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October 24, 2022

Rishi Sunak - Prime Minister of United Kingdom

Rishi Sunak, (born May 12, 1980, Southampton, England), British politician and financier who became leader of the Conservative Party and prime minster of the United Kingdom in October 2022. Previously he served as chancellor of the Exchequer(2020–22).

Early life

Sunak was born into a family with immigrant roots. His grandparents emigrated from Punjab, in northwestern India, to East Africa, where his mother and father were born in Tanzania and Kenya, respectively.  They met and married after their families migrated in the 1960s to Southamptonin southern England. Sunak’s father became a general practitioner for the National Health Service. His mother, a pharmacist, owned and operated a small pharmacy, for which Sunak, the eldest of their three children, would eventually keep the books. Later, during his political career, Sunak would draw parallels between his experiences working in the family business and the values he gained from them and those of Conservative Party icon Margaret Thatcher, the daughter of a grocer.

As a result of his parents’ sacrifices and saving to fund his education, Sunak was able to attend Winchester College, the exclusive private school that has produced no fewer than six chancellors of the Exchequer. In addition to becoming “head boy” at Winchester, Sunak was the editor of the school’s newspaper. During summer vacations he waited tables at a Southampton Indian restaurant. Sunak went on to study philosophy, politics, and economics (the degree obtained by many future prime ministers) at Lincoln College, Oxford. There he was president of the Oxford Trading & Investment Society, which provided students with opportunities to learn about financial markets and global trading. While at Oxford, Sunak also had an internship at the headquarters of the ConservativeParty.

After graduating from Oxford in 2001, Sunak became an analyst for Goldman Sachs, working for the investment banking company until 2004. As a Fulbright scholar, he then pursued an MBA at Stanford University, where he met his future wife, Akshata Murthy, daughter of Narayana Murthy, an Indian billionaire and cofounder of technology giant Infosys. Returning to the United Kingdom in 2006, Sunak took a job with The Children’s Investment Fund Management (TCI), the hedge fund operated by Sir Chris Hohn, who made him a partner some two years later. In 2009 Sunak left TCI to join another hedge fund, Theleme Partners. That year he married Murthy; they would have two daughters. By virtue of Sunak’s success in business and his wife’s 0.91 percent stake in Infosys, the couple began to amass a considerable fortune, which would be estimated at about £730 million ($877 million) in 2022 by The Sunday Times. (Some sources estimated Akshata Murthy’s net worth at as much as £1 billion [$1.2 billion].)

Political career

In 2010 Sunak began working for the Conservative Party. During this period he also became involved with Policy Exchange, a leading Conservative think tank, for which he became head of the Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Research Unit in 2014. That year Policy Exchange published A Portrait of Modern Britain, a pamphlet that Sunak wrote with Saratha Rajeswaran, deputy head of the BME unit. In 2014 Sunak was chosen as the Conservative Party’s candidate for the House of Commons representing Richmond in North Yorkshire, a safe Conservative seat in the north of England long held by onetime party leader (1997–2001) William Hague. In May 2015 Sunak was elected by a commanding majority. He came into office a Euroskeptic and firmly in the “leave” camp on the issue of Brexit, which he said would make the United Kingdom “freer, fairer, and more prosperous.” He would be reelected to Parliament in 2017 and 2019, and he voted three times in favour of Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plans.

From 2015 to 2017 he was a member of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee and parliamentary private secretary at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. In January 2018 he was appointed to his first ministerial post as undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. Sunak became a vocal supporter of Boris Johnson’s pursuit of the party’s leadership, and, when Johnson became leader and prime minister, he rewarded Sunak with a promotion, appointing him chief secretary to the Treasury in July 2019.

During Sunak’s tenure as second-in-command at the Treasury ministry, tensions were rising between his boss, Chancellor of the Exchequer

 Sajid Javid, and Johnson. When Javid resigned in February 2020, Johnson replaced him with Sunak, who, at age 39, became the fourth youngest person ever to hold that position. Almost immediately Sunak was faced with the manifold challenges brought about by the arrival in Britain of the COVID-19 global pandemic. As the British economy was clobbered by the shutdowns imposed by the government in an attempt to stem the spread of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, the cause of COVID-19, Sunak employed the powers of his office to try to offset the economic and human damage. He instituted a broad economic-support program that dedicated some £330 billion ($400 billion) in emergency funds for businesses and salary subsidies for workers aimed at job retention and easing the burden of the lockdown for individuals and companies alike. Those rescue programs were widely popular, and the polished, poised Sunak became the welcome face of the government at daily press conferences where the prime minister appeared less composed.

