INTERVIEW: NCC chief focuses on encouraging quality programming

Liberty Times (LT): The National Communications Commission (NCC) has required the nation’s TV stations to broadcast at least 70 percent original programming, with heavy penalties for non-compliance. Looking at CTS, you can see how the NCC hopes to revitalize the local film and television industry. After analyzing the nation’s capabilities in creating original film and TV content, we decided that quantity should first be increased and quality later. We have kept a close eye on this trend, because wireless frequencies are public property and leaving them unused is a waste. We are concerned about wireless television and will reach a final verdict on it this year.

April 23, 2017 16:07 UTC

Police arrest suspects in online dating fraud ring

Staff writer, with CNATaichung police on Tuesday raided an organization that allegedly specialized in swindling money from female customers of a Chinese dating Web site. Seven suspects, including a man surnamed Lin (林), believed to be the head of the telecommunications fraud ring, were arrested on Tuesday during the raid of an apartment in a high-end residential building in the city’s Beitun District (北屯), police said yesterday. Police also seized computers, mobile phones, fraud manuals and about NT$230,000 (US$7,575) in cash during the raid. Police say the apartment was the fraud ring’s operational headquarters, where members allegedly picked female targets from the jiayuan.com Web site and lured them with photos of men they described as interested in marriage. The criminal group has cheated women out of more than NT$1 million, according to police, who said they were expanding their investigation into the case.

April 23, 2017 16:07 UTC

Aso rebuffs currency scrutiny calls

Reuters, WASHINGTONJapanese Minister of Finance Taro Aso on Saturday said trade imbalances cannot be fixed through exchange-rate adjustments alone, pushing back against Washington’s calls to have more rigorous IMF scrutiny of currency moves. Earlier, US Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin called on the IMF to enhance surveillance of its members’ exchange rates and external imbalances, as large trade imbalances would hamper “free and fair” trade. However, Aso told the IMF’s International Monetary and Financial Committee there were limits to using exchange-rate assessments to address current account imbalances for a country like Japan. “In cases where ‘excessive’ imbalances exist, they should be addressed by a package of macroeconomic and structural policy measures,” Aso said in a speech to steering committee. “With downside risks and uncertainty persisting, the stability of financial and exchange rate markets is especially important,” Aso said.

April 23, 2017 16:07 UTC

Gazans create own limo from five different cars

GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories -- A Gazan firm has found a way to add style to weddings in the Palestinian enclave despite being unable to import a limousine: make one with parts from five cars. Wedding planner Salama al-Odi sought to import a limousine as part of the various offerings to young Gazans by the firm he heads, Farha, but said he was unable to. The Gaza Strip has been under an Israeli blockade for 10 years, with the entry and exit of goods and people tightly controlled by Israel. Its sole crossing with Egypt has also remained largely closed in recent years. Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza, run by Islamist movement Hamas, have fought three wars since 2008.

April 23, 2017 16:07 UTC

Minister to skip Koxinga ritual

By Chen Yu-fu and Jonathan Chin / Staff reporter, with staff writerBreaking with 54 years of tradition, the central government will not send the interior minister to preside over an annual ritual memorializing Koxinga in Tainan, the Ministry of the Interior said, citing the nation’s autonomy and cultural pluralism in its decision. The Executive Yuan in April the following year issued a resolution to that effect and set the date of the event as April 29, with the interior minister serving as the master of ceremonies. During a legislative session last month, Yotaka told Minister of the Interior Yeh Jiunn-rong (葉俊榮) that he should not officiate the Koxinga ceremony this year. “The ministry will play no role whatsoever,” he said, adding that Yeh would not attend the Koxinga event in any capacity and that Lai is to be its master of ceremonies. Cheng Ying-hung said the Koxinga ritual was overseen by the Tainan City Government in its early days and the central government only began officiating it on the suggestion of the Taiwan Provincial Consultative Council.

April 23, 2017 16:07 UTC



Saudi Arabia restores cut allowances

Reuters, RIYADHSaudi Arabian King Salman on Saturday issued a royal decree restoring financial allowances for civil servants and military personnel that had been cut under austerity measures. “The royal order returns all allowances, financial benefits, and bonuses to civil servants and military staff,” said the decree, broadcast on state-run Ekhbariya TV. In September last year, Saudi Arabia cut ministers’ salaries by 20 percent and scaled back financial perks for public sector employees in one of the energy-rich kingdom’s most drastic measures to save money at a time of low oil prices. “The government has conducted a review of the measures initiated in the fall in relation to the public-sector employees’ allowances. Prince Abdulaziz is a long-time energy policy official who was appointed deputy oil minister in 2015.

April 23, 2017 16:07 UTC

Bad corporate debts are impeding India’s growth

As a result, Indian banks are now saddled with some of the highest levels of bad debts in the emerging markets according to the IMF. “Banks are so stretched that they’re not even lending to healthy companies, holding back growth,” Mumbai-based economist Rajeswari Sengupta said. However, economists say that growth is fragile because it is being driven by consumer spending rather than investment. BAD LOANS AND NPASBy September last year, about 16.6 percent of loans to corporates — or about 8.4 percent of GDP — had been declared non-performing, according to Credit Suisse. FORCED CLEAN-UPHowever, more than a year into the forced clean-up, “corporate NPL formation still hasn’t abated at both [state-owned] and private corporate lenders,” the Credit Suisse report said.

