Google Maps provides navigation services and real-time traffic information, and also allows users to search for restaurants and stores. Now a new function of Google Maps will enable users to view information on street level air quality, too. At the beginning of this month, Google posted an air quality map on its official blog, showing air pollution levels for Oakland in California. On the map, pollution levels are color coded, with darker colors indicating higher air pollution levels. In addition to the city of Oakland, Google is also collecting air quality data in California’s Los Angeles and Central Valley, although it has not yet released air quality maps for any places other than these.
June 24, 2017 16:07 UTC
AFP, LONDONEurope’s main stock markets stumbled on Friday on disappointing economic data heading into the weekend, while London marked a year since Brexit with another pale session. European stock markets are “on the back foot, with a host of eurozone PMI [purchasing managers’ index] surveys ... providing a somewhat cautious assessment,” IG Group PLC analyst Joshua Mahony said. Data monitoring company IHS Markit Ltd said its composite PMI came was 55.7 points, the lowest reading in five months and down from 56.8 last month. “After a string of exceptionally strong figures, the composite PMI for the eurozone has come down to earth in June,” UniCredit SpA economist Edoardo Campanella said. “As a heatwave engulfs Europe, equities may suffer from sticky conditions near-term,” Bank of America Merrill Lynch strategists, including Ronan Carr, said in a client note on Friday.
AFP, BEIJINGChina’s banking regulator has ordered an inspection of potentially risky loans to major Chinese companies that have invested heavily overseas, one of the firms under scrutiny said on Friday. Dalian Wanda Group Co (萬達集團) said other domestic companies caught up in the review include AC Milan owner Rossoneri Sport Investment Lux, Club Med’s Fosun Group (復星集團) and HNA Group Co (海航集團). The China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) this month ordered banks to carry out credit and risk analysis at the firms “that engaged in ferocious overseas investment and had relatively large bank exposure,” Wanda said, confirming an earlier report in Chinese business magazine Caixin. Beijing has encouraged Chinese companies to invest overseas to open up new markets. Many firms obliged, pouring billions of US dollars into overseas purchases to such an extent that Chinese authorities became worried about capital flight and bad loans.
By Lin Chia-nan and Wu Cheng-ting / Staff reportersIllegal animal vaccines from China repackaged and disguised as liquor were seized at Kinmen Airport, Council of Agriculture (COA) officials said yesterday. The person admitted the actual liquid in the bottles was a duck vaccine they had smuggled from China, but did not clarify what disease the vaccine was for, officials said. The substance is to be analyzed by the council’s Animal Health Research Institute and results are expected in a week, he said. Police seized a total 240 liters of vaccines, enough for 300,000 ducks, Coast Guard Administration Kinmen Mobile Investigation Team Deputy Chief Hsu Yu-sheng (許育勝) said. Vaccines should be stored between 4?C and 8?C or they could spoil, but the smuggler did not use any refrigeration, Kinmen Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection Director Wen Shui-cheng (文水成) said, adding that some bottles contained dead flies.
The launch of a Hakka radio station on Friday represented a step forward in the promotion and passing down of the Hakka language and culture, Tsai said on Facebook. The government is now pushing an amendment to the Hakka Basic Act (客家基本法) to list Hakka as a national language, Tsai said. In so-called Priority Development Areas for Hakka Culture, Hakka services are to be provided gradually at government offices, and Hakka is to become a required course in elementary-and-junior-high schools, she added. The government would firmly support the promotion of Hakka, Tsai said, adding that the language is “the root of the Hakka people and Hakka culture.”According to a survey commissioned by the Hakka Affairs Council in 2014, about 4.2 million people identified as Hakka, accounting for 18 percent of the nation’s population and forming the second-largest ethnic group after Hoklo. The council has designated 70 townships and districts in 11 counties and cities where Hakka people account for more than one-third of the total population as priority development areas for Hakka culture, as stipulated in the Hakka Basic Act.
Energy stocks led the way, and those in the S&P 500 climbed 0.8 percent for the largest gain of the 11 sectors that make up the index. EQT Corp, a producer of natural gas and crude, had the day’s biggest gain in the S&P 500, jumping US$4.16, or 8 percent, to US$56.19. However, Friday’s gains were not enough to keep energy stocks from closing out their worst week in nine months. Energy stocks lost 2.9 percent over the course of the week. The biggest decliner in the S&P 500 was Bed Bath & Beyond Inc, which reported weaker-than-expected earnings for last quarter and revenue short of Wall Street forecasts.
By Lee Hsin-fang / Staff reporter, with CNAPresident Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday said that her administration would continue work to declassify old government records as part of its transitional justice efforts. Tsai made the remarks at the opening of a symposium hosted by the Academia Historica in Taipei. Declassifying old government records is not just for transitional justice, but it also befits the government’s “open government” ideals and allows public access to government information, Tsai said. Tsai applauded the Academia Historica under the leadership of president Wu Mi-cha (吳密察) for having swiftly compiled 260,000 documents for online publication. The collection includes manuscripts, electronic documents, letters, books, maps, photographs and other articles, the institute said, adding that they represent 98.8 percent of all existing documents related to Chiang.
