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facts & arguments

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Which species will be safe?

"A new study from the University of Washington shows whether mammals in the western hemisphere will actually be able to move to new areas suitable for them when they are displaced by climate change," says "A safe haven could be out of reach for 9 per cent of the western hemisphere's mammals, and as much as 40 per cent in certain regions, because the animals just won't move swiftly enough to outpace climate change. … In particular, many of the hemisphere's species of primates – including tamaris, spider monkeys, marmosets and howler monkeys, some of which are already considered threatened or endangered – will be hard-pressed to outpace climate change, as are the group of species that includes shrews and moles. Winners of the climate change race are likely to come from carnivores like coyotes and wolves, the group that includes deer and caribou, and one that includes armadillos and anteaters."

Top candidate too quiet

"Huang Hong, who ranked at the top on the Qinghai bureau of China Insurance Regulatory Commission's civil service test, was eliminated because of her introverted personality, China Youth Daily reported Thursday," says "Ms. Huang, 27, had passed the national civil servant examination, the professional examination, job interview and physical examination, and ranked at the top for the professional supervision position. Ms. Huang never expected that she would receive a call informing her that she was not qualified for the job because of her introverted character."

What it feels like

"Authorities say a northern New York man had his friend shoot him in the leg with a rifle because he wanted to know what it feels like to be shot," Associated Press reports. "State police in St. Lawrence County say the shooting occurred around 5 p.m. Sunday in the rural town of Stockholm when [a 25-year-old man from]neighbouring Norfolk relented to his friend's repeated requests and shot him once in the right leg with a .22-calibre rifle." The 24-year-old who was shot is expected to make a full recovery. The other man was charged with reckless endangerment.

How old? X-rays can't tell

"Guessing someone's age can be risky at cocktail parties, but what about when their future is at stake?" asks the New Scientist. "For refugees, the difference between childhood and adulthood can be the difference between asylum, deportation or jail. … When documents are in question – or do not exist – immigration departments look to science. Unfortunately, attempts to assess age with X-ray scans of teeth or wrists are doomed to failure … The fundamental flaw with such tests is that, because children grow at widely different rates, skeletal maturity shown on X-rays – which is used to gauge age – doesn't necessarily match chronological age. Teenagers can have adult bone structure as early as 15 or later than 20, says study author Tim Cole at University College London. He says X-rays can provide the wrong answer about whether someone is under or over 18 up to a third of the time."

Students up a tree

"A game in which people climb trees to drink alcohol is causing trouble in Dunedin [New Zealand]" reports The Waikato Times. "In the game, called 'possum,' a group of people drink alcohol, usually a 24-pack of beer, while up a tree. Glass, litter and vomit have been left in the Dunedin Botanic Gardens. The first one to fall out of the tree from drunkenness loses the game. Dunedin City Council gardens and cemeteries team leader Alan Matchett said people, mostly students, played the game in the gardens in the afternoons and early evenings. … He said staff were concerned about the safety of people falling from trees, as well as potential damage caused to the trees, some of which were more than 100 years old."

Declining cities? Cool

"More than any other city in America, Cleveland is a joke, a whipping boy of Johnny Carson monologues and Hollywood's official set for films about comic mediocrity," writes Will Doig for "But here's what else is funny: According to a recent analysis, the population of downtown Cleveland is surging, doubling in the past 20 years. What's more, the majority of the growth occurred in the 22-to-34-year-old [demographic]note>demo, those coveted 'knowledge economy' workers for whom every city is competing. Pittsburgh, too, has unexpectedly reversed its out-migration of young people. The number of 18-to-24-year-olds was declining there until 2000, but has since climbed by 16 per cent. St. Louis attracted more young people than it lost in each of the past three years. And as a mountain of 'Viva Detroit!' news stories have made clear, Motor City is now the official cool-kids destination, adding thousands of young artists, entrepreneurs and urban farmers even as its general population evaporates."

Thought du jour

"The virtues of society are vices of the saint." – Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-82), American essayist and lecturer

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