Finland Flag

Finnish PM Caught In Sexism Row After Magazine Appearance

Despite the political arena being one traditionally dominated by men, and even though this is largely still the case, there are currently many countries being led by female figureheads breaking the glass ceiling. Some are even commenting on the increased success by female leaders at dealing with the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic, such as Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand, Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, and Tsai Ing-wen of President of the Republic of China (commonly known as Taiwan).

Another female leader that was commended internationally for her response to the Covid-19 crisis was Sanna Marin, the Prime Minister of Finland. Sanna recently hit the headlines once again, but for what some are calling a slightly more controversial reason. Marin has been featured on the cover of the October issue of Finnish fashion magazine Trendi, and she faced criticism for her outfit choice for the double page spread in which she wore a trouser suit, but with no top underneath. This sparked fresh debates on what should be deemed ‘acceptable’ for women in the public eye.

In response to the pictures and interview with the Finnish Prime Minister some social media users were seen to call the pictures “tasteless” and “ridiculous”, as reported by the Evening Standard. In addition to negative comments on social media, Marin faced criticism from Aki Pyysing, a Finnish entrepreneur and poker professional, who wrote a blog post that made misogynistic comments about the size of Marin’s breasts, within wider discourse critiquing the Government’s economic policies. Two National Coalition Party MPs, Elina Lepomäki and Juhanna Vartiainen, subsequently shared Mr. Pyysing’s blog post on their twitter accounts, but both have since deleted these posts. Lepomäki has posted her apologies to Marin on Twitter. Vartiainen said how the main focus of the blog post was economics, but also apologized for any offense. NewsNowFinland highlighted that: “although both Members of Parliament said they had deleted their messages which shared the controversial blog post, they have between them more than 95,000 Twitter followers”.

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However, there were also many supportive messages directed towards Marin from people across the world. Rosianne Cutajar, Junior Minister for Equality and Reforms in Malta tweeted: “Regardless of our work and our roles in society and politics, all too often we are judged by our appearance. Sexist and misogynistic attacks continue unchecked. When will this shaming stop? #imwithsanna”

Marin’s magazine shoot has also inspired women to post their own selfies sporting the same style as Marin, including the hashtag #imwithsanna which had more than 1000 posts on Instagram at the time of writing. Two prominent Finnish women that posted in solidarity with Marin were singer Hanna Pakarinen and also actress Kiti Kokkonen, who wrote in her Instagram caption; “Everyone should be allowed to live in such a way that their character, dignity and professional skills are not determined by clutching at irrelevant straws.”

Within the accompanying article in Trendi, Marin discussed how she tries to maintain a healthy work-life balance and reflected on the increased scrutiny on the private lives of female politicians.. Marin became the Prime Minister of Finland in December 2019 and subsequently became the youngest head of state in the world at the time. She is part of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and heads up a five party coalition, all of them women.

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This is not the first time a female political leader has been criticized for her clothing choices or increased attention paid to her body. In 2017, the then UK Prime Minister Theresa May and the First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon were subjects of the now infamous ‘Never mind Brexit, who won legs-it!’ Daily Mail frontpage headline. This drew attention to the bodies of both women, as opposed to the important discussions that were taking place. The headline drew widespread criticism from MPs and political figures. Similarly, Theresa May’s fondness for heels was a regular feature of media coverage relating to her premiership, with a large pair of kitten heels featuring on the front of The Sun newspaper when she was announced as the new leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister.

This is not to say there has never been criticism over the appearance of male political leaders. Labor leader and former candidate for Prime Minister Ed Miliband was famously immortalized for his eating of a bacon sandwich, however it does seem as women are still held to a different standard than their male counterparts. Sophie McBain for the New Statesman highlights that when former UK Prime Minister David Cameron was photographed swimming on the beach the pictures “invited gentle ridicule and unflattering comparisons with Daniel Craig, but no outrage”.

Whilst we are seeing more female political leaders breakthrough into the top roles, it does still seem as if there is still a long way to go before we achieve gender equality in the political profession.

Cineworld Cinemas

Cineworld Latest Entertainment Business To Suffer Coronavirus

The closure of the movie industry during the ongoing global pandemic has left many businesses in the sector struggling, with many reducing their staff or turning away from ‘traditional’ ways to make money, and some have even closed completely.

The latest victim is Cineworld Group. The British owned company has become the second biggest cinema chain throughout the world, with more than 9,500 screens in 11 countries including America, Canada, parts of Europe and of course, the UK.

