Banyan unlikely to hit
Tropical Storm Banyan, which has been downgraded to a tropical depression, is likely to regain strength and develop into a tropical storm again, but the chances of it hitting Taiwan are small, the Central Weather Bureau said yesterday. Banyan, which formed southeast of Taiwan on Tuesday, was downgraded to a tropical depression after it made landfall in the Philippines on Thursday. However, it has been picking up moisture as it moves across the South China Sea and has the potential to develop into a storm, the bureau said. As of 8am yesterday, the depression was located 700 km southwest of Taiwan’s southernmost tip of Oluanpi (鵝鑾鼻), moving in a north-northwesterly direction at 20kph, the bureau said. Although it is unlikely to pose a direct threat to Taiwan, the bureau cautioned there could be sudden downpours nationwide over the weekend. It also warned that residents in eastern Taiwan should be on high alert because the area was still recovering from heavy precipitation brought by Tropical Storm Nalgae.
NIA told to toughen stance
The Ministry of the Interior instructed the National Immigration Agency (NIA) on Thursday to step up a crackdown on runaway or illegal foreign workers. According to the latest statistics released by the agency, a total of 31,912 foreign workers have absconded from their jobs and only 2,179 have been detained. Deputy Minister of the Interior Chien Tai-lang (簡太郎) warned employers not to hire illegal foreign workers or those on the run. Employers who do so could face a fine of between NT$150,000 and NT$750,000. Foreign workers who have been listed as missing persons would face deportation if caught, he said. The ministry has asked local governments to enhance inspections of workplaces such as public construction sites and entertainment venues frequented by foreign workers, he added.
NTNU steps up security
National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU) yesterday said it would step up security measures after at least four female students reported being groped at night over the past two months. The university said the measures would include giving female students a whistle to draw attention and increasing the number of light fixtures and closed-circuit televisions. NTNU secretary-general Lin An-bang (林安邦) said the school has also told each department to remind female students to travel in groups when going out at night and to make sure that doors are closed when they are in individual study rooms or classrooms. According to the school, the suspect is a man in his 30s, adding that near-by Shihda Night Market has also reported similar incidents.
Annual jazz festival begins
Greater Taichung’s annual jazz festival opens today, which Taichung Mayor Jason Hu (胡志強) said has become a major music festival in Asia. The festival will run till Oct. 23. The line-up includes the Charles Tolliver Band and the Sirius Quartet, as well as Scene of Jazz from Japan, Koh Mr Saxman from Thailand and outfits from Malaysia, South Korea, Shanghai and Hong Kong. According to Hu, in the early years of the festival, a lack of funding and performers meant that the city had to call agents in Thailand, Japan and South Korea to find bands willing to travel to Taichung to perform. In the ensuing years, however, the festival has gained in popularity through word of mouth, Hu said, adding that he expects it to attract up to 800,000 people this year, up from last year’s 750,000. He also expressed hope that the festival, now in its ninth year, will attract 1 million people next year.
S.H.E. fan bids on invite
The fiance of Taiwanese singer Selina Jen (任家萱), a member of the pop band S.H.E., personally handed the final bidder a wedding invitation earlier this week, which helped raise NT$222,300 for a local burns charity. The 29-year-old bidder, who gave her name only as “Vivi,” said she was very happy and excited to find out she had won the bid. Selina’s life has been in the spotlight since she sustained severe burns during a TV shoot in Shanghai a year ago. The entertainer has undergone three skin grafts. The wedding invitation was among a variety of items provided by a total of 22 celebrities as part of an online fundraising auction held by the Taipei-based Sunshine Social Welfare Foundation. Total sales reached over NT$400,000.
EPA targets carbon dioxide
The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) is considering listing carbon dioxide as an air pollutant if the legislature does not pass a key environmental law in its current session, according to Environmental Protection Administration Minister Stephen Shen (沈世宏). Shen said his agency would propose an amendment to the Air Pollution Prevention Act (空氣污染防制法) to classify carbon dioxide as an air pollutant as part of its efforts to reduce carbon emissions in the country. Since 2006, the agency has been pushing for passage of the greenhouse gas reduction act, but the bill has been stalled in the legislature because of concerns over its impact on industry. Shen said the EPA plans to begin to regulate carbon emissions soon, starting with factories, automobile manufacturers and importers. He said people should be aware that the cost of electricity will rise once the carbon reduction policies take effect. Once electricity consumption drops, the price of electricity will naturally fall again, he said
First lady visits NYC library
First lady Chow Mei-ching (周美青) visited a library in Forest Hills area of Queens, New York City, on Thursday and presented the library with children’s books from Taiwan in the hope that more young Americans can learn about Chinese culture. Chow arrived in New York for a five-day visit on Wednesday to attend the US premiere of Cloud Gate Dance Theatre’s Water Stains on the Wall, which had its world premier in Taipei last November. Chow was scheduled yesterday to attend the inauguration of a Taiwan Academy, a facility initiated by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to present Chinese language and culture based on traditional Chinese characters.
SPEEDING ELETRIC VEHICLES: Available without license requirements, the low-cost vehicles, especially if illicitly modified, can often reach a dangerous speed The government should crack down on illegal electric bicycles and scooters, the non-profit Consumers’ Foundation said on Friday, citing research on the potentially dangerous speed of the vehicles. Electric bicycles and lightweight electric scooters have gained popularity as they do not require registration and riders do not need licenses, the foundation said, adding that as many as 40 percent of them can reach speeds exceeding the legal limit of 25kph for non-licensed two-wheelers. Some consumers also purchased legal electric vehicles and modified them to reach higher speeds, it said. “If the government does not step up efforts to confiscate these
‘RELIABLE PARTNER’: US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar praised the ‘Taiwan model,’ saying that the nation brought its spirit to its COVID-19 response The first memorandum of understanding (MOU) on health cooperation between the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the US Department of Health and Human Services was yesterday signed at the Centers for Disease Control in Taipei. The memorandum was signed between the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the US, by AIT Director Brent Christensen and Taiwan Council for US Affairs Chairperson Jen-ni Yang (楊珍妮). US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar and Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) witnessed the signing of the memorandum, designed to enhance the nations’
Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) yesterday tweeted a welcome to Somaliland’s first representative to Taiwan, Mohamed Omar Hagi Mohamoud, who arrived on Friday. Mohamoud had “braved Chinese pressure” to take up his new post, Wu wrote. “The fact ‘sovereignty & friendship aren’t for sale’ deserves international recognition,” referring to a Somaliland media report earlier this month that Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi had rejected an offer by the Chinese government in exchange for ending its rapprochement with Taiwan. Wu also thanked the US National Security Council (NSC) for praising Taiwan-Somaliland ties. A council tweet on July 10 praised Taiwan
The US on Thursday removed a warning against all international travel, and placed Taiwan on a list of 13 destinations where the risk of COVID-19 transmission is “very low.” The list was compiled almost five months after the US Department of State issued a “global level 4 health advisory,” urging US citizens to avoid all international travel. On Thursday, the department announced that it was lifting the advisory, saying that “with health and safety conditions improving in some countries and potentially deteriorating in others, the Department is returning to our previous system of country-specific levels of travel advice.” The US