Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Typhoon Jangmi moves on

Two killed and many injured. I managed to move house in the middle of it. It's an unusually active typhoon season, another two tropical depressions have formed out to sea. It's still too early to predict where they will head with any real accuracy, but there is the possibility of another Typhoon hitting Taiwan this weekend.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Typhoon Jangmi

I don't want to sound like a stuck record, but a typhoon is on a collision course with Taiwan, this time named Jangmi, meaning "rose" in Korean, at this moment a category 4 storm, and right now looking like slamming right into the guts of the island sometime today. Great timing, as this afternoon I have to move house. It will be the most powerful storm to hit Taiwan so far this year. Power poles and trees have already been toppled along the east coast. It's very windy and rainy in here in Taipei, and I've seen trucks loaded with sandbags going past my house. This baby has a well defined eye, and winds between 191 and 227 kph, so looks like it will cause some serious damage, not to say loss of life.

More Propaganda

China's state news agency published a despatch from the country's three latest astronauts describing their first night in space before they had even left Earth.

The Xinhua agency, which has sometimes been accused of carrying state propaganda, took down the story and blamed it on a "technical error".

The article described the Shenzhou VII spacecraft orbiting the Earth and outlined a conversation between the astronauts.

Friday, 26 September 2008

More on contaminated milk

On September 24, 2008, the UK supermarket chain Tesco pulled all White Rabbit Creamy Candy from their shelves "as a precaution" in response to the melamine-contamination reports. The the Hong Kong Centre for Food Safety issued an advisory on the product after it tested positive for melamine in their laboratories, with more than six times the legal limit for the chemical, around 180 ppm. Australia has issued a recall of the sweets, commonly sold at Asian food stores. New Zealand had their product tested and although it did contain melamine, as there had been no harm done yet they were unable to recall the product. This sounds crazy at first blush, but then two reporters who did the maths, using test results, noted that "a 60kg adult would have to eat more than 47 White Rabbit sweets every day over a lifetime to exceed the tolerable threshold" for melamine. Up until now omly infants have been falling sick, no doubt due to the fact that their entire diet has consisted of these contaminated milk products.
However, it should not be forgotten that this was delibarate contamination of a food product using a poison substance, to give a false protein result in watered down milk. Unfortunately the Chinese system of govenment deals with such matters in a predictable manner. Several low level officials are sacked from their positions and publicly denounced, while the communist party leadership is portrayed as wise and comforting, claiming that they will put everything right, saying that those responsible will be punished severely, while taking not one ounce of responsibility themselves.

2008 baby milk scandal

Taiwan has suspended imports of all mainland Chinese milk products and vegetable-based proteins. Health Minister Lin Fang-yu also urged Taiwanese on Monday not to consume locally made puddings, instant coffee and ice cream containing Chinese-made protein additives. At least seven Taiwanese companies have imported contaminated proteins from China. They say the proteins are made from corn or other vegetables but may be mixed with tainted milk products to improve their flavor.
The Department of Health has so far failed four Taiwanese companies' products due to melamine contamination. There is a great deal of public concern here over this issue. The government is offering free kidney checks at public hospitals.
Strangely, the government here has raised the permissable level of melamine in food products from 0 ppm (parts per million) to 2.5 ppm. Thus some products which were initially ordered withdrawn are now back on sale. This has caused some anger among the public.
In China there is now a booming market for wet nurses.
The use of baby formula in China has been very high, due in part to aggressive marketing by milk powder companies, which has led to a widespread but false belief that formula is more nutritious than breastmilk.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Latest bid for Taiwan's United Nations participation rejected

