Despite opposition attempts, 2017 budget passes

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Legislature has passed the Cabinet's proposed budget for 2017, thwarting attempts by the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) to slash spending further. The final budget totaled NT$1.97 trillion after NT$23.9 billion was cut one day before the scheduled end of the extraordinary session. The budget sharply increases spending on social programs including education and senior care. The ruling and opposition parties had "communicated rationally" and moved past old ways of thinking, showcasing proactive and efficient handling of the matter, he said. Another rejected proposal was cutting the budget for the Ill-Gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee and disbanding the committee altogether.

January 19, 2017 07:54 UTC

Taiwan should keep hands off Washington's China policy: ex-premier

WASHINGTON -- Former Premier Yu Shyi-kun said Wednesday that Taiwan should not get involved in U.S. relations with China, and should instead ask Washington to stick to the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act and its "Six Assurances" to Taiwan. "The one-China policy is a policy of the United States, not Taiwan's," Yu said at a press conference in Washington. "We expect the United States to fully implement the Taiwan Relations Act and the 'Six Assurances.'" On that date, the Carter administration formally established diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China and official ties with Taiwan were severed. The U.S. Congress passed the Taiwan Relations Act in April that year to govern unofficial relations with Taiwan, including provisions that say the United States should provide defensive weapons to help Taiwan defend itself.

January 19, 2017 05:50 UTC

Shih Hsin instructor resigns after grading row

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- A Shih Hsin University instructor embroiled in controversy for temporarily flunking his entire class has resigned, university officials said this morning. Kuo Chung-wei penalized all 150 students in his class after one of them left anonymous feedback calling the course content "slightly hollow." The instructor threatened to withhold grades until the student who left the feedback came forward to apologize. It ended up being Kuo himself who apologized for his actions over Facebook Wednesday, but he remained critical of the negative feedback, saying he had given the students plenty of opportunities to share their thoughts throughout the semester. A university official said Kuo was hired on a yearly basis and was eligible to renew his contact but that he "no longer wished to continue teaching at Shih Hsin."

January 19, 2017 05:09 UTC

Finger pointing over cabbage glut

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- A lawmaker from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party has blamed agricultural officials for not taking a more proactive role in managing the current market glut in locally grown cabbages. Lin said 95 percent of cabbage seed stock made available last year was used, which she called a clear warning sign of overproduction. A newly formed consortium to market Taiwanese crops abroad was also not doing its job, Lin said. She said that 400 tons of cabbages had been sold to South Korea — an amount representing roughly only 10 percent of what needed to be exported. This was in stark contrast to 2001, when Taiwan exported 2,000 tons of the vegetable, she said, adding that the consortium needed to work more closely with the Council of Agriculture to ensure better market access for Taiwan's quality produce.

January 19, 2017 04:54 UTC

VP to lift lid on pension reform package

TAIPEI, Taiwan --Vice President Chen Chien-jen will unveil the government's controversial pension reform proposals in a press conference this afternoon, he said during a morning radio show in Taipei. "If the amendments later become law, 2018 will be the first year of pension reforms," Chen declared. He said the reforms would affect roughly 600,000 civil servants and 10 million private sector workers. The measures will be discussed at a national affairs conference to be held this weekend at the Presidential Office. Chen said yesterday that the 18 percent preferential interest rate for retired civil servants would be phased out incrementally over six years.

January 19, 2017 03:42 UTC

Court denies a request to arrest Samsung's de facto head

SEOUL — A Seoul court denied a request to arrest Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, a setback to prosecutors investigating an influence-peddling scandal that toppled South Korea's president. Their plan to expand the bribery probe to Park may have hit a snag with the denial of the request to arrest Lee. Lee has been serving as the de facto head of Samsung since his father suffered a heart attack in 2014. Samsung Electronics and its affiliated companies account for about a third of the market value in South Korea's main stock market. His father is South Korea's richest individual whose net worth is estimated at $14.8 billion by Forbes Magazine.

January 19, 2017 01:17 UTC

So long from White House: Obama aims final messages at Trump

WASHINGTON — Barack Obama stepped behind the White House podium for the last time Wednesday, fielding questions from the crush of journalists crammed in for the occasion and offering assurances to Americans watching on TV. With no elections left to win or legislative battles to fight, Obama used his parting words to deliver one set of messages to his successor, a man who is his opposite both temperamentally and politically. The very fact that Obama was holding the afternoon news conference in the White House briefing room served as a symbolic counter to Trump. "You're not supposed to be complimentary, but you're supposed to cast a critical eye on folks who hold enormous power and make sure that we are accountable to the people who sent us here." He kicked off the questioning with the president of the White House Correspondents' Association, which advocates for access on behalf of journalists.

January 19, 2017 00:21 UTC

Bagwell, Raines, Ivan Rodriguez elected to Hall of Fame

NEW YORK — Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez were elected to baseball's Hall of Fame on Wednesday, earning the honor as Trevor Hoffman and Vladimir Guerrero fell just short. Bagwell , on the ballot for the seventh time after falling 15 votes short last year, received 381 of 442 votes for 86.2 percent. Rodriguez received 336 votes (76 percent) to join Johnny Bench in 1989 as the only catchers elected on the first ballot. Raines, fifth in career stolen bases, was a seven-time All-Star and the 1986 NL batting champion. Raines hit .294 with a .385 on-base percentage, playing during a time when Rickey Henderson was the sport's dominant speedster.

