Benson C Saili THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER Nergal’s, Jehovah-instigated nefarious proposition endorsed by Council of Gods
The Council of the Gods, the Anunnaki ruling pantheon, met in Nippur. It constituted Enlil, Enki, Ninurta, Nannar-Sin, Nergal, Ishkur–Adad, Utu-Shamash, and Inanna-Ishtar. It was clearly padded with Enlilites as only two Enkites – Enki and Nergal – were invited. Another outspoken peacenik, Ninmah, was deliberately kept away. Nergal strictly speaking was an Enlite as he almost always sided with them.
“By his (Marduk) appeal for their (all other Anunnaki gods) submission, the Anunnaki gods were disturbed and alarmed,” say the Sumerian records. “To a great assembly, counsel to take, Enlil them all summoned. All the Anunnaki leaders in Nibru-ki (Nippur) gathered.” The principal subject of the impromptu, ad hoc meeting, Marduk, was also invited but he declined, insisting that as the planet’s head honcho now, it was his summoning of them they ought to heed, and not the other way round.
His son Nabu, who wasn’t a full-god being the son of an Earthling mother, the late Tsaparnit I, was not invited too. Instead, in the week before the proceedings commenced, a summons for Nabu to appear before the Council as a defendant was issued by Enlil, with Nergal and Ninurta assigned to deliver it.
Ninurta and Nergal straightaway detailed men to comb every inch of Borsippa, Nabu’s Sumerian base, but to no avail: they later reported that he was not there but was playing hide and seek somewhere in Canaan and the Mediterranean islands. Then when the meeting was hardly underway, Nabu sprang a surprise: he pitched all of a sudden at the rendezvous and announced that he was ready to defend himself and his beloved father. “Before the gods, the son of his father came,” the Sumerian archives say.
The meeting droned on for twenty-four hours. “Meeting in Council, the leading Anunnaki debated what to do, discussing the alternatives a day and a night, without ceasing," the Sumerian records inform us. “In the council of the great gods, accusations were rampant, recriminations filled the chamber.” Zechariah Sitchin also relates thus: “The die was cast. Of the various extant sources dealing with the fateful chain of events, the principal and most intact one is the Erra Epos.
It describes in great detail the discussions, the arguments for and against, the fears for the future if Marduk and his followers should control the spaceport and its auxiliary facilities. Details are added by the Khedorlaomer Texts and inscriptions on various tablets, such as those in the Oxford Editions of Cuneiform Texts.”
ENKI, NERGAL IN SLANGING MATCH
The first to be quizzed though was not Nabu: it was Ninurta, who hierarchically was Enlil’s de facto deputy on the side of the Enlilites being his firstborn. Ninurta was asked why he had allowed the Elamites, the mercenary warriors from Africa he himself had trained, to run rampage in Sumer and cause untold carnage and destruction whilst Enlil was away. This was a serious dereliction of duty since he was expected to take charge of Earthly affairs during his father’s absence.
Defending himself, Ninurta attributed all the evils that had taken place in Sumer during his absence (he had been in Peru, in South America, all the while) to Marduk and Nabu for their unbridled ambition. “They are very rash and self-seeking people,” Ninurta charged. “They want to rule the world when it is not their time to do so.” Nannar-Sin and his son Utu-Shamash, both of whom spoke after Ninurta, heaped all blame on Nabu in particular. “All this Nabu has caused to happen,” Shamash said.
“It is he who has been his father’s instrument of the mayhem witnessed in Sumer.” Standing up, and quivering with rage, Nabu posited before the pantheon what his father called the Celestial Oracle argument, meaning testimony in his favour not by an oracle priest but the signs of heaven itself. Paraphrased, this is what Nabu said: “With the passage of time – with the crucial shift of the precessional clock (zodiacal time) by one degree (equivalent to 72 years) – the Age of the Bull, the zodiacal age of Enlil, is coming to an end, and the Age of the Ram, Marduk’s Age, is looming in the heavens. Ninurta can see it coming at his Eninnu temple in Lagash. Ningishzidda can confirm it from all the stone circles that he has erected elsewhere on Earth. And the people know it too.”
It was Nergal, Marduk’s immediate young brother, who stood up to angrily counter Nabu. “The celestial omens are being misread,” he thundered. "Let Shamash – the Sun god – see the signs and inform the people. Let Nannar – the Moon god – at his sign look and impart that to the land." In other words, what Nabu was saying was that Nannar-Sin and Shamash, whose celestial counterparts were the Moon and Sun respectively, were better qualified than everybody else to state whether or not the Age of Aries had dawned. Of course this was balderdash as Zidda, an all-round genius, was actually the most knowledgeable in these things.
In the process of making his case, Nabu affronted Enlil by accusing him of “injustice and of condoning destruction” since he was not an impartial leader but a prejudiced one who put the interests of his clan first and those of Enki last. “There is no justice,” Nabu vented. “Destruction was conceived: Enlil against Babylon caused evil to be planned (in relation to the Tower of Babel incident).” No one had ever spoken so caustically and directly at Enlil, the Bible’s principal Jehovah. On hearing this, what he called a “blasphemy against the Lord of the Command”, Nergal got into a shouting match with Nabu and the two just stopped short of manhandling each other.
