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Your Saturday briefing
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Good morning:

Here's a sampling of what you need to know to start your weekend.


Showers and thunderstorms are 70 percent likely today, with a high of 86, according to the National Weather Service. Rain chances decline to 20 percent overnight, with a low of 68. There's only a 10 percent chance or rain on Sunday, with a high of 90.


ATLANTA - Martin Prado returned Friday to lead the Atlanta Braves to an 11-1 win over the Washington Nationals.

Prado had two hits, including a homer, in his return from five weeks on the disabled list to lead the Braves, who earned their 10,000th win in franchise history. They also played in Boston and Milwaukee.

Livan Hernandez lasted only four innings and the Nationals matched their season high with five errors in the loss to Tim Hudson (9-6) and the Braves.

Prado, a 2010 All-Star, had been out since June 8 with a staph infection in his right calf. He played left field, third base and designated hitter in his eight games rehabbing in the minors. He returned to Atlanta's as the fill-in at third base for Chipper Jones, who is expected to miss at least two weeks following minor knee surgery.

Hudson (9-6) gave up one run and seven hits in seven innings and had two hits, including a double. He has won four straight decisions.

The Braves are 3 1/2 games behind Philadelphia in the National League East. They face the Nationals again tonight at 7:10 p.m. and at 1:35 p.m. Sunday at Turner Stadium.


WASHINGTON - Congress is working on dual tracks and racing against the clock to raise the nation's debt ceiling while President Barack Obama appeals directly to the public in hopes of influencing a deficit-reduction deal that failed to materialize during talks he led at the White House.

But as a critical Aug. 2 deadline approached, the chances that Obama would get $4 trillion or even $2 trillion in deficit reduction on terms he preferred were quickly fading as Congress moved to take control of the debate.

House Republicans prepared to hold a vote next week to allow an increase in the debt ceiling through 2012 as long as Congress approves a balanced-budget constitutional amendment, a highly unlikely outcome.

In the Senate, the Republican and Democratic leaders worked on a bipartisan plan that would allow Obama to raise the debt limit without a prior vote by lawmakers. The talks focused on how to address long-term deficit-reduction in the proposal to satisfy House Republicans.

The government said Friday it was using its last stopgap measure to avoid exceeding the current $14.3 trillion debt limit. Administration officials, economists and the financial markets have warned that missing the Aug. 2 deadline and precipitating a government default would send convulsions through an already weakened economy.


Since aides and advisers resigned en masse in early June, Newt Gingrich's presidential bid has been on life support.

And his first campaign finance disclosure filed on Friday provided little reason to be optimistic. Gingrich has raised $2.1 million since getting into the race earlier this year, badly trailing front-runner Mitt Romney.

But perhaps more problematic: He has a little more than $1 million in debt, almost half of that for private air travel.

Gingrich's campaign remains a skeleton operation. He has not moved to replace most of the consultants and staff members who left. And his operations in key states like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina are reliant on volunteers rather than paid staff.

"I don't view him as a serious candidate and frankly I don't know anyone who does view him as a serious candidate," Tom Perdue, a Republican strategist from Gingrich's old home state of Georgia said. "It's not uncommon for a candidate to become delusional and that's what I think you are seeing here."


LOS ANGELES - The military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy is back in place for the time being, with one major caveat: the government is not allowed to investigate, penalize or discharge anyone who is openly gay.

A San Francisco federal appeals court ordered the military to temporarily continue the controversial policy in an order late Friday, the court's response to a request from the Obama administration.

The order is the latest twist in the legal limbo gay service members have found themselves in as the policy is fought in the courts simultaneous to its slow dismantling by the federal government, which expects to do away with it by later this year.

In its three-page ruling, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said the ruling was based on new information provided by the federal government, including a declaration from Major General Steven A. Hummer, who is leading the effort to repeal the policy.

"In order to provide this court with an opportunity to consider fully the issues presented in the light of these previously undisclosed facts," the court wrote, that it would uphold an earlier order to keep the policy in place.


ANKARA - A court has charged 14 suspected al-Qaida militants for allegedly planning to attack the U.S. Embassy in the Turkish capital.

The charges - which were filed by an Ankara court late Friday - come as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visits Turkey's cultural capital of Istanbul for a meeting on religious tolerance.

The 14 suspects were captured just before Clinton's arrival. A 15th suspect was released, though may later also face trial.

Turkish media have speculated that homegrown radical Islamist militants affiliated with al-Qaida are preparing to avenge the May 2 killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan by U.S. forces.

Al-Qaida's austere and violent interpretation of Islam receives little public backing in Turkey, a predominantly Muslim but officially secular country. However, al-Qaida and several other radical Islamic groups have been active in Turkey before.