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  1. Tens of thousands of Israeli protesters have rallied in Tel Aviv against a law denying surrogacy to gay couples and single fathers. Demonstrators held their gathering in the central Rabin Square, and at one point briefly blocked a major motorway. At least one person was arrested. Israel's parliament on Wednesday allowed surrogacy for single women and women unable to bear children. Previously, only heterosexual married couples were granted the same rights. The legislation also envisaged state funding for surrogacy. "We came here today (Sunday) to say to the government 'No more'," demonstrator Oz Dani in Rabin Square was quoted as saying by Reuters. "We want equality and we want equal rights for everyone." Similar rallies were also held in several other cities, including Jerusalem. Many protesters said gay couples wanting to have children were being forced to seek surrogate mothers abroad and pay large sums of money. A number of Israeli companies said they were ready to make financial contributions to help such couples. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had previously supported the extension of surrogacy rights to gay couples and single men. But he voted against this last week, saying that otherwise the entire bill would have been blocked in parliament.
  2. A controversial far-right politician, Jair Bolsonaro, has formally declared that he is running in Brazil's presidential election in October. The former army officer is currently in second place in the polls behind ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. But Lula is serving a prison sentence for corruption and is unlikely to run. Mr Bolsonaro has outraged many in Brazil with racist and homophobic comments. But his backers see him as a saviour in a crime-ridden country. 'Brazilian Trump' Mr Bolsonaro, 63, declared himself a candidate to about 3,000 cheering supporters at a rally in Rio de Janeiro. The congressman said he would be represented by the Social Liberal Party (PSL) - seen as a lightweight in Brazilian politics. This means he will have just up to 10 seconds of air time for his TV campaign ads - a serious handicap in the presidential race. "We don't have a big party. We don't have election funding. We don't have television time," Mr Bolsonaro said. "But we have what the others don't have, which is you, the Brazilian people." Mr Bolsonaro is followed by millions of Brazilians on social media, and many refer to him as the "Brazilian Trump". The candidate, who advocates loosening the country's gun control laws to deal with crime, is also backed by millions of evangelical Christians for his uncompromising anti-abortion stand. Despite this, opinion polls suggest that Mr Bolsonaro would fail to win the election even if he gets into a run-off.
  3. A drug to treat malaria - the first such pill to get approval in 60 years - has been given the green light by authorities in the United States. The medicine is specifically for the recurring form of malaria, which makes 8.5 million people ill each year. This type of malaria is a particular challenge to get rid of as it can remain dormant in the liver for years before reawakening many times. Scientists have described tafenoquine as a "phenomenal achievement." Regulators around the world will now look at the drug to see if they can recommend it for their populations. Relapsing illness Recurring malaria - caused by the parasite plasmodium vivax - is the most common type of malaria outside Sub-Saharan Africa. Children can be particularly at risk, getting several bouts of malaria from a single bite, missing lots of school and getting weaker each time they get the disease. And infected people can act as unwitting reservoirs of the disease because when the parasite reawakens in their bodies a mosquito can carry that parasite on to someone else. This can make it hard to eliminate around the world. Now the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States has given the seal of approval to tafenoquine, a drug that can flush the parasite out of its hiding place in the liver and stop people getting it again. It can be taken alongside another medicine to treat the immediate infection. There is already a medication that can be used to get rid of malaria hiding in the liver called primaquine. But unlike the single dose of tafenoquine needed, primaquine often needs to be taken for 14 days. Some experts are concerned that many people feel better after just a few days and stop taking the pills, allowing the parasite to awaken at a later date. Caution needed The FDA says the drug is effective and approves it for use in the United States but points out that there are important side effects to be aware of. For example people with an enzyme problem, called G6PD deficiency, should not take the drug as it can cause severe anaemia, The regulator recommends people are tested for the deficiency for this before it is given - which can pose a problem in poorer areas where malaria is common. There are also concerns that at higher doses it can be a problem for people with psychiatric illnesses. But despite these cautions there is hope the drug, together with bed nets and other precautions, will help reduce the amount of vivax malaria in the world. Prof Ric Price, of Oxford University, told the BBC: "The ability to get rid of the parasite in the liver with a single dose of tafenoquine is a phenomenal achievement and in my mind it represents one of the most significant advances in malaria treatment in the last 60 years." Meanwhile Dr Hal Barron, president of research and development at GSK, the company that manufactures the drug, said: "The approval of Krintafel [the brand name for tafenonquine], the first new treatment for Plasmodium vivax malaria in over 60 years, is a significant milestone for people living with this type of relapsing malaria. "Together with our partner, Medicines for Malaria Venture, we believe Krintafel will be an important medicine for patients with malaria and contribute to the ongoing effort to eradicate this disease." Tafenonquine has been in existence since the 1970s but working with Medicines for Malaria, GSK has repurposed the drug so that it can be used to get rid of malaria parasites in the liver. The next step will be for the drug to be assessed by regulators in countries where this form of malaria is a significant problem.
