There's a lot to catch up on and to look ahead to, so let's get right to it.
— President Obama's News Conference: Formal, hour-or-so-long Q&A sessions with the White House press corps have been relatively rare since President Obama took office. His appearance in the East Room today at 11 a.m. ET marks just the eighth such session the president's held and his first since May 27, according to the unofficial historian for White House correspondents, CBS News' Mark Knoller.
We'll be live-blogging the back-and-forth, so check back with us as the time draws near. NPR.org will be streaming the audio, many NPR stations will be broadcasting it — and of course the event will be webcast by the White House (as well as by C-SPAN and other news outlets) and televised on the cable news networks.
Earlier in the week, the White House had been hoping the focus of the questions would be on the economy and the initiatives the administration is rolling out in the hope that they'll help get things moving again. Of course since then, the on-off-maybe-on saga of a Florida pastor's plan to burn copies of the Quran has grabbed a lot of attention.
— The Quran Story: And speaking of Pastor Terry Jones and the international attention on his tiny church and its plan to burn Qurans tomorrow, on the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks ...
When we last left you, the AP was reporting that Jones "is now threatening to reconsider burning the Quran." That came after his surprise announcement late Thursday afternoon that he'd called off the whole thing because the planners of an Islamic Center to be built two blocks from Ground Zero in Manhattan had agreed to move that project to a different location. As it turned out, the center's planners said they'd made no such decision — that they had only agreed to meet with Jones.
Today, as NPR's Greg Allen reported on Morning Edition, the story seems to be that "there actually was no deal at all" and Jones claims he was lied to. Now, the Quran-burning is said to be "suspended," not necessarily canceled.
Or, as the local Gainesville Sun puts it:
"The planned Quran burning that put a global spotlight on a small Gainesville church appeared to be called off Thursday afternoon, but its status became murky later in the evening, when the church's senior pastor said it had only been suspended."
So, there's sure to be more to report on all that.
— Homegrown Terrorism: We'll have more on this story later. The topline, according to NPR's Dina Temple-Raston:
"A new report to be released later Friday says that in the nine years since the Sept. 11 attacks, the terrorist threat against the United States has fundamentally changed. The biggest threat is no longer coming from the dusty landscape of Afghanistan or the mountains of Pakistan border regions. Instead, experts say, the threat now comes from within our own borders, in the form of homegrown terrorists."
— Don't Ask, Don't Tell: Late in the day Thursday, as the Associated Press writes, "a federal judge in Southern California ... declared the U.S. military's ban on openly gay service members unconstitutional and said she will issue an order to stop the government from enforcing the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy nationwide."
The Los Angeles Times adds that "U.S. District Judge Virginia A. Phillips said the policy does not preserve military readiness, contrary to what Justice Department attorneys and many supporters have argued, because evidence shows that the policy in fact has had a 'direct and deleterious effect' on the armed services."
Phillips decision in the case — Log Cabin Republicans v. United States of America and Robert Gates — is posted here.
— Explosion, Fires In California: The San Francisco Chronicle leads its report about what must have been a horrifying event with this:
"With a thunderous roar heard for miles, a natural gas line explosion ripped through a San Bruno neighborhood Thursday evening, sending up a geyser of fire that killed at least one person and injured more than 20 others, and igniting a blaze that destroyed 53 homes and damaged 120 more, authorities said."
The explosion "shot a fireball more than 1,000 feet in the air and sent frightened residents fleeing for safety and rushing to get belongings out of burning homes, witnesses said. Hundreds of people evacuated their homes and spent the night in a shelter."
A firefighter battles one of the blazes sparked by last night's explosion in San Bruno, Calif.