Mummified Head is Skull of Henri IV, Say Historians
telegraph - A gash above the lip, a beauty spot and a pierced ear were among key features that helped identify the well-preserved head as that of the "Gallant Green" king, stabbed to death by a Catholic fundamentalist in 1610.
Jean-Pierre Babelon, France's leading Henri IV scholar told The Daily Telegraph he and the other experts were "99 per cent sure" of their findings.
He will be alongside the 19-man team of international experts when it details its historic discovery in Paris' Grand Palais after two years of painstaking research.
The experts, led by the renowned pathologist Philippe Charlier, used a "whole range of methods" to cross check their discovery.
These included matching the head's precise measurements with that of Henri IV's death masks, dating the skull and conducting "deep research" into the embalming techniques used at the time.
Mr Babelon said that while the king's face still sported "a few hairs from his beard", they were too damaged to provide conclusive DNA proof linking him to his descendants.
The "killer evidence", he said, came from still-visible telltale facial details, notably a knife gash above the upper lip inflicted in a well-documented assassination attempt on the king – who converted to Catholicism to end the war of religions, declaring "Paris is worth a Mass".
How the head ended up in expert hands remains a partial mystery.
After his death on May 14, 1610, Henri IV was buried alongside France's other kings in the Basilica of Saint Denis, outside Paris. French revolutionaries dug up his body in 1793, along with his fellow monarchs but a mystery admirer of "good king Henri" managed to make off with his head.
Historians lost sight of it in the 1800s, but it resurfaced in 1919, when Joseph-Emile Bourdais, an antiques dealer bought it for three francs at Drouot's auction house.
Mr Bourdais, also a photographer, kept the head in a glass case in his gallery in Montmartre, charging visitors a small fee to peek at it.
"He was convinced it belonged to Henri IV and became a man possessed, gathering a huge number of photos and engravings to prove the likeness," said Mr Babelon. When the Louvre museum declined to accept the head as a gift, it was sold to a private collector who kept it for the past 60 years.
Mr Babelon tracked down the elderly owner, who wishes to remain anonymous.
The research was led by Mr Charlier, already famous in France for proving that remains said to belong to Joan of Arc in the chateau de Chinon were fakes, and that Agnès Sorel, Charles VII's favourite mistress, died of mercury poisoning.
Worker Killed By Falling Refrigerator
jsonline - A 33-year-old man who was part of a crew renovating an apartment on Milwaukee's west side was killed Tuesday when he was struck by a refrigerator his co-workers threw from the building, a Milwaukee police spokeswoman said.
Initial reports indicated the refrigerator fell from a fourth-floor porch to the ground, where the man was struck.
The incident occurred about 9:40 a.m. at 805-11 N. 22nd St., police spokeswoman Anne E. Schwartz said. The workers who threw the refrigerator said they yelled down to the ground but didn't hear a response, so they thought the area was clear, she said.
The victim apparently stepped into the path of the refrigerator as it fell, Schwartz said. No one is in custody.
"It appears right now just to be a tragic accident," Schwartz said.
Milwaukee police completed their investigation of the incident, which is under investigation by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Schwartz said.
The victim died at the scene. His name has not been released. He worked for Wiegand Enterprises, which manages the building, according to an e-mail from the company's president, Rick Wiegand.
The victim "has been a dedicated and valued member of the Wiegand Enterprises team for many years," Wiegand said in his e-mail. "As a family man with a warm heart and zest for life, we are all heartbroken with his loss."
The refrigerator fell into a narrow gangway between the four-story brick building and a chain-link fence. Police tape blocked off the gangway Tuesday afternoon. A white, full-size refrigerator with a bent door was standing upright in the gangway.
Rare Photo of Flying Squid
metro - The Flying Squid are an incredible sight rarely caught on camera but these shots show one of the most bizarre sights in the natural world.
They swim in shoals and leap from the surface of the water and are often mistaken for the more common flying fish.