  4. French President Emmanuel Macron has ordered a staff shake-up after a video emerged showing his now sacked aide beating up a protester, officials say. Under growing pressure, Mr Macron gathered several ministers together on Sunday to discuss the row. Alexandre Benalla, who was Mr Macron's top bodyguard, is seen dragging away a woman and then beating a man during May Day protests in Paris. He has been charged with group violence and illegally wearing a police badge. Mr Benalla was fired on Friday. An official said Mr Macron had described the incident "unacceptable" and promised there would be "no impunity". Senior presidential official Alexis Kohler is to look into reorganising Mr Macron's private office so as to prevent a repeat of the incident, unnamed officials say. The French presidency has been accused of being aware of the incident for some time, trying to cover it up, and failing to act swiftly against Mr Benalla. Three policemen have also been charged in connection with the incident. They were questioned on Saturday for allegedly leaking security footage to try and prove Mr Benalla's innocence. Vincent Crase, an employee of Mr Macron's La République en Marche (Republic on the Move) party, is also being investigated after he appeared in the video. Public outrage has been stoked by additional footage that appears to show several police officers watching the incident without intervening. Interior Minister Gérard Collomb is expected to be questioned on the issue in parliament on Monday. How did we get here? The video was posted on social media in May, but the case became a political scandal after Le Monde newspaper revealed that the attacker was Mr Benalla, aged 26. A former bodyguard of Mr Macron, he was hired as an aide to the president's chief of staff after last year's election. He was then given an apartment in an upmarket Paris district and a chauffeur-driven car, French media say. He also had the highest security clearance to parliament. In May, a few days after the incident, he was suspended for two weeks but nothing was reported to prosecutors. The BBC's Hugh Schofield in Paris says this suggests that Mr Macron's office may have already been aware of his actions. What happened on May Day? The incident took place in a popular tourist spot in Paris' Latin Quarter where about 100 people had gathered. The original video shows a man wearing a police helmet, but no uniform, joining CRS riot police after clashes erupted. He grabs a woman by the neck, dragging her down the street, before both disappear off camera. Shortly afterwards he returns to the scene, attacking a male protester who had been carried a short distance by police before being left alone on the ground. The man in the helmet can be seen grabbing the young protester around the neck, hitting him on the head and apparently stamping on his stomach when he falls to the ground.
  5. A WOMAN claims she was laughed at by United Airlines staff when she reported another passenger performing a sex act mid-flight. Genevieve Pascolla, 26, said she woke up on a London to Chicago trip to find a man touching himself under a blanket. The pro photographer says she was left "appalled" by the cabin crew's reaction who, she says, made jokes about her ordeal. Genevieve even says one suggested his sex act could have been because of her. She says the man was left to "finish" despite being sat close to a small child Chicago based Genevieve posted a video of the incident online and has slammed the airline for its casual attitude to the incident. Writing on Instagram, she said: "They gave us new seats. They then started making jokes about the situation asking 'what perfume are you wearing' and excusing him saying 'he’s had a bit of wine'. "No one stopped him. He was allowed to finish, with a child sitting closely by." She added: "I am appalled at the lack of action taken in this situation in which as a woman, I was terrified. "This man is clearly capable of much more." Genevieve says she was asked by airport security if she wanted an apology from the passenger, a request she refused. Later, she shared a picture of a customer service email online. It read: Again, I apologise for the uncomfortable situation you experienced. I appreciate that you chose United for your travel. We hope your next trip with us will be a more positive experience." Genevieve hit back: "Referring to being assaulted on one of your flight as a 'uncomfortable experience' is a bit of an understatement. "Your lack of action is disgusting #metoo." A United Airlines spokesperson, told BuzzFeed News the "inappropriate and offensive conduct like this" is exceedingly rare on their aircraft, "but we have a protocol to ensure our customers’ safety because it is our top priority." They added: "That’s why, in this case, our customers were promptly moved to different seats in a different section of the plane and law enforcement officials were summoned in advance to meet the perpetrator when the plane pulled into the gate." Genevieve received compensation from the airline in the form of half her fare refunded in flight vouchers. Sun Online Travel previously reported that United Airlines paid a passenger £7,000 in travel credit to encourage a passengers to give up her seat on an overbooked flight.
