By Tsai Tsung-hsien and Jonathan Chin / Staff reporter, with staff writerThe nation’s first underground passage for land crabs to safely cross a road has been completed in Pingtung County’s Jialeshuei (佳樂水), Kenting National Park officials said. Every summer about 500 land crabs cross the road from coastal forests to lay eggs on the seashore. The underpass is a 100m-long trench under the two-lane road, covered by a metal grate and slippery plastic sides to discourage the crabs from climbing onto the road, park officials said. It is thought that land crabs use moonlight to navigate during their nocturnal march to the sea, park officials said. The passage has been designed based on land crab behavior research, but much of the information is speculative, park officials said.
Kobayashi and his friends began learning Mandarin so they could express their gratitude for the help Taiwanese offered Japanese following the magnitude 9 earthquake, which affected many of his friends, adding that he came to see Taiwanese as friendly people. Last year he took a hiatus from work to come to Taiwan to study and stayed on a working holiday visa. When he arrived he did not speak Chinese, he said, adding that after taking lessons he was able to write a letter to express his gratitude to Taiwanese. He said his experiences have encouraged other Japanese to apply for working holiday visas in Taiwan. The exhibition is being held in the park’s repurposed Japanese colonial era barracks, which Kobayashi said brings together the Japanese and Taiwanese elements of his works.
Elections were held at farmers’ associations across the nation to elect 11,466 association representatives and 4,662 association officials, with pan-blue candidates securing the majority of seats. Since it came to power, the DPP has been working to gain more influence in the farmers’ association system, with DPP legislators announcing the goal of obtaining one-third of seats in association elections. DPP Legislator Su Chih-feng (蘇治芬) said the election result shows that farmers’ associations are still closely tied to local factions, while farmers’ voluntary participation in elections is still lacking. “Farmers’ associations are the backbone of agricultural production, but local factions have always dominated association elections,” Su said. The DPP could not sever the connection between farmers and farmers’ associations even with its executive power, as the associations honestly served their members, Chang Li-shan said.
Staff writer with CNAPublic Construction Commission Minister Wu Hong-mo (吳宏謀) has requested that the Kinmen Bridge project be completed by the end of 2019, about nine months earlier than scheduled, without giving a reason why the work should be expedited. Wu gave the directive during a tour of Kinmen County last week, adding that no accidents would be tolerated during construction of the bridge connecting the islands of Greater Kinmen and Little Kinmen, also known as Lieyu (烈嶼). However, after hearing the briefing, Wu said it would be better to shorten the project’s construction time and move the projected completion date to the end of 2019. After repeated delays pushed the completion date to September 2020, the project’s budget grew to about NT$9 billion. The project has suffered many twists and turns, including the termination of construction contracts in 2012 because a company was not qualified to bid on the project.
Wang dismissed criticism that the ministry had been negligent in overseeing tour bus operators, adding that the ministry has been reviewing how tour bus companies should be managed following several accidents. Following a bus accident on Freeway No. 2 in July last year, which killed 26 people, the ministry also listed 22 items to improve its management of tour bus operators, he added. The accident on Monday last week is possibly related to tour bus drivers working long hours, he said. Tour bus operators are also expected to be required to install Global Positioning Systems in buses which would be linked to the DGH’s real-time tour bus management platform, which is to launch on Sept. 1.
By Abraham Gerber / Staff reporterPlans to preserve the northern side of Jiahe New Village (嘉禾新村) could come to nothing unless the Taipei Department of Cultural Affairs immediately grants protection to the site, Jiahe Studio spokesman Yu Liang-kuei (郁良溎) said yesterday. The Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister paper) earlier this week cited anonymous senior Taipei City officials as saying that the city has new plans to preserve the village’s northern section by incorporating it into preservation plans for several buildings to the north. “Immediately designating the northern section as a ‘provisional historical site’ would be better, because it has only three buildings which are already protected as ‘historic architecture,’” Yu said, adding that without designation as a historic site, the department lacks legal authority to halt Ministry of Defense demolition plans. He added that there is important historical background between the village and the buildings to its north, the former site of the National Defense Medical Center. “You cannot say that we are particularly happy with this means of preservation, because it distorts the importance of preserving the entire village,” he said.
BAGHDAD -- U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Monday the United States does not intend to seize Iraqi oil, shifting away from an idea proposed by President Donald Trump that has rattled Iraq's leaders. Mattis' arrived on an unannounced visit in Iraq as the battle to oust Islamic State militants from western Mosul moved into its second day, and as the Pentagon considers ways to accelerate the campaign against IS in Iraq and Syria. Those efforts could be complicated by Trump's oil threat and his inclusion of Iraq in the administration's travel ban — twin blows that have roiled the nation and spurred local lawmakers to pressure Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to reduce cooperation with Washington. "We're not in Iraq to seize anybody's oil." His key goal during the visit is to speak about the military operations with political leaders and commanders on the ground, including his top commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend.
