BACK ON THE RAMP: Grim-faced soldiers from many countries again lined the tarmac at Kandahar Airfield, this time to pay tribute to Trooper Brian Good -- killed by a roadside bomb on Wednesday -- as his remains were brought aboard a military aircraft to be transported back to Canada.

IF I WERE PRIME MINISTER: Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff said that he would boost the economy by introducing tax cuts to increase the purchasing power of low-and-middle-income Canadians within the first 100 days of forming a government. Ignatieff also took steps to revive the Liberal party's own economic fortunes, tapping Rocco Rossi -- who single-handedly raised more than $1.5 million for the Heart and Stroke Foundation -- to become the cash-strapped party's national director.

GAZA SAGA: Ignatieff also spoke out about the ongoing conflict in Gaza, insisting that Canada has the duty to support the right of a democratic country to defend itself, which is in agreement with Ottawa's current position. However, it is in stark contrast to many protests held across the country, including one held by a group of prominent Canadians condemning both the Israeli offensive and Ottawa's backing of it.


Key Arab countries with ties to Hamas partnered with Western powers backing Israel to draft a resolution calling for an immediate and durable ceasefire -- even as the situation in the Gaza Strip grew more dire as another front
threatened to open up after militants based in Lebanon fired rockets
into Israel, and the United Nations suspended food deliveries after one of the organization's trucks was allegedly fired on by Israeli forces. The UN also reported that as many as 257 Palestinian children have been killed since Dec. 27.

Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter said that although animosity toward Israel "has probably increased dramatically," the conflict could go a long way toward encouraging further efforts at forging a lasting peace.

DON'T TREAD ON ME: Alleged Bountiful, B.C. leader, Winston Blackmore -- one of two people to be the first charged under a Canadian law banning multiple spouses -- claimed that he was suffering religious persecution deployed by a provincial government eager to "grandstand" before an upcoming election.

LET'S GET MOVING: In his first major speech since winning the election, president-elect Barack Obama made an urgent pitch for his mammoth spending package aimed at propping up the stumbling economy. While Obama has largely deferred to President George W. Bush on matters, he used the speech to wade deeper into economic policy and warned of dire consequence unless Congress worked with him to swiftly enact legislation. Obama also announced plans to meet with Mexican President Felipe Calderon soon after taking office, in keeping with presidential tradition.

For his part, Vice-President Dick Cheney continued his unapologetic tour of media interviews, claiming that the Bush Administration had nothing to apologize for when it came to the economy because he didn't "think anybody saw this coming." He also defended the administration's use of coercive interrogation.

MAD PANDA: A panda at the Beijing zoo attacked its third tourist in two years when a man jumped into its enclosure to retrieve a child's toy. Zookeepers had to pry Gu Gu's jaws open to free the man after the panda refused to let go. The animal first made headlines when he bit a drunken tourist who tried to hug him -- the tourist retaliated by biting the panda's back.

STAR TURN CRASH AND BURN: New Yorkers were less than impressed by Senate hopeful Caroline Kennedy's first steps into the public spotlight. A new poll showed that Kennedy's lack of media savvy and nervous speech, punctuated by frequent "you knows," convinced voters that she wasn't up to the job.

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