However the recent halting of all film production alongside the closure of their 790 sites has seen the debts of the company increase, making many unsure whether the company can survive.

With this in mind the company has employed AlixPartners to see if they can work through the vast amount of debt and put together a plan to move forward and rebuild.

It is not the first announcement for a cinema chain to seek financial help with a syndicate of Cineworld’s lenders also assigning Houlihan Lokey and FTI Consulting to discuss their $8bn of debt.

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Cineworld are also working with global advisory focused investment group PJT Partners to go through all the options they could utilize to survive the worst crisis to hit cinemas in recent times.

The company was forced to close their theaters earlier this year however a brief respite saw some reopening after a few months. Recently the chain has had to close again with around 660 sites shutting their doors temporarily throughout both the US and the UK, resulting in shares in the company dropping significantly. The move has affected more than 45,000 employees, many of whom do not know if, or when, they will be able to return to their positions.

It is believed that the group could potentially create a form of insolvency to enable them to close some of their cinemas permanently as well as start talks between them and landlords to see if there could be any renegotiations. The company voluntary arrangement would also allow them to restructure their finances.

Although there has been a glimmer of hope for cinema operators with some movie theaters being able to reopen, the delay in major movie releases has been a key factor in the industry continuing to struggle.

While filming has been paused on several movies – and television shows – for most of 2020, it was hoped that movies that had seen their release dates postponed would be allowed to be shown soon.

However this does not seem to be the case with many still seeing their release dates pushed back and some studios opting to release their movies straight to pay per view television networks.

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The latest James Bond blockbuster – No Time To Die – has seen its release date postponed from next month to April 2021 meaning those wanting to see Daniel Craig for the last time as 007 will have to wait even longer.

And with so many companies within the industry still unable to work properly it is unclear as yet whether there will be any job losses, and if so, how many. In the UK the government has encouraged those in the performing arts industry to retrain to another career in an attempt to get them back to work, a move that has been described as ‘condescending’ and ‘unrealistic’ with many wondering where employment will be found for the thousands of people who have lost their jobs.

Some movie theaters are continuing to find ways to remain in business with chains such as AMC Theaters recently announcing new offers they believe will help them stay afloat.

The theatre chain is offering film fans the opportunity to rent an entire theater for them and their family and friends, so long as they maintain all social distancing requirements as well as adhere to the cap of only 20 people.

The offer, starting at $99, sees movie goers opt for films from a list of 17 including new release Tenet, or golden oldies such as Shrek. You can also pay for extras including a microphone that allows you to introduce your guests over the PA system.

Other chains to have suffered during the crisis include Regal Cinemas who has made the announcement that they were closing their theaters indefinitely.

AMC has reopened around 500 of their 600 theaters across the country however the owners are questioning the ability to remain in business if the government does not offer them any financial support.

In New York the governor, Andrew Cuomo, has confirmed that movie theaters outside of the city have been allowed to reopen providing they stick to strict capacity limits and social distancing rules. Those who are seen to flout the rules could be hit with severe penalties, both legally and financially.

However many believe the entertainment industry could be forced to close their doors again due to the number of confirmed coronavirus cases increasing across the country.

Morning Routine

How To Upgrade The Way You Wake Up In The Morning 

A morning routine is imperative for the success of any individual. Now that a majority of us are getting used to the new normal of either working from home or running our lives more thoroughly out of our living rooms, it’s important that we give ourselves a solid routine in the morning to properly start our days and keep us motivated to take on this ever-changing scary world. 

Remember, everyone is different when it comes to things that get them motivated or wake them up in the morning, however, there are a multitude of general tips one can implement into their daily routines that they can accustom to their preferences. For example, waking up early in the morning is the best way to ensure that you won’t have to rush or feel stressed to get your day going. Waking up earlier and giving yourself that extra time in the morning will have you starting your day on an already calm and leisurely note. However, maybe you aren’t exactly a morning person and don’t know how to just implement “waking up early” casually into your life. 

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For this, experts would recommend you start slow, and that also starts with when you go to bed as well. Try going to bed even just a half hour earlier than you normally would, and see how much it makes a difference when you wake up. Beyond that, the best way to wake your body up in the morning is to get it moving immediately.

Studies suggest that starting your day with even 30-seconds of high-intensity exercise can give you the same energizing effect as a cup of coffee, and will help improve your cognitive function in the morning as well so you’re not left in that post-dream haze for hours. If getting out of bed and immediately doing 30-seconds of jumping jacks doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, try going the more relaxed route and do some quick yoga. 

