Kurtenbach: What we learned in the Raiders’ gut-punch loss to the Broncos


first_imgNo loss is good, but some particularly sting.The Raiders’ Week Two loss to the Broncos in Denver is certainly one of those losses.The Raiders failed to score in the fourth quarter and allowed the Broncos to rattle off 13 straight points en route to a 20-19 Denver win, capped by Brandon McManus’ 36-yard field goal with six seconds remaining.The loss drops the Raiders to 0-2 on the season, putting into serious jeopardy their playoff aspirations. Over the last nine seasons, only six of 108 …last_img read more

REITs to boost SA property investment


first_img1 August 2012 The new Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) structure, scheduled to become available to the South African property sector in early 2013, will both benefit local property structures and increase foreign investment opportunities, according to consultancy Grant Thornton. The adoption of the REIT structure, which is recognised in most key property markets internationally, will revive South Africa’s current systems, which are dated and often tedious, through the introduction of a scheme that has been tried and tested internationally, Grant Thornton said last week. At the same time, the REITs will “bring about much-needed tax and regulatory changes that local property structures could certainly benefit from in the long term,” the company said in a statement.Treasury, SA Revenue Service lauded The National Treasury’s proposal to introduce this listed property investment regime, aimed at aligning the South African listed property sector with its international counterparts, will also create a more attractive investment structure, significantly enhancing international interest. AJ Jansen van Nieuwenhuizen, head of tax at Grant Thornton Johannesburg, said the main reason for the overhaul “is because existing local structures, property loan stocks (PLS) and property unit trusts (PUT) are unevenly regulated and subject to different tax treatments, prompting the need for a shared set of regulations. The Tax Amendment Bill proposing REITs, which was tabled in July, will unify the approach to local property investment schemes and provide greater certainty for international investors. “The proposed tax framework reflects that global best practice for REITs has been carefully considered, and National Treasury and Sars [the South African Revenue Service] should be commended for taking international considerations into account,” Jansen van Nieuwenhuizen said.International lessons learnt “Some of these lessons were clearly learnt from the UK REIT regime, which at first levied a conversion charge of 2% of the value of the property portfolio of REITs wanting to convert and limited the REITs’ listing to the main exchange.” In an effort to be more competitive with other REIT markets like Australia and the US, the UK dropped the conversion charge, has expanded listings to the AIM exchange, and has temporarily relaxed the gearing limits. According to Grant Thornton, South Africa’s draft proposals do not contain any of these onerous provisions. Jansen van Nieuwenhuizen said the new framework would modernise the rules governing South Africa’s property investment regime and attract foreign investment. PUT and PLS structures that comply with the proposed REIT requirements will benefit from certain tax dispensations, specifically, an exemption from capital gains tax (CGT). “These tax features are certainly strong benefits of the proposed structure,” Jansen van Nieuwenhuizen said.Listing requirements He also pointed out that a company wishing to register as a REIT had to be listed, or intend to list, on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) and comply with all listing regulations. At present, there are no listing requirements for PUTs, although they are regulated closely by the Financial Services Board (FSB). “The introduction of REITs will expand the investment options available to those PUT structures that elect to register.” Despite the increased flexibility, tradability and tax relief offered by REITs, Jansen van Nieuwenhuizen said that PUTs and other property investment entities would have to consider the increased administrative and regulatory burden of listing before making a decision.Additional requirements REIT-registered companies will have to satisfy four additional requirements, according to Grant Thornton. “The levels for each requirement are yet to be finalised, but as it currently stands, companies must have a minimum gross holding of direct or indirect property assets of R300-million.” In addition, a REIT “must distribute at least 70% of its profits annually, and its gearing is limited to 60% of net asset value.” A PLS, South Africa’s more dominant vehicle for property structures, is a share-linked debenture structure that is indivisibly tradable on the JSE and taxed at a normal rate of 28% with an effective CGT rate of 18.6%. Under the PLS structure, most profit is paid out to investors as interest, which is tax-deductible in the PLS and taxable income in the hands of the investor, meaning that the PLS vehicle attracts low levels of income tax. “Yet in substance, the revenue authorities have always contended that the distribution is more akin to profit than interest, and this contradicts general tax principles,” Jansen van Nieuwenhuizen said. The new framework will improve the tax treatment for PLSs, seen to be problematic and a major factor behind the proposal to introduce REITs in South Africa. Grant Thornton advises companies looking to register as REITs in South Africa to ensure that they adhere to all of the requirements to avoid profits being taxed. “Similarly, each merger or acquisition must be closely examined to ensure that the target does not compromise the company’s REIT status.” SAinfo reporterlast_img read more

