Connect with us
Advertisement

Sol’s Family of Twelve

Benson C Saili
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER…

“Sumerian knowledge of the origin and makeup of our Solar System included a host of other aspects that modern science has been rediscovering in recent times.”

These pointed words were said by the great Sumerologist Zechariah Sitchin.

They ring very true indeed.

The game, folks, is “Catch-Up”. Most of the present-day “discoveries”, particularly in the field of planetary science, are little more than affirmations of what the ancients – the Sumerians in particular – already knew  and had documented in one form or the other. It is not my wish to deluge you with celestial facts Sumerians had already garnered 6,000 years ago that we either got acquainted with in the last century or so or are just beginning to grasp now. A few examples will suffice nonetheless.  

Let me first take you back to 1983, when the “discovery” of Nibiru, or Planet X, was announced by NASA. Though the announcement was hurriedly but naively withdrawn the following day (because the real, behind-the-scenes rulers of this world were wroth), some mavericks among the ranks of NASA staff continued to trumpet the discovery anyway – through tactical leaks and confided tips. The most unguarded of these was Dr Robert Harington of the United States Naval Observatory, who was in charge of the official US government search for Planet X and who consequently paid with his life.   

Harrington spoke about the planet as a matter of fact, not as a mere hypothesis or supposition. He told, among other things we will hark back to in due course, that Planet X was at the very least four to five  times the size or mass of Earth and at most about the size of Neptune. What did the Sumerians know and say about Nibiru?   

Now, astronomers and planetologists tell us that of the Solar System’s “9” planets, only Mars, Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn were known to the ancients because these five  can be seen with the unaided eye. Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto were unknown, we’re told, till they were discovered in 1781, 1846, and 1930 respectively. We have also been given to understand that it was not until circa AD 1540 that Nicholas Copernicus discovered it was the Earth that revolved around the Sun and not   the other way round.

Well, I beg to differ folks: the Sumerians very much knew, 6,000 years ago, that that the Sun, known as Sol in astronomy, was the centre of the Solar System and that the Earth and its fellow planets drifted around it.  They also were very much aware of the existence of all the members of the Solar System including one more – Nibiru, the planet of the Old Testament gods.

As we have already pointed out, the ancients in fact had a name for each of the 12 eminent members of the Solar System from the point of view of our planet.  The Sun was Apsu; Mercury was Mummu; Venus was Lahamu; Earth was Ki; the moon was Kingu; Mars was Lahmu; Jupiter was Kishar; Saturn was Anshar; Uranus was Anu; Neptune was Ea; Pluto was Gaga; and the 10th planet but the 12th major celestial member of the Solar System was called Nibiru in Sumerian times and Marduk in Babylonian times.  These guys were familiar with the entire Solar System folks, not just six planets plus the Sun and moon as modern astronomers would have us believe.   

THEY KNEW FAR MUCH MORE

Take a peek at the picture accompanying this article. What you are looking at is a Sumerian cylinder seal that is at least 4,500 years old according to modern scientific dating techniques.  When we move from left to right, we see that between the first and second human figures is the Sumerians’ impression of the Solar System as they knew it. The largest object, the one in the centre, is the Sun and dotted around it are the planets. Now, if you count the other celestial bodies, you will find that they are 11, that is, the 9 planets we are familiar with plus 2 others. Of the latter two, the one is the moon. And the other? The planet Nibiru, which, ideally, is  the 10th planet but is designated 12th in the Sumerian cosmogony, in which the  Sun and moon were also included by virtue of the  significance of  the number 12 in cosmic numerology.  

