Case against Hsieh dropped
District prosecutors yesterday said they would not prosecute former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) for accusing President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of possessing a valid US green card. During Hsieh’s bid for the presidency, the Hsieh camp said Ma had a valid green card. Ma countered that his green card became invalid about 20 years ago. The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus filed a lawsuit on behalf of Ma in March last year before the election. They accused Hsieh of violating the Election and Recall Act for Public Servants (公務人員選舉罷免法), which bars the spreading of “rumors or untruths through words, pictures, speeches or other means in an attempt to prevent a certain candidate from being elected.” Prosecutors said that as Ma was running for the presidency, whether he possessed a green card was a matter of public concern. The prosecutors said some of Hsieh’s claims were later shown to be true, which showed that he was not merely fabricating aspersions to smear his opponent.
MOFA adjusts alert system
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday added a “gray” category to its travel alert system, which offers advice for people going abroad. The system now consists of a gray alert, urging travelers to exercise caution; a yellow alert, urging extra precautions and care in assessing the safety of one’s destination; an orange alert, recommending that citizens avoid all non-essential travel to a country; and a red alert advising against all travel to a country. MOFA said the system was one guideline for travelers, but that all travelers should carefully evaluate their destinations when planning trips abroad.
‘Famine camp’ planned
The local chapter of the Christian charity World Vision yesterday said Academia Sinica would participate for the second consecutive year in the organization’s Thirty-Hour Famine by hosting a 12-hour “famine camp” to raise awareness of poverty. “This year, top academics will again go without food for 12 hours, from 9am to 9pm on July 10, and learn about humanitarian issues,” World Vision Taiwan said in a press statement. World Vision Taiwan said that 300 people from Academia Sinica had signed up for the event — tripling last year’s figure. In its 20th year, the Thirty-Hour Famine program features a series of activities to raise funds to fight hunger. This year’s events will include a Famine Hero Rally on Aug. 15 and Aug. 16 and a famine challenge in which participants fast for 12 to 30 hours on their own.
Biology camp in session
High school students made lanterns from puffer fish yesterday as part of a five-day marine biology camp at National Taiwan Ocean University. Students removed the skins of the fish, immersed them in the preservative formalin and stuffed them with paper to retain their shape. The lanterns were then decorated with other parts of the fish. The spiny puffer is a small fish with spines used for defense when threatened. More than 30 students are participating in the biology camp. Other activities included making fish food, learning about aquatic invertebrates, visiting the university’s aquatic animal center and learning about breeding fish.
Kinmen shipwreck drill
The Kinmen County Government said it would hold a shipwreck drill on Sept. 15 for the route between Kinmen and Xiamen. Officials will seek to determine whether a joint rescue mechanism with China is needed, a county official said yesterday. The drill will simulate a collision between a Chinese cargo ship and a passenger boat with 162 people on board en route from Kinmen’s Shueitou Pier to Xiamen’s Dongdu Wharf. During the exercise, teams will be dispatched to the scene to “rescue” passengers who fell overboard and to “treat” the wounded. Although such an accident could occur in the area, Kinmen may not have the capabilities to handle a disaster of that magnitude, Kinmen County Commissioner Lee Chu-feng (李柱烽) said.