Five points about the future of innovation in South Africa


first_imgA view of Cape Town with Table Mountain behind it from the V&A Waterfront. (Image: Brand South Africa)Ngozi OnuohaThis spring, I had the honour of joining seven journalists from the UK, US, China and South Africa on a tour of Johannesburg and Cape Town.Accompanied by guides from Brand South Africa, we met with leaders in technology, science and business to learn about initiatives aimed at boosting innovation in South Africa and possibly setting the stage for the country to become a future global leader in these sectors.While on my trip, the country was also preparing to celebrate 20 years of democracy. It would be a bittersweet yet eventful year with the first independence celebration without Madiba, the first presidential election with born-free voters, and the country’s dethroning from their spot as Africa’s top economy.Despite the change in its economic standing, South Africa is repositioning itself for a return to the top.How? Well, one way is through science, design and technology innovation.Here are five ways South Africa could compete.5. People come in all shapes and sizes, and according to SKA, satellites do tooFascinated by space technology? The employees at Square Kilometer Array (SKA) in South Africa love it too. We visited their offices in Cape Town to learn more about their research and engineering projects.During his presentation in the SKA labs, digital backend sub-systems specialist Francois Kapp explained the organisation’s biggest achievements: KAT-7, the world’s first dish made of fibre glass, and MeerKAT, an under-construction telescope set to be the world’s most sensitive radio telescope.One of KAT-7 Satellites. (Image: SKA South Africa)The project is set to be completed in 2017 and could make history (and lots of investment money) for the country.4. Design in Cape Town will be sustained far beyond 2014(Image: Cape Town World Design Capital)In 2011, Cape Town won its bid to become the World Design Capital for 2014. This year, Cape Town and the country have celebrated the honour by bringing to life some of the concepts brainstormed in hopes of creating social change. During our visit to the World Design Capital offices, we viewed a presentation which highlighted of some of the projects and events in the works. Each project draws from the overarching theme, “Live Design, Transform Life.” They also fall into four categories:1. African Innovation. Global Conversation.2. Bridging the Divide.3. Today for Tomorrow.4. Beautiful Space. Beautiful Things.“The vision of the year is to transform Cape Town, through design, into a sustainable productive Africa city. Our mission is to identify those projects which provide tangible evidence of this transformative design in action.” – Nicky Swartz, a Cape Town Design Team LeaderA standout project that took place this year was led by a group, called Yenza. The collective – comprising architects, a stylist and an art director – help communities look at the resources around them to create low-cost, redesigned products.3. Silicon Savannah? No, Silicon Cape(Image: Bandwidth Barn, Facebook)One of our first stops in Cape Town was a visit to the Woodstock-based tech incubator Bandwith Barn.The warehouse-turned-work space is just one of a growing number of iHubs sprouting across the coastal town in partnership with an initiative called Silicon Cape. Similar to Kenya’s Silicon Savannah, Silicon Cape hopes to make the Western Cape an attractive destination for investors and tech entrepreneurs. Bandwidth Barn, the space first started out of a need for affordable access to bandwidth, now houses innovators working with companies such as Blackberry. It also has a development programme for tech innovators that offers mentorship, access to investors and, of course, work space.(Oh, and don’t worry, there’s no competition between the two Silicons. They’re partners.)2. Shooting your film in Hollywood? That was so last year.(Image: Cape Town Film Studios)Welcome to Cape Town Film Studios, the newest hotspot for Hollywood’s big-budget filmmakers.The film lot, located in Faure and just a few miles away from Stellenbosch, has seen a significant increase in the interest of movie houses such as Paramount and 20th Century Fox within the last year. Among its growing list of credits since its opening close to four years ago, Cape Town Studios has been a location for movies such as Dredd (2012), Safe House (2012) and Chronicles (2012). Most recently, the highly-anticipated film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (2013) was shot entirely on the property. The set included a complete replica of Vilakazi Street, the area where the Mandelas, Tutus and other families lived in Soweto.“When I started, it was one of those projects that, I would say, 90 percent..95 percent of people said a low cost studio wouldn’t work here. Why would anybody in their right mind travel all the way here?…but I felt it would if you can create the right magic for people.” – Nico Dekker, CEO of Cape Town Studios1. Women in leadership are taking centre stageIn each of the places we visited, it seemed there were women confidently articulating their research, aspirations and responsibilities as leaders in companies dominated by men. During a visit to the Mobile Intelligent Autonomous Systems department of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), we met a small team of engineers responsible for researching and implementing the technology used to build robots. Their presentation was led by Natasha Govender, a 32-year-old PhD student at Oxford Brookes University who served as the group’s team leader. Govender described the research her team was doing could improve field robotics and help make robots strong, durable companions for miners. The robots could observe conditions deemed unsafe for miner exploration and cut down the number of deaths.Natasha Govender, a 32-year-old PhD student at Oxford Brookes University.The next day, we met Anele Nzama. Nzama is a junior technician at SKA South Africa, and she is in charge of controlling telescopes at the satellite technology company. The 26-year-old recent college graduate shared her excitement in holding a position at SKA SA, but also expressed a desire for more women to take part in science and technology innovation.Anele Nzama, a junior technician at SKA South Africa.Ngozi Onuoha has a masters degree from Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and also holds a BA in English from the City College of New York (CUNY). Before attending Columbia, Onuoha was a contributing writer and event coordinator for a number of emerging Africa-centric organizations based in New York City. As a member of the diaspora’s creative community, she aims to continue coverage of arts, culture and development in Africa.last_img read more

