Briefing: the day’s news digested and regurgitated for you, like a momma bird does for its young

The world is a busy place.

You don’t have time to read a million different things in a million different places. What are you, some kind of loser who reads? Hell no! You need a condensed version of everything important in the world, with as few words as possible. Here’s the Briefing for May 2, 2012.

1. Blind Chinese dissident leaves U.S. embassy in Beijing

After six days of hiding out in the U.S. embassy in Beijing, Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng has left for hospital and will reunite with his family soon. The blind self-taught lawyer made a MacGyver-style escape from his home in Shangdong on April 21 after years of house arrest for being an outspoken critic of the government.

Chinese officials have made their displeasure known over the whole affair. They are rather prickly about the whole “human rights” stuff and have warned the Americans not to mess in their internal affairs, which is sort of what they always say when the world becomes aware of the government’s human rights abuses.

Guangcheng’s fate is unknown but other dissidents suggest he will likely be exiled from the country in a face-saving measure. Because you’ve got to save that face. It’s not like China has anything else to fall back on in international affairs like, say, a trillion dollars of U.S. debt.


2. Harper celebrates anniversary of winning majority government

Exactly a year ago today, Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party won a majority government in an election that also saw the NDP elevated to official opposition and the Liberals demoted to third place. The separatist Bloq Quebecois seemed, overnight, to disappear completely. It was one of those once-in-a-generation sort of elections.

A year in, however, the prime minister’s party seems to have lost more support in majority than in all their years leading a minority government. The latest polls show the Conservatives and NDP pretty much tied in national support at 34 and 33 per cent, respectively. The Conservatives lead in Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan but the NDP are first in Atlantic Canada, Quebec, and B.C.

These numbers don’t really mean all that much, however, since the next election isn’t until 2015, by which time Harper will have been prime minister for almost a decade and our conversion to a nation of monarchy-loving, Diefenbaker-revering fighter-jet pilots will be complete.

Globe and Mail

3. Hang-glider pilot ate video of fatal accident

A B.C. hang-glider pilot who had one of his passengers fall to her death over the weekend is being held by police. In a clear sign of his innocence, the pilot swallowed the memory card that contained the footage of the woman’s fall and is being charged with obstruction of justice.

CBC News

4. Conrad Black returns to Canada

Lord Black of Crossharbour, the former newspaper magnate who was sentenced to six years in an American federal prison for fraud, is set to return to his birth country and take up residence in Toronto again. Although Conrad Black gave up his Canadian citizenship in 2001, he has been granted a one-year temporary permit.

Once a complete asshole, Black is now only a part-time asshole whose time behind bars has made him a prison reform advocate. He is also keen to regain his Canadian citizenship, which he only really gave up in the first place because Jean Chretien made his life difficult and ultimately forced him to renounce his Canadian citizenship in order to become a British Lord.


5. Half dozen Liberals interested in becoming party leader

The federal Liberals, under the perpetual illusion that the next party leader will save them from extinction, are all lining up for a shot at the job. At least six different candidates are preparing for a bid, most likely including current interim leader Bob Rae (even though he kinda, sorta promised he wouldn’t pull this shit).

There are no names available yet, but with the NDP growing into the role of Official Opposition, becoming leader of the Liberal Party is not the prize it once was. At the very least it’s going to be harder to get Bono to come to the convention.


6. Republicans chase gay advisor to Mitt Romney out of the campaign

Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney is often criticized for lacking foreign policy gravitas. To combat this, he hired a smart, experienced guy named Richard Grenell. Richard Grenell happened to be gay, and because he was one step away from enticing all of America’s children into the arms of the devil, conservatives in the party started a campaign to get him dropped.

Apparently, his crime was that he was publicly supportive of gay marriage. This was a problem even though his job with the Romney campaign had no overlap with domestic issues. As one conservative writer said in the National Review, “Grenell has made a particular crusade of the marriage issue, with a kind of unhinged devotion that suggests a man with questionable judgment.”

Right, because speaking out on an issue of fundamental fairness and equality, especially one that affects you so personally, makes you “unhinged.” This is why we can’t have nice things Republicans.


7. Freedom Tower becomes tallest building in New York

One World Trade Center, also known as the Freedom Tower, also known as America’s eternal wound, is the tallest building in New York after construction reached a height of 381 metres on April 30. Suck it, Empire State Building!

Here’s a time-lapse video of the Freedom Tower being constructed.