■ NEW ZEALAND
Police red-faced over pot
Police burning seized cannabis were left red-faced when a change in the wind sent smoke billowing over a primary school, the Marlborough Express reported yesterday. Officers in the South Island town of Picton were destroying cannabis and shredded paper in an incinerator at the police station when the incident occurred, the newspaper said. It said St Joseph’s School principal Peter Knowles noticed the smoke on Friday morning and complained to police, who immediately extinguished the fire. Senior Sergeant Peter Payne said a small amount of cannabis was in the incinerator when the wind changed direction and unexpectedly took the smoke over the school.
Jobs planned for south
The government is to offer money and jobs to its militant-hit southern communities amid peace talks with Muslim rebels, an aide to President Benigno Aquino III said yesterday. The program would give tens of thousands of displaced people access to basic infrastructure and health services as they rebuild homes, Aquino’s peace adviser, Teresita Deles, told reporters. She said Manila was hoping to resume peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front at the earliest next month. Deles said the government would put in place an employment guarantee scheme for one member of every household affected by the conflict, while skills training would be offered to other adults.
Land swap with Malaysia
The government has agreed to a land swap with Malaysia to resolve a dispute that has lingered since the two countries split 45 years ago. The announcement was made on Monday by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (李顯龍) and his Malaysian counterpart, Najib Razak, at a joint news conference. Malaysia will give up a train station it owns near downtown Singapore in return for six land parcels in the city-state to be controlled by M-S Pte Ltd — a venture 60 percent owned by Malaysian state investment fund Khazanah Nasional Bhd and 40 percent owned by Singapore’s Temasek Holdings Ltd. Malaysia held on to the station after it expelled Singapore from the brief federation the two sides formed in the mid-1960s and negotiations over it have taken place for decades. A joint statement said the two sides will decide the timing of the swap by the end of this year.
Tough energy standards set
The National Development and Reform Commission said yesterday that effective Nov. 1, all new factories and other investment projects must be reviewed for energy efficiency and those that are too wasteful would be denied government approval. The restrictions are part of government efforts to curb surging energy demand, pollution and emissions of greenhouse gases that many scientists believe are the cause of global warming. The assessments are to be carried out by third parties and reviewed by the government. Projects will be rejected if they fail to meet energy conservation standards, the planning agency said. Approved projects will be supervised to make sure they are hitting their efficiency targets and could be fined if they fail to do so. Beijing has committed to an ambitious energy efficiency campaign, but announced last month that it had suffered a setback as a stimulus-fueled building boom drove growth in steel, cement and other heavy industry. Beijing’s plans call for cutting energy intensity, or energy used per unit of economic output, by 20 percent from 2006 levels by this year.