All posts tagged: commentary

Photos: Two Years of War in Ukraine

Photos: Two Years of War in Ukraine

Saturday will mark the two-year anniversary of Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine. Although the Russian military initially made broad advances into the country beginning on February 24, 2022, Ukrainian forces, backed by Western support, resisted fiercely, forcing Russia to pull back into eastern and southern Ukraine. Soon, front lines hundreds of miles long were established, and the war evolved into a long and punishing battle of artillery, drones, and close combat across trenches, shattered forests, and ruined villages. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers and civilians have been killed or injured in the conflict. As Russia continues to launch missiles into all parts of Ukraine and presses forward with ground attacks across the front line, Ukrainian forces face intensifying shortages of manpower and ammunition. Gathered below are images from recent months, showing a region reshaped by two years of war. Source link

Winners of the 2024 Underwater Photographer of the Year Contest

Winners of the 2024 Underwater Photographer of the Year Contest

The winning entries in this year’s Underwater Photographer of the Year contest have just been announced, and Alex Dawson was named Underwater Photographer of the Year 2024 for his image of a whale skeleton on the seafloor, beneath the ice, in Greenland. Prizes and commendations were handed out in categories including Wide Angle, Macro, Wrecks, Behavior, Portrait, Black and White, Compact, Up and Coming, and more. Contest organizers were once again kind enough to share some of this year’s honorees with us below, with captions written by the photographers. Source link

Commentary: Brace for higher chocolate prices, the crisis is inevitable

Commentary: Brace for higher chocolate prices, the crisis is inevitable

LARGEST SUPPLY-DEMAND GAP IN YEARS But the low prices have had consequences. The last wave of tree planting in West Africa took place in the early 2000s, particularly around the north-west of Ivory Coast. Those trees are nearly 25 years old, well past their prime. Husbandry has decayed, too, with little use of fertiliser and pesticide. Old cocoa trees mean two problems: Lower yields, and plants particularly vulnerable to bad weather and disease. Both factors are at play this year – punishing farmers who are missing out on the record prices. The local markets in Ivory Coast and Ghana are tightly controlled by their governments, which set official prices. By selling forward, officials guarantee a price, but that also means that farmers miss out on rallies. For the 2023-24 crop, Ivorian farmers are getting 1,000 central African francs (US$1.63) per kilogramme, about 70 per cent below the current wholesale price. The upshot is a brutal gap between supply and demand. Even when accounting for the damping impact of high prices on consumption, the market is heading for a deficit of …

Commentary: Crucial to secure Singapore’s main revenue source, given little leeway for more GST or wealth taxes

Commentary: Crucial to secure Singapore’s main revenue source, given little leeway for more GST or wealth taxes

On Friday, Mr Wong announced Singapore will go ahead with plans to implement two components of Pillar Two from Jan 1, 2025. Pillar Two establishes a global floor on corporate tax for large MNE groups – with global annual revenue of at least €750 million euros (US$808 million) – with a 15 per cent minimum effective tax rate regardless of where they operate. The first component – the Income Inclusion Rule (IIR) – means MNE groups parented in Singapore will have their overseas profits subjected to the 15 per cent minimum effective tax rate here, even if they operate overseas. The second component – the Domestic Top-up Tax (DTT) – applies to MNE groups operating in Singapore that are parented elsewhere. Instead of paying the 15 per cent minimum effective tax rate in their parent jurisdictions, they will pay any top-up tax in Singapore. So long as the affected MNE groups stay put in Singapore, there should be additional revenue in the short term. CUSHIONING THE IMPACT OF HIGHER CORPORATE TAX RATES But it will …

Commentary: What Coldplay concerts in Singapore tell us about music accessibility

Commentary: What Coldplay concerts in Singapore tell us about music accessibility

NO LONGER TONE DEAF Many concert organisers have explored assistive technologies that provide opportunities for people to realise the full potential of their live music experience. For instance, vibrating vests and floors, and wearable sensors can enable full-body listening in a never-seen-before way. Noise-cancelling headphones can be provided to those who need it. And soon enough, it may also be possible to explore Bluetooth technologies like Auracast, which streams audio directly to cochlear implant sound processors to enhance the concert experience for recipients. No longer relegated to producing sound at a pre-fixed volume, newer models of cochlear implants also contain adjustable settings that allow individuals to adapt to the sound profiles of their surroundings. More noticeably, concert organisers are starting to make it a practice to hire sign language interpreters that can help deliver the same high many fans get at concerts. There are nuances to navigate here. First, because Singapore Sign Language (SgSL) is used in the deaf community here, local interpreters are needed for the job as foreign interpreters would unlikely have the …

