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

    Reading about Castro"s Cuba's possible lifting of restrictions on cars and homes, how can a USA citizen not be appalled?
    Still, we have advocates of extreme socialism and communism in our country.

    July 31, 2011 at 8:36 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • PᎦÿ૮Ꮵͯͯo☢PøᎥᎦôn

      STFU 

      July 31, 2011 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bruce Webb, Everett WA.

      The United States imposed crippling sanctions on Cuba in the early sixties. As a result Cuba was cut off from its natural market and so crippled.

      I find it interesting that the Right thinks that sanctions are effective but deride subsequent ill economic effects as proof of the sanctioned governments natural inefficiencies. Cuba is one example, Iraq another. During the sanctions imposed on the latter dual use equipment was prohibited. And since militaries use things like heavy trucks, water pumps, and electrical generators imports of those or repair and replacement parts were banned. But the subsequent infrastructure failures were all proof that the regime itself was a failure.

      Cuba had two plus decades more sanctions than Iraq and as a result suffered for it. You have to be pretty bi-polar to see this example of American force projection as simultaneously being proof of the inherent failure of the Cuban system. And time and again that is where we are.

      August 1, 2011 at 12:08 am | Report abuse |
  2. Sheryl

    @ JIF:
    Well, I'm not sure that more Marxism would necessarily be all that bad here. I haven't thought about it much, but I'm all for the people. I just love that phrase, "the people!" It sounds no lofty. And noble...yes, noble, I'd say.
    Do they have fur coats in Cuba?

    July 31, 2011 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. TvNYC

    Cuba doesn't give two fuks about the USA. Jupiter mission is pointless. NASA is the biggest government waste of money ever created. All the politicians are a bunch of crooks besides Obama. So there you have it people. Enjoy the last days!

    July 31, 2011 at 9:04 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Religious Scholar

    In true Christian form Jupiter (King of all gods) gets the son's (Sun's) leftovers.. Lol stupid humans.

    July 31, 2011 at 9:16 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. TvDET

    Yes every single politician is a crook... Except one. Lmao... If the end days are near then it's because of people like you. :)

    July 31, 2011 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Mork

    July 31, 2011 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Sheryl

    Really? Mmm–uh, last days?
    That sounds interesting. I guess...
    Last days before what?

    July 31, 2011 at 9:24 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    It's a closing-the-store sale, Sheryl.
    These are the last days they can keep the store open: nobody has money to buy anything.

    July 31, 2011 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Sheryl

    Is that like a depression?

    July 31, 2011 at 9:32 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    Well, it's like a depression, Sheryl–yes.
    But see, we don't call it that. We call it a recession...a recession that's over.
    Really–it's over.
    This may still be the recovery period.

    July 31, 2011 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. fernace

    Hey Joey Isotta-Fraschini, hey Sheryl, good to see y'all opinionatin'! Been doing some myself! Nice to hear the budget& debt ceiling is finally taken care of! Wheeew, I'm worn out, like I was there doing battle myself, lol! Y'all have a splendid week, be good, bad or indifferent, whatever your preference! I'm out!! :D

    July 31, 2011 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Cesar

    I'm all for communists taking over here. We can line up all the detractors in the streets and eliminate them quickly and cheaply with a single bullet per hard working capitalist. I figured out that there are about 200,000,000 hard working bourgeois swine that we need to eliminate, so that means we need 200,000,000 bullets divided by 20 bullets per case that's 10 million cases with 100 cases per pallet that's 100,000 pallets. Each semi truck can hold roughly 20 pallets so that's 5000 semi trucks. We will need about 10,000 workers for building, driving and maintaining the trucks, while another 10,000 workers manufacture the bullets. We will also need about 25,000 workers to clear the streets and dispose of the bourgeois. We can also employ many people to build and distribute shovels for our bourgeois clean up crew. As long as every bourgeois person is accounted for we should have enough work for the remaining 100,000,000 people. Of course the elderly and children will not be included in my figures. See how wonderful communism is?

    July 31, 2011 at 10:23 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Team Rocket

      @Cesar: Very well stated Cesar thank you. I choose you Karl Marx!

      July 31, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lyndsie Graham

      @Cesar: You forgot people to make the pallets and caskets. That could employ many people.. Pallets need nails too. It's a virtual economy in itself. Brilliant! That'll teach those right wing thugs.

      July 31, 2011 at 11:01 pm | Report abuse |
  13. ajd041

    Communism in the US is not something that's gonna happen anytime soon but it wouldn't be bad if they shot all the politicians thtd make money but here's an issue what do they do when all the bourgeois are dead?

    July 31, 2011 at 11:33 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Me

      @ajd041: I think that was a troll making fun of Cesar. We don't want communism here trust me. It always starts out with tens of millions dying followed by years of having a worker's dreams crushed.

      August 1, 2011 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
  14. Utopia

    The problem with any violent political uprising is the fact that you are removing one set of bourgeois and replacing them with another. Stalin had a fallout shelter with gold leaf accents on all the walls and ceilings.. In a perfect world any political/economic system would work. At least with capitalism we have a shot to earn what we can through hard work and education. In communism people are assigned jobs.

    July 31, 2011 at 11:50 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Pastor Graven

    In 1975 the US Congress passed a pay raise for itself, along with an automatic cost-of-living increase for every year unless the Congress votes NOT to receive it. In that same vote, they exempted themselves from participation in the Social Security system.

    The current "base-pay" for a congressman is $174,000 per year. Requiring congress to pay social security taxes like everyone else would make another $13,963,500 available to retirees from the basic salaries alone. (House and Senate leaders earn even more.)

    No one will persuade me that congress is serious about rescuing the economy and saving social security until they all incur the same tax liabilities as the rest of us do.

    August 1, 2011 at 2:57 am | Report abuse | Reply
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