… wouldn’t be a great loss

Found on An Eclectic Mind and had to share:

George Bush and Dick Cheney, while visiting a primary school class, found themselves in the middle of a discussion related to words and their meanings.

The teacher asked both men if they would like to lead the discussion of the word ‘tragedy.’ So Mr. Cheney asks the class for an example of a ‘tragedy.’

One little boy stood up and offered: ‘If my best friend, who lives on a farm, is playing in the field and a runaway tractor comes along and knocks him dead, that would be a tragedy.’

‘No,’ said Mr. Cheney, ‘that would be an accident.’

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Fear for humpbacks as Japan whaling fleet sets sail

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A humpback whale breaches in Jervis Bay, NSW. Photo: Ken Robertson

A Japanese whaling fleet left today for an expedition activists say will for the first time target humpbacks, a perennial favourite among whale-watchers.

The Nisshin Maru, the 8000-tonne flagship of Japan’s whaling fleet, left Shimonoseki port for the Antarctic along with catcher boats around midday, environmental group Greenpeace said, adding that others in the fleet were expected to follow soon.

Japan, which says whaling is a cherished cultural tradition, abandoned commercial whaling in accordance with an international moratorium in 1986, but began the next year to conduct what it calls scientific research whaling.

Greenpeace said its Esperanza campaign ship was in waters off Japan, waiting to intersect the fleet in the coming days to demand that the expedition return home.”

APEC’s $250m security cracked by comics

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The team from hit ABC television show The Chaser’s War on Everything have been charged after driving a convoy through APEC’s $250 million security blockade.

The comics left authorities red-faced yesterday after the security breach only metres from the Sydney hotel where US President George W. Bush is staying.

Eleven people were charged, including stars Chas Licciardello, who sat in the back of one of the cars dressed as Osama bin Laden, and Julian Morrow, who posed as a security guard running alongside.

The 10 men and one woman were last night charged under new APEC laws on entering a restricted area without justification.

Police are furious about the prank.

‘I don’t see a funny side to what’s happened today. I don’t see a funny side at all,’ NSW Police Minister David Campbell said.

Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd said the Chaser team had ‘crossed the line’.

Police apparently waved the comedy team through a roadblock into Sydney’s restricted APEC zone.”

Dams ‘contributing to global warming’

The world’s dams are contributing millions of tonnes of harmful greenhouse gases and spurring on global warming, according to a US environmental agency.

International Rivers Network executive director Patrick McCully told Brisbane’s Riversymposium rotting vegetation and fish found in dams produced surprising amounts of methane – 25 times stronger than carbon dioxide.

‘Often it’s accepted that hydropower is a climate friendly technology but in fact probably all reservoirs around the world emit greenhouse gases and some of them, especially some of the ones in the tropics, emit very high quantities of greenhouse gases even comparable to, in some cases even much worse than, fossil fuels like coal and gas,’ Mr McCully said.

He said when water flow was stopped, vegetation and soil in the flooded area and from upstream was left to rot, as well as fish and other animals which died in the dam.

They then released carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide into the air.”

Dolphin trains trainer

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At the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Mississippi, Kelly the dolphin has quite a reputation.

All the institute’s dolphins are trained to hold onto any litter that falls into their pools until they see a trainer, when they can trade the litter for fish.

Kelly took this task one step further. When people drop paper into the water she hides it under a rock at the bottom of the pool.

The next time a trainer passes, she tears off a piece of paper to give to the trainer.

After a fish-reward, she goes back down, tears off another piece of paper, gets another fish, and so on.

This behaviour is particularly interesting because it suggests that Kelly has a sense of the future and delays gratification.

She has, in effect, trained the humans.

Japanese killed pregnant whales

More than half the whales killed by Japanese whalers in the Antarctic last summer were pregnant females, the Humane Society International said today.

The group said that of the 505 Antarctic minke whales killed, 262 of them were pregnant females, while one of the three giant fin whales killed was also pregnant.

The findings came from a review of Japanese reports from their most recent 2006-07 whale hunt in Antarctic waters and were released ahead of the resumption of a Federal Court case the HSI is taking against Japanese whaling company Kyodo Senpaku Kaisha Ltd.

“These are gruesome statistics that the Japanese government dresses up as science”, HSI spokeswoman Nicola Beynon said in a statement.