The Internet in 2020 – What the Experts Predict


first_imgWhy Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Related Posts 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Tags:#Google#NYT#Trends#web center_img frederic lardinois Most experts agree that Google won’t make us stupid. Indeed, 76% of technology stakeholders and critics interviewed by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project and the Imagining the Internet Center at Elon University believe that the Internet and search engines will enhance human intelligence by 2020. For this new report, the Pew Research Center conducted in-depth interviews with over 800 experts about what they think the Internet will look like in 2020.Here are some of the key quotes from the report:Will Google Make us Stupid?Just the Stats76% By 2020, people’s use of the Internet has enhanced human intelligence; as people are allowed unprecedented access to more information, they become smarter and make better choices. Nicholas Carr was wrong: Google does not make us stupid (http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200807/google).21% By 2020, people’s use of the Internet has not enhanced human intelligence and it could even be lowering the IQs of most people who use it a lot. Nicholas Carr was right: Google makes us stupid.4% Did not respond“I feel compelled to agree with myself. But I would add that the Net’s effect on our intellectual lives will not be measured simply by average IQ scores. What the Net does is shift the emphasis of our intelligence, away from what might be called a meditative or contemplative intelligence and more toward what might be called a utilitarian intelligence. The price of zipping among lots of bits of information is a loss of depth in our thinking.”- Nicholas Carr“Google will make us more informed. The smartest person in the world could well be behind a plow in China or India. Providing universal access to information will allow such people to realize their full potential, providing benefits to the entire world.” – Hal Varian, Google, chief economist“It’s a mistake to treat intelligence as an undifferentiated whole. No doubt we will become worse at doing some things (‘more stupid’) requiring rote memory of information that is now available though Google. But with this capacity freed, we may (and probably will) be capable of more advanced integration and evaluation of information (‘more intelligent’).” – Stephen Downes, National Research Council, Canada“The problem isn’t Google; it’s what Google helps us find. For some, Google will let them find useless content that does not challenge their minds. But for others, Google will lead them to expect answers to questions, to explore the world, to see and think for themselves.” – Esther Dyson, longtime Internet expert and investor“People are already using Google as an adjunct to their own memory. For example, I have a hunch about something, need facts to support, and Google comes through for me. Sometimes, I see I’m wrong, and I appreciate finding that out before I open my mouth.” – Craig Newmark, founder Craig’s List“The Internet has facilitated orders of magnitude improvements in access to information. People now answer questions in a few moments that a couple of decades back they would not have bothered to ask, since getting the answer would have been impossibly difficult.” – John Pike, Director, globalsecurity.orgWill The Internet Enhance and Improve Writing, Reading and the Rendering of Knowledge?Just the Stats65% By 2020, it will be clear that the Internet has enhanced and improved reading, writing, and the rendering of knowledge.32% By 2020, it will be clear that the Internet has diminished and endangered reading, writing, and the intelligent rendering of knowledge.3% Did not respond“Most writing online is devolving toward SMS and tweets that involve quick, throwaway notes with abbreviations and threaded references. This is not a form of lasting communication. In 2020 there is unlikely to be a list of classic tweets and blog posts that every student and educated citizen should have read.” – Gene Spafford, Purdue University CERIAS, Association for Computing Machinery U.S. Public Policy Council“This is a distinction without a metric. I think long?form expressive fiction will suffer (though this suffering has been more or less constant since the invention of radio) while all numeric and graphic forms of rendering knowledge, from the creation and use of databases to all forms of visual display of data will be in a golden age, with ordinary non?fiction writing getting a modest boost. So, English majors lose, engineering wins, and what looks like an Up or Down question says more about the demographic of the answerer than any prediction of the future.” – Clay Shirky, professor, Interactive Telecommunications Program, New York University“When I was a boy, homework consisted of writing a paragraph. Now, youth writing paragraphs in a blink of an eye. They are mastering language only to reinvent it. They are using it in new forms. Tags. Labels. Acronyms. And the game becomes a written game of who can use written word most effectively. Reading, writing, and communicating will become much more fluid as youth are more engaged in the practice of these skills, and have a greater motivation to practice their skills.” – Robert Cannon, senior counsel for internet law at Federal Communications Commission“When writing itself appeared, philosophers feared that it would weaken memory and degrade intelligence. But it allowed for a great, albeit externalized memory and an enlarged, albeit shared intelligence. […] The Internet will have similar effects, with some losses but, on balance, more gains.” – Mark U. Edwards, senior advisor to the Dean, Harvard University Divinity School“More people are reading and writing, and in more ways, for more readers and other writers, than ever before, and the sum of all of it goes up every day.” – Doc Searls, co? author of “The Cluetrain Manifesto”Will Online Anonymity Have Gone the Way of the Dodo by 2020?Just the Stats41% By 2020, the identification ID systems used online are tighter and more formal – fingerprints or DNA?scans or retina scans. The use of these systems is the gateway to most of the Internet?enabled activity that users are able to perform such as shopping, communicating, creating content, and browsing. Anonymous online activity is sharply curtailed.55% By 2020, Internet users can do a lot of normal online activities anonymously even though the identification systems used on the Internet have been applied to a wider range of activities. It is still relatively easy for Internet users to create content, communicate, and browse without publicly disclosing who they are.3% Did not respond“The privacy and civil liberties battles over the next decade will increasingly focus on the growing demands for identity credentials. New systems for authentication will bring new problems as more identity information will create new opportunities for criminals. Identity management companies will also go bankrupt and try to sell off their primary asset ?? the biometric identifiers of their customers.” – Marc Rotenberg, executive director, Electronic Privacy Information Center“Anonymity online will gradually become a lot like anonymity in the real world. When we encounter it, we’ll take a firm grip on our wallet and leave the neighborhood as soon as possible ?? unless we’re doing something we’re ashamed of.” – Stewart Baker,“‘It will be an archipelago of named users, who get a lot of value from participating in that part of the ecosystem, but still set in an ocean of anonymity.” ?? Clay Shirky, professor, Interactive Telecommunications Program, New York University“Anonymity will continue to have its place; that is the architecture of the web and it will be difficult to change that. Nonetheless, I believe that verified identity will come to be seen as an added value in transactions (including conversations) and as a way to recognize more value (reward in financial or ego terms).” ?? Jeff Jarvis, prominent blogger, professor, City University of New York Graduate School of JournalismYou can find the full report with almost 50 pages of quotes about a number of additional topics on the Pew Center’s website. 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Amend outdated tourism Act, demand Goa hotel owners


