■ SecurityProfessionals behind bomb
The police yesterday said that the bomb that was set off in front of the Ministry of Education on Friday night was professionally made, but they would not confirm whether the case is directly related to the notorious "rice bomber." The bomb exploded on the sidewalk in front of the ministry at approximately 8:30pm on Friday night. No one was injured in the blast. Police said the bomb was made of a small portable gas tank and had been remotely detonated by a timer. Officers also discovered some explosive powder on the ground. As for the "rice bomber," police have been looking for him (or them) for more than a year. The "rice bomber" has always left a note, as well as some explosive powder and a small packet of rice along with the explosives. Up to now, the "rice bomber" has been blamed for at least eight explosions. No one has bee injured in the blasts.
Gao to be awarded degree
National Taiwan University (NTU) will confer an honorary doctorate degree on the 2000 Nobel Prize for literature winner Gao Xingjian (高行健) during the university's 76th anniversary celebrations on Nov. 15, officials said yesterday. The Chinese-French writer, however, will not be able to come to Taiwan for the ceremony because his health does not allow him to fly long distances, the NTU officials said. Gao will instead address the event through a 10-minute pre-recorded video that will be shown at the event, they said. Also, they said, Gao has promised to offer lectures at NTU during the second half of next year or the year after that if his health improves. The theme of the lectures might focus on "literature and life" and "literature and art."
Fire devastates state forests
A forest fire was reported in the Lishan (梨山) area of Taichung County late last night. At 10pm, around 50,000m2 of forest had been ravaged by flames, but no injures were reported. According to officials of the Taiwan Forestry Bureau, the fire broke out in the bureau's No. 95 and No. 96 forests in the Lishan area. Thirty local firefighters and bureau employees rushed to the scene to put out the fire, while more firefighters from outside the township were assigned to join them. It was still unclear whether the fire had been brought under control by press time last night.
■ Opinion poll
Independence support up
Twenty-one percent of Taiwanese support immediate independence for Taiwan, more than double the number in 2000 when the Democratic Progressive Party came to power, a public opinion poll showed yesterday. The increase in support for immediate independence from 8 percent in 2000 to 21 percent shows the intensification of the separatist consciousness in Taiwan, the United Daily News, which conducted the survey, said. The survey also showed support for maintaining Taiwan's status quo remains unchanged at 36 percent. The telephone poll of 942 adults showed that while more Taiwanese back immediate independence, fewer people back gradual independence -- 10 percent compared with 16 percent in 2000. Fewer people also back immediate or gradual reunification with China -- 6 percent compared with 9 percent in 2000 for immediate reunification, and 11 percent compared with 18 percent in 2000 for gradual reunification.