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Anu Comes To Earth

Benson C Saili
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER  
 

“Our Father Who Art In Heaven” shows up for the first time in 7000 years

In 3800 BC, during the Age of Taurus (4380 to 2220 BC),  King Anu touched down on the spaceport apron at Tilmun in the Sinai Peninsula in the imperial  “Celestial Chariot”, the first time he had done so in 7000 years.

The mission was at the request of Enlil, Earth’s Chief Executive and the Bible’s central Jehovah. The King of Nibiru, the Solar System’s 10th planet which is seen only once in 3600 years, was accompanied by Antu, his seniormost wife before the Sirian and Orion thrones were merged (Enki’s mother, the Orion Queen, was Anu’s official main spouse but the marriage was a ceremonial one only: there were no sexual relations.). The great King was received by his great grandson Utu-Shamash in his capacity as executive commander of the spaceport and welcomed by Enlil (biological son, whose mother was Antu), Enki (stepson), and Ninmah (biological daughter by a wife junior to Antu).

“They embraced and kissed, they laughed and cried,” relates Enki in his memoirs, The Lost Book of Enki, which was compiled by Zechariah Sitchin. “All five of them with tears were filled; tears of joy with sorrowed tears were mingled.” In the intervening period since Anu last visited, his children had aged woefully courtesy of the much quicker circumsolar revolution of Earth compared to Nibiru.

Whereas Anu and Antu looked very youthful, as though they were nudging forty, their kids came  across as though they were nudging 70  or so, with Ninmah worse for wear being a lady. “Though greater in shars were the parents, younger than the children they looked,” Enki makes a point of underscoring this aspect. “The two sons looked old and bearded. Ninhursag (Ninmah), once a beauty, was bent and wrinkled.”

In anticipation of the visit, Ninurta, the overall boss of Sumer, had built a sacred precinct for King Anu on the banks of “a great mountain” in Uruk (Erech in the Bible). Called Unug-Ki, meaning “Delightful Place”, its interior was made of pure gold overlaid with carnelian stones. From the spaceport, Anu was flown straight to the Unug-Ki, where all the Anunnaki who were on Earth, including the Igigi, awaited him. The moment he arrived, the entire gathering broke out in songs, both vocally and instrumentally, as they escorted him into his brand new temple-house. Thereafter, “Anu washed and rested, then he was perfumed and clothed; Antu by female Anunnaki to the House of the Golden Bed was escorted: there she too washed and rested, then she was perfumed and clothed.”

At the evening banquet in the open and spectacularly lit courtyard, Anu and Antu sat on a lavishly decorated dais, with Enlil and Enki to Anu’s right and Ninmah to Antu’s left. Serving the foods and wines were Earthlings, all of whom were stark naked to underline their inferiority in the presence of the “Heavenly Father”, the first time on Earth Earthlings were allowed into the presence of Anu. The pomp and circumstance that accompanied the visit of “Our Father Who Art In Heaven” is painstakingly chronicled in the works of Sitchin. One account reads as follows:  

“Priests and other temple attendants served ‘wine and good oil’ and slaughtered in sacrifice a bull and a ram for Anu, Antu and all the gods … In the evening, a ceremonial meal began with a ritual washing of the hands on a celestial signal — the appearance of Jupiter, Venus, Mercury, Saturn. Mars, and the Moon. Then the first part of the meal was served, followed by a pause. While a group of priests began to chant the hymn Kakkab Anu Elellu Shamame ("The Planet of Anu Rises in the Skies"), an astronomer-priest, at the topmost stage of the tower of the temple, watched for the appearance of the Planet of Anu, Nibiru.

When the planet was sighted, the priests broke out in singing the composition  To the One Who Grows Bright, the Heavenly Planet of the Lord Anu  and the Psalm The Creator's Image Has Arisen.  A bonfire was lit to signal the moment and to pass the news to neighbouring towns. Before the night was over, the whole land was ablaze with bonfires … To music the Anunnaki clapped and danced, to music they danced and sang.” Once they had feasted on “a meal of bull meat and ram meat, of fish and fowl, with wine and beer accompanied”, the “divine couple”, who had been cheerily chatting with members of the Anunnaki pantheon, retired to bed.  