January 19, 2017 00:16 UTC

4 quakes shake Italy, isolating towns blanketed under snow

Premier Paolo Gentiloni said it appeared no one was killed, but that it was a "difficult day" for Italy. Several hours later another 5.1-magnitude quake shook the same area. Three quakes in mountainous central Italy last year killed nearly 300 people in and around the medieval town of Amatrice and caused significant damage to older buildings. The tower of one of Amatrice's churches toppled in Wednesday's quakes. Mayor Maurizio Pelosi of Capitagno, near the epicenter of Wednesday's quakes, said even before the earth shook many roads into and out of the town were blocked due to the snow.

January 19, 2017 00:07 UTC

Tennis: Vengeful Seppi sends wayward Kyrgios crashing

The 89th-ranked Seppi, who saved a match point, advanced to a third-round match with Belgium's Steve Darcis with a 1-6, 6-7 (1/7), 6-4, 6-2, 10-8 win in three hours, nine minutes. Kyrgios won a five-set scrap with Seppi on the same Hisense Arena court in 2015, taking their fourth round match 8-6 in the fifth set. Yet again Kyrgios' brittle temperament snapped during the third set as Seppi came storming back after looking down for the count. Kyrgios had a match point at 8-7 but Seppi saved with a magnificent deep forehand winner before the Australian double-faulted on break point to give Seppi his winning chance. Seppi brought up two match points at 9-8 and won with an ace, dumping Kyrgios out of his home Grand Slam after two rounds.

January 19, 2017 00:01 UTC

Golf: Europe ups ante with Ryder Cup qualification changes

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates- Europe has made significant changes to its qualification process to allow more in-form players to make the side for the 2018 Ryder Cup at Le Golf National in Paris. Other major changes include giving European captain Thomas Bjorn four wildcard picks for 2018 instead of three, as Europe ramps up its attempt to wrestle back the Ryder Cup from the United States. But the committee voted to retain the current rule that a player has to be a member of the European Tour to be selected for the Ryder Cup. Keith Pelley, chief executive of the European Tour, added: "We feel that what we are presenting today is an incredibly well-thought-out plan that reaches our two objectives. The 2018 Ryder Cup will be held September 28-30 next year.

January 18, 2017 23:00 UTC

udge: Planned Parenthood videos 'baloney' in Medicaid fight

Come Saturday, Planned Parenthood will stop receiving Medicaid money in Texas unless Sparks blocks the ouster. Federal judges across the U.S. have so far stopped other Republican-controlled states from similarly cutting off Medicaid dollars to Planned Parenthood. Sparks told attorneys he wanted to know about the type of Medicaid services Planned Parenthood provides and how many clinics are impacted. Some feature Melissa Farrell, a researcher at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Houston, who testified Tuesday that her conversations were spliced and wrongly portrayed. Investigations by 13 states into those videos have concluded without criminal charges, and Planned Parenthood officials have denied any wrongdoing.

January 18, 2017 22:01 UTC

Adams' 'Girls of the Golden West' to premiere on Nov 21.

SAN FRANCISCO- Composer John Adams' "Girls of the Golden West" will be given its world premiere by the San Francisco Opera on Nov. 21. Grant Gershon conducts, Sellars directs and David Gropman designs the sets in the co-production with The Dallas Opera, Nationale Opera and Ballet Amsterdam and the Venice's Teatro La Fenice. Adams, who turns 70 on Feb, 15, previously composed "Nixon in China," ''The Death of Klinghoffer" and "Doctor Atomic," which all appeared at the San Francisco Opera. The season opens Sept. 8 with a revival of Puccini's "Turandot" and includes new productions of Strauss' "Elektra" with Christine Goerke and Stephanie Blythe as well as Massenet's "Manon" with Nadine Sierra and Michael Fabiano. There will be three Ring cycles in a revival of Francesca Zambello's staging of the four Wagner operas, and they will feature new projections and stage action not part of its 2011 performances in San Francisco.

January 18, 2017 20:02 UTC

From taxis to fireworks: 6 tips for surviving Lunar New Year

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- It's that time of year again. Local governments have announced taxi fare hikes, trash collection adjustments and changes affecting bank and medical services that will come into effect over Lunar New Year. Here's what you need to know: Taxis Get PricierStarting midnight on Jan. 23, taxi fares will be increased in Taipei, New Taipei and Keelung for 10 days until 12 p.m. on Feb. 1.  Garbage CollectionThe Environmental Protection Administration has made it easier to check your local garbage collection schedule no matter where you are in the country, with providing all designated points and times. Plus, in response to the flu season peaking over the Lunar New Year break, some special consultation clinics and hospitals will be offering extra services.

January 18, 2017 18:09 UTC

Film about 1960s black mathematicians tops MLK weekend

The Fox release, which stars Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monae and Octavia Spencer, has now made $61.9 million following its two weeks of nationwide release. Paramount's pricey family film "Monster Trucks," which cost $125 million, opened with just $14.2 million. In an unprecedented move, Paramount's corporate parent, Viacom, last year wrote off the film as a $115 million loss. `'Hidden Figures," 20th Century Fox, $27,506,839, 3,286 locations, $8,371 average, $61,889,939, 4 weeks. `'Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them," Warner Bros., $1,201,902, 502 locations, $2,394 average, $231,073,227, 9 weeks.

January 18, 2017 18:00 UTC

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