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Published Jul. 6, 2010

A portrait by Leonardo da Vinci may have been identified thanks to a centuries-old fingerprint and palm print.

Peter Paul Biro, a Montreal-based forensic art expert, said that the fingerprint on what was presumed to be a 19th century German drawing of a young woman matches a fingerprint found on Leonardo's St. Jerome in the Vatican.

Art collector Peter Silverman bought Profile of the Bella Principessa at the Ganz gallery in New York on behalf of an anonymous Swiss collector in 2007 for about $19,000. New York art dealer Kate Ganz had owned it for about 11 years after buying it at auction for a similar price.

One art dealer says it could be worth more than $150 million.

If experts are correct, it will be the first major work by Leonardo to be identified in 100 years.

Technical, stylistic and material composition evidence had experts believing they had found a Leonardo as early as last year. The discovery of the fingerprint now has them convinced. Silverman said a palm print in the neck of the portrait's subject, believed to be the daughter of a 15th century Milanese duke, adds to the evidence. Carbon dating suggests the work dates from when Leonardo would have been drawing.

Ganz doubts it.

"Nothing that I have seen or read in the past two years has changed my mind. I do not believe that this drawing is by Leonardo da Vinci," Ganz said.

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War hero may get a medal and be a saint

The Rev. Emil Kapaun, already under consideration for sainthood, has won the endorsement of the Army's top civilian leader to receive the Medal of Honor.

The Kansas priest was a captain and chaplain in the Army in the Korean War and was taken prisoner in 1950 when the Chinese captured his unit. He continued to serve, risking his life to provide other prisoners with food and water.

Kapaun, a Roman Catholic, died in a prison camp seven months later.

In one of his final acts as Army secretary, Pete Geren wrote Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Kan., saying he agreed that Kapaun was worthy of the honor.

"He saw it as a role of serving his men," said the Rev. John Hotze of Wichita. "It's like Christ coming to the world to serve instead of being served. That's what Father Kapaun was all about."

The Vatican is investigating Kapaun for sainthood and has sent an investigator to Kansas to visit with the family of Chase Kear, who was injured when he fell on his head in 2008. His family prayed for Kapaun to intercede on Kear's behalf.

Kear, now 20, is attending community college and driving again.

Kear's mother, Paula, said members of her parish have long prayed to Kapaun for those needing healing.

"I think it's about time and well deserved," she said. "We just prayed constantly."

Seven chaplains have received the Medal of Honor.

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Mussolini was on Brit payroll

A historian says Benito Mussolini was a well-paid British agent during World War I. The Guardian reported Wednesday that Peter Martland of Cambridge University discovered that Mussolini was paid $160 a week by Britain in 1917 - equal to about $9,600 today. At the time, the future Italian dictator was editor of the Il Popolo d'Italia newspaper, which campaigned to keep Italy on the allied side in the war.

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Russia wants to set history straight

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has created a commission to fight what he says are efforts to falsify Russian history - part of a campaign to promote the Kremlin's account and to curtail, and possibly punish, those who question it. Russian leaders tend to cast the Soviet Union as a force for good that defeated Nazi Germany and liberated Eastern Europe. Critics say such arguments gloss over the decades of postwar Soviet dominance seen by many in the region as a hostile occupation. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's party is drafting legislation to make it a crime to belittle the Soviet contribution to World War II.

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When dancers attack

Chetania Davis, 22, has been sentenced to a year of probation for attacking a fellow exotic dancer in the face with a stiletto heel at an Akron, Ohio, club. Prosecutors say Davis used the heel to stab her 52-year-old co-worker several times April 17 in the club dressing room, causing wounds that required seven staples. It was the older woman's first day on the job. Police had said she was attacked because Davis didn't think the club needed more dancers.