Sun, May 16, 2021
The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday raised the COVID-19 alert for Taipei and New Taipei City to level 3 in light of surging cases in the two cities. The enhanced disease prevention measures for level 3 are to be implemented until May 28, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, told a morning news conference at the Executive Yuan in Taipei. With 180 locally transmitted cases confirmed yesterday, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said that the government must take immediate action to protect the public, referring to measures stipulated in the Communicable Disease Control Act (傳染病防治法). Other counties and cities remain at level 2 alert, the authorities said, adding that unnecessary travel between areas at level 2 and level 3 is to be avoided. Chen said that the test positivity rates in hot spots in Taipei and New Taipei City has increased over the past few days, ranging from 3 to 10 percent, adding that there is a “rather high infection risk” in the two cities. “The current approach of using contact tracing to contain the spread of the virus might have limited effect, so we need to take community disease prevention measures and raise the COVID-19 alert level to effectively control this outbreak,” Chen said. Disease prevention measures to be implemented nationwide include closing recreational facilities, banning pilgrimages and related activities, closing junior-high and elementary school campuses to visitors, and suspending some activities of social clubs. The recreational facilities include cabarets, dance halls, night clubs, clubhouses, hostess bars, pubs, KTV and MTV lounges, barber shops, massage parlors, recreational centers (including massage, sauna and spa facilities), bowling alleys, billiard rooms, fitness centers (including civil sports centers), indoor golf practice facilities, game centers, amusement arcades, Internet cafes, gambling houses and similar facilities. Chen said that although the majority of the confirmed local infections are
RAISED ALERT: If an average of 100 cases are reported for 14 consecutive days, a level 4 alert would be issued and travel restricted, Chen Shih-chung said The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported 185 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 180 locally transmitted cases and five imported cases. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that the 180 local infections included 58 men and 112 women, aged from under five years old to older than 80, and the onset of symptoms occurred between April 23 and Friday. The confirmed cases include 89 residents of Taipei, 75 residents of New Taipei City, six from Changhua County, four in Yilan County and Taoyuan, and one each in Taichung and Keelung, he said. Among the cases in Taipei, 43 were in Wanhua District (萬華), he added. As cluster infections, involving dozens of cases, were confirmed in Wanhua, New Taipei City’s Lujhou District (蘆洲) and Yilan County in the past week, and most cases reported yesterday were in Taipei and New Taipei City, Chen said that the center would raise the COVID-19 alert to level 3 in the cities. Due to the “unique characteristics” of businesses in Wanhua, many infected cases were unwilling to reveal their contacts and whereabouts, he said. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞), deputy chief of the CECC’s medical response division, said that genome sequencing on confirmed cases shows that several in the clustered infections might be linked to an earlier cluster infection among China Airlines Ltd (中華航空) crew members and its quarantine hotel, Novotel Taipei Taoyuan International Airport. Seventeen cases in the airline and hotel cluster, 10 associated with social club members at Lujhou, four associated with tea houses in Wanhua and a case at a gambling house in Yilan County were all infected by the same strain of the UK variant, he said. Chen said that enhanced disease prevention measures would be implemented nationwide along with tightened restrictions in Taipei and
Australia yesterday carried out its first repatriation flight from India after temporarily banning all travel from the COVID-19-ravaged country, the Australian government said, adding that 80 passengers arrived in Darwin from New Delhi. Passengers had to show two negative COVID-19 tests before boarding the government-backed flight and were taken upon arrival to a converted mining camp in Howard Springs for a two-week quarantine. Seventy passengers were on Friday barred from boarding the flight after they or their close contacts tested positive for the virus. “We are following the medical advice and ensuring that we protect Australians here, and I’m pleased that that first flight has arrived, and obviously there will be more flights to come,” Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said. “It’s important to do the testing that we are doing right now, before people come on those planes to Australia. That’s the process we are following, and we will continue to follow.” Two flights are scheduled this month, with about 1,000 people planned to return by the end of next month. About 9,000 Australians in India have registered with the Australian government, requesting to return home. India has over the past three weeks reported more than 300,000 infections per day, overwhelming its healthcare system, and leaving many without hospital beds, oxygen and adequate treatment. Separately, Singapore further tightened its COVID-19 measures as it seeks to control an increase in untraceable infections. From today until June 13, gatherings are to be limited to two people, and restaurants can only provide delivery or takeout services. Companies would have to make working from home the default for employees who are able to do so. “A pattern of local unlinked community cases has emerged and is persisting,” the Singaporean Ministry of Health said in a statement on Friday. Infections not linked to identified cases have risen to 15 in the past week, more
Hong Kong is to freeze the assets of media tycoon and democracy advocate Jimmy Lai (黎智英) under the Beijing-imposed National Security Law, the latest move to crack down one of the territory’s prominent opposition figures. Hong Kong Secretary for Security John Lee (李家超) issued notices to freeze all shares of Next Digital Ltd (壹傳媒) held by Lai, as well as local bank accounts of three companies owned by him, the Hong Kong government said in statement on Friday. Lai, 73, resigned as chairman of the media group in December last year ahead of a bail hearing. Since Beijing imposed the law last year, Hong Kong has disqualified lawmakers, delayed a Hong Kong Legislative Council election, and charged or jailed dozens of democracy advocates. Lai was last month sentenced to 14 months in prison for attending unauthorized protests and charged with additional national security offenses. It marks the first time that Hong Kong has used the National Security Law to freeze the shares of a listed company’s large shareholder, a step that is likely to spook investor sentiment in the territory. More than 40 percent of members surveyed by the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong said that they might leave the territory, highlighting the business community’s concerns over the security law and the government’s handling of COVID-19. “Not content to just jail its critics, Beijing is determined to crush Jimmy Lai, whose only crime is to peacefully promote democracy in Hong Kong,” said Maya Wang (王松蓮), a China researcher at Human Rights Watch. Lai is one of the most prominent among Hong Kong democracy campaigners facing multiple charges for challenging Beijing’s tightening grip on Hong Kong following violent protests in 2019. While the Hong Kong government says that it is pursuing cases with no political motivations, lawyers and advocates say that the flood
China for the first time landed a spacecraft on Mars yesterday, a technically challenging achievement more difficult than a moon landing, in the latest advance for its ambitious goals in space. The mission’s rover is to stay in the lander for a few days of diagnostic tests before rolling down a ramp to explore an icy area of Mars known as Utopia Planitia. It is to join a US rover that arrived in February. China’s first Mars landing follows the launch of the main section of what is to be a permanent Chinese space station last month, as well as a mission that brought back rocks from the moon late last year. Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) said that the landing was “an important step in our country’s interplanetary exploration journey, realizing the leap from Earth-moon to the planetary system and leaving the mark of the Chinese on Mars.” “The motherland and people will always remember your outstanding feats,” he told the mission team.
