Online rice drive launched
An online free goods distribution service has prepared rice for social welfare organizations and disadvantaged families to enable the nation’s needy people to enjoy the Lunar New Year holiday. The service was set up by Give543 to provide a Web-based donation platform along with major donor Ting Hung-yi (丁弘毅) to offer 1,040kg of rice to people in need starting on Tuesday, Web site founder Ma Yu-ju (馬玉如) said. As most disadvantaged groups may not have computers, it is difficult for them to learn about the donation campaign from the Web site, Ma added. Neighbors are therefore encouraged to help spread the word, and assist families in need of assistance to apply for the free rice. The rice donation campaign will run from Tuesday to Jan. 17, during which applications will be accepted on the campaign’s Web site (http://www.give543.com/mypage_give/giveto_view/1/79549). Any individual and public interest group in need of other supplements can publicize their needs on Give543.com.
Jupiter in view tomorrow
Astronomy buffs will have a chance to see Jupiter at its brightest tomorrow, when it moves closest to the Earth, the Taipei Astronomical Museum said. The opposition of Jupiter, which occurs when the Earth’s orbit situates it between the sun and the largest planet in the solar system, will offer the best view of Jupiter this year, the museum said. Although the celestial event will take place at 5:11am tomorrow, museum staffer Chang Kuei-lan (張桂蘭) said the planet will remain relatively bright until late this month. Anyone could easily find Jupiter in the late evening by looking up at the eastern sky, Chang said. Those interested in the planet’s Great Red Spot and its South Equatorial Belt are encouraged to visit the museum between 7pm and 9pm on Saturdays to use its 20cm telescope for a look, she said.
Japanese tourists down: data
Fewer Japanese tourists visited Taiwan during the first 11 months of last year as a result of the depreciation of the Japanese yen, the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting Statistics (DGBAS) said yesterday. Although the group still accounted for Taiwan’s second-largest source of tourism, after Chinese tourists, the number dropped by 2.6 percent to 1.28 million compared with the same period a year ago, officials said. This bucks the overall trend Taiwan is seeing. The DGBAS said the nation saw 7.21 million foreign arrivals between January and November last year, a 9.1 percent annual increase. By the end of last year, the nation set a new record — welcoming more than 8 million tourists for the first time in a single year.
Air quality ‘unhealthy’
The air quality in some parts of the country has reached “unhealthy” levels due to relatively high concentrations of particulate matter brought in by a continental cold air mass, a government air quality monitoring Web site indicated yesterday. The Environmental Protection Administration’s Taiwan Air Quality Monitoring Network site reported that due to the migration of transboundary pollution, the concentrations of PM10 and PM2.5 were relatively high. The pollutant standards index (PSI), based on the concentration of several particles in the air, reached a red (unhealthy air quality) level in Taipei and on Kinmen and Matsu islands yesterday morning.