The squid actually fly looking backwards, with their tentacles dangling behind them and fins acting like wings, keeping them balanced in the air.
The 60-year-old retired deputy head teacher from Boreham, Essex, took the shots in the waters south of Japan.
Graham said: ‘These squid are often mistaken for flying fish and at first that's what I thought these were.
‘There was a group of about 20 flying squid and they sensed danger from the bow wave of the boat and their defence mechanism is to leap out of the water.’
Naked Ghost Hunter in Mississippi Cemetery
picayuneitem - A man photographed naked in a Mississippi cemetery says he didn’t mean anything crazy by it, he was trying to capture pictures of spirits, or do orb photography. The man, 47 year-old Robert T. Hurst, of 208 Mitchell St., said he was in the cemetery conducting his year-long hobby, orb photography, which is capturing circles of light at night, some of which appear to be faces. As for why he was naked the night he was caught by a game camera set up by cemetery staff, he said skin can be the best canvas for such photography.
Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Shane Tucker said the department received a great deal of community response to its request for aid in identifying a man who was photographed naked and setting up his own camera on a tripod by a game camera in the cemetery. The community information provided Investigators Christa Groom and Shane Edgar with several leads, but none of those tips led to the man for whom they were looking. Instead, it was information from a Picayune Police officer that put the investigators at the suspect’s front door, Tucker said. The officer told the investigators that he remembered pulling a man over on a routine traffic stop recently that resembled the man in the picture.
Using that information, the investigators identified Hurst and made several attempts to contact him, but the efforts to make contact were unsuccessful, Tucker said. “It was obvious he was avoiding us.” Tucker said. On Friday, Capt. Kelvin Stanford finally made contact with Hurst who turned himself in and was booked for indecent exposure, Tucker said. “This is one of the craziest things that I’ve ever seen,” Stanford said, who has 15 years of law enforcement experience. On Friday, after Hurst was taken into custody, he sat down with a reporter to share his side of the story.
He said for the past year he’s been taking photographs of orbs, which is done at night. Orb photography can capture images of circles of light, that at times look like faces, especially on the skin, Hurst said. “I’ve got some great pictures, it’s really fascinating,” Hurst said. Initially he intended to only take off his shirt, but then took off the rest of his clothes, which he said was stupid. “I didn’t mean to expose myself to anybody and it was stupid,” Hurst said. “You never know who’s watching,” Stanford said.
Kosovo PM is Head of Human Organ Ring
guardian - Kosovo's prime minister is the head of a "mafia-like" Albanian group responsible for smuggling weapons, drugs and human organs through eastern Europe, according to a Council of Europe inquiry report on organised crime.
Hashim Thaçi is identified as the boss of a network that began operating criminal rackets in the runup to the 1998-99 Kosovo war, and has held powerful sway over the country's government since.
The report of the two-year inquiry, which cites FBI and other intelligence sources, has been obtained by the Guardian. It names Thaçi as having over the last decade exerted "violent control" over the heroin trade. Figures from Thaçi's inner circle are also accused of taking captives across the border into Albania after the war, where a number of Serbs are said to have been murdered for their kidneys, which were sold on the black market.
Legal proceedings began in a Pristina district court today into a case of alleged organ trafficking discovered by police in 2008. That case – in which organs are said to have been taken from impoverished victims at a clinic known as Medicus – is said by the report to be linked to Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) organ harvesting in 2000. It comes at a crucial period for Kosovo, which on Sunday held its first elections since declaring independence from Serbia in 2008. Thaçi claimed victory in the election and has been seeking to form a coalition with opposition parties.
Dick Marty, the human rights investigator behind the inquiry, will present his report to European diplomats from all 47 member states at a meeting in Paris on Thursday. His report suggests Thaçi's links with organised crime date back more than a decade, when those loyal to his Drenica group came to dominate the KLA, and seized control of "most of the illicit criminal enterprises" in which Kosovans were involved south of the border, in Albania.
