Mandarin contest announced
A contest is opening to foreign expats in Taiwan — choose one Chinese character to describe the nation and elaborate on it in a three-minute speech in Mandarin. Organized by Radio Taiwan International, the speech contest, dubbed “Taiwan in a Word,” is open to all foreign nationals, regardless of age, whose native languages are not Mandarin or Taiwanese and whose parents are not of Chinese or Taiwanese ancestry. Teaming up with the Hanguang Education Foundation this year, the organizers will give away eight trophies, with prize money ranging from NT$2,000 to NT$30,000, the organizers said. To add some intrigue, after the preliminary round on May 29 and the final round on June 12, there will be a surprise competition held for the top five winners on the same day. Registration will close on Tuesday.
TRTC adding suicide barriers
Taipei Rapid Transit Corp (TRTC) said yesterday it planned to add safeguards at its stations after three people jumped onto the tracks this past week in separate incidents. One woman was killed and another two women were injured. The safety standards of the metro system have been questioned after the three passengers — two on Wednesday and one on Thursday — leapt onto the tracks in suspected suicides. The accidents took place at the metro’s Yongchun Station, Fuzhong Station and National Taiwan University Hospital Station. None of the three stations were equipped with platform screen doors that can reduce potential accidents. TRTC said it would install the doors at 15 more stations in the next three years to enhance passenger safety. At present, 42 of the 94 metro stations have screen doors. Until the doors are in place, Ling said the company would send more guards to patrol the platforms.
Drought hurts bird breeding
A continued dry spell has hurt bird breeding in southern Taiwan, with the number of birds building nests in the region dropping noticeably this spring, the Wild Bird Society of Tainan (WBST) said yesterday. According to the WBST, the numbers of both resident and migratory birds’ nests along Tainan’s coastlines have declined between 30 and 50 percent compared with previous years. The society said this might be linked to the drought that has affected Taiwan since the beginning of this year.
Ractopamine found in meat
The Department of Health announced on Friday that it has again found residues of drugs promoting leanness in livestock in meat products imported from the US and Canada. A total of six shipments of beef, pork and turkey products waiting to clear customs were found to contain the leanness drug Paylean, officials from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said. Paylean contains ractopamine, an animal-use drug that, along with salbutamol, terbu-taline and clenbuterol, is banned in Taiwan. The FDA said it has detected 0.6ppb (parts per billion) to 6.76ppb of the additive in five samples of US beef, pork and turkey and one sample of Canadian pork, and that the products have already been seized. Out of the six shipments, two boneless sirloin and one boneless bovine tendon were found to be imported by the same company. Because the two kinds of products imported by the company had failed inspection several times in the past, they will be subject to 100 percent inspections in the future, the FDA said.