Ahead of the curve: The next 7 days
February 5th, 2012
05:05 PM ET

Ahead of the curve: The next 7 days

Here's a look at some of the stories that CNN plans to follow this week:

Romney targets Obama as Gingrich employs survival strategy

The race for the GOP presidential nomination heads to three states holding contests this week, with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney coming off a strong win Saturday in Nevada his second straight victory and third out of five contests in the still-young 2012 primary/caucus season.

See full Nevada results | Delegate count after first five contests 

Caucuses will be held Tuesday in Colorado and Minnesota, and a nonbinding primary will take place in Missouri. After winning Nevada on Saturday, Romney looked past his three remaining GOP challengers while talking to supporters, spending most of his time hammering away at President Barack Obama. The only time he referred to his GOP opponents was when he said he was the only one who could fix the economy, "unlike other people running for president."

Newt Gingrich, the candidate running second to Romney in the delegate count, laid out a strategy Saturday that focuses less on this week's contests and more on March 6, Super Tuesday, when 10 states hold primary elections. That includes Georgia, which he represented in Congress, as well as neighboring Tennessee. Gingrich predicted he will be close to Romney in convention delegates won after the Texas primary in April.

Wyoming also has caucuses on Thursday, and Maine is caucusing all week. Maine's multiday process ends on Saturday.

Opposition group calls for strike as Syrian violence continues

After the U.N. Security Council on Saturday failed to approve a resolution seeking to halt months of violence in Syria, groups opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are planning a civil strike for Monday to put more pressure on him.

On Saturday, Russia and China used their veto power in the Security Council to defeat a draft resolution that would have demanded al-Assad stop the killing and answer calls aimed at finding a Syrian-led solution to the 11-month crisis. The United Nations says about 6,000 people have died as a result of months of clashes in that nation. Opposition groups blame the violence on the government, saying it is cracking down on those who have been calling for al-Assad to step down. The Syrian government has consistently blamed "armed terrorist groups" for the violence.

Why Russia, China won't condemn Syria

Hundreds have been killed just in recent days, according to Syrian opposition groups. Arab League Secretary-General Nabil el-Araby insisted that despite the developments in the Security Council, the Arab League and the international community will continue to seek a resolution to the crisis, according to an Arab League official who could not be named because he is not authorized to speak to the media.

The Arab League had observers in Syria last month to monitor whether al-Assad was abiding by an agreement to end the crackdown, but the league suspended the mission last week because  of a recent sharp escalation in violence.

The mission would have monitored whether al-Assad was abiding by an agreement to end the crackdown, which has resulted in an estimated 6,000 deaths, according to the United Nations.

Trial in death of Virginia lacrosse player begins

The trial of a man accused of fatally beating a University of Virginia women's lacrosse team player - his ex-girlfriend - is expected to begin this week.

George Huguely, who was a member of the UVA men's lacrosse team, faces charges including first-degree murder in the May 2010 death of Yeardley Love, 22. A medical examiner ruled that blunt force trauma killed Love, and authorities allege Huguely caused it during an altercation at Love's off-campus apartment, where a roommate found her dead days before graduation.

Jury selection is expected to begin Monday; the trial is expected to last about two weeks.

Weather posing problems in Australia, Europe

Rescuers will spend at least the early part of this week helping to evacuate thousands of residents stranded by rising floodwaters in the eastern Australian state of Queensland. Heavy rains in recent weeks have swollen rivers beyond their banks, threatening a number of communities in Queensland and New South Wales.

Authorities on Sunday were using a cargo plane and helicopters to evacuate patients from a hospital in particularly hard-hit Queensland town of St. George, where officials were warning about 4,000 residents to get out of the path of what officials say will be a record-breaking flood. The Balonne River is expected to crest Monday at 15 meters (49.2 feet), swamping St. George.

In Europe, many countries are dealing with unusual amounts of snowfall and a powerful cold snap. Dozens have died in Ukraine, Romania, Serbia and Poland; Sarajevo in Bosnia canceled school for a week as the Balkan city was hit by the biggest snowfall since 1999; and an Italian valley with 50,000 residents has been paralyzed and without power after 39 inches of snow.

