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How the  M Flighty have fallen

I must confess that up to a couple of days ago I had never heard of Harry MaGuire.   In fact, when I began this article, having only been introduced to him on news reports I assumed his surname was actually the more common McGuire!

What can I tell you?  I’m not a football fan and don’t follow the sport so even though of course I’ve heard of his team – Manchester United – I was unaware of his existence on the planet, much less that he was the team captain.

That of course has now changed.  The footballer hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons this week, not for his work on the field but the fact that he was arrested at a Greek holiday resort for being involved in a public fracas, punching a local policeman and then attempting to bribe the arresting officers.  He also reportedly asked them ‘Do you know who I am?’  Well, I certainly didn’t!

For any of who not completely au fait with the story, this is a précis

The Manchester United defender was taken into custody along with two friends for being verbally abusive and violent to police officers following a dispute with other British tourists outside a bar in Mykonos in the early hours of last Friday morning.

Police spokesman Petros Vassilakiss claimed that at least two policemen were “thrown down” after one of the men aimed a swing. They are then said to have been punched and kicked, suffering facial injuries as a result. Maguire is alleged to have hit an officer before making an attempt to bribe them.

The three men were eventually detained and taken to the police station, where they were questioned and kept overnight.  In court the following day Maguire was handed a 21-month suspended sentence against which he immediately filed an appeal.

Yannis Paradeisis, a lawyer assisting with the prosecution, told The Associated Press that he was disappointed by Maguire’s behaviour.  Paradeisis added: “The whole thing could have ended with an apology.

In addition to captaining Man U, Maguire, who is the world’s most expensive defender, also plays for England’s national team,  In light of the bad publicity England manager Gareth Southgate withdrew Maguire from the squad for the Nations League matches against Iceland and Denmark next month after the verdict was announced, having initially selected him.

“I have made this decision in the best interests of all parties and with consideration of the impact on our preparations for next week,” Southgate said.

So those are the facts of the case but the public debate ranged far and wide in its wake.  First off many pundits were asking why someone who earns around £160,000 (approx P2.4m) a week – yes, you did read that right! – would choose to holiday in a cheap resort crowded with thousands of low-wage earners on a budget break.

Why indeed?  He could easily afford to hire a private island or even a private yacht where he could party  ‘till he was paralytic and not a soul would see or hear of his exploits.

Secondly,  as the saying goes, ‘With great power comes great responsibility’.  As captain of arguably the planet’s most famous football squad as well as playing for his country, Mr. Maguire is a public figure and perhaps ought to be a role model for young fans of the sport.

So, mindful of his public image and the moral responsibility that goes with it, it wasn’t such a smart move to drink himself half to oblivion in a mass-market tourist resort and then, presumably well under the influence and not in total control of his faculties and physique, to end up in an unseemly brawl,  deck a couple of boys in blue and then try to bribe and bully his way out of the situation?

Back on Planet Earth, let us consider for a moment his 7-figure salary.  I don’t care how good he clearly is at kicking a ball around a field,  no argument you could come up with would justify to me his being able to pocket nearly 2 ½ million pula a week – what on earth do you do with that sort of money?

No wonder its recipients walk around believing they are above laws made for mere mortals which can’t possibly apply to soccer gods and also that their fat bank balances will buy them out of any amount of trouble and save them in any and all situations.

Of course, in criminal terms this whole incident is nothing new, nor would it even have been newsworthy, had it not been for the fame and fortune of the main protagonist..  Young dudes on holiday drinking too much and ending up involved in a boozy brawl .

And whilst bopping a bobby wasn’t the smartest thing to do when the police were called, let’s face it, footballers aren’t picked for their high IQ s so no big surprise there. In fact, when compared to the actions and subsequent fate of another prominent sportsman, that of blade runner Oscar Pistorius, where an innocent victim lost her life,  this is  small beer, okay, quite a lot of small beers and possibly a few bottles of ouzo as well.

The problem is the hero status afforded to soccer players these days – the hype, the high salaries, the aura of glamour, the star status.

Their salaries are in no way commensurate with what they do and their contribution to society.  Playing a sport is a healthy occupation but being paid more than most of the world’s major leaders combined is far from a healthy situation.

It’s enough to make anyone see red.  So there, I do know one thing about Manchester United, after all!

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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

… 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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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    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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