BACK IN THE HUNT: A familiar scene unfolded in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence as seal hunters headed onto the thick ice and hunt opponents swooped in by helicopter to observe the grim work. High winds and blowing snow had earlier prevented observers from reaching the gulf but failed to stymie the hunters. One activist noted that the fact hunters continued to kill seals in the treacherous weather was proof the hunt is "inherently inhumane."


PRIME-TIME PITCH: U.S. President Barack Obama again took to the airwaves to assuage American anxiety over the staggering economy and blunt the populist furor kicked up by executive bonuses. The president assured Americans that his administration was tackling the problem "on all fronts" and that hopeful signs of an eventual turnaround had already emerged.


Earlier in the day, Obama's top economic advisers pointed to the AIG debacle as they presented an argument for extraordinary regulatory powers to Congress. Making a rare joint appearance, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke said the messy federal intervention into AIG, an insurance company, was proof that not regulating non-bank financial institutions was just one of many broad failures in the system.


THE WAR NOT AT HOME: After opening the week by tackling the economy, President Obama is set to close it by laying out his administration's plan for the war in Afghanistan. While the details remained under wraps, it is expected the plan will merge with an emerging consensus that fragile local and national governments need to be bolstered before any manner of stability is achieved.


The Afghan insurgency has already been preparing for this year's expected surge of American troops, building bigger roadside bombs to greet U.S. armoured vehicles. Another tactic, illuminated by an investigation into the possible friendly fire death of a Canadian soldier last year, has Taliban elements disguising themselve as Afghan security forces or private contractors to sow confusion among NATO forces.

ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST: Discontent over the global recession claimed another victim as the Czech government collapsed after a non-confidence vote over its handling of the crisis. The vote came as a huge embarrassment for Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, coming just days before a scheduled visit from President Obama and midway through the Czech Republic's six-month European Union presidency.

TALKING CODE: During the Second World War, some of the best brains in Britain gathered in blacked-out rooms in Bletchley Park to labour over cracking Nazi Germany's encrypted communications. Their labour would eventually alter history, frustrating Adolf Hitler's plans by provinding the British cabinet with crucial advance warning about the German military's plans. The code crackers never boasted, but when they gathered at Bletchley Park for a reunion, their fierce pride was very much intact.