Environmental Zones to be Designated in 20 German Cities Starting January 1, 2008

The German Federal Foreign Office (Auswärtiges Amt) reports (in English) that new environmental zones (“Umweltzonen”) are to be designated in 20 major German cities starting January 1, 2008.

At the start of the new year, i.e. as of January 1, 2008, the new environmental zones go into force first in the three designated cities of Berlin, Cologne and Hannover and only vehicles displaying a special emissions-control sticker (“Feinstaubplakette”) will be allowed to enter these zones. This sticker will be valid throughout Germany.

The special emissions sticker comes in three colors: red and yellow and green. From January 1, 2008 to January 1, 2010, vehicles having stickers in any of the three colors (such vehicles at least meet the requirements of Pollutant Class 2) can drive in the environmental zone. After January 1, 2010 only vehicles with the green sticker (Pollutant Class 4) will be allowed to drive in the environmental zone.

At the official website of Berlin, there is a map of the affected area of the city also showing the “environmental zone” traffic sign which will mark the designated area in Berlin (the smaller “sticker sign” below the larger sign shows which stickered cars can pass the sign – and, obviously, cars having no such sticker can not drive in these areas – unless they obtain a special exemption):


The Berlin city website also provides downloads in five languages of the applicable rules and affected areas as follows:

Umweltzone Broschüre (pdf; 192 KB) de – German
The environmental zone (pdf; 192 KB) en – English (Better Air for Berlin – What Drivers Need to Know)
Cevre Koruma Bölgesi (pdf; 335 KB) tr – Turkish
Экологическая зона (pdf; 1.8 MB) ru – Russian
Strefa ekologiczna (pdf; 345 KB) en – Polish

There is also a special website for the environmental zone in Cologne (Köln), at which a special Flyer in German language, but including a map of the environmental zone can be downloaded. The map below is linked from meinestadt.de (which contains additional information in German):


Also Hannover has a special website page for its environmental zone and a large map of that zone, which we link to here in smaller format:

Environmental zones. Absurdly rising oil and gas prices. Pressures from the EU on German car manufacturers. Perhaps it is no wonder that domestic cars sales in Germany in 2007 have been disastrous thus far. It may be getting time to break out the bicycles.

LibraryThing is an Online Bookshelf for Everyone

Take a look at LibraryThing, which is an online bookshelf for your books.

Below is a cropped screen shot of our first book entry, Stars Stones and Scholars, on our LibraryThing bookshelf. This gives an idea of the website interface, which offers the user various alternatives for presentation of book data. LibraryThing is free up to the first 200 entries:

Information Technology Governance in 2008 : The Privacy Landscape : The Changing Legal Framework for Corporate IT and Digital Accounting in Germany

Please note that our posting here is not a comprehensive handling of the topic of IT Governance but is intended rather to alert interested readers to a burgeoning field which impacts law, especially on the example of Germany. It is best to follow some of the links given below for more information.

Information technology governance (“IT governance”) is a burgeoning field, as can be read for example at the IT Governance Roundtable of the IT Governance Institute. For a general overview of IT governance, see CIO.com’s ABC: An Introduction to IT Governance by Karen D. Schwartz, for IT Governance in Practice see that PWC report, and for a prospective view to 2008 see IT and the Changing Privacy Landscape: Eight Areas to Watch in ’08 by Brian Tretick, executive director, Privacy Risk Advisory Services at Ernst & Young, December 28, 2007.

We were led to this topic for Germany via Overcoming the Thicket: Five Steps Toward Successful Post-Merger IT Restructuring in Germany, a September 2007 article by Jyn Schultze-Melling LL.M in Law Technology Today, the webzine of the ABA Law Practice Management Section.

As Schultze-Melling notes in his article, the legal framework governing corporate IT in Germany has become rather long and complex. For example, as he writes, one must be familiar inter alia with the following important German regulations:

1) Grundsätze ordnungsmäßiger DV-gestützter Buchführungssysteme (GoBS)
translated inter alia as “Generally Accepted Principles of Computer-Assisted Accounting Systems” (GAPCAS) or also as “Generally accepted principles of computerized accounting systems” – see the German text of this administrative instruction as issued by the German Finance Ministry in 1995 (Schreiben des Bundesministeriums der Finanzen an die obersten Finanzbehörden der Länder vom 7. November 1995 – IV A 8 – S 0316 – 52/95- BStBl 1995 I S. 738)

and

2) (Grundsätze zum Datenzugriff und zur Prüfbarkeit digitaler Unterlagen) – GDPdU
translated inter alia as “Principles of data access and auditing of digital documents”
which is an administrative instruction from the German Finance Ministry issued in 2001 (BMF-Schreiben vom 16. Juli 2001 – IV D 2 – S 0316 – 136/01 -).

