Stanton meets MOJ boss
American Institute in Taiwan Director William Stanton said yesterday that Taiwan had made good progress in combating human trafficking. Before a closed-door meeting with Minister of Justice Tseng Yung-fu (曾勇夫) at the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), Stanton told reporters that he appreciated the effort Taiwan was making in combatting sex trafficking. He also said the US and Taiwan could reach agreements on a number of judicial issues — including passport security and extradition of fugitives, before adding that he and Tseng were “old friends.” Stanton refused to comment on Taiwan’s execution of several death row prisoners earlier this year or whether the US would extradite white collar criminals such as former Rebar Group chairman Wang You-theng (王又曾), who fled to the US in 2007.
MOTC launches sign contest
The Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) yesterday invited the public to submit examples of problematic bilingual signs to help improve travel for foreign visitors. People who upload photos of incorrect signs at railway stations, freeway service areas or national scenic areas administrated by the ministry to its Facebook page before the end of January will have the chance to win a Wii or an iPod, each worth more than NT$10,000, the ministry said. Many bilingual traffic signs are incorrect and can confuse visitors or otherwise inconvenience them, ministry officials said, who cited one sign that reads “Beware of missing foot,” instead of simply saying “Unstable footing.”
Visa plan boosts UK visits
The UK’s inclusion of Taiwan in its visa-exemption scheme from March last year has led to a marked increase in the number of Taiwanese visitors, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday. A total of 80,935 Taiwanese visited the UK last year, Department of European Affairs Director-General James Lee (李光章) said. That was a 56 percent increase over the 51,930 who visited in 2008, he said, citing statistics from the UK Border Agency. “The number of short-term visitors rose 107 percent rise from 2008 to 2009, and 150 percent — from 18,655 to 46,720 — if business travelers were differentiated from short-term visitors,” Lee said. Bilateral relations have also become closer since the UK granted visa-free privileges, he said. The number of short-term students heading to the UK also increased, from 1,940 in 2008 to 3,305 last year, he said.
Baseball player still held
A Nicaraguan baseball player accused of sexual assault has not been bailed and remains at the Taichung Detention Center, the Taichung District Prosecutors Office said yesterday.
Gustavo Horacio Lopez came to Taiwan with his team for the Intercontinental Cup baseball tournament, which ended on Sunday. He has been accused of sexually assaulting a Taiwanese woman in a hotel on the evening of Oct. 26. He cannot afford the NT$200,000 bail and no one has come forward to pay the bond on his behalf, chief Prosecutor Wu Tso-yan (吳祚延) said. If the investigation is not closed and no one posts bail by the time Lopez’s initial detention period ends in next month, prosecutors could apply to keep Lopez behind bars for another two months.
Some Yogurt drinks fail
More than 10 percent of diluted yogurt drinks sold locally were found to be substandard, according to the Taipei County Public Health Bureau. Results of a test conducted by the bureau showed two of the 15 diluted yogurt drink brands were found to contain far fewer lactobacillus bacteria than the level set by the Department of Health (DOH). One of the two substandard products contained only 7,600 lactobacillus bacterium per gram — an extremely small amount compared with the 1 million lactobacillus bacterium per gram required by the DOH. Vendors throughout the county have been ordered to remove the items from their shelves, bureau officials said. Noting that manufacturers of the substandard products were located in Hsinchu County, the officials said they have informed the Hsinchu County Government of its test results and asked that the producers be ordered to make improvements within an appropriate period.
Gondola adds glass cars
Twenty cars equipped with transparent, crystal-like glass floors joined the Maokong Gondola service on Tuesday. The glass-floored cars, dubbed the “Eyes of Maokong Gondola,” allow passengers to better enjoy the scenery during the ride between the southern suburb of Muzha (木柵) and the mountainous Maokong (貓空) area, gondola operator Taipei Mass Rapid Transit Corp said. The cars were manufactured by Sigma, a subsidy of French company Poma, a world leader in building cable-driven lift systems, the Taipei-based company said. The Maokong Gondola, which has regularly maintained 129 cars in operation, has provided 7.58 million rides to tourists since it was inaugurated on July 4, 2007, despite a service hiatus of 18 months through March because of safety concerns.
‘LONE WOLF’: The suspect was difficult to locate, as he did not use a cellphone, did not contact family and often lived in abandoned sites or parks, police said Taipei police on Thursday morning arrested a man accused of numerous burglaries and at least 14 incidents of sexual assault spanning more than 20 years, in what might be the nation’s most notorious crime spree in recent years. Sixty-year-old Tu Ming-lang (涂明朗) — who was yesterday placed in judicial detention, after a judge determined he was a flight risk without a fixed address — faces multiple charges of sexual assault and burglary, police said. A task force comprised of various law enforcement agencies arrested Tu as part of an investigation into an April 28 burglary in Daan District (大安), in which a
The majority of parents surveyed in northern Taiwan favor the suspension of all on-site classes at schools from the junior-high level and below amid a surge in domestic COVID-19 infections, parent groups said yesterday. About 84.4 percent of respondents in a survey of 2,912 parents in northern Taiwan, where the outbreak is the most serious, said they supported suspending classes, the Action Alliance on Basic Education, the Taiwan Parents Protect Women and Children Association, and the Taiwan Love Children Association said. The groups distributed questionnaires to parents in New Taipei City, Taipei, Keelung, Taoyuan and Hsinchu city and county from Saturday morning
ASEAN BATTLEGROUND: Japan and Australia could be drawn into Pacific tensions as China sets its sights on the Diaoyutai Islands and further beyond the first island chain Tensions between China and the US in the Indo-Pacific region are expected to intensify, the National Security Bureau and Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, recommending that Taiwan continue to emphasize its shared values and interests to encourage resistance to Chinese aggression. US commitments in the Indo-Pacific region are expected to continue unabated despite the war in Ukraine, as Beijing takes advantage of the conflict to expand its influence in the region, the agencies said in reports delivered to the legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee on Sunday, ahead of a hearing yesterday on regional developments and trends. Although Russia’s invasion of
ONLINE REPORT: Confirmed cases filling out the online contact tracing report can check a box to indicate that a close contact had received a booster dose, an official said The guidelines for diagnosing COVID-19 have been revised to include people aged 65 or older who test positive with a rapid test that is confirmed by a healthcare worker, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday, as it reported 65,794 new local infections. The CECC had first announced the change on Monday, before publishing the new guidelines. Starting today, people aged 65 or older, regardless of whether they are undergoing home quarantine, home isolation or self-disease prevention, can be classified as a confirmed COVID-19 case by a healthcare professional, based on a positive result from an antigen rapid test, said