  6. A 15-year-old Indonesian girl who was raped by her brother has been sentenced to six months in prison for having an abortion, police said. Both the girl and her 18-year-old brother were convicted Thursday by the District Court of Muara Bulian in Batanghari district in Jambi province, said Singgih Hermawan, deputy chief of the local police. The brother received a two-year prison sentence for having sex with a minor, Hermawan said. Abortion is illegal in Indonesia, but is allowed in cases of rape, especially if the woman's life is at risk. However, the abortion must take place within one and a half months of becoming pregnant and be performed by professionals. The girl had her abortion when she was six months' pregnant, according to a court official. Her mother is facing charges for aiding the abortion. She said she helped her daughter out of fear of being shamed by neighbours. It was revealed in court that the girl had been raped eight times since September. In May, residents discovered a headless fetus near a palm oil plantation. Police made the arrests in June. The defendants and their lawyers accepted the sentences, which also ruled that the girl and her brother must undergo rehabilitation at the Institute for Special Education of Children. It was not clear whether the prosecutors, who had demanded a one-year prison sentence for the girl and seven years for her brother, would appeal the sentences.
  7. Google uses bizarre tactics to dominate rivals and confuse their customers, search engine claims. For many people, Google is the internet. It now dominates almost all aspects of our online lives, from how we search for information, to how we navigate from one place to another. But the route Google has taken to achieve this supremacy has been ruthless, illegal and occasionally unconventional. For 85 per cent of smartphone users that have Google's Android mobile operating system, the slew of apps that come pre-installed on the device are often owned by Google. This includes the popular Chrome web browser and Google search engine, meaning users are forced to download competing apps through the Google Play Store if they want to use them. But data shows that only 1 per cent of people ever download a rival search app and only 10 per cent download a new browser. A record $5 billion fine from the European Commission over Google's uncompetitive Android practices yesterday will precurse an unbundling that will no longer force smartphone makers to ship devices with pre-installed Google apps. It was the largest penalty ever levied against a single company and comes in the midst of a geo-political trade conflict between the US and Europe. The ruling even prompted US President Donald Trump to wade in with one of his inflammatory tweets. But competitors to Google have since revealed the unorthodox practices that Google continues to use to maintain its near-monopolistic position. Google rival DuckDuckGo, an internet privacy firm whose products include a search engine and a browser, responded to the EU crack down in a series of tweets revealing how Google has acted to assert its search dominance. Examples include preventing the DuckDuckGo search engine from being added to Chrome on Android, while featuring the Chrome widget prominently on most Android builds. "We have felt its effects first hand for many years and has led directly to us having less market share on Android vs [Apple's] iOS," the privacy-focussed search engine stated. "Their anti-competitve search behaviour isn't limited to Android. Every time we update our Chrome browser extension, all of our users are faced with an official-looking dialogue asking them if they'd like to revert their search settings and disable the entire extension." But the most bizarre example of Google appearing to undermine DuckDuckGo is with the domain duck.com, which is owned by the search giant and automatically redirects visitors to google.com. DuckDuckGo says that this "consistently confuses" its users. The duck.com domain was first registered in 1995, according to ICAAN, long before either Google or DuckDuckGo existed. Google did not respond for a request for comment. Google responded to the EU ruling by claiming Android has "created more choice for everyone, not less," adding that it would appeal the Commission's decision. In a wide reaching blog post on Wednesday 18 July, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the decision ignored how Google had "painstakingly balanced the needs of everyone" in creating its open-sourced platform and that the ruling will upset this to the detriment of user experience. "Rapid innovation, wide choice, and falling prices are classic hallmarks of robust competition and Android has enabled all of them," Pichai said. "Today's decision rejects the business model that supports Android, which has created more choice for everyone, not less." But while Google's practices may have to change following the ruling, some analysts say the overall public perception of the technology giant is unlikely to change. "I think the impact of the Google brand will be limited because consumers won't really be aware and don't really care about anti-trust issues the way they care about privacy issues," Thomas Husson, principal analyst at market research firm Forrester, told The Independent.