TRACING TROUBLE: An infected man who had said that all his children were abroad was found to have a daughter in Kaohsiung who tested positive, the center said The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported a new daily record of 29 local COVID-19 cases, including seven cases with unknown sources of infection. Of the 29 cases, 16 are linked to tea houses in Taipei’s Wanhua District (萬華), Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, told a news briefing in Taipei. The 16 are tea house workers or visitors, or their contacts, the CECC said. Workers and visitors to the establishments have frequent interpersonal contact, but few protective measures against the COVID-19 pandemic are in place, Chen said, urging those who have been exposed or have symptoms to seek medical assistance. People who suspect they have COVID-19 should visit designated testing and treatment facilities, instead of waiting or buying over-the-counter drugs for treatment, he said. Pharmacists who encourage people to get tested would be rewarded if their action leads to the detection of a COVID-19 case, he said, without specifying a planned amount. Cases No. 1,272 and No. 1,273 were first reported on Thursday night, when they were found at the Taipei City Hospital’s Heping branch, causing fears of a potential lockdown of the hospital similar to what happened there during the SARS outbreak in 2003. Earlier yesterday, at a joint news conference with Taipei City Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), Chen said that there were no plans to lock down the branch. However, the branch has suspended services at its emergency room to disinfect the facility, Ko said, adding that its outpatient units are only open to people who have appointments. Not all hospitals in Taipei are supervised by the city government, Ko said, urging the central government to open more hospitals to COVID-19 patients. Of the 29 local cases reported yesterday, five are linked to a cluster infection linked to case No. 1,203, a Taiwanese man in his 60s who is a
BROADER EFFORTS: Opening facilities specifically for vulnerable groups would help close a loophole in the nation’s health framework, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je said Migrant workers without valid residency documents would not be punished or deported if they take rapid COVID-19 tests at four testing sites soon to be set up in the capital, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) told a news briefing yesterday. The new measure is to encourage unlicensed migrant workers to get tested at a time when Taipei has been affected by COVID-19 cluster infections, especially in Wanhua District (萬華), Ko said. Despite describing the measure as an “amnesty,” Ko did not say what would happen to undocumented migrant workers after testing, for example whether it would result in any changes to their status in Taiwan. There are about 50,000 undocumented migrant workers in Taiwan, Ko said, adding that the initiative is aimed at closing a loophole in the nation’s disease prevention framework. Taipei would open four rapid testing stations in the Heping and Zhongxing branches of Taipei City Hospital, in West Garden Hospital, and at the Bopiliao Historic Block, he said. The four facilities are either in or near the district, where a cluster of domestic infections linked to “hostess teahouses” has been reported. Testing at the sites would also be available to people with upper respiratory tract symptoms, as well as employees and customers of the teahouses, homeless people, foreign spouses of Taiwanese, and underprivileged residents, Ko said. The sites would offer quick tests and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, for which results typically come back within two days, Ko said, adding that those who test positive would be offered treatment based on central government arrangements. Taipei authorities have ordered all 172 hostess teahouses in Wanhua to shut down for three days for disinfection and to conduct contact tracing of confirmed cases. In a separate news conference yesterday afternoon, Ko announced that the city’s public facilities and the “eight major special establishment categories” are to
DANGEROUS STRUCTURES: Under the new rules, local officials could demolish buildings considered a danger to the public with majority approval from its owners Legislators on Friday passed revisions to the Urban Renewal Act (都市更新條例) to encourage the reconstruction of aging buildings by offering incentives and streamlining procedures. Amendments to articles 57, 61 and 65 of the act were proposed by the Cabinet in December last year to address buildings that do not meet earthquake resistance standards introduced after the deadly 921 Earthquake that hit central Taiwan on Sept. 21, 1999, the Ministry of the Interior said in a statement. There are more than 36,200 such buildings with six or more floors built before the regulations went into effect in December 1999, the ministry said. The revisions also address properties built with sea sand, which contains higher levels of chloride ions, which accelerates the corrosion of rebar and undermines the safety of a building, it said. The amendments would help resolve issues with urban renewal projects for apartment buildings that have already been approved to be razed, but some owners of units in the buildings refuse to allow the building to be demolished. Before the changes, the local government could step in, but it must then negotiate with the holdouts before any steps could be taken, which could be a long and cumbersome process. Under the revisions, if a building is deemed a threat to public safety because it does not meet earthquake standards or was built with sea sand, local authorities could bypass negotiations and raze a building with the support of a majority of the owners of a building’s units. The amendments do not specify the size of a majority needed to bypass negotiations. Local governments would have the authority to identify unsafe properties built with sea sand, because they have the experience to deal with the issue, the ministry said. The ministry would consult experts and academics to establish regulations on how to classify a building as unsafe when it
The government yesterday warned that Hong Kong’s decision to freeze assets belonging to jailed media tycoon Jimmy Lai (黎智英) was a sign to the international community that doing business in the Chinese-controlled territory was becoming increasingly risky. The assets freeze, announced on Friday, includes all shares in his company, Next Digital — the first time a listed firm has been targeted by Hong Kong’s National Security Law. Shortly before the announcement, the Taiwanese arm of Lai’s popular Apple Daily newspaper said it would stop publishing its print version, blaming declining advertising revenue and more difficult business conditions in Hong Kong linked to politics. In a statement, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said that the assets seizure highlighted the threat the new national security legislation posed to Hong Kongers’ property. “It is equivalent to announcing to the international community that Hong Kong’s business risks are increasing,” the council said. “We also once again call on relevant parties to stop suppressing Hong Kong democrats, otherwise they will drift away from popular sentiment,” it added. Hong Kong has been rocked by protests against its Beijing-backed government in the past few years and last year China imposed tough new national security legislation on the territory. China denies that the legislation is aimed at taking away people’s freedoms, and is needed to return law and order to Hong Kong. Lai was sentenced to 14 months in prison for taking part in unauthorized assemblies during pro-democracy protests in 2019.
