Jailed lawyer allowed visit
A human rights group says imprisoned rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng (高智晟) has been allowed a family visit for the first time in nearly 10 months at a prison in Xinjiang region. New York-based Human Rights in China quoted Gao’s wife, Geng He (耿和), as saying on Tuesday that the Jan. 12 visit confirmed that the lawyer is still alive. The group said Gao appeared clear-minded and spoke normally during the visit by his younger brother and father-in-law in Shaya County. It was the second time family members were allowed to visit Gao since the advocate for constitutional reform and religious rights was imprisoned in December 2011 for violating probation. Gao was convicted in 2006 of inciting subversion of state power and sentenced to three years, but released on probation.
Roh’s daughter sentenced
Roh Jeong-yeon, the daughter of former president Roh Moo-hyun was handed a four-month suspended jail sentence yesterday for illegally transferring 1.3 billion won (US$1.2 million) abroad. She was convicted of transferring the money to the US to buy an apartment in New Jersey in 2007, without reporting the transaction to financial authorities. It was not immediately known whether she would appeal the ruling by the Seoul Central District Court. The former president jumped to his death from a cliff behind his retirement home in May 2009 after being questioned by prosecutors about suspected corruption scandals involving his family. Roh Moo-hyun’s brother, Roh Geon-pyeong, was arrested in 2008 on separate bribery charges before being pardoned in 2010.
Scientists grow kidney tissue
Researchers yesterday said they have succeeded in growing human kidney tissue from stem cells for the first time in a potential breakthrough for millions with damaged organs who are dependent on dialysis. Kidneys have a complex structure that is not easily repaired once damaged, but the latest findings put scientists on the road to helping a diseased or distressed organ fix itself. Kenji Osafune of Kyoto University said his team had managed to take stem cells — “blank slates” capable of being programmed to become any kind of cell — and nudge them specifically in the direction of kidney tissue. Osafune said they had succeeded in generating intermediate mesoderm tissue from the stem cells, a middle point between the blank slate and the finished kidney tissue. While the research is not aimed at growing an entire working kidney, he said the method his team had developed would help scientists provide a source of cells for regenerative therapy.
Mayor shot as elections near
A mayor of a remote town was shot dead in a Manila hotel car park, authorities said yesterday, in one of the first salvos of the traditionally bloody election campaign season. Political rivalry is strongly suspected as the motive of the attack on Tuesday night that killed Erlinda Domingo and wounded her bodyguard, Commission on Election spokesman James Jimenez told reporters. “Police are looking at it as election-related. Remember we are already in the campaign period,” Jimenez said. Domingo assumed the mayoral post in Maconacon in 2009 after the incumbent was killed in another ambush and was standing to retain her post, Jimenez said. With politicians gearing up to contest thousands of positions in mid-term elections in May, authorities on Jan. 13 imposed a nationwide ban on guns being carried in public.