Friday, February 27, 2015

Rosmah Mansor, Uncrowned Queen of 'Putrakaya' ~ by KP Chee

I don’t recall when I first heard the name Rosmah Mansor, but I clearly remember that whatever was said about her wasn’t exactly flattering.

Indeed, I can’t think of any Malaysian public figure around whom swirls so many ugly rumors and who is more feared and loathed – apart from, of course, Mahathir Mohamad.

What is it about Rosmah Mansor that makes her such a controversial figure? Is it just her big hair and penchant for Birkin bags and multimillion ringgit bling-bling? Well, that doesn’t help her public image, that’s for sure – especially at a time when most Malaysians find themselves seriously burdened by the ridiculous cost of cars, houses, education; while prices keep going up as the ringgit shrinks in value with no corresponding rise in household incomes.

Born 10 December 1951 in Kuala Pilah, Negri Sembilan, to schoolteacher parents, Rosmah holds a Bachelor’s degree in sociology and anthropology from Universiti Malaya, as well as a Master’s in sociology and agriculture from Louisiana State University, from which she graduated in 1978. She then joined Bank Pertanian as an executive and, in 1983, switched to property development with Island & Peninsular. Those were boom years in the local economy and Rosmah did extremely well selling expensive properties to nouveau-riche Umnoputras, especially political bigwigs.

There was talk that she was eyeing Rahim Thamby Chik, then Chief Minister of Melaka. However, her foxy instincts served her well and she redirected her feminine charms at another rising star in Umno, Najib Razak, then Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports. In 1987, Najib divorced Tengku Puteri Zainah Tengku Eskandar, his first wife, and married Rosmah Mansor.

A Nasty Reputation

By 1991 Najib Razak had been appointed defence minister, which presented him with great opportunities to strengthen his political (and financial) position – while Rahim Thamby Chik was forced to step down as Chief Minister in 1994 after he was charged with statutory rape. The case was thrown out and Rahim Thamby Chik was quietly made chairman of Risda, a post he still holds, despite being recently found guilty of screening pornography at Carcosa Seri Negara.

Even as Najib Razak craftily navigated his way through the Byzantine intrigues of Umno politics, Rosmah Mansor was acquiring a nasty reputation in her own inimitable style. Stories began to circulate about her penchant for expensive trinkets and how she would unashamedly throw her weight around, intimidating owners of jewelry stores for outrageous discounts. One apocryphal tale relates how she even threatened to shut down the business if they didn’t accede to her demands – and having been appeased with the offer of a free gift worth tens of thousands, she simply took the gift and walked out without buying the item she had originally haggled over.

When news broke just before Bersih 2.0 that Rosmah Mansor had imported a $24 million diamond ring from a famous New York jeweler, most Malaysians were aghast at the cost - but found it easy to believe that she was perfectly capable of such unimaginable extravagance, considering her collection of Birkin bags worth approximately $150,000 each.

Soul Mortgaged

How does one explain such an unsavory personality trait? It has to be examined in the context of provincial Malay culture, which is still largely feudalistic at its core. Social status is extremely important to the rural psyche and any ambitious ego would certainly strive to amass sufficient material wealth and political influence to qualify for entry into the rarefied realms of the traditional aristocracy.

Some say Rosmah Mansor is Malaysia’s version of Dr Faustus, a respected scholar who, in his overweening ambition to unravel the secrets of the universe through the practice of dark sorcery, mortgages his soul to the Devil. In Rosmah’s case it isn’t knowledge that she craves, but queenly power. We are hardly surprised, then, that she would dub herself “First Lady of Malaysia” shortly after her husband’s anointment as sixth prime minister (or crime minister, as some prefer to call him) – a title reserved for the wives of presidents or, in the case of Malaysia, the Raja Permaisuri Agong.

Her desperate hunger for self-glorification knows no bounds. This is, in fact, her greatest weakness, and it has been exploited by her business proxies who conspire to gratify her enormous ego with “sponsored” accolades like the dubious “International Peace and Harmony Award” conferred on her on 16 April 2010 by the Business Council for International Understanding in New York. This was commemorated with a double-page full-color ad in the New York Times which was signed off: “Best wishes from family and friends in USA and Malaysia.” A full-page black-and-white ad in the prestigious New York Times can cost up to $230,000 (RM736,000). It has been estimated that a double-page full-color center-spread would cost at least twice that amount.