  8. A private inspector has said he warned the company operating duck boats on a Missouri lake about design flaws putting the watercraft at greater risk of sinking, less than a year before the accident that killed 17 people during a sudden storm. Steve Paul, owner of the Test Drive Technologies inspection service said on Saturday (local time) he issued a written report for the company in August 2017. It explained why the boats' engines - and pumps that remove water from their hulls - might fail in inclement weather. He also told The Associated Press that the amphibious tourist boats' canopies make them hard to escape when they sink - a concern raised by regulators after a similar sinking in Arkansas killed 13 people in 1999. The accident on Thursday evening on Table Rock Lake outside the tourist town of Branson also is raising questions about whether storm warnings in the area went unheeded, and whether any agency can keep boaters off the water when inclement weather approaches. “If you have the information that you could have rough waters or a storm coming, why ever put a boat on that water?" Mr Paul said. A witness' video of the duck boat just before it capsized suggests that its flexible plastic windows might have been closed and could have trapped passengers as the hybrid boat-truck went down. It does not show passengers jumping clear. Survivor Tia Coleman tearfully told a news conference that the tragedy killed her husband, three children aged one, seven and nine, an uncle, a nephew along with her father-in-law, her mother-in-law and her sister-in-law. The Indiana woman said until the accident her family had been enjoying a holiday together. "Going home - I already know is going to be completely difficult I don't know how I'm going to do it," she said. "Since I've had a home it's always been filled, filled with little feet and laughter and my husband. I don't know how I'm going to do it." Ms Coleman also said she believed that life jackets would have saved many of the 17 people who died, but the captain told passengers when they set out on the lake not to bother with them. "Above you are your life jackets; there's three sizes," she said, quoting his instructions. "'I will show you where they are but you won't need them so don't worry.' So we didn't grab them." Coleman described her own harrowing near-drowning and says she was pulled from the water by "beautiful people - angels" she didn't know who were jumping in the water to get bring people to safety. Investigators will look into questions about the life jackets, the weather and actions of the crew, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said. The dangers of amphibious tour boats have been a concern for years. Because they are neither entirely boat or bus they have sometimes contradictory safety regulations. The company's website has been taken down, save for a statement that its operations would remain shuttered to support the probe and allow time for families and the community to grieve. While the boat captain survived, its driver, 73-year-old Bob Williams, did not. Branson Mayor Karen Best said Mr Williams was a "great ambassador" for the city. Mr Williams' family in Rhode Island, where he'd lived for decades before retiring to Branson, remembered him as a deeply religious man who founded a local church. "Pastor Bob was a prince of a man, loving, kind, and generous, whose loss to our family is incalculable," Williams' son-in-law, Bishop Jeffery Williams said. Bishop Williams now leads King's Cathedral in Providence.