Taiwan had exported 18,222 tonnes of pineapples this year as of Wednesday, with 61.9 percent sold to Japan, the Council of Agriculture (COA) said yesterday, adding that South Korea and the US are also new markets for the fruit. After China suspended imports of Taiwanese pineapples from March, the council has worked to expand other export channels. It aims to export 30,000 tonnes of pineapples this year, Department of International Affairs Director Lin Chia-jung (林家榮) said. As of Wednesday, 18,222 tonnes of pineapples had been exported, including 11,286 tonnes (61.9 percent) sold to Japan, which exceeds the total sold to the country in the past decade, council data showed. The amount exported to Japan is expected to continue rising, Lin said. Japanese produce supplier Farmind last month purchased 3,000 tonnes of Taiwanese pineapples and sent fruit slices to supermarkets and convenience stores across the country, he said. Meanwhile, the council is re-entering the South Korean market after a hiatus of a few years, he said. South Korea used to import pineapples from the Philippines and Indonesia, but recently Seoul has shown a favorable response to Taiwanese pineapples, Lin said. The council would work with some businesses to promote the fruit in South Korea, a prioritized market next year, he added. As Taiwanese golden diamond pineapples are not suitable for long-distance transportation, the council would promote a mango-pineapple hybrid to countries farther away, Lin said, adding that the hybrid would be sold to Japan as well. Some researchers have developed techniques to keep frozen golden diamond pineapples fresh even after they are defrosted, a source familiar with the matter said. Such techniques would allow frozen golden diamond pineapples to be sold to the US next year, which would be another boon for exports, the person said.
THE PEOPLE’S CHOICES: The referendums include two proposed by the KMT to end certain US pork imports and change how referendums are scheduled The Central Election Commission (CEC) on Friday approved three referendum proposals, bringing to four the number of national referendums to be held in August. The three proposals just added are about the protection of a coastal algal reef, pork imports containing traces of the leanness-enhancing drug ractopamine and referendum scheduling. Each of the referendum initiatives passed the second hurdle, which requires at least 289,667 endorsement signatures from eligible voters based on the most recent presidential election, the commission said. The vote on the referendums is to take place on Aug. 28, including one initiated by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lin Wei-chou (林為洲). The No. 18 referendum asks: “Do you agree to a total ban on the importation of pork and related products containing the beta agonist ractopamine?” The No. 19 referendum, initiated by KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣), asks: “Do you agree that a referendum should be held on the same day as a national election if the election is scheduled to take place within six months of a proposal to hold a referendum being approved?” The No. 20 referendum was initiated by Rescue Datan’s Algal Reefs Alliance convener Pan Chong-cheng (潘忠政) last year to protect algal reefs off Datan Borough (大潭) in Taoyuan’s Guanyin District (觀音) from the construction of CPC Corp, Taiwan’s (CPC) liquefied natural gas terminal. The referendum asks: “Do you agree that the CPC’s third liquefied natural gas terminal should be relocated from its planned site on the algal reef coast of Datan and its adjacent waters?” In December 2019, the commission approved a referendum initiated by nuclear power proponent Huang Shih-hsiu (黃士修). The No. 17 referendum asks: “Do you agree that the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant should be activated for commercial operations?” Proposed referendum initiatives must pass two phases. The first requires the signatures of 0.01 percent of the number of eligible voters in
The military reported 41 confirmed sexual harassment incidents last year, a 52 percent increase over 27 cases reported the previous year, the Ministry of National Defense said in a report to the Legislative Yuan. Reported cases of sexual harassment have been on the rise nearly every year after 2016, the ministry said in a report dated April 30. From 2016 to last year, the military handled 245 sexual harassment allegations, including 157 that were later proven, and 58 that went to trial but did not result in a conviction, the report said. Twenty-six cases were later dropped, and four remain in the legal process, it said. Allegations and convictions rose almost annually from 38 allegations and 24 proven cases in 2016 to 65 allegations and 41 proven cases last year, it said. It indicated in the report that biographical information is available for analysis in 172 cases. Male on female harassment, which accounted for 160 cases, was by far the most prevalent in the military, followed by 11 cases of male on male harassment and one case of female on female harassment. The perpetrator was the victim’s superior in 103 cases and of lower rank in four cases, while 99 of the incidents involved a perpetrator in a leadership position, 63 involved colleagues and 21 involved a person pursuing a relationship with another, the report showed. The victim was a military service member of non-commissioned rank in 75 cases, enlisted rank in 51 cases, a lieutenant or captain in 12 and major or colonel in three. Out of 241 incidents, 184 involved inappropriate touching; 33 involved sending or sharing images without consent or sending unwanted texts; 20 involved humiliating, derogatory or hostile language; and four involved recording a person without their consent. Military sexual harassment is most likely to occur in the office, which accounted for 142 cases, while 25
SUFFICIENT SUPPLY: Taiwan has an abundance of pandemic-related goods in storage, and protocols have been implemented to ensure that the supply chain is not broken Hordes of customers descended on hypermarkets and supermarkets in Taipei and New Taipei City after the government yesterday raised the COVID-19 alert level for the two municipalities to level 3 until May 28. Earlier in the day, the Central Epidemic Command Center reported 180 new domestically transmitted cases, most of them in Taipei and New Taipei City. Despite the government urging the public to stop hoarding daily necessities, shelves were stripped bare while cashiers were working as fast as they could. Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) at a news conference on Friday detailed the government’s inventory of masks, medical-grade isopropyl alcohol and protective clothing, saying that stocks are sufficient. The Centers for Disease Control and Chunghwa Post have 800 million masks in storage, while daily production capacity is 40 million, Su said. Su cited Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor as reporting that it has 570,000 bottles of medical-grade isopropyl alcohol in storage and its daily manufacturing capacity stands at 200,000 bottles. There are 315,000 specialized masks in storage, along with 2.7 million whole-body protection suits, and 13 million isolation gowns, Su added. The nation has an abundance of pandemic-related goods in storage and the public should rest easy, he added. Separately, New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜) yesterday said that there are two to three times the normal amount of daily necessities and pandemic-related goods on store shelves, and warehouses are well-stocked. A scarcity of goods on the shelves yesterday was due to bulk purchases being made by many people over a short period and store staff simply have not had time to restock the shelves, he said. The Council of Agriculture (COA) yesterday said that it has initiated emergency protocols to ensure that the supply chain does not break down from the sudden increase in demand. Reserves of agricultural and animal products could last six months, COA Deputy Minister Chen Junne-jih
Restaurants in Taipei and New Taipei City yesterday implemented heightened COVID-19 protocols to protect diners after the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) raised the COVID-19 alert to level 3 for the municipalities. Buffet franchise Feastogether said its chains Eat Together and Fruitful Foods have begun bringing food to the table to reduce unnecessary contact in the dining area. Seven major brands under the franchise now offer takeout through the app Eatogo, it added. Fast-food chain TKK Fried Chicken said it has halted indoor dining at its restaurants in Taipei, New Taipei City and Keelung. TKK venues in department stores require temperature checks, masks and socially distanced seating, while customers must sign in, among other measures, it said. Thai Town Cuisine’s operator, Tai Tong Food & Beverage Group, said it is encouraging customers to order take out meals. The franchise’s venues conduct more than 1,000 sanitation procedures a day and track the source and handling of ingredients, it said. Supreme Salmon said that its chain follows all of the CECC’s recommendations, including sanitizing tables and utensils every 15 minutes, and it has also instituted employee self-care. Meanwhile, Uber Eats endeavors to have zero-contact deliveries and credit payments as the only service option in the Taipei metropolitan area, it said in a statement. These measures would be adopted across Taiwan, and its delivery partners are required to wear masks, verify their health status and sanitize vehicles. The corporation would provide rider geolocation data to authorities if necessary, it added. Foodpanda encourages, but does not require, customers to use zero-contact delivery or credit payment, it said. Delivery drivers would be asked to wear masks, take their body temperature using a company system and clean insulated food bags before and after work, it said.