During the Kosovo conflict Slobodan Miloševic's troops responded to attacks by the KLA by orchestrating a horrific campaign against ethnic Albanians in the territory. As many as 10,000 are estimated to have died at the hands of Serbian troops.
While deploring Serb atrocities, Marty said the international community chose to ignore suspected war crimes by the KLA, "placing a premium instead on achieving some degree of short-term stability". He concludes that during the Kosovo war and for almost a year after, Thaçi and four other members of the Drenica group named in the report carried out "assassinations, detentions, beatings and interrogations". This same hardline KLA faction has held considerable power in Kosovo's government over the last decade, with the support of western powers keen to ensure stability in the fledgling state.
The report paints a picture in which ex-KLA commanders have played a crucial role in the region's criminal activity. It says: "In confidential reports spanning more than a decade, agencies dedicated to combating drug smuggling in at least five countries have named Hashim Thaçi and other members of his Drenica group as having exerted violent control over the trade in heroin and other narcotics."
Marty says: "Thaçi and these other Drenica group members are consistently named as 'key players' in intelligence reports on Kosovo's mafia-like structures of organised crime. I have examined these diverse, voluminous reports with consternation and a sense of moral outrage."
His inquiry was commissioned after the former chief prosecutor for war crimes at the Hague, Carla Del Ponte, said she had been prevented from investigating senior KLA officials. Her most shocking claim, which she said required further investigation, was that the KLA smuggled captive Serbs across the border into Albania, where their organs were harvested.
The report, which states that it is not a criminal investigation and unable to pronounce judgments of guilt or innocence, gives some credence to Del Ponte's claims.
It finds the KLA did hold mostly Serb captives in a secret network of six detention facilities in northern Albania, and that Thaçi's Drenica group "bear the greatest responsibility" for prisons and the fate of those held in them.
They include a "handful" of prisoners said to have been transferred to a makeshift prison just north of Tirana, where they were killed for their kidneys.
The report states: "As and when the transplant surgeons were confirmed to be in position and ready to operate, the captives were brought out of the 'safe house' individually, summarily executed by a KLA gunman, and their corpses transported swiftly to the operating clinic.''
The same Kosovan and foreign individuals involved in the macabre killings are linked to the Medicus case, the report finds.
Marty is critical of the western powers which have provided a supervisory role in Kosovo's emergence as a state, for failing to hold senior figures, including Thaçi, to account. His report criticises "faltering political will on the part of the international community to effectively prosecute the former leaders of the KLA".
It concludes: "The signs of collusion between the criminal class and the highest political and institutional office holders are too numerous and too serious to be ignored.
"It is a fundamental right of Kosovo's citizens to know the truth, the whole truth, and also an indispensable condition for reconciliation between the communities and the country's prosperous future."
If as expected the report is formally adopted by the committee this week, the findings will go before the parliamentary assembly next year.
The Kosovo government tonight dismissed the allegations, claiming they were the produce of "despicable and bizarre actions by people with no moral credibility".
"Today, the Guardian published an article that referred to a report from a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Dick Marty, which follows up on past reports published over the last 12 years aiming at maligning the war record of the Kosovo Liberation Army and its leaders," it said in a statement.
"The allegations have been investigated several times by local and international judiciary, and in each case, it was concluded that such statements have were not based on facts and were construed to damage the image of Kosovo and the war of the Kosovo Liberation Army.
"It is clear that someone wants to place obstacles in the way of prime minister, Hashim Thaçi, after the general election, in which the people of Kosovo placed their clear and significant trust in him to deliver the development programme and governance of our country.
"Such despicable and bizarre actions by people with no moral credibility, serve the ends of only those specific circles that do not wish well to Kosovo and its people."
• This article was amended on 15 December 2010. The original dated the Kosovo conflict to 1999 alone. This has been clarified.