Ahead of the curve: The next 7 days
December 25th, 2011
04:07 PM ET

Ahead of the curve: The next 7 days

Here is a look at some of the stories that CNN plans to cover this week:

North Korea plans Kim Jong Il funeral

The funeral for North Korea's longtime leader Kim Jong Il is scheduled for Wednesday, CNN has learned.

North Koreans continue to pay respects for their late leader with military sites, factories and public buildings flying flags at half-staff -– part of the repressive country's 11-day period of mourning.

North Korea said Friday that it would admit delegations from the South that wish to visit Pyongyang to express their condolences, according to a statement posted on a government website run by the North.

"We will guarantee all convenience and safety of the South Koreans during their visit," said the statement on uriminzokkiri.com, dated Thursday, adding that the North would open to the delegations "all air routes and land routes through Kaesong," its industrial park, some 45 kilometers (27 miles) north of Seoul, South Korea.

Seoul has made a number of gestures as it tries to navigate the uncertainty created by the North's leadership transition. Pyongyang has named Kim's youngest son, Kim Jong Un, as the "Great Successor" to his father.

GOP presidential candidates ready for caucus season

With the caucus season set to begin in Iowa in less than two weeks, GOP presidential hopefuls Ron Paul, Michele Bachmann and the rest may well work through the holidays to gain an edge.

Gingrich, whose rise in the polls in recent weeks has been overshadowed by Paul, lowered his expectations recently for an Iowa victory.

"My goal is to be the top three or four (in Iowa)," the former House speaker said at a campaign stop in Richmond,Virginia. "I'd love to win."

While Gingrich expects to come in third or fourth in Iowa, he said he has higher predictions for other early voting states.

"I probably will be in the top two in New Hampshire, and then to win South Carolina and Florida," Gingrich said.

His campaign took a blow when Gingrich failed to collect enough signatures to appear on the Virginia primary ballot. It leaves the longtime Virginia resident without a place on the state's ballot and raises questions about his campaign's organization.

Slam-dunk week as the NBA returns

With the long-awaited and belated NBA season set to begin on Christmas Day, the week ahead figures to be the busiest for U.S. professional basketball fans  since the Dallas Mavericks beat the Miami Heat to win the title in June.

Check out player news from Sports Illustrated

And speaking of sports, the coming week will see quite a few college football bowl games. A few standouts include California vs. Texas on Wednesday; Iowa will play Oklahoma on Friday; Virginia squares up against Auburn on Saturday.

Check out the 2011 college football bowl schedule 

Monday profile: Taking a stand or standing by her man?

Her husband has denied responsibility for the deadly violence sweeping his country. But Syria's glamorous, British-born first lady has been largely silent. Is she in denial, as some observers suggest? What must she be thinking?

Home for the holidays: The Obamas' Hawaii adventure

After Congress rammed through an amended version of the two-month payroll tax cut extension, President Barack Obama finished business in Washington then headed to Hawaii to join his family for the holidays.

The weeklong vacation has become an annual rite for the president, who is wrapping up an especially contentious legislative year marked by repeated partisan brinksmanship and declining public approval of a seemingly dysfunctional Congress.

As much as he needs the rest, the holidays have not been kind to Obama during his presidency.

In 2009, his visit to his home state was interrupted by an attempted terrorist attack on a jetliner outside Detroit. Obama, who was in his home state of Hawaii, was briefed on the incident but made no changes to his schedule.

During the Thanksgiving break of 2010, the president got a busted lip in a game of basketball, resulting in 12 stitches.

Anderson Cooper + Kathy Griffin = New Year's fun

Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin will again be co-hosts of CNN’s  New Year’s Eve celebration from 11 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. ET on Saturday, December 31. The odd couple will ring in 2012 for CNN’s "New Year's Eve Live With Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin” live from NYC’s Time Square.

"Get ready, America.  Pull up a chair and a box of your finest wine, because you've never seen a New Year's Eve show like this,” said Griffin.

New York draws record number of tourists

New York won't be the only game in town, though. The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas has scheduled a three-day bash beginning on December 30. Hip-hop star Drake, singer Corey Taylor and Guns N’ Roses are slated to perform.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Politics • Sports • U.S. • World
soundoff (62 Responses)
  1. ¿TTUИFFUЯ ( ½ ELF slayer & ½ BUGBEAR KILLER )

    North Korea plans Kim Jong Il funeral...
    .
    this would be a good time to bomb the heck outta them...
    .
    that way they'll all be out in the open..

    December 25, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Todd in DC

      Ah, you adhere to W's school of thought – bomb first, ask questions later.

      December 25, 2011 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    RUFFNUTT,
    I like the way you think.

    December 25, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    @ bobcat:
    Name of show:
    This Bomb's For You!

    December 25, 2011 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
  4. ¿TTUИFFUЯ ( ½ ELF slayer & ½ BUGBEAR KILLER )

    i think we could take over north korea with my pattened...plan
    .
    .
    ruffnutt's plan to take over north korea–
    .
    1.) send over a delegation to meet the new young leader..
    .
    this delegartion would consist of rappers and exotic dancers..
    .
    2:) get him drunk and high on weed...
    .
    3:) have the chicks get him so hornee that he signs over the country and moves to memphis..

    December 25, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  5. tony

    Seemingly dysfunctional congress I'll buy. But how about we call a spade a spade? We have the least competent, unqualified president in American history, with some of the most unwise advisors of any administration. All he has going for him is an opposition party that won't take advantage of his stupidity and a media that will try to make you think that he can do no wrong. There is without a doubt a clear bias in how the media gives the obama administration a pass for it's MANY failings, and will not allow ANYTHING slide on the Republican side. Neither side should be given a pass. Let's go back to some jouralistic integrity folks! And that includes YOU CNN!!!

    December 25, 2011 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Todd in DC

      Yeah, all he did was end DADT, prevent the Great Recession from becoming the second depression, kill Bin Ladin, end the Iraq war, NOT raise taxes – including making sure the payroll tax cut was in place.. Yeah, he sure stinks.

      December 25, 2011 at 7:31 pm | Report abuse |
  6. james

    i wish Gingrich could win all states.

    http://snaxa.com

    December 25, 2011 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
  7. banasy©

    I wish all racists would gracefully fade into nothingness.

    December 25, 2011 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jazzzzzzzz

    They will, if we ignore them! No sound is heard louder than a room full of protesters!

    December 25, 2011 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Tabitha

    Too bad, Portland tony, for you that OBAMA will be in office for 4 more years huh? lol

    December 25, 2011 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Tom

    Damn, this site is full of dipwads!

    December 25, 2011 at 7:31 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Always USAF

    How about Peace on Earth. How about good will toward all men and women,please.

    December 25, 2011 at 7:31 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Tom

    Good will, my tush. Some of the people posting in here need a good kick in the groin.

    December 25, 2011 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Tabitha

    lol ty todd, others dont seem to notice that too much do they? lol and they think any of those idiots on the GOP stand a chance??

    December 25, 2011 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Tabitha

    and tom you must be talkin about the trolls, just ignore em.

    December 25, 2011 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
  15. bobcat (in a dunce cap)

    Crawl back into your spider hole, you war hawk, you!

    December 25, 2011 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
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