HEAVENLY FATHER  DISAVOWS GALZU

King Anu slept for six straight days before he woke up.  This was because Earth’s axial rotation and therefore day-night cycle was much quicker compared to that of Nibiru. A full day and night on Nibiru was equivalent to 30 Earth days, meaning on that planet, people slept for 15 Earth days assuming equal days and nights.  Thus the six days Anu spent in total slumber during his visit here did not even amount to half what he normally slept on his planet.

Upon rising up, the King first attended an assembly of the Anunnaki, where thanksgiving prayers were chanted in his honour. Then he went into a closed-door, Council of the Great Gods meeting, whose other attendees were Enlil, Enki, Ninmah, and Utu-Shamash. The Sumerian records do not explain why other notable Anunnaki princes such as Ninurta, Marduk, Nannar-Sin, Nergal, Ishkur-Adad, Ningishzidda and Ninmah were not invited, but it could be that the King didn’t want a situation where the deliberations became bogged down in argumentation after argumentation from too many mouths.

As they say, too many cooks spoil the broth.  As for Shamash’s presence in the meeting, he was probably meant to represent the third generation of Anunnaki royalty though he should have been balanced out with at least one third-generation Enkite. His presence was also crucial being the spaceport commander (and therefore with a great deal to report about) and the King’s personal pilot whilst he was on Earth. Enlil as Earth’s Chief Executive reported what had transpired during and after the Deluge – the heroic role of Noah and his elevation to sainthood, the discovery of new gold deposits in South America,  the distribution of Earth’s principal lands among the Anunnaki on the basis of Noah’s three sons, the two pyramid wars,  and how the peace was clinched.  

Once Enlil was done, it was Enki’s turn. Enki not only filled the gaps Enlil had left but confessed to the King as to how he and Enoch had contrived to have Noah sired by him and how he had heeded Anu’s emissary Galzu to get Noah to build a submarine with a view to preserve mankind in the great flood. “It was not that I deliberately set out to thwart Enlil’s designs that mankind be left to his own devices as the flood raged whilst we Anunnaki were safe and secure in space or other less vulnerable locations on Earth,” he explained to his step-father. “It was at the say-so of Galzu, who you had sent down to act on your behalf.”

Listening with rapt attention as the wise Enki spoke, King Anu was nonplussed at the mention of a messenger from Nibiru known as Galzu, who had so far been to Earth twice to deliver interventionist messages on his behalf.  “Who the hell is Galzu?” the King responded both angrily and dumbfounded. “I never, ever sent an emissary by that name to Earth. He’s just as mysterious to me as he was to you all.”

Enki nonetheless spoke favourably of Galzu. “On account of Galzu, Ziusudra (Noah) and the seed of life (animal and plant DNA) were saved,” he observed to Anu. Enlil, on the other hand, was scathing of Galzu for foiling his chance of returning to Nibiru. “On account of Galzu on Earth we remained,” he fumed. “The day to Nibiru you return, you shall die so did Galzu to us say.”  That was arrant nonsense, Anu returned sharply. Yes, the Anunnaki who returned from an extended tour of duty on Earth had pathological and physiological problems but there were elixirs that took excellent care of that so that their biological clocks were re-aligned with Nibiru cycles.

At this point, Enlil and Enki in unison asked Anu whose emissary Galzu was if he was not Anu’s. “Who was Galzu’s principal who wanted Earthlings to be saved and who desired that we stay here on Earth?” Enki further wondered aloud. Ninmah seemed to have an inspired answer to the jigsaw. Nodding her head with self-assurance, she said, “For the Creator of All did Galzu appear.” She went on to point out that if Galzu was sent by the Creator of All (God, First Source) to intervene so that mankind was preserved, then it was also his will that Enki brought mankind into existence.

Enki’s creation of Adam with her’s and Ningishzidda’s assistance was not fate, she said, but destiny. It was not the permissive will of mortal beings like the Anunnaki were: it was the unalterable will of God. A hush descended on the five as they contemplated the ramifications of Galzu’s actions. “For a while, the five of them were silent,” the Sumerian records state. “Each the past events (the goings-on on Earth to date) in his heart recounted.”