DISEASE PREVENTION: Police on Friday night conducted sweeps of 4,577 premises such as KTV parlors, hostess bars and nightclubs, and continued checks last night Police have been sweeping nightclubs, KTV parlors and entertainment premises nationwide following an increase in domestic COVID-19 cases. National Police Agency (NPA) Director-General Chen Ja-chin (陳家欽) has ordered that all city and county-level police departments report to their respective city mayor and county commissioner to plan sweeps of entertainment premises and similar establishments. Several cities, including New Taipei City, Taipei and Taoyuan, have ordered the temporary closure of the “eight major special establishment categories,” which include nightclubs, hostess and karaoke bars, teahouses and saunas. From Friday night through the early hours of yesterday morning, authorities conducted checks on 4,577 premises in major cities and counties — of which 1,363 had already closed for business — and fined 131 premises for contravening disease prevention measures, NPA data showed. In line with the Central Epidemic Command Center’s announcement earlier yesterday that it was raising the COVID-19 alert level for Taipei and New Taipei City to level 3 for two weeks, additional businesses in the municipalities in which people are unable to keep a safe social distance have been asked to shut temporarily. They include fitness centers and gyms, bowling alleys, billiard halls, indoor golf simulator centers, mahjong halls, indoor shrimp fishing halls and amusement centers. Taipei police last night patrolled and conducted spot checks in Xinyi District (信義) and along Linsen N Road, where there are a large number of entertainment premises and nightclubs. Locals reported darkened streets, in contrast with the usual bright neon signs and throngs of people. Police officials said they are working to ensure that businesses that fall under the eight categories are not operating behind closed doors. As of early yesterday evening, most businesses were following the order, officials said. Most precincts carried out similar operations in New Taipei City, Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Taichung, Tainan and other major cities.
Representative to the US Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) on Friday said she is working to guarantee that shipments of the US-made Moderna COVID-19 vaccine arrive in Taiwan next month, in light of a mounting number of domestic infections. Hsiao said that as demand for vaccines in Taiwan was initially low, she had been focused on helping to procure vaccines for the country’s diplomatic allies. However, due to the spike in domestic infections, she has been in contact with US vaccine makers to ensure Taiwan’s orders are delivered on time, Hsiao said. There are two COVID-19 vaccines that Taiwan has purchased through US channels: the AstraZeneca vaccine, which has begun arriving in Taiwan, and the Moderna vaccine, which is to arrive next month, she said. Taiwan has signed contracts to purchase 5.05 million doses of the Moderna vaccine, 10 million AstraZeneca doses and 4.76 million doses of unspecified brands through the COVAX program, which has so far allocated 1.02 million AstraZeneca shots to Taiwan. A locally developed vaccine is expected to be available in July. The Central Epidemic Command Center last month said that it expected the Moderna vaccine to arrive this month. To date, Taiwan has taken delivery of 117,000 vaccine doses purchased directly from AstraZeneca, which are to expire on June 15, as well as 199,200 doses of the same brand supplied through COVAX, which are to expire on May 31. As of Thursday, only 151,997 people had received their first AstraZeneca shot, due to concerns over a rare blood clotting side-effect. By Friday 186,149 vaccine doses had been administered, the center said. Hsiao also responded to news this week that Taiwan’s diplomatic ally Honduras was considering opening a trade office in China in a bid to acquire Chinese COVID-19 vaccines. She said the US is aware that several of Taiwan’s allies
Anyone can easily own a Basquiat painting, a pair of Yeezy sneakers or even a Ferrari — at least, that is the promise of a growing number of fractional ownership platforms that sell shares of these rare items, starting at just a few US dollars. One platform, Masterworks, in spring last year turned the US$6 million painting The Mosque by Jean-Michel Basquiat into 284,420 shares at US$20 each. With fractional ownership, there is no chance of hanging the painting in a buyer’s home, parking a Lamborghini in their garage or storing six bottles of Romanee-Conti wine in their cellar. However, by owning at least a piece of the property — at least on paper, like the shares of a publicly listed company — anyone can now directly benefit from an increase in the item’s value, just like a wealthy collector. Whether it is paintings or baseball cards, “it’s not a new industry,” said Ezra Levine, the chief executive officer of Collectable, a platform that specializes in sports paraphernalia. “It’s not like cryptocurrencies where it was literally invented five or 10 years ago,” he said. “It’s just that the ways that people can participate in [the market] and experience it, enjoy it, have just dramatically changed in the last six months,” Levine said. Slugger, the username of a collector who preferred to stay anonymous, made a 500 percent profit on a few shares of a box of Pokemon cards, initially priced at US$125,000. The platform Rally had offered the box via an initial public offering, similar to the listing of a company on the stock market and also subject to controls by the US Securities and Exchange Commission. “These fractional platforms just open up the class to people who can’t afford to buy a full [Michael] Jordan [trading] card,” said John Schuck, 43, whose holdings amount to about US$20,000
Innovation in central banking often starts in small markets. New Zealand was the first country to formally adopt inflation targeting as we now know it in 1990. Today, the Bahamas and Cambodia lead China in piloting central bank money in electronic form. However, few realize it was Finland that pioneered the world’s first central bank digital currency (CBDC). The experiment has some important lessons for those feverishly trying to figure out how revolutionary CBDCs will be, including the UK, which joined the club just last month with a new task force. Finland introduced the Avant Card in December 1992, long before bitcoin came into existence. It could be loaded with up to 500 euros (US$607) in today’s terms and was rechargeable. According to Aleksi Grym, an economist at the Bank of Finland, central bankers were convinced that this system would quickly displace cash. However, consumers found it difficult to use. Retailers were frustrated to have to add extra point-of-sale equipment. Finland’s central bank ended up selling the card to a group of banks that shut it down in 2006. Today, Avant Cards can be found on eBay for US$10 — hardly digital gold. It turns out that displacing the efficiency and convenience of modern credit card networks, and now their digital brethren, is incredibly hard. Most consumers value the reassurance that their money is safe in the bank if they lose their debit or credit card, which was not true with these bearer instruments. It is revealing that today Finland has chosen the digital slow lane for reconsidering a CBDC, despite being the most cash-lite country in the world, with just 3 percent of transactions undertaken in cash. This leads to another key lesson: Before major central banks issue tokens at scale, there needs to be a far deeper assessment of the impact on financial stability and
