Animal ICU lab set up
A new laboratory to study animals after they undergo gene transfer and cloning operations has been established by the staff of the Livestock Research Institute (LRI) under the Council of Agriculture, government sources said yesterday. The new lab in Tainan County -- named the Molecular Research Ranch for Gene-modified Animals -- serves as an "intensive care unit" for livestock or poultry that has been genetically modified in other labs, LRI researchers said. Animals undergoing genetic modification require intensive care to preserve the intended genetic expressions, as well as to protect them from disease, mutation, or contamination, they said, adding that most local livestock research labs lack such facilities. LRI will continue expanding the lab's equipment and refining its standard operating procedures to earn accreditation from the International Organization for Standardization, they said.
Base station law planned
Tainan Mayor Hsu Tain-tsair (許添財) yesterday instructed city government officials to draft regulations requiring residents' approval before wireless network base stations can be set up in their neighborhoods. Although there is no clear evidence that electromagnetic waves are a health hazard, most people do not like to live in the vicinity of a cellphone base station or other types of transmission stations. Given increasing protests against such base stations, some entrepreneurs had tried to hide and disguise base stations set up in neighborhoods, triggering panic when they were discovered. To address these concerns, Hsu called for drafting the regulations -- applicable only in Tainan City -- to allow residents to decide. Hsu also called for a more efficient means of managing the establishment of base stations.
Whale shark sales banned
Sales of whale shark, the largest living fish species, will be banned starting today, an executive of the fishermen's association of Suao Township (蘇澳) in Ilan County said yesterday. The Council of Agriculture stipulated a catch quota of 30 whale sharks for this year. When that quota was reached in March, the council declared on March 27 that no further fishing would be allowed to target the giant fish -- known locally as the "Tofu shark" for its tender and white meat. It also demanded that the catches be sold within three months. The whale shark is not listed as an endangered species in Taiwan, but is listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) signed in 1973 in Washington to slow down species extinction. Out of respect for the international convention, Taiwan has set catch quotas to control the take of whale sharks.
Bike for the record
France-based mineral water firm Volvic is inviting the public to take part in a bike ride on July 21 aimed at promoting environmental protection and breaking a Guinness world record. Calling on the public to join the exercise, the company hopes to break the world record of 641 bikers riding at the same time for 3.5km in the Netherlands last year. The activity will start and end at the Tachia Riverside Park in Keelung. Participants who join the 16km ride will get a free T-shirt. They may also win other gifts offered by the organizer, including a trip to France.
Foreign lizards not welcome
Chiayi County agriculture officials yesterday issued an order to eliminate all brown anoles -- a lizard species native to Cuba and the Bahamas -- because they have been propagating so rapidly that they now pose a threat to indigenous species. Tseng Yung-hua (曾永華), head of the county's agriculture bureau, urged residents to report sightings of the lizard to the authorities so that action can be taken to catch them. Tseng said that results of an initial study showed that the brown anole probably carries parasites and that their presence could impact on the local environment. The brown anole, or Anolis sagrei, was first discovered in Chiayi County seven years ago. But large numbers of the lizards have been sighted in orchards, betel palm plantations and rural neighborhoods recently. An estimate by agricultural experts puts the number of brown anoles in Chiayi County at more than 10,000.
Al Gore visit postponed
Former US vice president Al Gore will not be able to make it to Taiwan this September to address the issue of global warming, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇) said yesterday. Tien, who invited Gore to visit Taiwan to promote awareness on global warming, told reporters yesterday that she received an e-mail from the Harry Walker Agency, which has the exclusive right to arrange Gore's speeches, saying that Gore had canceled all his scheduled events in the next six months. The visit to Taiwan had been postponed to next year, she added. Tien said the reason for the cancelation was that Gore was considering a presidential bid.
Food delivery provider Foodpanda had 564 consumer disputes from January to last month and failed to attend many mediation sessions with local governments nationwide, the Executive Yuan’s Consumer Protection Committee said. In a news release earlier this month, the committee said that it investigated consumer complaints and mediations for Foodpanda and rival Uber Eats during the period, when the number of delivery orders jumped due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Uber Eats had 80 consumer disputes, the committee said. Of Foodpanda’s consumer disputes, 368 resulted from delivery drivers canceling orders after customers could not be reached, 108 were related to the quality or quantity
‘HONEYMOON’ IS OVER: A political science professor said that the Tsai administration’s popularity peaked after it successfully contained COVID-19, but is waning President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) and Premier Su Tseng-chang’s (蘇貞昌) approval ratings fell significantly this month in the wake of the government’s handling of the distribution of relief funds and stimulus coupons to people and businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, a poll released yesterday by the New Power Party (NPP) showed. The poll showed that 68 percent of respondents said they were satisfied with Tsai’s performance, down 8.9 percentage points from last month, while 21 percent said they disapproved of her performance. Her approval among respondents aged 20 to 29 fell 14.7 percentage points, the largest decrease when compared with other age
‘CHINESE CAPITAL’: Fanny Liu was found guilty of reducing the rent of a tenant in exchange for a vote for a KMT Taipei city councilor candidate The Taipei District Court on Wednesday sentenced Fanny Liu (劉樂妍), a former member of the now-disbanded female pop group Fantasy 4, to 10 years in prison for vote-buying. The court found Liu — who is now based in China and has made pro-Chinese Communist Party remarks — guilty of reducing the rent on a Taipei property she owned in exchange for the tenant voting for a Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) candidate in the November 2018 nine-in-one local elections. She can appeal the ruling. Liu in December 2018 reportedly lowered the rent by NT$1,000 after the tenant said they had voted for Taipei City
Passengers arriving at Taoyuan International Airport will find that most entrances to both terminals have been sealed off as part of its COVID-19 prevention efforts. Follow the signs and directions posted on the doors to find the nearest entry point. The airport has installed infrared cameras and thermometer guns at all open entrances, and all persons with a temperature of over 37.5 degrees Celsius are prohibited from entering the terminal. In addition, staff will take the temperature of those checking in to their flights in advance at Airport MRT stations A1 and A3. In accordance with the Centers of Disease