DAYBREAK DAILY: Towson cheerleaders' hazing sanctions softened

ABC7 WEATHER: Partly sunny with highs in the mid 90s. { }

‘GOOD MORNING WASHINGTON’: Among the reports – Pentagon holds its 9-11 anniversary ceremony; Prince William County is dedicating a new monument made from Twin Tower beams; Coverage of the Montgomery County strike by trash-pickup workers; much more, beginning at 4:30 a.m. M-F.

ON SECOND THOUGHT: Cheering ban softened, per the Baltimore Sun, “Towson University's championship cheerleading team will be allowed to practice but not perform after an appeals committee decided to significantly reduce the sanctions over an alleged hazing incident, school officials said Tuesday.

“Towson University's Student Appeals Committee put members of this year's cheerleading team on "social probation," saying that the team will not be allowed to perform or appear at any university or off-campus event, including athletic competitions. The sanction applies only for the fall semester. The team is also required to complete 650 hours of community service by the end of the semester.”

ANOTHER BILL?: Goodness, per the Richmond Times-Dispatch, “The Virginia Attorney General’s Office has retained a second law firm related to the criminal case against a former Executive Mansion chef and it has already billed the state nearly $100,000. That comes on top of $143,598 that the first firm, Eckert Seamans, has billed taxpayers related to its representation of Gov. Bob McDonnell and his office in the chef’s case.

“The international firm Baker & McKenzie LLP was appointed July 3 to represent state employees in their official capacity regarding a criminal case alleging embezzlement by the former chef, a spokesman for McDonnell confirmed Tuesday.”

SITUATION SYRIA: POTUS makes his case, per the New York Times, “President Obama, facing implacable opposition to a strike in Syria in Congress and throughout the country, said Tuesday that he would hold off on military action for now and pursue a Russian proposal for international monitors to take over and destroy Syria’s arsenal of chemical weapons.

“Speaking to the nation from the White House, Mr. Obama laid out his most extensive and detailed case for an attack to punish Syria for its use of chemical weapons. But he also acknowledged the deep doubts of Americans who after the experience of Iraq and Afghanistan view any form of military engagement in Syria with alarm.”

MEANWHILE: The devil in the details, per the Wall Street Journal, “The prospect of Syria surrendering its chemical weapons has fueled hopes the U.S. will avert its fourth conflict in a decade, but U.S. officials face a daunting array of political, diplomatic and security obstacles.

“Carrying out Russia's plan to dismantle Syria's stockpiles of mustard gas and sarin and VX nerve agents is viewed as a long shot by many diplomats, top experts and current and former U.S. officials. "The Russian proposal sounds attractive, but very quickly, operational problems could derail obtaining international control, much less actually destroying the arsenal," said Amy Smithson, an expert on chemical weapons at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Washington, D.C.”

AND THIS: Blank stares, per the Los Angeles Times, “President Obama did not appear to immediately change many minds in one crucial voting bloc that watched his national address Tuesday on Syria: Congress. Lawmakers on both the left and right remained largely dug into their positions, or stayed undecided, after Obama urged the nation to back his bid to launch punitive missile strikes against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government for allegedly using chemical weapons against its people.

“. . . In a joint statement, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who are among the most outspoken in calling for a military response, said they regretted that Obama “did not lay out a clearer plan to test the seriousness of the Russian and Syrian proposal to transfer the Assad regime’s chemical weapons to international custody.” Others seized on the Russian offer as a potential way out of the crisis.”

ALSO: Vote on hold, per The Hill, “Congress slammed the brakes Tuesday on all legislation authorizing military action against Syria, quashing the possibility of a vote this week that could have handed President Obama a major defeat.

“The day began with a bipartisan group of senators working on a new resolution authorizing military action that took into account offers from Russia and Syria to put Syria’s chemical weapons under international control. It ended with members agreeing that votes on any Syria resolutions were on hold.”

POLITICO PLAY: “Two weeks of zig-zag foreign policy by President Barack Obama — marching to war one moment, clinging desperately to diplomacy the next — culminated Tuesday night, appropriately enough, in a zig-zag address to the nation that did little to clarify what will come next in the Syria crisis but shined a glaring hot light on the debate in the president’s own mind.”

CANDID CAMERAS: Smile, per the Washington Post, “Drivers, beware. Over the next few months, District officials plan to more than double the number of traffic enforcement cameras on city streets — adding 132 units to their army of electronic eyes.

“It is the biggest expansion since the District began using cameras to catch scofflaws more than a decade ago. And this time, it’s not just speeders and red-light runners who will be targeted. The city’s beefed-up automated force also will nab drivers who run stop signs and encroach on pedestrian crosswalks, and truckers who drive overweight trucks through neighborhoods where they are prohibited.”

CAJUN MELTDOWN: Who dat?, per City Paper, “H Street NE Cajun/creole restaurant TruOrleans has faced a litany of troubles this year—from a liquor license protest to multiple lawsuits from vendors to potential eviction from its landlord. But unpaid D.C. sales and use taxes ultimately shut down the restaurant (this week).

“ANC commissioner Mark Eckenwiler tweeted a photo of a suspension notice posted outside the restaurant. A tax lien filed with the D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue's Recorder of Deeds on July 12 shows that the restaurant owes more than $101,000 in sales and use tax, penalties, and interest.”

A MARYLAND MOVE: And apparently a solitary one, per Gazette.Net, “With or without co-sponsors, one Montgomery County councilman says he will introduce a bill to nearly double the county’s minimum wage. Seeking to close the gap between the county’s high cost of living and actual wages, Councilman Marc B. Elrich is drafting legislation that increases the county minimum wage from the federally mandated $7.25 per hour to $12 per hour.”

D.C. DOPE: Just the facts, per the Washington Times, “The District could stand to benefit financially from decriminalization of marijuana, but activists are divided over whether police would enforce the law more harshly because the city has a financial incentive. Some marijuana activists say the number of people police stop for having marijuana could increase if the decriminalization bill is passed, since it would take less time to write a ticket than to arrest and book someone.”

SPORTS, BRIEFLY: Nationals beat N.Y. Mets 6-3.

TRENDING ON ABC7 FACEBOOK: “A study by AAA reveals that D.C. revenue is drastically dropping and fewer people are getting traffic camera tickets after the city cut fines and increased speed limits. For instance, on Benning Road NE, the speed limit rose from 30 to 35, and the number of tickets plummeted from 6,500 to 1,200.”

NEWSTALK: Among today’s guests (10 a.m., NewsChannel 8) is D.C. Councilwoman Yvette Alexander, who will be asked about a report on the failures of the District’s tax lien program, the fate of the large-retailer bill, the city’s new ethics rules and more. Also, University of Mary Washington political science professor Stephen Farnsworth will be asked about President Obama’s address to the nation.

--Skip Wood