On 11 February 2012 Curtin University, which enjoys close ties with the Malaysian education ministry, conferred an honorary doctorate on Rosmah Mansor. This news triggered a wave of ridicule and outrage, particularly among former Curtin graduates who protested that the university had debased and degraded itself by pandering to the whims of the widely-loathed FLOM (acronym for First Lady of Malaysia which those with barbed tongues often read as Fat Lady of Malaysia).

To be fair, we must concede that Rosmah certainly possesses enough smarts to have earned that doctorate, since she obtained her Master’s degree from Louisiana State University long before she achieved notoriety as Najib Razak’s spouse.

Indeed, on 7 May 2012, Rosmah acquired another honorary doctorate, this time from the Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris in Tanjong Malim – and on 20 June 2013 she was conferred yet another honorary doctorate and even made an honorary professor – but this time the news created hardly a ripple, since it was from  Kazakhstan University (and everybody knows Rosmah’s daughter, Nooryana Najwa, is married to Daniyar Nazarbayev, step-nephew of the President of Kazakhstan).

FLOM Fiasco

Ironically, the more vainglorious one’s ego, the less admirable one appears in other’s eyes. Surrounding herself with sycophantic courtiers and obsequious bottom feeders, Rosmah has turned into a walking caricature of evil personified, reminding us of Walt Disney’s tyrannical witch queen Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty (who commands a palace guard of mindless minions ever ready to defend her public image against all detractors). 

Indeed, such is her clout around the palace in 'Putrakaya' (where those who have gained instant wealth by manipulating an “affirmative” economic policy based on spurious notions of racial supremacy have entrenched themselves) she has been granted hundreds of millions for her assorted pet projects – none of which is subject to public scrutiny or financial accountability – and even her own quasi-governmental department with a salaried staff. When the FLOM website was launched, the public outcry was so loud it was quickly shut down within days.

Although Rosmah’s distinctive hairdo (which resembles a pharaonic headpiece) has been the brunt of political cartoonists (notably Zunar) she has nonetheless been taken seriously enough by world leaders like Lee Kuan Yew, who insisted on paying her a personal visit during his official Malaysian tour in June 2009. Speculation was rife about what might have been discussed. Political pundits pointed to Lee’s paying Rosmah homage as a clear sign that she was indeed the real power behind her pink-lipped husband’s throne.

When Rosmah flew to the 4th Qatar International Businesswoman’s Forum on a government-funded executive jet – and then stopped over in Dubai to do some shopping and hobnob with Princess Haya, wife of the ruler of Dubai – another hue and cry was raised in parliament by the opposition. Under questioning it was revealed that the average “official” flight costs nearly RM500,000. Less than a week earlier, the nation had been shocked to learn that Rosmah and Najib’s annual electricity bill amounted to RM2.2 million.

Red Queen and Knaves

Clearly, the problem with Rosmah Mansor is that she revels in the imaginary splendor of living the luxurious lifestyle of ancient queens in an age when such excesses only invite disgust and odium. Nevertheless, to the BN ministers beholden to her husband, Rosmah can do no wrong and they have stuck their necks out in her defence.

Deepak Jaikishan
Rosmah Mansor was at one time close to carpet seller Deepak Jaikishan who scurried around doing her every bidding and lavishing on her gifts of expensive jewelry in exchange for business favors. 

Then something soured the relationship and Deepak began to hold media conferences denouncing the FLOM and even released online a poorly written book (The Black Rose) detailing her reliance on talismans and magical spells. Not too many eyebrows were raised, however, as Malaysians had long known about Rosmah’s superstitious dependence on dark sorcery, even dubbing her “Perempuan Puaka” (meaning witchy woman).

In the digital age, not many take seriously the idea of black magic or voodoo – and perhaps that is why they can unwittingly succumb to it. How so? The secret history of political power on this earth has from time immemorial been associated with occult forces. In The Origins of Man and Universe: The Myth that Came to Life the mystic philosopher Barry Long hypothesized that the first tribal chiefs were shamans whose advanced psychic powers awed and intimidated others into following their vision of reality. Despite all the trappings of modernity a vast majority of people still cling to a superstitious belief in sorcery – and it is this barely concealed fear of the unknown that makes them susceptible to being hypnotized and subtly possessed by strongly focused wills.

