Belize announces visa-waiver
The government of Belize has agreed to grant Republic of China passport holders visa-waiver privileges, Belizean Minister of Foreign Affairs Wilfred Elrington announced on a visit to Taipei yesterday. President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) revealed the news when he received Elrington, who is on a six-day visit at the invitation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The news was followed by a press release from the ministry saying that the decree was signed by the Belizean government on Wednesday last week. Belize will be the 131st country or region to grant Taiwanese visa-free privileges or landing visa options, the ministry said. The implementation date of the policy and related details will be announced at a later date, the ministry said.
Moon to reach smallest size
Stargazers can see the full moon at its smallest this year tomorrow when it passes its farthest point from the Earth, the Taipei Astronomical Museum said. The celestial event will take place at 10:46pm, with the moon’s location pegged at a distance of about 406,000km from the Earth, the museum added. Even though observers might be unable to tell the difference in the moon’s size with the naked eye, the museum said, the moon will actually be about 10 percent smaller than its size on May 6, when it was largest. However, astronomy buffs might need to go southward to get a clear view of the moon as rainy weather has been forecast in northern and eastern Taiwan.
CWB to unveil new computer
The Central Weather Bureau said that a supercomputer that will be used to forecast weather from next month will greatly enhance the accuracy of weather reports. The bureau said it had purchased the new system to provide constant updates as the older system could no longer support the forecasting software. Compared with the old system, the supercomputer is smaller in size, but nearly 100 times faster, it added. The bureau said it was currently conducting trial runs and the system was scheduled to commence official forecasts on Dec. 11. The new system was purchased from Japan for NT$500 million (US$17.2 million) and was expected to be delivered in stages over three years, the bureau said.
MND mulls more women
The Ministry of National Defense is considering recruiting more women as an increasing number of females are showing interest in serving, a ministry spokesman has said. The ministry will review its needs and devise measures conducive to increasing the recruitment of female soldiers, spokesman Major General David Lo (羅紹和) said in a recent interview. So far this year, the military has recruited more than 800 women, about 100 more than its target number for the year, the ministry said. Meanwhile, Lo said the ministry is planning to increase wages for volunteer soldiers in an effort to encourage more people to enlist. The wage hike will be implemented in stages to avoid increasing the government’s financial burden, Lo said. However, he did not give a timetable for the pay raise. He said the salary increase is part of the nation’s efforts to shift from a conscription system to an all-volunteer military service. The changeover is expected to take full effect by the end of 2014, according to the ministry.