■ Oil \nAsian prices down US$0.31 \nOil retreated further from its US$53 per barrel threshold in Asian trade yesterday, but players in the market remained edgy about tight supplies heading into North America's winter heating season. Output is still badly crippled in the Gulf of Mexico due to hurricane damage, and fears of violence in Nigeria and an oil strike in Norway added to worries that have pushed crude to record levels on the New York and London futures market. Oil for November delivery was trading at US$52.36 in online New York Mercantile Exchange dealings mid-afternoon in Asia yesterday, down US$0.31 from the final price during Thursday's regular session in New York. \n■ Retail \nSeiyu plans supercenter \nSeiyu Ltd, a Japanese retailer 37-percent owned by Wal-Mart Stores Inc, said it will build a two-level outlet near Tokyo as part of a new focus on supercenters. The outlet, modeled after Wal-Mart stores in the US, will open next year in Hiratsuka, south of Tokyo, the company said. The store would be Seiyu's second supercenter since its first opened in April in Numazu, west of the capital. Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, seeks to expand in Japan through Seiyu. The Bentonville, Arkansas-based Wal-Mart is helping Seiyu adopt new inventory and data management systems to improve efficiency and to compete against Aeon Co, Ito-Yokado Co and other retailers. Tokyo-based Seiyu will this year open three new general merchandise stores and six supermarkets, spokesman Ryuichi Goto said. \n■ Censorship \nChina to screen games \nChina plans ratings systems for online games, books and movies to protect children from violence and sexual content, its latest effort to tighten controls on various media, reports said yesterday. The system for censoring online games will be introduced by the end of this month, the state-run newspaper Shanghai Daily said, citing officials attending a conference in Shanghai. Online games will be divided into: games suitable for all; those for junior high school students and older; those for high school students and older; those for 18-year-olds and older; and those for adults, it said. The ratings will be based on various factors such as horror, violence and sexual content. The number of players in China is expected to soar to almost 42 million by 2007. Despite efforts to control content, online games revenues are expected to hit 9.3 billion yuan (US$1.1 billion) by 2006, they said. \n■ Software \nSpyware scheme tackled \nThe US Federal Trade Commission has filed the first case in the US against software companies accused of infecting computers with intrusive "spyware" and then trying to sell people the solution. The commission accused the companies of infecting computers with unsolicited software, showering computer screens with pop-up ads and then trying to get consumers to pay. It is seeking an injunction to get the companies, owned by the same person, to stop, and to offer restitution to consumers. The FTC requested a temporary restraining order on Thursday from the US District Court for the District of New Hampshire against Seismic Entertainment Productions Inc, Smartbot.Net Inc and Sanford Wallace.
HELPING HAND: Taiwan is ready to help other nations and will not sit idly by while the global fight against the coronavirus continues, President Tsai Ing-wen said Taiwan, as a responsible member of the international community, is to offer humanitarian assistance to nations hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic by sending them masks and medicine, as well as sharing with them an electronic system that the government has been using to track down people that need to be quarantined, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said yesterday. With the nation’s daily production having reached 13 million masks and soon to reach 15 million, the government is to donate 10 million masks to medical personnel in nations most severely affected by the coronavirus, Tsai said at the Presidential Office in Taipei. The
NINE NEW CASES: The CECC said two locally transmitted cases of COVID-19, and seven imported ones – five women and two men – brought the nation’s total to 348 People who refuse to wear a mask on public transportation after being asked to do so would face a NT$3,000 to NT$15,000 fine, effective immediately, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday after announcing nine additional COVID-19 cases. In a move to curtail the spread of the novel coronavirus, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications on Tuesday announced that people must wear masks on trains and intercity buses, while Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, on Tuesday said that people should wear them when they cannot maintain a social distance of 1.5m indoors. Chen yesterday
TRILLION PROPOSED: The premier said the goal was to keep ‘businesses solvent, the unemployment rate down, transportation and logistics going, and cash flowing’ The Executive Yuan yesterday announced an expanded economic stimulus package totaling NT$1.05 trillion (US$34.64 billion), including NT$81.6 billion in subsidies for employers to prevent a spike in unemployment. The increased budget comprises a special budget of NT$210 billion, up from the NT$60 billion already passed by the Legislative Yuan; NT$140 billion — up from NT$40 billion — to be appropriated from the general budget; and NT$700 billion in loans to industries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics Minister Chu Tzer-ming (朱澤民) told a news conference at the Executive Yuan in Taipei. The NT$150 billion increase in the
The Central Epidemic Command Center yesterday released a set of revised criteria for reporting suspected COVID-19 cases, while also announcing its guidelines for disclosing patients’ personal information. The center said that its advisory specialist panel revised the definition for “severe pneumonia with novel pathogens” — COVID-19 infection — by expanding the criteria needed to report suspected cases. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that physicians should report people for testing if they meet one of three clinical conditions: They have a fever, acute respiratory infection, or a lack of smell or taste; there is a