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The Flood Breaks Forth

Benson C Saili
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER  
   

“My creatures have filled the rivers like dragonflies” – Ninmah, Enki’s partner in the creation of Adam

Why did Noah build such a humongous maritime vessel that was the size of a stadium? If you are to take Genesis on its word,  the raison d’être was to have ample room to accommodate a pair  of every creature that existed with a view to perpetuate the species after the flood, which was  reckoned to be on such a scale as to destroy  virtually every inkling of life.  Certainly, estimates of the carrying capacity of the so-called ark – which in truth was a submarine – range from 70,000 to 120,000 animals of the size of a full-grown sheep.


The Sumerian records, which predated Genesis by 2500 years, do attest to creatures being on board the ark but they were in the form of DNA, not in fully-formed physicality. Enki, Ninmah, and Ningishzidda had seen to it that they were packaged in such a way. The notion, therefore, that the ark was designed with a view to accommodate scores of thousands of the animal family just does not wash. So why did Enki conceive of such a colossal submersible vessel?


Once again, the answer can easily be gleaned from the Sumerian records. Enki had anticipated that all the people who would help in the construction of the ark plus their family and friends might opt to come aboard when it was complete. We’re talking in the region of roughly 10,000 people given that Shuruppak was a cult centre and therefore must have been quite populous. Sadly, only a fraction of the craftsmen and their families chose to embark. “Any who to the abode of the lord Enki (Africa) wish to go, let them too aboard come,” Noah appealed to the hundreds of craftsmen who had assisted in the construction effort.


It is part of human nature to dread the unknown and so the overwhelming majority politely declined. Instead, they misguidedly looked forward to a new era of abundance that would be ushered in by Enlil once Noah had set sail for Africa.   All they did was help ensure Noah and his family were well-catered to: they donated whatever provisions they could spare to get him to enjoy a hassle-free voyage. “Eager to see Ziusudra (Noah) depart, the townspeople to the boat food and water brought,” Enki relates in Zechariah Sitchin’s The Lost Book of Enki. “From their own mouths sustenance they took; to appease Enlil they were in a hurry! Four-legged animals into the boat were also driven, birds from the field by themselves flew in.”


Enlil, who as yet wasn’t aware Noah was Enki’s son nor that it was Enki who had come up with the idea of a salvavic water-borne vessel, watched indifferently as the ark took shape and as it readied for departure. His carefree attitude stemmed  from his sadistic belief that the ark would capsize and all its  inhabitants would drown in the raging flood.  

ANUNNAKI PREPARE FOR TAKE-OFF

As the countdown to the onset of the Deluge began, Enlil assembled all the Anunnaki at Sippar, the spaceport,  to administer to them dispersal instructions. Those destined for planet Nibiru, the rank-and-file Anunnaki,  were the first to be briefed. The “celestial boats” (space vehicles) were assigned to them and soon they made their way aboard amid tears of nostalgia and other such sentimental outpourings.    


Next were Marduk, the Nefilim (the Igigi who had settled on Earth), and the Anakim (the offspring of the Nefilim and Earthling women). Marduk put it to Enlil that these were his people and he would give them his own dispersal instructions. He accordingly had them airlifted to Mount Hermon, the landing place (airport) in modern-day Lebanon. There,  he offered them two choices: either they came with him to Mars or they sought citadel in “distant mountainlands”. Only a few decided to accompany him to Mars: most opted to ride out the Flood right here on Earth as they had fallen in love with the breathtakingly beautiful planet as opposed to the dreary Mars.


The last to be briefed by Enlil were members of his own clan, who included Enki’s second-born son Nergal, who was married to Enlil’s daughter Ereshkigal. Ninurta, Enlil’s firstborn, was assigned to the “mountainlands beyond the oceans” (the Americas) to report on “rumblings”, or earth tremors,  if at all. Nergal and Ereshkigal, the meteorological experts, were  to keep vigil over Antarctica and alert Enlil on the slightest indication that the Antarctic Ice Sheet was slipping into the sea. Ishkur-Adad, Enlil’s youngest  son, was to see to it that Earthlings did not besiege the spaceport as the Anunnaki space vehicles prepared to roar aloft into the inky space. 

 

Utu-Shamash, Enlil’s grandson and the Anunnaki’s lead pilot who was also in charge of the spaceport at Sippar, was to be at the controls of the rocket in which Enlil would head into orbit. The rocket would blast off whilst “showering down a rain of eruptions” as a ceremonial farewell to the planet whose future viability was uncertain in the face of the upcoming Deluge.


Meanwhile, the Nefilim and the Anakim had at the urging of Enki and Marduk spread word amongst the Earthlings  in their community that they relocate to higher ground without spelling out the specifics. In the 2012 book Lost Civilizations & Secrets of the Past, P Von Ward writes that,  “The Snohomish of the Pacific Northwest say ETs (the Anunnaki)  warned their ancestors to ride the coming tide to the mountaintops. More than 500 similar ‘legends’ have been identified worldwide, warning to prepare for survival after a widespread flood.”


On his part, Enki personally took the trouble to inform Noah as to when he should give instructions to set the ark in motion. "When Shamash who orders a trembling at dusk will shower down a rain of eruptions,  board thou the ship, button up the entrance!" Given that the royal rocket would launch at dusk and Shuruppak, where Noah was based,  was only 180 km south of Sippar, the “rain of eruptions” spewing forth from the Shamash rocket would be more than amply visible to Noah and his submarine crew.  

THE DELUGE IS ON

Finally, the die was cast. “For nights before the calamity struck, in the heavens Nibiru as a glowing star was seen,” relates Enki.  “Then there was darkness in daytime, and at night the Moon as though by a monster was swallowed. The Earth began to shake, by a netforce (gravity)  before unknown it was agitated. Then the sound of a rolling thunder boomed, lightnings the skies lit up. Depart! Depart! Utu to the Anunnaki gave the signal …  The Anunnaki lifted up, their rocketships, like torches, setting the land ablaze with their glare …

Crouched in the boats of heaven (rockets), the Anunnaki heavenward were lofted … In Shuruppak, eighteen leagues away (180 km), the bright eruptions by Ninagal were seen.” The Deluge was in progress. The moment he saw the signal by Shamash, Ninagal, Enki’s fifth-born son with his wife Ninki, rushed to get aboard Noah’s ark.

 

Known as “Lord of the Great Waters”, that is, the seas, he was the Anunnaki’s greatest navigator and superintended over the shipping of ores from the Abzu (Africa)  to the Edin in Sumeria. He was to be the lead pilot of the ark.  Ninagal brought with him a “cedarwood box of the life essences and life eggs of living creatures”.  This was simply a cryogenic tank in which the DNA of animals and even medicinal herbs were kept.


Noah’s children and their wives, his relations and a few hundred craftsmen along with their broader families, embarked too. Altogether, the number of humans on the ark must have been at least a thousand, and not only Noah and his nuclear family unit as Genesis wrongly suggests.   Noah was the very last to come board. He was restless, anxious both for his own fate in case something went wrong and the ark  broke apart and for that of the rest of mankind who were certain to perish in the great inundation.  Says the Sumerian chronicles:  "He was in and out (of the ark):  he could not sit, could not crouch … His heart was broken: he was vomiting gall.”


The airborne Anunnaki themselves were far from calm and composed. Says Enki: “Though they were prepared for the Deluge, its coming was a frightening experience: the noise of the Deluge set the gods trembling.” The rage of the Deluge is described in bone-chilling detail in the Sumerian texts. Below is one such snippet:


“On that day, on that unforgettable day, the Deluge with a roar began.  In the Whiteland (Antarctica), at the Earth's bottom, the Earth's foundations were shaking. Then with a roar to a thousand thunders equal, off its foundations the Ice Sheet slipped: by Nibiru's unseen netforce it was pulled away, into the south sea crashing. One sheet of ice into another Ice Sheet was smashing, the Whiteland's surface like a broken eggshell was crumbling. All at once,  a tidal wave arose, the very skies was the wall of waters reaching.

 

A storm, its ferocity never before seen, at the Earth's bottom began to howl: its winds the wall of water were driving, the tidal wave northward was spreading.  Northward was the wall of waters onrushing, the Abzu lands it was reaching. Therefrom toward the settled lands it travelled, the Edin it overwhelmed. When the tidal wave, the wall of waters, Shuruppak reached, the boat of Ziusudra the tidal wave from its moorings lifted, tossed it about:  like a watery abyss the boat it swallowed. Though completely submerged, the boat held firm, not a drop of water into it did enter. Outside the storm's wave the people overtook like a killing battle.”

ANUNNAKI WEEP AT CARNAGE OF WATERY ORDEAL

The Deluge had a much more harrowing psychological effect on the Anunnaki who were in orbit in several spacecraft than the humans who were riding in Noah’s submarine. The Anunnaki were watching the disaster in real time on satellite television in their spacecraft. With close-up satellite pictures, they were easily able to assess the extent of the tear-jerking destruction of both property and lives.  


Talking of tears, Ninmah, who had a direct role in the creation of mankind by way of genetic engineering, was inconsolable, with Inanna-Ishtar, Enlil’s granddaughter, no less so. Say the Sumerian texts: “The Mother Goddess herself, Ninhursag (Ninmah), was shocked by the utter devastation. She bewailed what she was seeing: the Goddess saw and she wept … Her lips were covered with feverishness … My creatures have become like flies, she mourned. They have filled the rivers like dragonflies, their fatherhood taken by the rolling sea."

Inanna “cried out like a woman in travail: the olden days are alas turned to clay,” she whimpered.  In his spacecraft, Enki turned off the live feed and buried his face into his hands, his tears as copious as the very floods that had swallowed up his own creation. Ninmah asked herself: why did she have to save her own life when mankind, who she had helped usher into existence, was being devoured by this molten inferno-like flood?


Enlil’s emotions are not documented but from the little that is said about his reaction, it seems he was more concerned about the damage wrought to Earth itself than to mankind as he had to begin life anew on the same wrecked planet. Meanwhile, the flood was on a roll. It was like the world had come to an end altogether and a brand new earth was in the offing.  “The Moon disappeared,” says the inscriptions on Sumerian cuneiform clay tablets. “The rains roared in the clouds; the winds became savage. The   Deluge set out, its might came upon the people like a battle … It bellowed like a bull: the winds whinnied like a wild ass. The darkness was dense; the Sun could not be seen.”


All the while, Noah’s ark kept afloat, wholly intact: the furious flood had no deleterious effect upon it whatsoever. Why did it hold up amidst the tumultuous waters? Says one expert: “The interesting thing about Noah’s ark is that its construction was on a 1:6 ratio. Naval architecture reveals that this is the most stable ratio for an ocean-going vessel. It could have easily survived even big ocean waves and would be next to impossible to capsize.” The incomparable Enki deserves  plaudits for having mathematically taken such ramifications into account when he hunched over his desk to design the vessel.


Yet for all his brilliance, Enki had underestimated the duration of the inundation. It lasted not days or weeks but months. Because of this miscalculation, the Anunnaki had seriously undercut themselves in their rations. As such, when hunger hit, it did so with a vengeance, as if it was the price the Anunnaki had to pay for abandoning mankind to a most sudden and all-consuming demise. “The gods cowered like dogs … The Anunnaki, great gods, were sitting in thirst, in hunger … They sat weeping; crouching like sheep at a trough. Their lips were feverish of thirst, they were suffering cramp from hunger.”
 
NOAH OFFERS THANKSGIVING SACRIFICE TO ENKI AS DELUGE CONCLUDES

The Deluge was at the peak of its rage for five months. Thereafter, the waters began to recede. At that point, Noah instructed the submarine navigator Ninagal to set course for Mount Ararat in today’s Armenia. Mount Ararat was the highest altitude in that region. The vessel sailed for 2   months and 17 days before it came to rest on what Noah would come to term the “The Mountain of Salvation”.   As the waters continued to subside, other mountain peaks became visible on the “11th day of the 10th month” according to Sumerian records, that is, about three months later.


During the next 40 days, Noah continued to assess the situation from within the ark using dashboard instruments, assisted by past navigational master Ninagal.   Then he released a raven, a swallow and a dove to help signal whether the waters had diminished to ground level. During the first two days, the three birds returned “empty-handed”, which suggested the ground was still water-logged and the vegetation was still submerged.

 

But on the third day, the dove returned with an olive twig clipped in its mouth – a sign that the world was almost wholly habitable, that climatic peace was about fully restored. This is the origin of the English phrase “extend an Olive branch”, meaning offer terms of peace.  The next time Noah sent out the dove, it went for good. The Deluge was over.   


It was at this juncture that Noah disembarked from the ark. This was exactly one year and ten months since the Deluge began. “Opening the watertight hatch, from the boat Ziusudra emerged,” say the Sumerian records. “The sky was clear, the Sun was shining, a gentle wind was blowing. Hurriedly upon his spouse and children he to come out called.”


The first thing Noah decided to do was to pay tribute to Enki, who alone had made it possible for all who were in the ark to survive the Deluge. “The lord Enki let us praise,” he said. “To him thanks give!” Then reinforced by his sons, he gathered rocks and built an altar. “A fire on the altar he lit, with aromatic incense he made a fire. A ewe-lamb, one without blemish, for a sacrifice he selected. And upon the altar to Enki the ewe-Iamb as a sacrifice he offered.”


Meanwhile, the Anunnaki could not contemplate the totality of the destruction. It was horrendous and unconscionable. Writes Zechariah Sitchin:  “The Deluge had ‘swept over’, and an effort of 120 shars (432,000 years) was wiped away overnight. The south African mines, the cities in Mesopotamia, the control centre at Nippur, the spaceport at Sippar – all lay buried under water and mud. Hovering in their shuttlecraft above devastated Earth, the Anunnaki pantheon impatiently awaited the abatement of the waters so that they could set foot again on solid ground. How were they going to survive henceforth on Earth when their cities and facilities were gone, and even their manpower – Mankind – was totally destroyed?”

NEXT WEEK: EXACTLY  WHOSE WRATH WAS THE DELUGE?

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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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