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“near miss”, “cause”

Today we will look at two different terms: “near miss” and “cause”. We will use a short video to understand their meanings.

In the video you will see Muntazer al-Zaidi, an Iraqi journalist, throwing both his shoes at the US president, George Bush Jnr. The journalist throws his shoes quite accurately, but the shoes don’t hit Mr Bush. They “miss” him, but only just. In fact, they nearly hit his head. So we can describe the incident as a “near miss”. When two aircraft nearly hit each other, that is also a near miss.

Now let us turn to Mr Bush’s reaction afterwards (you can read the full transcript below). Mr Bush says that he doesn’t know “what the guy’s cause is”. In this context, the word “cause” means “a principle or movement that you believe in deeply and are prepared to defend or promote”. For example: Mother Teresa of Calcutta devoted her life to the cause of poor and sick people. Muntazer al-Zaidi’s cause is the widows and orphans and everyone killed in Iraq as a result of the US-led invasion of Iraq.

Al-Zaidi (translated): This is a goodbye kiss from the Iraqi people, dog. This is for the widows and orphans and all those killed in Iraq.

Bush: So what if the guy threw a shoe at me? … Er, it is one way to gain attention. Er, it’s like going to a political rally and having people yell at you. It’s like driving down the street and have [having] people not gesturing with all five fingers. It’s a way for people to draw, you know, attention…I dunno what the guy’s cause is, but one thing is for certain, he caused you to ask me a question about him.

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