A Mormon feminist pioneer

As a young feminist activist, Joanna Brooks watched her church excommunicate her heroes. For 10 years, she walked away. Now she's an accidental and unauthorized source for Mormonism, a faith and community she both challenges and deeply loves.

CNN's Jessica Ravitz profiles Brooks in a piece that will hit CNN.com's homepage on Monday, but you can get a sneak peek here.

54th annual Grammy Awards

With two of the trophies under his belt, LL Cool J is as qualified as anyone to host the 54th annual Grammy Awards next Sunday night at Staples Center in Los Angeles. The awards salute excellence in the U.S. recording industry - not only by performers in a wide array of categories, but also in production and packaging. The broadcast will feature performances by Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson, Adele, Foo Fighters, Bruno Mars, Nicki Minaj and Taylor Swift, all of whom are nominated for awards. It begins at 8 p.m. on CBS, and CNN.com will update winners throughout the night.

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Filed under: Ahead of the curve
February 5th, 2012
06:49 AM ET

Opposition group calls for strike as Syrian violence grows

After world leaders decried the U.N. Security Council's failure to pass a resolution on Syria, reports of violence surged once again in the besieged country.

At least nine Syrian army troops were killed and 21 others injured when clashes broke out Sunday between government forces and defectors Sunday in Idlib province, according to Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition activist group.

Meanwhile, the Coordination Committees of Syria - an opposition group that organizes and documents protests - plans to hold a two-day civil strike Sunday to mount more pressure on President Bashar al-Assad's government.

It's unclear what will happen on the world stage after Russia and China vetoed a U.N. Security Council draft resolution that would have demanded al-Assad stop the killing and answer calls aimed at finding a Syrian-led solution to the 11-month crisis.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Arab Spring • Syria • United Nations • World
February 5th, 2012
06:39 AM ET

Protesters clash with police in Cairo as anger mounts

Demonstrators clashed with police outside the interior ministry in Cairo on Sunday as anger mounts over a deadly stampede at a soccer match that killed dozens last week.

Protests have rocked Egypt's capital since the riot erupted at a soccer match in Port Said city Wednesday, killing more than 80 and sparking angry rallies in the streets.

Fans of the hometown Al-Masry club stormed the field after a 3-1 win over Cairo's Al-Ahly club. Rival fans battled with rocks and chairs, with a crush of bodies suffocating as crowds attempted to flee and found their escape blocked by a locked steel gate, survivors said.

After the riots, throngs took to the streets and demanded the military-led government make reforms and improve security.

Outside the interior ministry in Cairo on Sunday, demonstrators threw rocks at police, who responded with tear gas, while a sit-in was held outside the parliament.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Uncategorized • World
February 5th, 2012
06:17 AM ET

Heathrow cancels flights as snow blankets London

Heathrow Airport, one of the world's busiest international airports, canceled about three out of 10 flights Sunday as several inches of snow fell on London overnight.

The airports chief operating officer urged travelers to check before coming to the airport so they would not be left stranded there.

Normand Boivin said Heathrow "deeply regret any disruption caused to passengers by the cold weather," but said: "Reducing the flight schedule means we can fly as many people as possible and return the airport to normal as quickly as possible."

The airport did not say how many passengers were affected.

London is the latest European capital to be hit by winter weather wending its way west, after Rome was blanketed in a rare snowfall Saturday.

Landmarks such as Rome's Colosseum were dusted with snow for the first time since 1985. The rare precipitation caused traffic jams and left some people stranded.

By Sunday, traffic was clearing, a taxi driver said, and temperatures were rising.

But Sarajevo, Bosnia, canceled school for a week as the Balkan city was hit by the biggest snowfall since 1999. Snowdrifts that were 110 centimeters (43 inches) high snarled the center of the city, with even more snow in the hills around it.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Air travel • Travel • Weather • World
February 5th, 2012
05:44 AM ET

Finland set to elect new president

Finland heads to the polls Sunday to elect a new leader, with a former finance minister running against the nation's first openly gay presidential candidate, according to the country's media.
Both are vying to succeed Tarja Halonen, Finland's first female president, who cannot run for re-election.
In the first round of voting on January 28, conservative former Finance Minister Sauli Niinisto took just under 37% of the vote.
Pro-European Green League candidate Pekka Haavisto got 18.8%, claiming the No. 2 spot and narrowly edging out euro-skeptic Paavo Vayrynen, who had 17.5%.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: World
February 5th, 2012
04:32 AM ET

Occupy Oakland protest muted after last week's arrests

A week after the mass arrests of Occupy Oakland demonstrators following clashes with police, a more muted protest played out Saturday in the northern California city.