Yoga stimulates the mind, body, and spirit, and is a great for waking up your body’s internal systems. Stretching, deep breathing, and focusing on balance and posture will center your brain to handle whatever daily tasks you’re about to endure as well. Another major part of this could be practicing meditation/reflecting on gratitude first thing in the morning. 

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Robert Emmons, is a psychologist who is also the author of Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, a book about the importance of implementing gracious thoughts throughout your day. Emmons recommends starting your day thinking about three to five things, big or small, that you’re grateful for, and if it’s hard for you to think of them first thing in the morning, read from a gratitude journal to remind yourself. 

“Simply keeping a gratitude journal — regularly writing brief reflections on moments for which we’re thankful — can significantly increase well-being and life satisfaction.”

Mornings are also perfect for planning your day, setting your weekly/monthly goals, and organizing. After you do your morning exercise, have some breakfast, and get yourself dressed, sit down with your planner and list out what things you’d like to accomplish either for the day or maybe week. 

Once you find aspects of your morning routine that help get you motivated, stick to it for at least two weeks. Those 14 days will help train your brain into thinking that these aspects of your routine are necessary to keep your mind, body, and spirit in a positive place throughout the day. During this two week “trial period” don’t be afraid to experiment with the order or your routine and if something isn’t working for you, don’t do it!

US Fights Covid-19

US Hits Highest Weekly Average Of Covid-19 Cases Since Beginning Of Pandemic 

The new seven-day average of coronavirus cases in the US hit 68,767 on Sunday, topping the previous peak average of 67,293 reported back in July, and setting the record for highest number of new cases appearing within seven-days. This past Friday and Saturday marked the two highest single days of new cases, with more than 83,000 cases being added each day. 

Health experts claim that this is the resurgence of cases that they were warning about in the summer that would spike in the fall and winter. They also warn that this will likely be the worst wave of infection the US has seen so far. The US has already seen more than 8.6 million cases of Covid-19 and 225,230 deaths; putting us in one of the most dangerous and vulnerable positions in the world in terms of this virus.  US Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb spoke with the press this past weekend about the new surges in cases.

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“We’re entering what’s going to be the steep slope of the curve. If we don’t implement some forceful policy intervention that could curb the spread this is going to continue to accelerate, and it’s going to be more difficult to get under control.”

Gottlieb claims the best way to get these outbreaks under control is a national mask mandate. “A mandate can be expressly limited to the next two months, it’s easier to wear a mask in the winter than the summer. The inconvenience would allow the country to preserve health-care capacity and keep more schools and businesses open.” Deaths are already projected to increase based on these new weekly spikes anyway, and the best way to prevent that from continuing to happen would be a mask-mandate; especially since the reinstatement of a nation-wide lockdown has seemed out of the question for months now. 

According to data released by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, if 95% of Americans wore masks in public, more than 100,000 lives could be saved in the US through February. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, claims that since so many Americans are adamant about not wearing a mask in public, a mandate would be the only way to really curb the spread entirely. 

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More than two-thirds of states have reported an increase in new Covid-19 cases this past week. No state is reporting above a 10% in terms of  improvement and case numbers going down. In El Paso County, Texas, residents are seeing one of the biggest spikes in the country, and have reported that all intensive care units in their hospitals are at 100% capacity. Because of this the county has implemented a curfew for the next two weeks. 

While researchers around the world are racing to develop a vaccine, it’s naive to think one will be ready, safe, and effective enough to be distributed in time to combat this second wave that we’re currently enduring. Gottlieb claims the next two to three months will just have to be dealt with as we’ve been. Fauci, however, is still confident that a vaccine will be available sooner rather than later. 

“We will know whether a vaccine is safe and effective by the end of November, beginning of December. The amount of doses that will be available in December will not certainly be enough to vaccinate everybody — you’ll have to wait several months into 2021.”

For now, the most imperative thing citizens in the US can do is listen to their healthcare providers and take all the necessary safety precautions to protect you and your loved ones from these spikes in cases. Also, make sure in the next week you either get out to vote early, or mail in your absentee ballot so that you vote for the candidate you want assisting you and your community/state/country through the rest of this global health crisis.

Chimpanzee

New Study Reveals That Chimps Narrow Down Their Social Circles As They Age

Most people will agree that as we get older, our social circle starts to diminish somewhat. Instead of filling our diary with large group gatherings and many acquaintances, we tend to focus on a smaller, closer set of friends. We start to move away from those who are critical or toxic and stick with those who enhance and enrich our lives. This was typically seen as a behavior specific to the human species and driven in part by our awareness of the passing of time. However, exciting new research has revealed that chimpanzees also follow a similar pattern when it comes to choosing their social circles later in life.

