Stars to shine in Taitung
Some of the nation’s most famous Aboriginal singers, including Chang Hui-mei (張惠妹), better known as A-mei (阿妹), will gather in Taitung County for a three-day music festival next week. Shen Kuan-yuan (沈光遠), general manager of Friendly Dog Entertainment, which is helping the Taitung County Government organize the Aug. 19 to Aug. 21 event, said Taitung was renowned for its rich Aboriginal culture and the welcoming, laid-back friendliness of its people. Hosting the event — now in its fifth year — is significant in terms of passing down the culture and tradition of Taitung to the younger generation, he said. The first day of the Taitung Music Festival will see performances by Pau-dull (陳建年, better known as Chen Jian-nian), Suming (舒米恩) and indie band Matzka (瑪斯卡). A-mei will take center stage on day two, while musician Biung and singer/actor Van Fan (范逸臣) will grace the stage on Aug. 21. This year’s festival will also feature singers from Okinawa and Hong Kong. The festival will be held at Jialulan (伽路蘭) in the East Coast National Scenic Area.
Paragliders head to Hualien
The nation’s largest paragliding accuracy tournament will be held in Hualien County from Thursday to Aug. 22 as part of efforts to promote Taiwan as a destination for extreme sports. The tournament is expected to draw 104 gliders from six countries, including China, Japan and the Philippines. Both individual and team events will be held in the spot landing competitions, where pilots will have to dive from a 370m high hilltop to targets in the middle of a 10m circle. “It will be a contest of international caliber, and a good chance for our gliders to learn from competitors all over the world,” event organizer Lee Kuo-chen said.
Police probe hacking
The police said yesterday they were investigating claims by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) that hackers backed by China were stealing information related to its presidential campaign. The Criminal Investigation Bureau said in a statement that it would also offer necessary assistance to the DPP to protect its information. The DPP said that in the past four months, it had traced more than a dozen cyber attacks every day to Chinese Internet protocol (IP) addresses. It said that hackers mainly targeted its presidential campaign planning as the party gears up for the January elections against President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).
More drugs in US beef
The Department of Health (DOH) said on Wednesday it has again found residues of drugs promoting lean meat in beef products imported from the US. DOH statistics show that 1.9 percent of US beef imports have been tainted with the drug ractopamine. The drug was detected in three batches of US beef products awaiting customs clearance in Taiwan, and authorities have already requested that the products be shipped back or destroyed, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Since last month, about 2.52 million kilograms of boneless beef and 130,000kg of bone-in beef from the US have passed customs inspections, according to the Ministry of Finance. In the same period, more than 50,000kg of beef imports from the US were banned from entering Taiwan because of ractopamine residues.
Visa-free travel to Israel
The Taiwan-Israel waiver agreement took effect yesterday, allowing Republic of China (ROC) passport holders to enter Israel and stay up to 90 days every 180 days without visas, the Israel Economic and Culture Office in Taipei announced yesterday. Based on the principle of reciprocity, Taiwan granted the same privilege to citizens of Israel, the 114th country or region in the world that Taiwanese nationals could visit without visas or with landing visas, and the first in the Middle East. Ali Yang (楊心怡), deputy director-general of the ministry of foreign affairs’ Department of West Asian Affairs, said the ministry was negotiating visa-waiver agreements with two other countries in the Middle East region. Meanwhile, the ministry said it had been informed by Kosovo on Monday that it had granted ROC passport holders with supporting documents visa-free entry for stays of up to 90 days, effective immediately.
New rules for Red Cross
Following public criticism of the Red Cross Society’s transparency in the handling of donations, the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) has recently passed draft revisions to the Red Cross Society of the Republic of China Act (中華民國紅十字會法) to tighten regulations on the group’s fundraising. The ministry’s Department of Social Affairs director Huang Pi-hsia (黃碧霞) said yesterday that while the society was allowed to make fundraising decisions on its own, the revisions would require the group to apply for permission from the ministry, just like other non-governmental organizations, before launching a fundraising campaign. The revisions passed by the ministry would be sent to the Executive Yuan for further review before being forwarded to the Legislative Yuan for final approval, Huang added.