See in this regard also the bookmarked links for the user UKff at Mister Wong
as well as the MittelstandsWiki from Oracle Germany (unfortunately, only in German).

As far as the problem of divining German accounting principles, see for a useful, thoughtful presentation the article
German Financial Accounting and Reporting FAQs and Fallacies by Robin Bonthrone
where he writes clear back in the year 2000 (this is but a small part of his article):

Section 243 (1) of the HGB sets out that financial statements must be prepared in accordance with the GoB (“Der Jahresabschluß ist nach den Grundsätzen ordnungsmäßiger Buchführung aufzustellen”). The problem is that these GoB are not actually defined anywhere! Born (Rechnungslegung International—Konzernabschlüsse nach IAS, US-GAAP, HGB und EG-Richtlinien, 2. Auflage; Schäffer-Poeschel 1999) refers to them as ein unbestimmter Rechtsbegriff. According to the Wirtschaftsprüfer-Handbuch 1996, the following may be considered part of the GoB:

  • Commercial and tax laws (e.g. HGB, AktG, EStG, EstR, GmbHG) and EC Directives, in particular the 4th (annual accounts) and 7th (consolidated accounts) Directives
  • Rulings by the BGH (Bundesgerichtshof/Federal Court of Justice), BFH (Bundesfinanzhof/Federal Finance Court) and the ECJ (European Court of Justice)
  • Opinions and statements issued by the IDW (Institut der Wirtschaftsprüfer/German Institute of Auditors), opinions issued by the DIHT (Deutscher Industrie- und Handelstag/German Industrial Trade Association)
  • gesicherte Erkenntnisse der Betriebswirtschaftslehre (undefined)
  • The relevant professional literature (again undefined)
  • and finally, what I think must qualify as one of the great Gummibegriffe of all time: die Bilanzierungspraxis ordentlicher Kaufleute

Take a look at the entire writing by Robin Bonthrone.

Confirming the existence of those same problems currently, we find the following reference at the SAP website in note 36 to the Consolidated Financial Statements 2006 regarding significant differences between German and U.S. accounting principles:

Because SAP AG is a German holding corporation that owns the majority of voting rights in other enterprises, it is generally obliged to prepare consolidated financial statements in accordance with the accounting regulations set out in the German Commercial Code (Handelsgesetzbuch – HGB). The German Commercial Code Implementation Act (Einführungsgesetz zum HGB-EGHGB), section 58 paragraph 5 and the German Commercial Code (Handelsgesetzbuch – HGB), section 292a, offer an exemption from this obligation if consolidated financial statements are prepared and published in accordance with an internationally accepted accounting principle (such as U.S. GAAP or IFRS). To make use of this exemption, we are required to describe the significant differences between the accounting methods applied and German accounting methods.

Take a look at that website for more detailed information.

The website IAS Plus from Deloitte covers Accounting Standards Updates by Jurisdiction – in this case Germany and points there to pending legislation which involves forthcoming major changes in German accounting law as follows:

Major changes in German accounting law are under discussion

On 8 November 2007, the German Ministry of Justice (MOJ) issued for public comment a staff draft of the German Accounting Law Modernisation Act (BilMoG) (PDF 651k, German language). The overall goals of the reform are to (1) modernise the German Accounting Law (Handelsgesetzbuch, or HGB) and (2) reduce regulatory burden on companies. The proposed changes are generally in the direction of closer conformity of the HGB with IFRSs. The bill would also make changes in the areas of auditing, supervisory boards, and audit committees. Importantaccounting changes include:

  • greater recognition of intangible assets (although the related increase in equity would not be available for distrbution as dividends)
  • special purpose entities controlled by a parent would have to be consolidated
  • recognition of deferred tax assets (previously prohibited)
  • measurement of financial assets held for trading at fair values in excess of initially recognised costs
  • measurement of provisions at discounted amounts
  • inclusion of actuarial assumptions in the measurement of pension liabilities
  • exemption of small non-listed entities from the requirement to publish HGB-GAAP financial statements

