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DNA Links Bloody Handkerchief To French King's Execution

In France, a team of scientists says that a piece of cloth that was reputedly dipped in the blood of Louis XVI is genuine. Louis XVI was executed 220 years ago this month, during the French Revolution.

The handkerchief had been stored for years in an ornately decorated gourd, as Tia Ghose writes at Live Science.

Reporting from France, NPR's Eleanor Beardsley tells our Newscast desk that the positive identification was made by testing DNA extracted from the mummified head of an earlier French monarch:

"According to a special tradition practiced during executions of France's elite, spectators were invited to dip their handkerchiefs in the blood as a 'souvenir.'"

"On one such rag, in the hands of an Italian family for the last century, was inscribed, 'On January 21, Maximilien Bourdaloue dipped his handkerchief in the blood of Louis XVI after his decapitation.'"

The recent DNA tests prove that the hanky does indeed contain Louis XVI's blood. Perhaps more strikingly for historians, the tests also establish a firm genetic link between the ill-fated king and King Henry IV, who ruled from 1589 to 1610.

Henry IV's mummified head was removed from his tomb by revolutionaries who pillaged the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Denis in 1793, the same year his descendant died by guillotine.

"Recovered in 2008 after several centuries of peregrinations, the head had been authenticated in 2010" by a team of 20 specialists, reports France's Le Monde.

The familial link is now proven with "95 percent confidence," the scientific team reported in the journal Forensic Science International.

"The genetic material from the two men shows they are relatives through the paternal line," Eleanor reports. "The team of scientists detected a rare genetic signature shared by the two men, despite their being separated by seven generations."

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Auction Of Artifacts In Paris Stirs Protest At American Indian Museum In D.C.

"It's almost like seeing one of our own tribal members being auctioned off," says a member of California's Hoopa tribe who denounced the auction during an event at the National Museum of the American Indian.

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We Don't Know How Many Workers Are Injured At Slaughterhouses. Here's Why

Injuries in the meat industry are likely to be under-reported, a new GAO report finds. Workers may be sent back to the line without seeing a doctor, or may not report out of fear of losing their jobs.
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Power Plant Fight In Prince George's County

A predominantly African American community in rural Prince George's County recently filed a federal civil rights complaint in response to plans to build a third power plant in one town, and fifth in the region.

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Reports Peg Tech Billionaire As Funder Of Hulk Hogan's Case Against Gawker

The New York Times says entrepreneur Peter Thiel confirms he has been bankrolling the ex-wrestler's lawsuit. Gawker is appealing a jury award to Hogan of $140 million over publication of a sex tape.

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