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    Gao Zhisheng Blocked from Meeting his Brother and Lawyers


    by NTDTelevision

    Prison officials in China's western Xinjiang Province have blocked lawyers from meeting the renowned Chinese rights lawyer, Gao Zhisheng.

    Gao’s eldest brother had hired two lawyers, Li Xiongbing and Li Subin, to appeal his prison sentence. They travelled to Shaya prison last Sunday, but authorities turned them away.

    One of the reasons authorities gave was that Gao is himself a veteran lawyer—and so he wouldn’t need someone else to represent him. They also claimed Gao needed to personally sign the letter to retain the lawyers, and that Gao did not want to see his family anyway.

    New York based human rights lawyer Yeh Ning said those reasons are absurd.

    [Yeh Ning, Chinese Human Rights Lawyer]:
    “'He himself is a veteran lawyers, so he doesn’t’ need someone else to represent him?' That’s absurd. To use a reason like that to block access…it’s really so far removed from a country of international standing that’s governed by the rule of law.”

    Gao Zhisheng’s family said they have not been able to get in touch with him for several months.

    [Gao Yanfang, Sister of Gao Zhisheng]:
    “It’s not possible that my brother doesn’t want to see me anyway. Our hearts are heavy, but there’s nothing we can do. We don’t know how his health is or anything.”

    The last time Gao’s was able to see his family was on March 29th. Before then, Chinese authorities had given little information about his condition. State-run media announced last December he was sentenced to three years in prison, apparently for violating probation rules. Gao had disappeared for months on end into security detention before the official prison term.

    Gao Zhisheng is renowned for defending peasants and religious minorities. Chinese authorities took way his license to practice law in 2005, after he publically called on Chinese leaders to end to the persecution of the Falun Gong spiritual practice.

    He was arrested in 2006 and given a three year suspended sentence for so-called “subversion.” He later published articles detailing the abuse and torture he went through at the hands of security officials.

    Seven northern cheetah cubs made their public debut during a photo call at Whipsnade Zoo in Bedfordshire, north of London, on Wednesday.The septuplets were born around twelve weeks ago, and seemed to enjoy their first outing by frolicking and chasing one another around the cheetah enclosure.

    For mother Dubai it's the second litter, after she gave birth to five cubs in 2010. Only three litters have ever been produced in a UK zoo, and soon enough Dubai's cubs will be playing a vital role in the survival of their species.

    [Marie Brown, Deputy Team Leader, Whipsnade Zoo]:
    "Northern cheetahs are extremely rare, rumoured to be less than 250 in the wild so we're very excited for her to breed for a second time.

    She's (Dubai) bred once before. She had five cubs with her first litter, which was a couple of years ago, which was the first northern cheetahs to be born in the country so we're very excited that she's produced again and this time instead of five she's gone to seven so we're very pleased with that."

    The cubs are part of the zoo's European Endangered Species Programme which aims to increase the population of endangered animal species. While they will be staying with mum Dubai for the next eighteen months, Brown says they will eventually be transferred to other European zoos to take part in breeding programme

    [Marie Brown, Deputy Team Leader, Whipsnade Zoo]:
    "They'll feed off mum for quite a while but, yeah, they look like adults pretty much before we choose to remove them from mum which will probably be in about a year and a half's time."

    Cheetahs are the fastest land mammals, reaching speeds of up to 70 mph once fully grown.

    Hurricane Isaac makes landfall along the U.S. Gulf Coast.

    For some families it is a chance to play in the swelling ocean and be buffeted by the fierce waves.

    For others, it is the perfect opportunity to get some impressive videos on their smart phone.

    Many though, are quietly praying it won't be another Hurricane Katrina.

    Authorities have urged thousands of residents in low-lying areas to leave, warning that the storm surge could reach up to 12 feet, flooding towns and cities in Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana.

    Rainfall accumulations, possibly as much as 20 inches in some areas, could also trigger widespread flooding.

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