The staff draft is currently out for comment by key interested parties until 8 January 2008. Thereafter, the draft law will be revised based on the comments received by MOJ and then submitted to both chambers of Parliament (the Deutsche Bundestag and Bundesrat) where it will be deliberated for at least several months. Many observers anticipate a heated debate. The original time frame indicated by the MOJ was for publication of the final law in the second half of 2008, with applicability as of 1 January 2009. However, observers suggest that due to significant election dates in 2008 and 2009, that date may not be feasible to uphold.
[emphasis added by LawPundit]

See also

The IT Metrics and Productivity Institute

Five Domains of Internet Technology Governance for Consideration by Boards of Directors by Matthew Fletcher, June, 2006

IT Jobs in the UK – Trend, 2007

It Governance in Higher Education – Educause, September, 2007

Happy New Year to Latvia and its Beautiful Women : We wish all (Priecīgus Ziemassvētkus) un Laimīgu Jauno Gadu!

Happy New Year to Latvia and its Beautiful Women

We thought we would pass this story on to all of our friends and readers in the Baltic and to those Latvian ladies – or those whose descendants stem from Latvia – who are amongst our own near family and relations.

A friend of ours has stated that Latvia (per capita) has the greatest number of beautiful women in the world. She is someone who has traveled all over the planet and she says that the Latvian ladies in Riga – at least the ones that are seen in the city – are simply stunning.

Whether this is true or not – beauty is in the eyes of the beholder – it is still a nice affirmation. Hey, it could be true.

Priecīgus Ziemassvētkus un Laimīgu Jauno Gadu!

Why Celebrate the New Year Now? did Julius Caesar reform the calendar? or the Egyptians before him? and are there large errors in man’s chronology?

Happy New Year 2008 is just a few days distant,
but why do we celebrate the New Year now and not at some other time?

N.S. Gill at about.com has a nice posting about the Julian Calendar and the Julius Caesar (?) Calendar Reform at
http://ancienthistory.about.com/od/holidaysfestivals/f/CaesarCalendar.htm?nl=1

Prior to that calendar reform, whenever it actually happened (see below), ancient chronology is a mess. Over the years we have tried to draw attention to the problem by pointing out obvious errors in analysis of the available evidence as made by scholars in the field in formulating the timeline of man’s ancient history.

Indeed, we have also suggested some obvious corrections to chronology based upon our analysis of the evidence available. EVIDENCE is not a main concern of the humanities, and chronology is a very good example of that.

See e.g. a new source out of Egypt
http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/LexiLine/message/1201
for evidence that the calendar reform ascribed to Caesar occurred even earlier

and then look at more evidence concerning the errors committed by mainstream academia in assigning a chronology to Moses and the consequences of those errors at
Moses and Exodus (the short version)
http://www.lexiline.com/lexiline/lexi300.htm
or see the link below for the longer version
http://www.lexiline.com/lexiline/lexi000.htm
with King Tut (Tutankhamun)

and then view my Absolute Chronology of the World by Astronomy at
http://www.lexiline.com/lexiline/lexi760.htm

and see in that regard the ancient Egyptian chronology of Manetho at
http://www.lexiline.com/lexiline/lexi20.htm

and see also my comments on the erroneous Maya chronology of mainstream Maya scholars at
http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/LexiLine/message/1457
and
http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/LexiLine/message/956
and
as related to the Pharaonic calendric count at
http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/LexiLine/message/1370

That is enough material to suggest some of the major problems (and possible solutions) that currently exist in man’s chronology of his own ancient past, errors which have been made due to faulty analysis of the evidence available.

There is definitely still a lot of “calendric work” to be done before we have man’s history and calendration right.

Open Source Related Patent Litigation Update on Network Appliance/Sun Lawsuit from Dana Lengkeek

Dana Lengkeek of Corporate Communications at Sun Microsystems, Inc., has sent us the following year-end “Update on Network Appliance/Sun Lawsuit” (Monday, December 17, 2007 4:16:26 PM) [published here with her permission]:

Hello –

Moving into the end of the year I wanted to provide an overview of where we are with the Network Appliance lawsuit. Following is the current status of activity, please let me know if you have any questions.

