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China considers touch of green

BEIJING — Is China beginning to go green? There are some early signs, including the nation’s latest five-year plan, which calls for the efficient use of resources to build an “environmentally friendly society,” and tax reforms discussed at a recent seminar. The latter include preferential policies for the recycling industry and a possible consumption tax for disposable chopsticks, plastic bags, diapers, and other environmentally harmful goods.

According to, when the ideas were outlined by taxation chief Xie Xuren, scholars like Li Xiangju of Xi’an Communications University were enthusiastic. “Things like disposable chopsticks and plastic bags cause a big waste on natural resources and pose environmental hazards,” he said.

Professor Zhu Qing of Renmin University suggested levying the tax as part of the retail price to discourage consumers. However, other scholars warned that it was difficult to identify products as disposable.

“Green taxation is an international trend,” said Jin Dongsheng, a leading researcher of the State Taxation Administration. Some European nations levy tax on sulphur dioxide discharge. New Zealand will tax the emission of smoke and dust, and Sweden will levy a traffic congestion tax starting in 2006. Xie Xuren said China is set to replace road-use fees with a fuel tax in the next five years.

Former defence chief urges UFO hearings

TORONTO — Three non-governmental organizations have joined forces with former Canadian Defense Minister Paul Hellyer in urging the Canadian parliament to hold public hearings on “exopolitics,” or relations with extraterrestrials. The groups were reacting to a speech made by Hellyer in September in Toronto in which he warned that “UFOs are as real as the aeroplanes that fly over your head,” reports the Edmonton Sun.

Hellyer is also concerned the United States is preparing weapons for use against the aliens and could get the whole world into an “intergalactic war.” According to Hellyer, the U.S. interest in returning to the moon is in part based on the desire to build a forward military base there.

The three organizations backing Hellyer’s request are the Institute for Co-operation in Space (ICIS), the Toronto Exopolitics Symposium, and the Disclosure Project, a U.S.-based organization that has assembled high-level military intelligence witnesses of a possible ET presence. Earlier this month, the Senate replied to the ICIS that their full agenda precluded hearings in the near future on ET issues.

“That does not deter us,” said a spokesman for the NGOs. “Time is on the side of open disclosure that there are ethical extraterrestrial civilizations visiting Earth.”

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