■ Temblor detection
The Central Weather Bureau has improved its earthquake detection system and officials said yesterday that by the end of next year they would be able to detect a magnitude-4 or stronger earthquake and issue a notification within 35 seconds. The nation suffered its deadliest earthquake in five decades on Sept. 21, 1999, when it was hit by a magnitude-7.3 temblor, leaving 2,415 people dead and more than 10,000 injured and causing serious damage to property and infrastructure nationwide. At that time, it took the bureau's Seismology Center 102 seconds to fully grasp the magnitude of the earthquake and issue a notification, the officials said.
Stray dog rescued
Animal rights activists in Kaohsiung City saved a stray dog whose head was trapped in a plastic container for the past month, cable news network TVBS reported. The network said an elderly woman reported the distressed animal earlier this month. She said the animal had avoided anyone trying to come near it. It was not immediately known how the dog got its head trapped in the container and how it managed to consume food and water. There have been increasing reports of animal cruelty, in which some dogs were found to have clusters of rubber bands cutting into their necks or had been partially skinned. Stray-care associations and animal rights activists urged the government to punish those who mistreat animals.
Chou, Lee row continues
A dispute between Taipei County Commissioner Chou Hsi-wei (周錫瑋) and Minister of the Interior Lee Yi-yang (李逸洋) continued yesterday, with Chou challenging Lee to debate the matter in public, only to have his challenge rebuffed by the minister. Lee said there was no point arguing with Chou in public, as the promotion and appointment of police officers lies squarely within the authority of the National Police Administration. As county commissioner, he said, Chou simply does not have the right to make promotions or appointments, irrespective of the fact that Taipei County was upgraded to a quasi-special municipality on Oct. 1. Chou, who tried to promote 140 middle-ranking police officers in his county only to have his promotions declared null and void by the ministry, argued that his power to control police appointments and promotions should be the same as that of his counterparts in the special municipalities of Taipei and Kaohsiung.
Councilors cross floor
The Tainan City People First Party's (PFP) council caucus will be consigned to history today as all three PFP councilors will return to the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). PFP Tainan City councilors Lee Chin-chuan (李錦泉), Wang Chia-chen (王家貞) and Lin Mei-yan (林美燕) will formally announce their return to the KMT today. The PFP caucus discussed the return of its members to the KMT and decided to support KMT nominees for both legislative and presidential elections during a meeting last month. Although the PFP has asked the three councilors to delay their return to the KMT, Lee said they were left with no other choice, but stressed that they would still serve PFP supporters in their constituency. KMT membership will be officially restored to the three councilors late next month, Lee said.
A Taipei veterinarian is urging pet owners to avoid using insecticides around their homes, as their ingredients can be toxic to pets. Commercial-grade insecticides contain pyrethroids — organic compounds similar to natural pyrethrins, pesticides produced by flowers such as chrysanthemums — in quantities that are harmless to humans, but potentially fatal to cats and dogs, Asian Veterinary Specialist Referral Center veterinarian Chua Man-ling (蔡曼琳) said. Even in small quantities, pyrethroids are hazardous to cats, as they lack the metabolic enzymes needed to process them, Chua said. Cockroach sprays and ant traps are especially dangerous to pets as they contain boric acid, she
DREAMING OF TRAVEL: About 7,000 people applied for the experience, with about 60 chosen for the first flight yesterday, which includes boarding an airplane Starved of the travel experience during COVID-19? Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) has the solution — a fake itinerary where you check in, go through passport control and security, and even board the aircraft. You just never leave. The airport yesterday began offering travelers the chance to do just that, with about 60 people eager to get going, albeit to nowhere. About 7,000 people applied to take part, with the winners chosen by random. More fake flight experiences are to take place in the coming weeks. “I really want to leave the country, but because of the pandemic, lots of flights cannot fly,”
A DEPRIVATION? The Taiwan Higher Education Union said the program, which drew much student criticism, undermined students' right to an education The Taiwan Higher Education Union on Monday accused Ming Chuan University (MCU) of sacrificing its students’ right to education by altering the English-language instruction for first-year students. The university, which has long emphasized the value that it places on English-language education, in the 2019-2020 academic year changed its English program for first-year students to a combination of self-learning through online videos and weekly lab sessions, during which students would take online tests, the union said. The change has deprived more than 3,000 students of in-person instruction and of interaction with their teachers, the union added. The online program drew much criticism from students
DOING ENOUGH? The HPA budgets NT$1.3 billion to prevent the health hazards of tobacco, but has no separate budget to fight teen drinking, a doctor said The government should step up alcohol education and prevention efforts, and allocate more of the budget to it, doctors said on Friday, citing the high consumption of alcohol among Taiwanese adolescents. One out of four 12-to-17-year-olds has consumed alcohol, said Yen Tsung-hai (顏宗海), director of Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital’s Department of Clinical Toxicology. The Health Promotion Administration (HPA) budgets NT$1.3 billion (US$43.9 million) annually to prevent the health hazards of tobacco, but it has not allocated a separate budget for preventing teenage drinking or excessive alcohol use, Yen said. “There is no so-called ‘safe drinking level’ for minors,” because any amount consumed