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A Born-Again Planet

Benson C Saili
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER…

We call our planet Earth. Why that is so we  will explain at the appropriate time. It is the name by which ancient Greeks and the Sumerians of 6000 years ago called the planet whose relevance and aptness we wish to address at this juncture.

The ancient Greek name for Earth was GAEA. In what has been termed Greek “mythology”, GAEA is supposed to be the name of the Earth Goddess. It is therefore synonymous with Earth itself. But as we have said time and again, mythology is not simply mythology: all mythology has a basis in fact as we shall demonstrate shortly.

GAEA means the “Cleaved Watery One”.  It was at times rendered as GAIA and shortened as GA or GE. GE is the closest to what the Sumerians called the planet. They called it KI (which came to be pronounced as GE or GI by future civilisations) but this was an abbreviation. The full name was MUL-KI, meaning “a celestial body that has been cleaved apart”.    The term KI thus conveyed the meaning of something cut off (like a fragment), severed (like a stump), or hollowed out (like a valley, canyon, cleavage or ravine).  For example, KILA meant “excavation,” KIMAH meant “tomb,” and KI-IN-DAR meant “crevice or fissure”.  Today, KI is in most languages pronounced as GE. In English, all studies about some aspect of Earth’s physical features start with GE – Geology, Geography, Geometry. In Hebrew, “GAI” (which stems from GE/KI) means “valley”, a hollowed out landscape. What we refer to as Gehenna, the crevice-like narrow ravine south of Jerusalem, is actually Gai-Hinnom, meaning “Valley of Hinnom”.  

According to the ancient Greeks, GAEA came into existence after a chaotic cosmic event. In his famous epic, Theogony (meaning “Divine Genealogy”), Hesiod, the great Greek Poet (c. 750 to 650 BC),  writes thus of this incident: “Verily, at first Chaos came to be, and next the wide-bosomed Gaia—she who created all the immortal ones who hold the peaks of snowy Olympus: Dim Tartarus, wide-pathed in the depths, and Eros, fairest among the divine immortals … From Chaos came forth Erebus and black Nyx; And of Nyx were born Aether and Hemera.”

The “chaos” Hesiod talks about is the Celestial Battle and the tumultuous formation of the Solar System we read of in the Sumerian tablets, in consequence of which Earth arose from the destroyed planet Tiamat. Like the Sumerian chronicles, Hesiod recognizes that GAEA (Tiamat in this case) as the mother of the rest of the planets of our Solar System when he says GAEA “created all the immortal ones”.  Hesiod also lists the formation of three planets in pairs – Tartarus and Eros, Erebus and Nyx, Aether and Hemera, corresponding to what the Enuma Elish says in relation to Venus and Mars, Saturn and Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune.     

Note that at this stage of Hesiod’s   narration, “Heaven” is not yet in existence. It comes later as encapsulated in these following verses: “And Gaia then bore starry Ouranos —equal to herself—to envelop her on every side, to be an everlasting abode place for the gods. Equally split up. Gaia ceased to be Tiamat.” Listen carefully here: Hesiod says after Ouranos comes into being, GAEA is no longer known as Tiamat. That’s exactly what we’re told by the Enuma Elish – that GAEA (Earth) came out of the destruction of Tiamat. “Starry Ouranos” (Heaven) is what Genesis calls the “firmament” but whose literal translation is “Hammered out Bracelet”, that is, the Asteroid Belt. How true! The Asteroid Belt came into being only after Nibiru split Tiamat into two major components – Earth and the Asteroid fragments themselves.

KILLED PLANET THAT LIVED

Until January 1, 1801, when Guiseppe Piazzi “discovered” the first known asteroid called Ceres, astronomers thought the vast expanse between Jupiter and Mars was simply dark void. But 6,000 years ago, the Sumerians wrote in their clay tablets that in that space, there coursed a “watery” planet called Tiamat, which was broken up by an incoming Nibiru into two parts: one whole part which assumed a new orbit – our Earth – and pieces of floating debris which continued to drift in the same place – the Asteroid Belt. The Sumerians referred to the Asteroid Belt as RAKIA, meaning “Hammered-out Bracelet”. In the opening verses of Genesis, the term RAKIA is translated “firmament”. The firmament is alternatively called “Heaven” in these same verses, which is misleading as the word translated “Heaven” is SHAMAIM. SHAMAIM means “where the waters used to be”, that is, the place where planet TIAMAT used to be.  