Where in the depiction then is Nibiru? The depiction is not exactly according to scale, but you can see that the planets differ in size anyway. One of the smallest, the one in the upper right-hand corner, is the moon and obviously the planet next to it is Earth. Another small celestial body is the planet at the base of the sketch; this must be Pluto. The two biggest planets to the left of Pluto must be Jupiter above and Saturn below, whereas the two planets to the right of Pluto must be Uranus and Neptune in that order. Of the two planets above Neptune, the smaller one is Mercury, whereas the bigger one is Venus (it is at this place, where Mercury and Venus are, that the depiction starts and proceeds anti-clockwise).  We’re now left with only two planets. The one to the left of Earth obviously is Mars. The remaining planet, the one between Jupiter and Mars (top left-hand corner) is … Nibiru! Indeed, it is larger than every other planet except Jupiter and Saturn.

The Sumerian sketch reveals very interesting, if not awe-inspiring, titbits about their knowledge of the Solar System.

Nibiru is placed between Jupiter and Mars. Why? Because that is the position at which Nibiru is seen from Earth when it appears in our region of the Solar System once in 3,600 years. Nibiru means “Planet of the Crossing”. It was so named because when it approaches from deep in space, its path (an elongated one, like that of a comet) crosses the orbits of the outer planets – Pluto, Neptune, Uranus, Saturn, and Jupiter in that order.  To judge from its size, Nibiru is a huge planet. This accords very well with what NASA astronomers have been saying about Planet X all along – that it is more or less “Neptune-sized”.       

Pluto appears between Saturn and Uranus,  when we have known it to be the small, tail-end planet (actually reclassified as a dwarf planet since 2006)  after Neptune. Why? Well, listen to this: since Pluto’s “discovery” in 1930, astronomers have always suspected that it is not a natural planet; it must have been a moon of one of the other nearby planets,   most likely Neptune. Then for reasons still not understood, “it got torn away from its attachment to Neptune and attained its independent orbit around the Sun”. Now, what do Sumerian cosmological texts say? They say that Pluto was originally a moon  of Saturn that was shunted out of its orbital path by an incoming Nibiru and therefore ended up in a new, unstable orbit that sometimes takes it between Uranus and Neptune though its permanent home is south of Neptune! There is more. When the ancients depicted Pluto pictographically,  they portrayed it as a man with two faces,  each looking in the opposite direction. In other words, they were trying to demonstrate that Pluto sometimes faced Neptune and at other times faced Uranus – exactly as it does in its highly erratic orbit! The ancients  knew better than we do folks and that was 6,000 years ago!

OF THE MOON, SUN, AND ZODIAC

On further examination of the cylinder seal, we note that the moon is shown as a planet in its own right (all other planets save for Mercury and Venus – the two small moons of Mars are artificial – have their own moons but are not shown in the sketch). Is it simply masquerading or there’s a ring of legitimacy to its figuring? Again astronomers have been mystified by the size of the moon relative to Earth. Moons are by far much smaller than the planets they revolve around (that is the case with all other planets)  but our moon  is one-quarter the size of Earth, a size which in astronomical terms is uncharacteristically  gigantic.  As a result, astronomers have theorised that the moon was not always  a companion  of Earth; it was part of another huge planet and nature was about to “promote it” as an independent planet with its own orbit when some mysterious celestial body impacted it and threw it in  a new orbit around the Earth.

Exactly, say the Sumerians. In their rather detailed wealth of clay tablets, the Sumerians demonstrate that our moon, which they called Kingu, was originally the largest of a total of 11 moons of a huge planet called Tiamat that was located between Mars and Jupiter – where the asteroids roam today. Then just as Kingu was about to become  its own planet (as theoretically some moons eventually do), Tiamat was rammed  into by Nibiru. The one part of Tiamat was reduced to a bracelet of floating rock debris that are today’s asteroids and the larger, basically intact part was shunted into a new orbit to become our Earth. Earth dragged Kingu along with it, our today’s moon. Once again, the Sumerians knew so much more  than astronomers of our day.