When Daniela Vicino started work as a teacher in Sicily three decades ago, she had up to 30 children in her classes. With the birthrate tumbling, that number has almost halved. There are now “18-20 at best, and even 15-16 in some cases,” she told reporters in the southeastern town of Caltagirone. “It is a very painful thing.” Italy has long suffered one of the lowest birthrates in Europe, but the situation has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic — saddling the country with problems that go well beyond empty cribs. Last year, the Italian population shrank by almost 400,000 — roughly the size of the city of Florence — to 59.3 million as deaths peaked, births bottomed out and immigration slowed down. At a conference on the decline of the birthrate on Friday also attended by Pope Francis, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said that the average age of Italians was 47, “the highest in Europe.” “An Italy without children is an Italy that has no place for the future, it is an Italy which slowly ceases to exist,” he said. Experts have said that fewer children today mean fewer tax-paying workers tomorrow, making any country less productive and less capable of providing for its aging population. This has long been a concern for Western societies, but the threat looms larger in Italy, already the most sluggish economy within the G7 club of industrialized nations. Draghi has promised more nurseries, support for working women and mortgage help for young couples as part of Italy’s 221 billion euro (US$268 billion), EU-funded pandemic recovery plan. Italy’s social security system is skewed toward the elderly, with health and pensions taking a lion’s share of the budget. The hilltop town of Caltagirone is famous for its ceramics and UNESCO-protected baroque architecture. However, like much of southern Italy, it is also economically depressed and
Taiwan is facing its severest outbreak since the COVID-19 pandemic started. Everyone should do their part to maintain social order, starting by not panic buying. While a cluster infection linked to China Airlines that started last month has gradually subsided, new clusters have been found in Taipei’s Wanhua District (萬華), New Taipei City’s Wugu (五股) and Lujhou (蘆洲) districts and Yilan County’s Luodong District (羅東), with their links still being investigated. The daily number of local cases continues to set records, with yesterday’s number rising to 180 (not including five imported cases), leading the government to raise the pandemic alert in New Taipei City and Taipei to level 3 for two weeks. Despite a few previous crises, most residents in Taiwan had been leading normal lives envied by people in many other countries. Now, with the government health authorities and hospitals carrying the heavy load of this outbreak, ordinary people must also play their part in curbing infections, starting by not creating panic. Most people do not need any more reminders about wearing masks and maintaining social distancing, yet they need self-restraint with regards to panic buying and spreading false information. Many supermarkets in Taipei and New Taipei City were yesterday swarmed by seemingly healthy buyers wanting to stockpile dried food and daily necessities, apparently out of fear that the supplies would run out quickly in the event of a lockdown. When there is no shortage of supplies, panic buying is selfish and counterproductive, as manufacturers and retailers have to restock products more often, and other people in more urgent need might not be able to acquire the goods they need. Gathering at the markets also increases the risk of virus transmission. Some of the panic buying might be prompted by online disinformation, which is trickier to contain than COVID-19. For example, three voice messages on Friday
Would the US be prepared to risk a catastrophic war with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to protect the Republic of China, better known as Taiwan? US President Joe Biden laid out his vision clearly last month. He sees the rivalry between the PRC and the US as a global conflict between democracy and autocracy, and Taiwan is unquestionably one of Asia’s most successful democracies. In 1954, then-US president Dwight D. Eisenhower threatened to use nuclear weapons after China shelled a rocky islet near Taiwan’s coast, when the country was still a military dictatorship. Things were different then. The US was treaty-bound to defend Taiwan. This changed after 1972, when US president Richard Nixon agreed that Taiwan was part of “one China,” and US president Jimmy Carter nullified the defense treaty in 1979. Whether the US would still fight a war over Taiwan has become a question subject to what former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger long ago termed “strategic ambiguity.” As a result, US military commitments in the East China Sea are peculiar. A defense treaty with Japan obliges the US to defend a few uninhabited rocks called the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台), known as the Senkakus in Japan, but not democratic Taiwan and its 23 million people. There are practical reasons why a Chinese military attack on Taiwan might still provoke a war with the US. China’s control of the East China Sea would be a threat to Japan and South Korea. Allowing that to happen could start a dangerous nuclear arms race in East Asia. Taiwan also has highly advanced computer technology, which the US and its democratic allies would prefer not to see in the PRC’s hands. Then there is the long hand of history. We are not determined by the past, but we ignore it at our peril. While
“Hey, I’ve seen you before,” an elderly gent yelled. I was hiking past him on Bishanyan in Taipei’s Neihu District (內湖) and decided to stop and say hello. It turned out he thought I was someone else, someone almost a foot shorter than me and also not bald, but why get bogged down in details? We had a nice, albeit strange, chat; he provided intimate details — details I neither asked for nor wanted to know — about how he did not feel his age. Anyway, it was entertaining, and these surprising, random and overwhelmingly positive moments are regular experiences on Taipei’s hiking trails. Whether it is solo hikers playing music out of loudspeakers for all the world to hear, middle-aged men yelling: “Hoooo” as loud as they can for no apparent reason, or just folks stopping you to overshare personal information, people — and the noise they make — are a big part of almost any hike you go on in the Taipei area. This point has been made before in this newspaper, but where the writer of that other article found frustration, I generally only find pleasure (“A-holes on Taiwan’s mountains,” Sept. 3 last year, page 13). I had reason to remember that article recently while I was out on a side trail leading off from the gorgeous Jinmianshan (Goldface Mountain). This peak, the main trailhead of which is near Xihu MRT Station, attracts large numbers of hikers, presumably most of them drawn by the picturesque rocky outcrops at the top of the walk. Out on the side trails, things are a bit quieter, and I was walking in silence until my calm was pierced by the velvet tones of Michael Bolton. The song? When a Man Loves a Woman. It is a classic — of sorts. Everyone knows it, but it is Michael Bolton,
