Ahead of the curve: The next 7 days
July 31st, 2011
07:52 PM ET

Ahead of the curve: The next 7 days

[Updated at 9:05 p.m. ET] Congressional leaders and the White House reached a tentative deal on raising the U.S. debt ceiling Sunday, but with votes still to come, there was still plenty to do beat Tuesday's deadline and prevent a possible national default. Here is a look at this and other stories that CNN plans to follow this week:

Deadline for debt deal is Tuesday

Raising the federal debt ceiling - so that the government can borrow more money to pay its bills - usually is a less dramatic event. But this year congressional Republicans have demanded that any vote be tied to a plan for reducing deficits through spending cuts. A deal was slow in coming, with Republicans saying Democrats were insisting on tax increases that Republicans opposed.

On Sunday night, President Barack Obama announced a deal with congressional leaders that would raise the debt ceiling and make spending cuts in two stages. Cuts worth about $1 trillion over 10 years would be enacted in the plan's first stage. In the second stage, a bipartisan commission would report back by November with suggested additional cuts - and potentially revenue increases - to address the nation's budget deficit. (Read details of plan.)

The Treasury Department says if Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling by Tuesday, the federal government will not be able to pay all its bills next month, and Americans could face rising interest rates and a declining dollar, among other problems. Some financial experts have warned of a downgrade of America's AAA credit rating (the United States currently is one of only 17 nations with an AAA rating from Moody's and Standard & Poor's) and a potential stock market plunge.

Obama warned that he couldn't guarantee that Social Security checks will be mailed out on time if the ceiling isn't raised by Tuesday, and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen said that he doesn't know whether troops will receive paychecks on time if a deal isn't reached.

More fighting anticipated in famine-stricken Somalia

An Islamist insurgent group linked to al Qaeda is massing troops in Somalia's capital, setting the stage for strikes against pro-government forces in the drought- and famine-stricken country, African Union intelligence sources say.

Insurgent group Al-Shabaab is preparing to fight during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins Monday, the sources said. African Union forces said they have been steadily taking territory in the capital from Al-Shabaab since September, and Somali government forces  launched an offensive on Islamist strongholds in northern Mogadishu last week.

Somalia is battling its worst drought in 60 years, and the United Nations has declared a famine in parts of the country. Tens of thousands have walked from Somalia to Kenya and Ethiopia in search of food and water. Drought is hitting other parts of Africa hard, and aid agencies estimate that 10 million people in Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Uganda and Somalia are at risk for famine. Al-Shabaab has banned foreign aid workers from parts of Somalia it controls.

Verdicts for U.S. hikers in Iran expected 

An Iranian court is expected to issue verdicts this week in the case of three American hikers who were detained in Iran two years ago, the hikers' lawyer says.

Iranian police arrested Josh Fattal, Shane Bauer and Sarah Shourd in July 2009, saying they had illegally entered Iran. The trio, who were charged with spying, say they are innocent, arguing they were hiking in Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region and did not knowingly cross into Iran.

Fattal and Bauer have been in custody since their arrest. Shourd, though still considered a defendant, was released in September for medical reasons and returned to the United States.

The hikers' lawyer says that even if his clients are found guilty, he hopes Fatal and Bauer will be released, with their two years in detention counting for their sentence.

Will Cuba start lifting restrictions on sales of cars and homes?

Details on Cuba's plans to lift restrictions on the buying and selling of homes and cars could emerge this week when the nation's National Assembly meets for one of its biannual sessions.

President Raul Castro announced earlier this year that those reforms were coming. Other planned reforms could be discussed by the assembly, too. Last year, Castro announced plans to permit a bigger role for the private sector to absorb some of the 1 million state jobs that he said would need to be eliminated.

The assembly's session on Monday comes a week after Cuba marked the 58th anniversary of the start of the revolution led by Fidel Castro, Raul's brother.

NASA to launch Jupiter mission

NASA on Friday is expected to launch a spacecraft designed to investigate what is underneath Jupiter's atmosphere.

The Juno spacecraft, sitting atop an Atlas V rocket, is to blast off from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Juno is expected to travel the 400 million miles to Jupiter by 2016.

NASA scientists say the probe will offer insights into the formation of the solar system because Jupiter is believed to be the first planet formed after the sun was formed. "It got the majority of the leftovers after the sun was formed," the mission's principal investigator, Scott Bolton, said. "We want the ingredient list."

Commencement, postponed by tornado, happens Saturday

The University of Alabama will hold its spring commencement on Saturday, about three months after a postponement because of a massive tornado that tore through the university's town.

More than 40 people, including six University of Alabama students, were killed in the April 27 tornado. The disaster postponed graduation ceremonies scheduled for May 7.

The spring commencement is being held on the same day as summer graduation. A candlelight remembrance for the tornado victims will be held Friday, according to The Crimson White.

Seven to be inducted into Pro Football Hall of Fame

The recently concluded NFL lockout forced the cancellation of the annual Hall of Fame preseason game, because the participating teams didn't have enough time to prepare. But the larger event that the game celebrates will still happen Saturday.

Seven people will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. This year's class includes six players - Deion Sanders, Richard Dent, Marshall Faulk, Shannon Sharpe, Chris Hanburger and Les Richter - and NFL Films pioneer Ed Sabol.