  9. He looked anxiously at the lights my cameraman was setting up. "They'll create a shadow, so the people at home won't see your face," I told him. Our interview had been lined up for days, but the teenager was nervous and about to pull out. I showed him a photo of what viewers would see, an outline of his silhouette. Eventually he took a seat, and for the first time looked me right in the eye. "I'm not a bad person, I'm not a person that commits crime," he tells me. He was a juvenile criminal before the courts by 14. "Just what young people get up to when they get into trouble I guess," he said. "Committing crimes, getting influenced to commit offences. "At the time I didn't know it was the wrong thing." He's coy about the crimes he committed; the now 19-year-old doesn't want to delve into the past. "What happened in the past doesn't define the person that I am today," he said. "It might shape the person that I am today but it no way defines the person that I am today." He migrated to Brisbane with his family at age eight from East Africa. When he arrived, he knew little English. Australia was a culture shock. But he doesn't like to talk about his past or what led him to his troubled teenage years that saw him caught up in Queensland's youth justice system. It was a social worker that helped turn his life around. He was offered a chance at an alternative education program for at-risk youth, and he took it. Now, he's doing a traineeship in youth justice. "In five years time I see myself with a degree in criminology and also a permanent job with the Department of Justice," he said. "I want to help people, people that didn't have the same opportunity that I did." This young man's remarkable turnaround goes against the statistics. "If they go into the youth justice system we know there's an almost 100 percent guarantee that they'll re-offend," Queensland's Minister for Child Safety, Youth and Women, Di Farmer said. "We need to break that cycle." Ms Farmer has a tough job ahead. She plans sweeping changes to the youth justice system, in a bid to help change the statistics. Right now, Queensland's youth detention centres are so overcrowded, more may need to be built. The reason many are there is a tragedy in itself. "We know that over 80 percent of the young people in our detention centres are actually on remand," Ms Farmer said. "They wouldn't be in those places if they had homes or safe homes to go to." The government's new strategy will be formulated from a report on youth justice by former police Commissioner Bob Atkinson. The report suggests 77 recommendations, many of them controversial, including giving police more discretion not to charge young people over minor offences. Another is to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12. Staff at the department say it will take a brave government to implement many of these. They recommendations focus on early intervention, keeping children out of court and custody, and reducing re-offending. But the real challenge is balancing those with public safety, and community confidence. The government will release its new youth justice strategy by the end of the year. Our reformed youth offender says he just wants others to have the same opportunity he did. "It's shaped me, made me stronger and helped me realise committing crime is not the way," he said.
  10. Russian holidaymakers have been treated to a terrifying sight after a giant waterspout formed a small distance from a seaside resort. Video captured at the resort by the Black Sea in the area of Arkhipo-Osipovka on July 20 was posted to Instagram by witness @grk.albatros. The video, taken from the terrace of a hotel by the water, opens on a shot of beachgoers milling by the water. It then shifts to reveal the monstrous tornado-like formation hovering just offshore. Many bystanders can be seen gathering by the shore to watch the unusual formation. "Fair weather" waterspouts are whirling columns of air and water that tend to remain in one spot, unlike "tornadic" waterspouts. While some can pose risks similar to standard tornadoes, waterspouts are generally known to dissipate upon making landfall.
  11. Yemen's government says the Iran-aligned Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, should release all detainees and captives held in their prisons ahead of peace talks. The official news agency SABA quoted the government Sunday as saying that the Houthis should also hand over their arms and withdraw from all rebel-held areas including the capital, Sanaa, which they seized in September 2014. The agency says Prime Minister Ahmed Obaid bin Daghr made the remarks in a meeting with the U.N. special envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths. Yemen was plunged in March 2015 into a war pitting a Saudi-led coalition backing the government of a self-exiled president against the Houthis. Last month, Griffiths announced plans to bring Yemen's warring parties to the negotiating table. He held several meetings with both sides since.