Sunak’s “Eat Out to Help Out” scheme, aimed at supporting restaurants and pubs with government-subsidized food and drinks, was viewed by some observers as a rousing success, but critics pointed to it as having likely played a significant role in the emergence of a catastrophic spike in COVID-19 cases in autumn 2020. Nonetheless, the portrait of Sunak that arose during the pandemic was that of a superslick, social-media savvy, immaculately dressed, handsome, but down-to-earth politician. “Dishy Rishi” was named “Britain’s sexiest MP” in 2020.

Sunak’s gleaming brand was tarnished, however, by a series of disclosures in April 2022. Perhaps most damaging was the revelation that his wife, as an Indian citizen and non-domiciled U.K. resident, had claimed a tax status that allowed her to avoid paying British taxes on her overseas income, which may have saved her as much as £20 million ($24 million) in U.K. taxes over a roughly seven-and-a-half-year period. While not illegal, the maneuver cast a bad light on Sunak, and Murthy was quick to revise her tax status. Sunak’s patriotism was also called into question when it was revealed that he had held on to a green card for U.S. residency until late October 2021, which seemed to suggest a desire to keep his options open. Finally, in April 2022 Sunak was fined by the police for having been among the guests at a birthday party for Johnson at his office in 2020 in violation of the government’s rules against social gatherings at that stage of the pandemic. Sunak claimed that his appearance at the party was inadvertent and the result of having appeared early for a meeting with the prime minister.

The fallout from the incident for Sunak, however, was much less than what the “Partygate”scandal would bring for the increasingly embattled Johnson. When the series of scandals involving Johnson’s integrity and honesty expanded to include the prime minister’s mishandling of allegations of sexual misconduct against former Conservative deputy chief whip Chris Pincher, Sunak joined Javid, then serving as health secretary, in resigning from the cabinet on July 5, 2022. Their prominent resignations contributed greatly to the groundswell of opposition within the Conservative Party that eventually forced Johnson’s resignation as party leader. Although some Tories saw Sunak’s action as traitorous, he was quick to declare his intention to replace Johnson as leader with a cannily produced campaign video that was released hot on the heels of Johnson’s announcement that he was stepping down.

With Johnson remaining as a caretaker prime minister until the party could choose a replacement for him, the parliamentary party (sitting Conservative MPs) set about the series of votes that incrementally winnowed the field of candidates for the leadership from eight to two. At the end of that process, Sunak and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss remained as the final duo whose names were submitted for a vote by the party’s whole membership.

Sunak stood to be the first person of colour and first Hindu to lead Britain. To achieve that end, he would have to overcome the perception among some Conservatives of his being too wealthy to understand the needs of the average British citizen at a time of devastating inflation and the reservations of other Conservatives who were put off by the tax increases Sunak had imposed on corporations and national insurance in an attempt to help offset the costs of the government’s pandemic relief programs. When the results of the election were announced on September 5, Sunak came up short, taking 42.6 percent of the vote, compared with 57.4 percent for Truss, who became party leader.

Truss’s tenure in office would prove to be the shortest in British history at just over six weeks. Her attempt to impose an unfunded £45 billion ($50 billion) in tax cuts while also capping energy prices for two years promised to open a gaping budget deficit and panicked financial markets. (During the leadership campaign, Sunak had warned against just such tax cuts.) After the pound plummeted, mortgage rates climbed, and the cost of U.K. government borrowing rose, the Bank of England was forced to take emergency action to calm the markets. Truss quickly replaced her Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng with Jeremy Hunt, who almost immediately rescinded Truss’s economic plan, but confidence in Truss’s leadership was damaged beyond repair. Although Conservative Party rules protected Truss from a vote on her leadership for a year, dissent among Conservative MPs grew rapidly, and calls for her resignation mounted. On October 20 Truss announced her resignation, putting into motion another leadership contest.

This time around, 100 nominations from Conservative MPs were required for candidate eligibility. With 357 Conservative MPs, it meant that at most only three candidates could advance for consideration. Again the two finalists were then to be put to a vote by the party membership. Sunak, who still enjoyed broad support among MPs, was the early favourite. House of Commons leader Penny Mordaunt was the first to declare her candidacy, but support for her was limited. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace looked to be a popular choice, but he opted not to run and threw his conditional support to Johnson—who suddenly was back in the mix despite being ousted from office only months earlier—not least because of his continued popularity with the broader party membership. As tensions grew, Johnson made a dramatic return to the U.K. from a vacation in the Dominican Republic. All of this unfolded in a matter of days. On October 23, the day before nominations were due, Johnson withdrew from consideration. By early October 24 more than half the MPs had already committed to nominate Sunak. When Mordaunt dropped out shortly before the deadline, the way was clear for Sunak, as the sole remaining candidate, to be confirmed as party leader, setting the stage for him to become prime minister.

August 01, 2022

20 Best Sites With High Quality Free Stock Photos

 In today's online business world, tons of people have a need for quality free stock photos for their blogs, company websites, and everything in between.