The United Nations subcommittee has again ruled it would not let the General Assembly consider Taiwan's request for permission to join U.N. activities. The subcommittee meets before the actual general assembly gathers, and decides what will be discussed. While 160 other items were listed for discussion, the communist dictatorship in China objected to any discussion of the Taiwan issue. It's another blow for Taiwan and it's the 15th year running that it's annual applications to join the UN have failed. This year the application was not even to gain membership, but merely to have meaningful participation in UN agencies, such as the World Health Organisation and UNICEF. While these agencies do some wonderful work, the general assembly itself is a joke. As long as the five permanent members of the security council have veto power, those five countries have ALL the power. And whatever highly contentious issue is up for discussion, you can bet that either China, the United States or Russia will use their veto based on their own selfish interests. The running dog Ban Ki-Moon has also made a number of very unhelpul comments regarding Taiwan in the past two years, and seems to be quite willing to kowtow to China's imperialist wishes. On july 27 2007 he said "the position of the United Nations is that Taiwan is part of China." and "The position of the United Nations is that the People's Republic of China represents the whole of China as the sole and legitimate representative government of China,"

Monday, 15 September 2008

Sinlaku moves on

Typhoon Sinlaku has moved away from Taiwan and has weakened into a tropical depression. Four people were confirmed killed and seven are still missing. My roof has stopped leaking. The trees in my area have taken a pounding, but life has quickly returned to normal here in Taipei.

Sunday, 14 September 2008


Sinlaku is here, the water is pouring through the ceiling now, three buckets and a wet bed tell the story. The torrential rain hasn't let up for some 20 hours, and there is widespread flooding and landslides. As I write the typhoon is making landfall, the winds are strong but not extreme yet, at least where I am, in northern Taipei.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Typhoon Sinlaku almost upon us

The eye is only 100km from the coast, the torrential rain is constant now and gusty winds are picking up. There have already been reports of landslides. Rail and air transport has ceased. Our kitchen downstairs is flooded and there is water running down the walls and dripping from the ceiling in my bedroom.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Typhoon Sinlaku

Typhoon Sinlaku, meaning "goddess" in Micronesian, has become a slow (7kph) moving super typhoon on a path toward northern Taiwan. It is due to either make landfall or pass very close by the north of the island late saturday night/early sunday morning. It is forcast to strengthen and expand in size, although it already has sustained winds of 184kph. It will certainly put a dampener on the traditional mid-autumn or moon festival which is this coming sunday. There has already been alot of torrential rain during the past two days. The Taiwan Central Weather Bureau defines torrential rain as more than 200mm in a 24 hour period. Jenny and I will be attending a wedding banquet tomorrow evening. These tend to be lavish affairs planned months in advance and are unable to be postponed so tomorrow may be somewhat of an adventure.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Update - new computer - landlord problem - visa issue

Hello Xu Xu has finally taken the advantage of being in Taiwan to buy a notebook, which is to say laptop, that is to say computer. Up until now all has been done at internet cafes or at my Chinese language school. This means I find myself with a "you beaut" machine that seems to be able to do much more than I am presently able to comprehend. I am sure I will figure many things out presently, and I am sure that this machine will become old and obselete before it reveals all of it's secrets to me. Nevertheless I am now able to distract myself from my Chinese classes for what seems like minutes but which turns out to be hours. I have a question, what sort of free stuff do people recommend I download from the net to make my computer more useful? I've heard people talking about mozilla, should I get me some o that? Wouldn't mind a couple of classic arcade games like Galaga and the like. I don't want to clog the beastie up with a load o crap but I have a heap o gig to play with, and I reckon that's gonna keep me happy for a while.......

On another note, my landlord has shafted me on our rental agreement, I have a signed document saying I can live here until the end of October, but I have been told that I must leave at the end of September. This is of course a great inconvenience to me as my semester doesn't end until mid October. I will be out on my ear with another 3 odd weeks of sleeping place to find. I wasn't planning on heading back up to Hell Valley but my good friend Chicago Stu has offered to save my bacon..... pending further developments.
Oh yes ....Taiwanese beauocracy dictates that as my last day of class is on October 17, I must therefore leave Taiwan on October 17, no they won't give me an extra day or two to settle my affairs! As I don't plan to head to Australia until November 15 it means a trip off the island, I'm thinking maybe Macau this time around, after a few days there I can re-enter Taiwan for up to 30 days visa free....