When Najib Razak was nominated Umno president by 191 allegedly bought-off party division chiefs and installed as prime minister on 3 April 2009, video footage revealed a beaming Rosmah Mansor luxuriating in her moment of victory. Very quickly a strange pall of petty bickering descended upon the opposition parties, resulting in a slew of defections, which had a depressing effect on an electorate yearning for radical change.

Call it what you will – dark sorcery or voodoo – the effects aren’t always spectacular or even visible to the unobservant eye. More often the spell cast upon an unsuspecting populace merely enfeebles their resolve, dilutes their aspirations, and brings out the worst in their own psyches. 

The sense of larger community is replaced by aggressive surges of communal self-interest; individual egos become more isolated in their sense of separateness from others – and therefore more prone to acts of violence against others when threatened by acute financial despair.

Tim Burton released his version of the classic Alice in Wonderland in 2010 which carried a strong undercurrent of social and political commentary. In Burton’s film, decay and entropy lay waste to a once beautiful world, and the inhabitants are subdued and oppressed by fascist control mechanisms. Under the Red Queen's demented and tyrannical rule, Wonderland becomes Underland - a subterranean dream/nightmare with surreal overtones, where the Jubjub Bird and the Frumious Bandersnatch and the Burbling Jabberwock serve as the Red Queen's law enforcement agencies. A riot squad of playing cards stands ready to quell rebellion with the Underlandish equivalent of tear gas and water cannons - and bloodhounds are blackmailed into the Knave of Hearts's secret service.

Alice slays the Jabberwock
But all ends well when the innocent and pure-hearted Alice arrives in Underland, summoned by the White Rabbit (who symbolizes a civil service loyal to the land and not a specific political faction), wields the Vorpal Sword (of enhanced intelligence) and lops off the head of the Jabberwock (the Specter of May 13 and divide-and-rule politics). The White Queen reclaims her throne, life springs anew, and joy returns to Bolehland, oops, I mean, Wonderland.  

[From Malaysia Chronicle, 21 November 2013. First posted 14 January 2014]

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Money A Symbolic, Mutually Shared Illusion (repost)

U.S. Economy Grinds To Halt As Nation Realizes Money Just A Symbolic, Mutually Shared Illusion
We are indebted to The Onion  for this up-to-the-minute report:

WASHINGTON - The U.S. economy ceased to function this week after unexpected existential remarks by Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke shocked Americans into realizing that money is, in fact, just a meaningless and intangible social construct.

What began as a routine report before the Senate Finance Committee Tuesday ended with Bernanke passionately disavowing the entire concept of currency, and negating in an instant the very foundation of the world's largest economy. "Though raising interest rates is unlikely at the moment, the Fed will of course act appropriately if we.... if we " said Bernanke, who then paused for a moment, looked down at his prepared statement, and shook his head in utter disbelief. "You know what? It doesn't matter. None of this so-called 'money' really matters at all."

"It's just an illusion," a wide-eyed Bernanke added as he removed bills from his wallet and slowly spread them out before him. "Just look at it: Meaningless pieces of paper with numbers printed on them. Worthless." According to witnesses, Finance Committee members sat in thunderstruck silence for several moments until Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) finally shouted out, "Oh my God, he's right. It's all a mirage. All of it - the money, our whole economy - it's all a lie!" Screams then filled the Senate Chamber as lawmakers and members of the press ran for the exits, leaving in their wake aisles littered with the remains of torn currency.

As news of the nation's collectively held delusion spread, the economy ground to a halt, with dumbfounded citizens everywhere walking out on their jobs as they contemplated the little green drawings of buildings and dead white men they once used to measure their adequacy and importance as human beings.

At the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday morning's opening bell echoed across a silent floor as the few traders who arrived for work out of habit looked up blankly at the meaningless scrolling numbers on the flashing screens above.

"I've spent 25 years in this room yelling 'Buy, buy! Sell, sell!' and for what?" longtime trader Michael Palermo said. "All I've done is move arbitrary designations of wealth from one column to another, wasting my life chasing this unattainable hallucination of wealth." "What a cruel cosmic joke," he added. "I'm going home to hug my daughter."