SECOND-HALF FIGHT: The home side had forged a 31-17 lead, but tries to winger Tom Banks and Rob Valetini put them at risk of only drawing until the last kick missed ACT Brumbies flyhalf Noah Lolesio yesterday missed the sideline conversion of backrower Rob Valetini’s last-minute try, allowing the Canterbury Crusaders to win 31-29 in the new Super Rugby Trans Tasman tournament. Valetini stretched over the Crusaders’ goal line in the last minute of normal time to give the Canberra-based Brumbies the chance of an unexpected draw against the New Zealand champions. However, Lolesio, who had kept a perfect kicking record until that point, drifted his conversion attempt from the left touchline wide of the left-hand post, and the 14-man Crusaders, who led throughout the match, hung on with a sigh of relief. The Crusaders were on top for most of the match and led 19-7 at halftime, but the Brumbies fought back in the second half, and a flurry of late penalties reduced the Crusaders to 14 men and gave the visitors the chance to level the score. “I’m definitely proud of the effort, especially the fight we showed in the second half to put us back in the game,” Brumbies captain Allan Alaalatoa said. “The boys were obviously devastated with the loss.” “We came out here to win,” Alaalatoa said. “It shows when you come up against the Crusaders, you have to play the perfect game.” The Crusaders have won a Super Rugby title in each of the past five years. They won the full Super Rugby tournament in 2017, 2018 and 2019, and the Super Rugby Aotearoa tournament last year and again this year, bringing their tally of Super Rugby titles to 12. The Brumbies won the Australian tournament last year and were runners-up to the Queensland Reds this year. The chance for a combined Australia-New Zealand competition arose this year when a “travel bubble” was established between the Pacific neighbors. “It’s a new competition and we had to step up,” said center David Havili, who finished
Ferran Torres on Friday demonstrated his scoring instincts by netting a hat-trick as newly crowned champions Manchester City won a record 12th straight away game in the Premier League, beating Newcastle United 4-3. That made 13 goals in his debut season at City for the Spain international, who is naturally a winger, but has filled in as a striker at times whenever Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus have been absent. Guardiola spoke excitedly after the game about the potential of the 21-year-old Torres, saying he could “smell” where the goal was. “He is so young and clinical,” Guardiola said. “He is a guy brought as a winger, but maybe we have to think as a striker.” Torres, signed from Valencia as one of Spanish soccer’s top talents, is only three goals behind City top scorer Ilkay Gundogan for this campaign. Both were part of another heavily rotated lineup named by Guardiola that also included third-choice goalkeeper Scott Carson, an on-loan 35-year-old who was making his first start in the top flight in 10 years. With the title wrapped up on Tuesday with three matches to spare, City look like they are going to have some fun in the final week of the campaign and Torres certainly enjoyed himself at St James’ Park. “It has been an incredible week — we qualified for the Champions League, won the Premier League and I scored a hat-trick,” Torres said. “Very happy.” He scored twice in three minutes from the 64th as City fought back from 3-2 behind. City moved 13 points clear of second-placed Manchester United, who handed their neighbor the title by losing to Leicester City midweek. Newcastle, who are safe from relegation, went ahead through Emil Krafth’s header at a corner in the 25th before Joao Cancelo equalized off a deflected shot that spun into the far corner from the edge
Rafael Nadal on Friday ended a run of three straight losses to Alexander Zverev with a convincing 6-3, 6-4 win over the German to reach the Internazionali BNL d’Italia semis. Zverev beat Nadal in straight sets at the same stage in Madrid a week ago and their latest meeting was also one-sided. Nadal raced to 4-0 in the first set and saved all eight break points he faced in the second. “I played more solid than Madrid. Conditions are different,” Nadal said, alluding to the fact that the high-altitude of the Spanish capital allowed Zverev to dominate more with his serve. “Here are little bit more normal conditions. I was able to control a little bit more.” Nadal, aiming for a record-extending 10th Rome title, next faces big-serving American Reilly Opelka, who reached his first Masters semi-finals by edging Argentine qualifier Federico Delbonis 7-5, 7-6 (7/2). In the women’s tournament, top-ranked Ash Barty retired from her rainy quarter-final against 17-year-old American Coco Gauff while leading 6-4, 2-1 due to an injury to her right arm. Gauff’s opponent in her first clay-court semi-final is to be French Open champion Iga Swiatek, who beat two-time Rome champion Elina Svitolina 6-2, 7-5 in their quarter. In the other half of the draw, 2019 Rome champion Karolina Pliskova rallied past 2017 French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7/1) and faces Petra Martic, who eliminated Jessica Pegula 7-5, 6-4. OLYMPICS QUESTION Meanwhile, Roger Federer on Friday called on Olympics organizers to end the uncertainty around the Tokyo Games. The Olympics are set to run from July 23 to Aug. 8 after being postponed in March last year over the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Japan has extended until the end of this month a state of emergency in Tokyo and other areas. “Honestly, I don’t know what to think. I’m a bit between the two,” said Federer,
For someone who lost a season to a nagging elbow injury that needed surgery, Indian javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra understandably welcomed the postponement of the Tokyo Olympic Games last year. The mop-haired former world junior champion, potentially independent India’s first track-and-field Olympic medalist, had hoped to use the extra time to get back to full fitness and try to find his best form. Instead, the 23-year-old was soon sent scurrying back indoors as the COVID-19 pandemic swept the world’s second-most populous nation, then surged again this year. Chopra is one of about 90 Tokyo-bound Indian athletes who have spent much of the past 12 months agonizing over the loss of precious practice time in an Olympic year. “There’s been an extended period of over two years since I competed in an international competition,” he told reporters. “As an athlete, there’s only so much one can train and the lack of competition is definitely a factor that’s been playing on my mind.” Chopra was hoping to train and compete in Turkey this month, but the Athletics Federation of India suspended their camp after being told the athletes would have to complete two weeks of hard quarantine on arrival. The frustration for aspirant Olympians has been palpable and athletes such as table tennis player Sathiyan Gnanasekaran have been forced to innovate to stay sharp during the lengthy lockdowns. Left with no practice partner last year, the tech-savvy paddler used a robot he had imported from Germany and finally booked his Tokyo spot in March. “It can fire around 120 balls per minute. It’s basically like a feeder one, but you can add a lot of randomness into it,” the 28-year-old told reporters by telephone. “You can set up the ball trajectory and frequency, you can set up the spin and speed, you can set up like one ball close to