HEAVENLY FATHER DECREES CIVILISATION FOR MANKIND

After a long, meditative lull, King Anu finally spoke. Anu made the philosophical point that the will of God overrode that of his creation and therefore whatever had happened on Earth through Galzu’s interventions was predestined and it should not be interfered with.  The Anunnaki were simply instruments God used to people planet Earth. “While fates we decreed,” Anu said, “the hand of destiny every step directed. The will of the Creator of All is clear to see on Earth and for all Earthlings only emissaries we are. The Earth to Earthlings belongs: to preserve and advance them we were intended.”  

Enki, who had genetically engineered mankind into existence, was exhilarated at this outright vindication of what he had done. Rising to his feet, he took a bow to Anu then said: “If that is our  mission   here (that is, as guarantors of the welfare of mankind), let us accordingly act.” The great King nodded in agreement and thereupon moved a motion that the Anunnaki set about advancing mankind intellectually and civilly. A debate in respect of what exactly was to be done ensued, with the dovish Enki and Ninmah the more enthusiastic and the hawkish Enlil and Shamash somewhat tepid.      

When the debate concluded, it was suggested by Enki that that mankind be urbanised. Cities with modern civic facilities should be established for mankind’s sake. Secret knowledge – which simply was academics and which hitherto had been the preserve of the Anunnaki and privileged Earthlings who were tutored in what were called mystery schools and through secret societies – should   be taught to mankind with almost no reservation. Furthermore, two separate pre-eminent offices should be created for mankind – that of king and priest. The king was to rule mankind on behalf of the Anunnaki and dispense justice, whereas the priest was to spearhead mankind in serving and reverencing  the Anunnaki in their temple-abodes. 

Anu endorsed Enki’s motion and to that end the King presented to Enlil the insignias of majesty that he would confer on the Earthling monarch. These were a divine headdress (crown, tiara); sceptre of staff (symbol of power, authority); and coiled measuring cord (representing Justice). Finally, King Anu made a declaration that the Anunnaki were not to stay on Earth indefinitely as the planet was not their preordained home. They were to return to Nibiru once mankind had been sufficiently enlightened. “Give mankind knowledge, up to a measure of secrets of heaven and Earth,” he instructed. “Laws of justice and righteousness teach them, then depart and leave.”

HEAVENLY FATHER ON TOUR OF HONOUR

After the meeting concluded, King Anu was taken on a conducted tour of Sumer, which was still under construction. The King had the honour of naming it Ki-Engi, meaning “Land of the Lofty  Watchers”. The Lofty Watchers  were the Anunnaki as indeed they watched over the fate and affairs of mankind.  It was actually by the name Ki-Engi the Sumerians called Sumer (from Shem-Ur, meaning “Land of Rocket People”). Sumer is simply the name preferred by scholars.

The first city Anu visited was Eridu, Enki’s cult city, which had been the first to arise. The King was particularly struck by the grandeur of Enki’s mansion, which Ningishzidda had designed for him. Eridu had made great headway in a number of ways thanks to the MEs, from whose wonders only Eridu had benefitted to date in the broader Sumer. Whilst he was being shown around by Enki, Enlil registered a complaint to his father to the effect that actually everything in Eridu was a masterpiece simply  because Enki had selfishly kept to himself the ME formulas. Also known as the Divine Formulas, the MEs were said to encrypt more than 100 aspects of civilisation.

The rest of the Anunnaki pantheon, Enlil besought, needed access to these crucial computer chips particularly at this juncture when mankind was to be civilised across the body.  Anu politely asked Enki to share the MEs but confirmed his right to their custody as their inventor and for the exclusivity of Eridu lest they be filched by some sinister party.  Enki undertook to do just that. From Eridu, Anu was taken to Nippur, where Enlil resided. There, Enlil showed him the Tablets of Destiny, which tracked the trajectories and orbits of celestial bodies and served as a record of unalterable Anunnaki decisions. Next was Kish (“Sceptre City”, denoting the seat of monarchy).

