COMFORT MAN: Prime Minister Stephen Harper will head to the epicentre of Canada’s battered auto sector in southern Ontario to deliver his first major speech on the recession — a relatively hopeful message that will attempt to position the country as a bright light in a world beset by economic gloom. Some of the prime minister’s own MPs have been quietly grumbling that he hasn’t been visible enough while Canadians deal wth he economic crisis.
VALUABLE ENDORSEMENT: Defence Minister Peter MacKay urged NATO to eschew its tradition of choosing a European to be its secretary general amid speculation that U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden would lobby the organization to give the post to MacKay. It was reported that Biden would give control of two commands curently held by Americans to France in exchange for MacKay getting the nod, and the defence minster’s case was also boosted by the lack of a consensus European candidate. The anticipated American lobbying was likely connected to the Conservative government’s support of U.S. President Barack Obama’s plans to reach out to moderate elements of the Taliban in an effort to tamp down the deadly Afghan insurgency.
WHAT SORT OF TRIBUTE ARE WE DISCUSSING?: As the Liberals plan a formal send-off for former leader Stephane Dion at the party’s spring leadership conference, organizers were hoping that party members would donate something more than kind words. Dion is still struggling with $200,000 in debt racked up during his successful leadership campaign, although many privately acknowledge that the debt — and much of that owed by erstwhile leadership candidates — will likely never be paid in full.
OF COURSE YOU KNOW, THIS (MAYBE) MEANS WAR: North Korea intensified its sabre-rattling as the American and South Korean militaries began joint manoeuvres. Tension in the region has reached a fever pitch as the North presses ahead with plans to launch a satellite into orbit, any interference of which would be considered a provocation of war.
TROUBLES: British security chiefs appealed for public help in apprehending two Irish Republican Army dissidents responsible for gunning down two soldiers in Northern Ireland. The murders — the first British security personnel to be killed in Northern Ireland since 1997 — represent a potentially painful choice for Sinn Fien, the IRA-linked party previously held to a code of silence regarding extremist activities.
CALM, COOL AND COLLECTED: A study used the routine of a surly chimpanzee in a Swedish zoo for the basis of a theory that apes are quite capable of planning ahead. Santino the chimpanzee typically spends his mornings methodically collecting rocks so he could later unleash a “hailstorm” upon visitors during fits of rage. The observers said the alpha-male chimp likely found it humiliating to be stared at by interlopers on his turf.
NO CONSPIRACY HERE: Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai moved to quash suspicion that a car crash that slightly injured him and killed his wife was the result of a conspiracy to murder the longtime opposition figure. Tsvangirai has been the target of numerous assassination attempts ordered by President Robert Mugabe, but insisted the fatal crash was nothing more than a tragic highway accident.