Unfortunately, there are still a lot of businesses who are settling for the corny stock photo of yesteryear, either because they don't know their options or think they are too hard to find.

That's where the good news comes in: good stock photos don't have to be expensive or hidden deep in the crevices of the internet. In our digital age, there's plenty of solid material out there - if you know where to look. Read for more good news? We have your back, and have taken the hassle out of finding these stellar stock images.

We're confident that this collection of resources will help you find exactly what you're looking for, whether it's adorable animals, minimalist interior design, and anything in between.

20 of the Best Sites to Download Royalty Free Stock Photos

1. Negative Space

One of the best things about Negative Space is that they are constantly updating their free stock photos every week. With Negative Space, you never need to worry about copyright restrictions, so you can use them for your project without having to jump through hoops.

Negative Space has a large selection to choose from, and the interface is very user-friendly. It's easy to sort through the photos in order to find exactly what you need.

2. Death to the Stock Photo

The founders of Death to Stock are dedicated to making beautiful photos more accessible. They knew how important it is for those running blogs and online businesses to not spend all of their profit on images for their websites.

The format is simple: just give them your email to get a new bundle of great stock pictures monthly, then just use the ones that apply to your current project. Easy!

For businesses with some extra funds to invest, Death to Stock has an affordable Premium membership which gives you access to their entire library of photos (instead of just the pre-selected ones they send), plus some of the profits from the membership are used to further the resource by financing photographers and their projects.

3. Picjumbo

Picjumbo is unique in that all of the photos come from a sole photographer, Viktor, who shares his photos from his home in the Czech Republic.

He updates the selection of photos really frequently, so there is always a fresh batch of high-quality graphics to download. To take it a step further, Viktor offers affordable paid packages for businesses that use stock images frequently. He also has a nifty plugin for the Photoshop and Sketch programs for just under 8 bucks.

4. Stokpic

Stokpic is another example of a photographer deciding to give away his photos for free. Ed Gregory decided to share 10 new photos bi-weekly that you can use in any way that suits you.

The easy user interface allows you to browse his categories like architecture, fashion, and nature.

5. Kaboompics

The site's creator, Karolina, is a Polish web designer. She is the creative engine behind this extensive stockpile of high-quality pictures. The images address a wide variety of topics. As with the rest of the sites, users can use Karolina's pictures for anything they need.

A quick visit to the About page of the site shows how big of a reach it has; during our visit to the page, the Image Downloads ticker stood at a whopping 5,051,906.

6. Startup Stock Photos

Startup Stock Photos is a company that operates on simplicity. They share pictures they're taking anyway in order to help businesses find a cheaper way to gain traction online.

You don't have to be a startup business to utilize their images, which is fine by them. The images are free, but they wouldn't say no to a donation.

7. Freerange

Freerange photos derive from a community of in-house as well as external talent.

At Freerange, their principles and motivations are clear: "Freerange Stock was formed with the goal to provide quality stock photos for commercial and non-commercial use. For free. We feel that free stock photos can be good photos." Can't argue with that.

8. Libreshot

Every photographer brings his/her own unique style to this fun brand of art. At Libreshot lives a very unique collection of free stock photos.

9. Fancy Crave

The images on Fancy Crave come without copyright restrictions, and they're free of all the corniness of typical stock photos.

Attribution is not legally required, but they note that it is recommended if possible.

Fancy Craves selects two fresh photos to upload daily, keeping things current and providing beautiful photos to suit all needs.

10. Unsplash

The creativity of the title matches the creativity of their photos. They have pages and pages of quirky, one-of-a-kind images for you to choose from.

As you've likely come to expect, these images are able to be used without any copyright restrictions.

11. StockSnap

The photos on StockSnap are of superb quality and most of them are especially great for use as backgrounds.

The selection is so interesting and versatile that it's easy to find yourself on page 50 of photos all of a sudden. And yes - they're free.

12. SplitShire

SplitShire is an Italy-based organization that offers pages of incredible free photos for you to use at will. Their philanthropic mission is simply: "Helping you to be awesome out there with great content."

13. Life of Pix

Life of Pix was created by Leeroy Advertising Agency (Montreal, Canada) and they have a real knack for supplying great pictures. Naturally, these cool graphics are fine for you to use - no strings attached.

If pictures aren't enough for your unique project, they have a sister company called Life of Vids.

14. Pexels

Unlike most of the other listed sites, Pexels handpicks their favorite photos from a pool of free image sources to ensure that you're seeing only top-tier work.

The images that survive their rigorous selection process are then able to be used in any way you see fit. The site also makes searching for your perfect stock photo as easy as possible.

