Friday, 15 June 2007

The road to Hell…

A 45 year old Banker, who held a senior position in a savings bank, in Tauberfranken, Germany, has been sentenced to two years and ten months in prison - For diverting 2.1 million euros (about $2.79 million USD).

It seems he did it with the best intentions though. He wanted to be able to grant loans to poor clients who could not qualify for them...

So, over a period of around 5 years, he diverted money from the accounts of rich clients, to finance the loans (isn't that basically what a bank does anyway?).

Unfortunately he failed to keep reliable records, loosing track of where he had got the money - and who he had loaned it to.

He did manage to put a big chunk of it back where it came from, so that the actual loss to the Sparkasse Tauberfranken Bank finally only totted up to around 640,000 euros. When he couldn’t repair the financial hole he had dug any further he turned himself in to the police. Apparently he never took a cent of the money for himself.

The German media are hailing him as a modern day Robin Hood.

Maybe he should have kept better records. One has to have some sympathy for him, but then the shock of finding all the savings gone from one's account might temper one's sympathy a little…

Done officially it’s known as Micro Finance. Figures have repayments running in the high nineties percentage wise. Perhaps he should have put the idea in the company ‘suggestions box’ - He might have ended up with an award, instead of doing time…

Poor, Poor, Robin (Hat Tip to Robert Hoffman) After all - It is Friday ;-)

Government proposals to cut drink drive limit

The UK Government could be cut the drink drive limit.

The UK ‘Roads Minister’ Stephen Ladyman, said the Department for Transport would be producing proposals for a consultation later in the year on reducing the drink drive limit, after Ministers have come under increasing pressure from the British Medical Association and road safety groups.

The limit is likely to be reduced from 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood down to 50 milligrams.

Apparently several police forces have ‘voiced alarm' that the "do not drink and drive" message was not reaching young motorists.

The Department for Transport’s figures show that there were 1,050 17 to 19 year olds involved in drink drive accidents in 2005, compared to 810 a decade ago. That’s a difference of 240 accidents in a year. What was the spread of severity? How many involved injury? What level of damage. How are they measuring these figs now compared to a decade ago.

The figures and portentious pronouncements all sound laudable and plausible, on the surface - if you are really thinking about what you are planning to do this week end instead of actually paying attention.

For a moment lets pretend we can believe Government Statistics and that the way they measure them and what they measure hasn’t changed several times over the period to render them unreliable.

Do they mention how much over the limit these 17 to 19 year olds were? Because if they were not somewhere between 50 and 80 milligrams then lowering the limit wouldn’t make a jot of difference would it?

Do these figures include passengers? If so were there actually more accidents, or just more car sharing... No surely they wouldn't have included passengers.

If they were over the limit of 80 then they would also have been well over a 50 limit and if they were not swayed by the penalties, risk of being caught - and dangers - of driving whilst impaired, then they were just not convinced and would be no more likely to heed a 50 limit than the 80.

It would probably be far more effective to actually increase their likelihood of being caught over the 80 limit.

Now the British Medical Association involvement - exactly how are they experts on road safety? When you think about it they are no more qualified to pronounce on this particular matter than my postman. Just because they may be qualified to practice medicine it doesn’t make them expert plumbers or trapeze artists - No they are just pushing their anti alcohol agenda again.

How many agendas are operating here?

Consider - Just how low can the limit go before, practically speaking, you will not be able to have a modest drink in the evening if you want to be able to pass a breath test whilst driving to work the following morning? Is it a sneaky way of forcing a reduction in general alcohol consumption tailored to, or below, their recommended number of units?

Also could this recent Government enthusiasm for looking at a 50 limit have anything to do with the fact that in the EU the UK, Ireland and Luxembourg are now alone in retaining the 80mg limit?

From what I understand all the others (except Sweden at 20) have reduced their limit to 50mg, are they looking to standardise legislation?

Shareholders torpedo Yahoo's anti censorship policy

Yahoo, amongst others, have been getting stick recently for cosying up to governments such as China, who are big on net censorship.

Presumably feeling a little sensitive to criticisms of their policies by human rights groups, Yahoo proposed to adopt a policy that opposed censorship and to set up a human rights committee, to review it’s policies in various locales.

Complete sites - including news media - are eliminated from Yahoo and Google in China. Also Yahoo has been criticized for turning over political dissidents' e-mails that were then used as evidence against them.

Sad to say the proposals were very heavily defeated by Yahoo shareholders.

At Yahoo’s AGM the human rights committee idea was rejected by a huge 96%.

More disturbing 85% are apparently advocates of censorship. Or at least ambivalent towards it when it comes to an increased dividend. It’s enough to make you start to wonder just how many shares in Yahoo the Chinese communist party actually holds ;-)

Personally I would really like to see them rethink their apparently pro censorship stance.