Toyota plans new hybrid
Japan's Toyota Motor Corp plans to begin selling a second dedicated brand of hybrid automobiles in 2009, following up on its market-dominating Prius hybrid, a news report said yesterday. Japan's No. 1 auto maker plans to sell as many as 100,000 of the as-yet-unnamed hybrid annually around the world at the outset, the Nikkei Shimbun said. The vehicle would be Toyota's second hybrid-only brand following the Prius, the newspaper said. Toyota offers several other hybrid models, including hybrid Camry and hybrid Lexus models. The new vehicle is expected to play a key role in Toyota's plans to increase hybrid sales to 1 million vehicles a year after 2010.
Branson may join AirAsia
British billionaire Richard Branson of Virgin Group is reportedly ready to take a stake in Malaysia's new AirAsia long-haul budget airline, the Star newspaper reported. Branson would take a 20 percent stake in Fly Asian Express, teaming up with Asian aviation tycoon Tony Fernandes to run flights from Malaysia to China, Europe and Australia, the newspaper reported, citing sources familiar with the negotiations. It said AirAsia CEO Fernandes and his deputy, Kamarudin Meranum, would sell 20 percent of their stake to Branson. Although Fernandes had previously denied Branson's involvement, he admitted that the two parties were in discussions.
Natural gas hydrate found
South Korea said yesterday it has successfully recovered samples of natural gas hydrate, a potential future energy source, from the floor of the Sea of Japan. The samples were collected last week at a depth of 135km in the sea northeast of Pohang, the commerce, the industry and energy ministry said in a statement. South Korea is the 5th country to recover natural gas hydrate samples, following the US, Japan, India and China, the ministry said. Gas hydrate, also known as "combustible ice," is found in seabeds or tundras. It has the potential to be converted into liquid natural gas and hence used as an energy source.
Genetic tomatoes a hit
Israeli researchers say they have genetically engineered tomatoes to give hints of lemon and rose aromas that have done well in testing on volunteers. The transgenic tomato includes a gene from a variety of lemon basil, Ocimum basilicum, that produces an aroma-making enzyme called geraniol synthase, said Efraim Lewinsohn of Newe Yaar Research Center and colleagues. A panel of 82 people have tested the experimental fruit against unmodified counterparts. The GM tomatoes were preferred by 49 members of the panel, while 29 preferred unmodified tomatoes.
Vietnam growth to continue
Vietnam, already growing at one of the fastest rates in the world, is set to continue that momentum for several more years, a senior government official said yesterday. Its economy expanded nearly 8.2 percent last year -- one of the world's fastest rates after China -- and First Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Sinh Hung said that pace of growth would continue for the period from 2010 through 2015. "We expect that we will retain such an economic growth of eight to 10 percent per annum," he said. Vietnam's economy grew 7.7 percent in the first quarter.
TAIPEI REACTIONS: Joanne Ou decried China’s ‘gangster diplomacy,’ while MOFA said its Fiji counterpart dealt fairly with the incident and protected the trade office’s rights The world should denounce the actions of Chinese embassy staffers in Fiji against a Taiwanese diplomat during a National Day celebration in Suva, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said yesterday as it thanked the Fijian government for its help after the Oct. 8 incident. Two Chinese diplomats tried to force their way into a celebration held by the Taipei Trade Office in Fiji at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva on Oct. 8, and a Taiwanese diplomat who tried to stop them taking photographs suffered a head injury. MOFA spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) told a news briefing that the ministry
The US, Japan and Australia conducted trilateral naval exercises in the South China Sea on Monday, the US Seventh Fleet announced yesterday. It was their fifth joint operations this year in the fleet’s area of operations, it said in a statement. The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain joined the JS Kirisame of the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force and the Royal Australian Navy’s HMAS Arunta. The Arunta’s commanding officer, Commander Troy Duggan, said that Australia was continuing to build on its already close relationship with Japan and the US. “This activity is a valuable and important opportunity for all three nations,”
ONGOING PROBE: A former Military Intelligence Bureau colonel, major general and another colonel, as well as five other people, have been questioned by prosecutors The Taipei District Court yesterday ordered that a retired colonel from the Military Intelligence Bureau (MIB) calling himself Taiwan’s “first special agent” be detained and held incommunicado as part of an ongoing investigation into espionage allegations targeting at least three former bureau officials. The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office was seeking to detain former MIB colonel Chang Chao-jan (張超然) over his alleged involvement in introducing retired agents to Chinese national security authorities and passing confidential documents to China. Chang’s actions, if proven, would contravene the National Security Act (國家安全法), which carries a prison term of three to 10 years, and the National Intelligence
Seabed waste off the west coast is 1.5 times higher than the global average, with the mouth of the Tamsui River (淡水河) nearly 90 times dirtier, the environmental consultancy IndigoWaters (澄洋環境顧問) said yesterday. The firm in September last year began collaborating with local oceanographers on Taiwan’s first survey of seabed waste off the west coast, collecting 6,000 samples from near the mouths of eight rivers and conducting 215 inspections. Of the samples, 83.3 percent were found to contain trash, the group said. Based on the survey, every square kilometer of seabed had about 121,074 pieces of trash weighing 102kg, IndigoWaters chief executive Yen