Airlines seek new venture
US carriers United and Continental and Japan’s All Nippon Airways asked for approval for a new joint trans-Pacific venture to compete against other global alliances. The airlines filed an application with the US Department of Transportation for antitrust immunity “to create a more efficient and comprehensive trans-Pacific network, generating substantial service and pricing benefits for consumers.” The airlines said the venture would enable them to compete more effectively with other global alliances. Approval would give them authority to jointly manage trans-Pacific activities including scheduling, pricing and sales. The announcement came a day after the US Justice Department said a tie-up of British Airways and American Airlines for trans-Atlantic flights would lead to “competitive harm” and called for restrictions on the deal.
Share know-how: Chavez
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez told foreign automakers on Wednesday to share their technology with local businesses or they will be told to leave the country. Chavez gave the ultimatum to Ford, GM, Toyota and Fiat during a public ceremony in Caracas. There was no immediate response from the companies, which all have assembly plants in Venezuela. If his demand isn’t met, Chavez said, “I invite you to pack up your belongings and leave. I’ll bring in the Russians, the Belarusians, the Chinese.” Last year, auto plants in Venezuela produced 135,042 cars and trucks. But Venezuela’s currency controls have the industry struggling to obtain the cash they need to import enough parts and pay down debts.
Immigrants returning home
Tens of thousands of immigrants who flocked to Ireland to seek work during its Celtic Tiger economic boom appear to have gone home during the recession, official data out on Wednesday showed. A Central Statistic Office (CSO) analysis of personal public service numbers (PPSN) that are needed to get a job or claim welfare showed that of the 967,800 foreigners assigned numbers from 2002 to last year, only 425,600 were working at some time during 2008. The number of PPSNs allocated to foreigners fell sharply last year to 154,834, a 28 percent drop from the 2007 figure of 215,265. The CSO said the largest drop was for the EU accession states, which fell by over half to 65,700. The number of PPSNs issued peaked at 226,807 in 2006. The CSO said the economic downturn contributed to the low first-year employment rate for last year, when only 48 percent of immigrants got jobs.
Unpopular tax watered down
Malaysia has watered down an unpopular property gains tax, saying the 5 percent levy will only be imposed on properties sold within five years of purchase, reports said yesterday. Prime Minister Najib Razak reportedly said the decision was made following appeals from industry groups, and that the government would forgo tax revenue amounting to 200 million ringgit (US$59 million) a year. “We are willing to forgo a substantial amount of revenue so that the sector can expand and grow,” he was quoted as saying by the Edge financial daily. The tax, imposed on financial gains made on the sale of a property, was announced by Najib in the budget for next year in October. It is being reintroduced after being removed in 2007, in a move aimed at broadening Malaysia’s tax base to finance various development projects.
ONGOING PROBE: A former Military Intelligence Bureau colonel, major general and another colonel, as well as five other people, have been questioned by prosecutors The Taipei District Court yesterday ordered that a retired colonel from the Military Intelligence Bureau (MIB) calling himself Taiwan’s “first special agent” be detained and held incommunicado as part of an ongoing investigation into espionage allegations targeting at least three former bureau officials. The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office was seeking to detain former MIB colonel Chang Chao-jan (張超然) over his alleged involvement in introducing retired agents to Chinese national security authorities and passing confidential documents to China. Chang’s actions, if proven, would contravene the National Security Act (國家安全法), which carries a prison term of three to 10 years, and the National Intelligence
The US House of Representatives’ China Task Force, launched by Republicans earlier this year, yesterday proposed the China task force act, a package of 137 pieces of legislation, seven of which involve Taiwan, in the hope of getting it passed before the 117th US Congress convenes on Jan. 3. The act encompasses a wide range of issues, including combatting Beijing’s influence around the globe, establishing the US’ dominance in determining 5G network standards and means for bringing UN members to task for abusing their influence within the UN system. The seven acts involving Taiwan address concerns such as the Taiwan Assurance Act
Chinese health authorities investigating a COVID-19 outbreak have said that they discovered live coronavirus on frozen food packaging, a finding that suggests the virus can survive in cold supply chains. The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday said that it had found traces of live COVID-19 on the outer packaging of frozen cod in the eastern city of Qingdao, marking the first time that live coronavirus has been detected on the outside of refrigerated goods. Researchers were investigating the source of a cluster of cases linked to a hospital in Qingdao. Genetic traces had previously been found in samples of
A Chinese soldier apprehended earlier this week by the Indian Army after he strayed across a tense de facto border was on Tuesday night handed back to China, an Indian government source in New Delhi said yesterday. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldier had on Monday been captured in the Demchok area of eastern Ladakh, the Indian Army said in a statement. The Chinese military also released a statement, saying that Corporal Wang Yalong was handed over early yesterday. New Delhi on Monday said that it had detained Wang after he crossed into Indian-controlled territory, while China announced that Wang had gotten