The Sun is depicted as a disc with triangular rays extending from its round surface. But that is not the way we see the sun at sunset or at dawn with the naked eye: it is a perfect, smooth  globe. Well, how about this quote from one of Zechariah Sitchin’s books: “In 1980, astronomers of the High Altitude Observatory of the University of Colorado took pictures of the Sun with a special camera during an eclipse observed in India. The pictures revealed that because of magnetic influences, the Sun’s corona gives it the appearance of a disc with triangular rays extending from its surface.”  Isn’t that exactly what the Sumerians suggested 6,000 years ago on the very cylinder seal we are reviewing?

Paging through the history books, one is constantly reminded that it was the Greek astronomer Hipparchus who divided the star systems into the 12 signs of the Zodiac in the 3rd century BC. That is very far from the truth. The Sumerians knew about the Zodiac 4,000 years before Hipparchus was born. And they used the same names and depictions we continue  to use today. The Sumerian  names for the Zodiacal signs were: GUANA (Taurus); MASHTABBA (Gemini); DUB (Cancer); URGULA (Leo); ABSIN (Virgo); ZIBAANN (Libra); GIRTAB (Scorpio); PABIL (Sagittarius);  SUHURMASH (Capricorn); GU (Aquarius); SIMMAR (Pieces); and KUMAL (Aries). Hipparchus must have researched from the Sumerian tablets without admitting he did.  

If our modern scientists were to put objectivity before vanity and turn Sumerian records into companion text book material, they would learn a great deal more about the cosmos than they presently do. But obviously, their conceit would never allow them  this concession to the fact that compared to the Sumerian scribes of 6,000 years ago,  the PhD-flaunting planetary scientists of the 21st century are minnows.

THE GREAT YEAR

Another thing the Sumerians knew which they would not have known by their own experience is a phenomenon called Precession of the Equinoxes. This is what it means: when the Earth completes one orbit around the Sun in a year, it does not return to the same exact spot where it used to be: it is always out by a fraction of a degree because at the same time as the Earth is going round the Sun, the Sun is also going round the centre of the Milky Way Galaxy, or sort of,  and carrying the Earth with it. As a result, there will always be different star patterns seen in the sky from one age to another – different Zodiacal signs.  

There are 12 Zodiacal signs. Each sign mathematically occupies 30 degrees of the celestial circle, which totals 360 degrees. It takes 72 years for Earth to pass through 1 degree of the Zodiac and 2160 years (72 x 30) to move from the house of Aries to the house of Pieces, for instance. And to complete its cycle through all the 12 houses of the Zodiac, Earth takes 25,920 years (2160 x 12). It is at the end of these 25,920 years (also called “The Great Year”) that the Earth will return to the same exact spot it set out from and begin the process all over again.   The Earth’s 25,920-year journey through all the constellations of the Zodiac is called the Precession of the Equinoxes.  

The Sumerians, certainly, would not have known about the  phenomenon of Precession; only people capable of living extraordinarily long lives could have witnessed its full cycle.  And these were the Anunnaki from Nibiru, whose life spans were in hundreds of thousands of years since for them a year on Earth was nothing when they came from a planet where one year amounted to 3,600 Earth years. It is the Anunnaki, it goes without saying, who enlightened the Sumerians about Precession.    

“Our gods taught us,” they repeatedly assert in their records, inscribed on zillions of clay tablets.  By “gods”, they referred to the Anunnaki, the extraterrestrial beings from Nibiru, or the Orion and Sirius star systems to be exact as Nibiru was simply a significant colony of theirs,  who came to Earth about 450,000 years ago  and thousands of years later created mankind – after their own image and likeness as the Bible  aptly puts it.

Planetary Science has yet to figure out  which of the Sun’s familiar 9 planets were formed first. The ultra-smart rocket scientists at NASA can’t even venture a hypothesis. My recommendation: consult the Sumerians. The Sumerians say the first planet to be spewed forth by the Sun (APSU, or “One Who Exists From The Beginning”, as they called it)  was TIAMAT  (meaning “Maiden of Life) – the original Earth. Mercury, which they called MUMMU (“One Who Was Born”) was second.   Then followed three planetary pairs – Venus and Mars; Jupiter and Saturn; and Uranus and Neptune in that order. Pluto was originally a moon of Saturn – a point we can’t emphasise enough.   

