"B" DAY: After days of frenzied anticipation, U.S. President Barack Obama arrives in snowy Ottawa today for a brief six-hour working visitl. However, extremely tight security and and high-level secrecy will make actual sightings of the president quite rare. As presidential motorcades are wont to do, the many dark vehicles will speed from an Ottawa military hangar, likely along the Rideau Canal. So one suggestion to sneak a peek at the Obama show would be to strap on some skates.
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff was also eager to get a better look at the president. Unhappy about the 15-minute time limit imposed on his meeting with Obama, Ignatieff complained that then-Opposition Leader Stephen Harper had an extended meeting with former president George W. Bush during his 2004 visit to the capital. There has been speculation among Liberal aides that the prime minister engineered the visit in a way that ensured the spotlight was kept squarely on the prime minister while relegating others -- including the Governor General -- to the sidelines.
ABOUT AFGHANISTAN: The president has put the war in Afghanistan at the forefront of his foreign policy agenda, and top diplomats in Ottawa will be paying careful attention to the issue during Obama's visit. The British, French and Japanese embassies have said they are
particularly interested in any indication Canada might change its
position on a military withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2011.
The outgoing Canadian commander of the mission issued a brutally frank assessment of the war during his nine months on the ground. Brig.-Gen. Denis Thompson said that Kandahar residents sense of security had "absolutely plummeted" and their confidence in the ability of NATO forces to combat a "twisted and extreme" insurgency had evaporated. The grim tone of Thompson's message was backed up by the top U.S. commander in the theatre, who said that emboldened Taliban militants had "stalemated" allied forces.
ICEBOUND: The mayor of Seal Cove, Newfoundland pleaded
for the federal government to send icebreakers to free five dolphins trapped behind drifting pack ice. Winston May told a reporter
that the community's residents could hear the animals "crying all night
long"as they swam in an oval-shaped hole.
PLENTY OF INJURIES DOWN BY THE SCHOOLYARD: According to researchers, almost one-fifth of childhood injuries -- ones that are more severe than a "bump on the head" -- occur at school, often while kids are playing or participating in informal sports. The research team went on to suggest that more adult supervision was required to limit the frequency of injuries.
HOME SWEET HOME: President Obama unveiled the next phase in the massive economic rescue effort being waged by the U.S. government, an ambitious plan to spend $75 billion to keep as many as nine million Americans from losing their homes to foreclosure.
TAKE THAT TO THE BANK: In the first major act of the country's new ruling coalition, Zimbabwe announced that would widen the use of foreign currency to combat the nation's runaway inflation. Finance Minister Tendai Biti, a longtime opposition figure, told reporters that government workers would be paid in U.S. dollars and scrapped regulation prohibiting merchants from legally doing business with foreign currency.
ABOUT THAT THING I SAID: As authorities considered pressing charges, Sandra Herold, the owner of Travis the chimpanzee, backtracked on whether or not she gave the animal the anti-anxiety drug Xanax before he viciously mauled the woman's best friend -- contradicting what she allegedly told police, as well as a reporter from the Today Show. The victim of the attack, Charla Nash, remained in critical condition and had received treatment from a wide range of specialists and plastic surgeons.