ESCALATION: Israeli President Reuven Rivlin warned of civil war after synagogues were attacked and fighting spread to the country’s mixed Jewish-Arab communities Israeli planes yesterday renewed airstrikes in Gaza, and Hamas militants responded by firing rockets into Israel as their battle entered a fifth night, and US and Arab diplomats sought an end to the violence. Palestinian health officials said that at least 12 people were overnight killed in airstrikes throughout Gaza. The officials said that a woman and her three children were among the dead after their house was hit in a refugee camp. The Israeli military said that it carried out strikes on a Hamas military intelligence facility and a number of rocket launching sites in northern Gaza. The Palestinian Ministry of Awqaf and Religious Affairs said that Israeli planes destroyed a mosque. A Israel Defense Forces spokesman said that the military was checking the report. Across the border, sirens sounded throughout much of southern Israel, sending residents running for shelter. In the cities of Beersheba and Ashdod, buildings were struck by rockets. There were no immediate reports of injuries. With no sign of an end to the fighting, casualties spread further afield, with Palestinian authorities on Friday reporting that 11 people were killed in the occupied West Bank amid clashes between protesters and Israeli security forces. More than 132 people have since Monday been killed in Gaza, including 32 children and 21 women, and 950 others wounded, Palestinian health officials said. Among the eight dead in Israel were a soldier patrolling the Gaza border and six civilians, including two children, Israeli authorities said. Ahead of a UN Security Council session to discuss the situation today, US Deputy Assistant Secretary for Israeli-Palestinian Affairs and Press and Public Diplomacy Hady Amr arrived in Israel on Friday. The US embassy in Israel said that the aim was “to reinforce the need to work toward a sustainable calm.” Israel on Friday launched day-long attacks to destroy what it said were several kilometers of
BRIDGE BUILDER? Ali Larijani, who has close ties to the country’s clerics and moderates, negotiated a 25-year strategic agreement with China earlier this year A former speaker of the Iranian parliament, the Islamic Consultative Assembly, yesterday registered to run in the country’s upcoming presidential election, becoming the first high-profile candidate to potentially back the policies of the outgoing administration that reached a tattered nuclear deal with world powers. The decision by former Iranian lawmaker Ali Larijani, who served as parliament speaker from 2008 until last year, came on the last day of registration for the June 18 election. While a panel overseen by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is to ultimately approve candidates, Larijani has over his decades in government maintained close ties to the cleric, while also alligning himself with the relatively moderate Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Reporters in Tehran watched Larijani, 63, register at the Iranian Ministry of Interior, which oversees elections. He waved to onlookers after completing the process, his face covered with a blue mask as Iran continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. Larijani, a former commander in the paramilitary Iranian Revolutionary Guard, previously served as Iranian Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance, as well as the head of Iran’s state broadcaster. Under former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was by the West perceived as a hard-liner, Larijani served as secretary of the Iranian Supreme National Security Council and as a senior nuclear negotiator. Larijani’s family includes prominent members of Iran’s theocracy, with his cleric brother once serving as the head of the Iranian judiciary. His father was a prominent ayatollah. Larijani had an active role in signing a 25-year strategic agreement with China earlier this year. On Friday, as a sign of respect, Larijani reportedly asked permission to run from high-ranking clerics in the city of Qom, Iran’s religious center. Within Iran, candidates exist on a political spectrum that broadly includes hard-liners, who want to expand Iran’s nuclear program; moderates, who hold onto
The University of California (UC) would stop considering SAT and ACT scores that are submitted with admission and scholarship applications under a settlement of a student lawsuit, the school said on Friday. The 10-campus system, which has more than 280,000 students in California, decided not to continue fighting a judge’s injunction issued last year that barred it from considering the scores for admission even when they were submitted voluntarily, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Activists have long argued that standardized tests put minority and low-income students at a disadvantage. Critics say that test questions often contain inherent bias that more privileged children are better equipped to answer. They also say that wealthier students typically take expensive preparation courses that help boost their scores, which many students cannot afford. That was the argument in a 2019 lawsuit filed against the university system on behalf of some high- school students and nonprofit groups. The settlement, reached earlier this month, “ensures that the university will not revert to its planned use of the SAT and ACT, which its own regents have admitted are racist metrics,” Amanda Savage, an attorney representing the students, said in a statement reported by the newspaper. The UC Board of Regents last year voted to drop the SAT and ACT tests as admission requirements through 2024 and eliminate them for California residents after that. Prospective students applying for programs this year did not submit SAT or ACT scores. However, regents said that applicants for the fall semester this year and next year could submit the scores voluntarily. The new settlement would “provide certainty for students and their families, counselors and high schools,” the school said. Under the agreement, SAT and ACT scores would not be considered for admission for students applying for entry from fall this year to spring 2025. However, the scores that are submitted
May 17 to May 23 “Who still remembers Chan Yi-hua (詹益樺)?” This question has been asked repeatedly over the decades, usually on the anniversary of Chan’s self-immolation on May 19, 1989 at fellow political activist Deng Nan-jung’s (鄭南榕) funeral in front of the Presidential Office. Deng had committed the same act on April 7 when the police came to his office to arrest him for sedition. That day is now observed as National Freedom of Speech Day, and it would be pretty hard to find someone in Taiwan who doesn’t know Deng today. The same can’t be said for Chan. His friend Chen Chen (陳真), who witnessed his death, asked the question in 2004 in a China Times Evening News (中時晚報) op-ed. Commentator Chang Chien-wu (張千舞) asked it again via the Liberty Times (自由時報, Taipei Times’ sister paper) in 2007, and both the Liberty Times and Taiwan People News (民報) brought it up again in 2016 on the 25th anniversary of his death. It’s not that Chan has been completely forgotten — a statue of him has stood since 2007 in his hometown of Jhuci Township (竹崎鄉), Chiayi County, where people gather every May to remember him. His story was also a significant part of last year’s documentary The Price of Democracy (狂飆一夢), which featured his comrade Tseng Hsin-yi (曾心儀). However, a search for Chan only yields one result in the National Central Library’s database: A-hua (阿樺), a collection of interviews and essays edited by Tseng. Chan’s activist career was brief but eventful. He first took to the streets during an anti-nuke protest in October 1986, and was severely beaten and detained a month later when trying to help the exiled politician Hsu Hsin-liang (許信良) enter the country. Chan later delved into the farmer’s rights movement, and
