Monday, May 5, 2008

Assignment #21

Poet Yu Kwang-chung urges new gov't to save Mandarin

Poet Yu Kwang-chung asked the new KMT government to save the Chinese language yesterday.
Yu, a member of the National League for Saving Chinese, demanded that at least the teaching of Chinese classics, Confucian classics in particular, account for at least 55 percent of the Chinese lessons.

Yu urged Ma Ying-jeou, the president-elect, to cancel a new Chinese teaching program to give students a better chance to learn their mother tongue.

Starting the next school year, the new program will shorten the teaching of the Chinese language to four 50-minute sessions a week.

"We need at least five sessions a week to enable our students to acquire a better working command of the Chinese language," said Yu, who taught English and English literature at practically all prestigious universities in Taiwan.

The number of Chinese lessons in primary and junior high schools will be reduced to four a week. "It should be raised to at least five," said a member of the league.

Moreover, Yu said, primary schools participating in the nine-year integrated compulsory education program should offer 10 Chinese lessons a week.

"Junior high school participants in the program should give six lessons a week at the very least," Yu added.

The teaching of Chinese classics also helps in moral education, said Chang Hsiao-feng.

"As a matter of fact," Chang said, "Confucian classics teach ethics as well."

1.) Does Chinese need to be "saved"? Is it in trouble?

2.) Will more Chinese classes help students learn their mother tongue better?

3.) Why do you think the government has reduced the number of Chinese classes?

For the real article, see the China Post:

Monday, April 21, 2008

Assignment #20

Japan to change defense policy to meet PRC buildup

Japan plans to develop a new defense policy to emphasize the need to meet China’s rapid military buildup, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported on yesterday.

The outline for the policy, which is the basic guidelines for Japan’s defense policies, is reviewed by the government once every five years and was revised in 1995 and 2004, the paper said.

The government originally planned to make only minor changes to the 2004 defense policy .

But it decided to set up a new policy outline to show more clearly the need for Japan to develop its defense capability due to China’s military buildup.

The government will have experts discuss the changes and hopes to have the new outline approved at a Cabinet meeting by the end of next year.

The Yomiuri also said the Japanese, Chinese and South Korean governments could start an annual meeting among the three countries later this year to help solve regional problems such as North Korea’s nuclear development programs.

On the second part of his first overseas trip since taking office in February, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak arrived in Tokyo yesterday on a mission to build ties with Japan.

Lee and Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda were scheduled to hold talks today focusing on their earlier promises to build closer ties, Japanese officials said.

1.) Why does Japan think it is necessary to increase its military?
2.) Is a more powerful Japan good or bad for Asia?
3.) Is increasing military power the best solution to current problems?

For the real article, see the Taipei Times:

Monday, April 7, 2008

Assignment #19

When Foreigners Buy Factories: 2 Towns, 2 Outcomes

(remember in this article that "foreigner" means non-American, not non-Taiwanese)

HOLLAND, Mich. — Four years ago, a small factory on the edge of town here was not doing well and slowing firing workers. Then Siemens, the German industrial giant, bought the plant and folded it into a global enterprise. Today, the factory is shipping wastewater treatment equipment to Asia and the Middle East and employing twice as many workers.

“Globalization has been good for Holland,” said David J. Spyker, vice president of a Siemens unit.

About 60 miles to the northeast, saying the same thing will be met with anger. Two years have passed since a Swedish company shut down the largest refrigerator factory in the country, along the Flat River in Greenville.

The company, Electrolux, sent production to Mexico, eliminating 2,700 jobs from a town of 8,000 people.

“Everybody talks about Electrolux around here the way the rest of the country talks about Hurricane Katrina,” said Becky Gebhart.

As foreign buyers descend upon the United States, buying up large areas of the industrial landscape and putting millions of Americans to work for new owners, these two cities offer examples of different examples for a nation still uneasy about being on the selling end of the global economy.

More than 200,000 Michigan residents worked for subsidiaries of foreign companies as of 2005.

Yet in a state that has lost 300,000 manufacturing jobs since 2000, foreign investment has not been enough to compensate.

Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm, was bitterly disappointed by Electrolux’s decision to abandon Greenville.

