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Metro Snapshot: February 9, 2009

<strong>For all that you need to know today, read the Metro Snapshot.</strong>

THE OLD IS NEW AGAIN: Alison Krauss and former Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant were the big winners at the Grammys, taking home a leading five trophies -- including album of the year -- for their project, Raising Sand. Other big winners were Coldplay and Lil Wayne, who led with eight nominations. There was some drama accompanying the awards show when a planned duet between Rhianna and longtime boyfriend, Chris Brown, was cancelled after word spread that Brown was wanted by Los Angeles police for assault.

GOOD BANK, BAD BANK: After a tough few months -- and in spite of January's dismal job loss numbers -- Canadian investors were optimistic about this week's trading in anticipation of a big rescue effort for the American financial sector. Among the announcements that investors were hopeful for was the creation of a so-called "bad bank," that would buy up toxic assets from other lenders.

BUDGET BLUES: The Liberal government of British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell, who once staked his political career on being a deficit slayer, will return to the provincial legislature early in order to amend their balanced-budget law. As recently as November, the government was forecasting a $450-million surplus, but Campbell later admitted that B.C. would be forced into running deficits for at least two years.

Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach was also struggling with the dragging fortunes of his province's once red hot economy. After 15 years of running surpluses, the Tories have been scrambling to balance spending with plunging energy revenues, and Stelmach said the government would likely dip into the province's billions of dollars in reserve funds to invest in infrastructure and save jobs.

TAX AUDIT: An internal audit conducted on the Canada Revenue Agency found that the agency had issued at least $3 million in paycheques to employees who no longer worked there. A spokesperson noted that the agency has about 43,000 workers, and that the overpayment amounted to less than one per cent of its annual salary budget.

GANG VIOLENCE RETURNS: Police and politicians in British Columbia were struggling for answers after Metro Vancouver's latest spasm of gang violence made residents fearful that the region's underworld would once again become a free-fire zone. A man with gang connections who was shot multiple times in a drive-by shooting died of his injuries at hospital -- the shooting was one of five to occur in one week.

GOOD WAR, BAD WAR: President Barack Obama campaigned on a promise to end the Iraq War, but is now poised to escalate the war in Afghanistan -- a dichotomy that isn't lost on Congressional Democrats who also ran on anti-war platforms, and is likely to be on their minds when faced with a vote that would send billions of dollars to the warzone.

If the American buildup is approved, the fresh troops arriving in the theatre will likely face a more violent and sinister threat than in the past. A fanatical wing of the Taliban with strong ties to al-Qaida has moved into the country's restive South. The highly-trained terrorist cells are under the leadership of a so-called rogue commander who has turned his sights on NATO troops.

"HELL IN ALL ITS FURY": The death toll was at least 128 after the deadliest wildfires in Australia's history swept across Victoria, rendering the landscape blackened and entire communities destroyed. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said "Hell in all its fury" had visited the nation and branded the disaster an "appalling tragedy."

 
 
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