News & Current Affairs

September 9, 2008

Mexico kidnap suspects detained

Mexico kidnap suspects detained

Hector Slim (left) and Alejandro Marti

Fernando Marti’s father, Alejandro (right), had reportedly paid a ransom

Mexican police say they have detained five people suspected of involvement in the kidnap and killing of a teenager whose murder sparked national protests.

Prosecutors in Mexico City said those arrested included a former policeman.

The death of Fernando Marti, 14, whose decomposing body was found in the boot of a car in August, led to calls for tougher punishment for serious crimes.

In response, Mexican President Felipe Calderon drew up an emergency program to tackle violent crime.

At least 2,700 people have been killed and 300 kidnapped so far this year, mostly in drugs-related violence.

Ransom

Mexico City prosecutor Miguel Marcera said Fernando Marti’s alleged kidnappers disguised themselves as police officers and set up a bogus checkpoint on a busy street in the capital to capture their victim.

Last month his decomposing body was found in the boot of a car, even though his father, a wealthy businessman, had reportedly paid a ransom.

Investigators believe Fernando may have been killed because the kidnappers were not satisfied with the money they received.

What is certain is that in a country with abduction and murder rates among the highest in the world, his treatment sparked off a mass protest movement by Mexicans demanding tougher punishment for serious crimes.

After more than 100,000 people held a march in Mexico City calling for an end to such brutal acts, the government was pressured to draw up an programme to tackle violent crime, including a purge of corrupt police officers, and the building of prisons for kidnappers.

Mexicans have grown weary of politicians’ promises to do something about the violence, but they hope that for the sake of children like Fernando, the government’s pledge to redouble its efforts may start to bear results.

Advertisements

August 28, 2008

Arrow fired through family’s cat

Arrow fired through family’s cat

Cat x-ray

The 18-inch arrow missed Marmite’s spine by a couple of inches

A family cat is expected to survive after its body was pierced by an 18-inch aluminium arrow.

Two-and-a-half-year-old Marmite managed to make it back to his home in the Scottish Borders village of Newcastleton after being struck.

Police are investigating the incident to try to discover if the cat was the victim of a deliberate attack.

Owner Mark Richardson said Marmite must have used up one of his nine lives after surviving the ordeal.

Police are trying to establish whether the arrow was fired from a bow and arrow or a crossbow.

If it is malicious then it is really sad and hopefully the police will catch whoever is responsible
Mark Richardson

The cat was spotted on Tuesday with the arrow through its body but attempts to catch the animal failed.

Marmite eventually turned up the following day at the home of Mark and Lesley Richardson and children Chloe and Ben.

The cat was taken to the Capon Tree veterinary surgery at Longtown where vet Emma McManus removed the arrow through a delicate procedure.

Mr Richardson said: “Marmite is recovering well at the moment but he has been very lucky.

Marmite the cat

Marmite made his way home with the arrow sticking through him

“You can say he has only got eight lives left after this.

“The arrow has gone in at the front of his right leg, grazed his spine and come out the left leg.”

He said that the cat had been very fortunate not to be more seriously hurt.

“The vet said that if it had been half an inch lower it would have hit his organs and a couple of inches higher would have shattered his spine,” he said.

“We don’t know if someone has been firing in the woods and accidentally hit the cat but they should not be doing that as they could easily hit a child.

“If it is malicious then it is really sad and hopefully the police will catch whoever is responsible.”

Newcastleton’s community police officer Brian Murray said they were keeping an open mind about the incident.

“We would ask for any witnesses or anyone with information to contact us,” he added.

August 23, 2008

Face transplant ‘double success’

Face transplant ‘double success’

The Lancet

This man had been attacked by a bear

Successful results from two more face transplants will speed progress towards similar operations in other countries, say experts.

The Lancet journal reported operations involving a bear attack victim in China, and a French patient with a massive facial tumour had taken place.

The Chinese patient was given not just the lip, nose, skin and muscle from a donor, but even some facial bone.

Specialists in London are working towards the UK’s first transplant.

Frenchwoman Isabel Dinoire became the world’s first face transplant patient in 2005 after being savaged by a pet dog. She described the results of the operation as a “miracle”.

The latest operations were just as complex, but involved different challenges for French and Chinese surgeons.

Face transplantation has moved from ethical debate to surgical reality
French transplantation team

The first operation took place in April 2006. The patient was a farmer from a remote village in Yunnan province in China, who had been attacked by a bear 18 months earlier, leaving a huge section of tissue missing from the right side of his face.

The operation, at Xijing Hospital in Xi’an City, used the face of a 25-year-old man who had died in a traffic accident.

Despite immune-suppressing treatment, the patient had to battle his body’s attempt to reject the new tissue on three occasions.

His doctors said they now believed that face transplantation was a viable long-term option.

The second operation, carried out in Paris in January 2007, involved a 29-year-old man disfigured by a neurofibroma, a massive tumour growing on his facial nerves.

Its removal was timed to coincide with a face transplant, and a year later, doctors again declared the operation a success.

The patient told them that previously he had been considered a “monster”, but now felt like an anonymous person in the crowd.

The procedure, they said, had moved “from ethical debate to surgical reality”.

Moving forward

In the UK, surgeons at the Royal Free Hospital in London are making preparations to carry out the operation if the right combination of patient and donor becomes available.

Professor Iain Hutchison, a consultant oral and maxillofacial surgeon at Barts and the London Hospital, and founder of the “Saving Faces” charity, said that the twin successes would offer more encouragement for surgical teams considering carrying out their own operations.

He said: “This takes a step forward in two ways – firstly the use of bone as well as skin – and next is carrying out this operation on someone with a benign tumour.

“There will always be limitations to this – the main one would be a societal constraint – a lack of suitable donors.

“However, there is certainly demand for this, with the major area being for people with facial burns.”

Roger Green, president of the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons, said: “This particular surgery is a way of giving back a life to a patient who has been horribly scarred by burns, trauma or a tumour.

“However, we must acknowledge the long-term medical risks, such as transplant rejection and the need for life-long medication, associated with the procedure. There is also the potential of psychological impact following such a transplant.”

August 7, 2008

Bomb kills two on Russian beach

Bomb kills two on Russian beach

Map showing Sochi

A bomb explosion has killed two people on a beach in Russia’s  Black Sea resort of Sochi, police say.

Witnesses said a woman picked up a package which then blew up, killing her and a man with her. Four injured people were rushed to hospital.

The blast happened in Loo, in Sochi’s Lazarevskoye district. The exact nature of the device is not yet clear.

Sochi is one of Russia’s most popular beach resorts. It will also host the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.

The blast happened shortly after 1000 local time (0600 GMT). A police spokeswoman was quoted as saying there would have been more casualties if it had happened later, when the beach is more crowded.

One victim’s leg was blown off.

Local officials evacuated people from the beach after the blast and investigators are now at the scene, trying to identify the device.

Sochi lies near Abkhazia, a breakaway region in Georgia where tensions have flared up recently. The volatile North Caucasus, where separatist rebels are active, also lies just east of Sochi.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.