BOGOTA -- An explosion injured at least 26 people in the Colombian capital Sunday, most of them police guarding a bullring that had been targeted by protests on reopening last month, officials said. The explosion struck near the Plaza Santamaria bullring in the Macarena district. Bullfighting ProtestsClosed in 2012 by the city's former leftist mayor Gustavo Petro, the bullring was ordered to reopen by Colombia's Constitutional Court. City Mayor Enrique Penalosa, who overflew the scene in a helicopter, said the area had been secured. The authorities have not said who was behind the explosion or whether anti-bullfight activists were suspected.
HELSINKI -- Swedes have been scratching their heads and ridiculing President Donald Trump's remarks that suggested a major incident had happened in the Scandinavian country. The American president now says he was referring to something he saw on television. During a rally in Florida on Saturday, Trump said "look what's happening last night in Sweden" as he alluded to past terror attacks in Europe. It wasn't clear what he was referring to and there were no high-profile situations reported in Sweden on Friday night. On Sunday, Trump took to Twitter to explain: "My statement as to what's happening in Sweden was in reference to a story that was broadcast on @FoxNews concerning immigrants & Sweden."
JERUSALEM -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met secretly with Arab rulers last year to hear then U.S. secretary of state John Kerry pitch a regional peace plan, an Israeli newspaper reported Sunday. It said Kerry wanted the sides to endorse six principles, which he laid out publicly in a December speech. Kerry's parameters envisioned a Palestinian state, with Palestinians recognizing Israel as a "Jewish state." "Netanyahu did not accept Kerry's proposal and said he would have difficulty getting it approved by his governing coalition," Haaretz wrote on Sunday. Netanyahu's spokesman and Jordanian officials refused to comment on the report.
JUBA -- South Sudan's government said Monday that more than three years of war have led to famine in parts of the nation, a tragedy aid agencies criticized as "man-made." Isaiah Chol Aruai, the chairman of South Sudan National Bureau of Statistics, said some parts of the northern Greater Unity region "are classified in famine, or... risk of famine." A joint press statement from aid agencies said 100,000 people were affected by the famine, which threatened another one million people in the coming months. South Sudan, the world's youngest nation, was engulfed by civil war in 2013 after President Salva Kiir accused his rival and former deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup against him. The famine classification is according to an internationally recognized sliding scale of hunger in which an extreme lack of food has led to starvation and death.
BloombergAs Singapore’s stock market continues to rally, an often overlooked sector is getting a boost. The city-state’s listed restaurants have outperformed regional and global peers as dining out drives shares higher. An equal-weighted index of Singaporean companies that derive at least 70 percent of their revenue from restaurants has climbed a similar 7.5 percent. “Franchises will be our new growth path,” group chief executive officer Ang Kiam Meng said in an interview in Singapore. “My strategy is to place importance on profit,” Japan Foods chief executive officer Kenichi Takahashi said in an interview in Singapore.
“We will give top priority to reversing the company’s tarnished image and shun bold moves in the pursuit of profit,” Mega Financial chairman Michael Chang (張兆順) told a news conference on Saturday. Mega Financial posted a net income of NT$22.39 billion (US$826.9 million) last year, compared with NT$29.27 billion a year earlier, company data showed. Mega Financial president Bruce Yang (楊豐彥) said offshore and overseas operations would continue to drive business growth, but there would be much less emphasis on unreliable arbitrage opportunities. Mega Bank senior executive vice president Fu Ruey-yuan (傅瑞媛) said it is unrealistic to set aggressive loan growth targets if major local firms demonstrate a low appetite for investment. Mega Bank vice president in charge of foreign-exchange trade Sandy Lee (李春香) declined to comment, saying the currency markets have evolved in directions at odds with earlier expectations.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch is also a fan, saying earlier this month that the tenge could climb 15 percent this year, thanks to elevated crude prices. Following a seven-day rally, the tenge closed at 318.80 per US dollar on Friday, close to its highest level since the end of 2015. Given that oil prices probably will not rise much in the near term, the scope for further gains in the tenge could be circumscribed, BMI said. Last month, Kazakhstan produced 1.67 million barrels of oil a day. The tenge could appreciate toward 310 per US dollar by the end of this year, before averaging 302.50 next year and 290 in 2019, BMI forecasts.
The result beat the ministry’s forecast of 3.8 percent annual growth and represented the sixth consecutive month of annual expansion, the ministry’s data showed. On an annual basis, orders for ICT and electronics products — the pillar of export orders — rose 6.7 percent and 1.4 percent to US$10.55 billion and US$9.46 billion respectively, the data showed. Toshiba last year also left the consumer notebook market, cutting its consumer notebook orders to Pegatron Corp (和碩), Compal, Quanta Computer Inc (廣達) and Wistron Corp (緯創). Toshiba’s moves affected export orders from Japan, leading to 28 consecutive months of annual decline in orders, an official at the ministry, who declined to be named, told the Taipei Times. Lin said the ministry expects export orders to increase between 12 percent and 15.7 percent annually to US$31 billion and 32 billion respectively.