That there existed a gigantic planet between Mars and Jupiter is not a matter of conjecture. It is scientifically and cosmogonically valid. As far back as 1776 in the modern age, the German astronomer and professor Johann Daniel Titius postulated that mathematical calculations made a planet between Mars and Jupiter warranted. In 1772, his compatriot Johann Elert Bode turned the Titius hypothesis into what became known as Bode’s Law. Bode’s Law holds that there by rights ought to be a planet between Mars and Jupiter. The Sumerians affirm that that indeed was the case: the planet was Tiamat and after its destruction by Nibiru, its remnants are what constitute Earth and the Asteroid Belt.

Now, we did at some stage put the Sumerian term Tiamat (meaning “The mother of all Life”, from ti = Life, ama = Mother, and t = feminine suffix)   in context. Tiamat in Akkadian is  rendered as TAMTU as per another respected Earth chronicler Robert Morning Sky whose mastery of ancient languages is staggering, and its meaning changes significantly but in fact reveals more.  TAMTU means “place of killed life” (from Ami [life]; Ata [to kill]; and Tu [at the place  of]), or simply Tamu, which means “of killed life”. Tamu is rendered Tehom (abbreviation for Tehomat) in the Old Testament, e.g. GENESIS 1:2, where it is translated as the “deep”.     

From the above, we can now appreciate why TAMTU was so-called. It means a “late planet”, a planet that was killed. That is the exact fate of Tiamat: it was killed by Nibiru! This scenario explains why in biblical times, the term Tehom no longer meant “of killed life”. It assumed new meanings, albeit related ones, which according to the authoritative Strong’s Concordance, could connote any watery deep such as the sea, large body of fresh water, or underground river; or abyss (a bottomless pit which could be the abode of the dead or a prison of fallen angels).  These newer meanings do have a direct bearing on Tiamat. Tiamat was a watery planet. After its destruction, the major remnant of Tiamat was planet Earth. For a time, Earth was figuratively a place of the dead since it existed for millions of years without life before it was seeded with life forms as related in the opening chapters of Genesis.  Earth is the killed planet Tiamat that reanimated and began life anew.     

The prophet Isaiah talks about the “Haughty One” (Tiamat) or “Tehom-Raba” (Mighty Tehom) who was “carved” by the “Lord” (Nibiru). Job makes mention of the “Lord” (Nibiru) who smote the “assistants (moons) of the Haughty One”. Job goes on to say, “The hammered canopy (Asteroid Belt)  stretched out in the place of Tehom; the Earth suspended in the void … His powers (Nibiru) the waters (of Tiamat) did arrest; His energy (Nibiru)  the Haughty One did cleave; His Wind  (Nibiru’s moon) the Hammered Bracelet (Asteroid Belt) measured out …”

Christians may deny the existence of Nibiru, not to mention the destroyed planet Tiamat but their very Holy Writ, the Bible, is replete with references to these most eminent celestial bodies!

THE WATERY PLANET

Earth is a watery planet because Tiamat was a watery planet. But not all of Tiamat’s water was own-nurtured: much of it came from Nibiru, when it impacted Tiamat 4 billion years ago.

The Sumerian chronicles which characterise Nibiru as a watery planet abound. A considerable number of the 50 names that were assigned to the planet underscore its watery makeup. One of the planet’s other names was NAMTILLAKU, which meant "the god who maintains life” and there can be no life without water. Another was ASAR, the "watery king". The planet was also called   ASARU (“lofty, bright watery king") and ASAR-ULU-DU ("lofty, bright watery king whose deep is plentiful").  Furthermore, Nibiru was described as "bestower of cultivation," "creator of grain and herbs who causes vegetation to sprout … who opened the wells, apportioning waters of abundance", and the “irrigator of Heaven and Earth”.  The prophet Isaiah recalled to mind when the “Lord” (Nibiru) "carved the Haughty One (Tiamat), made spin the watery monster, dried up the waters of Tehom-Raba” and the Psalmist also says, in reverence to Nibiru, that "By thy might, the waters thou didst disperse; the leader of the watery monsters (Tiamat) thou didst break up."