One day, planetary scientists will confirm the order in which the planets were formed as per  the Sumerian brief and will call this a “discovery”. This Earth, my Brother…  

NEXT WEEK: EVIDENCE THAT EARTH IS NOT AN ORIGINAL PLANET

Continue Reading

Columns

Parricide at Herod’s Court

25th January 2021
SAILI

A wife, uncle, and two in-laws fall at the hands of Judah’s despot

The pre-eminent Jewish chronicler, Flavius Josephus, said of Herod the Great that he was “blessed with every gift of looks, body, and mind” but he was a “slave to his passions”. This was in the context of a gloating bloodlust.

His sword knew no sacred cows: neither his own kids, wives, in-laws, next of kin, nor bosom friends were immune from it. He is on record as pestering Caesar Augustus with a barrage of letters seeking permission to execute his own flesh and blood, prompting the Roman emperor to at one time quip that, “It is better to be Herod’s pig than his son”, which was apt: as a “Jew”, Herod did not eat pork and therefore in the event that he kept any pigs, they would never have to be killed.

You are by now well-apprised of the death of Hyrcanus II by the same Herod, General Atiku, in 30 BC. Hyrcanus, a Hasmonean ruler of Judah twice over, was actually the grandfather of Mariamne I, Herod’s most beloved wife and his second of up to 10 wives. It was Mariamne’s own mother Salome, who dreading Herod’s pathological savagery, pitched Mariamne to Herod in the hope that that would insure her family from Herod’s murderous caprices.

Now, Mariamne, General, was as much a stunning beauty as her younger brother Aristobulus III was breathtakingly good-looking. Having tied the knot with Herod in 37 BC, Mariamne had prevailed over her husband to install Aristobulus as High Priest. The post had fallen vacant on the death of Antigonus in 37 BC and Herod had appointed one Ananel, who had no ties whatsoever to the Hasmoneans, the first such in more than a century, in his place. Unable to resist the spirited entreaties of his beloved wife, who had also lobbied Queen Cleopatra of Egypt and her beau Mark Anthony, Herod gave in and replaced Ananel with Aristobulus, who was only 16 years old, in 36 BC.

Because of his enormous charisma and overall affability, Aristobulus was a hit with the masses despite his tender age and Herod was envious of the young man’s rock star-like popularity. To make doubly sure the young man did not harbour a seditious ace up his sleeve, the morbidly paranoid Herod had his spooks watch on both Aristobulus and his mother round the clock. Sensing imminent danger, Aristobulus contacted Cleopatra, asking for a pre-emptive safe passage to Egypt and there enjoy absolute freedom. When Herod got wind of this, he decided to get rid of Aristobulus as he did not wish him to be a perennial thorn in his flesh from the utter safety of self-imposed exile.

The opportunity came at a banquet in Jericho which was organised by Aristobulus’ mother. There, Herod had one of his henchmen cause Aristobulus to drown during a dusk time horseplay in a swimming pool. Of course Herod would forever maintain the drowning was accidental when everybody knew it was in truth a tactical elimination. Poor Aristobulus was only 17 years old having been born in 56 BC. He was the last Hasmonean High Priest and was replaced by the previously deposed Ananel, who was to remain in that position till 29 BC.

HEROD ACQUITTED OVER THE ARISTOBULUS DEATH

It need not be over-emphasised, General, that Mariamne and her mother Alexandra did not take Herod’s line over the all too untimely demise of Aristobulus lying down. If he had reckoned that with the death of Aristobulus he had gotten rid of potentially the most potent threat to his omnipotence, he was totally mistaken. Herod had actually simply fanned the flames of intrigue against him, for mother and daughter confronted him and accused him of murdering their boy in cold blood.