The Jiaman mosque in the city of Qira, in the far western Chinese region of Xinjiang, is hidden behind high walls and Communist Party propaganda signs, leaving passersby with no indication that it is home to a religious site. During the Muslim holy month of Ramadan last month, two ethnic Uighur women sat behind a tiny mesh grate, underneath a surveillance camera, inside the compound of what had long been the city’s largest place of worship. Reuters could not establish if the place was currently functioning as a mosque. Within minutes of reporters arriving, four men in plain clothes showed up and took up positions around the site, locking gates to nearby residential buildings. The men said it was illegal to take photos and to leave. “There’s no mosque here ... there has never been a mosque at this site,” said one of the men in response to a question if there was a mosque inside. He declined to identify himself. Minarets on the building’s four corners, visible in publicly available satellite images in 2019, have gone. A large blue metal box stood where the mosque’s central dome had once been. It was not clear if it was a place of worship at the time the satellite images were taken. In recent months, China has stepped up a campaign on state media and with government-arranged tours to counter the criticism of researchers, rights groups and former Xinjiang residents who say thousands of mosques have been targeted in a crackdown on the region’s mostly Muslim Uighur people. Officials from Xinjiang and Beijing told reporters in Beijing that no religious sites had been forcibly destroyed or restricted and invited them to visit and report. “Instead, we have taken a series of measures to protect them,” Elijan Anayat, a spokesman for the Xinjiang government, said of mosques late last year. Foreign ministry spokeswoman
After a rebellion decimated the Fongshan County (鳳山縣) capital in 1721, the Kangxi Emperor finally decided to allow the construction of walled cities in Taiwan. The following year, with the completion of an earthen wall surrounding it, Old Fongshan City (鳳山舊城) became Taiwan’s first walled city. Over a century later, the wall was replaced with a stone one, much of which remains standing today. To walk the length of this wall is to walk through centuries of history in just one afternoon, as modern-day amenities intermingle with traces of Taiwan’s past. Any visit here should begin at the Center of Old Fongshan City History (見城館). It is a modern facility featuring a VR introduction to the area (included in the ticket price of NT$49 for adults, NT$29 for Kaohsiung residents), handheld AR devices to further enrich exhibits and a scale model of the old city. What really makes a visit to the center worthwhile is the multimedia presentation incorporating this model that is played twice an hour. As the history of the region is presented in video format (with English subtitles) on a large screen, different components of the model appear and disappear from the model floor, accompanied by lighting and visual effects, allowing visitors to see 300 years of history played out in front of their eyes. Incredible care went into the preparation of this show and it alone is worth the price of admission. With a mental picture of the area in mind, it’s time to continue the tour of Old Fongshan City, following the wall counterclockwise. Beside the parking lot, the wall ends abruptly at Shengli Road. During the Japanese era, traffic flow became a more important consideration than historical preservation and it was decided to punch a hole right through the wall and the adjacent Turtle Mountain (龜山)
High temperatures over the last few weeks, more like what one would expect at the height of summer, have caused many students to complain about the oppressive heat. During an administrative report delivered to the Nantou County Council on Friday, Nantou County Commissioner Lin Ming-chen thanked Premier Su Tseng-chang for taking on board his suggestion by allocating funds from the central government’s Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program to install air conditioning in all of the nation’s elementary and high schools. Lin reported that his administration has also committed an additional NT$100 million to the project and has already put the air conditioning upgrades out to tender. Lin expects that all of Nantou County’s students will be able to enjoy air-conditioned classrooms by the beginning of the next academic year. Lin says that after the legislature passed a NT$400 billion budget for the Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program, many parents petitioned him to do something about the lack of air conditioning in classrooms, since every year come summertime, students find it difficult to concentrate on their lessons. Lin says he brought the matter up during a county administration meeting and suggested allocating NT$20 billion from the budget to install air conditioning in all classrooms. After Lin’s suggestion was reported in the media, Su took action to set aside funds for the project and guaranteed that all of the nation’s elementary and high school classrooms would have air conditioning by the end of February next year. (Liberty Times, translated by Edward Jones) 最近高溫炎熱如盛夏，學生直喊熱，南投縣長林明溱十四日在縣議會進行施政報告時表示，感謝行政院長蘇貞昌聽到他的建議，從前瞻基礎建設計畫預算編列經費，讓全國中小學教室裝冷氣。 南投縣也自籌一億元配合款，最近已完成冷氣招標，預計下學年開始，縣內學生將陸續有冷氣可吹。 林明溱指出，行政院前瞻基礎建設計畫四千億元預算在立法院通過後，他接獲許多學生家長反映，因教室沒有冷氣，每到夏天學生難以專心上課，當時他就在縣務會議建議行政院長蘇貞昌，能從前瞻基礎建設計畫預算中撥出兩百億元給全國中小學教室裝冷氣。 經媒體披露後，蘇院長即果斷指示行政院編列，還保證要在明年二月底前，達成全國中小學教室全面裝冷氣政策。 (自由時報張協昇)
Just get the landlord around to take a look at it (5/5) 請房東過來看就好了（五） A: When we first looked at the new apartment, I thought it was really spacious. Now we have moved in, all the rooms seem much smaller. B: It’s funny how we misremember some things. Our memories can be very unreliable. A: It’s not that, it’s just that I had no idea how much stuff I have accumulated over the years. I don’t have anywhere to put my things. B: Yeah, you’ve always been a hoarder. You can’t bear to throw things away. A: I think I’m going to have to get creative with how I store things away. B: Can’t you just buy more furniture to store everything in? A: That just means accumulating more stuff. I think I need to go minimalist. A: 我們第一次去看那間房的時候，我覺得它空間還蠻寬敞的。可是現在我們搬進去了，所有的房間看起來都小多了。 B: 記錯事情這種情況還蠻有趣的，我們的記憶有時候很不可靠。 A: 才不是因為我記錯咧！我只是沒想到日積月累，我的東西越來越多，已經沒有地方可以放了。 B: 對呀，你是很會囤積物品的人，你就是沒辦法丟東西。 A: 我應該要來發揮一下創意，想辦法把我的東西都收納進去。 B: 你不能多買幾件家具，把這些東西都收納起來嗎？ A: 這樣只是在累積更多東西，我應該要一切從簡。 (Paul Cooper, Taipei Times／台北時報林俐凱譯) English 英文: Chinese 中文:
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