Ahead of the curve: The next 7 days
December 5th, 2010
07:46 PM ET

Ahead of the curve: The next 7 days

Last week's worse-than-expected U.S. jobs report may cast a shadow over lawmakers this week as they negotiate issues such as extensions of tax cuts and unemployment benefits. Here's a look at some of the stories we plan to follow this week:

Will lame-duck Congress strike deal on taxes?

Time is running out for the current U.S. Congress to make headway on a number of issues, including whether to extend the Bush-era tax cuts. Congressional leaders are expected to continue negotiations this week, and top senators from both parties indicated Sunday that a deal was likely on temporarily extending the tax cuts for all Americans, along with an extension of benefits for the longtime unemployed. However, Republicans have warned they are unlikely to budge in their opposition to other Democratic priorities, such as a new nuclear arms treaty with Russia.

President Barack Obama is expected to weigh in on the economy on Monday, when he will give a talk after touring a biotech classroom at a community college in North Carolina. His remarks on the economy will give him a chance to react to last week's news that the unemployment rate rose to 9.8 percent.

What next from WikiLeaks?

WikiLeaks' slow-motion release of sensitive U.S. diplomatic cables is entering its second week as the website fights off attempts to take it off the Internet. The site so far has released hundreds of what it says will be more than 250,000 documents. The released documents have touched on, among other things, sharp U.S. criticism of Afghanistan's government; intense mistrust between the United States and Pakistan; blunt assessments of the extent of corruption in Russia; and unflattering descriptions of allied leaders like Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, whom one 2009 cable described as "a complete mess." The United States is conducting a criminal investigation into the disclosures.

Iran to resume nuclear talks after saying its program is self-sufficient

Iran is expected to resume stalled nuclear talks with the United States and five other countries on Monday, the day after it announced it now produces everything it needs for the nuclear fuel cycle. The United States and its allies fear that Iran is trying to produce a nuclear bomb, though Iran denies it. The talks, set to take place in Switzerland, are aimed at ending Iran's nuclear enrichment program, a spokeswoman for the European Union's foreign policy chief said.

Who is in charge of the Ivory Coast?

An electoral mess is developing in the Ivory Coast, where two men have not only declared victory in last month’s presidential election, but also have each taken the oath of office. Two government panels last week announced different conclusions about the election, with one declaring challenger Alassane Ouattara the winner, and the other saying that incumbent Laurent Gbagbo had won. The United Nations is backing Ouattara’s claim, but Gbagbo hasn’t backed down, and the African Union on Sunday sent former South African President Thabo Mbeki to meet both sides. We’ll be keeping an eye on efforts this week to mediate a solution to the crisis, which has stoked fears that the West African country could plunge into the kind of unrest and bloodshed suffered after a civil war started in 2002.

China tracking who attends Nobel ceremony

Although we already know jailed Chinese activist Liu Xiaobo won this year's Nobel Peace Prize, Friday's presentation ceremony still offers a bit of suspense. China has been pressing other nations to shun the ceremony in Oslo, calling Liu's award a Western plot to demonize the country.  China also is trying to prevent its citizens from attending the ceremony, putting prominent potential guests on a no-fly list. Liu, a writer and pro-democracy activist, is serving an 11-year sentence for "inciting subversion of state power." We'll keep an eye on how nations respond to China's pressure.

U.S., Japan, South Korea to meet discuss North Korea

North Korea will be on the agenda when U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets Monday with the foreign ministers of South Korea and Japan in Washington. Tensions have risen in the Korean peninsula since the North launched a deadly artillery barrage on a South Korean island nearly two weeks ago.

Closing arguments expected in Elizabeth Smart case

Federal prosecutors are expected to offer rebuttal testimony this week against the man charged with kidnapping Utah teenager Elizabeth Smart, and both sides have told a judge they would finish closing arguments by Friday. Defense attorneys are mounting an insanity defense for Brian Mitchell, hoping to prove that he did not understand his actions were wrong when he abducted Smart, who was found with Mitchell nine months after her 2002 abduction. Mitchell , 57, is charged with kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor across state lines.

The journalists who covered John Lennon's death

Wednesday marks the 30th anniversary of the slaying of ex-Beatle John Lennon in New York. On Monday, CNN.com's entertainment section will feature a story about the day Lennon died as seen through the eyes of the journalists who covered the story.

Rewind to last week

That was the look ahead. Now, here's a look at some of the stories CNN covered in the past seven days:


The website WikiLeaks began publishing the first batch of what it says will be more than 250,000 diplomatic cables from U.S. embassies around the world, spawning sharp condemnation from the White House and abroad. On Wednesday, CNN's senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said that U.S. authorities may be looking for just the right moment to try to detain WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is wanted in Sweden on suspicion of rape and sexual molestation.


A 15-year-old Wisconsin high school sophomore held some of his classmates and a teacher hostage for about five hours at his northeast Wisconsin high school before shooting himself, police said. The student died the next day; all hostages were unharmed.

Police began investigating what officials say is the first homicide in the Disney-developed town of Celebration, Florida. On Friday, the community saw its second instance of deadly violence of the week when a resident turned a gun on himself during a standoff with a SWAT team, according to police.


Authorities arrested the father of three missing Michigan boys, charging him with parental kidnapping. Police had been looking for the boys since the previous week, when the father was supposed to have dropped the boys off at their home in Morenci, Michigan.  Police asked that volunteer searches for the boys stop Friday night.