After studying the behaviour of chimpanzees for more than twenty years, researchers have identified that ageing male chimpanzees seem to prefer to socialise with their long-term friends over others within the group. And much like in human relationships, those select few friendships tend to become much stronger with age too.

To give you an idea of the scope of this study, over 78,000 hours were spent observing the behaviour of 21 male chimpanzees who were aged between 15 and 78. The study took place between 1995 and 2016 at the Kibale national park in Uganda. The reason why the study looked exclusively at males is because previous research indicated that they tend to have stronger social bonds than their female counterparts and they seem to interact more often.

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When analyzing the interactions, the researchers were looking specifically at the differences between how both chimps appeared to view their relationship. This was centered around reciprocal grooming, as this is one of the clear indicators that both sides are interested in each other and are willing to invest their time in this activity. They classed ‘mutual friendships’ as those where both chimps seemed to engage with each other and enjoy the relationship equally. They classed ‘one-sided relationships’ as those where one chimp appeared more keen to be friendly than the other, perhaps where one chimp would groom the other but the act would not be returned. Finally, ‘non-friendships’ were identified when there was clearly no interest from either party.

What the researchers found was that older chimps tended to have much more mutual friendships than younger chimps, three times as many in fact, and far less one-sided friendships. Interestingly, the older chimps also appeared to be less aggressive or intimidating to the rest of the group, suggesting that they were mellowing somewhat with age. This is something which we also tend to see in the human ageing process, with older people seeking out more positive relationships and avoiding conflicting situations.

What is particularly interesting about this behaviour in chimps is that it suggests there is something other than general awareness of mortality driving this more positive behaviour. In humans, this shift to less tension and more enjoyable relationships has long been put down to the acute awareness of time passing by; the notion that as you age and you become aware that time is running out, you consciously decide to spend more of your time enjoying positive rather than negative experiences. Yet in chimpanzees, as far as we know they do not have this concept of time or impending death, suggesting that something else must be driving this behaviour. And if another factor is influencing this activity in chimpanzees, perhaps it is the same force at work in humans too, we just didn’t realize it. This theory is supported by those who were already critical of ‘socioemotional selectivity theory’, and believe that decreasing social circles are more driven by lowering social mobility and lack of opportunity rather than by an awareness of time.

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The findings may not come as a surprise to many, considering that chimpanzees and humans share 99% of their DNA. As one of the paper’s co-authors Richard W. Wrangham explained, “It raises the possibility that we are seeing behavioral systems that have been shared evolutionarily back to our common ancestor, around seven or eight million years ago.”

The research is certainly important in helping us to better understand the world around us and how our closest species interact on a social level. The subject of ageing is one which is fascinating many researchers across the globe, partly due to our increasingly ageing population. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, there are currently 125 million people are aged 80 years or older and between 2015 and 2050, the proportion of the world’s population over 60 years will nearly double from 12% to 22% Clearly, gaining a better understanding of how our natural behaviors and patterns change over time will be incredibly useful in helping us to create future societies that best meet the needs of the older generation.

Dancing Show

Strictly Come Dancing in A Socially Distanced World

Strictly Come Dancing has been a firm favorite on our television screens across the world for many years. Based upon the UK version of Strictly Come Dancing, the programme is loved far and wide having been licensed by the BBC in over 60 territories, where it is also known under other similar names such as Dancing With The Stars. However with the Covid-19 anxiety that is impacting every industry right now, fans were propelled into anguish that the show may not be returning to our screens.

The show is based around a number of celebrities each being paired with a pro dancer to learn both latin and ballroom routines and compete for the Glitterball trophy but in the midst of living a socially distanced regime, it was speculated to be on hold this year. However, fans were delighted to see that the UK Strictly Come Dancing series kicked off on the 19th October.

It seems the show is still off to a great start. Hosted by Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman, viewer ratings of this season’s premiere were reported to average at 8.6 million viewers, noted as an increase to the previous year’s ratings of 7.8 million.

The first full live show revealed which pro dancers were being paired with which celebrity partner, including comedian Bill Bailey, YouTuber HRVY and reality tv show Made In Chelsea’s Jamie Laing. The hosts remained standing at least a 2m distance at all times and the judges Craig Revel Horwood, Shirley Ballas and Motsi Mabuse also sat at podiums of the same distance.