When Nibiru slammed into Tiamat, a great deal of its water was imparted to the severed chunk that became Earth. As a cleaved, watery planet, how could Earth have looked like? Astronomers have puzzled as to why our planet is the way it is and no single astronomer has ventured a convincing answer. When we look at pictures of Earth that have been supplied us by NASA, we see a sexy, smooth, round globe. That is simply not the case. It is an exaggeration. What most people don’t know is that pictures of celestial bodies are first touched up by NASA before they are made public. Also, we have to bear in mind that when you take a picture of a celestial body, you are doing so at a considerable distance.  As a result, the picture will be substantially distorted because it is not a close-up.  

Certainly, pictures of celestial bodies all look perfectly spherical like a marble. Even the moon, not to mention the Sun, look perfectly globular when we look at them with the naked eye. That, rest assured folks, is an optical illusion. In 2014, the highly respected world-renowned black astrophycist Neil DeGrasse Tyson presented the world a more accurate image of Earth. He said Earth was not a perfect sphere but it was “pear-shaped” and was slightly wider south of the equator than north of it. This was quite a departure from what we had been given to understand all along – that Earth was a sphere albeit “slightly flattened at the poles”.  

What is not very obvious when we look at the traditional pictures of Earth is that it has  two distinct sides.  On the one side are all the seven continents, the land masses, and on the other side is a huge cleft that harbours a body of water we call the Pacific Ocean. If the Pacific Ocean were empty, Earth would have a huge gaping wound on its one side! Earth is the only planet in the Solar System which is like this and as we said earlier, planetary scientists are hard-pressed to come up with a viable explanation.

But the Sumerians did provide us the answer in their cuneiform clay tablets. They told us very plainly that Earth was once part of a large planet called Tiamat and when Tiamat was destroyed by Nibiru in the Celestial Battle, a huge piece was cut off to become the new planet Earth. Since this huge piece was “snapped” off another larger, watery one, it had a cavernous fracture on the one side. It was in this cavernous fracture that most of Earth’s waters collected as the Pacific Ocean.

PANGAEA AFFIRMS SUMERIAN RECORDS

At the time Earth became its own planet in the aftermath of the Celestial Battle, it was not made up of several separate continents like it is today. It consisted of one continuous land mass, a supercontinent surrounded by only one ocean – the Pacific. There were no other oceans such as the Atlantic and the Indian oceans and there were no seas like the Mediterranean for instance.

The primeval supercontinent has been dubbed “Pangaea” (from the Greek terms pan, meaning “all’, and gaia, meaning “Earth”) courtesy of the German meteorologist Alfred Wegener who first postulated the Theory of Tectonics in 1915.  According to this theory, the Earth’s crust, its uppermost layer, rests on a foundation which consists of movable plates known as Tectonic plates – about a dozen large ones and several small ones. From time to time in millions of years, these plates not only drift from one another but also come together as well as slip past each other. For example, it has been observed that the Pacific Ocean is actually narrowing whilst the Atlantic Ocean is widening.  

Pangaea, which covered about half the planet according to geophysicists, began to break up about 225 to 65 million years ago to give rise to the seven separate continents we have today. The Pangaea theory is a resounding attestation to what the Sumerians relate in their cuneiform clay tablets – that when Earth was severed from Tiamat 4 billion years ago, it was surrounded by water. Then over time, the water gathered into the other side which had a huge, canyon-like hole, leaving one intact side bare.  This intact side was what we now call Pangaea.   

The Theory of Tectonics was also pointed out in the Sumerian records as well as the Old Testament. There are several passages in the Old Testament that allude to the Earth as being established on a “foundation” of sorts. For example, PSALM 24 states that, “The Lord’s (Nibiru) is the Earth and its entirety, the world and all that dwells therein. For He hath founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.”

NEXT WEEK: THE MYSTERY  OF KINGU

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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

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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.

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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.

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