I LIKE MY news short and to the point. It is why I have an affinity for snippets of two or three paragraphs, the sort that barely rate a headline. On Wednesday they gave me a treasure trove in this newspaper. Here we go: Route 3 operator is asked for discounts: Route 3 is the private tollway on the western side of the New Territories, the one that has suffered from traffic levels far below initial projections and that the Transport Department has proposed to gut even further by building the non-toll Route 10 beside it. The government has Route 3 over a barrel obviously and now, as a quid pro quo for extending its franchise past 2025, wants it to offer more discounts to cross border goods vehicles. Route 3's response was ambiguous. It just wants more traffic. The response of almost anyone else looking at it can only be that the government has set the cart before horse on the roadways again. Cross-border goods vehicles licences are issued by a monopoly across the border and nobody gets one free. I cannot give you precise figures. For some unfathomable reason, and I could not possibly guess what that would be, it is just a complete mystery, the people who issue them do not seem to welcome great attention to them. It seems there are about 14,000 such licences issued at the moment, just the right number to generate an income to the issuers of, I would guess, up to HK$1 billion a year. Might it not be a good idea for our government to put pressure on the Guangdong authorities for the dissolution of this arrangement before asking a loss-making company in Hong Kong to pick up the burden of reducing logistics costs? Workplace fears over soccer bets: Websense, an American firm that tracks Internet usage says there are now 473 Chinese language gambling Web sites, triple the number of a year ago, and that 76 per cent of employers recently surveyed in Hong Kong regard gambling at work as their main concern. Meanwhile we have a Jockey Club that is only now beginning to scratch its head about how it can offer legal football bets to the public and a government that still thinks it can keep up its betting duties by criminalising every gambling channel bar the Jockey Club. Count them, fellas, 473 Chinese language sites alone according to the experts and, if employee gambling at work is a problem, just think what those people do at play. Yoohoo there, anyone at home down in Lower Albert Road? Wake up, smell the coffee. Your gambling restrictions are in trouble. Professionals told to cross border: A real gem here. Executive councillor Leung Chun-ying, says there is an oversupply of professionals in Hong Kong and that if just one tenth of them, or 5,000 he says, were to move across the border to develop their careers, Hong Kong could generate an additional HK$5 billion in foreign exchange every year. Where do we start on this one? Let us try the arithmetic. On even the very strictest definition of professionals we have about 200,000 of them according to government statistics so your 10 per cent is actually 2.5 per cent, Mr Leung, and, speaking of education, if we already have an oversupply of professionals I am sure you will remind your boss of it the next time he says that more money for academia is a big priority. But, by the way, sir, did you know that Hong Kong residents now make almost five million trips per month across the border? Per month! You can add two zeros to your number of 5,000 professionals to get a reasonable estimate of the number of Hong Kong people who already derive the bulk of their income from the mainland. And what makes you think we have a great need of foreign exchange? The world is divided into providers and recipients of investment capital and we are firmly in the provider camp, one of the leaders of it. Whence comes this notion that we ought to import coals to Newcastle? Show business: A short headline on the Insight page and underneath it another giggle. Having pushed contractors to complete Asia's largest convention and exhibition centre in just 20 months, the Guangzhou authorities will now have a mostly empty building for two years as marketing and promotion efforts have not kept pace and issues of competition with the China Export Commodity Fair have not been resolved. But this rates as instant occupancy compared with the wait facing an empty Olympic-sized stadium that will be used for the 2010 Asian Games, provided, of course, that Guangzhou wins the right to host them. Yes, and that brings up a question which has been puzzling me. ICAC stands for In Cash And Cheque, does it not? Nice to know that some people have it right.