Tung Bloom Festival opens
The annual Hakka Tung Blossom Festival will be held simultaneously in six counties this month. As the Tung Blossom mostly grows near Hakka villages, the flower has become the symbol of Hakka culture. The festival will be held in Taipei, Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Miaoli, Taichung, Nantou and Changhua counties. Sanyi (三義), Miaoli County, is home to the largest Tung Blossom forests and the Miaoli County Government has organized several package tours of the area. To accommodate visitors to Sanyi, the Westlake Resort has arranged a series of events scheduled to begin on Saturday, featuring the comic book character Old Master Q (老夫子). More information can be obtained at www.hakka.gov.tw.
DPP berates grand justices
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday said that the Council of Grand Justices had neglected its duty as a constitutional interpretation of the Referendum Law (公投法), filed by DPP caucus in January 2004, had yet to be delivered. DPP Secretary-General Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said during a press conference that the caucus had applied for an interpretation of the manner in which the Cabinet's Referendum Review Committee was organized, but that "no progress had been made over the past three years and three months." The Referendum Law says that the committee members be recommended by each political party according to legislative representation.
Earth Day activity announced
As part of International Earth Day, DPP Legislator Tien Chiu-chin (田秋菫) and a group of environmentalists yesterday called for participation in an activity encouraging people to turn off lights, air-conditioners and other home appliances from 12pm to 1pm tomorrow. "While the Sydney Opera House will carry out a similar effort on Thursday [today] at 7:30pm, the government and the private sector in Taiwan will do as much on Friday," she said. Tien said the activity was intended to address global warming, using as an example the crisis facing Tuvalu, where the rising sea level threatens to destroy the entire country. She claimed the Taipei Basin could one day face a similar fate if the sea level were to rise by 6m. "For every 10,000 kilowatts Taiwan consumes, about 6.2kg of carbon dioxide will be emitted," Tien said.
Meningitis at peak season
The Department of Health warned yesterday that epidemic cerebrospinal meningitis has entered peak season with 17 observed cases to date. Eleven of these case have developed into the full-blown disease and two people have died. Lin Ting (林頂), deputy director of the Center for Disease Control, said the early symptoms of this form of meningitis, which is caused by a bacterium, could be missed, adding that the public should pay attention to such symptoms as fever and skin rashes. Treatment with antibiotics and other drugs is usually effective if treated in the initial stage, he added. Lin said that among the 11 confirmed cases this year, three involved babies not yet a month old, with the remaining eight patients aged between 11 and 86. Reported cases jhave been sporadic rather than clustered, Lin said. He advised the public to stay away from crowded places such as military barracks or school dormitories and to pay attention to personal hygiene. People should also get vaccinated if they travel to Africa or other regions with high infection rates, he said.