The ObserverThe UK’s Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has been warned by the party’s leader in the European Parliament and other grandees that the party would be deserted by millions of anti-Brexit voters if it fails to clearly back a second referendum in its manifesto for next month’s EU elections. “If Labour does not reconfirm its support for a confirmatory public vote on any Brexit deal in its manifesto, then it will hemorrhage votes to parties who do have a clear message. If on the other hand we do offer clarity and a confirmatory ballot we could do very well,” Corbett said. This has prompted speculation that there might be no commitment to one in Labour’s European election manifesto. In my view that clear and simple message should be that there should be a confirmatory vote of the British people.”
By Lin Chia-nan / Staff reporterThe Formosat-7/COSMIC-2 satellite constellation was yesterday sent to Taoyuan International Airport to be forwarded via diplomatic pouch to the US today, while President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said it would be launched on June 22. Tsai made the announcement at a ceremony held by the Ministry of Science and Technology at the National Space Organization (NSPO) at the Hsinchu Science Park (新竹科學園區). Taiwan plays a vital role in international space programs and has an important role in the Indo-Pacific region, she said, expressing hope that the nation would be safe and its people are proud of being Taiwanese. Formosat-7 is expected to collect three or four times more data than its predecessor, which would improve weather forecasts and disaster prevention efforts, he said. The constellation would be sent to the US via diplomatic pouch, meaning that it would receive more courteous treatment and skip some inspection steps, Lin said.
Staff writer, with CNATaiwanese badminton star Tai Tzu-ying (戴資穎) yesterday clinched the women’s singles title at the Singapore Open, beating Nozomi Okuhara of Japan in straight sets. The victory marked Tai’s second title of the season and consolidated her ranking in women’s singles. The Singapore Open, a World Tour Super 500 event, has a total prize pool of US$355,000. Tai, who did not participate in the Singapore Open last year, won the title at the 2017 tournament and was second at the 2010 and 2015 competitions. In April last year, Tai won the women’s singles title at the Badminton Asia Championships in Wuhan, China, to become the first player to defend the title in 10 years.
By Lee I-chia / Staff reporterSeveral hospitals have falsified or inflated the number of surgeries they performed using the Da Vinci robotic surgical system, the National Health Insurance Administration (NHIA) said yesterday, calling into question 7,810 insurance claims with a combined cost of more than NT$350 million (US$11.33 million). The only exception is that, starting in 2017, hospitals using the system for prostate gland removal can declare it as NHI-covered laparoscopic surgery to reduce the financial burden on patients. However, data provided by Intuitive Surgical, which makes the robotic system, showed that the number of surgeries performed using the system in Taiwan did not match the declared numbers, NHIA Deputy Director-General Tsai Shu-ling (蔡淑鈴) said, adding that an analysis by the agency found abnormal declarations. A total of 13,903 surgeries were performed using the system from 2015 to February, according to hospitals’ declarations to the NHIA. Of the nation’s 19 medical centers, 12 performed more than 200 surgeries per year using the system, the NHIA said.
He spoke during a visit to an ambitious British-led science expedition exploring the Indian Ocean depths, the Nekton Mission. We have better maps of Mars than we do of the ocean floor, Faure said. “This issue is bigger than all of us, and we cannot wait for the next generation to solve it. Wearing a Seychelles T-shirt and shorts, the president told reporters after his speech that the experience was “so, so cool. The initiative is important for the country’s “blue economy,” an attempt to balance development needs with those of the environment.
By Sean Lin / Staff reporterThe China Unification Promotion Party (CUPP) yesterday canceled a forum and rally scheduled to be held in Taichung, while a separate demonstration to counter the rally went ahead as planned. The party also thanked the Taichung Police Department for allowing the forum and rally. Meanwhile, about 100 people joined a demonstration in Taichung to “protect Taiwan and counter China.”The demonstration was organized by a coalition of pro-Taiwanese independence groups, including the Alliance of Referendum for Taiwan, the Free Taiwan Party, Taiwan Radical Wings and the New Power Party’s Taichung chapter. Democratic Progressive Party Taichung City Councilor Huang Shou-ta (黃守達), who attended the demonstration on behalf of the party’s Taichung City Council caucus, said that the caucus is facing several battles regarding threats posed by China. The caucus would ask Taichung Mayor Lu Shoiw-yen (盧秀燕) to present a report on her stance on the issue at the city council, he added.
By Lee I-chia / Staff reporterThe Centers for Disease Control yesterday confirmed three new measles cases associated with a cluster at a hospital in central Taiwan, bringing the total to eight. The three new cases were all female nurses in their 20s who worked at the hospital and had direct contact with another nurse in her 40s who worked at the hospital, the centers said. The nurse in her 40s was diagnosed with measles on March 28, it said. Tests showed that the strain with which they were infected matched the virus from a cluster of cases at the hospital, the centers said. A total of 55 measles cases have been confirmed nationwide this year: 29 domestic infections — with 18 of those infected through close contact with an infected person — and 26 infected overseas, 22 of whom were Taiwanese, the centers said.
