Rescue team back from NZ
An urban search and rescue team returned yesterday after wrapping up a mission in New Zealand in the aftermath of a magnitude 6.3 earthquake that devastated the city of Christchurch on Tuesday. The 22-member team, which was assembled by the National Fire Agency, said they had followed Wellington’s instructions and searched 350 buildings in 21 districts, but did not find anyone trapped in the rubble or locate any dead bodies. The team members said their experience in New Zealand could be of help in undertaking future earthquake relief operations at home. A female Taiwanese student was among a number of foreign nationals who were reportedly trapped under the collapsed Canterbury TV building. So far, she has not been located.
Presbyopia a concern: poll
Middle-aged people are more worried about developing early presbyopia, or failing eyesight, than growing gray hair or developing wrinkles, a recent survey showed. Thirty percent of respondents — outpatients aged 35 to 54 who visited a local hospital for consultation on their deteriorating vision — said they experienced anxiety, depression, headaches and insomnia when their eyesight began to fail. Many expressed concern that wearing glasses would affect their appearance and make them look older, said Tom Yang (楊聰財), a psychiatrist at Cardinal Tien Hospital, which released the survey of 200 respondents. Some simply refused to wear glasses and 50 percent of the respondents said they also gave up reading, Yang said. Many ophthalmology outpatients also consulted psychiatrists as they were oversensitive about their health and very worried about showing the symptoms of premature aging, Yang said.
Bands warm up for Megaport
Two warm-up concerts for Kaohsiung’s biggest music festival, featuring dozens of underground bands, rocked fans both in the north and south of the country yesterday. The prelude shows to the Megaport Music Festival took place at Taipei’s Wall Live House and at the Wall Pier 2 in Kaohsiung. A total of 42 independent bands or artists from home and abroad, including British band 65daysofstatic and MUCC from Japan, will perform at the two-day festival that begins today. Wu Bai (伍佰) and China Blue are scheduled to perform in the final session tomorrow to close the event.
Donations pour in
A flood of donations has poured into various funds for people who cannot pay their National Health Insurance premiums, in the wake of last month’s charity auction by former Department of Health minister Yaung Chih-liang (楊志良), said Lai Li-wen (賴立文), a senior specialist at the Bureau of National Health Insurance (BNHI). From Feb. 13 to Feb. 19 — the week after Yaung’s briefcase was auctioned for NT$5 million (US$168,900) — the funds received 71 donations totaling NT$886,000, Lai said. The amount was seven times the weekly average of NT$110,000 recorded in January, Lai said. Before leaving office last month, Yaung put his five-year-old briefcase up for a charity auction on the Taiwan Yahoo Web site, where it was snapped up by Hon Hai Group chairman Terry Gou (郭台銘). Yaung donated all the proceeds from the sale, plus an additional NT$500,000 out of his own pocket, to the funds set up by the BNHI to help the disadvantaged pay their health insurance premiums.
Kevin Lin to run Silk Road
Kevin Lin (林義傑), a renowned Taiwanese ultra-marathon runner, announced that he would begin a “Running the Silk Road” adventure next month with the aim of increasing public awareness of the shortage of water resources. Lin said he and three colleagues would start the challenge in Istanbul, Turkey, late next month and finish in Xian in China’s Shaanxi Province in mid-September. “Running the Silk Road” will be a non-profit event with proceeds going to non-governmental organizations that help alleviate water shortages in communities along the old Silk Road. Lin ran through the Sahara Desert in 2007 for a similar cause. Lin will team up with Bai Bin (白斌) and Chen Jun (陳軍) from China, and Jodi Bloomer of Canada, to run the 10,000km, 150-day route that will pass through Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan — places that Lin said are all facing acute water shortages. It will be the first time that Chinese and Taiwanese athletes are jointly involved in such an endeavor.
Sirena Huang to perform
Noted Taiwanese-American violinist Sirena Huang will give a violin recital on Tuesday at the National Concert Hall in Taipei. Huang, 16, has won several top prizes in several international competitions, most recently first prize in the prestigious International Tchaikovsky Competition for Young Musicians in 2009. She currently studies under Stephen Clapp and Sylvia Rosenberg at the Juilliard School in New York. Huang has been selected three times since 2003 as the youngest of 10 Exceptional Young Artists worldwide at the Starling-DeLay Symposium for Violin Study at Juilliard and has performed for French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the Dalai Lama and former Czech Republic president Vaclav Havel.
Yang launches new firm
Taiwanese entertainment guru Yang Teng-kui (楊登魁) launched a new production company yesterday to help revive the Taiwanese film industry. The company, Polyface Entertainment Media, plans to invest NT$3 billion (US$102 million) to produce films and television dramas; the largest investment in film and television entertainment in recent history. His firm is already scheduled to produce films with several directors who said that their cooperation will be long term. The company also has a branch office in Shanghai.
THE CHINA CONNECTION: As Beijing’s aggression increases, so does Taiwanese consciousness, making a new constitution imperative, Hsu Wei-chun said If the nation is to ratify a new constitution, it must first end any illusions about the current document’s relevance to Taiwan, an academic told a forum in Taipei yesterday. For the constitutional revisionist movement to succeed, it needs public enthusiasm, the right timing and a clear plan of action, Chung Yuan Christian University associate professor Hsu Wei-chun (徐偉群) told attendees at the event titled “Imagining a New Constitution for a New Era,” which was organized by the National Taiwan University Graduate Student Association. The Constitution exists under the “one China” framework and has little relevance to Taiwan, Hsu said, adding that
IDENTITY: The time is right to press on with a referendum, as the nation has heightened visibility and support in the global community, the Taiwan United Nations Alliance said The Taiwan United Nations Alliance yesterday said that it is considering launching a petition for a referendum proposal to have the nation join the UN under the name “Taiwan.” Alliance chairman Twu Shiing-jer (涂醒哲) was joined at a news conference in Taipei by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Huang Hsiu-fang (黃秀芳) and leaders of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan and civic organizations. They said that it is the right time for a petition because Taiwan’s visibility on the world stage has increased, as it has been praised for its success in containing its COVID-19 outbreak and for helping other countries by sharing
Former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday urged Beijing to respect the median line of the Taiwan Strait by immediately stopping its military intimidation of Taiwan, as such actions would only hurt the feelings of Taiwanese. Beijing should immediately stop making military provocations against Taiwan, Ma wrote on Facebook after Chinese warplanes in the past week have made numerous forays across the median line that divides the Taiwan Strait. Although it has never officially acknowledged the median line, Beijing used to respect it, Ma said in response to comments on Monday by Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin (汪文斌), who said
An advertisement displayed in the corridor of the underground Taipei City Mall has caused contention online with social media users saying that it depicts Taiwanese bears as servants of Chinese pandas. The advertisement — which imitates the style of an ancient Chinese painting, but replaces people with bears — shows a scene in imperial China, with Formosan black bears laboring, while pandas relax and enjoy beverages. “The development of the tourism industry is important, but this type of targeted advertising is extremely disrespectful — and it makes people uncomfortable,” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City Councilor Chen E-jun (陳怡君) said. The advertisement, under