Animal ICU lab set up
A new laboratory to study animals after they undergo gene transfer and cloning operations has been established by the staff of the Livestock Research Institute (LRI) under the Council of Agriculture, government sources said yesterday. The new lab in Tainan County -- named the Molecular Research Ranch for Gene-modified Animals -- serves as an "intensive care unit" for livestock or poultry that has been genetically modified in other labs, LRI researchers said. Animals undergoing genetic modification require intensive care to preserve the intended genetic expressions, as well as to protect them from disease, mutation, or contamination, they said, adding that most local livestock research labs lack such facilities. LRI will continue expanding the lab's equipment and refining its standard operating procedures to earn accreditation from the International Organization for Standardization, they said.
Base station law planned
Tainan Mayor Hsu Tain-tsair (許添財) yesterday instructed city government officials to draft regulations requiring residents' approval before wireless network base stations can be set up in their neighborhoods. Although there is no clear evidence that electromagnetic waves are a health hazard, most people do not like to live in the vicinity of a cellphone base station or other types of transmission stations. Given increasing protests against such base stations, some entrepreneurs had tried to hide and disguise base stations set up in neighborhoods, triggering panic when they were discovered. To address these concerns, Hsu called for drafting the regulations -- applicable only in Tainan City -- to allow residents to decide. Hsu also called for a more efficient means of managing the establishment of base stations.
Whale shark sales banned
Sales of whale shark, the largest living fish species, will be banned starting today, an executive of the fishermen's association of Suao Township (蘇澳) in Ilan County said yesterday. The Council of Agriculture stipulated a catch quota of 30 whale sharks for this year. When that quota was reached in March, the council declared on March 27 that no further fishing would be allowed to target the giant fish -- known locally as the "Tofu shark" for its tender and white meat. It also demanded that the catches be sold within three months. The whale shark is not listed as an endangered species in Taiwan, but is listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) signed in 1973 in Washington to slow down species extinction. Out of respect for the international convention, Taiwan has set catch quotas to control the take of whale sharks.
Bike for the record
France-based mineral water firm Volvic is inviting the public to take part in a bike ride on July 21 aimed at promoting environmental protection and breaking a Guinness world record. Calling on the public to join the exercise, the company hopes to break the world record of 641 bikers riding at the same time for 3.5km in the Netherlands last year. The activity will start and end at the Tachia Riverside Park in Keelung. Participants who join the 16km ride will get a free T-shirt. They may also win other gifts offered by the organizer, including a trip to France.
Foreign lizards not welcome
Chiayi County agriculture officials yesterday issued an order to eliminate all brown anoles -- a lizard species native to Cuba and the Bahamas -- because they have been propagating so rapidly that they now pose a threat to indigenous species. Tseng Yung-hua (曾永華), head of the county's agriculture bureau, urged residents to report sightings of the lizard to the authorities so that action can be taken to catch them. Tseng said that results of an initial study showed that the brown anole probably carries parasites and that their presence could impact on the local environment. The brown anole, or Anolis sagrei, was first discovered in Chiayi County seven years ago. But large numbers of the lizards have been sighted in orchards, betel palm plantations and rural neighborhoods recently. An estimate by agricultural experts puts the number of brown anoles in Chiayi County at more than 10,000.
Al Gore visit postponed
Former US vice president Al Gore will not be able to make it to Taiwan this September to address the issue of global warming, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇) said yesterday. Tien, who invited Gore to visit Taiwan to promote awareness on global warming, told reporters yesterday that she received an e-mail from the Harry Walker Agency, which has the exclusive right to arrange Gore's speeches, saying that Gore had canceled all his scheduled events in the next six months. The visit to Taiwan had been postponed to next year, she added. Tien said the reason for the cancelation was that Gore was considering a presidential bid.
LOOPHOLES: The people behind biased media content produced by a Chinese network, likely without sending staff to Taiwan, remain anonymous, a source said Beijing’s latest attempt at psychological warfare through heavily biased online media is aimed at sowing discord and polarizing Taiwanese society, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said. The council’s comment came in response to Chinese network Southeast Television, which late last month began broadcasting an online program featuring commentary by Taiwanese unification supporters that authorities suspect was filmed illegally in Taiwan. To circumvent cross-strait regulations, the broadcaster collaborated with online service provider Baidu to air the series titles Diverse Voices From the Taiwan Strait (台海百家說). Only Taiwanese are shown on camera, without revealing the host, interviewer or production team. In one video, political commentator and
RULES IGNORED: CDC Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang said that crew members who break the rules would be required to complete the full 14-day quarantine Three EVA Airways flight attendants were fired last month and this month after they failed to follow the government’s quarantine requirements. This was the first time that flight attendants have lost their jobs for quarantine failures. One flight attendant reportedly breached the quarantine mandate by going to school, visiting relatives and dining with friends, while lying to the company about her activities, EVA Air said. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) have established disease prevention measures for cabin crew members, such as monitoring their health and reporting their temperature daily, the company said. While on flight duty, crew
A group of overseas Taiwanese in Norway are taking a case on their national identity to the European Court of Human Rights — with plans to file the case in the first half of next year — after Norway’s Supreme Court rejected their appeal to change their listed nationality from “China” to “Taiwan,” Joseph Liu, a Taiwanese lawyer living in Norway, told reporters on Monday. One of the initiators of the movement, “My Name, My Right,” Liu and his group plan to hire lawyers from the UK and France who know European law and have knowledge of Asia to represent them,
SUPPRESSION: Michael Tsai, a former defense minister, said that Beijing’s list of Taiwan independence advocates contravenes the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights The best way to respond to threats from China against Taiwan independence advocates is for the president to publicly reiterate Taiwan’s sovereignty, former minister of national defense Michael Tsai (蔡明憲) said on Sunday. Chinese media on Nov. 15 said that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was compiling “a list of stubborn Taiwanese separatists and will severely punish them in accordance with [China’s] Anti-Secession Law and hold them accountable for their actions for the rest of their lives.” Chinese media subsequently accused Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) of being a “first-rate war criminal,” because of his policy on mask exports. “The vast majority