She had promised to persuade the company to stay, assembling a package of more than $120 million in state and local tax credits. The city offered to build a new factory. The local union agreed to give up as much as $33 million a year in wages.

“They said, ‘There is nothing you can do to compensate for the fact that we are able to pay $1.57 an hour in Mexico,’ ” Ms. Granholm recalled during a recent interview.

Electrolux bought the Greenville factory in 1986 from an American firm. It succeeded for many years, but two decades later, Electrolux — like a lot of other companies — decided it could cut labor costs by moving production to another country.

As unemployment benefits expire, many of the city’s former workers are still seeking the next job. Sales at restaurants, hardware stores and car dealerships have plummeted, prompting them to dismiss workers, adding to a downward spiral.

Despite the bitterness, Ms. Granholm has traveled to Japan and Europe in pursuit of expanded trade and foreign capital. “We don’t want to just be victims of the global economy,” she said. “Pursuing international investment is one strategy to get jobs.”

1.) How can globalization help small towns where there is no work?

2.) How can globalization hurt towns that depend on industry?

3.) Are there any similarities to the situation in Taiwan?

For the real article, see the NY Times:

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Assignment #18

The disruption of a Chinese official’s speech during the Olympic torch lighting ceremonies in Greece last week was just the beginning of protests planned along the torch’s trip around the globe.

Groups have criticized China’s policies in other areas, particularly Sudan's Darfur crisis. But the pro-Tibet network, spread around the world, is more organized and interconnected than other groups, and its influence is expected to keep the issue of autonomy and violence in Tibet front and center for weeks.

That is troubling news for sponsors of the torch relay, including Coca Cola, Lenovo and Samsung Electronics. Advertising analysts estimate the companies have paid as much as $15 million each to sponsor the relay.

“What started off as a small number of organizations threatening to create some disruption has gotten bigger,” said a marketing agenct.

A well-organized and far-reaching band of Tibet support groups is centering around the torch relay. The torch moves next to Beijing, then to Almaty, Kazakhstan; Istanbul; St. Petersburg, Russia; London; Paris; San Francisco; and Buenos Aires, before heading to Africa and the Middle East. It then goes through Asia and Australia, before winding its way through Chinese provinces, including Tibet, before the start of the Olympics in August. Planning is under way for protests in most of the major cities outside China.

The communications manager for Coca-Cola, Kerry Kerr, said, “We are keeping an eye on the situation,” but added that the company was not involved in picking the cities involved in the relay.

“We feel that using the torch relay to put political pressure on China is not appropriate,” Ms. Kerr said. Still, Coke has had several meetings with protest groups, she said, and is sharing the groups’ concerns with the International Olympic Committee.

Coca-Cola is not speaking directly with the Chinese government on the issue.

In a written statement, another sponsor, Samsung Electronics of South Korea, said the company “has been in dialogue with activist groups, and has also been in regular communication with the International Olympic Committee.”

Lenovo, a Chinese PC maker, did not respond to several requests for comment.

None of the dozen advocates contacted suggested that Coca-Cola or other sponsors should pull out of the torch relay. But even former members of pro-Tibetan groups say they are looking for some sign the sponsors are aware of the criticisms of the Chinese government.

Advertisers like Coca-Cola “have to have some responsibility to humanity” and have to react to current events, said Ramneek Bhogal, an assistant professor at the Palmer College of Chiropractic, in Davenport, Iowa, who as a student, led a chapter of Students for a Free Tibet.

Protest groups have been particularly angry at the relay’s planned route through Tibet and over Mount Everest, saying that is sure to ignite more violence. Many groups are calling for a route change, but so far both the Beijing organizers and the International Olympic Committee say it will continue as planned.

Violence flared in Tibet after monks staged protests on March 10, the anniversary of a failed uprising against China. Tibetan groups say protesters were beaten, arrested and in some cases killed. They assert that more than 100 have been killed since March 10.

The Chinese government puts the number of dead at 19. Violence spread through the Tibetan capital of Lhasa, and shops and buildings were burned.

Reports of violence in Tibet and a heavy-handed Chinese reaction spread quickly, pushing Tibetan support groups to action.

