MARIJUANA for sale in 7-Eleven? Perhaps the convenience stores want to let customers see the millennium out on a really high note. The stores have started selling a beer named 'Spirit of Hanf'. The list of ingredients is in German, so only those who speak that language will realise Hanf is hemp, and that the beer's Austrian makers are tipping hemp extract in with the malt and hops. Hemp, a plant related to cannabis, caused controversy in Hong Kong last year when The Body Shop was forced to withdraw a series of skin care products that used its seed as an ingredient after Customs officials said this was illegal. While these contained only tiny quantities of the mind-expanding chemicals present in marijuana, this was still enough to fall foul of local anti-drugs laws. But 7-Eleven may avoid the same fate. Despite last year's seizure of bottles of another hemp beer also sold locally, Customs have never ordered its withdrawal. Either way, cynics are already joking that, since the convenience stores are run by the Jardine Group, this is just a small-scale return to the line of business that it started with a century ago. Perhaps also on a slight high last week was legislator Emily Lau Wai-hing as she tried to drum up interest in International Human Rights Day. Bemoaning the worsening situation in Hong Kong in an RTHK interview she noted how 'people have not been shot yet' - as if to imply it is only a matter of time before this begins to happen. When presenter Trevor Wyatt mildly suggested this did not seem very likely, she promptly rounded on him. 'You are betraying your complacency,' Ms Lau thundered. 'Can you, hand on heart, say this will never happen in Hong Kong?' However, she did concede that no executions were likely 'tomorrow'. Thank heaven for small graces. A new look last week for Secretary for Security Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee. She sported a new haircut and smart suit as she faced the cameras while chairing Thursday's inaugural meeting of the committee on admitting talented mainlanders. Only two days earlier Commercial Radio phone-in show host Lam Yuk-wah had charged she looked 'dishevelled' with her 'hair in disarray' while appearing on TV last Sunday to react to the violent protests by overstayers. But no doubt the spin-doctors will be quick to insist that this new look, so soon after such criticism, was a complete coincidence. Meanwhile Xinhua had what it considered big news last week. The state-run agency proudly unveiled plans to begin carrying news in Chinese 24 hours a day. While the rest of the world has long been accustomed to breaking news being reported as soon as it happens, Xinhua has operated at a more leisurely pace, perhaps partly because many important announcements have to be cleared by communist cadres who only work regular office hours. Its English-language service succumbed to the inevitable and began providing 24-hour bulletins a few years ago. Now its Chinese counterpart is following suit. The agency boasted that, from now on, it would quickly react to news even 'if it happens after midnight'. Presumably the cadres will face the choice of either being woken at all hours or restricting their censoring activities to the daytime.