Investigators reported that the co-pilot of an Air India Express 737 sent the jetliner into a terrifying 7,000-foot plunge in May when he accidentally hit the control column while adjusting his seat.

Televangelist Marcus Lamb admitted in front of a television audience that he cheated on his wife, an announcement he made to thwart people he said were trying to extort millions of dollars from him. 


Senate Republicans promised to block legislative action on every issue being considered by the lame-duck Congress until a dispute over extending the Bush-era tax cuts is resolved and an extension of current government funding is approved. On Saturday, two attempts by Democrats to move forward with measures to extend the tax cuts for most people failed.

A man identified by police as a "person of interest" in the slaying of Hollywood celebrity publicist Ronni Chasen killed himself in a Hollywood apartment building, police said.


A snowstorm left hundreds of motorists stranded in their vehicles along a stretch of Interstate 90 near Buffalo, New York, prompting authorities to use plows and all-terrain vehicles to clear the road and provide food, water and gas to the trapped.  On Friday, the New York Thruway Authority said it could have done a better job in dealing with the situation.


President Obama issued the first nine pardons of his presidency, including one for an ex-Marine who was convicted of a felony for cutting pennies into dime-shaped coins so he could afford more vending-machine fare in his barracks more than 40 years ago.

The FBI warned law enforcement agencies that the new Barbie "Video Girl" doll could be used as a tool by pedophiles to make child pornography.

South Korea's new defense minister said his country would respond with airstrikes if North Korea attacks it again, South Korean state media reported.


A couple days after Mexican authorities detained a 14-year-old boy on suspicion of working as a drug-cartel hit man, the head of a children's rights organization criticized authorities' handling of the teen's detention, saying TV cameramen and newspaper photographers shouldn't have been given access to him.

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soundoff (40 Responses)
  1. anon

    What? You have flavor of the month celebrities but nothing about the launch of the Falcon 9?

    December 5, 2010 at 11:14 pm | Report abuse |
  2. lina perez


    December 5, 2010 at 11:23 pm | Report abuse |
  3. candy

    John Lennon's dead day will shirley (don't call me shirley) be a hoot. To bad Ian Anderson lost his voice piping things about his bronze statue in Cuba.
    Sitting on a Park Bench ....
    He couda serenaded him proper with his picalo pete.

    December 5, 2010 at 11:31 pm | Report abuse |
  4. atinks

    While mentally retarded republicans are findind every possible malicious, vicious and deceitful tactic to fail the historic first black president of the US, China is at work. Dear fellow brave people, if we want to follow China exampe, lets vote every republican out of office and shift them all out of the country to cave men's land

    December 6, 2010 at 12:12 am | Report abuse |
    • nancy cornett

      That sounds very "lagniappian" to me! LOL Ignorance vs elitism. Pffff.

      December 6, 2010 at 12:39 am | Report abuse |
  5. unbelief'd

    What a patronizing and pretenciously worded headline. I only wanted to see what others thought of "lagniappe" and it's improper use in your blurb. In response to your arrogance, I am hereby boycotting CNN and encourage anyone else who recognized the obnoxious condescension of CNN's prelude to boycot as well. CNN you blew it.

    December 6, 2010 at 12:14 am | Report abuse |
  6. atinks

    The current republicans are old greedy, degrading, degenerating, monotonous cave men, just confused about the new direction of the world, they just don't get it. Like the dinosors, they are en route of extinction.

    December 6, 2010 at 12:24 am | Report abuse |
    • nancy cornett

      The current Democrats are delusional, greedy, inbred, and scared.

      December 6, 2010 at 12:35 am | Report abuse |
  7. nancy cornett

    Lagniappe? Who is responsible for that gaffe? You do realize Rednecks read Cnn also. How insulting. Outrageous "reporting". No, not reporting, INSULTING.

    December 6, 2010 at 12:31 am | Report abuse |
  8. atinks

    The republicans represent the prototype of the North Korean leadership. They act like a spoiled child by blocking every single measure if their wish is not granted. shame on you

    December 6, 2010 at 12:38 am | Report abuse |
    • nancy cornett

      Yeah. Those Dems were on quite a roll for a while, weren't they. Then those Retards came in, and guess what happened? The PEOPLE spoke!

      December 6, 2010 at 12:45 am | Report abuse |
    • nancy cornett

      What? No RSVP?

      December 6, 2010 at 1:30 am | Report abuse |
  9. nancy cornett

    Lagniappe? Perfect Democratic word. Real words. Real people.

    December 6, 2010 at 1:05 am | Report abuse |
  10. Sally Michigan

    @ nancy...so how about the child that is born disabled? are you saying that you deny a child who would need the money when he/she becomes an adult? If the child never was able to work due to the disability he /she would be able to get ssi. Your statement is cruel and heartless.

    December 6, 2010 at 2:01 am | Report abuse |
  11. Ed Bailey

    The person who thinks Bryan david Mitchell is the devol on earth SHOULD come yo WEST VALLEY CITY UTAH.MITCHELL is a saint compared to what I have seen here. Many of these monsters wear suits and govern us!

    December 6, 2010 at 7:09 am | Report abuse |
  12. Sevan

    I just want to say that I really enjoy these "ahead of the curve" reports. It keeps me abreast of things that I may not have taken the time to read up on. I am sorry that so many readers do not appreciate this lagniappe.

    December 7, 2010 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Andreas Moser

    We should seriously rethink our economic engagement with China: http://andreasmoser.wordpress.com/2010/10/15/liu-xiaobo/

    December 11, 2010 at 6:07 am | Report abuse |
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