1.) What do you think about the situation in Tibet and the response of the Chinese government?
2.) What responsibility do you think corporate sponsors have?
3.) Should other countries do anything about the situation in Tibet?

For the Real Article, check out the New York Times:

Monday, March 17, 2008

This Week - 3/17/08

There will not be a news post this week.
Instead, please find one historical figure prior to Alexander the Great and be prepared to give an oral report in class on Friday. You don't need to write an essay, just take some notes so it will be easier for you to talk about the person you choose.
You can use other history books or resources that you find on the internet.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Assignment #17

Obama Wins in Mississippi

Senator Barack Obama won Mississippi’s Democratic presidential primary on Tuesday, building his delegate lead over Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in the final contest before the nominating fight heads to Pennsylvania for a six-week showdown.

Mr. Obama’s victory was built on a wave of support among blacks, who made up half of those who turned out to vote, according to exit polls conducted by television networks and The Associated Press. The polls found that roughly 90 percent of black voters supported Mr. Obama, but only a third of white voters did.

“It’s just another win in our column, and we are getting more delegates,” Mr. Obama, of Illinois, said. “I am grateful to the people of Mississippi for the wonderful support. What we’ve tried to do is steadily make sure that in each state we are making the case about the need for change in this country.”

Senator John McCain, the Republican nominee, won the primary for his party, taking him closer to the number of delegates needed to clinch the nomination.

After a frenzied string of primaries and caucuses for more than two months, Mississippi was alone in holding its contest Tuesday, where 33 delegates were at stake. It was the last primary before a six-week interlude. The Pennsylvania primary on April 22 opens the final stage of the Democratic nominating fight, with eight states, Puerto Rico and Guam left to weigh in.

Mississippi offered Mr. Obama an opportunity to regain his footing after losing the popular vote to Mrs. Clinton last week in three contests, Ohio, Texas and Rhode Island. Mr. Obama had been expected to win resoundingly in Mississippi, a state where 36 percent of the population is black, the highest percentage in the nation. He has enjoyed strong support among black voters and won all the other contests in the Deep South by large margins.

While Mrs. Clinton, of New York, campaigned in Mississippi last week and former President Bill Clinton dropped in over the weekend, the Clinton campaign has mostly been looking ahead to Pennsylvania, with its 158 delegates at stake.

Mrs. Clinton was campaigning in Pennsylvania on Tuesday when Mr. Obama began the day with a final appeal for support in the Mississippi Delta.

In the final days of the primary race, Mrs. Clinton raised the idea that Democrats struggling to decide between the candidates could have it both ways, implying that Mr. Obama would make a suitable running mate.

Mr. Obama rejected that idea on Monday as he campaigned in Mississippi, telling voters, “With all due respect, I’ve won twice as many states as Senator Clinton.”

As in many other states, an overwhelming share of voters said they were looking for change and were worried about the economy. Mr. Obama won the support of voters who listed those as their chief concerns, according to the surveys of voters.

Mississippi Democrats were twice as likely to say Mr. Obama inspired them about their future as opposed to Mrs. Clinton. Mr. Obama was more than twice as likely to be seen as honest.

(I don't know how much you know about the election in the States now, but I thought you might like a challenge)
1.) What do you know or have you heard about Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama?
2.) Who do you think would help improve the US's image around the world?
3.) Do you think a woman or a member of a minority group will ever become president of Taiwan?

For the real article, see the NY Times:

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Assignment #16

EDITORIAL: Environmental Debate Disappointing

Sunday's debate offered the presidential candidates an opportunity to talk about one of the most important questions facing this nation and every other country on Earth: How can we stop global warming to prevent the catastrophic effects that the scientific community warns about?

Both KMT candidate Ma Ying-jeou and DPP candidate Frank Hsieh responded to questions with vague promises that left environmental experts unimpressed. Promises varied from raising taxes on fuel to pushing companies to improve energy efficiency.

Experts can be forgiven for their skepticism, as neither Hsieh nor Ma, nor their parties, have the track records to put force behind their words.

Ma had eight years as mayor of Taipei -- during which he was in an excellent position to clean up one of the nation's most polluted cities -- but did relatively little.

