Ahead of the curve: The next 7 days
March 27th, 2011
08:27 PM ET

Ahead of the curve: The next 7 days

NATO agreed on Sunday to take military command of a coalition mission over Libya, including enforcement of a no-fly zone, but questions remain over how long and far the intervention will go as rebels push back forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. Here is a look at this and some of the other stories CNN plans to follow this week:

NATO, African Union, Arab League to discuss Libya on Tuesday

The new NATO mandate will begin in two to three days, NATO officials said, taking leadership over the military mission as the U.S. government had wanted. Planes and missiles from a coalition led by the United States, the United Kingdom and France began attacking Libyan air-defense targets March 19 in part to establish a no-fly zone. It was authorized by a U.N. Security Council resolution, which approved military action - short of occupation - to prevent Gadhafi's forces from attacking civilians and cities.

The intervention comes amid a Libyan civil war, which began in mid-February after clashes between government forces and protesters. Opposition forces are seeking the ouster of Gadhafi, who has ruled for nearly 42 years. Buoyed by the coalition's air intervention - including airstrikes on military vehicles - rebels are advancing west from their strongholds in eastern Libya, pushing pro-Gadhafi forces out of cities they had captured days earlier.

Leaders from NATO members, the African Union and the Arab League are expected to meet in London on Tuesday to discuss the intervention's aims. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is among those expected to represent the United States at the meeting.

Obama to give address on Libya Monday night

U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to address the coalition military action in Libya during a nationally televised address at 7:30 p.m. ET Monday. The speech follows calls for Obama to explain why U.S. forces are involved in the conflict and what the American exit strategy is. Two days following Obama's speech, Clinton and U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates are due to give Congress a classified briefing on the Libyan situation. Members of Congress have been pushing the administration for details not only about the mission's overall strategy and goals, but also for estimates on how much the operation is going to cost.

Syria, Yemen continue to grapple with anti-government protests, violence

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is expected to address his nation soon amid reports of protesters being shot to death as they called for government reforms. A source close to the government told CNN the country's emergency law - in effect for nearly 50 years - is about to be lifted, and that the Cabinet is expected to resign in days as al-Assad decides on a new prime minister.

Government security forces are alleged to have opened fire on protesters last week in the southern Syrian cities of Sanamen and Daraa, and anti-government protesters in Latakia also were wounded by gunfire on Saturday, according to witnesses. The government has blamed the Latakia shootings, which it said led to the deaths of 10 security force members and civilians, on armed gangs, according to state TV.

In Yemen, another country where deadly violence has surrounded anti-government protests, the president is fighting to retain power, arguing he is best equipped to lead a fight against Islamists and against members of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Over the past two days, fighting between Yemeni security forces and al Qaeda members has left people on both sides dead, Yemeni security officials said. The country has been engaged in a U.S.-aided crackdown on al Qaeda operatives.

Yemen - like many Middle Eastern and North African countries this year - has been facing protests from people citing government corruption, a lack of political freedom and high unemployment. Calls for President Ali Abdullah Saleh's ouster increased following revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia, and he has responded by promising to to run in the next election, and accepting demands for constitutional reforms and new parliamentary elections, though opposition leaders still are pushing for his immediate removal.

Check this page for a roundup and explanations of unrest in the Middle East and North Africa.

Radiation levels high at damaged Japanese nuclear plant

Workers still are trying to prevent full meltdowns at a Japanese nuclear power plant following March 11's 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami. The disasters knocked out backup generators that ran reactors' coolant systems and damaged water pumps at the Fukushimi Daiichi plant, leading to hydrogen explosions and suspected partial core meltdowns.

A few hours ago, the plant's owner said radiation levels in coolant in a reactor turbine there are extremely high - 100,000 times normal levels for reactor coolant - but added that an earlier reading of 10 million times normal was incorrect.

