Ahead of the curve: The next 7 days
February 26th, 2012
05:32 PM ET

Ahead of the curve: The next 7 days

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

Polls show tight GOP races in Michigan, Arizona

A recent surge in support for GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum gets important tests this week in Michigan and Arizona, both of which hold primaries on Tuesday, one week before the Super Tuesday contests in 10 states.

A poll taken late last week showed that the overall front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination, Mitt Romney, was leading Santorum 39% to 35% among likely primary voters in Arizona. In Michigan, recent polls show Romney and Santorum neck-and-neck.

Also this week, Wyoming will announce the results of its 20-day caucus process on Wednesday. And Washington state's caucuses are scheduled for Saturday.

Santorum has led Romney in national polling in recent days, thanks in part to strong primary and caucus performances in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri earlier this month. But by Sunday, Santorum's lead was down to 1 percentage point in one poll, with Romney closing the gap after a debate in Arizona on Wednesday.

Romney still has a significant lead in the delegate count on the strength of results in early primaries and caucuses, including the winner-takes-all primary in Florida.

Fed chairman to give "state of the economy"

The economy is a key issue in the presidential campaign, and Wednesday will be a big day for economic reports.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will give the House Financial Services Committee his latest assessment of the U.S. economy. His testimony coincides with the release of the Fed's economic summary, the Beige Book, which is issued eight times a year.

Also Wednesday, the Bureau of Economic Analysis will release its revised estimate of fourth-quarter real gross domestic product. Real GDP is the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States. In addition, the Bureau of Labor Statistics will issue 2011 annual unemployment averages, broken down by state and region.

On Thursday, the Commerce Department will issue its reports on January construction spending and personal income and outlays.

Leap Day

Wednesday is February 29, a date that occurs just once every four years. For most of us, it's just another day, inserted to keep the calendar balanced. But for a select club of special people, it's a quadrennial holiday of major proportions. It's their birthday.

Are you or someone you love a leapling? Tell us what it means to you and how you celebrate it.

Vladimir Putin, Russia's once and future president?

Vladimir Putin is seeking a return to Russia's presidency in next weekend's nationwide elections.

Russians head to the polls next Sunday. Putin, who was president from 2000 to 2008, wants to reclaim the office he left because of a law barring him from serving more than two consecutive terms. He became prime minister as Dmitry Medvedev took over as president, and Medvedev is not running for another term.

Russia's third-richest man, billionaire New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, is one of the people running against Putin.

The election will come about three months after parliamentary elections that kept Putin's ruling United Russia party in power, albeit with a smaller majority. The results caused mass protests in Russia, with protesters claiming that the results were rigged in United Russia's favor. At the time, Medvedev proposed sweeping political reforms - including suggestions that Russia return to direct elections of regional governors; simplify the registration of political parties and presidential candidates; and establish a new editorially independent national public TV channel.

U.N. Human Rights Council to discuss Syria

The United Nations' Human Rights Council is expected to meet early this week in Geneva to discuss the Syrian government's nearly yearlong violent crackdown on opposition. The meeting comes as the International Committee of the Red Cross tries to negotiate a temporary cease-fire in Homs, Syria, one of the flashpoints in an uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The ICRC has urged combatants to stop fighting for two hours each day so they can deliver humanitarian aid to Homs and other cities. In Homs, government forces have shelled an opposition stronghold neighborhood for more than three weeks, destroying homes and forcing residents to hide in makeshift shelters, where food, medical and other supplies are running low, a CNN team observed more than a week ago.

Al-Assad has denied reports that his forces are targeting civilians, saying they are fighting armed gangs and foreign fighters bent on destabilizing the government. But many accounts inside the country say Syrian forces are killing civilians as part of a crackdown on anti-government opposition.

This week's human rights meeting comes after Sunday's referendum in Syria on changes to the country's constitution, in what the government touts as a move toward reform.

Mush! Iditarod sled race to begin

The 40th Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race begins with a ceremonial start Saturday in Anchorage, Alaska. Racing in earnest begins the next day in the town of Willow. The route covers 975 miles, ending in Nome; there are 24 checkpoints along this year's northern route.

Sixty-six mushers are registered to run the race with teams averaging 15 dogs each; that means about 1,000 dogs will be running, barking and scooping up mouthfuls of snow. The dogs will have microchips and tracking collars, and 52 veterinarians will be dispersed along the trail to watch over their health.

