Notes and shorts from around the world


Over for “ova”
After years of fierce debate in the Czech Republic, its parliament has passed a bill scrapping the legal requirement for women’s surnames to end in the feminine suffix “ova.” The Czech language, in common with some other Slavic languages, forms a woman’s surname by adding a suffix to the name of her father or husband. The Czechs turned this linguistic convention into law in 1945, although today there are several exceptions, for example for women who are foreign nationals or who are married to foreigners. Even so, many Czech publications do add the suffix to the names of foreign women, and forms such as “Angela Merkelova” are often seen in print. Campaigners have long argued that the “ova” suffix is demeaning, since it is literally the possessive form of the male’s surname. Opponents of the change say that “ova” simply connotes femininity.
Aspirin linked to cancer survival
Taking aspirin alongside conventional treatments may reduce the risk of cancer patients dying by 20%, a new analysis has found. The researchers, at Cardiff University, Wales, also found that the painkiller appeared to reduce the risk of the cancer spreading within the body. Their review covered 118 earlier studies, involving patients with 18 different cancers. The 250,000 patients who had reported taking aspirin (as a supplement to other treatments) had a 20% reduced mortality rate. “There is now a considerable body of evidence to suggest a significant reduction in mortality in patients who take aspirin,” said lead author Professor Peter Elwood.
Fell to Earth and survived
A British paratrooper fell 4,500 metres out of the sky when his parachute failed to fully deploy during a jump in California – and survived with only minor injuries, after crashing through the roof of a house in Atascadero. The unnamed soldier landed in the kitchen, where he was found by neighbours. The homeowner’s mother, Linda Sallady, said: “There’s not that much damage in the house. It’s amazing. He missed the counters, appliances, everything.”
Visiting Buck House
Buckingham Palace’s gardens will now be open to the general public. Ticket holders will be able to roam around much of the palace’s 39 acre grounds, and examine the queen’s 156 metre herbaceous borders.
Bons mots
“When I first went into the movies, Lionel Barrymore played my grandfather. Later he played my father and finally my husband. If he had lived, I’m sure I would have played his mother. That’s the way it is in Hollywood. The men get younger and the women get older.” – Lillian Gish, actress on stage and screen, 1893-1993, USA

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