AND THEN IT WAS OVER...: The great Barack Obama roadshow swept across Ottawa, and the popular president made quite the splash as his 50-vehicle motorcade took over downtown, delighting thousands of swooning admirers, especially American ex-pats. An impromptu visit to Byward Market provided another highlight for starstruck Ottawans, most notably an employee at Hooker's Beavertails who was asked by a Secret Service agent to hand-deliver an "Obamatail" to the president. Then, hours after it all began, Obama was whisked back to Washingon, his proclamation of "I love this country" still hanging heavily in the air.

 

Of course, the president's trip was more than just a charm offensive for Canada, it was also a platform to advertise the new American approach to foreign policy. And then there were the meetings. Obama was met by Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean at the airport -- where the two appeared to get along famously -- before beginning the busy working day. During his time with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the two leaders discussed the flailing economy, trade and the war in Afghanistan.

 

At the end of the afternoon, Obama met with Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff for nearly 30 minutes -- a big boost from the original 15-minute slot that had many Liberals miffed. Ignatieff bluntly told the president that the NATO strategy for Afghanistan was confused and incoherent, to which Obama replied that many people in the White House feel the same way.

 

AND NOW THE UGLY STUFF: The near-constant stream of gloomy economic news continued with some rather dismal forecasts for most major economic indicators. Home construction was expected to tumble by more than 20 per cent, and employers were expected to hand out payraises reluctantly, if at all.

The grim news also spread to Alberta, where up to 15,000 jobs could be shed by the energy-rich economy as it stumbled toward a recession. However, Premier Ed Stelmach found some hope in the talks between Obama and Harper, whom the premier said were "speaking Alberta's language" when it came to developing technology to capture and control carbon emissions.

THE GREAT ESCAPE: It was a happy ending to a dramatic day in Seal Cove, Newfoundland as three of four dolphins trapped in ice since the weekend were led to freedom by the town's residents. One of the dolphins was so weakened, a boy wearing a survival suit dove into the water to attach a harness, which was used to tow the animal through a narrow path cut out of the ice. It was unknown whether a fourth dolphin previously seen with the group had died or managed to escape into open water unassisted.

KOREAN CONCERNS: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton continued her Asian trip, declaring that her country was deeply worried about a possible North Korean succession crisis should President Kim Jong Il be rendered unable to lead for any reason. She added North Korean uncertainty about Kim's health -- the dictator is widely believed to have suffered a stroke last summer -- could be behind the country's recent bellicosity.

NO APOLOGIES: Iraqi reporter Muntadhar al-Zeidi made his first public appearance since being arrested for hurling his shoes at former U.S. president George W. Bush in December. The man offered no apologies for his act, instead striking a defiant tone -- telling a judge that he wanted to restore Iraqi pride after the humiliation suffered at the hands of Bush and the Americans.

LINGUISTIC ENDANGERED SPECIES: A new atlas unveiled by linguists detailed the world's endangered languages, which they stressed were not restricted to isolated or far-flung countries. Among them are Gros Ventre, spoken by fewer than 10 people in Montana, and Menomonee, spoken by 35 people in Wisconsin.