Despite a call by a small faction of the Occupy Oakland group to conduct "militant action" against authorities, there was no repeat of last week's violence where protesters threw bottles and tossed pipes at police, who responded with tear gas, smoke grenades and bean bag bullets.

Authorities arrested more than 400 people in that incident.

The Occupy Oakland Tactical Action Committee called last week's police response "police repression" and vowed to conduct "militant action."

"If you identify as peaceful and are likely to interfere with the actions of your fellow protesters in any way (including telling them to stop performing a particular action, grappling, assaulting or holding them for arrest), you may not want to attend this march," the committee warned in a statement on its website.

"It is a militant action. It attracts anti-capitalists, anti-fascists and other comrades of a revolutionary bent. It is not a march intended for people who are not fully comfortable with diversity of tactics."

But Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan warned the city would not tolerate a repeat and said officers would arrest anyone "who engages in criminal activity or assaults against officers or community members."

"This type of destructive and aggressive behavior is not welcome in our city," Jordan said.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: California • Occupy Wall Street
February 5th, 2012
04:30 AM ET

Chavez, allies call for sanctions against Britain over Falklands

The Ecuadorian president is calling for sanctions against Britain for its long-running dispute with Argentina over who owns the Falkland Islands.

President Rafael Correa urged tougher measures, accusing Britain of refusing to negotiate with Argentina about the disputed archipelago that has sparked diplomatic wrangling between the two nations for decades.

"It is time that Latin America decides on sanctions against that misplaced power that intends to be imperial and colonialist in the 21 Century," Correa said at a meeting of the ALBA bloc on Saturday. "I believe that we should go to things stronger."

ALBA, or Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, is made up of various nations, including Venezuela, Cuba, Ecuador and Bolivia.

Argentina and Britain went to war over the archipelago in 1982, and their leaders have exchanged bitter war of words in recent weeks, reviving memories of the conflict.

The dispute escalated recently after Prince William, a Royal air force pilot, was deployed to the islands Argentina calls Islas Malvinas.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Ecuador • World
February 5th, 2012
03:29 AM ET

Papua New Guinea to shift to recovery mode in ferry sinking

Authorities in Papua New Guinea said Sunday it may be time to shift from rescue to recovery mode in their search for 98 people who remain unaccounted for in last week's ferry sinking.

"Whilst rescue operations are likely to continue, weather permitting, for some more time, basically we are looking for bodies from now onwards," said Capt. Nurur Rahman, rescue coordinator for the National Maritime Safety Authority.

"There is a high degree of confidence, that if there were any active survivors or persons inside life rafts or with lifejackets within the search area that they would have been sighted and recovered by now," Rahman added.

About 350 people were aboard the MV Rabaul Queen when it sank off the east coast of Papua New Guinea on Thursday - about 16 kilometers (10 miles) off Cape Fortification in the Vitiaz Strait.

The ferry was carrying passengers from the town of Kimbe on New Britain Island to Lae, the second-largest city in Papua New Guinea.

Some 246 survivors were rescued, and authorities found six bodies. Ninety-eight people are still missing, Rahman said Sunday.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Papua New Guinea • World
February 5th, 2012
03:11 AM ET

Aircraft dispatched to rescue thousands stranded in Australia floods

Authorities were using military helicopters and a C-130 cargo plane Sunday to evacuate thousands of residents stranded by rising floodwaters in the eastern Australian state of Queensland, the government said.

Heavy rains in recent weeks have swollen rivers beyond their banks, threatening a number of communities in Queensland and New South Wales.

Authorities were using the plane and helicopters to evacuate patients from a hospital in particularly hard-hit Queensland town of St. George, where officials were warning about 4,000 residents to get out of the path of what officials say will be a record-breaking flood.

"This is a very serious situation and I urge people to cooperate," Queensland Premier Anna Bligh told CNN affiliate Nine Network.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Australia • Flooding • Weather • World