Dana Lengkeek
Corporate Communications
Sun Microsystems, Inc.
Phone: 650 786 4017
Mobile: 415 994 4008
Email: Dana.Lengkeek@Sun.COM

————

As of Friday, December 14, Sun has filed reexamination requests for three Network Appliance patents as part of its response to a lawsuit initially filed by Network Appliance against Sun on September 5, 2007. This follows the agreement last month with Network Appliance to transfer
Network Appliance’s lawsuit from Texas and litigate it along with the case Sun filed in California. The motion to transfer was filed on November 21 and the cases are now assigned to a mutually agreed upon judge. With each company being headquartered in northern California and the majority of inventors and innovation in dispute originating in California, it makes sense for this case to be litigated in this jurisdiction. We are pleased that Network Appliance agreed to Sun’s
request and retracted its imprudent choice of venue for this litigation.

Reexams have been filed on the NetApp WAFL patents that purportedly cover concepts such as copy on write, snapshot and writable snapshot. There is a significant amount of prior art describing this technology that was not in front of the US patent office when it first examined
these patents. In just one example, the early innovation by Mendel Rosenblum and John Ousterhout on Log Structured File Systems, applauded in a NetApp blog
http://blogs.netapp.com/dave/2007/09/vmwares-founder.html as being inspirational to the founders, was not considered by the patent office in the examination of the NetApp patents.

Sun is committed to protecting innovation and the open source community against this attack. The reexamination of three Network Appliance patents seeks to ensure the open source community continues to have access to technology that Network Appliance did not invent. Sun is also in the process of identifying other Network Appliance patents to be reexamined. We continue to receive support from the open source community in terms of prior art and appreciate the community response to protect innovation. We would like to thank those who have sent in relevant art that has been used in connection with the reexamination requests.

Sun’s actions are in response to the suit Network Appliance brought against the company to forestall competition from the free ZFS technology. Sun’s earlier filings include patent counterclaims against the entirety of Network Appliance’s product line, including the entire NetApp Enterprise Fabric Attached Storage (FAS) products, V-series products using Data ONTAP software, and NearStore products, seeking both injunction and monetary damages.

Sun is confident in our patents and claims against Network Appliance, and pleased with the direction of our case. To view more information, including the filings, visit Sun’s Open Source Community Support page at www.sun.com/lawsuit/zfs.

The Problem of Being Kaulins – Websites, Blogs and their Authors – A Case of Mistaken Identity – Too many Kaulinses

We recently received several emails confusing us with other people on the Internet among other things because of our personal name, Andis Kaulins, which for many years we ourselves thought to be unique on this planet, which has turned out not to be the case.

There is for example another Andis Kaulins on this planet, no relation to us whatsoever, who has a blog called Andis Kaulins in China and he also blogs at Spaces, MySpace, and Tumblr at those links. There may be more, but we do not know of them.

I myself have two – and only two – blogs at blogspot.com with the name Kaulins in them, the blog Kaulins and the Andis Kaulins Blog (see my Blogspot profile).

All other blogs at blogspot.com with the name Kaulins in them are NOT my blogs.

There is unfortunately an anonymous blogger at blogspot.com who is creating some ill will in the community. This person is posting in part objectionable material at the addresses kaulins2.blogspot through kaulins7.blogspot. I AM NOT THIS BLOGGER nor is this person any relation to my family, near or far, and I distance myself completely from the materials found there.

Nevertheless, should this blogger ever com across this posting here, please be advised that you are posting copyrighted material to your blogs without attribution and that some people out there are not very pleased about it. Please tell your readers where your material – as copyrighted by others – is coming from, or remove it from the Internet.

It is of course an irritation to me that someone out there is doing something like this, because the surname Kaulins has a good reputation in Latvia, where the name originates. For example, the first music journal in Latvia was published by a Kaulins, a Kaulins had a famous private library in Latvia which served as a foundation for today’s library at the University of Latvia, a Kaulins was a famous linguist at the University of Latvia, and a Kaulins has produced Latvia’s astronomy almanac. We have also had black sheep – the most famous Communist in Latvia was a Kaulins as was also the best-known leading director of a kolkhoz in Soviet days.

The heart of the problem is that anonymity on blogs – availed to by our mysterious poster – is a double-edged sword. We all applaud it when someone is anonymously reporting news from an area of the world where revealing the author’s name would be a danger to him. On the other hand, permitting anonymity also permits people to post the daftest things on the Internet, often showing the black side of human nature, which is present on this planet in abundance. So why add to the negatives on this planet by posting objectionable material anonymously. It is something that we simply do not understand.

We ourselves DO NOT post anonymously – anywhere. Thank you.