WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR?: Shocked family members of Canadian Trooper Karine Blais, killed by a roadside bomb north of Kandahar City, said they were opposed to the idea of the 21-year-old woman pursuing a military career. Mario Blais told reporters that his goddaughter died "for absolutely nothing" and had a message for Prime Minister Stephen Harper: get troops out of Afghanistan as quickly as possible.

The death of Blais two weeks into her tour of duty came the day before her regiment, the Van Doos, took the reins as Canada's lead battle group in the warzone, casting a dark pall over the transition.

WIRETAP EVIDENCE: Threats over outstanding debts, ominous hints about a "very important"
meeting, and a serenaded warning about the time being "now or never"
were intercepted by police in the days and hours before eight bodies were found at an Ontario farm in 2006. The tapes were heard as evidence in the trial of six men accused of murdering eight people connected to the Bandidos motorcycle club.


START PRINTING: A paper released by the C.D. Howe Institute claimed the Canadian economy would be placed in dire straits unless the Bank of Canada aggressively moved to shore up the country's fiscal fortunes, arguing that it was time for the central bank to fire up the printing presses.

Another group agitating for economic action were real estate experts, many of whom claimed that low interest rates and dipping real estate prices were providing great opportunities for first-time home buyers.

THE GLASS IS HALF SOMETHING: U.S. President Barack Obama, who has recently been basking in the glow of a largely successful international trip, a widely lauded rescue of an American captain, and -- of course -- a new puppy, was again confronting his country's economic woes. Walking a fine line between sunny optimism and naivete, Obama boasted of significant progress while warning "by now means are we out of the woods."

LIPSTICK ON A PICK: Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has endured a rough couple of weeks in the light of an unflattering media tour by Levi Johnston, the father of her grandchild. However, her bad press left the largely frivolous family sphere to dip its toe in the political arena by tapping a lawyer known for anti-gay statements to be her state's next attorney general. Wayne Ross showed litle sign of backing off such statements when quizzed about his views, deploying a lima bean metaphor to explain why he would fairly represent homosexuals in his new role.

FILING A COMPLAINT: The Alberta government's decision to cut funding for sexual reassignment surgeries has touched off a controversy in the province, and activists have vowed to file a human rights complaint to get the funding restored. The provincial Tories claimed the move would save the government coffers $700,000, money the opposition argued would be spent fighting a human rights complaint.

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