Sources at the White House said President Obama was "still trying to get his head around all this" and was in seclusion with his coin collection, muttering "it's just metal, it's just metal" over and over again. "The president will be making a statement very soon," press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters. "At the moment, though, his mind is just too blown to comment."

A few U.S. banks have remained open, though most teller windows are unmanned due to a lack of interest in transactions involving mere scraps of paper or, worse, decimal points and computer data signifying mere scraps of paper. At a Bank of America branch in Spokane, WA, curious former customers wandered aimlessly through a large empty vault, while several would-be robbers of a Chase bank in Columbus, OH reportedly put their guns down and exited the building hand in hand with security guards, laughing over the inherent absurdity of the idea of $100 bills.

Likewise, the real estate industry has all but vanished, with mortgage lenders seeing no reason to stop people from reclaiming their foreclosed-upon homes. "I don't even know what we were thinking in the first place," said former banker Nathan Collins of Brandon, MS, as he jimmyed open a door to allow a single mother and her five children to move back into their house. "A bunch of people sign a bunch of papers, and now this family has no place to live? That's just plain ludicrous."

The realization that money is nothing more than an elaborate head game seems to have penetrated the entire country: In Wilmington, DE, for instance, a collection agent reportedly broke down in joyful sobs when he informed a woman on the other end of the phone that he had absolutely no reason to harass her anymore, as her Discover Card debt was no longer comprehensible.

For some Americans, the fog of disbelief surrounding the nation's epiphany has begun to lift, with many building new lives free from the illusion of money.

"It's back to basics for me," Bernard Polk of Waverly, OH said. "I'm going to till the soil for my own sustenance and get anything else I need by bartering. If I want milk, I'll pay for it in tomatoes. If need a new hoe, I'll pay for it in lettuce."

When asked, hypothetically, how he would pay for complicated life-saving surgery for a loved one, Polk seemed uncertain. "That's a lot of vegetables, isn't it?" he said.

The Onion © 2010

[Brought to my greatly amused attention by Olivia de Haulleville. First posted 16 March 2010]

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Is this how you plan to rule the country, Mr Najib? (yet another reprise)

[Reposting for the fifth time. That Pink-Lipped Poltroon and his Witch-Queen with the Toxic Hairdo are rather dense, it appears, as are all their pompous, parasitic ilk...]

How long before your hand gets tired?

You won't get any sleep at night...

You'll be much too stressed to service your voracious wife.

She'll soon be sending for some toy boys...

Isn't this a much nicer and healthier option? You have enough cash stashed away to live in the lap of luxury the rest of your lives... far, far from your political foes in Malaysia!

Monday, February 16, 2015

THE LIE WE LIVE ~ a short film by Spencer Cathcart

Published on 27 Jan 2015

Exposing the truth about our corrupt world and what humanity has become.

This is a short documentary film I made and wrote questioning our freedom, the education system, corporations, money, the American capitalist system, the US government, world collapse, the environment, climate change, genetically modified food, and our treatment of animals.

My name is Spencer Cathcart and if you want to contact me email

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Reproduced directly from Malaysiakini as a public service... shame on you, Najib!

11:19AM Feb 14, 2015
By John R Malott

The world, in unison, slams the Anwar verdict

COMMENT Many Malaysians have commented on the speed with which the government responded to the Federal Court's verdict last Tuesday, in which the jurists found Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim, guilty of sodomy and sentenced him to five years in prison.

Less than 20 minutes after the chief justice announced the court's decision, an official government statement was sent to the media, both Malaysian and international. For a government whose usual response is either "elegant silence" or to send out short and callous "tweets" about important and highly-charged topics (like the fate of the victims in the Malaysia Airlines crashes), this was indeed remarkable.

In its "defence", the government said that it had prepared two different statements, depending on which way the verdict went. We did the same thing when I was in the US government, so I will accept the government's explanation at face value. But that does not excuse the content of the government's statement, which was seriously flawed.

Let's take a look at the government's claims. First came the assertion that:

"The judges will have reached their verdict only after considering all the evidence in a balanced and objective manner. Malaysia has an independent judiciary, and there have been many rulings against senior government figures."

But does the world believe that Malaysia has an independent judiciary, and that the court was balanced and objective?