AFP, ACCRAAn artificial intelligence (AI) research laboratory opened by Google in Ghana, the first of its kind in Africa, would take on challenges across the continent, researchers said. “Africa has many challenges where the use of AI could be beneficial, sometimes even more than in other places,” Google’s head of AI Accra, Moustapha Cisse, told reporters at the center’s official opening this week. Cisse, an expert from Senegal, said that he hoped specialist engineers and AI researchers would collaborate with local organizations and policymakers. Google is working with universities and start-ups in Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa to enhance AI development regionally, he said. It’s international,” he told reporters in a recent interview.
By Lin Chia-nan / Staff reporterA coalition of student groups yesterday announced the establishment of the Youth Front for Boycotting Fake News, with experts highlighting Beijing’s increased interference in Taiwan’s public communication channels. More than 100 university and high-school student groups, along with more than 50 experts, have pledged to support the front, which was established last week. The front is targeting TV stations because they are the main source of information for older people, said front spokesman Chen Ku-hsiung (陳估熊), who is also the president of the National Cheng Kung University Student Association. Chinese-backed media monopolization efforts no longer target a single media outlet, but have become a universal phenomenon in Taiwanese media, Lai said. Chinese authorities and their proxies in Taiwan must not underestimate the civic power of Taiwanese society, he said.
AP, KUALA LUMPURThe Malaysian government on Friday said that it has decided to resume a China-backed rail link project, after the Chinese contractor agreed to cut the construction cost by one-third. It welcomed the signing of a supplementary agreement between Malaysia Rail Link Sendirian Bhd and state-owned China Communications Construction Co (中國交通建設) to revive the project. In Beijing, Malaysian chief negotiator Daim Zainuddin told Malaysian media that the rail link would be 40km shorter at 648km, but would remain a double-track line. I also hope that the two sides can resume the project construction as soon as possible,” he told reporters. The government last year suspended work on the rail link pending renegotiations.
However, it is all but impossible to train a neural network to recognize speech or faces with certainty. For AI to work, it needs constant human input, but companies selling AI-based products do not want to tell customers about the role played by what Wired staff writer Lily Hay Newman has called their “covert human workforces” for two reasons. That is not a big distinction — especially when it comes to private conversations involving financial transactions or sensitive family matters. Tellingly, the wording of Amazon’s response to the Intercept’s story was identical to the one it provided to Bloomberg. The firm said that it has “zero tolerance for abuse of our systems.”This kind of boilerplate response does little to inspire trust.
AFP, MUMBAI, IndiaJet Airways India Ltd on Friday extended a suspension of all of its international flights until tomorrow, the latest blow to the debt-stricken carrier battling to stay afloat. A Jet Airways source told reporters that all of its international flights out of and into India until tomorrow had been scrapped, extending a series of cancelations announced on Thursday. That is below the 20 required by Indian aviation regulators to fly overseas. Dozens of uniformed Jet workers protested on Friday at Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport, where they carried signs that read: “Save Jet Airways” and “Save our future.”Friday was the deadline for prospective bidders to express an interest in acquiring a 75 percent stake in Jet. “Depending on what the banks decide, the future course of action would be taken,” Kharola said.
By Lee I-chia / Staff reporterTaipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) yesterday criticized as “nonsense” a speech that Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) made in the US about Taiwan’s next president needing to make the nation safe and prosperous. The standard for the next president should be the ability “to make Taiwan safe and the people rich,” Han added. “Taiwan safety — nonsense — what can we do without safety?” he said. “Being rich makes things easier — a better livelihood can resolve economic and defense problems, so it [Han’s standard] is a goal. The government’s most urgent task is to improve the efficiency of Taiwan, Ko added.
By Lu Yi-hsuan and Jonathan Chin / Staff reporter, with staff writerThe Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) yesterday in Arlington, Virginia, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to cooperate in addressing parental child abductions. The memorandum enables the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the US Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs to enhance information sharing and cooperation when responding to international parental child abductions, MOFA said in a statement. Deputy Representative to the US Louis Huang (黃敏境) and AIT Managing Director John Norris signed the MOU, the AIT said. The memorandum has accompanied increasing social links between Taiwan and the US, such as marriages, MOFA said. The relationship between Taiwan and the US is strong and the two sides are focusing on issues that affect the well-being of Taiwanese and Americans, such as children’s welfare, it said.
As climate change makes farming far tougher and more young people reject it as a career, technological innovations to make the work more secure and appealing can help, agricultural specialists told the Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship in Oxford this week. For instance, giving small-scale farmers access to the right-sized farm machinery can help reduce backbreaking labor and keep more people on the land, Zehr said. “We’ve seen a lot of excitement from farmers for these digital applications,” Zehr said. In Ghana, farmers struggling with worsening pest and plant-disease problems related to climate change, as well as wilder weather, can now access a call center staffed by young agronomists, Root Capital CEO Willy Foote said. As climate change makes harvests more unpredictable, “we need to give countries a sense of what is going to happen, how to plan,” she added.