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Each dancing pair has formed a bubble to be able to participate and there was a smaller, socially distanced audience.

Although audiences are happy the firm family Saturday night favourite is back on our screens, UK viewers will be sad to know they will be missing out on the epic halloween week this year that normally showcases spectacular costumes and spooky routines. This is often a highlight of the series for many, as well as the trip to the Tower Ballroom in Blackpool, a monumental occasion for audiences and dancers alike. Also, well-loved judge Bruno Tonioli has not been able to be a part of this season so far, due to his commitments to the American show and the self isolation regulations that currently affect travel.

The American season already sprung into action. Dancing With The Stars returned to screens on the 12th Sep 2020 on ABC. The pandemic has not halted the 29th season, hosted by Tyra Banks, that introduced 16 new stars to this year’s competition including big names such as Carole Baskin, who for many has been a highlight of 2020 after soaring to fame in hit Netflix series Tiger King. Unfortunately Carole, the owner of Big Cat Rescue was voted out in week two. The series also features stars such as AJ McLean from boy band Backstreet Boys, Rapper Nelly and Chrishell Stause, actress and star of the Netflix hit series Selling Sunset.

However Australian fans who would have been eagerly awaiting the return of the show, which typically comes to their screens in Feb, were disappointed to learn that the show has now been discontinued.

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Channel 10, the home of the Australian Dancing with the Stars has announced that the show has been cancelled and will not return to screens in 2021. Hosted by Grant Denyer and Amanda Keller, the show has confirmed it will not be returning but this is not due to difficulties caused by the pandemic, but because of the disappointing ratings of last season.

A spokesperson commented; “We have decided to hang up our dancing shoes, lycra pants and sequined jackets for the time being” and “We would like to express our sincere thanks and gratitude to all those involved in the show, in particular Amanda Keller and Grant Denyer, who were fabulous hosts, as well as all the judges, dancers, the stars and of course the crew.”

Dancing with the Stars first came to Aussie screens in 2004 and through to 2015 it was broadcast by Channel Seven. In 2019 the show was picked up by Channel 10 and introduced two new hosts Grant Denyer and Amanda Keller.

The revival show premiered on 18th February 2019, and a second series premiered on 9th February 2020. Yet Channel 10 have decided not to continue with a third series. As the pandemic began to take hold across the world at the beginning of 2020, the end of the filming of the 2020 series was subsequently recorded without an audience. This is becoming a common occurrence for many shows at present. The final drew in 635,000 viewers, still an impressive figure but unfortunately not enough to justify the budget of the show.

The entertainment industry is trying its best to survive and recuperate from the effects of Covid-19. Reality shows such as Strictly Come Dancing/Dancing With The Stars are remaining on our screens, but many without the traditional elements, such as a live studio audience, that provides a lot of atmosphere, and themed weeks that provide iconic moments. Will these changes try to ensure survival impact on the audience ratings? Could we see other dancing shows suffering a similar fate in the future? Whatever happens, Strictly Come Dancing looks set to bring some glitz and glamour back to our Saturday nights.

Man Working Tech Job

Will The Pandemic Encourage More People To Switch To A Career in Tech?

There is no denying that the pandemic has caused much disruption to businesses and jobs across the globe. Many of the freedoms of working that we once took for granted, such as the ability to perform to a live audience or setting up your own beauty salon at home are now wrapped in restrictions and uncertainty about the future. In fact, it has been reported that the arts & entertainment sector has been one of the worst sectors affected by the pandemic, with some still out of work since lockdown was first announced in March.

Clearly there will be a significant number of people who will need to reconsider their work options, at least in the short term, if their previous career option has become untenable. Whilst this is practical and realistic advice, it can be a real blow to those who have invested their energy, time and money into their career and perhaps had to make significant sacrifices in order to get where they are. Such discussions and encouragement around a career move should be approached empathetically, understanding that it is a fairly life changing decision for some and one that does not come from a place of willing.

Recently, the UK government released an advert which was designed to encourage people within the arts sector to consider retraining to a career in technology. It had the picture of a ballet dancer tying her shoes on the front with the words, “Fatima’s next job could be in cyber (she just doesn’t know it yet) Rethink, Reskill Reboot”. Whilst you can see the intention behind the advert, it wasn’t received well. The campaign received much criticism from the arts sector and beyond, with some describing it as ‘patronizing’ and ‘clearly showing the lack of support for the arts sector’.