  12. The UK’s bid to break away from the European Union has hit a potential snag with former British Prime Minister John Major calling for a new vote on Brexit. Major said holding a second referendum to gauge public sentiment now that more is known about the true impact of Brexit would be "morally justified" because Brexit advocates made so many inflated claims ahead of the June 2016 vote. "If you look back at the Leave campaign, a great many of the promises they made were fantasy promises," he said. "We now know they are not going to be met." Overnight, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab told the BBC he and others are negotiating “the best deal” on areas of trade and security however, he revealed the government must prepare itself for a “no deal”. “We’re obviously aiming to get the best deal we can on trade security and all other areas. We’ve made really good progress this week,” Mr Raab said. “But I think any responsible government would have to make sure you’ve got the planning and preparations in place in the event of the negotiations not reaching a positive outcome, and that’s what we’re doing.” The UK is expected to leave the EU on March 29 next year and while Mr Raab said a deal would be done in October, momentum has somewhat stalled. In a new twist overnight, Mr Raab suggested Britain might not pay its 39 billion pound ($68 billion) divorce bill if no trade agreement with the European Union is reached. "You can't have one side fulfilling its side of the bargain and the other side not, or going slow, or failing to commit on its side," he told the Sunday Telegraph, implying that the threat of withholding payment might get Brexit talks back on track. Britain and the EU remain far apart on terms of a new trade setup. British Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservative Party is also deeply split over what Brexit policy to support. Mr Raab replaced David Davis, who resigned two weeks ago to protest May's "soft" Brexit plan. May has faced a substantial rebellion from party colleagues who favor a complete break with the EU — a so-called "hard" Brexit — rather than May's proposal, which calls for a "common rule book" with European nations that would govern trade in goods. EU negotiator Michel Barnier is also lukewarm on May's latest proposal, asking many questions about its viability. Mr Raab, however, says he is still hopeful a deal can be concluded this year. "Actually the fact Michel Barnier is not blowing it out the water but asking questions is a good positive sign — that's what we negotiate on," Mr Raab said.
  13. Protest groups infuriated by US President Donald Trump will target the Australia-US Ministerial meetings on California's Stanford University campus involving Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop and Defence Minister Marise Payne. The ministers will meet with Mr Trump's top cabinet members, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary James Mattis, for AUSMIN at the university's Hoover Institution on Monday and Tuesday where China's expansion in the South-Pacific, North Korea, trade and Russia will be items on the agenda. The San Francisco Bay Area is an anti-Trump hotbed. The region overwhelmingly voted against Mr Trump in the 2016 presidential election, with rival Hillary Clinton receiving more than 70 per cent of the vote. Mr Trump has not ventured to the Democrat Party stronghold since moving into the White House. "This is a rare opportunity for us to tell Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense James Mattis how we feel about Trump's disastrous, clueless, dangerous, inconsistent and exasperating foreign policy," Steve Rapport, an organiser working with Indivisible San Francisco and MoveOn, told AAP. "By enabling Trump's inexplicable coziness with (Russian President Vladimir) Putin, Secretaries Pompeo and Mattis are complicit in advancing the Kremlin's interests over America's. "It's past time for them to put the US and its allies first and restore sanity to our foreign policy." The US State Department, Stanford campus police and Palo Alto police have devised a security plan to protect the delegations. "For security reasons, we are not releasing security measures for the visit and any possible protests," Stanford Public Safety Department spokesman Bill Larson said. "However, if there are protesters, they will be directed to assemble in an area near the venue." The US selected Stanford for this year's AUSMIN to honour the 1951 signing of the ANZUS treaty in nearby San Francisco. But concern is growing Mr Trump could be willing to walk away from allies in longstanding pacts like NATO and ANZUS. Mr Trump's recent European and British tour, culminating with a private meeting and controversial press conference with Mr Putin, shook some American allies. Mr Trump, in a media interview last week, raised doubt the US would support NATO member Montenegro if it was threatened. Ms Bishop is expected to urge the Trump administration to hold Russia accountable for the downing of the Malaysian Airlines flight over Ukraine that killed 38 Australians, the annexation of Crimea, cyber meddling and the alleged role in nerve agent attacks in the UK. At last year's AUSMIN Rex Tillerson was secretary of state, but his ouster resulted in former CIA director and China hawk Mr Pompeo's arrival. Mr Pompeo upset China last year when he named it a bigger threat to the US than Russia and Iran. China's military island building in the South China Sea and pursuit of investment opportunities with South Pacific nations is expected to be discussed at AUSMIN. "We'll be discussing China, where, of course, we are seeking to advance a very pragmatic but principled relationship with China that takes into account their helpfulness on certain core international issues, including the DPRK (North Korea), while still holding Beijing to account for violations of international law and norms when that occurs," a senior State Department official told reporters last week.
