Firefly peak approaching
Places nationwide are set for peak firefly activity this month as the insects breed, local governments said. In New Taipei City, the season could continue into early June, according to the city’s Agricultural Department, which has listed 48 hot spots for watching the beetles, including the Yuanshan hiking trail in the Sansia District (三峽), the Pingsi District (平溪) and the Emerald Pond in the Sijhih District (汐止). The Namasia District (那瑪夏) in Kaohsiung has also recorded increasing firefly activity. The district has designated firefly-watching trails in Takanua, Maya and Nangisalu villages, adding that the best time to spot the creatures is between 7pm and 8:30pm. Traditional firefly-watching areas, including Sun Moon Lake and the nearby Puli (埔里) area in Nantou County, are also encouraging the public to take part in their annual firefly festivals. In Taichung, government-backed firefly-watching are to take place in the Dongshi (東勢), Dakeng (大坑) and Sinshe (新社) districts.
Medical parole extended
Former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) medical parole has been extended by three months, officials said on Friday. Chen, who was convicted of corruption and is serving a 20-year sentence, is to be allowed to receive medical treatment outside of prison until Aug. 4, officials said. Friday’s extension was the second that Chen has received. He received a three-month extension in early February.
Campaign budget set: DPP
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has approved a budget of NT$200 million (US$6.5 million) for its presidential and legislative election campaigns next year, DPP spokesperson Cheng Yun-peng (鄭運鵬) said. The DPP’s campaign budget is bigger than in previous elections because it is anticipating more votes, which means it will be eligible to receive a bigger government subsidy for campaign funding, Cheng said. The NT$200 million is to be mainly used to run the party’s headquarters, Cheng said. He said DPP candidates would be responsible for funding their own campaign offices. The presidential and legislative elections are in January next year. Regulations stipulate that presidential and vice presidential candidates may establish accounts for political donations beginning on May 20. The DPP will continue its efforts to attract funding from smaller donors, Cheng said.
Hualien river race date set
An annual triathlon along the nation’s east coast, which features river rafting instead of the usual swimming segment, is to be run on June 21. The Xiuguluan River Rafting Triathlon, now in its sixth year, is part of celebrations of the summer solstice, with the nation being one of 16 that the Tropic of Cancer passes through, tourism officials said. The race includes 11km of rafting on the Xiuguluan River (秀姑巒溪) in Hualien County followed by a 12.6km run and a 44km cycling section, the East Coast National Scenic Area Administration said. Registrations, which run through May 24, already include about 20 athletes from five countries, it said. Speaking at a promotional event on Thursday, guest runners Erica Reinhold and Bastiaan Bruell said the fact that the race introduces river rafting to replace swimming could be less physically demanding for beginners. For more information about the event, visit xgl-triathlon.ncom.tw.
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
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
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