AFP, WASHINGTONThe US Federal Reserve on Wednesday raised the key lending rate for the first time this year to its highest level in a decade, citing a stronger outlook for US economic growth. The US dollar extended losses in Asia yesterday after the Fed stuck to its target for interest rate hikes this year, but fresh fears of a trade war hit equity markets as US President Donald Trump prepared fresh sanctions on China. Yet, Powell told reporters that even with rising interest rates, the world’s largest economy is “healthier than it has been since before the financial crisis. In its quarterly forecasts, Fed officials project that the benchmark interest rate would end this year at 2.1 percent, meaning two more hikes are likely, unchanged from the December forecast, but would rise to 2.9 percent at the close of next year, implying three increases. That would mean one more rate increase next year than previously expected, even though officials do not anticipate inflation to rise any faster.
BloombergThe price of the Carolina Panthers has reached US$2.5 billion, according to people familiar with bids for the NFL team, which would set a record for a US professional sports franchise. Also looming over the deal is interest from local billionaire Jim Goodnight, CEO of SAS Institute, the people said. Goodnight has a net worth of US$9.9 billion, while Pattison is worth US$7.5 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Steve Greenberg, the Allen & Co banker overseeing the sale of the club, also declined to comment. Panthers owner Jerry Richardson put the team up for sale in December last year after the NFL took over an investigation into workplace harassment allegations against the long-time owner.
By Chen Wei-han / Staff reporterThe Cabinet has launched a plan to develop the information security industry with the goal of doubling its output value to NT$78 billion (US$2.68 billion) by 2025. The highest-grossing products and services included Internet gateway security (NT$10.44 billion), terminal and mobile device protection (NT$9.87 billion), information system integration (NT$7.76 billion) and information security system management (NT$6.35 billion). Taiwanese information security companies are to be included in government procurement, with public funds to be invested into information security products that could be commercialized. Small and medium-sized enterprises would also be encouraged to use locally developed information security management systems. The nation’s information security industry has been unable to scale due to limited domestic demand, the department said, adding that the plan was formulated to address the government’s growing concerns about information security risks.
By Chang Tsung-chiu and Jake Chung / Staff reporter, with staff writerWalking barefoot can provide a sense of proximity to nature, but doctors said that doing so might provide parasites access to the body. Hookworm larvae like to lie on the surface of damp and wet dirt, and enter the body after piercing the skin on bare feet, Wang said. After entering the body, the hookworms lodge themselves in the wall of the smaller intestine and leech nutrition, then mature and reproduce within the body, Wang said, adding that the process takes about two months. Possible symptoms of parasitic infection in young children include unexplained stomachaches, paleness, and bruises on the hands and legs, Wang said. If left untreated, the parasites could cause anemia, bloody stool, and in severe cases could inhibit the brain and bodily functions, Wang said.
By Crystal Hsu / Staff reporterThe central bank yesterday kept the rediscount rate unchanged at 1.375 percent for the seventh consecutive quarter because of concern that GDP growth might take a hit from the brewing trade war between the US and China. Local electronic parts suppliers in particular would bear the brunt of unfavorable trade terms, which could raise production costs and dampen trade volume around the world, he said. Global trade barriers are an ominous threat to Taiwan’s economy due to its heavy exposure to the global technology supply chain, Yang said. When US imports drop by one unit, output in the Asian supply chain declines by 2.6 units, a central bank report showed. Companies should develop resilience strategies, because the bank will not intervene unless it spots excessive, irregular activity, he added.
By Sean Lin / Staff reporterThe Japanese government has rejected Taiwan’s protests over its use of excessive force against a Taiwanese fishing boat suspected of fishing earlier this month in disputed waters, Representative to Japan Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) said yesterday. The Japanese government provided photographs it took on March 3, which showed crew members on the Taiwanese boat catching fish and that there were two fish on the boat, Hsieh said. Diplomacy should be carried out in good faith, Hsieh said, and since the office was unable to provide counterproof, it could only trust Japan’s claims. Japan lacks hard evidence that the fishing boat had breached any agreements between the two nations before it chased and attacked the vessel, Wu added. The association would continue negotiating with Japan over Taiwanese fishing rights in the zone in future fisheries talks and Taiwan-Japan Maritime Affairs Collaboration Dialogue meetings, she said.
By Kuo Chia-erh / Staff reporterWire harness maker Bizlink Holding Inc (貿聯) yesterday said it plans to launch portable chargers for electric cars in two years at the earliest, in an attempt to enter the thriving electric vehicle industry. “We are applying for product certification in China, the US and Europe,” Bizlink chief executive officer Felix Teng (鄧劍華) said in Taipei, adding that the new products would enable the firm to tap into the global aftersales market for electric cars. The company is also pouring resources into developing advanced driver assistance systems and wireless charging technology for electric cars together with its brand customers, Teng said. Headquartered in Silicon Valley, Bizlink supplies harnesses and cables to global customers in the consumer electronics, electrical appliance and medical equipment industries. The company said it is optimistic about its business this year, given its increased market presence in Europe and robust customer demand worldwide.
The president and vice president appoint personal scribes who create everything from small notes to large scrolls, delivering congratulations and condolences to residents. Yang Shu-wan (楊淑婉), 59, is President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) calligrapher, selected after applying for the position in 2016 when Tsai came to power. “The style of characters should mirror the personality and I want to show the frank and unpretentious side of the president,” Yang said. Yang sees calligraphy as one of the nation’s most important cultural assets and teaches the art to students as young as five. Her views are echoed by Susan Huang (黃素貞), the official calligrapher of Vice President Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁), who said the art helps cultivate patience and persistence in children.