  14. '800 million people globally could be made redundant by technology over the next ten years' THE LOSS OF certain jobs due to technological advancement is an unavoidable consequence of human progress in today’s world. In Dublin’s north inner city where I grew up, the transition to containerisation and the growth of air travel drove dockers out of work and led to the unravelling of the community. The Irish Financial Services Centre came along, transforming the docklands in one of Europe’s largest waterfront regeneration projects. Yet the adjacent Sheriff Street community remains one of the city’s poorest neighbourhoods. Manual workers face new and emerging threats today. Redundant A recent study by McKinsey consultants estimates that 800 million people globally could be made redundant by technology over the next ten years. This is an all too familiar headline and, for most people outside of Silicon Valley, a regular cause of anxiety over what the future might hold. What happens to the cashier at your local supermarket when automatic tills drive them out of work? What happens to bicycle couriers on our streets when delivery of goods by drone becomes the norm? You might have a sense that Ireland is bucking this trend already – the official unemployment rate here is 5.8% according the most recent government statistics. But dig a little deeper and the story is very different. The statistics don’t include, for example, people working part-time jobs because they are unable to find full time work. Ireland’s rate of underemployment is amongst the highest in Europe. Low unemployment statistics also hide the very many people who, although they have full-time jobs, struggle to earn a living wage. Out of existence This unfortunate reality is likely to be compounded as digitalisation, robotics, and Artificial Intelligence continue to push many of the most common jobs out of existence. It’s a fact that those workers most at risk from what is called ‘technological disintermediation’ are unlikely to return to third-level education. This may be due to their age or the fact that they may lack the formal academic building blocks required to thrive in a third-level environment. The important question for our political leaders today should be: “How do we take a pressing social issue and turn it in to a powerful driver of inclusive prosperity?” One solution is for the government to embark on a large scale digital vocational training programme aimed at the unemployed and underemployed. The points race for third level places has made apprenticeships unfashionable and contributed to a view that they are a gateway to low-paying, manual jobs. This notion persists even today; despite an increase in the number of apprenticeships undertaken, traditional craft apprenticeships still account for the vast majority of uptake. Digital apprenticeships While the recently introduced apprenticeships in cyber security are a step in the right direction, digital apprenticeships are not being delivered or undertaken at a scale large enough to exploit their true societal potential. To deliver a robust digital apprenticeship programme at scale, the government needs to partner more heavily with large technology companies. Ireland can build a competitive advantage in this area versus other European countries due to the large number of global technology companies running major operations in Ireland, many of which have their headquarters Dublin’s inner city. The UK has been proactive in this space, partnering with companies like Google and Facebook to offer industry-designed digital apprenticeship programmes through initiatives like the “Tech Partners” scheme. Partnering with big tech companies has the additional benefit of branding. Having the Googles, Facebooks, Amazons and Apples of the world lend their significant brand appeal to these schemes would go a long way in enhancing their appeal, particularly to our youth, who suffer from a much higher rate of unemployment at 12%. Furthermore, the UK has implemented a straightforward means of funding through an “Apprenticeship Levy”. This is aimed at companies with a wage bill of over £3m, and is calculated at 0.5% of their total wage bill. Companies can use this money to provide their own apprenticeship programme; if it hasn’t been used by the company within two years, it is moved to a government-directed fund. Tech hub This is not an original idea, nor is it necessarily easy to implement. However, it is an opportunity for which Ireland is particularly well placed as a tech hub with a strong history of innovation. The government should strongly consider an Apprenticeship Levy similar to that in the UK. Partnering with the big technology companies to implement a digital apprenticeship scheme would be game changing for Ireland’s economic prospects. It also offers a second chance at a fulfilling career to those that feel condemned to the fringes of economic life in a fast-changing world. Gary Gannon is the Social Democrats’ Spokesperson on Education Equality and Access. He is a councillor with Dublin City Council and the Social Democrats’ general election candidate for Dublin Central.
