Presidential Office opens
The public is invited to take part in a day of fun and food in front of the Presidential Office on Sunday. From 8am to 4pm, a wide range of activities inside and outside the building are aimed at welcoming the public to a Presidential Office open house. The building will only be open to public visits four times this year, with this Sunday being the third. The open-house activities have been jointly organized by the Council for Cultural Affairs, Council of Agriculture, Sports Affairs Council and National Museum of Taiwanese Literature. The Sports Affairs Council has also organized a 1,000km round-the-island bicycle tour. Visitors to the Presidential Office must bring their ID or passport.
■ FOREIGN AFFAIRS
US visa waiver contested
US State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey said on Wednesday that a bill providing for the expansion of a US visa waiver program would mainly benefit US allies in Europe, adding that he had not heard of Taiwan being included in the list. Responding to Casey's comments, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman David Wang (王建業) said yesterday that it did not mean Taiwan was excluded from the act, as the US administration had not fleshed out the details or which countries would benefit from the visa-free program. While the US has the right to determine which countries should benefit, Wang pointed out that Taiwan meets the conditions set forth in the visa-waiver program, including a low overstay rate, low visa rejection rate and cooperation with the US on counterterrorism.
Zoo hosts bear exhibit
The Taipei Zoo is holding a special exhibition about the need to protect bears. The exhibition, titled "Bear in Mind," opened on Wednesday in the zoo's Education Center and will run until the end of next month. It features life-size pictures of bears and information about their characteristics, living habits and how their habitats are being threatened. There are also hands-on workshops that allow visitors to play various bear-themed games. The eight species in the ursidae family are distributed from the Arctic coasts to tropical jungles. The zoo has three of the species among its inhabitants: brown bears, sun bears and Asian black bears, plus a subspecies of the Asian black bear -- the Formosan black bear.
Changhua tries oil recycling
The Changhua County Government will launch a waste cooking oil recycling program beginning next month on a trial basis as part of efforts to improve environmental protection, a county official said yesterday. The program will involve collecting waste edible oil from households, schools and government organizations, the county's Environmental Protection Bureau official said, adding that if successful, the program would be officially implemented. Noting that waste cooking oil produced by households, schools and public agencies accounts for some 20 percent to 28 percent of the national total, the official said that dumping it directly into rivers or drains causes serious contamination. The program is part of the Environmental Protection Administration's plan to reduce environmental pollution and increase raw material supply for the production of biodiesel and other products such as soap and feed additives.