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It’s a weird world

SCARED: Bad news for Coco and Blinko — children don’t like clowns and even older kids are scared of them.

The news that will no doubt have clowns shedding tears was revealed in a poll of youngsters by research

ers from the University of Sheffield who were examining how to improve the decor of hospital children’s wards.

The study, reported in the Nursing Standard magazine, found all the 250 patients aged between four and 16 they quizzed disliked the use of clowns, with even the older ones finding them scary.

“As adults we make assumptions about what works for children,” said Penny Curtis, a senior lecturer in research at the university.

“We found that clowns are universally disliked by children. Some found them quite frightening and unknowable.” — Reuters.

BAFFLED: Police in the Lithuanian city of Klaipeda were baffled to discover that a woman arrested for shoplifting last weekend had been registered as dead a month earlier.

The woman’s parents had mistakenly identified a body found in a forest as that of their 27-year-old daughter, Natalya Pavlova, who disappeared from home in November, police said on Wednesday.

It emerged that Pavlova was alive and well and living with her boyfriend in the same town.

“Her parents identified the corpse as their daughter. What could we do?” Petras Mikalauskis, a deputy police chief for the area, told Reuters. “It was the first such case in my experience.” — Reuters.

TESTED: Hungarian scientists are working on computer software analysing dog barks that could allow people to better recognise dogs’ basic emotions, Hungarian ethologist Csaba Molnar said.

Molnar and his colleagues at Budapest’s ELTE University have tested software which distinguishes the emotional reaction of 14 dogs of the Hungarian Mudi herding breed to six situations: when the dog is alone, when it sees a ball, it fights, it plays, it encounters a stranger or it goes for a walk.

“A possible commercial application could be a device for dog-human communication,” the scientist told Reuters. — Reuters.

DITCHED: Proposed new lyrics for Spain’s national anthem have stirred national divisions rather than pride and have been scrapped, the Spanish Olympic Committee said Wednesday.

Spain’s Royal March national anthem has been played without words since 1978, when lyrics approved by right-wing dictator Francisco Franco were ditched.

With the Beijing games approaching, Spain’s Olympic committee held a competition to find new words for the anthem rather than see its athletes hum along or chant “la, la, la” as has long been the case.

Spanish opera star Placido Domingo was to be the first to sing it.

— Reuters.

AUCTIONED: The queen’s possessions are going up for public auction — the so-called Queen of Mean, the late real estate billionaire Leona Helmsley, that is.

Christie’s auction house said on Tuesday that some 500 lots of artwork, silver, furniture and other items from the estate of the real estate investor will be sold in a series of 15 auctions starting this week and continuing through the spring.

“The Helmsleys’ impact on New York was extraordinarily broad, deep and indelible,” Christie’s said in a statement. “Titans of the real estate industry, together they created an unrivalled real estate empire.”

— Reuters.

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