Nor did the two Iron Ladies end matters there: Alexandra wrote a lachrymal letter to Cleopatra to get her to bring her influence to bear on Mark Anthony so that Herod paid dearly and likewise for his nefarious act. Anthony, who at the time was the Roman colossus in charge of the whole of the Middle East, was persuaded and during a visit to Laodicea (in modern-day Turkey, though some accounts say it was Rhodes in Cyprus), he commanded Herod to report to him forthwith and exculpate himself over the affair.

Although Herod put a brave face on the matter, General, he was rather unsure of his eventual fate after the trial. He also suspected rightly or wrongly that Anthony had a thing for the voluptuously beautiful Mariamne and the last thing Herod wanted was for any other man to bed his beloved Mariamne even in death. So before he set off for Laodicea, Herod instructed his uncle Joseph, who was married to his sister Salome, to make sure that in the event that Anthony sentenced him to death, he should immediately put her to the sword. He also detailed a certain Sohemus, a most trusted aide, to stand sentry over the entire womenfolk at the palace.

Herod, however, had the nine lives of a cat, General. Using his immense rhetorical skills and the time-honoured palm greasing, he won himself an acquittal. Meanwhile, the Judean rumourville was abuzz with chatter that Herod had been summarily executed by Anthony, as a result of which people became spendthrifts of their tongues.

Both Joseph and Sohemus disclosed to Mariamne the instructions Herod had left them with in relation to her fate once he was no more. Mariamne was both livid and distraught that her husband regarded her as so easily expendable when outwardly he cherished her beyond words. To her mind, his arrangements with Joseph had nothing to do with love but sprang from sheer monstrosity. She probably thanked God that he was dead, but the fact of the matter was that he was not and when he at long last turned up, she did not want to have anything to do with him, including the conjugation which he so eagerly pined for after such an extended absence.

HEROD KILLS HIS WIFE AND HIS UNCLE

Now, if Herod had a kind of Svengali, General, it was his youngest sister Salome. Salome (65 BC-10 AD) was the most powerful woman at Herod’s court. A sly, scheming, and manipulating vixen, she arguably more than any other living being had the most sway in a negative sense on her brother, who took practically whatever she said as gospel truth.

Let us nevertheless, General, take stock of the fact that the bulk of what we learn about Salome comes from Flavius Josephus, who himself relied on the writings of Herod’s court historian Nicolaus of Damascus. For one reason or the other, Nicolaus did not see eye to eye with Salome and it is therefore possible that much of what Nicolaus relates of her is embellished to smear her before the court of history.
Upon his return, Herod was told of the rumours of his death and so was surprised to find Mariamne alive when Joseph and Sohemus should in the circumstances have had her killed if indeed they were loyal to him. In fact, Joseph had even put Mariamne and Alexandra into the safe custody of Roman legions stationed in Judea just in case Jewish malcontents who abhorred Herod turned their wrath on them.

But there was more. Salome reported to Herod that Mariamne, who she hated like the plague, had had sexual relations with both Joseph and Sohemus, this being Mariamne’s reward to them for dishing out to her the dirt on Herod, and that she had on several occasions before attempted to poison him. Now, no one would hump Herod’s most beloved wife and get away scotfree. It is therefore small wonder that Herod straightaway ordered the execution of Joseph and Sohemus. Joseph was 61 years old at the time of his death in 34 BC, having been born in 95 BC. In the case of Mariamne herself though, he had her subjected to a formal court trial not on charges of adultery but of attempted regicide.

Herod had hoped that the court would acquit her, whereupon he would make bygones be bygones so great was his love for the woman, but sadly for him, General, she was found guilty and sentenced to death. Even then, Herod tactfully dilly-dallied on signing the writ of execution and simply had his wife detained at a fortress for some time until Salome prevailed over him to execute her at long last. Writes Josephus: “Thus, with the death of the noble and lovely Mariamne ended the glorious history of the Hasmonean High Priest Mattathias and his descendants.”

