ABC7 WEATHER: Partly sunny with highs in the upper 50s. http://wj.la/72e8x6
NEWSTALK: Today’s guest (10 a.m., NewsChannel 8) is D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray.
MISSING PLANE: The latest, per the New York Times, “The Australian prime minister, Tony Abbott, said on Thursday that satellite imagery had detected floating objects in the southern Indian Ocean that might be parts of the missing Malaysia Airlines jet that vanished on March 8. But he and an Australian rescue organizer both counseled caution about the sighting. “The Australian Maritime Safety Authority has received information based on satellite information of objects possibly related to the search,” Mr. Abbott told Australia’s Parliament in Canberra, the national capital. “Following specialist analysis of this satellite imagery, two possible objects related to the search have been identified.”
“Mr. Abbott said an Orion surveillance plane from the Australian Air Force would fly to the area off the coast of Western Australia and arrive later Thursday. Three more aircraft would follow, he said. Mr. Abbott said he had told Malaysia’s prime minister, Najib Razak, of the developments. Yet Mr. Abbott also cautioned that “we must keep in mind the task of locating these objects will be extremely difficult, and it may turn out that they are not related to the search” for Flight 370 and its 239 passengers and crew, whose routine flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing disappeared, setting off a search lasting nearly two weeks that has brought almost daily reports of apparent sightings that have later been discredited.” http://nyti.ms/1kKHW6L
MEDICAID EXPANSION: The squabbles continue, per the Richmond Times-Dispatch, “Lawmakers on both sides of Virginia’s Medicaid debate met separately Wednesday with Gov. Terry McAuliffe, as advocates for and against expansion pressed their case across the commonwealth in community meetings, rallies and resolutions. The governor, who is pushing for expansion, has called a special session of the General Assembly, beginning Monday, to settle the unfinished business of enacting a two-year, $96 billion budget.
“It’s a budget that McAuliffe insists should include provisions for the Virginia Senate’s bipartisan Marketplace Virginia proposal — a private option health plan that would cover roughly 250,000 of the state’s uninsured, working poor by tapping into $1.7 billion in expansion funds available under the Affordable Care Act. Remarks by the governor and House Republicans after their meeting were markedly less confrontational in tone — both sides described their meeting as “productive” and “cordial.” But the participants reflected little, if any substantive change in their positions on whether to separate Medicaid expansion from the budget.” http://bit.ly/NwyiZ6
BAY BRIDGE CRASH: Of blame, per the Baltimore Sun, “In the 60 seconds before his tractor-trailer smashed into two vehicles on the Bay Bridge last summer, propelling one into the water below, Gabor Lovasz accelerated from 8 mph to 51 mph. In its final report on the incident, the National Transportation Safety Board attributed the accident to Lovasz's "inattention" as well as his "unfamiliarity with the area and lack of knowledge that traffic routinely slows on the eastbound span of the bridge."
“Lovasz's truck smashed into a Chrysler Sebring being driven at 4 mph by Morgan Jade Lake, sending her and her car into the bay. The NTSB report released Wednesday caps months of investigation by various agencies into the July 19 accident. It also draws the first link between the accident — which shocked summer vacationers and longtime bridge users — and the Maryland Transportation Authority's recent announcement that it will spend $500,000 on new bridge safety signs, including warnings that congestion is common and tailgating is prohibited.” http://bsun.md/1pe41uB
SILVER LINE: Uh, oh, per the Washington Post, “Among the problems that must be fixed before the first phase of Metro’s new $5.6 billion Silver Line is completed: Hundreds of speakers at the five stations will have to be torn out and replaced because they don’t meet fire code. And cable that allows radio communication inside a tunnel in Tysons Corner will have to be replaced because it also does not meet code requirements.
“The revelations Wednesday at the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority’s monthly board of director’s meeting prompted former congressman Thomas M. Davis III, chairman of the panel’s Dulles Corridor Committee, to dub the ongoing saga “a soap opera” and request that the authority begin exploring its legal options.” http://wapo.st/1gJtOd5
SNOW DAZE: Paying the bill, per the Associated Press, “The harsh winter busted the highway snow removal budgets in Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland, challenging those states to pay the bills without siphoning too much money from warm-weather maintenance to the detriment of the motoring public. Highway officials say they believe they have the resources to avoid any major negative effects for travelers as spring begins. They are especially committed to filling the huge number of potholes left by the relentless freeze-and-thaw cycle, calling them a safety issue that cannot be ignored no matter the cost.