Anu designated Kish as the first city mankind was to thrive in and mandated Ninurta to administrate it, meaning he was to move from Lagash. Anu and Enlil then jointly unveiled a special phosphorescent monument in Kish called the “Heavenly Bright Object”, a device enshrining the site of kingship as mankind’s first post-diluvial king was to be installed in Kish. Enki there and then promised to avail 50 MEs to Ninurta to help kick-start the civilisation process in Kish.  From there, Anu visited Lagash and in Ninurta’s own house, the Eninnu, the King  presented his eldest grandson with two ceremonial weapons, the Supreme Smitter and the Supreme Hunter,  in recognition of his military feats.

Finally, King Anu was flown to the “Golden Land”, today’s South America, accompanied by  Enlil, Enki, Ninurta, and Adad. There, Ninurta showed him how bronze, a metal he invented, was made, as well as how gold nuggets were collected. After sailing on a lake whose shores copper was mined, he renamed it Lake Anak. The King was also taken to the spaceport that was built in the wake of the Deluge to facilitate the transfer of newly discovered gold to Nibiru. There, Anu was presented with tonnes of gold for personal use.  “With gold to the brim was Anu’s celestial chariot  loaded,” say the Sumerian records. The visit was capped by a trophy hunting expedition in the Amazonian wilds. It was whilst the King was shooting at the horned bisons that he received a message of bereavement.

Marduk and his firstborn son Nabu flew over and reported to the King that Sarpanit, Marduk’s wife and the mother of all his kids, had passed away. Being a full Earthling, she was not genetically disposed to live as long  as the Anunnaki did. She did however enjoy a long life by the standards of mankind thanks to the ingestion of Ormus, the monoatomic white powder of gold. She died at age 76,000, having been born in the 101st shar (about 81 000 year ago) and having passed on in the 122nd shar, in 3800 BC.

Marduk also expressed concerns to Anu about his marginalisation in power politics by Enlil and the King took heed: from now henceforth, Marduk was pardoned for precipitating the Second Pyramid War along with  Seth, and he and his firstborn son Nabu now were free to roam or settle anywhere in Sumer. A city-sized swathe of land that had initially been reserved for the construction of “Anu’s City” was offered to him to develop at a time of his choosing.  

HEAVENLY FATHER BONKS GREAT GRANDDAUGHTER!

Returning to Sumer after touring all of the planet’s major landmarks, Anu made one revolutionary calendrical change. Up until now, the Anunnaki had been counting time in terms of the Nibiru calendar – in shars. From now on, they were to count time in Earth years. But it would take another 40 years before the decree was implemented by Enlil.  The King also endorsed the allocation of lands between the Enkites and Enlilites.

Another thing Anu did was to review the ranks of the Anunnaki royalty. There were no promotions and no demotions and Ninurta was incensed. He had been of the view that having been so lavishly decorated by his grandfather, he would be reinstated as official heir to Enlil and put Sin, who had supplanted him, to shame. Anu, however, let the status quo stand. Overcome with rancour and with a sense of gross injustice gnawing away at him, Ninurta approached his father and informed him he was relinquishing his succession rights to the throne of Nibiru and his word was final.

His rank of 50, the same as Enlil, didn’t make sense if he politically still remained a minnow to Sin, whose rank was 30. Like Marduk, he would now devote all his energies to ascending  to the supremacy of Earth.  Sin was accordingly declared second in line to the throne of Nibiru after Anu and Enlil. Meanwhile, the King’s amatory attentions were focused on his gorgeous but enfant terrible granddaughter Inanna. Inanna had always been Anu’s mistress every time he came to Earth.

But he did not bed her on a whim: there was always a pre-copulation ritual that was performed by Antu to officially sanction the extramarital dalliance. Writes one chronicler: “At Anu’s temple at Uruk, Sumer’s sacred precinct, Anu’s wife, Antu, taught Inanna tantric sexual meditations and how to channel the sexual energy she and Anu would share to elevate their whole clan. Then Antu ritually gave Inanna to Anu. Antu and the Nibiriuan elite meditated outside the love-chamber as Anu and Inanna coupled … The sexual experience was a merging of energies which enhanced the creative powers of both partners and the aggregate of their race.”

NEXT WEEK: ANUNNAKI SPARK NEW AGE OF ENLIGHTENMENT

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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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