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April, 30, 2016

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Commentary > China Post > Daniel J. Bauer
First, allow me to say I am carrying my own basket of questions about the visit of our 18 year-old "native son" from Brazil, Iruan Ergui Wu. The questions began the minute I read news reports months ago that the Taiwan Catholic Mission Foundation was helping to bring young Mr. Wu, his adoptive mother, and others close to him to Taiwan for a 17 day stay.
 
This is the time of year when people talk, often quite glibly, of New Year's resolutions and new beginnings, both personally and professionally. I am like everyone else on this score.
 
News reports in recent hours have focused on reactions primarily from China, but other Asian countries (including Taiwan) as well, to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to Yasukuni Shrine, dedicated to the memory of some 2 1/2 million Japanese soldiers killed at war. For much of Asia, a visit by Mr. Abe to any shrine honoring his country's soldiers, vintage World War II, would have been provocation enough.
 
People sometimes like to say that Christmas is for children, and in many ways that is true.
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These words are likely to appear in print on Sunday, Dec. 15. As I write them, however, I find myself undeniably stuck in Friday, Dec. 13. Late Friday morning, to be exact. My campus bell to mark the end of the third period will ring at any minute now. It is nearly 11 o'clock.
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Taiwan has in many ways done so much in recent years to become more sensitive to human rights. It boggles the mind then, as a co-signer of international human rights covenants with clauses that condemn hate speech, that our country has no law per se against the public posting of certain sorts of words.
 
Local writer Giddens Ko, better known perhaps as Jiubadau, has produced a new documentary film on the fate of dogs turned over to public animal shelters here in Taipei. A recent newspaper report described the film as devoid of spoken words, but eloquent in its message, which focuses from various camera angles on the lives of these often pitiful animals. The film attempts to tell the story from the viewpoint of the dogs themselves. The footage includes scenes that occur in the shelters when staffers are off-duty.
 
I try hard not to address purely spiritual topics in this space very often, knowing The China Post is a secular newspaper that welcomes readers of diverse backgrounds and viewpoints. Today's column is an exception to the type of observations I usually offer.
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The Taiwan Fund for Children and Families released the results of a survey this week in which more than 1,000 local junior and senior high school students participated. The topic of the survey sounds awfully grown-up: freedom of expression. Media reported that up to 70 percent of the teens felt they were "unable to make a difference to society because they are not free to speak out."
 
Nothing turns a person's stomach quite like nationalism, especially the in-your-face, plain ugly variety. At the moment I've got a bad feeling in my stomach.
 
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