Nuclear analyst Joe Cirincione told CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday that the situation still is very serious. "You have six nuclear reactors lined up in a row. ... Any one of these would be considered a serious situation, but the fact that you have all of them in critical condition at this same time makes this a uniquely challenging situation.

"We have the possibility in three of those reactors ... of meltdowns. At least partial meltdowns are already under way in ... the fuel rods of those cores. And then in (a) fourth reactor, the core was taken out and put in the spent-fuel pond, and there, jammed in with other fuel, is a possibility that that could melt or catch fire."

U.S. Congress returns, faces April 8 deadline to avert shutdown

The U.S. Congress returns from a recess this week, ready for a new round of battles over an old problem - how to fund the federal government for the rest of fiscal year 2011.

With Republicans and Democrats disagreeing over how much to cut spending levels, they have managed to pass only temporary spending measures, the most recent of which is set to expire on April 8. If a new plan isn't approved by then, some government services and offices would shut down until a plan is agreed. Republicans are pushing for about $61 billion in cuts overall, while Democrats say they will accept only a fraction of that.

Jimmy Carter visiting Cuba Monday through Wednesday

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter is expected to visit Cuba and its president, at the invitation of the Cuban government, on Monday to discuss that country's economic policies and ways to improve U.S.-Cuba relations. The three-day trip has sparked speculation that he could try to secure the early release of USAID contractor Alan Gross, who recently was sentenced to 15 years in a Cuban prison. The United State says Gross was helping Cuba's Jewish community connect to the internet, but Cuba says he was part of a plot to use illegal internet connections to destabilize the government.

Final Four in Houston on Saturday

The field for the NCAA men's basketball Final Four is set, and it's a good bet that you didn't correctly predict all four semifinalists when you filled out your bracket two weeks ago. Virginia Commonwealth, which barely even got into the tournament as a No. 11 seed in its region, will appear with last year's runner-up, Butler; Kentucky, a No. 4 seed that took out much-fancied higher seeds in Ohio State and North Carolina; and Connecticut. Check out full coverage at SI.com.

- CNN's Kevin Conlon contributed to this report.

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Filed under: Ahead of the curve
soundoff (54 Responses)
  1. Nirvana

    Can't sleep? Here is something interesting to read:
    The Kill Team
    How U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan murdered innocent civilians and mutilated their corpses – and how their officers failed to stop them. Plus: An exclusive look at the war crime photos censored by the Pentagon
    http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-kill-team-20110327

    March 28, 2011 at 3:01 am | Report abuse |
  2. Nirvana

    GO AMERICA!!! "BE ALL YOU CAN BE"

    March 28, 2011 at 3:02 am | Report abuse |
  3. Basir

    .. As if the drive by media like CNN was not doing a bad enough job covering regular news .. now they want to see how god they are at predicting it!! 😛

    March 28, 2011 at 3:23 am | Report abuse |
  4. Gordon

    Aah!
    "Here's what we'll shove down your throat next week, because that's what we've decided matters."
    Thanks for the heads up.
    Not every news agency is so kind to TELL us what they'll feed us.

    March 28, 2011 at 4:09 am | Report abuse |
  5. Mike

    Only an idiot or someone totally out of touch with reality would think Obama is doing a good job or has a clue. He is inept, incompetent, arrogant, totally clueless and a racist.

    March 28, 2011 at 4:31 am | Report abuse |
    • haha

      you don't know anything..and it's sad

      March 28, 2011 at 5:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      @haha......Obama is the biggest puppet of us all. Less experience and qualifications to be president than any in history!

      March 28, 2011 at 5:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Henry Miller

      Yep, the very poster child for The Peter Principle: "In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence." Actually, the Community Organiser in Chief has risen so far above his level of incompetence he's obviously suffering from hypoxia and consequent failure of his mental faculties.

      March 28, 2011 at 7:33 am | Report abuse |
  6. SYR

    I love the second picture it shows that Syrians are against Bashar. Freakin CNN tell the truth please, no one in Syria is against the government and these shooting are happening because some armed gangs from outside Syria want to create fear and hate between the people, since Christians and Muslims are living happily.