For a long time to come though, General, Herod was haunted by the death of his wife to the point of even sometimes coming across as if he had lost his mind. “When Herod realised what this meant (the death sentence passed on Mariamne), he tried in vain to have the verdict changed, but Salome did not rest until the death penalty was carried out,” Josephus informs us. “Herod was heartbroken; nothing could comfort him for the loss of his lovely wife.

For seven years he refused to have her body buried, and held it, embalmed, in his palace. Afterwards, he became so melancholy and despondent, nothing interested him or could arouse any enthusiasm in him for living … He was so far conquered by his passion, that he would order his servants to call for Mariamne, as if she were still alive, and could still hear them … He tried hard to forget his trouble by going hunting and banqueting, but nothing helped. Herod built new cities and erected temples and palaces. He also named a tower in honour of Mariamne.”

HEROD SLAYS SISTER’S EX-HUBBY

Mariamne’s death was not the only one which Herod perpetrated through the instrumentality of Salome. There were actually several and included those of her own husband Costobarus. Salome was married four times, to her uncle Joseph (45 BC); Costobarus (34 BC); Sylleus (circa 27 BC); and Alexas (20 BC).

Like the Herod clan, Costobarus was of Idumean stock. It was Costobarus Herod had made governor of Idumea and Gaza and upon Joseph’s death had him tie the knot with Salome, with the couple eventually siring two children, Berenice and Antipater III. Costobarus, though, soon began to harbour monarchical ambitions of his own and wrote to Cleopatra beseeching her to persuade Mark Anthony to make Idumea independent of Herod and install him (Costobarus) as Rome’s client King of the territory.

Of course upon learning of this, Herod was not amused. It was Salome who pleaded with him not to put her husband to the sword. Next time, however, a dumped Costobarus was not so lucky. Seven years after their marriage, Salome and Costobarus parted ways and a possibly hurt Salome decided to exact vengeance. She informed her brother that he had been harbouring two fugitives from Herodian justice for a full 12 years at his own farm.

The two were simply known as the Sons of Baba. Baba ben Babuta, their father and clan patriarch, was related to the Hasmonean ruler Antigonus, who Herod had replaced and killed in 37 BC with the help of Roman legions. Baba and his sons had resisted Herod at the time, with his sons henceforth persisted in insurrectionist activity against Herod. Baba himself had been captured and blinded by Herod but spared anyway as he no longer posed any threat. Writes Josephus: “Now the Sons of Babas were of great dignity, and had power among the multitude, and were faithful to Antigonus, and were always raising calumnies against Herod, and encouraged the people to preserve the government to that royal family (the Hasmoneans) which held it by inheritance.”

Costobarus had provided the Sons of Baba an indefinite lair “supposing that their preservation might be of great advantage to him in the changes of government afterward”. Following the Salome tip, Herod had Costobarus and the Sons of Baba summarily executed “so that none was left alive of the family of Hyrcanus (the Hasmonean), and the kingdom was wholly in Herod’s power, there being no one of high rank to stand in the way of his unlawful acts” per Josephus.

NEXT WEEK: HEROD’S WRATH ON HIS OWN SONS

Continue Reading

Columns

WHAT’S UP WITH WHATSAPP?

25th January 2021

In early January, WhatsApp, part of Facebook Inc., began alerting its 2 billion users to an update of its privacy policy which, should they want to keep using the popular messaging app, they have to accept. Much of the policy, which is about commercialising WhatsApp, states ‘WhatsApp receives information from, and shares information with, the other Facebook Companies.

We may use the information we receive from them, and they may use the information we share with them, to help operate and market services’. WhatsApp is now reserving the right to share data it collects about you with the broader Facebook network, which includes Instagram, regardless of whether you have accounts or profiles there, claiming it needs it to help operate and improve its offerings. More broadly, almost all of the $21.5 billion in revenues which Facebook generated in the third quarter of 2020 came from advertising and there is currently none in WhatsApp.