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  1. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    Sheryl told me that she doesn't care for guns. She apologizes for appearing to suggest any kind of violence at all. She's up early to go shopping.
    My impression is that she fears the growth of socialism.
    "So many programs, Joey," she told me as she was having her third espresso. (Too much Veuve Clicquot last night before work.)
    "It's rampant, Joey. It's just absolutely rampant. Buy aren't the military dolphins cute!"
    She said she's still going to vote for Obama. She keeps asking when he's going to pose for photographers with his shirt off again.

    August 1, 2011 at 5:49 am | Report abuse |
  2. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    I misquoted Sheryl.
    She said "but aren't the military dolphins cute," not "buy aren't."
    I think it was a Freudian slip of the Blackberry finger on my part.

    August 1, 2011 at 6:20 am | Report abuse |
  3. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    @ fernace:
    Sheryl and I have been discussing your singing with curiosity, speculating about the size of your voice. We perceive that it's a huge lyric, and we wonder how far you would take it. Would you sing Turandot, or not? Brunhilde? Sieglinde? Elsa? Aida–is the O Patria Mia "c" easy for you?
    Or Tosca? Butterfly?
    How about Ariadne? Salome?
    Everything in Texas is fun-big.

    August 1, 2011 at 6:53 am | Report abuse |
  4. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    @ Me:
    You don't want communism here, and I certainly don't.
    However, I know homegrown citizens who do. Some of them were born rich.

    August 1, 2011 at 9:38 am | Report abuse |
  5. Me

    @Joey: Your homegrown friends must not be well versed in how violent the communists were to the rich in Russia and China, not to mention anyone who sided with them. I'd like to see some tweaking of our current system, but nothing too drastic. Ethics, philosophy and critical thinking are lacking in today's business world.

    August 1, 2011 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
  6. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    @ Me:
    One of the richest of these American communists–not really a "friend"–is well aware of the Anastasia-like losses of wonderful revolutions. She dismisses them as "unpleasant" but necessary events in social progress.
    Asked what she will do when the "people" come for her fortune in collected paintings, she says, "that's something I haven't decided yet."

    August 1, 2011 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
  7. Patriot's for reason

    “The fact that we are here today to debate raising
    > America’sdebt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the US
    > Government can not pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend onongoing
    > financial assistance from foreign countries to finance ourGovernment’s reckless
    > fiscal policies. Increasing America ’s debt weakens usdomestically and
    > internationally. Leadership means that ‚Äėthe buck stops here.'Instead, Washington
    > is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our childrenand
    > grandchildren. Americahas a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans
    > deserve better.‚ÄĚ

    > - Senator Barack H. Obama, March 2006

    August 2, 2011 at 1:01 am | Report abuse |
  8. chrissy

    sheryl really? u have never read the bible? its very interesting and the last days are in there and quite similar to current events!! @ pastor graven well spoken! if u were a political candidate u would definitely have my vote.

    August 2, 2011 at 2:00 am | Report abuse |
  9. Avser Bastian

    GOVERNMENT "AFTERLIFE" FLASH MOB OR REAL SHOOTING IN UTOYA, NORWAY !!? stateofterror.blogspot.com/ or stateofterror.wordpress.com/ TEARS OF SORROW AND PAIN ON FACES OF MOURNERS OR TEAR GAS AND THEATER/HYPOCRISY ON FACES OF MULTICULTURALISM MANIACS !!? NORWEGIAN OSLO POLICE or COMMUNIST/LIBERAL CRIMINALS IN BLUE UNIFORMS WHO WERE PREPARING FOR TERROR AGAINST NORWAY ALREADY HALF DECADE AHEAD !!? No doubt about bombing in Oslo, but what about shooting in Utoya which was no different from the one in Arizona !!!? WILL THERE BE OBAMINATOR MORALES'S APOCALYPSE NOW OR TOTAL WAR AGAINST NEW WORLD ORDER(multiculturalism) !!? STOLTENBERG = BREIVIK(90 minutes vs 30 and for government vehicles or police even 20 minutes the most) !!!

    DICTATOR OBAMA = STALIN = BUSH or USA = SOVIET UNION http://avsecbostjan.blogspot.com/ or http://avsecbostjan.wordpress.com/

    COMMUNISM(Slowenien/Slovenia) IN CENTRAL & EASTERN EUROPE TODAY(2011) !!! http://sloveniatoday.blogspot.com or http://easterneuropetoday.wordpress.com/

    August 2, 2011 at 3:45 am | Report abuse |
  10. Sheryl, D.D. (h.c.)

    @ chrissy:
    Good morning.
    Well yes, I've read the Bible many, many times, kiver to kiver, as my grandmother used to say, and I passed a lot of tests on it. I've been to camps, retreats, and conferences–lots of conferences–but, as beautiful as the Bible is–especially the linguistically erroneous KJV, or even the lovely NRSV in which one misses terribly the phrase "virgin shall conceive"–and as filled with human wisdom and very useful parables as it is, even something like the NIV or the Living Bible–I just don't believe that all those fascinating myths are true–especially those fantasies when something strange happened to John off on that island.
    Do you like my new shoes?
    BTW, dear, have you read A DEATH IN THE FAMILY, by James Agee? That's a book that says a lot about God. You might not like it, but I think you ought to read it.
    I like the part about the butterfly and the casket.

    August 2, 2011 at 7:54 am | Report abuse |
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