A purse of $550,000 will be divided among the first 30 finishers. The fastest anyone has finished the race is 8 days, 22 hours, 46 minutes, 2 seconds, accomplished by Martin Buser in 2002. The slowest winning time was recorded by Carl Huntington in the race's second year, 1974: 20 days, 15 hours, 2 minutes, 7 seconds.

The race is not considered to be over until the last musher arrives in Nome. The dubious record for slowest finishing time belongs to John Schultz, who in the first Iditarod, in 1973, finally completed the 1,150-mile course in 32 days, 15 hours, 9 minutes and 1 second. The last finisher is awarded a red lantern to symbolize being the caboose on the train of mushers.

soundoff (98 Responses)
  1. RUFFNUTT (( 1/2 5th level magic-using kender ,1/4 illusionist ,1/4 warrior ))

    have they ever gone back durring the summer and seen if there was a greener trail outlining the course of the race?

    February 26, 2012 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
  2. RUFFNUTT (( 1/2 5th level magic-using kender ,1/4 illusionist ,1/4 warrior ))

    the dogs have it easy compared to the horses in the kentucky derby...
    all the losers get ran down the street to the glue factory after the race,, that's why they run so fast..

    February 26, 2012 at 9:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jj

      Ruffy is that really true? I've always wondered that. It can't be can it? Horses to glue...

      February 26, 2012 at 11:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • high hopes

      No... it's not true!

      The reason they run so fast is cause they're two-year olds. Some of them go lame cause their legs aren't fully developed, but losing the Kentucky Derby doesn't land a horse in a glue factory!

      February 27, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • high hopes

      Oops... this goes here!


      Most horses are not trained til they're three and raced as four-year olds. Breeders try to foul they're colts so they're almost three when they race in the triple crown series.

      Secretariat became lame and never raced again.

      And, yes, imo it's inhumane to race two-year olds. Most don't make it past the first race without stress fractures. They're treatable but renders what could've been a great racer to a pleasure horse for small people or a sperm donor.

      Sad... but that's the truth.

      February 27, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  3. banasy©

    They deleted Margery's post???
    Wow, CNN.
    Because it was better written than most articles you post?

    February 26, 2012 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Vegas Haram

    The same way I know American ho's (both professional and non professional, male and female) spread AIDS. CIA World Factbook. (and A merican's do in fact spend more on toys for their pets than on charity, if you subtract the charity promised from the charity delivered. It cosy's almost 17,000 dollars to purchase, feed, etc. the avg. American dog over the course of the dogs life. All tolled, A mericans spend WAY more on being charitable to animals than they do on charity for humans. Solve this problem.

    February 26, 2012 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      That, however, isn't what you said.
      Nice backpedal.

      February 26, 2012 at 10:02 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Vegas Haram

    Pit Bull Terrirer. Ya don't say. Have you ever been anywhere near a pit fight? Have you ever googled it? The way Americans treat animals is atrocious. The way they treat each other, even moreso.

    February 26, 2012 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      The American Pit Bull is in the Terrier class.
      Yes, I do say, because it is true.
      One doesn't have to go to a dog fight to know that.
      The American Bulldog is NOT a Pit Bull Terrier, Philip.

      February 26, 2012 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      And Iwill agree that SOME Americans do treat their animals atrociously; SOME Americans treat each other even worse.
      But to imply that all of America does these things is counter-productive to any case you are trying to make.

      February 26, 2012 at 10:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • granny

      I would have to take the word of someone who has actually seen a pitbull fight over someone who hasn't any day. It just looks idiotic to argue with the person who has seen one.

      February 26, 2012 at 10:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      I have seen pitbulls fight.
      There is a plethora of videos out there.
      He doesn't say he has, either.
      Doesn't change the fact that the pitbull is a Terrier.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Vegas Haram

    Americans spend more on animals in need than they do on humans in need. (not counting their own children. But then, even a dog feeds it's own pups.)

    February 26, 2012 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      A quick search revealed that Americans spend around 295 BILLION yearly on charity, vs. about 50 Billion on their pets.
      No more misinformation, please.

      February 26, 2012 at 10:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • granny

      295 BILLION for 2006

      February 26, 2012 at 10:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      I know, sorry.
      It's probably higher now, but i just used the first page.
      I should have written in 2006.
      Doesn't take away that the number is significantly higher than what people spend on their pets.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • granny

      Then you shouldn't have said that haram was misleading when you in fact were doing the misleading.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Unfortunately, there is no edit button on here.
      I posted it, and then went on.
      Thank you for pointing it out, and it's corrected now.
      295 BILLION in 2006.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:14 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Vegas Haram

    Soon, it will be legal to marry your own pet. Don't laugh. That's what people did at Jesus when he predicted that during the last days, we would see "men marrying". Now we do in fact see men getting legally married for the first time in human history. If it's ok for you to keep God and the gov. out of your bedroom, it's ok for those who prefer bestiality and would just as soon marry their dog as marry an American.