At this juncture, Enki, the father and grandfather of the two adversaries, decided to speak up to. His point of order was specially directed at Nergal. Enki scoffed at the futility of Nergal’s histrionics and put it to him that he just could not stop the march of history. “Why do you continue the opposition?” he asked coolly. “Now that Prince Marduk has risen, now that the people for the second time have raised his image, let us Marduk's supremacy accept. What is coming no one can prevent.”
As Enki was talking, Nergal kept interjecting and heckling him rudely. Enki at long last exploded and ordered Nergal to “get out of my presence!”, whereupon Nergal took off in a huff. The meeting there and then broke up as Enlil adjourned the proceedings to allow for tempers to cool.
COUNCIL OF GODS VOTE FOR NUCLEAR ASSAULT
The pantheon reconvened in the evening. Whilst the meeting was in recess, Enlil had secretly approached Nergal and prevailed over him to propose very radical measures against Marduk. “Let us Marduk of the Bond Heaven-Earth (spaceport) deprive,” he pleaded with him. Nergal promised to do likewise for as long as Enlil expressly supported him in the meeting. Enlil said he definitely would.
In the evening meeting, which Nabu declined to attend as he could not stand Nergal showing so blatant and brazen disrespect to his grandfather, Nergal offered to speak first and Enlil granted him the floor. Nergal this time seemed to agree with Enki’s and Nabu’s earlier observation – that there was nothing that could stop Marduk from becoming the new Enlil. But since Marduk’s intention was to empower Earthlings so that they were on an equal footing with the gods in every sphere of their endeavours, he had to be taught a lesson.
Nergal was anxious that once militarily and technologically empowered, Earthlings could rise against the Anunnaki and even expel them both from Earth and the Solar System as a whole. “We have to activate that which with a mantle of radiance is covered and make the evil people perish," he coldly proposed. What Nergal was referring to were the so-called “Awesome Weapons” or “Weapons of Terror”. In our day, we call them nuclear weapons. The “evil people” were the residents of the two Canaanite cities in which Marduk and Nabu had rock star popularity. These were Sodom and Gomorrah.
It was a diabolical idea which Enki vehemently opposed. "The lands would make desolate, the people will make perish,” Enki pointed out. Sin, who was the dove of the Enlilites, and his son Shamash were non-committal: they voted neither for nor against the strike. Enlil, Ninurta, and Inanna were stoutly for the strike. Since it was basically a stalemate, the matter was referred to King Anu on planet Nibiru. That was accordingly done by Enlil using a sophisticated interstellar communication device. “There was constant communication with Anu: Anu to Earth the words was speaking, Earth to Anu the words pronounced.”
King Anu gave his nod to the motion. However, he demanded that Enlil see to one precondition basically. This was that a seven-day notice should be given to the people of Sodom and Gomorrah so they prepare to escape to safety. “Under no circumstances should innocent people be harmed,” insisted “Our Father Who Art In Heaven”. “Mankind must be spared. Only the battlefront combatants, their arsenals, and potentially strategic sites should be targeted.” The latter referred to the spaceport mainly. “The targets must be specifically approved. Igigi gods manning the space platform and the shuttlecraft have to be forewarned.”
Upon hearing Anu’s affirmation of the nuclear strike, Enki stormed out of the meeting in vain protest. “What was destined to be, your decision cannot undo,” the wise Enki mouthed off as a parting shot. The moment Enki made his exit, Enlil announced that the council would henceforth be known as the Council of War as it was strictly war against Marduk and his people they would now discuss.
The council proposed Nergal and Ninurta, the aptly named God of War, as the joint commanders of the knockout war against Marduk and Nabu. Inanna appealed to fellow members of the War Council to make sure that Enki, Marduk, and Nabu were not made aware of the exact day of the attack. “Cover your lips” she entreated them.
LORD NINURTA CALLS ON GENERAL ABE
The War Council, however, did not entirely heed King Anu’s wishes. They made their own additions and subtractions. For example, an attack against Nabu and his temple Ezida in Borsippa was also penciled in. The only people it decided to alert in advance were the few key, Canaan-based Earthlings who were pro-Enlilite, as well as all the Earthlings and Anunnaki who manned the spaceport in the Sinai Peninsula.
Once everything had been scheduled, Ninurta was detailed to fly to Canaan forthwith and evacuate General Abraham, who was presently camped in Hebron, ready to tackle Marduk’s warriors, who had rallied in force again for the final tilt at seizing the spaceport. Setting off for Hebron, Ninurta was accompanied by two other “gods”, that is, fellow Anunnaki. These were actually Mal’akhim, meaning “roving ambassadors”, with considerable discretionary powers as we shall see but described as “angels” in Genesis, which is not exactly far-fetched anyway as in Sumerian angels (An-Gal) meant “Great Ones of the Lord”.