first_imgThe Goa Small and Medium Hoteliers Association of Goa has said that unchecked online room aggregator services, mushrooming illegal guest houses and wholesale liquor shops doing unchecked retail business were the bane of Goa’s tourism. At a press conference here on Monday, president of the association, Serafino Cotta, demanded that the Goa Tourism Trade Act be amended to check and regulate most of these ills. He also blamed lopsided regulation and a unresponsive State Tourism Ministry being busy selling “refrigerators to Eskimos”.The medium and small hoteliers held poor management of the tourism industry responsible for declining footfalls. “There is a sharp drop in arrivals. Instead of looking to arrest this fall, the Tourism Ministry is going to travel marts in countries which hardly have any interest in Goa. They are visiting international markets where the officials have a good holiday,” alleged Mr. Cotta. Mr. Cotta said the biggest problem encountered by them was unregulated accommodation, which he said accounted for nearly 85% of all accommodation in the State. “Illegal conversion of second homes into boutique hotels and bed and breakfast ventures is bleeding the genuine hotel industry. These outfits get liberal licences under an antiquated Tourism Trade Act , do not pay adequate taxes, tariffs as per hospitality structure and thus deny a level playing field for medium and small hotels, and eventually cause a loss of revenue to the State,” said Santanio D’Souza, secretary of the association. “Online room aggregators with their aggressive pricing have also driven the room prices down making it difficult for small and medium hotels to survive. At the same time the low prices has promoted ‘cheap tourism’,” said joint- secretary Pifran Fernandes. Mr. Cotta also demanded a ban on wholesalers of alcohol being given retail liquor licences, which he said, had triggered an unhealthy trend of tourists drinking in public places leading to nuisance. “People buy drinks from wholesale liquor stores, which are cheap and start drinking on the streets and just litter the surroundings and beaches. Goa is projected as a destination where alcohol can be purchased even in a supermarket,” Mr. Cotta said.last_img read more