Hsieh, on the other hand, deserves praise for cleaning up Kaohsiung's Love River. But that project -- along with changing street lamps to solar power -- didn't even begin to address the source and depth of the environmental challenge facing us: our lifestyles. Compared with the hazard that millions of cars on the roads pose, solar panels for street lamps are simply a token project.

Not surprisingly, politicians are more willing to launch flashy projects that meet with little or no resistance than to push for policies that tackle the nation's soaring greenhouse gas emissions.

The Taiwan Environmental Protection Union has said the nation's carbon emissions have doubled in the past 18 years and will triple in another 17 years -- one of the fastest rates in the world. There is no room for another four years of inaction.

Ma and Hsieh pledged this weekend to reduce emissions, with Hsieh discussing incentives to promote public transportation. However, voters have no way of knowing whether either candidate has the determination and strength to push what may be highly unpopular policies for the greater good.

The environment is one issue where urgency leaves no room for empty political statements. If things are to change, the KMT and the DPP must show a united front on cutting emissions. Voters, meanwhile, should demand clearer platforms on the environment and push the presidential candidates in the few weeks left until election day to spend as much time expounding their visions for a green Taiwan as they have on promising token cross-strait flights and a booming economy.

This was an editorial in today's edition of the Taipei times. You can check it out online.


1.) Why is neither candidate taking a strong position on the environment?

2.) What kinds of projects are needed to cut Taiwan's greenhouse gas emissions?

3.) Is there anything voters can do to encourage better policies on the environment?

Monday, January 21, 2008

This Week - 1/25/08

Finish the revisions I suggested to your speech (Dorcas, William, and Sandy) or finish your first draft (Carrie and Samson). If you want, you can type it up and post it on this blog and I will check it for you.
Also, once you have finished it, read it a few times so you are familiar with it. You will make the speech in class on Friday and then we will discuss it together.
Good luck.
Have fun.
Try to smile.


Monday, January 14, 2008

Homework Notice

This is for those of you (Carrie and Dorcas) who were not in class last week, as well as a reminder to those of you who were (Samson, Sandy, and William).
For this Friday, please write a persuasive speech about any subject you like.
For example, whether or not school's should require to wear uniforms, or whether or not women should be allowed in the military, or whether or not Taiwan's government should round up all the crazy foreign English teachers and send them back to their countries.
I will read them and then check then so that you can revise them.
There will be no article this week.
Have fun.
Try to smile.
Enjoy life.


Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Assignment #15

Two women become Marines' first female frogmen

Marines Cheng Chih-ya and Hsu Yu-ting made history yesterday after completing nine weeks of gruelling training to qualify as the military's first ever female frogmen.

"They are now fully qualified frogmen. They have proved it with their remarkable performances during training, even better than some of their male counterparts," said Lieutenant Colonel Ku Chang-chih.

Ku said that he was very impressed by privates Cheng and Hsu during training, since both of them performed well in the 50m swim with one breath and the 26km run, doing better than everybody else in the program.

"They fully deserve all the [praise]," Ku said.

Apart from Cheng and Hsu, a total of 118 other marines, including ranks from privates to lieutenant colonel, volunteered for the training program. Only 44 of the volunteers finished, however, graduating as qualified frogmen.

The 123rd Amphibious Training Program was an intensive nine-week program, including physical training, military combat training and underwater demolition training. In the middle of the program, trainees have to endure a "three-day-stay-awake" exercise that sees them continue the physical challenges at sea and on land without sleep for three consecutive days.

All 44 marines were officially certified as frogmen yesterday morning after completing the "Road to Heaven" challenge, which involves doing various tough exercises along a 50m long path that is littered with coral and rocks.

"I just wanted to challenge myself and prove to everyone that I could do it, and I did," Hsu said.

Cheng had already made the front pages in August last year when she gave up a place on the national swim team and the chance to be an elementary school teacher to join the Marines.

"You always have chances to prove yourself and challenge yourself as a Marine. That is something I like about it," Cheng said.

1.) What do you think about women in the military?
2.) Should women be allowed in combat (as Israel and the US do)?
3.) Why would someone want to become a "frogman"? And should it be "frogperson" now?

For the real article: