About 80,000 years ago during the time of Enoch and his father Jared, climatic upheavals both on Earth and Mars struck again. Mars was even the worse for wear. Not only was it becoming increasingly drier but sandstorms were raging in the manner of a desertifying planet. Semjaza, who was the leader of the Mars-based Igigi, the Anunnaki astronauts, was in panic mode: he sent word down to Earth to alert his boss Utu-Shamash at Sippar, the then spaceport. Shamash in turn alerted his grandfather Enlil, Earth’s Chief Executive and the Bible’s primary Jehovah/Yahweh.
“The three who the fates decree” were soon locked up in a crisis meeting at Nippur, Enlil’s cult city in the broader Edin. These were Enlil himself, Enki, and Ninmah. They resolved that Marduk, a veteran superintendent of the Mars way station, should hasten to Mars to assess the problem firsthand and file a report. Marduk consented but that was only after spirited persuasion by his father Enki.
Meanwhile, the top three sat down to ponder their fate as individuals. They were now old by Earthly standards. Enki and Enlil spoke nostalgically about how “dashing” and diligent they were when they came to Earth and self-commiserated about how worn and grey they now were. Both were now grandfathers. Ninmah remarked forlornly that everybody now called her the “Old Sheep” even though her skin had not yet wrinkled. Their only consolation was that their children who were born on Earth were actually aging at a much faster rate than them because the physics of Earth had a much more impactful effect on their biological clocks than it did on those who were born on Nibiru or the Sirius and Orion star systems.
Whatever the case, wasn’t it time they as old guards handed over the conduct of the affairs of Earth and Mars to the younger generation in Marduk and Ninurta? Enki for one wondered why whereas the younger Anunnaki were allowed to visit Nibiru from time to time and the rank and file Anunnaki actually worked on rotation and returned to Nibiru for good once their tour of duty was complete, the top brass were all but barred from visiting Nibiru. Enki, Enlil and Ninmah had never left Earth for Nibiru since their arrival. Every time they put in a request for at least a shar’s sabbatical, King Anu vetoed it. Would they ever return to their planet or they were destined to die on this tiny planet that fast-tracked their progression to old age?
Enlil gave assurance that they would definitely return but they should not press for that. That would be tantamount to abdicating responsibility entrusted from on high. When King Anu deemed it opportune, they would certainly be recalled. For now, all they had to do and undertake was to soldier on in the tasks it pleased Anu to assign them. The three then rose, clasped hands, and in unison and with voices building up to a crescendo pledged to persevere with their respective mandates. This was one of those very occasions when Enki and Enlil showed a modicum of brotherliness and consensus ad idem.
IGIGI’S WRACKED WITH SEXUAL STRESS
When Marduk arrived on Mars, he was presented with a conundrum he had not been warned about and to the extent where the main object of his mission became secondary. The Igigi leader Semjaza informed him that the Igigi were bursting with sexual stress. They all were full-fledged, virile adults but since Anunnaki women were few and far between, almost all of them remained unwed. Semjaza warned Marduk that the situation was getting out of hand and it could lead to homosexual proclivities.
“You Prince are one of those who have a naturally sympathetic heart,” Semjaza said. “It’s you and Lord Enki in particular. Lord Enlil and Prince Shamash don’t care a hoot about our plight. Please help us find women to marry. It’s Lulu’s we have in mind. We don’t mind them: some of them are just as dazzlingly beautiful as Anunnaki women. We may be physically much bigger than them but we are sexually compatible. Remember Prince, Lord Enki himself had Adapa and Titi-Eve with a Lulu and had Cain with a Lulu too.”
At the time, marriages between Anunnaki and Earthlings had long been sanctioned. If you recall, Adapa had married Lilitu; Cain had married Luluwa; and Seth had married Kalimath: all these were Anunnaki women. However, there was a very strong precondition. The Earthling woman had to be vetted by Enlil before he gave the nod for the nuptials to proceed. If Enlil didn’t deem her suitable for one reason or the other, the marriage was a non-starter though sexual relations could continue.
Marduk contemplated the matter for a while. “I doubt whether Enlil can permit a mass marriage between you guys and Earthling women,” he observed. “He’s fiercely conservative. Since we arrived on Earth, he has permitted only a handful of such marriages and all have been of Anunnaki women marrying Earthling men and none vice versa.”
“At least why can’t we have a colony of Lulu’s here on Earth who can produce wives or consorts for us Prince?” Semjaza wondered aloud. “Why should Earth be the only planet privilleged with the convenient human population?” “There’s an unofficial programme to that effect if I may confide in you,” Marduk replied the Igigi leader. “The Earthling Enoch is presently residing here with his wife Edinni. Some of their children are here too. The plan is for this family to give rise to the future population of Mars. You know Earthlings proliferate inconceivably quicker than we do. In our equivalent of one year on Nibiru, they could fill a whole continent. When that happens, you guys will have such a stampede of women hankering after you you will be spoiled for choice.”
“Sorry Prince, but we are not prepared to wait for that long,” Semjaza countered. “We want women to marry like yesterday. And you are the person, great Prince, we’re counting on. And we know you will not disappoint us. You and Lord Enki are the most kindly of the royals. We are trusting to your speedy action.”
Once again, Marduk cogitated on the matter. He really did feel for the Igigi’s. But what about he himself? Wasn’t it time he settled down in marriage and began a family? He was a grown man now and his immediate younger brother Nergal had long gotten married. Already, one particular woman had long caught his eye. This was Sarpanit, Enoch’s firstborn daughter, who was the most beautiful woman he had ever known. None of the Anunnaki women would hold a candle to her. Having made up his mind to pop the word to Sarpanit, an empathetic Marduk now took Semjaza into his confidence. Together, they hatched a plan whereby Marduk would create circumstances for some Igigi to come to Earth and make their case before Enlil.
ENLIL PARRIES MARDUK OVERTURE
Since Enoch was at this stage a protégé of the Enlilites, who had promised to send him to Nibiru for as long as proved his loyalty to them, he was circumspect about consenting to Marduk’s request to take the hand of his daughter. Rather than outrightly reject Marduk’s overture, he referred him to his firstborn son Methuselah, who was based on Earth.
When Marduk touched down on Earth, he straightaway went to see his father Enki. First, he handed him the report he had compiled about the Martian situation. Then he raised the matter of his matrimonial designs. He had fallen in love and wanted to get married. Both Enki and his wife Ninki were excited and cheerfully high-fived their firstborn son. Then Marduk dropped a bombshell. The woman he wanted to marry was not an Anunnaki but an Earthling. She was Sarpanit, the daughter of the human patriarch Enoch, who was presently stationed on Mars. Both Enoch and Sarpanit had in fact consented to the marriage proposal and Enoch had even given his firstborn son Methuselah the right of attorney to affix the decisive seal of approval on the matter.
Enki and Ninki were persuaded. They went to see Methuselah, who practically danced a jig as he gave euphoric consent. However, the final word rested with the Anunnaki’s seniormost personage on Earth – Enlil. When the matter was brought before Enlil, he poured cold water on it without much ado. First, he argued that all the Anunnaki princes were obliged to marry Anunnaki princess only. For example, Ninurta was married to Bau, a younger daughter of King Anu. Nannar-Sin was married to Ningal, a daughter of Enki.
Nergal was married to Ereshkigal, Enlil’s granddaughter. True, female Anunnaki could marry Earthlings and even rank-and-file Anunnaki could marry Earthlings according to the revised connubial code, but a prince strictly had to marry a fellow Anunnaki and a princess for that matter. If Marduk were to marry Sarpanit, she would become Nin-Sarpanit – a princess too and could one day become Queen. That was anathema: no Lulu should ever become an Anunnaki Queen.
On her part, Ninmah said Marduk was in fact not short of Anunnaki suitors. She was prepared to marry off to him one of the six daughters she had with Enki. “They are your half-sisters,” she said. “The Anunnaki connubial code allows princes to marry their half-sisters.” The Enkites, however, were not persuaded. Enki insisted Marduk had the right to marry any woman he deemed suitable. He wanted his firstborn son to be happy. He had chosen Sarpanit and it was just logical that he be allowed to marry her. It was a stalemate. The matter as usual was referred to King Anu on Nibiru.
MARDUK IS BANISHED TO EARTH
After consultations with his advisors, King Anu like Enlil vetoed the marriage. He said Marduk was not an ordinary prince. On Earth, he may not have had that much clout but in the broader Sirian-Orion Empire, he was very, very significant. As per the terms of the union of Sirius with Orion, Marduk was the second in line to the Sirian-Orion throne after Enlil. So if he went ahead and married a Lulu, he would have committed a sacrilege and the repercussions would be dire. First, he would forfeit his eligibility to the Sirian-Orion throne. Second, he would be banned from ever leaving Earth. That is to say, he would never return to Nibiru or the throne planets of the Sirian-Orion Empire.
When Anu’s decision was relayed to Earth, Enki tried to prevail over his son to change tack but Marduk scoffed at the gesture. His succession rights were a farce, he said. Why should they only apply in the broader Sirian-Orion Empire only and not here on Earth? Why was he so diminished here on Earth? Why did have the rank of 10 when Ninurta (50), Nannar-Sin (30) and even “little” Utu-Shamash (20) ranked far much higher than him? For God’s sake, he wasn’t even a member of the Pantheon of 12. The whole thing was a charade.