15. HubSpot

HubSpot is a bit different from the rest; there's somewhat of a shortage of high-quality free stock photos available to those who need solely business-themed graphics. Hubspot has a healthy selection of corporate-style images that are perfect for a professional project.

16. Gratisography

The images on Gratisography lie a little further on the wacky side. These creations come from photographer Ryan McGuire, who is known for seeing things a bit differently. His work is significantly quirkier than some other sites (i.e. fake moustaches, pineapples wearing glasses, gummy bears in cereal) but you never know when you project might just call for something out of the ordinary.

17. Jay Mantri

Jay Mantri is yet another good-guy photographer who chose to share his amazing photos with the world. His work is quite sophisticated, and a lot of shots leave you wondering how he did it.

This is one artist we'd say to go check out anyway, even if you don't have a specific need for scenic, high-class images.

18. ISO Republic

ISO's Republic's mission is to supply only the best digital images for online businesses of all kinds.

One visit to their site will tell you immediately that they are serious about the quality of their content. The photos are top-notch quality, and while the subject matter varies, they all maintain a similar level of sophistication.

Similar to some previously listed sites, you have an option on ISO to register for their email list to get extra content not posted on the site.

19. New Old Stock

This free stock photo site embodies classic elegance. They deal exclusively in old photos, usually in black and white. Web designers and history buffs alike will enjoy their large compilation of antique photos. Though there are some unique challenges to the redistribution of old pictures, the site only posts those that have no evidence of copyright issues.

Their rules are slightly more stringent than other sites, so just make sure to read up on it before using these photos for commercial purposes.

20. Pixabay

Pixabay is our final choice of free stock photo collection. It has a great archive of plenty of public domain photos (so you can use them without worrying about copyright issues). Thank goodness they have an intuitive search mechanism since they have just shy of a million awesome graphics.

Unlike some other sites, it offers a more advanced search that allows you to filter your query as much as you need so you can always find exactly what you want.
July 22, 2022

CPA Exam Changes You Should Know About

 Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) are highly skilled professionals who provide critical financial services to businesses and individuals. They are state licensed and must meet rigorous education and experience requirements. You need to clear the exam to become a certified public accountant. 

Like any other exam, there have been CPA exam changes per the needs of the changing economic laws and scenarios. You must make these changes to clear the exam with flying colors, 

What Are the Exam Changes Everyone Should Know?

The first change is that starting in January 2019, the exam will be offered in a new computer-based testing format. It means you cannot take the exam on paper. Instead, the new format will allow you to take the exam on your schedule, and you will have more flexibility when scheduling your exams.

Another change that has been made is that the passing score for the exam has been raised from 75% to 80%. This change was made to align the exam with international standards.

Finally, the content of the exam has also been updated. The new content will focus on more advanced topics and will be more challenging than the previous versions.

Understanding Core-Plus-Discipline Model 

The Core-Plus-Discipline Model is a new approach to the CPA Exam that emphasizes a greater focus on core knowledge, plus selected Depth and Breadth Disciplines. The model addresses the needs of all candidates by providing a more flexible and comprehensive testing experience. The Core-Plus-Discipline Model aims to ensure that all candidates have the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge of core concepts and their ability to apply that knowledge to real-world situations. Under the new model, candidates can select Depth and Breadth Disciplines most relevant to their professional goals. The Core-Plus-Discipline Model will provide a more efficient and effective testing experience for all candidates.

Now that you know what CPA exam changes let's know whether the exam has become difficult and what the role of a CPA is. 

Is CPA Exam Difficult?

It is considered one of the most difficult professional exams. The overall pass rate for the certified public auditor exam is 50%. The Uniform CPA Examination is a computer-based test that consists of four sections: Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Business Environment and Concepts (BEC), Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), and Regulation (REG). The AUD, FAR, and REG sections are divided into two parts, while the BEC section is divided into three. To become a licensed analyst, candidates must pass all four sections within 18 months. 

The exam is challenging because it tests students' theoretical knowledge and ability to apply concepts in practical scenarios. In addition, the exam covers a broad range of topics, from financial reporting to taxation. 

While the exam is certainly challenging, it is not impossible to pass. Any candidate can overcome obstacles and earn their license with hard work and dedication.

Role of Certified Public Accountants 

CPAs play a crucial role in our economy by helping businesses to operate effectively and efficiently. They also provide critical guidance to individuals on matters related to personal finances. In addition, they also play a crucial role in Detecting and preventing fraud. As a result, they also play a critical role in safeguarding the financial interests of businesses and individuals.

In addition, this professional must adhere to strict ethical standards and complete continuing education on a regular basis. As a result,  they are uniquely qualified to provide a wide range of financial services, such as tax preparation, auditing, and financial planning.

Now that you have adequate information about the Certified Public Accountants exam and the recent changes in the exam structure, you can start preparing.