April 23, 2017 16:07 UTC

CPC, Formosa reducing prices of gasoline, diesel

Staff writerCPC Corp, Taiwan (CPC, 台灣中油) yesterday said it would lower gasoline and diesel prices as of midnight last night, following three consecutive weeks of price hikes. The decreases of NT$0.5 per liter for gasoline and NT$0.6 per liter for diesel products, effective today, reflect a downward pressure on international crude oil prices due to technical factors and a projected increase in the output of shale oil in the US, the state-owned oil refiner said in a statement. CPC said its average crude oil costs last week fell US$2.06 per barrel from the previous week to US$52.37 per barrel. Taking into account the New Taiwan dollar’s appreciation of NT$0.128 against the US dollar, CPC said it would cut wholesale prices for diesel and gasoline products by 3.35 percent, which translates into a cost at the pump of NT$21.8 per liter for super diesel, NT$24.2 per liter for 92 octane unleaded, NT$25.7 per liter for 95 octane unleaded and NT$27.7 per liter for 98 octane unleaded. Privately run Formosa Petrochemical Corp (台塑石化) on Saturday announced similar cuts.

April 23, 2017 16:07 UTC

EU mulls laws on platforms’ fight against hate speech

Reuters, BRUSSELSThe EU is considering legislative measures to harmonize how online platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google take down hate speech and incitement to violence, a draft document seen by reporters shows. The proliferation of hate speech and fake news on social media has led to firms coming under increased pressure to take it down quickly. Facebook Inc, Twitter, Google’s YouTube and Microsoft Corp last year agreed to an EU code of conduct to tackle online hate speech within 24 hours, but were criticized by the commission for not being fast enough. However, they do have to take down illegal content when notified. An EU official said the commission was considering adopting a so-called “good Samaritan” principle whereby online platforms would not be held liable for content if they actively searched for illegal content on their Web sites, hoping this would make companies more proactive.

April 23, 2017 16:07 UTC

UK goes a day without coal electricity

Coal-fired power generation contributes heavily to climate change; burning coal produces twice as much carbon dioxide as burning natural gas. “Symbolically, this is a milestone,” said Sean Kemp, a spokesman for National Grid, Britain’s power grid operator. In May last year, for instance, coal generation dropped to zero for the first time, but only for a few hours at a time. Last year, the share of coal in total power generation dropped to 9 percent, down from 23 percent in 2015 and 40 percent in 2012. In Switzerland, Belgium and Norway, “every day is a coal-free day,” said Carlos Fernandez Alvarez, a coal analyst at the International Energy Agency in Paris.

April 23, 2017 16:07 UTC

FDA hunts eggs over dioxin fears

By Lee I-chia / Staff reporterFollowing the recall of nearly 7 tonnes of eggs over fears they contain high levels of dioxin, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday said it has inspected 688 retailers and eateries and found them to be free of the questionable produce. Laboratory tests showed that eggs sold by a distributor in Miaoli County had dioxin levels exceeding allowable limits, with the eggs traced to three chicken farms in Changhua County, the administration reported on Friday. The administration said that since 2004 it has began inspecting food products that are more likely to accumulate dioxins, including meat, eggs and dairy products. Dioxins were detected in goose eggs in Changhua County in 2005, but last week’s case was the first time dioxin residues exceeding legal limits have been found in chicken eggs. As the agency is focused on tracing the origin of the dioxins found in the latest case, it will also consider expanding its eggs inspections, administration Director-General Wu Shou-mei (吳秀梅) said.

April 23, 2017 16:07 UTC

Religion, free homes spur Mumbai's bazaar revamp

It's smelly because there's sewage and garbage everywhere and the wooden stairs are really steep and dangerous. Three thousand two hundred families will receive new homes free of charge. Each will be a minimum of 32.5 square meters in size with private bathrooms and separate sleeping and living spaces. The first started around three years ago and the entire project is expected to be completed by 2025. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government is taking a keen interest, hoping that the cluster redevelopment method can become a model for urban renewal across India.

April 23, 2017 16:07 UTC

Shareholders push for more info on political lobbying by US companies

NEW YORK -- Dozens of major U.S. companies are facing shareholder votes this spring that seek to require more disclosure about political lobbying, as activists demand greater corporate transparency. While still a minority of shareholders, these counts are high enough to force management to take notice, corporate governance experts say. "There's a general discomfort with the notion of corporate funds for political purposes," said Charles Elson, corporate governance chair at the University of Delaware Alfred Lerner College of Business & Economics. Trade Groups in FocusCompanies are already required to account for annual lobbying expenditures in reports to Congress that detail the targeted issues and the amounts spent. They argue the companies should disclose their trade group memberships and the amount of money given to those groups that is then used for lobbying.

April 23, 2017 16:07 UTC

Icelandic language at risk as robots, computers fail to grasp its complexities

A number of factors combine to make the future of the Icelandic language uncertain. That is increasing the use of English as a universal communicator and diminishing the role of Icelandic, experts say. He has embarked on a three-year study of 5,000 peoplethat will be the largest inquiryever into the use of the language. Not A New CrisisConcerns for the Icelandic language are by no means new. The problem is compounded because many new computer devices are designed to recognize English but they do not understand Icelandic.

April 23, 2017 16:07 UTC

Palestine refugees mark 50 years of statelessness

As an adult, Abu Massoud was displaced again when Israeli forces captured Gaza, along with the West Bank and east Jerusalem, in 1967. Now 77, Abu Massoud is the white-haired patriarch of a refugee family spanning five generations, including a great-great-granddaughter. "Fifty years have passed without a step forward," said Abu Massoud. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) which helps displaced Palestinians said they are no longer the world's focus. Abdullah Abu Massoud was born in a Bedouin encampment in what is now Israel.

April 23, 2017 16:07 UTC




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