Notes and shorts from around the world


The bones lady
Kathy Reichs has lived among bones for more than 40 years. The forensic anthropologist, and author of 18 bestselling crime novels, started studying ancient remains at the University of North Carolina, but then the local police started bringing her more recent bones to inspect. “If they had a case that stumped them, it was, 'Let's take it to the bones lady,'” she said in an interview. “Bones 'speak' to me. They tell me how old a person was, if they were right handed or left handed, if they had had babies.” Reichs has worked on countless murder cases, testified for the UN on the Rwandan genocides, and even helped the Catholic Church identify a saint. Jeanne Le Ber was a Canadian recluse who died in 1714. “Before they could canonise her, they wanted to make sure the remains in the grave were truly hers. We knew she spent a lot of time praying, and worked as a seamstress. I analysed the remains and found arthritis in the knees, as you would expect from someone who prayed a lot, and notches in her teeth from repeatedly passing thread through her mouth.”
An ungentlemanly deal
Auctioneer Simon de Pury has built a reputation in the art world as the must have art dealer for Hollywood stars, but a case in Britain's High Court could end the “gentleman's agreement” system commonly used in art deals. De Pury is suing the renowned art collector Rudolf Staechelin for $10 million, the commission de Pury claims he has been denied for negotiating the sale of Gauguin's Nafea faa Ipoipo, a work in Staechelin's collection, to the Emir of Qatar. The sale was completed in 2014 for $210 million, then reportedly the second highest price ever paid for an artwork. Staechelin insists that de Pury had assured him the Emir would pay $230 million for it, and that therefore all commission was forfeit, but de Pury's lawyer says there was an oral agreement to pay commission and that, unlike most contracts, those in the art market “still operate in a gentlemanly manner, based on mutual trust.” The case continues.
Slow justice for biscuit snaffler
A London policeman has been off the beat for a year while being investigated for allegedly stealing a colleague's biscuits. The PC is said to have found the open packet on a desk at the end of a night shift, and to have handed out the snacks to his fellow officers. Accused of theft, he was put on restricted duties last June. Scotland Yard confirmed that the issue had been “escalated to the Directorate of Professional Standards,” and stated that a year on, it had “nearly concluded” its investigation.
Bons mots
“Decisions are made by those who show up.” – Aaron Sorkin, playwright, director and screenwriter, USA

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