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Trans-Atlantic

Stuart White

The World in Black-N-White

It was announced by the UK government this week that transgender people will be able to choose their sex more easily as part of equalities reforms.

The changes, which will go out for consultation later this year, will make it easier for transgender people to choose their sex legally by removing the requirement for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria and basically get rid of all the red tape which gets in the way of this group of people’s right to self-determination. It’s a step forward for a minority group which has for so long been misunderstood, laughed at and ridiculed. What has driven thousands to depression, feelings of alienation, confusion and even suicide is slowly being unraveled and managed – with compassion and care.

At the same time 4000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean the opposite trans-message story is unfolding.  Stephen Colbot host of Tonight’s late show said “I began my day today as I often begin my days, by checking Donald Trump’s twitter feed, to see how far the crazy has spread, and today I really think he’s off his meds:  Because today he went from crazy to cruel.” The tweet he is referring to which caught everyone off guard and many up in arms, (but equally, many who may not be up in arms) was this:

After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow…… transgender service members

Thus in one brief Tweeted announcement he has basically committed to reversing the policy begun by the Obama administration last year. It all comes out of the blue as this has never been on Trump’s agenda as far as I can remember. In fact during his campaign, Trump tweeted: “Thank you to the LGBT community! I will fight for you while Hillary brings in more people that will threaten our freedoms and beliefs.” I guess he was either unaware of what the ‘T’  stands for or perhaps he has that all-too-common politician’s flaw of saying what people want to hear in order to get elected.

“One can’t help wonder about those 15,000 trans troops who volunteered to serve their country who were “minding their own business, protecting our freedoms, when they all got fired, by Tweet – by a rich guy who, during Vietnam, sidestepped the draft with four deferments and a medical disqualification for bone spurs in his foot,” the late-night host reminded. Here is my Transgender for Dummies summary to get you up to speed. They come from all walks of life. They are dads (Bruce Jenner) and moms (Kal Ross) , brothers (Jazz Jennings) and sisters (Chaz Bono) , sons and daughters. They are your co-workers, and your neighbours. There are 7-year-old children and 70-year-old grandparents – it is a diverse community, representing all racial and ethnic backgrounds, as well as faith backgrounds.

The word “transgender” – or trans – is an umbrella term for people whose gender identity is different from the sex assigned to them at birth. Although the word “transgender” and our modern definition of it only came into use in the late 20th century, people who would fit under this definition have existed in every culture throughout recorded history. Despite the increased visibility of transgender celebrities like actress Laverne Cox (Orange is the new black) or writer Janet Mock (Marie Claire), many people still don’t personally know anyone who is transgender – but the number who do is growing rapidly.

According to a 2016 survey, 35 percent of likely voters in the United States “know or work with someone who is transgender.” That's more than double the 17 percent who answered yes when asked the same question in 2014.  Other research suggests that there are at least 700,000 transgender people in the United States, about 3 percent of the total population and about 3.5 percent of the LGBTQ community; but these estimates are likely conservative because of the limited amount of studies that have attempted to measure the transgender population.


Denmark, Argentina, Malta even Iran are just some of the countries which have made progress accepting this reality and now the UK is coming along too. Trump’s tweet has essentially called for a step backward in time that goes counter to all the slow but necessary progress the United States and many countries in the western world has made in recent years in its treatment of transgender people.

This is the danger with Trump – he is so divisive…Mexicans, Muslims and now those who are Transgender. He has more cognitive distortions than  I can count but the one that sticks out is polarized thinking. Watch him talk of anyone and they are either good or bad, on his side or the other – either black or white. His thinking is irrational and extreme, hurtful and intolerant.

Michel Gerson summed this creature up in the Washington Post earlier this year when he said “Trump seems to take pleasure in throwing acid into the face of convention. In his calls to lock up his electoral opponent; in his wink and a nod toward violence at his rallies; in his groundless accusations of being spied upon by his predecessor; in his Twitter taunting of Congressional leaders; in his bold and obvious lies; in his dehumanization of migrants and refugees. Grace, dignity, empathy, integrity and kindness are stripped away, leaving the emperor naked but incapable of shame. Trump is the spendthrift of our public character, squandering an inheritance he does not understand or value.

There was a time when transgender people were considered freaks and perhaps this is Trump’s reasoning when he considers the concept of wanting to change a body  you were born in that doesn’t feel right or is authentic to who you are?  This is not a crime or a shame – the shame lies with him and in my book, he is the freak. The word “transgender” – or trans – is an umbrella term for people whose gender identity is different from the sex assigned to them at birth. Although the word “transgender” and our modern definition of it only came into use in the late 20th century, people who would fit under this definition have existed in every culture throughout recorded history.

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Export Processing Zones: How to Get SEZA to Sizzle

23rd September 2020
Export Processing Zone (EPZ) factory in Kenya

In 2005, the Business & Economic Advisory Council (BEAC) pitched the idea of the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to the Mogae Administration.

It took five years before the SEZ policy was formulated, another five years before the relevant law was enacted, and a full three years before the Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) became operational.

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Egypt Bagged Again

23rd September 2020
Samson

… courtesy of infiltration stratagem by Jehovah-Enlil’s clan

With the passing of Joshua’s generation, General Atiku, the promised peace and prosperity of a land flowing with milk and honey disappeared, giving way to chaos and confusion.

Maybe Joshua himself was to blame for this shambolic state of affairs. He had failed to mentor a successor in the manner Moses had mentored him. He had left the nation without a central government or a human head of state but as a confederacy of twelve independent tribes without any unifying force except their Anunnaki gods.

