DAYBREAK DAILY: Virginia looks to overhaul deficient bridges

ABC7 WEATHER: Mostly sunny with highs in the low 80s.

‘GOOD MORNING WASHINGTON’: Among the stories – Deadly night in the District; Gang of Eight close on immigration bill; much more, beginning at 4:30 a.m M-F.

NEWSTALK: Among today’s guests (10 a.m., NewsChannel 8) is D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, who will be asked about lingering scandals in the District, the dedication of the Frederick Douglass statue, concerns about fire-rescue service on July 4, the proposal to legalize small amounts of marijuana and more.

BRIDGE TO SOMEWHERE: If it’s sturdy, per the Richmond Times-Dispatch, “VDOT will spend nearly $2.3 billion to upgrade the state’s bridges over the next six years. . .The goal is to make sure the percentage of structurally deficient bridges remains less than 8 percent of the state’s nearly 21,000 bridges and culverts.

“. . .This year, 7.5 percent of Virginia bridges were rated structurally deficient, the Virginia Department of Transportation said. Nationally, 11 percent of 607,000 road bridges were considered in poor repair, according to figures from the Federal Highway Administration. The average U.S. bridge is 42 years old.”

POWER PLANTS: Of limits, per the New York Times, “President Obama is preparing regulations limiting carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants, senior officials said Wednesday. The move would be the most consequential climate policy step he could take and one likely to provoke legal challenges from Republicans and some industries.

“Electric power plants are the largest single source of global warming pollution in the country, responsible for nearly 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. With sweeping climate legislation effectively dead in Congress, the decision on existing power plants — which a 2007 Supreme Court decision gave to the executive branch — has been among the most closely watched of Mr. Obama’s second term.”

JUST LEAVE IT: That or throw it away, per the Washington Post, “Facing a tight withdrawal deadline and tough terrain, the U.S. military has destroyed more than 170 million pounds worth of vehicles and other military equipment as it rushes to wind down its role in the Afghanistan war by the end of 2014.

“The massive disposal effort, which U.S. military officials call unprecedented, has unfolded largely out of sight amid an ongoing debate inside the Pentagon about what to do with the heaps of equipment that won’t be returning home. Military planners have determined that they will not ship back more than $7 billion worth of equipment — about 20 percent of what the U.S. military has in Afghanistan — because it is no longer needed or would be too costly to ship back home.”

JAMES GANDOLFINI: Of a lost talent, per the Los Angeles Times, “James Gandolfini, 51, who swaggered his way to fame as the murderous, clinically depressed mob boss on HBO's groundbreaking drama "The Sopranos," died Wednesday on vacation in Rome, Italy. The cause of death was not immediately known but was initially attributed to either a heart attack or stroke.

“On "The Sopranos," which was created by writer David Chase and ran on HBO from 1999 to 2007, Gandolfini played the barrel-chested New Jersey organized crime capo-turned-boss Tony Soprano, who alternated acts of mayhem, infidelity and family loyalty between anguished visits to his psychiatrist, Dr. Melfi (Lorraine Bracco). His regular haunt was the Bada Bing, a strip club where he often ran his underworld enterprise.

“In Gandolfini’s hands, a potentially unsympathetic and unrelatable character became a kind of post-modern Everyman, even down to his troubled relationship with wife Carmella (Edie Falco). He won three Emmy Awards for the role, now considered one of the hallmark characters of television drama.”

MEANWHILE: The real deal, per the Boston Globe, “Jurors were shown graphic crime scene photos today of eight of the 19 people James “Whitey” Bulger is accused of killing, including one man sprawled in a bullet-riddled car and another crumpled inside a telephone booth. As relatives of some of the victims solemnly watched during Bulger’s federal racketeering trial, Boston Police Sergeant Detective William Doogan, who supervises the homicide unit’s cold case squad, identified photographs from the fatal shootings in the 1970s and 1980s. The victims were: Michael Milano, Al Plummer, James “Spike” O’Toole, Al Notarangeli, Edward Connors, Francis “Buddy” Leonard, Edward “Brian” Halloran, and Michael Donahue.”

POLITICO PLAY: "The strategy for passing immigration reform through the Senate isn’t just about striking a deal on border security. It also means assuring Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) that fish processors in his home state will be protected, meeting a request from Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) that Nevada will be added to a border commission and guaranteeing Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) that resources won’t be diverted from the northern border."

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STRANGE: And disturbing, per ABC7—WJLA, “D.C. police are searching for a serial stabber who attacked at least four women in Northwest D.C. in May and June. “All in all he probably tried to stab me 30 or 40 times,” said one of the victims. ABC 7 is not identifying the victims of the serial stabbings, but now two of the four recently attacked women are talking about their terrifying ordeal.”

ONE FAST BIKE: Of a record, per the Baltimore Sun, “Somewhere on a lonely road in Kansas, about halfway through his 2,989.5-mile bicycle trek across the United States, Christoph Strasser, a 30-year-old former bike messenger, made a decision. He wouldn't simply win the Race Across America, the famously grueling coast-to-coast ultra-marathon cycling competition now in its 32nd year. He would break its long-standing record for speed.

“When he crossed the finish line Wednesday at Annapolis City Dock, grimacing and holding high the red-and-white flag of his native Austria, Strasser achieved both goals. He'd finished the race in 7 days, 22 hours and 11 minutes, 13 hours ahead of his nearest competitor and 11 hours faster than anyone else ever.”

SHELVED SPORTS: Seeking to get back in the game, per Gazette.Net, “Prince George’s County Interim Superintendent Alvin Crawley’s proposal to spend $1.1 million towards the restoration of middle school athletics met with mixed reviews during Tuesday night’s Board of Education meeting. The program, which Crawley said was dropped two years ago due to severe budget cuts, would include athletics such as soccer and lacrosse and possibly non-sports programs such as aerobics as well.”

SIDEWALK FOLLIES: Of good intentions, per Greater Greater Washington, “People riding bicycles often feel threatened by the minority of rude drivers who get impatient at having to wait behind a slow vehicle and pass too closely, honk, or turn without looking. People walking also feel threatened by a rude minority of bicycle riders who ride quickly on a sidewalk without regard for pedestrians. What should we do? Some residents are trying to push for new laws that limit bicycling on sidewalks, an InTowner editorial reports.”

SPORTS, BRIEFLY: Nationals beat Philadelphia 6-2.

TRENDING ON ABC7 FACEBOOK: “Paula Deen reportedly admitted to using the N-word while answering questions in a discrimination lawsuit. She replied "Yes, of course," when asked by an attorney whether or not she had ever used the racial slur. The 66-year-old celebrity cook insists she isn't prejudiced, and that any utterance of the word was not meant in a cruel way.”

NO-NO IN NORFOLK: Damage control, per the Virginian-Pilot, “WVEC-TV weatherman Jeff Lawson posted an apology on Facebook. . .for a comment he made Tuesday night after the station broke into programming to report a tornado warning on the Eastern Shore. Lawson explained during the cut-in that he needed to repeat the information, despite the scroll across the bottom of the screen, because some viewers couldn’t read.

“The comment struck some as insensitive, and they took to Facebook to let Lawson know. He apologized to one person who suggested he post an apology for others to see, said Brad Ramsey, president and general manager of WVEC.

“I did not say people in the ES are illiterate,” wrote Lawson. “I said the exact same thing that I say EVERY time I do a cut-in for ANY area. I said that in general we have to stay on the air instead of just doing a crawl because there are people who can’t read the crawl because of bad eyesight or because they can’t read. I usually add in the phrase “like little kids.” I am not sure if I said that last night or not.”

--Skip Wood