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5 things you absolutely must know today (weekend edition)

Every morning, we scour the Internet and vet what we believe are the five things you absolutely need to know for the day. Join this mailing list to receive 5 things you absolutely must know today every morning, Monday to Friday.


Arrests, fights, insanity, as low prices get the better of the human race

Black Friday: It’s news that writes itself, and reporting at its laziest. Here goes: There have been fights, arrests, and a lot of spending. It’s gross. And our ostensibly pious, voyeuristic stance on the holiday shopping event is no better, save for its indoor nature. The CBC, in conversation with the NBC, friends, I guess, reported the widely known platitude that people like to spend money on Black Friday, the celebration of low prices that follows Thanksgiving in the U.S. CBC/NBC also reported that the National Retail Federation estimates holiday spending to increase 4.1 per cent to $616.9 billion. News reports will tell you today that the Black Friday craze has spread to the U.K., as well. And that Canada, too, experiences Black Friday lite. Even in Winnipeg, where a dozen or so people waited in line. There were 15,000 people waiting outside Macy’s in New York City this morning. Below are a couple YouTube videos of the chaos. [Source: CBC, Daily Dot]

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Russian warships float through English Channel

A convoy of Russian warships was spotted passing through the English Channel. And NATO has rejected Russia’s claims the ships were there for training purposes, calling the movement “routine.” The ships were forced to leave U.K. waters by the Royal Navy. Though believed to not pose a security threat, the U.K. is wary of Russia’s increase in flight and now marine formation in its borders, calling them  “provocative.” The worrisome increase comes as tensions between Russia and Ukraine continue to escalate. The Russian warships are currently stationed off the Normandy coast. [Source: BBC]

China bans puns and wordplay

China’s media watchdog is banning puns and misuse of the Chinese language, citing the risk of “cultural and linguistic chaos.” The State Administration for Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television gave the order, stating that wordplay breaks language laws, makes promoting heritage difficult, and can be misleading, especially to the youth. “Radio and television authorities at all levels must tighten up their regulations and crack down on the irregular and inaccurate use of the Chinese language, especially the misuse of idioms,” it said. “Idioms are one of the great features of the Chinese language and contain profound cultural heritage and historical resources and great aesthetic, ideological and moral values.” All programs and advertisements should comply with in-place language laws and keep from changing the characters and meanings, it added. Some suspect the crackdown comes as part of an attempt to quash creative language used to criticize government outside the gaze of state censors. [Source: The Guardian]

Levant to pay $80,000 in libel case

Ezra Levant, merchant of cheap, ultra right-wing headlines, has been ordered to pay Khurrum Awan $80,000 for defaming him as a liar, bigot, Jew-hating “illiberal Islamic fascist,” fixed on killing free speech in Canada, according to a ruling Thursday by Judge Wendy Matheson of the Ontario Superior Court. Awan, now a lawyer, protested in 2007 the disparaging portrayal of Muslims in Maclean’s magazine. The case against Levant was part of the messy, hate speech law/culture war that led to three formal and failed human rights complaints and a revision of the Canadian Human Rights Act. “I find that [Mr. Levant’s] dominant motive in these blog posts was ill will, and that his repeated failure to take even basic steps to check his facts showed a reckless disregard for the truth,” ruled judge Matheson. Levant has also been ordered to remove the offending blog posts, which have been online for years. [Source: National Post]

People of Earth send messages, names, photos to Mars

To honour the 50-year anniversary of the first robotic probe to visit Mars, radios across the globe will beam 90,000 messages to the planet. Uwingu, a U.S.-based space funding company put the “Beam Me To Mars” campaign together. Interested participants were apparently invited to send their names, a message, and a picture to Mars for anywhere from $5 – $99.00. The money raised will go to NASA. George Takai and Seth Green have sent in messages for transmission, which will take place Friday afternoon. Each message will be sent twice, to ensure that no one on the other end receives it. It’ll take about 15 minutes for the broadcasts to reach Mars.[Source: Reuters]

Honourable mention: Australian news crews team up to make Anchorman-style network battle video.

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Honourable mention: Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer released

The first Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer, 88 seconds long, has been released to iTunes and select cinemas across the U.S. It’s awesome! And it’s giving this writer shivers. The Force Awakens is the seventh entry into the Star Wars franchise, and it’s slated for theatres December 18, 2015.

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Follow Toban Dyck at @tobandyck.

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