Sun, Apr 01, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan Quick Take

STAFF WRITER WITH AGENCIES

■ Transportation
THSRC issues ticket warning

The Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp (THSRC) warned travelers against using modified high speed rail tickets, saying that doing so is illegal and that violators will face up to a year in jail. The THSRC issued the warning in a news release on Friday after discovering online trading of modified tickets originally sold as half-price tickets for children. The THSRC release said that some tickets bought from the ticket machines and then altered with forged ticket prices and classes were marketed on the Internet. The company has asked police to launch an investigation into the case while demanding that Internet service providers stop allowing advertising for the illegal tickets, the release said.

■ Transportation

Taipei to promote bike rules

The Taipei City Government will hand out pamphlets and free bicycle LED lights today at Machangting Riverside Park to promote a new transportation policy that will clamp down on serious violations of traffic regulations by cyclists that will start on Sept. 1. The policy promotion event will be held at 2pm at the park by the Taipei City Police Department and is aimed at educating cyclists about traffic regulations they should follow. After the promotion period scheduled for this month and a persuasion period from July to August, cyclists who violate traffic regulations -- including riding through red lights and riding on a road's inner lanes -- will be fined from NT$300 to NT$600, according to the department.

■ Medicine

Drug license withdrawn

The Department of Health's Bureau of Pharmaceutical Affairs is withdrawing the license for the anti-constipation drug tegasorod maleate, following in the footsteps of the US Food and Drug Administration. A risk assessment analysis from 29 clinical studies links the drug with potentially deadly cardiovascular side-effects. The US drug administration told drug company Novartis Pharmaceuticals to stop selling the drug, which is marketed as Zelnorm in the US and locally as Zelmac. Novartis has agreed to recall the stock already in stores, including stores in Taiwan. Tegasorod maleate was approved here in 2003 for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome in women. "The number affected by the withdrawal should be small since the drug is not paid for by the national health insurance" said bureau director general Liao Chi-chou (廖繼州). "But for those who are taking it, there are many alternatives on the market, Liao said.

■ Technology

Sex use closes chatroom

The country's largest Web portal said yesterday it will shut down its chatroom service next week, after a lawmaker said it has been used extensively to offer sexual services. Yahoo Kimo, a joint venture between a Taiwanese portal and the US Yahoo Group, said its instant messaging chatroom program will shut down on Wednesday. The shutdown will help "provide [a] safer, healthier Internet environment and avoid its use by unscrupulous users," the portal said on its Web site. Democratic Progressive Party lawmaker Lee Chen-nan (李鎮楠) on Friday said the portal had become a haven for the sex trade, with many users offering sex in exchange for cash or gifts. After he signed up for the chatroom service, Lee said he received unsolicited messages from users he believed were underage high school girls offering sex in exchange for help in resolving their financial difficulties.

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