The court's decision was immediately criticised by the governments of the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Germany, and Switzerland, among others, as well as the European Union.

The embassies and high commissions of these countries sent observers to cover Anwar's trials over the past many years. They all concluded that the verdict raised major questions about the independence of the Malaysian judiciary.

Likewise, respected international human rights organisations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the International Federation for Human Rights said the same thing.

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) also condemned the court's verdict.

Especially telling were the comments of Mark Trowell (left), a Queen’s Counsel who represented the IPU, LAWASIA, and the Law Council of Australia. He said the decision of the Federal Court "was unconvincing and lacked a detailed analysis of the facts."

Further blasting the court, he said that "in reaching these conclusions, the court rejected or ignored the evidence that raised serious doubts about the reliability of so-called independence evidence and the credibility of the complainant."

In the most damning statement of all, Trowell said, "If the court had proper regard to the facts and the law, Anwar Ibrahim should never have been convicted."

As for the ICJ, it said, "Anwar Ibrahim should never have been investigated, charged with, tried, let alone convicted of and sentenced for such charges."

World press, too, speaks out

Some of the most prestigious publications in the world, such as theWashington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and the Economist also have spoken out.

The Washington Post wrote in an editorial, "The criminal case used to imprison Mr Anwar, who has been one of the foremost advocates of liberal democracy in the Muslim world, was as morally reprehensible as it was farcical...

“The case against him was thin enough to be dismissed by a court in 2012. That Mr Najib's government managed to have that decision reversed by an appeals court and upheld by the Supreme Court demonstrated only that Malaysia still lacks an independent judiciary."

Calling the verdict ‘Malaysia's Anwar shame,’ the Wall Street Journal said, "Umno's decades-long vendetta against Mr Anwar has brought discredit on Malaysia's government and political culture. It is likely to accelerate the ruling party's loss of support from a maturing population repulsed by such dirty tricks. Prime Minister Najib Razak's failure to call an end to this farce is a stain on his legacy."

In describing the verdict, Murray Hiebert at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington DC, which normally is sympathetic towards Malaysia, told a German television network that "it's pretty much a travesty of justice and an attempt to sideline an opposition politician who has been challenging the ruling party in recent years."

Josh Kurlantzick of the Council on Foreign Relations, without doubt the most prestigious foreign policy institute in the United States, tweeted that "any belief in Najib Razak as some kind of reformer should now be fully and totally extinguished."

And Dan Slater, a Southeast Asia specialist at the University of Chicago, told the Toronto Globe and Mail newspaper in Canada that when the government decided to appeal Anwar's acquittal in the High Court, the government's actions became "nothing better than a witch-hunt."

Fabrication of evidence

So here's a question for the public relations masters in Putrajaya.

You can claim that "Malaysia's judiciary is independent" until you are blue in the face. But can you name one foreign government, one international human rights organisation, one international newspaper, one foreign think-tank, or one overseas academic who agrees with the decision - and who concurs with your assertion that the verdict was the just conclusion of an independent judiciary?

I don't think so.

But I am also sure that you are now coming up with more multi-million dollar proposals for the government to try and sway world opinion. Save your money. Remember all the wasted dollars you spent on Jack Abramoff, Apco, FBC Media, and Paul Stadlen. They all failed totally to achieve their paid objectives.

The government's press release then went on to say:

"The police report against Anwar Ibrahim was brought by a private individual - Anwar's employee and personal assistant - not by the government. As the victim of a serious sexual assault, he had every right to have his case heard in court."

Yes, it is true that the initial police report was filed by Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, but only after he had met with Najib and wife Rosmah Mansor, as well as the infamous police official from Sodomy I, Mohd Rodwan Mohd Yusof.

We know about Najib and Rosmah, but just to remind everyone about Rodwan - according to aMalaysiakini report in 2008, in the 1998-1999 trials, Anwar experienced the phenomenon of fabrication of DNA evidence.

We had senior assistant commissioner (SAC) Rodwan illegally removing DNA samples from forensic custody. In cross-examination of the prosecution's witnesses, it was exposed that DNA taken from blood samples was planted on the infamous mattress.

When confronted with this fact, the prosecution amended its charge and persuaded the late judge, Augustine Paul (who was later promoted to the Federal Court), to expunge the entire DNA evidence from the record, preventing Anwar Ibrahim's lawyers from responding.