The company now wants to be able to serve more targeted ads to people on Facebook and Instagram by also garnering their usage habits on WhatsApp and enabling businesses take payments via WhatsApp for items that were selected on other Facebook sites. For long-time users, the option to share data with Facebook was made available in 2016, but it was just that: optional and temporary. It was now to become mandatory for everybody from Feb. 8 but owing to a massive backlash, the company has delayed that to May 15 to try and persuade users to sign up to the new Ts and Cs.

WhatsApp on Monday attempted to address the uproar over privacy concerns with a post on its website, explaining that the update was designed to aid businesses on its platform, as it reiterated in Friday’s post.

“We want to be clear that the policy update does not affect the privacy of your messages with friends or family in any way. Instead, this update includes changes related to messaging a business on WhatsApp, which is optional, and provides further transparency about how we collect and use data.”

These new terms have caused an outcry among technology experts, privacy advocates, billionaire entrepreneurs and government organisations and triggered a wave of defections to rival services. Elon Musk has urged his followers to switch to Signal and the governments of Turkey and India have threatened to block the app if it insists on proceeding.

‘WhatsApp’s updated privacy policy verges on user surveillance and threatens India’s security’, a petition filed in an Indian court said on Thursday, presenting another legal challenge for the Facebook Inc. -owned messenger. “It virtually gives a 360-degree profile into a person’s online activity,” lawyer Chaitanya Rohilla told the Delhi High Court. Many Indian users have began installing rival apps like Signal and Telegram, pushing WhatsApp to begin a costly advertising campaign to calm its 400 million customer-base, the largest of any country. The change has also met with a challenge in Turkey with the country’s Competition Board this week launching an investigation into the messaging service and its parent company.

Elsewhere too, in spite of Whatsapp protestations, millions of its users are already migrating to alternative platforms. Signal saw 7.5 million downloads last week,  a 4,200% spike since the previous week and large swaths of users also jumped to Telegram, as the platform gained 9 million new users last week, up 91% from the previous week. Both apps are now topping Google and Apple’s app stores,

Facebook could possibly learn a lesson from history here. Every past empire – Aztec, Mayan, Greco-Roman, Sumerian, Mongol, Chinese, Ottoman and more recently British, all saw their star rise, their glory swell, their boundaries grow and yet each eventually fell, often the instigators of their own downfall.

They expanded too far too fast and could not control what they had initially conquered. And now it looks like the same fate might await this large tech giant. Parent company Facebook has also come under fire recently for overt and covert censorship policies with questions raised as to partisanship and curtailment of freedom of speech. Thus one would have to question the wisdom of the timing of this new Whatsapp privacy policy, if nothing else.

To understand its influence and control one only has to check out the un-smart sector of the mobile phone industry which for some time has offered handsets a small step up from the basic starter sets with Facebook and Whatsapp as default screen app settings. These limited internet access options have allowed millions of users to connect with affordable data bundle packages.

And for Google smartphone subscribers, the search engine automatically connects its base to Whatsapp and Facebook – one big, happy family. Facebook is also seamlessly linked to Paypal offering contact-less charges for its boosted post advertising, a somewhat sinister partnership which accesses their Paypal log-in and authorisation details without the need to inform the payee – the transaction is simply deducted automatically from the registered credit card. This is Big Brother with a blue logo.

The bottom line here is that if you have any privacy issues at all – and you probably should – you might as well make the switch now before you are forced to sign away your rights in May. And the plus part is that both Signal and Telegram have the technological edge over Whatsapp anyway, the latter even being accessible on multiple platforms simultaneously, not just on your phone.
Empires take time to crumble and Facebook is not in imminent danger but information is a weapon that can be used in any war, even a virtual conflict, so don’t give this giant any more ammunition than it already has.

Continue Reading

Columns

The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020
JEFF---Batswana-smoke-unit

Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.

The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.

Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.

At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.

Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.

Continue Reading
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!