Gondola resuming service
The Maokong Gondola cable car system in Taipei is scheduled to resume service at 8:30am today following a 31-day suspension for general maintenance. New carriages bearing images of leopards, zebras, giraffes and peacocks will also be launched to take passengers 275m up the mountain in the Maokong (貓空) area of Wenshan District (文山), Taipei Rapid Transit Corp said. The company also extended the expiration date of the 9,510 free “revisit” tickets distributed to passengers who made bookings on the gondola’s online system and took the cable car trip in January. The tickets are valid until June 30, but because of the maintenance period, the date has been extended to July 31, the company said. The system, which went into operation in 2007, saw its total passenger rides reach 10 million in August last year, according to the company’s Web site.
East Africa to receive rice
Taiwan is donating 1,150 tonnes of rice to East African countries for refugees who have been displaced by famine and the region’s worst drought in 60 years, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday. The food aid will be shipped by boat in three batches, NGO Affairs Committee Deputy Chairman Wu Rong-chuan (吳榮泉) said at a donation ceremony at the Port of Taichung. The rice has been packaged in 3kg bags that will be easy to carry and bear the words of “Love From Taiwan,” along with an imprint of the Republic of China flag, Wu added. The Agriculture and Food Agency inspected the rice to ensure that only the best quality is being sent, especially because the shipment will take 35 days for delivery, Wu said. The affected countries, including Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia, were hit by a severe drought in July last year that caused the displacement of 13 million people, Wu said, adding that Somalian refugees have been flooding into Kenya in the wake of the drought, which is aggravating the famine situation.
A Thai man was sentenced yesterday to seven months in prison for forcefully kissing a local woman and licking her face in New Taipei City (新北市). The man was convicted on obscenity charges because the act, which took place in February, was carried out against the woman’s wishes, the Banciao District Court said. According to the court, he grabbed the woman as she was jogging at night in a stadium. When they fell down as she resisted, he forcefully kissed and licked her until passersby heard her screams and intervened. He can appeal the ruling.
Vaccine project launched
Taiwan and Canada will work together to develop new vaccines in a new project with a target of completing first-phase clinical trials within five years, Taiwanese officials said during a conference held in Canada earlier this week. Kuo Ming-liang (郭明良), director-general of the National Science Council’s Department of Life Sciences, who led the Taiwanese delegation, said they hope one or two of the vaccines will be suitable for clinical trials in three years. Representative to Canada David Lee (李大維) said Taipei has been working closely with Ottawa in the scientific field over the past decade, collaborating on more than 40 projects. Kuo said Taiwan and Canada each have advantages in developing vaccines against new infectious diseases and could complement each other.