Liberty Times (LT): The government has decided to restart reactors at the Guosheng Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Wanli District (萬里) and the Ma-anshan (馬鞍山) Nuclear Power Plant in Pingtung County to compensate for increased electricity usage during the summer. Certainly, ending nuclear power production cannot be accomplished quickly; problems of electricity usage are immediate concerns. It is the basis which the “old guards,” who are supportive of nuclear energy, keep bringing up to defend its continued use, leading to consistent set-backs in transitioning to alternative energy sources. The government in April published the Energy Development Policy Guidelines and is working on an energy transition report. During the transition phase, nuclear power plants would still operate, and while the amount of power generated by coal power plants might not decrease, the overall ratio of coal power generation would drop.
“We are very grateful for the Taoyuan City Government’s help with the venues. In preparation for the games, the Taipei City Government allocated NT$4.9 million (US$161,184) to the Taoyuan City Government to renovate the city’s sports venues, while the Taoyuan City Government allocated NT$8.6 million. The World Taekwondo Federation said the Taoyuan Arena’s taekwondo venue is the best Universiade taekwondo venue of the past 15 years, Cheng said. “We will find another place [in the city] to relocate the prefabricated pool to and a technical team has already evaluated several venues,” Cheng said. Asked what he had learned from Cheng, Ko said that he admires Cheng’s handling of relations between the city council and the city government.
AFP, BEIJINGAt least five people were found dead and more than 120 remained missing hours after a massive landslide yesterday buried a mountain village in southwest China as rescuers scoured through rocks for survivors. A fourth survivor was found, but rescuers were still trying to get to him hours after heavy rain triggered the avalanche in Sichuan Province, officials said. Wu Xiaobin, captain of the local fire department, told China Central Television (CCTV) that five bodies were pulled from the rubble. More than 120 people were still missing hours after the landslide, CCTV and the official Xinhua news agency reported. China’s national weather observatory said more heavy rain was expected in parts of Sichuan and other southwestern provinces.
Staff writer, with CNAThe Taipei City Government is to hold an event today to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, with Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) expected to hand out “red envelopes” to participants to symbolize good fortune. The event — to take place at the Taipei Travel Plaza near the Taipei Railway Station — is to feature a wide array of activities to celebrate the end of Ramadan, when families get together to pray and eat fine food, the city’s Department of Information and Tourism said. Ko is t to hand out 500 “red envelopes” with money inside to lucky participants. The Ministry of Labor has encouraged employers to allow their Muslim workers to observe Eid al-Fitr. The nation is home to about 252,000 Indonesian workers, 85 percent of whom are Muslims, ministry data show.
The current ID cards have been in use for many years and many people no longer resemble the photo’s on their cards, Chang said. Experts and academics from Germany and Estonia are also to take part, the ministry said, adding that Estonia has long used chip ID cards, while Germany issued chip ID cards a decade ago. Chang said the new ID card being studied would combine the function of the current ID card with that of a “digital citizen certificate” — an Internet ID for bilateral identification while exchanging information on the Internet. Amid reports that NT$3 billion (US$98.7 million) is budgeted for the new ID cards, Chang said the expenditure would have to cover counterfeit prevention technology and the quality of the cards, as well as future developments. The ministry late last year said that the use of chip ID cards was a global trend and that its plan was to introduce a chip ID card that would combine a “digital citizen certificate” and the National Health Insurance card, but would not contain any medical records.
By Abraham Gerber / Staff reporterA Ministry of Labor decision last week to apply “flexible working hours” rules to all professions in the agricultural, forestry, fishing and animal husbandry sectors yesterday drew criticism from labor advocates, who called for stricter review and full publication of application materials and reasoning. “There is a huge difference between cattle husbandry and growing vegetables or fishing,” he said, adding that separate individual reviews should have been held for each industry within the sector before applying “flexible working hours” to the sector as a whole. The ministry has gradually allowed more industries to apply “flexible working hours” standards, following the implementation of stricter overtime rules as part of the “one mandatory day off and one flexible rest day” labor reforms last year. While “flexible working hours” do not exempt industries from the new legislation, they do provide varying degrees of flexibility over when workers’ “mandatory day off” and “flexible rest day” are granted within periods of several weeks. “Flexible working hours are not actually all that useful and I seriously doubt whether there are actual cases where employers require workers to work for weeks at a stretch, because they would be required to provide too much time off afterwards,” he said.
AP, FRANKFURT, GermanyThe European Central Bank (ECB) has pulled the plug on two troubled Italian banks, sending them into insolvency proceedings as it pushes ahead with efforts to clean up weak banks holding back the economy. The two banks, Veneto Banca SpA and Banca Popolare di Vicenza SpA, have struggled to overcome high levels of loans that were not being paid back. It ruled they were “failing or about to fail,” and would now face insolvency proceedings in Italy. That meant it could not take over those banks’ bad loans, for which another solution would have to be found. The Italian banking fund Atlante invested 3.5 billion euros (US$3.92 billion) in Veneto Banca and Banca Popolare di Vicenza last year, but the financial position of the two banks continued to deteriorate.
BloombergOil on Friday fell for a fifth week after slipping into a bear market on concern that rising production from the US to Libya will offset cuts from OPEC and its allies. US crude output is expanding as shale drillers keep adding rigs, Libya is pumping the most in four years and oil stored in tankers rose to this year’s high earlier this month. Prices have fallen 21 percent from their peak in February; a bear market is defined as at least a 20 percent drop. US oil production last week rose by 20,000 barrels per day to 9.35 million, the US Energy Information Administration reported on Wednesday. Heating oil was close to flat at US$1.37 per gallon and wholesale gasoline was little changed at US$1.43 per gallon.