Marduk told his father that he was proceeding to lead Sarpanit to the altar: to Hell with Nibiru and the Sirian-Orion throne. In point of fact, what he would set about doing now was to establish his throne right here on Earth. He was going to feverishly work towards being King of Earth and he would die right here on Earth. Earth belonged to Earthlings, not to the Anunnaki. Having married Sarpanit, it was a matter of course that he would strike quite a chord with Earthlings and being the only “god” to devote to permanently living on this planet, Earthlings would embrace him more than any other Anunnaki. If push came to shove, he would mobilise the Earthlings to oust Enlil in the fullness of time.
Having listened to his son, Enki undertook that he would support him all the way. Enlil, on the other hand, did not take kindly to Marduk’s intransigence. On top of Anu’s proscriptions, he added his own. Marduk was banned from ever setting foot in the Edin, Eden in the Bible. He was to be confined to Africa. He was also forbidden to travel either to Mars or the Moon as these two celestial bodies were also in Enlil’s sphere of influence.
IGIGI’S RUN RIOT
Enlil nonetheless granted permission for Marduk’s wedding to take place at Eridu, Enki’s cult city. Then Marduk himself asked Enlil to give some of the Igigi’s the green light to attend his wedding since as former head of the Mars outpost, he had quite a rapport with them. Enlil obliged him and accordingly, 200 Igigi’s arrived on Earth. Headed by their leader Semjaza they were put up at a cosy Anunnaki resort on Mount Hermon at the southern edge of the Cedar Mountain range in today’s Lebanon.
On the mountain was a huge platform known as the Landing Place, or airport in today’s language. It was known as Baalbek, meaning “A place for the access of gods only”, as indeed airports and the spaceport were strictly the preserve of the Anunnaki. A number of Earthlings had also been invited to the wedding, which was to be expected given that the Enkites looked on Earthlings as equals and not as lowlives.
During the week leading up to the wedding, Semjaza assembled his fellow Igigis in the conference hall to break a secret he hadn’t told them yet, a secret which stemmed from a scheme he and Marduk had devised when the latter visited Mars. Semjaza said he was putting his neck on the chopping block for what he was to reveal to them.
“I fear ye will not agree to do this deed, and I alone shall have to pay the penalty for a great sin.” But the Igigi’s were excited about it and they declared that not only where they for the idea hundred percent but they were prepared to commit themselves by oath. “Let us all swear an oath, and all bind ourselves by mutual imprecations, not to abandon this plan but to do this thing," they suggested. This is the reason the venue of this pact came to be called Mount Hermon, meaning “Mount of Oath”.
Only moments after the wedding concluded, the Igigis, who had divided themselves into groups of ten to energetically sync with Marduk’s Anunnaki rank of 10, moved into action. Each grabbed a female human he had earmarked and careered her to the waiting sky chamber. Soon the women were being flown to Baalbek. It had all been orchestrated by Marduk and Semjaza and it worked like a charm.
Back at Mount Hermon, Semjaza sent an ultimatum to Enlil – that he should consent to he and his men marrying the Earthlings forthwith, failure to which they would wreak havoc on Earth, beginning with the torching of the Landing Place. Since Enlil was no fool, he knew it all had been pre-planned at the behest of Marduk, which meant Enki was in on the scheme too.
Realising that he could not win for as long as the Enkites were behind it all, he meekly yielded to the arm-twisting and ordered the Igigi to return to Mars immediately, along with the Lulu women they had kidnapped. Marduk however, argued that the conditions on Mars at present were not that favourable and so the Igigi’s should be allowed to stay on Earth indefinitely. Enlil again was in a bind: fearing that if he stuck to his guns he could trigger a serious backlash, he permitted the Igigi to stay on Earth but banned them from the Edin.
Thus it was that some Igigi’s stayed at the foot of the Cedar Mountains and others moved with Marduk to Egypt. Still others settled in the area that would in future come to be known as Canaan. Enlil dubbed this 200 rebellious Igigi’s as “Fallen Angels” (Every Anunnaki was assumed to be a “Holy Angel” because the Anunnaki came from Nibiru, a “Holy Place”). They were fallen, first, in a moral sense for marrying Earthling women, thereby defiling themselves. They were also fallen because they had defied Enlil, the “God of Earth”.
This event is hinted at in REVELATION 12:4, which says, “And his (the Dragon’s) tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth”. There were at the time 600 Igigi’s stationed on Mars and the 200 that numbered on Semjaza’s team constituted one-third. And who was the Dragon in this context? It was Marduk as Enlil knew he was the instigator. Dragon is the anglicised version of the prehistoric term “Dar-Or-Eke-Ene”, meaning “Creator Lord”.
Here on Earth, it applied to Enki as the fashioner of mankind and secondarily to Marduk as his heir. But Enlil turned it round to invest it with a negative connotation that eventually came to denote “embodied evil”, just as the term “Ea-Bel”, meaning “Lord Ea” (Enki), was turned around by Enlil to assume a new, sinister meaning – Devil. This Earth, My Brother …
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.