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. Alfredo

    Gonna miss Kim Jong Il. Its not easy to oppress an entire population keeping them ignorant and starving. The midget was a rare breed of tyrant. He'll be missed....

    December 25, 2011 at 10:43 pm | Report abuse |
  2. t

    Kim Jong Ill was a weird little bugger.Why so much time devoted to one crazy nippersohn? Gingrich sells papeweights that he calls books to Tea Baggers who don't read books because they are longer than a paragraph.

    December 25, 2011 at 10:43 pm | Report abuse |
  3. TJeff1776

    One observes quite a few conservative name-callers using such names as "Stupid", "Idiot". etc etc. Their backward vocabulary doesn't allow for intelligent expression SO they fall back on whatever best describes themselves.

    December 25, 2011 at 10:56 pm | Report abuse |
  4. banasy©

    Not by the people of NK, unless the camera is on them... with the gun pointed at them just out of the camera's eye...

    December 25, 2011 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Bribarian

    Ron Paul revolution coming

    December 25, 2011 at 10:59 pm | Report abuse |
  6. banasy©

    @Mitty Romney [INSERT VERSION] Wins in 2012 & Flying Unicorns Take Over N.Y:

    Your username made me laugh...and your post made me laugh harder!

    December 25, 2011 at 10:59 pm | Report abuse |
  7. james

    Several of the people pictured above are nauseating to me–Guess which ones–Hint –Political officials–

    December 25, 2011 at 11:00 pm | Report abuse |
  8. bill constantine

    what else is new about life. I am in my 80s and lucky to still be herre. I have no grievence with any one. No stress and love for every one. Do not be at the wrong place at the wrong time..Bill the Greek from Vegas.

    December 25, 2011 at 11:06 pm | Report abuse |
  9. gmoney

    please this is not a story for Christmas day HELLO

    December 25, 2011 at 11:21 pm | Report abuse |
  10. banasy©

    @bill constantine:

    Όμορφα! Καλά Χριστούγεννα!

    December 25, 2011 at 11:24 pm | Report abuse |
  11. banasy©

    CNN posts this on Sundays, regardless.

    December 25, 2011 at 11:25 pm | Report abuse |
  12. sakho. OBAMA will be re-elected in 2012 because the AMERICAN PEOPLE are not stupid and they recognise a love a hard working,resposible,honest and a president they can trust and a president that love and protect AMERICA and MR OBAMA has done that for the l

    OBAMA FOR 2012

    December 25, 2011 at 11:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • eric

      learn to spell moron

      December 25, 2011 at 11:47 pm | Report abuse |

    The NBA sucks no one cares anymore. It will not rebound from this one.

    December 25, 2011 at 11:44 pm | Report abuse |
  14. atbigfoot91

    There is STILL time to put Dick Cheney on trial for international war crimes against humanity before the asswhole dies.

    December 25, 2011 at 11:59 pm | Report abuse |
  15. prezmarek

    I think our PRESIDENT should go over there and pay all respect to the leader. He is trying to to follow his step so closely

    December 26, 2011 at 12:23 am | Report abuse |
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