    February 26, 2012 at 10:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      When the dog can give consent, and sign its name, you might have an argument.
      Until then, not so much.

      February 26, 2012 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • high hopes

      Time Out:

      No where in the Bible does it talk about men marrying men in the 'last days' and all this garbage about people marrying animals? Rediculous! If you're going to try to use the Bible to base your opinion upon... reference the scripture. Other than that, don't drag God into your foolishness!

      He teaches us to love our neighbors... you should try it sometime!

      Luke 10:27

      February 27, 2012 at 12:05 am | Report abuse |
    • high hopes

      The last days:

      2 Timothy 3:1-7

      Having no natural affection means having no love for their wives and, especially, their children.

      Just sayin'

      February 27, 2012 at 2:26 am | Report abuse |
  8. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    Since the General is interested in buying a Labotomy. I might know a doctor interested in selling you one. It's kind of a cross between a Chevrolet Impala and a Cadillac, and it drives "real well" for the General. You would probably like it. You would be the talk of Intersate 61, and be a real chick magnet. Doctor told me you need to stop huffing spray paint, in order to be considered.

    February 26, 2012 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Ah, Jeff Frank.
      You crack me up!

      February 26, 2012 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse |
  9. banasy©

    Vegas Haram:
    Do you mean Harem or Haram?
    Two COMPLETELY different meanings...I am curious as to which one you mean.

    February 26, 2012 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
  10. huxley

    Commentary about sled dogs eating snow is misleading. Sled dogs don't eat snow. Water has to be provided for them. Also, if you are lost in the woods, its not recommended that a human eat snow either as it consumes a great deal of your heat energy to melt the snow in your mouth, which is the last thing you want to lose if you are lost in the woods.

    February 26, 2012 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • granny

      A Darwins theory fan I see!

      February 26, 2012 at 10:36 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Hogwash

    You are confusing housepet expenditures with per expenditures. Factor-in what all the barns, stables, dog kennels, etc cost...the avg. pet owner spends almost 500/yr just on vet bills...the show and race-horses can cost 10's of thousands, even MILLIONS of dollars. Add the cost to build and maintain dog pounds, Aspca's, etc. No doubt about it. Americans squander money on frivilous items while their own neighbors children starve and go without. Just the profits from Kentucky Derby's could feed how many children? But you would earmark the money to spay and neuter cats, wouldn't cha.

    February 26, 2012 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      No, I am not confused about anything.
      You said, "Americans spend more on toys for their pets than they do on charity."
      They do not.
      What you are talking about is a business, pure and simple...there is no way that a race horse is considered a "pet" by any definition, nor is this pet treated as such.
      What you have described are businesses and corporations, and a far cry from
      "Americans spend more on toys for their pets than they do on charity."
      They are big, big business, but that is not the comparison you were trying to make.
      Adding different parameters to a debate once a point is proven wrong is absurd.

      February 26, 2012 at 10:58 pm | Report abuse |
  12. granny

    estimates for 2011
    This is atrocious when we are in the financial bind we are in today, not to mention how much more we could be helping our kids with this money.

    Food $19.53 billion
    Supplies/OTC Medicine $11.4 billion
    Vet Care $14.11 billion
    Live animal purchases $2.15 billion
    Pet Services: grooming & boarding $3.65 billion

    February 26, 2012 at 11:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Over $50 billion a year.
      It is big business, isn't it?
      Latest I could find was 2010, in which Americans gave over 290 Biliion to charity, 100 billion of that to religion, and 6.66 billion being given to enviromental/animals.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:28 pm | Report abuse |
  13. revnowwhilewecan

    GOP race with no mention of kooky, no-factor, can't win Ron Paul? Shocker. Nice move also on leaving Newt out to appear unbiased in the reporting. At least it's not as blatant as usual.

    February 26, 2012 at 11:38 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Grandpa

    American's love children way more than animals. That's why it's always been illegal to abort your baby, but you can abort puppies and colts whenever you want without fear of facing cruelty to animal charges.

    February 26, 2012 at 11:51 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Grandpa

    Actually, the pitbull is a rat terrier.

    February 26, 2012 at 11:55 pm | Report abuse |
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