owner and mayoral hopeful Andy Shallal is good for gays. That’s the message from last week’s Gay and Lesbians Activist Alliance candidate rankings, which gave the restaurateur +6 on a scale of -10 to +10 on LGBT issues.

“That placed him behind Vince Gray, Tommy Wells, and Jack Evans, but was still a remarkably high score for an unelected candidate to receive from a group that gives extra points for legislative achievements. Among Shallal’s good deeds in the gay community: in-kind contributions to the Human Rights Campaign and hosting a gay-themed open mic night at his restaurant.”

JOBS: And more jobs, per Gazette.Net, “The unemployment rate in Montgomery County declined to an unadjusted 4.1 percent in December from 4.9 percent a year earlier, according to a state labor department report. Montgomery’s jobless level was the lowest for December since it was 3.9 percent in 2008.

“Frederick County’s rate also hit its lowest December mark since 2008 at 4.8 percent, down from 5.5 percent a year earlier. The state’s unadjusted rate in December was 5.7 percent, a drop from 6.7 percent a year earlier. Montgomery and Frederick counties gained some 14,000 jobs last year, the most since almost 15,000 in 2000, according to federal labor department figures. The 2.5 percent gain was better than the Baltimore area and other regions in Maryland.”

IN OR OUT?: It makes a difference, per the Frederick News-Post, “What is a senior like Grandpa expected to do about medical insurance coverage in a hospital, when he’s facing a barrage of medical questions and likely feeling pretty bad? Well, if Grandpa wants to make sure Medicare pays most of the costs, he or someone who cares had better do some clear thinking. Grandpa’s hospital status — whether he is an inpatient or an outpatient — affects how much he will pay for hospital services like X-rays, drugs and lab tests.

“That status also affects whether Medicare will cover care he gets later in a skilled nursing facility. The website advises seniors, who may not look this up before going to the hospital, to “find out if you’re an inpatient or an outpatient.” At Frederick Memorial Hospital, patients get a letter explaining the designation, said Heather Kirby, case manager. Patients do not select their designation; the hospital does.”

CHILD PORNOGRAPHY: Just the facts, per the Loudoun Times-Mirror, “The Loudoun County Grand Jury in February indicted 33 individuals on crimes ranging from drunk in public to rape. Six individuals were indicted on sexual offenses, including former Loudoun County Public Schools teacher Ralph Watts Conrad III, who was charged with 50 counts of possession of child pornography.”

SPORTS, BRIEFLY: Wizards beat Atlanta 114-97.

TRENDING ON ABC7 FACEBOOK: “The Better Business Bureau has released the top scams for the year 2013. From fake Facebook friend requests to eBay scammers to fake arrest warrants, check them all out here.”

--Skip Wood