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Metro Snapshot: March 30, 2009

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FREQUENT FLIER: Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in the United States for another round of media interviews, kicking off a busy week that will see him travel to four different countries and attend two international summits. Afghanistan was a major issue, and in an interview with CTV's question period, Harper stuck by his well-publicized commitment to pulling the last Canadian combat regiment out of the country by 2011. He also took steps to smooth out any perceived differences between his policies and those of U.S. President Barack Obama.

FAMILIAR SCENES: Among the prime minister's travels will be an appearance at the upcoming G-20 summit in London, which has drawn the now-expected ire of protesters. Thousands of demonstrators marched through the streets of European cities to demand jobs, economic justice and celebrate what some considered to be the death of capitalism.

PARTY PRESSURE: Even with no federal election in sight, controversial Calgary MP Rob Anders found himself in a nasty political battle with forces from his own party. Gunning to replace him was corporate lawyer Donna Kennedy-Glans, who succeeded in getting her supporters to vote in a new board of directors for Anders' riding. The outspoken Conservative -- who in 2001 was the only MP to vote against making Nelson Mandela an honourary Canadian citizen -- dismissed the move, pitching it as a battle between "true blue Conservatives" and "closet Liberals."

TARNISHED DIAMOND: This week marks the 60th anniversary of Confederation in Newfoundland and Labrador, and for some it will likely slip by largely ignored. To some, discontent about the razor-thin vote continues to linger on the back of many grievances such as the collapse of the federally-managed cod fishery and dwindling national support for the seal hunt.

...TWO STEPS BACK: Authorities in a West Bank refugee camp disbanded a youth orchestra, boarded up its rehearsal space and cast out its conductor after she took 13 musicians to play for Israeli Holocaust survivors. A community leader said parents were outraged that their children were "exploited" for a political issue.

STAYING FIRM: President Obama dismissed the idea of accelerating the U.S. pullout from Iraq, even though security has improved and violence has decreased. While Obama didn't dispute the military progress, he said there was plenty to do on the political side to ensure a lasting peace.

A two-day uprising in Baghdad was tamped down by U.S.-backed Iraqi troops, who swept through a city slum disarming Sunnis involved with a government-affiliated paramilitary group. At least four people were killed during two days of fighting between government troops and the Awakening Council, who were protesting the arrest of their leader.

AWKWARD...: Britain's Home Secretary publicly apologized for charging five pay-per-view movies to her parliamentary expense account, including two X-rated flicks screened by her husband. Jacqui Smith, who was already under investigation for thousands of dollars in expenses she has claimed on her home, said she erred when trying to claim her Internet connection.

 
 
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