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The government was quick to distance itself from the messages contained within the advert, and it was instead attributed to CyberFirst, a programme led by the National Cyber Security Centre to encourage young people to consider careers in the tech sector. It was part of a long-standing programme to promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) to the younger generation as it has been widely recognized that there is a shortage of new talent moving into these positions.

What is clear is that the pandemic has led to a greater awareness of the digital economy and the importance it plays in our future. From the development of vaccines, to the building of COVID-apps, to the expansion of cloud-based services to enable businesses to operate virtually, there are many areas which have flourished as a result of the pandemic. In fact, reports suggest that jobs in the tech sector have grown by 36% since the lockdown peak, according to the government’s Digital Economy Council. They revealed that software developers were within the five most advertised roles in many UK cities. The demand for people with cloud skills has increased by 22%, cyber skills increased by 22% and jobs requiring skills in artificial intelligence (AI) grew by 44%.

One common misconception is that STEM jobs require a certain type of person, perhaps one who is very technically minded and enjoys subjects like complex maths and physics. John Michaelis, an AI consultant and author of You ++ argues that people do not just need digital skills when it comes to considering a career in tech and that a great many other attributes are beneficial. In an open letter to the UK government on his LinkedIn profile, Mr. Michaelis said, “[people] need to be more aware of, and use their personal attributes, emotional intelligence, empathy, critical thinking, abstract thinking and creativity. It is using these skills that will lead to financial and personal fulfilment in the future.”

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Mr Michaelis also believes that the pandemic has brought into sharp contrast the skills deficit we have in society. He went on to say, “I passionately believe that skills development is a critical issue. The current institutional approach to developing the curriculum and course content has become irrelevant. We need skills to equip people for the future; therefore, we need people developing the curriculum who are already “living the future.”

Whilst for many, the prospect of starting an entirely new career is extremely daunting, comfort can be taken from the fact that there are a huge variety of jobs within the tech sector which can utilise existing skills in ways you never thought possible. From a professional game tester through to a ‘Chief Listening Officer’ (yes this is actually a job), the possibilities really are endless once you start looking. And as we continue to move towards an ever-more digitalized society, more innovative and previously unheard of jobs will emerge, presenting the workforce with a completely new set of career options.

2020 Presidental Election

Trump and Biden Town Halls Reviewed

After the second presidential debate was cancelled after disagreements over its format, both candidates took to prime-time television to field questions and attempt to gain support ahead of the upcoming Election Day on November 3.

The debate was moved to a virtual setting following Trump’s Covid-19 diagnosis but the president refused to participate in a debate that was not face-to-face, claiming it was designed to protect his rival.

Instead, both Trump and Biden fielded questions from a moderator and audience members from both sides of the political spectrum in events held simultaneously on NBC and ABC, respectively.

“Wrong or not wrong, you have to understand, as President, I can’t be locked in a room someplace for the next year and just stay and do nothing. And every time I go into a crowd, I was with the parents of our fallen heroes,” Trump said when asked if it was wrong of him to refuse to wear a mask earlier in the year.

“These people are the most incredible people. And they came up to me and they would hug me, and they would touch me, and I’m not going to not let them do it, to be honest with you.”

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Biden’s tune was slightly different on the topic of masks, highlighting their importance and claiming he would ask every governor to set a mandate for the wearing of masks in their state.

Biden claimed he was against the use of fines but indicated how vital it was to get the population wearing masks and receiving vaccinations when they are available.

“No matter whether they’re good, bad, or indifferent, the words of a president matter,” Biden said.

“And when a president doesn’t wear a mask or makes fun of folks like me, when I was wearing a mask for a long time, then people say, “Well, it mustn’t be that important.” But when a president says, “I think this is very important.” For example, I walked in here with this mask, but I have one of the N95 masks underneath it. I left it in my dressing room. Not the dresser, the room I was in before I got here.”

Biden gave calm answers when asked about policing and if he still believed that more police officers resulted in fewer crimes. Tough questions were also fielded by Biden from audience members on a Crime bill Biden signed in 1994 that has since been the subject of controversy.

“When we had community policing, from the mid-’90s on until Bush got elected, what happened? Violent crime actually went down precipitous. Remember the significant rise in violent crime that was occurring in the late ’80s into the ’90s. It went down and fewer African Americans were arrested because you had the requirement,” Biden said when asked about the potential defunding of police and how effective it might be.

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“The cops didn’t like it. They didn’t like the community policing, because you had to have two people in the vehicle, they had to get out of their cars, they had to introduce themselves to who owns the local liquor store, who owned the local grocery store, who was the woman on the corner. And what they would do, George, they’d actually go and give people their phone numbers. A cop would give the phone number.”

