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[VIDEO] Horace Luke: A Cleaner City Scooter

Horace Luke, CEO of the Taipei startup Gogoro, reimagines the scooter for the modern city from the wheels up. Video: Diana Jou Photo: Joyu Wang

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‘Wow, Pulled Back the Wrong Side Throttle’

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Official report confirms that the crash that left 43 people dead was caused by an engine malfunctioning and a pilot mistakenly shutting down the other

Andrea Chen and Sijia Jiang report: The captain of the TransAsia aircraft that crashed into a river in Taipei in February, killing 43 people, shut down the plane’s only working engine by mistake after the other had failed, a report by accident investigators confirmed on Thursday.

“Wow, pulled back the wrong side throttle,” Captain Liao Chien-tsung was heard saying on flight recorders eight seconds before the crash, the report by Taiwan’s Aviation Safety Council said.

Liao was initially hailed a hero for steering the aircraft away from buildings.

His training records released by the council showed that he had failed a simulator check during his test for promotion to captain last year due to “insufficient knowledge” of engine flameout.

But the council did not apportion any blame in its report.

A Hong Kong-based pilot told the South China Morning Post that TransAsia had tested all pilots on the handling of engine failure since the crash and 30 per cent failed. Those who failed would receive more training and be retested. He said pilots were supposed to turn off a failed engine to secure it.

The passenger flight GE 235, an ATR72-600, clipped a bridge and crashed into the Keelung River with 58 people on board, including 31 from the mainland, just minutes after taking off from Taipei Songshan Airport.

Among the dead were the captain and the co-pilot. Thirteen passengers and one cabin crew member sustained serious injuries. The other person on board suffered only minor injuries. Two people on the ground – a taxi driver and his female passenger – suffered minor injuries. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Captured by Dash Cam: TransAsia Plane Crashes Into River in Taiwan

More Than Two Dozen People Killed as Carrier Loses Second Aircraft in Seven Months; Black-Box Recorders Located

TAIPEI— Jenny W. Hsu ,Fanny Liu and Aries Poon reporting: Rescue workers continued with their search efforts late Wednesday using lights erected over the Keelung River, seeking missing passengers of TransAsia Flight 235, which crashed shortly after takeoff in Taiwan’s second deadly air accident in seven months.

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Emergency personnel try to extract passengers from a commercial flight with 58 people aboard that crashed in Taipei on Wednesday morning WALLY SANTANA/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Taiwan’s Civil Aeronautics Administration said late Wednesday that 25 people were dead, including at least two male Chinese nationals, and 16 people were injured. The plane was carrying 53 passengers and five cabin crew.

The authority said the control tower lost communication with the pilots four minutes after the takeoff from Taipei’s Songshan Airport en route to Kinmen, an outlying islandTransAsia near China’s mainland, around 10:53 a.m. local time. Many of the passengers were Chinese tourists from the province next to Kinmen.

The black box recorder has been located and authorities have begun the decoding process. The Aviation Safety Council, which is in charge of the investigation, declined to give an estimated time of when an initial report will be released. In the past, a preliminary analysis from the recorder has taken anywhere from days to weeks.

Dramatic images taken by drivers with dashboard cameras of the plane, a low-flying ATR-72 turboprop, as it clipped an overpass before plunging into a river were ubiquitous on social-media websites within hours of the crash, sparking heated discussions and messages of condolence.

The crash adds to fears about air safety in Asia following several aviation disasters in the region in 2014.

The most recent had been the crash of AirAsia Flight 8501, which went down in the Java Sea on Dec. 28 after taking off from Surabaya, Indonesia, on its way to Singapore, killing all 158 people on board. Investigators are still trying to determine the cause of that crash. Last year also saw the still-unsolved disappearance in March of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which carried 239 people when it veered thousands of miles off course from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Authorities are still searching for that missing plane in two broad BN-GU313_OBZH68_G_20150204091705areas of the Indian Ocean. The region was also devastated by the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine in July, in territory controlled by pro-Russian separatists.

Air traffic in Asia has increased rapidly in recent years, making it the world’s biggest aviation market, but the growth has been a struggle for some safety regulators, airlines and governments. Over the past five years, the number of passengers carried annually in the Asia-Pacific region has jumped by two-thirds to more than 1 billion, surpassing Europe and North America and accounting for 33% of the global total in 2013. Read the rest of this entry »


The World’s Top Coffee Cities

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Caffe Ciampini in Rome’s Piazza San Lorenzo in Lucina (Amanda Ruggeri)

For BBC Travel, Lindsey Galloway writes:  In many of the world’s top coffee cities, the cafe is more than just a place to get a warm drink – it is also a hub of culture and conversation for locals and visitors alike. And while each city defines its coffee culture in a different way – whether it be by their classic drink style or by the sheer concentration of independently owned coffee houses – these six cities, taken from “best of” lists in publications including Travel and pouring-coffee_422_36376Leisure and the USA Today, have one thing in common: the cities are filled with people who live for the craft of coffee.