“But coping with winter's fury has been difficult and expensive. Brent Walker, spokesman for the West Virginia Department of Transportation, said "this winter has been brutal, the likes we haven't seen in many years." Through March 12, the department had gone about $8 million over its nearly $55 million snow removal budget, which is based on the average spent in the state over the last several years. Budget-wise, it's been even worse for Virginia and Maryland. Virginia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Tamara Rollison said the state might spend nearly double its $157 million snow removal budget. And Maryland's State Highway Administration estimates it will spend more than $130 million, obliterating its $46 million budget.” http://apne.ws/NwAeRs
UKRAINE: A cautious stance, per The Hill, “President Obama said Wednesday that the U.S. would not take military action in Ukraine against Russia. "We are not going to be getting into a military excursion in Ukraine,” Obama said in an interview Wednesday with KNSD, the NBC affiliate in San Diego. "I think even the Ukrainians would acknowledge, for us to engage Russia militarily would not be appropriate and would not be good for Ukraine, either,” Obama added.
“Russian President Vladimir Putin this week signed a treaty that annexed Crimea as part of Russia, a move that was condemned by the United States and the West. Obama dismissed the notion that Putin was acting “out of strength,” telling the San Diego station the annexation of Crimea was an action taken “out of weakness.” “Might doesn’t make right,” Obama said. He also said Putin’s incursion shouldn’t — and wouldn’t — be read as a sign the United States was incapable of defending its allies.” http://bit.ly/1gI0q76
POLITICO PLAY: “Hillary Clinton laid out a history of her record at the State Department on Wednesday night, portraying herself as a progenitor of sanctions that led to current nuclear-freeze discussions with Iran — while sounding a hawkish note about whether she thinks Tehran will ultimately make good on the terms of the deal. Clinton made the comments at an American Jewish Congress dinner in Manhattan, where she was honored for “lifetime achievement.” The group is spearheaded by longtime Clinton friend and donor Jack Rosen.
“Clinton talked in detail about the sanctions she had backed against Iran, which, along with new leadership in Iran, helped bring Tehran officials to the negotiating table on freezing nuclear capabilities. The deal has been viewed with skepticism by hawks, and Rosen, in his introduction of Clinton, openly raised those concerns, questioning whether Iran will feel “emboldened” and not operate in good faith.” http://politi.co/1iFONOM
D.C. VOTE: A different take, per City Paper, “Who should progressive voters back in the Ward 1 D.C. Council race? It depends on who you ask, with both challenger Brianne Nadeau and incumbent Jim Graham receiving endorsements from progressive groups.” http://bit.ly/1nFS3ye
SPEAK EASY: Or something like that, per Gazette.Net, “Two new public high schools devoted to the specific needs of English language learners could open in Prince George’s County in the 2015-2016 school year. Prince George’s County Public Schools CEO Kevin Maxwell received approval for a partnership with Hyattsville-based nonprofit Hispanic advocacy group Casa of Maryland and another nonprofit, Internationals Network for Public Schools.” http://bit.ly/1eoNKRJ
MARYLAND WEED: The saga, per the Frederick News-Post, “A bill aimed at making marijuana available as a medical remedy for conditions such as childhood epilepsy has cleared one side of the state Legislature, and lawmakers say it stands a good chance of success in the second. After the legislation passed the House of Delegates on Monday, it headed over to the Senate, a chamber that has historically been more friendly to medical marijuana proposals. Sen. Brian Frosh, chairman of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, said the legislation might see some changes. However, he predicted that the Maryland General Assembly will act this session to open access to medical marijuana.” http://bit.ly/OzJyoL
TRENDING ON ABC7 FACEBOOK: “It's already meteorological spring, but the vernal equinox arrives at 7:02am! This time last year, it definitely felt like spring with 8 days at 70° or higher -- but this March has been quite a different story! Just check out these poor daffodils that can't tell what season it is.” http://wj.la/OD51gm