  15. In a twist ending straight out of a movie, “The Equalizer 2” shot past “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again’ to steal the box office crown. Going into the weekend, it looked like “Mamma Mia! 2” would easily debut at No. 1. Final numbers won’t come in until Monday, but weekend estimates show Sony’s “The Equalizer” sequel opened above estimates with $35.8 million when it launched in 3,388 locations, while Universal’s highly anticipated follow-up to “Mamma Mia!” debuted with $34.4 million from 3,317 screens. “Equalizer 2,” the first sequel of Denzel Washington’s nearly four-decade long career, launched ahead of its predecessor. 2014’s “The Equalizer” opened with $35 million and went on to generate $192 million worldwide, including $101 million domestically. Antoine Fuqua returned to direct “The Equalizer 2,” which also stars Pedro Pascal, Ashton Sanders, Melissa Leo, and Bill Pullman. Though it got a head start on the original film, reception has been less enthusiastic for the sequel, which currently holds a tepid 50% average on Rotten Tomatoes. Though “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” couldn’t dance its way to the top of the domestic box office, its $34 million opening is still a win. The original “Mamma Mia!” hit theaters a decade ago with $27 million. It became a box office hit, amassing $615 million worldwide on a $52 million budget. Much like the first film, the sequel will likely be a smash overseas, where Swedish pop group ABBA has a huge following. Much of the star-studded cast — including Amanda Seyfried, Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Skarsgard, Colin Firth, Christine Baranski, Julie Walters, and Dominic Cooper — returned for the second film. Lily James made her debut as a the younger version of Meryl Streep’s charming and carefree Donna, while living legend Cher also joined the cast. Ol Parker, the screenwriter behind “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” took over directing duties and penned the script. The final wide release of the weekend, BH Tilt’s “Unfriended: Dark Web,” got off to a scary start. The low-budget horror film debuted way below projections with $3.5 millionfrom 1,546 locations. That might not matter, considering the Blumhouse title carries a $1 million price tag. “Dark Web” is a standalone sequel to 2015’s “Unfriended.” That film became a cash cow, opening with $15 million and going on to earn $64 million from a $41 million budget. “The Grudge” and “Texas Chainsaw 3D” writer Stephen Susco made his directorial debut with “Dark Web,” which features Colin Woodell, Rebecca Rittenhouse, Betty Gabriel, and Andrew Lees. Among holdovers, “Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation” nabbed third place during its second outing. Sony’s animated sequel picked up another $23 million from 4,267 locations, bringing its domestic tally to $91 million. In fourth, Marvel’s “Ant-Man and the Wasp” pocketed $16 million from 3,778 screens in its third frame. In total, the Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lily-led superhero blockbuster has made $165 million. Disney-Pixar’s “Incredibles 2” rounded out the top five with $11.3 million. In six weeks, the animated sequel has earned a massive $557 million in North America. Meanwhile, Dwayne Johnson’s “Skyscraper” continues to struggle in North America. Universal’s action adventure dropped 56% in its sophomore weekend, collecting $11 million in 3,822 locations. The studio is hoping for massive returns internationally, where it opens this weekend in China. At the specialty box office, Lionsgate’s “Blindspotting” bowed with $332,500 when it opened in 14 theaters. That’s a solid per-screen-average of $23,750. Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal co-wrote and star in “Blindspotting, which debuted to raves at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Bleecker Street’s “McQueen,” a documentary chronicling the life of iconic fashion designer Alexander McQueen, landed the top theater average of the weekend with $24,232. It scored $96,928 when it opened in four theaters. Another new offering, Amazon Studios’ “Generation Wealth,” bowed on four screens with $33,602 for a per-theater-average of $8,401. A24’s “Eighth Grade” continued to receive high marks in its second frame. Bo Burnham’s directorial debut continued its rollout to 32 locations, where it earned $794,000 — averaging $24,072 per screen. Elsewhere, documentaries have continued their hot streak. Neon’s “Three Identical Strangers” brought in another $1.4 million. In four weeks, the acclaimed doc has earned $4.3 million. Focus Features’ “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” has now surpassed $18.4 million, including $1.3 million this weekend. Magnolia and Participant’s “RBG” has crossed $13 million, picking up $168,000 in its 12th frame, while Roadside Attraction’s “Whitney” made $118,470, taking its total to $2.8 million. Annapurna’s “Sorry to Bother You” cracked the top 10 domestically with $2.8 million when it expanded to 1,050 locations. In total, Boots Riley’s dark comedy has collected $10.3 million. Other holdovers include Amazon Studios’ “Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot” ($265,360 from 62 screens) and Bleecker Street’s “Leave No Trace” ($891,545 from 361 locations).