    March 28, 2011 at 5:08 am | Report abuse |
  7. Jack

    While some see this as a place to write and promote propaganda.. Some just see this as blog filler.

    March 28, 2011 at 5:58 am | Report abuse |
  8. Sherri

    Congress should have no recess until they resolve this budget issue. Time for them to earn their pay.

    Good to see Obama is back on US soil to address the American people. It's about time.

    March 28, 2011 at 6:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Henry Miller

      It mystifies me why we pay those bozos in the first place.

      March 28, 2011 at 7:27 am | Report abuse |
  9. habesha stand up!!

    Middle east should change...no place for dictators!! We,ethiopins overthrow Emperor Hailesellase after 44 years then now Meles Zenawi soon...Meles step dowm before a bloody fight start!!

    March 28, 2011 at 6:34 am | Report abuse |
  10. Terry

    Please shut it down. Send all of the members of the House and Senate home, and declare to the American people that they need to elect people who want to work on problems, not worry about their next interview on cable news television.

    March 28, 2011 at 6:38 am | Report abuse |
  11. Shannon

    CNN, I wish you would include the HUGE union rally in LA on Saturday as part of your major coverage! This is a crucial tipping point in U.S. history in which the working class is being smashed, but we are fighting back! There were *at least* 10,000 people in LA from all across California and even Nevada, Chicago, and Wisconsin! The head of the Wisconsin Firefighters Association spoke at the rally after the march. For all who are interested, Google "Solidarity Saturday"! I'm posting a YouTube video soon.

    March 28, 2011 at 7:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Henry Miller

      The destructive effects of monopolies have long been known, and unions are nothing other than monopolies on various classes of labour. For decades, unions having been abusing the power of their effective monopolies to extort unsustainable conditions and compensation from employers. This is particularly true of public-employee unions.

      At the very least, something similar to the "anti-trust" laws need to be established for unions such that, in any given locale or industry, there are never less than two unions representing specific classes of labour, and that those unions are required to compete to offer the services of their members to employers.

      March 28, 2011 at 7:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Hawg

      @Henry...talking about unsustainable conditions and compensation from employers to union workers, what about the life time pay and benefits the congress and senate get for running for just one term. Talk about unsustainable pay and extortion...look to DC, where they even have medicinal marijuana, but yet it isn't good enough for their own people back home.

      March 28, 2011 at 7:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Henry Miller

      I agree with you, Hawg. Members of Congress should be paid exactly the national-average income with exactly the national-average benefits, the benefits to end the minute they're voted out of office.

      March 28, 2011 at 9:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Hawg

      Also, term limits would be a nice addition, and take away their exemption from the new health care that they say is good for the populace but not them. Just a thought and a dream....

      March 28, 2011 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Hawg

      Another thing, their per diem pay per day. If they get it, should we all not get it. It is more in one week than most make in a month.

      March 28, 2011 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
  12. Dave in Arizona

    Good. We don't control the world and we shouldn't be expected to take the lead in things like this, rather those expectations are external or internal. We need to work with other nations on equal footing and cooperatively. That means sometimes we volunteer to take point, and other times we don't.

    We prove our strength and determination not by flaunting it, but by using it wisely and conservatively.

    March 28, 2011 at 7:17 am | Report abuse |
  13. mrd21999

    The world is going to hell in a handbasket and Congress has been on break? Give ME a break!

    March 28, 2011 at 7:34 am | Report abuse |
  14. Rami

    Obama just lost 4 votes at this house.

    March 28, 2011 at 7:38 am | Report abuse |
  15. rplat

    This country is so screwed up we need to push restart and begin from scratch. The incompetence of Obama and his minions is monumental and is destroying this once great Republic.

    March 28, 2011 at 7:41 am | Report abuse |
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