Taipei, Taiwan

Taipei residents are known for being extraordinarily friendly and extremely polite. Since the island was once a Japanese colony, it is not uncommon for shop employees to smile and bow in unison when someone walks through the doors. And nowhere is this friendliness more apparent than in the city’s surprisingly unique cafes. Topo Cafe, in northern Taipei’s Western-style Tianmu neighbourhood, is so offbeat it has a miniature, gold-fish filled river  running through the middle of it.

Alistair Chang, an American from the Washington DC area, lived in Taipei for a year, documenting his favourite coffee spots on his blog, Taipei Cafes. He said he especially loves the establishments near the Zhongxiao Dunhua transit station in southern Taipei’s Da’an district. “These cafes are a little bolder,” he explained in an e-mail. “Homey’s Cafe, for example, requires you to walk up two unmarked, sketchy cement stairs to find, while the Barbie Cafe is exactly what the title suggests: completely pink.” Read the rest of this entry »


How Technology Revolutionized Taiwan’s Sunflower Movement

Facebook and Google, the favored tools of dissidents, are now shaping Taiwan’s relationship with China.

taiwanFor The DiplomatVincent Y. Chao writes: Underneath the piercing gaze of Sun Yat-sen, the founder of the Republic of China, a group of students sat, unshaved, unkempt and basking in the glow of their laptops. Amongst stacks of coffee cups, crudely drawn artwork, and piles of unevenly stacked office chairs, they were hard at work, plotting the next phase of their revolt against the government in Taiwan.

Three weeks earlier, the group had broken past police barriers and forcefully occupied the main Legislative assembly hall, defeating multiple attempts to evict them by the police. They sit engrossed: sending out press releases, updating the group’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, and sparking discussion on PTT (an online bulletin board favored by many of the country’s youth). Others are dozing off, or hold a blank stare in their eyes, a product of weeks of tension, uncertainty and sleep deprivation.

Initially there were only a hundred of them – students from Taiwan’s top universities energized by a series of controversial land seizures and, in this case, upset at the government’s attempt to ram through a wide-ranging services trade deal with China. Their numbers subsequently swelled, buoyed by 24 hour news coverage, Facebook shares, and, of course, volunteers from the hundreds of thousands of enthusiastic supporters that have flooded the capital Taipei’s streets in recent weeks.

Oliver Chen, 26, is a student from Taiwan’s prestigious National Taiwan University Law School. His hallmark, he says, is the colorful dress shirts he changes into every day. “Nothing else is changed. Shirts are all that I brought.” During the protests, he was responsible for the bank of computers to the left of Sun’s portrait. His team of English speakers worked with the foreign press to arrange interviews with the two protest leaders, Chen Wei-ting, 23, and Lin Fei-fan, 25.

Oliver and the rest of the students were organized. Very organized. Even the opposition, rumored to have ties to some of the student organizers, admits to such. “They could probably run a better campaign than the DPP,” said opposition leader Tsai Ing-wen during a media interview. The students have a medical center, distribution tables for snacks and goods, and even rooms for yoga or singing.
Read the rest of this entry »


BREAKING: Hello Kitty planes head to the U.S. market

From the painting on its exterior to the boarding passes, headrests, utensils, soap dispensers and snacks, everything in and on the plane will be Hello-Kitty-riffic!

From the painting on its exterior to the boarding passes, headrests, utensils, soap dispensers and snacks, everything in and on the plane will be Hello-Kitty-riffic!

Cat lovers and little girls rejoice: Hello Kitty planes are headed to the U.S.

Taiwan‘s EVA Air will be bringing the cartoon cat to the Los Angeles skies three times a week beginning September 18, on flights to Taipei. Read the rest of this entry »


Taiwan playboy Justin Lee sentenced to 22 years for non-consensual sex and privacy violation

Taiwan playboy Justin Lee sentenced to 22 years for non-consensual sex and privacy violation

Justin Lee (left)                                                              PHOTO: APPLE DAILY

Justin Lee, the man at the centre of the most notorious sex scandal seen in Taiwan in years, has been sentenced to a total of 22 years and four months’ jail on nine counts of non-consensual sex and 15 counts of privacy violation for filming himself having sex with multiple women including celebrities.

The 28-year-old socialite was found not guilty of more serious charges of aggravated rape by the panel of judges at the Taipei District Court, where the sentence was read out this morning, due to lack of evidence.

Lee was also ordered to pay NT$14.25 million (S$611,587) to 12 of his victims, who had sued him for a total of NT$75 million in damages.

Read the rest of this entry »