China receives forest loans
The World Bank lent as much as US$100 million to support forestry protection and development in China, the Xinhua news agency reported. The loan will be used to develop high-yield timber plantations and introduce superior genetic materials and forest management technologies in China, Xinhua said. China is a forest-poor country, with a per capita forest area of 0.13 hectare compared with the world average of 0.6 hectare, Xinhua said. The increasing gap between timber supply and demand is a "key constraint" in sustainable forestry development in China, it said, citing the World Bank.
Online shrines to be regulated
Japanese are split on whether Shinto shrines should be able to offer virtual visits on Web sites and sell amulets online. Alarmed by the services, the Tokyo-based Association of Shinto Shrines plans to issue regulations next year on shrines' use of the Internet, the Yomiuri Shimbun said in its English edition yesterday. The group supervises around 80,000 shrines across the country. "Shinto gods are enshrined in the place and space of a shrine, and therefore it's fundamental for worshippers to actually visit the shrine," Yoshiya Senoo, chief of the association's research division said.
US regulators watching BP
US regulators have ordered British oil giant BP PLC to submit more details about its plans for replacing corroded pipelines at Prudhoe Bay, the nation's largest oil field. The information sought will "determine the need for additional corrective action," regulators said in a Dec. 7 letter to Sandy Stash, vice president for regulatory compliance and ethics for BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc. Since a major pipeline leak at Prudhoe in March, BP has been under orders from the US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to better maintain lines at the field.
SK Telecom looks abroad
South Korea's top mobile carrier SK Telecom said yesterday it has forged a strategic alliance with high-tech giant Samsung Electronics to expand their mobile phone business abroad. SK Telecom said it would use 3 million Samsung mobile phones next year for its business at home and abroad, especially in the US and Vietnam. "Through cooperation with Samsung Electronics, we will strengthen our foothold in the Vietnamese market, where demand for new mobile phones is growing," SK Telecom said in a statement. SK Telecom controls more than half of South Korea's wireless market.
Goodyear picket lines spread
Union members battling Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co took their picket lines to about 150 tire retailers in the US and Canada on Saturday, making their case directly to consumers for health care and retirement benefits. In Lincoln, Nebraska, about 50 United Steelworkers members protested at two Goodyear retailers, decrying the company's use of replacement workers during the two-month strike. Goodyear spokesman Ed Markey said the protests do not affect plans to return to the bargaining table, scheduled to resume today in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for the first time since Nov. 17. About 15,000 workers are on strike at 12 US and four Canadian plants.