While Biden gave a number of longer, seemingly well-thought-out responses, Trump’s event soon deteriorated into nothing short of an argument with moderator Savannah Guthrie, who was unforgiving in her questions when sensing a potential Trump slip-up.

Trump was also quick to take jabs at the rival Democratic Party, accusing them of spying on his campaign amongst a number of other things. The president also reiterated his belief that voter fraud was widespread due to mail-in voting and that there was already evidence of tampering against his campaign.

“But let me just tell you, they talk about the peaceful transfer, right? They spied on my campaign and they got caught. And they spied heavily, on my campaign. And they tried to take down a duly elected sitting president,” Trump said.

“And then, they talk about, “Will you accept a peaceful transfer?” And the answer is, yes, I will. But I want it to be an honest election. And so does everybody else. When I see thousands of ballots dumped in a garbage can, and they happen to have my name on it? I’m not happy about that.

“But it’s sort of ironic that you, and them, talk about the peaceful transfer when I spent three and a half years fighting off these maniacs. And now, it turns out, everything’s there. That they were the ones that dealt with Russia, and it’s too bad.

“Peaceful transfer, I absolutely want that. But ideally, I don’t want to transfer, because I want to win.”

Football Arena

Le’Veon Bell Signs For Kansas City Chiefs

Two-time All Pro running back Le’Veon Bell has signed for the Kansas City Chiefs on a one-year deal after being released by the New York Jets.

Bell signed for the Jets after sitting out the 2018 season following the Steelers’ decision to tie him to a second consecutive franchise tag. Choosing to protect his body from injury in preparation to receive a large contract on the open market, Bell did not play a single snap for the Steelers and so went for a long time between NFL matches.

For the Jets, Bell has been unable to replicate his pre-2018 form that he exhibited consistently for Pittsburgh, form that earned him three Pro Bowl appearances and two All Pro nominations. To Bell’s credit, he has been put behind a poor offensive line and was dropped into one of the worst outfits in the NFL, but more big plays and yards would still have been expected from the 28-year-old.

The opposite is true of Bell’s new destination, however, and he has every chance for success in this Chiefs line-up. The former Steeler now signs for the Super Bowl champions the Kansas City Chiefs and will form a backfield tandem with highly rated rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire.

“Kansas City, #ChiefsKingdom, thank you for the opportunity, let’s go!” Bell tweeted after news of his arrival in Kansas broke.

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Edwards-Helaire had a strong start to his rookie season but has not been able to carry the Chief’s running game on his shoulders as was hoped and will now share snaps and carries with Le’Veon Bell. Bell’s addition also gives Edwards-Helaire the opportunity to learn from a veteran of the league who has experienced many highs but also many tribulations in his time in the league.

Meanwhile the Jets, who sit bottom of the AFC East with a record of 0-5, will go forward with 15-year veteran of the league Frank Gore as their main back with La’Mical Perine sitting second in the depth chart. In third is Ty Johnson, who has not played a single snap this season.

With quarterback Sam Darnold forced to the sidelines through injury, the Jets are seemingly playing only for pride for the remainder of the season and will secretly hope to earn that first overall pick in the 2021 draft. Bell’s departure may signal the start of the Jets choosing to trade away some of its older talent in hopes of sparking an effective rebuild.

“After having conversations with Le’Veon and his agent and exploring potential trade options over the past couple of days, we have made the decision to release Le’Veon,” Jets general manager Joe Douglas said. “The Jets organization appreciates Le’Veon’s efforts during his time here and we know he worked hard to make significant contributions to this team. We believe this decision is in the best interests of both parties and wish him future success.”

The relationship between Bell and his head coach has been the source of much speculation since the running back’s arrival in New York and Adam Gase was reportedly never sold on the idea to sign him. Gase’s abrasive attitude and hard man-management style has been noted before and this is allegedly something that Bell failed to get on with.

The strained relationship, added to the Jet’s misfortune and Bell’s personal failings on the field, meant that such a move was always likely. According to a Jets statement, the team shopped around in search of any potential trade deals but there was insufficient demand.

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“We just felt like it was best to part ways, give him the opportunity to go somewhere else,” New York Jets head coach Adam Gase said. “For us, I want nothing but the best for him getting the opportunity to go somewhere else and have success. It’s tough, it’s a tough decision to make, but we felt like that was best for us where we are right now, and we’ve got to move on to Miami.”