The ministry has been providing free half-day tours to international travelers transferring at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, part of which involves a visit to the memorial hall, she said. Chou said she understands that the half-day tours aim to familiarize international travelers with the nation, but questioned the impression the memorial hall will leave on visitors of the nation. The morning tour takes visitors to the old streets in New Taipei City’s Sansia (三峽) and Yingge (鶯歌) districts, while the afternoon bus visits the memorial hall and Taipei 101. “Regardless of whether we are talking about the law or the impression we leave on visitors to the nation, [the memorial hall] is simply not appropriate,” Chou said. The memorial hall is like the tomb of an emperor: Inside there is a permanent exhibit featuring Chiang Kai-shek’s (蔣介石) clothing, samples of his calligraphy and a wax statue of his likeness — all symbols of authoritarianism, she said.
By Jason Pan / Staff reporterThe Ministry of Justice and the Judicial Yuan yesterday presented assessments on proposed measures and programs for judicial reform, with officials agreeing to look into the application of artificial intelligence (AI) and other new technologies to ameliorate deficiencies in the nation’s judicial system. Legal professionals have started to use AI to assist in their work, Judicial Yuan Secretary-General Lu Tai-lang (呂太郎) said at a meeting in Taipei of the Legislative Yuan’s Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee. One of the most important initiatives of the past few years was compiling a vast database of criminal cases to establish the Sentencing Guideline Information System, which aids judges when making a ruling, he said. Legal reform groups have also called for human judges to be phased out in favor of an AI-based system, which they said would use big data analysis to provide optimized legal decisions and would be an improvement over the judiciary’s current operations. Hsu called on Minister of Justice Chiu Tai-san (邱太三) to form a task force to investigate applications for AI, big data analytics and other new technologies that could provide supplementary tools to support the judicial system.
By Lauly Li / Staff reporterThe Ministry of Economic Affairs yesterday reiterated the necessity of rebuilding the coal-fired Shenao Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Rueifang District (瑞芳), while Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電) restarted the No. 2 reactor at the Guosheng Nuclear Power Plant. “Without rebuilding the Shenao plant, the nation’s operating reserve margin would be 14.9 percent by 2025, less than the required 15 percent,” Minister of Economic Affairs Shen Jong-chin (沈榮津) told a news conference. More importantly, there would be an imbalance in regional power supply, as the power plants in southern Taiwan would have to supply electricity to the north without the support of the Shenao plant, Shen said. The operating reserve fell below 2 percent at times in August last year, leaving the nation vulnerable to plant breakdowns and power shortages.
Kick Axe Throwing is the first bar in New York City to pick up on a nationwide trend of axe throwing, a growing sport that some enthusiasts hope will take off the way bowling did in the last century. There was no alcohol in sight during tournament play at Chicago’s Bad Axe Throwing, a Canada-based chain of 18 venues. Bad Axe chief executive Mario Zelaya founded the World Axe Throwing League a year ago. “What bowling maybe used to be in the 80s and 90s, and this is what axe throwing is right now. Zelaya said his goal is to make axe throwing an Olympic sport.
By Ted Chen / Staff reporterTaishin Financial Holding Co (台新金控) must maintain compliance as it moves to reduce the number of seats on its board of directors to fend off a rumored proxy fight, the Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) said yesterday. Taishin Financial said in a Taiwan Stock Exchange filing on Tuesday that it plans to cut the number of seats on its board of directors from nine to seven. The requirement would mean that 15 financial holding companies and a number of large state-run banks would be subject to the change. That would make it more difficult for companies to change their board appointees at investee financial companies. Most notably, the changes could affect a board election in 2020 at state-run Chang Hwa Bank (彰化銀行), which has been embroiled in a decade-long dispute over managing rights with Taishin Financial.
By Lee I-chia / Staff reporterThe average monthly salary of certified nurse assistants is only NT$31,417 following the implementation of a new long-term care payment system earlier this year, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday, but added that he is confident that it would increase within six months. At a meeting of the committee in Taipei yesterday, Chen said that the average monthly salary of certified nurse assistants in January was NT$31,417, falling short of the goal, but added that the ministry would continue efforts to achieve the goal this year. Several lawmakers said many certified nurse assistants have complained that they now earn even less than they did before the new payment system was implemented in January, which changed a time-based pricing mechanism to one based on services provided. How nursing homes, hospitals, adult daycare centers and assisted living facilities split care service income with certified nurse assistants can substantially affect their salaries, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chen Man-li (陳曼麗) said. A survey of 9,421 certified nurse assistants found that 24 percent worked part-time and were paid on a split proceed model, Chen Shih-chung said, but added that the ministry would investigate such cases and increase the number of facility evaluations to discern whether salaries paid to part-time caregivers are reasonable.
By Chiu Chih-jou and Jake Chung / Staff reporter, with staff writerPraising the aesthetics of Taiwan’s Hakka villages, the Hakka Affairs Council has said it hopes to preserve what it called the “unique DNA” of the Hakka. The show’s five themes portray the scenery and daily life in Hakka villages, council Deputy Minister Fan Tso-ming (范佐銘) said. I will keep on painting until I can paint no longer,” said Tseng Wen-chung (曾文忠), an 84-year-old painter who created works for the show. Tseng said he has been painting for more than six decades, and in his 22 years of traveling the world, he visited all five continents and more than 50 countries. However, he still favors the scenery of Hakka villages, he said, adding that he preserved some of the most precious memories of his hometown, the now Meinong District (美濃) in Kaohsiung, on canvas.