Ninurta and his two companions touched down at Abraham’s encampment in a stealth, silent flying saucer as Abraham did not hear the sky vehicle at all as it swooped down, that’s how sophisticated Anunnaki technology was. “Yahweh (Ninurta) appeared to him (Abraham) among the oaks of Mamre as he was sitting at the opening of the tent when the day was brightly warm. When he lifted up his eyes, behold, he saw three men standing by over against him. As he saw them, he ran from the opening of the tent to meet them and bowed down before them” – GENESIS 18:1-3.
The first thing Abraham, who was now 99 years old (but still physically fit since he had a great deal of Anunnaki blood in him) was to wash the feet of his three VIP guests. That done, he held a banquet for them. Thereafter, the gods invited him into the flying saucer for an aerial survey of Sodom. It was during the flyover that Ninurta made known to the general Enlil’s decision to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah using nuclear weapons.
“Because the outcry regarding Sodom and Gomorrah has been great, and the accusations against them being grievous, I decided to come down and verify,” Ninurta said. “If it is as the outcry reaching me, they will be destroyed completely. If not, I wish to know anyway.” Although as a military general Abraham was used to shedding blood, he was not without a heart.
He thought the decision was too extreme since the vast majority of the peoples of Sodom and Gomorrah were innocent people who were simply caught up in the euphoria of the Marduk factor. But as far as Ninurta was concerned, there was scarcely any “righteous” people in Sodom and Gomorrah: everybody was a “sinner” and so deserved to die. Enlilites defined a righteous person as one who deferred to Enlilite gods and a sinner as one who deferred to Enkite gods.
Abraham spiritedly argued against his god. He impassionedly implored him to spare the two cities for as long as at least 10 people in there were pro-Enlil but Ninurta just could not budge. As far as he was concerned, the only pro-Enlilite people in the whole of Sodom and Gomorrah were Lot and his family. These were the only ones who were to be evacuated from there. Abraham, his family, and his forces too were to leave Hebron immediately so as to be way clear of the effects of the radiation cloud arising from the nuclear blast that was certain to billow over the entire Canaan.
A dogged Abraham at least managed to convince Ninurta to send a fact-finding team – call it an espionage team for that was what it actually was – to Sodom just in case the people there were not as pro-Marduk as Ninurta supposed they were. Accordingly, a commission to that effect headed by the two Anunnakis who had accompanied Ninurta was dispatched forthwith to Sodom. They were to be hosted by Lot, who lived there.
DIE IS CAST AS LOT IS EVACUATED
In the Bible, there’s a litany of falsehoods in relation to what transpired with Ninurta’s spies when they got to Sodom. This is not surprising in that the Bible is essentially an Enlilite document. Genesis for one was authored by the Levites, who Enlil had appointed as his scribes. The Bible says when the “angels”, the espionage emissaries of Ninurta, were at Lot’s place, where they intended to spend a night, the men of Sodom swarmed in on the compound and asked that they have sex with them. In other words, the men were homosexuals as Sodom was reportedly said to be riddled with homosexuality.
“As the two stayed in Lot's house,” Genesis says, "the people of the city, the people of Sodom, young and old, closed in on the house; and they called out unto Lot: 'Where are the men who had come to thee tonight? Bring them out to us so that we may know them’.” To “know them” is a euphemism for having sex with them. But that is a pure lie: yes the Bible lies, sorry “Brothers and Sisters”. Sodom is what gives us the word sodomy, meaning homosexuality. However, the Sumerian records, from which the Levites researched and which predated the Bible by at least 2000 years, make no such scurrilous claims about Sodom and Gomorrah.
The people who descended on Lot’s place where what we today would call intelligence agents, who of course were pro-Marduk. Marduk’s spooks knew that Lot was a die-hard Enlilite and so they kept tabs on him round the clock. Hence when they saw white-skinned men travelling in a UFO arrive at his place, they knew who they were – they were Anunnaki Enlilites. Rightly, therefore, they decided to interrogate them.
The Anunnaki team, however, feared that indeed as spies, they would be detained if they simply gave in and so they opted to resist. They had on them very sophisticated, hand-held laser beam weapons which they directed at Marduk’s intelligence agents and rendered them blind. “And when the people persisted, even attempting to break down the door to Lot's house, the angels smote the people at the door, young and old, with a blindness, and they gave up finding the door."
Ninurta’s spies did not need further evidence: Marduk had literally captured Sodom. The programme changed there and then: they had to return to Hebron and report their findings to Ninurta. “Lot, pack up what you can,” they said. “We’re taking you out of the city right away – you and your immediate family as well as your relatives who are resident in this city. For we’re about to destroy it.”
Lot, who was so much in love with the rich and prosperous city, hesitated. His son-in-laws, who were his only other relations in Sodom, outrightly refused, saying there was no way they were going to leave such a paradise as Sodom, whose prosperity and individual wellbeing of its citizens had been greatly enhanced by the use of Ormus, which Marduk had mainstreamed there. The Anunnaki therefore grabbed hold of Lot, his wife, and his two virgin daughters and hurriedly commandeered them into the UFO. There simply was no time to waste.
NEXT WEEK: “FIRE AND BRIMSTONE” REIGNS ON “SINNING CITIES”
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.