Daily Archives: January 1, 2007

Ritual murder of shopkeeper is linked to Tamil Tigers

This is London | Dec 29, 2006

A terror group banned in Britain is at the centre of a Scotland Yard inquiry into the ritual-style murder of a London shopkeeper.

Detectives investigating the killing of Subramaniam Sivakumar, 44, believe it may have been the work of followers of the Tamil Tigers, the Sri Lankan separatist group outlawed across the world.

The father of three was found nearly a year ago laid out face down on the floor of his store the Apna Bazaar in Willesden High Road.

His body was pointing south, with his hands by his side. A single white shoelace was tied around his neck and bags of rice placed over his body.

A post-mortem examination was unable to determine cause of death but puncture marks were found behind his ear and he had been tied up before he died raising the possibility he had been tortured.

The police investigation has focused on a diary entry made by Mr Sivakumar in which he referred to a visit by an organisation he called the “Tiger Boys” – since confirmed as a reference to the Tamil Tigers.

U.S. suffers 3,000th casualty with New Year

Reuters | Dec 31, 2006 


Coffins of U.S. military personnel are offloaded at Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Delaware in this undated file photo. The U.S. military death toll in Iraq has reached 3,000 on December 31, 2006. REUTERS/U.S. Air Force/File

Saddam’s hanging polarizing the country

Bush to unveil a new strategy which could include sending more troops

U.S. troops began the New Year with news their 3,000th comrade had died since a 2003 invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in weeks but pitched them into a war that has riven Iraq and raised increasing alarm at home.

With Saddam’s hanging on Saturday polarizing the country, there is no sign that the sectarian bloodletting will slow.

The death toll milestone was reported on Sunday by the Web site, www.icasualties.org. It listed the death of Specialist Dustin Donica on December 28 together with a soldier killed by a roadside bomb in Baghdad on Saturday, bringing the total to 3,000.

December was the deadliest month for U.S. forces in the past two years, with 111 dead, according to the site. There was no immediate official confirmation of the 3,000 figure, likely to be seized on by critics of President

But Bush’s spokesman Scott Stanzel said the president “grieves for each one that is lost”.

“He will ensure their sacrifice was not made in vain.”

Bush is to unveil a new strategy on Iraq this month, which could include sending more troops to try to quell the violence

Author of the Iraq war dossier, is knighted

Independent | Dec 31, 2006  

John Scarlett, who took responsibility for the error-ridden dossier that justified the war in Iraq, is knighted in today’s New Year’s Honours list. The award will enrage peace campaigners, who have accused the veteran spymaster of saving Tony Blair’s skin over the flawed case for the invasion.

The news came as a British soldier was killed by a roadside bomb in Basra yesterday, the 127th to die since the invasion in 2003.

Sir John, the head of MI6, played a key role in the Hutton Inquiry hearings into the death of the weapons expert David Kelly, three years ago. He steadfastly defended the dossier, which contained the notorious claim that Iraq could launch weapons of mass destruction in 45 minutes. And he dismissed accusations he had bowed to pressure to “sex up” the document’s conclusions.

As chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, he told the inquiry he had “overall charge and responsibility” for the dossier.

Sir John allowed last-minute changes that had the effect of strengthening its conclusions, leading Lord Hutton to suggest that he could have been “subconsciously influenced” by his political masters.

One crucial alteration was to cut the observation that Saddam Hussein was more likely to use chemical and biological weapons defensively than offensively – a change was made after Jonathan Powell, Tony Blair’s chief of staff, said the passage could pose “a problem” that could be seized on by anti-war critics.

Sir John insisted the amendment “was not as a result of the intervention from Downing Street”.

Patients die as Sicilian mafia buys into the hospital service

Guardian | Jan 1, 2007 

A wave of deaths in Sicilian hospitals has highlighted a crisis in the island’s health service, linked by a senior politician to the draining of public funds by the mafia.

Three suspicious deaths of patients in three days over Christmas have raised alarm. A 78-year-old woman died of a heart attack in a Palermo emergency ward on December 28 after waiting four hours to be seen. The ward has no triage, or system for prioritising patients.

Earlier, a pregnant woman delivered a stillborn child after doctors declined to carry out a caesarean section, while the parents of a newborn son who died in hospital have accused doctors of malpractice.

“Cosa Nostra is investing heavily in private health centres in Sicily which are subsidised by the state,” said Francesco Forgione, the head of Italy’s parliamentary anti-mafia commission.

After drug trafficking, the control of public and private contracting is the second most lucrative activity for organised crime in Italy, amounting to a turnover of about €17.5bn (£11.8bn), of which the Sicilian mafia is responsible for €6.5bn.

Building the Bionic Man

Red Herring | Dec 29, 2006 

Every year the medical device industry steps up efforts to fix failing parts of the human body. Perhaps one day they can build a bionic man.

On funding, 2006 looks like one for the books. VentureOne and Ernst & Young are expecting the U.S. medical device industry will haul in a record $2.44 billion from venture backing. That blows past the $2.17 billion from VC investment into the industry in 2000.

But before folks start popping the bubbly, let’s keep things in perspective. For venture-backed companies acquired this year, which came to 20 through the third quarter, the median buyout price was $36.7 million. Sure, that sounds like a good chunk of change for those being bought out.

On paper it appears that the med-tech industry will be able to look back on 2006 and say “yes” it was a good year. But to give more color to the description we will speak of the industry’s defining moments, which were filled with soap opera-like acquisitions, mind-altering breakthroughs and, of course, controversy.

A small bulletin-board-traded  company has been working hard to give severely paralyzed people new found freedoms by harnessing the power of thought. To tap the most mysterious of human phenomena, Cyberkinetics Neurotechnology Systems is developing an interface between the brain and a computer. The hope is that the company can build a system that gives those who have lost control of their body the ability to control computers, assistive devices, and ultimately limb movement.

And this year the company was able to demonstrate the potential of the technology, called BrainGate. The breakthrough came from a participant who can’t speak as a result of brain stem stroke, but controlled the computer’s cursor movement and clicked on icons by using imagined movements.

Poll Finds Troops’ Support for War Plunging

Editor and Publisher | Dec 29, 2006 

But who the hell cares about what the troops, the American people, or the World itself thinks? Right? Let the commufascist globalists decide because they’re the “deciders” after all.

This comes even though only about one in ten called their overall political views “liberal.”

It’s often written or said in the media that, despite public opposition to the Iraq war here at home, military personnel strongly back President Bush’s handling of the conflict. But a poll for the Military Times newspapers, released Friday, shows that more troops disapprove of the president’s handling of the war than approve of it.

It came on the day that at least four more Americans died in the war, pushing the monthly total to 107, the high point for the year — and the total figure to 2,997, near the milestone of 3,000.

Barely one in three service members approve of the way the president is handling the war, according to the new poll for the four papers (Army Times, Navy Times, Air Force Times and Marine Times). In another startling finding, only 41% now feel it was the right idea to go to war in Iraq in the first place.

And the number who feel success there is likely has shrunk from 83% in 2004 to about 50% today. A surprising 13% say there should be no U.S. troops in Iraq at all.

This comes even though only about one in ten called their overall political views “liberal.”