■ THSRC to add more trains
The Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp (THSRC) will increase the number of southbound and northbound daily train runs to 113 next month, with more than 50 trains in each direction every day, THSRC executive director Ou Chin-der (歐晉德) said yesterday. He said that a train will depart every 10 minutes during rush hours and that they will offer open-seat tickets to serve more passengers. The prices of open-seat tickets have not been determined but it was unlikely they would be substantially discounted, he said. THSRC has also started to map out plans for the phone booking system, but it probably would not be ready before the end of this year. THSRC also plans to begin selling light meals priced at under NT$100, excluding beverages. Lunch boxes are also being considered, he said.
Punishment a write-off
Tainan prosecutors asked a man to write Buddhism's Heart Sutra (般若波羅密心經) 100 times in return for dropping the charges against him. The man, surnamed Lin (林), was indicted for selling pornographic pictures and comic books over the Internet. Police officers contacted Lin through the Internet and asked for 15 comic books. Lin was arrested on Sept. 15 in Jenteh Township (仁德), Tainan County, when he delivering the comics. Tainan Prosecutor Chang Wan-ning (張婉寧) decided to ask him to "do something" in return for suspension of his charges since this was his first offense. So she asked him to copy out the Heart Sutra 100 times within three months. If Lin fails to finish his task or asks other people to help him, the suspended charges will be reinstated, officials said.
DPP and TSU negotiate
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Secretary-General Cho Jung-tai (卓榮泰) met Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) Chairman Huang Kun-huei (黃昆輝) to discuss how to prevent their parties from hurting each other's chances in January's legislative elections. Huang dismissed speculation that the DPP would allocate a legislator-at-large seat to a female TSU legislator, saying such rumors only vilified his party's reputation. "The TSU is an independent party and therefore it is not an issue whether it will merge with the DPP," he said. Huang said he and Cho had discussed how to cooperate in eight constituencies and would talk again before Friday. The two men met after President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) met Huang on Oct. 18. Chen and Huan agreed to negotiate cooperative efforts for the legislative elections as soon as possible.
Survey shows stress rising
Junior high school students in Taipei suffer more serious stress than senior-high students, a survey released yesterday by the Taipei City Department of Health showed. The survey was conducted earlier this month among 543 students at a junior-high school and 1,060 students at a senior-high school. Both schools have test-oriented curriculums. The survey found that 30 percent of junior-high respondents described themselves as suffering from serious stress, while 28 percent of senior-high respondents reported serious stress. The two figures were both higher than the 20 percent of working people who claim to suffer from serious stress, said Kao Wei-chun (高偉君), the department official responsible for medical care and health management.
■CLA launches new program
The Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) recently launched a program to help young people find jobs amid high unemployment rates among new graduates. Many young people cannot find jobs after they graduate, council Chairman Lu Tien-lin (盧天麟) said, adding that the youth unemployment rate is 11.6 percent, three times the overall unemployment rate. A council survey found that 60 percent to 70 percent of young people said that they had trouble finding their first job, Lu said. The survey also found that up to 40 percent of companies polled have shut out first-time job seekers. The council has allocated NT$250 million (US$7.6 million) for the job-training program. People under the age of 29, with a bachelor's or master's degree are eligible. Participants will receive a monthly subsidy of NT$12,096, he said.
NTU and NTUE to combine
The National Taipei University of Education (NTUE) is expected to be incorporated into National Taiwan University (NTU) in 2010, according to NTU president Lee Si-chen (李嗣涔). Lee and his NTUE counterpart Chuang Chi-min (莊淇銘) said preparations for the merger are under way. The plan to combine the two universities was proposed by the Ministry of Education more than 10 years ago, and the executives of the two schools have been thrashing out differences ever since. The plan will be carried out in three stages, with the first stage integrating libraries and courses, the second stage integrating staff and finally full integration. The 110-year-old NTUE is the oldest academic institution in Taiwan, while NTU, only a few blocks away, is widely considered the nation's best and most prestigious university.
Taiwan might be China’s next target after it has “walled off” Hong Kong from the rest of the world with its new national security legislation, Academia Sinica Institute of Sociology fellow Wu Jieh-min (吳介民) said on Thursday. At a seminar organized by the Economic Democracy Union, the Taiwan Association for Human Rights, the Hong Kong Outlanders and the Judicial Reform Foundation, Wu said that the legislation is simultaneously a fig leaf concealing Beijing’s autocratic rule in Hong Kong and a figurative “Berlin Wall,” denying democratic countries access to Hong Kong. Wu said it is evident that Taiwan would be China’s next target. The
SAFETY CONCERNS: A construction company working nearby admitted to negligence in the incident, and is to pay a fine and other expenses related to damages Residents of homes adjacent to an alleyway in New Taipei City’s Yonghe District (永和) on Saturday were forced to evacuate their homes after the road collapsed, the New Taipei City government said yesterday. An 80m by 4m area in an alleyway on Wenhua Road (文化路) collapsed at 10:39am near an apartment building construction site where work was being done on the project’s foundation. The incident also ruptured an underground gas pipe and tilted several buildings in the area. Residents would not be able to return to their homes until tomorrow or Wednesday, when repairs are expected to be finished, the city government said. Workers
CHALLENGER DEEP: Lin Ying-Tsong was invited by Caladan Oceanic founder Victor Vescovo to join him on a 10-hour long trip in the company’s submersible Taiwanese-American Lin Ying-Tsong (林穎聰) last month became the first person from Asia and the 12th in human history to dive into the deepest part on Earth, the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench. Lin, 45, an expert in deep sea acoustics with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Massachusetts, joined US adventurer and Caladan Oceanic founder Victor Vescovo, 54, on June 22 in a descent to the central pool of the Challenger Deep, the deepest point of the trench, which lies at a depth of more than 10,900m. The pair made the descent in a submersible named Limiting Factor, a US$37
ARMS RACE: Two DPP lawmakers said that China’s development model differed from Taiwan’s, as it aims to become a global hegemon, while Taiwan seeks to protect itself Taiwanese national defense experts are split on how Taiwan should respond to the ever-growing budget of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), with some advocating for Taiwan to increase defense spending, while others say that little can be done. The Legislative Yuan approved NT$358 billion (US$12.1 billion) for national defense spending across fiscal 2020, a 3.47 percent increase compared with last year, while China’s military budget this year is NT$5.4 trillion, more than 15 times that of Taiwan. Regardless of whether the government adopts a zero-based budgeting method for national defense spending — in which all expenses are justified and approved each