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‘RO, ‘RO ‘RO YOUR ‘BOT

23rd September 2020

If I say the word ‘robot’ to you,  I can guess what would immediately spring to mind –  a cute little Android or animal-like creature with human or pet animal characteristics and a ‘heart’, that is to say to say a battery, of gold, the sort we’ve all seen in various movies and  tv shows.  Think R2D2 or 3CPO in Star Wars, Wall-E in the movie of the same name,  Sonny in I Robot, loveable rogue Bender in Futurama,  Johnny 5 in Short Circuit…

Of course there are the evil ones too, the sort that want to rise up and eliminate us  inferior humans – Roy Batty in Blade Runner, Schwarzenegger’s T-800 in The Terminator,  Box in Logan’s Run,  Police robots in Elysium and  Otomo in Robocop.

And that’s to name but a few.  As a general rule of thumb, the closer the robot is to human form, the more dangerous it is and of course the ultimate threat in any Sci-Fi movie is that the robots will turn the tables and become the masters, not the mechanical slaves.  And whilst we are in reality a long way from robotic domination, there are an increasing number of examples of  robotics in the workplace.

ROBOT BLOODHOUNDS Sometimes by the time that one of us smells something the damage has already begun – the smell of burning rubber or even worse, the smell of deadly gas. Thank goodness for a robot capable of quickly detecting and analyzing a smell from our very own footprint.

A*Library Bot The A*Star (Singapore) developed library bot which when books are equipped with RFID location chips, can scan shelves quickly seeking out-of-place titles.  It manoeuvres with ease around corners, enhances the sorting and searching of books, and can self-navigate the library facility during non-open hours.

DRUG-COMPOUNDING ROBOT Automated medicine distribution system, connected to the hospital prescription system. It’s goal? To manipulate a large variety of objects (i.e.: drug vials, syringes, and IV bags) normally used in the manual process of drugs compounding to facilitate stronger standardisation, create higher levels of patient safety, and lower the risk of hospital staff exposed to toxic substances.

AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY ROBOTS Applications include screw-driving, assembling, painting, trimming/cutting, pouring hazardous substances, labelling, welding, handling, quality control applications as well as tasks that require extreme precision,

AGRICULTURAL ROBOTS Ecrobotix, a Swiss technology firm has a solar-controlled ‘bot that not only can identify weeds but thereafter can treat them. Naio Technologies based in southwestern France has developed a robot with the ability to weed, hoe, and assist during harvesting. Energid Technologies has developed a citrus picking system that retrieves one piece of fruit every 2-3 seconds and Spain-based Agrobot has taken the treachery out of strawberry picking. Meanwhile, Blue River Technology has developed the LettuceBot2 that attaches itself to a tractor to thin out lettuce fields as well as prevent herbicide-resistant weeds. And that’s only scratching the finely-tilled soil.

INDUSTRIAL FLOOR SCRUBBERS The Global Automatic Floor Scrubber Machine boasts a 1.6HP motor that offers 113″ water lift, 180 RPM and a coverage rate of 17,000 sq. ft. per hour

These examples all come from the aptly-named site www.willrobotstakemyjob.com    because while these functions are labour-saving and ripe for automation, the increasing use of artificial intelligence in the workplace will undoubtedly lead to increasing reliance on machines and a resulting swathe of human redundancies in a broad spectrum of industries and services.

This process has been greatly boosted by the global pandemic due to a combination of a workforce on furlough, whether by decree or by choice, and the obvious advantages of using virus-free machines – I don’t think computer viruses count!  For example, it was suggested recently that their use might have a beneficial effect in care homes for the elderly, solving short staffing issues and cheering up the old folks with the novelty of having their tea, coffee and medicines delivered by glorified model cars.  It’s a theory, at any rate.

Already, customers at the South-Korean  fast-food chain No Brand Burger can avoid any interaction with a human server during the pandemic.  The chain is using robots to take orders, prepare food and bring meals out to diners.  Customers order and pay via touchscreen, then their request is sent to the kitchen where a cooking machine heats up the buns and patties. When it’s ready, a robot ‘waiter’ brings out their takeout bag.   

‘This is the first time I’ve actually seen such robots, so they are really amazing and fun,’ Shin Hyun Soo, an office worker at No Brand in Seoul for the first time, told the AP. 

Human workers add toppings to the burgers and wrap them up in takeout bags before passing them over to yellow-and-black serving robots, which have been compared to Minions. 

Also in Korea, the Italian restaurant chain Mad for Garlic is using serving robots even for sit-down customers. Using 3D space mapping and other technology, the electronic ‘waiter,’ known as Aglio Kim, navigates between tables with up to five orders.  Mad for Garlic manager Lee Young-ho said kids especially like the robots, which can carry up to 66lbs in their trays.

These catering robots look nothing like their human counterparts – in fact they are nothing more than glorified food trolleys so using our thumb rule from the movies, mankind is safe from imminent takeover but clearly  Korean hospitality sector workers’ jobs are not.

And right there is the dichotomy – replacement by stealth.  Remote-controlled robotic waiters and waitresses don’t need to be paid, they don’t go on strike and they don’t spread disease so it’s a sure bet their army is already on the march.

But there may be more redundancies on the way as well.  Have you noticed how AI designers have an inability to use words of more than one syllable?  So ‘robot’ has become ‘bot’ and ‘android’ simply ‘droid?  Well, guys, if you continue to build machines ultimately smarter than yourselves you ‘rons  may find yourself surplus to requirements too – that’s ‘moron’ to us polysyllabic humans”!

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