Commentary: Budget 2024 – Revised property tax will lighten the load for first-time home buyers

Commentary: Budget 2024 – Revised property tax will lighten the load for first-time home buyers

SINGAPORE: Unlike buyer’s stamp duty and additional buyer’s stamp duty, which are taxes on transactions, property tax is a form of wealth tax, which contributes a steady source of revenue to the government coffers to fund social, infrastructure and development, defence and other expenditures. Two years ago in his maiden Budget speech, Finance Minister Lawrence Wong announced a two-stage increase in property tax rates for residential properties. The aim was to shift the tax burden more heavily onto high-income home owners and investors of more expensive properties. Those changes, coupled with the stiff rising rental market resulting from strong demand and COVID-19-related supply constraints, caused a double whammy not just to property investors, but to the wider market. Housing rents in some Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats rose by more than 50 per cent, even in non-mature estates such as Woodlands, Sembawang and Sengkang. The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) non-landed rental index also rose by 45 per cent between the first quarter of 2021 and the second quarter of 2023. During the broad-based increase, …

Commentary: Body Shop collapse shows that ‘ethical’ branding is not a free pass to commercial success

Commentary: Body Shop collapse shows that ‘ethical’ branding is not a free pass to commercial success

REMAINING STATIC NOT AN OPTION FOR COMPANIES British supermarkets have proved much more more skilful at this in recent years. How often do you hear about a skincare or beauty brand setting up food donation points, appointing “community champions” (like Morrisons), or partnering with charities (like Tesco has with the British Red Cross)? These are ethical initiatives that genuinely help people in need, while also giving shoppers an extra reason to spend money with the shops involved. Our recent study indicates consumers tend to judge businesses that claim to be ethical in terms of their commitment to this kind of caring attitude, as well as fairness and honesty. This supports previous research that shows an emergent consumer focus on morality. Unlike The Body Shop, a few skincare brands have had the foresight in recent years to emphasise caring for people in their branding, and been successful in solidifying their ethical image. These include Dove and its “Real Beauty” campaigns, and the Boots brand No7 with its “Future Renew” product range targeting women aged from 30 …

Commentary: How to do climate policy in the age of green backlash

Commentary: How to do climate policy in the age of green backlash

CLIMATE POLITICS Both the paper and the website are examples of smart ways to get a public message across at a time when far-right leaders are racing to argue climate change is an overblown concern of privileged urban elites. The far right is not alone. Politicians may champion reliable, well-paid green jobs, but news reports in the US suggest the reality can look more like the long hours and middling pay of an Uber driver. Those reports feature in a scathing recent book, Where Have All The Democrats Gone? by John Judis and Ruy Teixeira, two left-leaning US political analysts. They argue Democrats lost vital working-class support as a “shadow party” of cultural radicals pushed for extreme policies on race, immigration, gender – and climate. Despairing of “climate radicals’ fanatical hostility to fossil fuels”, they argue for more gradual, centrist approaches to a climate problem they claim can “only be solved over decades”. Alas, the science shows governments have dithered for too long already. That means fair, carefully designed and communicated climate measures are more …

Commentary: DBS CEO’S 30% variable pay cut raises issues of accountability

Commentary: DBS CEO’S 30% variable pay cut raises issues of accountability

PIYUSH GUPTA’S PAY AND PERFORMANCE In 2022, Mr Gupta was paid S$15.4 million, including deferred remuneration and benefits, making him the highest paid bank CEO in Asia Pacific that year. With the recently announced pay cut, Mr Gupta would get about S$11.26 million in 2023, assuming his base salary and benefits remain unchanged from 2022. DBS provides the breakdown of remuneration in its annual report in March. Interestingly, despite DBS’ two-day digital banking service outage in November 2021, Mr Gupta’s total pay that year was nearly 50 per cent higher at S$13.6 million compared to 2020. Granted, his 2020 pay was cut, like his counterparts at other banks, as COVID-19 hit profits across the industry. However, his 2021 package also exceeded his 2019 total pay of S$12.1 million, and his variable pay in 2021 was 55 per cent higher than in 2020. Both his annual cash bonus and deferred remuneration increased compared to the earlier years, and increased further in 2022. The 2021 digital disruption was mentioned in several places in that year’s annual report. …