“At the end of the day, offensively, we really haven’t done a whole bunch to impress anybody right now,” Gase said. “We’ve got a lot of things to get corrected. We have to do better, coach better, play better. That’s the entire team.”

“I think our locker room’s pretty good right now. … I talked to a lot of guys one-on-one, whether it was last night or today. Guys seem to be alright. They’re in a good place.”

“Perine’s definitely going to get a bigger role,” Gase said. “Frank, he knows how many touches are the right amount for him. Getting Perine going is going to be critical for us. Then having two younger guys in Ty and Josh Adams available, we’ll get all these guys going.”

“For whatever reason, it didn’t work out,” Gase said, referring to the team’s decision to sign Bell. “We’re moving forward to Miami. That’s the No. 1 concern for us right now.”

Brexit Flags in UK

No Deal Brexit To Cause More Stress On Struggling UK Economy

As economies around the world stutter as a result of the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, the UK faces an even higher financial mountain to climb as trade talks with the European Union continue to falter. A number of well-respected financial experts are forecasting disastrous results for the UK economy in the case of no Brexit trade deal being agreed upon.

Experts have warned that the Covid crisis will exacerbate a ‘disorderly’ Brexit as businesses will be ill equipped to deal with the end of the transition period as a result of financial losses and diverting attention away from leaving the EU.

“The combination of Covid-19 and the exit from the EU single market makes the UK outlook exceptionally uncertain,” Laurence Boone, chief economist at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, said in a report this week. “Actions taken to address the pandemic and decisions made on future trading relationships will have a lasting impact on the United Kingdom’s economic trajectory for years to come.”

The OECD has warned that a failure to agree a free trade agreement before the end of the Brexit transition period would result in a 6.5% reduction in the economy over the next few years compared to if the previous terms had been upheld.

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Meetings between the two sides concluded for the time being at the end of last week without any notable breakthroughs in discussions. According to Mujtaba Rahman, managing director for the political risk consultancy Europe at Eurasia Group, key sticking points remain fishing rights and the framework and structure for resolving future disputes.

“We don’t think the deal will flounder on fish, but we do think the technical and political challenges it presents will be more difficult to overcome than many believe,” Rahman said Thursday.

“As Johnson’s government tears itself apart on coronavirus, the need for a political win, which only a deal can be, is greater than ever,” he said.

CNN is reporting that if the UK walks away from trade talks empty-handed, they could be facing a $25 billion loss to the economy in 2021, according to analysis based on forecasts from Citi and the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

Álvaro Pereira, the director of the country studies branch at the OECD, said: “We know Covid has been the largest economic shock and social shock in the last few decades all across the world. Brexit obviously compounds the issue.

“The most important thing in the next few days and months is to focus on a deal, so the closest possible relationship is established between the UK and EU. Both parties lose if there is no deal.”

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While there remains time for a deal to be completed, tensions are rising on both sides and representatives from both are raising the stakes through comments in the media. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that he is prepared to ‘walk away’ from the table if no progress is made, while European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen called for an intensification of talks.

“There’s a deal to be done, but there needs to be flexibility on both sides, energy and goodwill and political will on both sides, and the prime minister will say more (today),” the UK foreign secretary Dominic Raab told BBC Radio 4’s Today programmed.

“I’m surprised and disappointed by the lack of flexibility and will that… seems to have come out of the European Council.”

Boris Johnson has repeatedly imposed arbitrary deadlines on the talks that seem to have had little to no effect. Recently, Johnson said talks needed to be completed by mid-October in order to give businesses a chance to plan and adjust accordingly, but that deadline has come and gone with talks seemingly having barely progressed.

“The prospect of no deal would be daunting enough, let alone dealing with it in the middle of a global pandemic,” IoD senior policy adviser Allie Renison said. “These disruptions won’t cancel each other out. If anything they would compound the pain for British businesses.”

As coronavirus cases continue to surge in the UK as it prepares for winter, the government has elected to take a regional approach to lockdowns and has implemented a three-tier system, in which some parts of the country are in full lockdown and others are relatively unaffected.

Some sectors have been forced to shut again and a large amount of small, medium and large businesses are suffering as a result. In some parts of the country, bars and restaurants are no longer open and there is little sign of immediate improvement.

Following the talks on Thursday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, “in some places there was movement, in other places there is still a lot of work to do.”

“We have asked Great Britain to continue to be willing to compromise towards an agreement. Of course, this also means that we have to make compromises,” she told reporters.