Back to the present.

Even after Saiful, a college dropout, met with the then deputy prime minister and filed the police report, it was up to the government to decide whether to file charges against Anwar. So from that moment forward, it was the government's case, not Saiful's.

And when Anwar was acquitted, it was the government that decided to file the appeal, not Saiful. At that point, it was clear, as Professor Slater of the University of Chicago said, that the government was on a "witch-hunt". They were once again determined to remove Anwar as a force in Malaysian politics.

Saiful as the victim?

The government's press release also calls Saiful "the victim of a serious sexual assault."

But wait a minute - wasn't the charge "consensual sex"? And didn't attorney-general Abdul Gani Patail just say that the reason Saiful also was not charged for consensual sex was because he had turned state's witness and agreed to testify against Anwar?

So if it was consensual, why does the Prime Minister's Office call Saiful a "victim" of sexual assault?

If you say that Saiful (right) was assaulted, then we are back to square one - the government's original and totally unbelievable claim - that a young, strong, strapping man was raped time and time again by someone who was 40 years older than he was - but somehow was never able to escape.


Finally, as I wrote this, I saw that the Federal Court's written judgment has now been released. They said that the testimony of distinguished DNA experts like Dr Brian McDonald and Dr David D Wells was not credible.

But they said that Saiful was a credible witness. They chose Saiful over these distinguished Australian academics.

And then I remembered Saiful's alleged affair with the deputy public prosecutor during the course of the trial.

When others talked about Saiful's affair with the government prosecutor, they asked, did it compromise the government? Did they share legal information during their pillow talk?

I see it in a different way.

I think about the fact that Saiful was engaged to another woman at that time. He had promised to marry this young woman. And yet he betrayed her and engaged in an affair with another woman, who was on the prosecuting team.

To betray your fiancée, the woman you promised to share your life with, the woman you said you loved and promised to marry, means that you are a liar and a cheat. It means that you are deceptive and your words cannot be relied on.

And Saiful was doing this - lying and cheating - at the exact moment the trial was being conducted, when he was testifying. And yet the Federal Court called this liar and this cheat a "credible witness."

Is it any wonder the world doesn't believe a word that the Malaysian public relations machine and the Malaysian courts are spitting out these days?

JOHN R MALOTT is former United States ambassador to Malaysia.

Friday, February 13, 2015

THE STORY SO FAR... (revisited)

Legends, myths and folk tales live forever in our genetic memories - because they carry great lessons that impact on our everyday lives. Look around, folks, you're living in the midst of an unfolding epic drama...

JOHN THE BAPTIST is a prophet in the tradition of Elijah who lives a simple, ascetic life, preparing candidates for the kingdom of heaven by baptizing them in the river Jordan. He announces the coming of a great Master who will save humanity and redeem us from darkness and moral degeneracy.

John does not belong to the conservative Jewish sect known as the Pharisees, who venerate the Torah (akin to the Koran) and the Talmud (akin to the Hadith), and value outward piety in daily life; nor does he belong to the Sadduccees, an urban elite sect (akin to Mahathir's Melayu Baru) with a more sophisticated understanding of the outside world and who have embraced Hellenistic (secularist) lifestyles and values. John is more aligned with the Essenes (akin to the Sufis), a mystic sect that teaches conscious union with the Paraclete (or Holy Spirit).

As he isn't part of any institutionalized priesthood, John the Baptist answers only to himself and his God. He preaches to all who will listen and fearlessly criticizes the liars and hypocrites who compromise their ethical values in exchange for petty favors from the corrupt and decadent court of Herod Antipas (right), puppet King of Galilee and vassal of the Roman Occupation Government. John openly denounces the moral degradation that has overtaken his beloved land and accuses Herod Antipas of transgressions against the law.

As the traditional "Voice in the Wilderness," John the Baptist's rantings against the government are tolerated as the mutterings of a madman. However, after Herod Antipas abandons his official consort and marries his sister-in-law Herodias - an ambitious, heartless woman who some suspect poisoned her own husband - John the Baptist condemns their liaison as an unholy one, thereby angering the witchy Herodias. To pacify her Herod Antipas orders the arrest of the wild prophet and throws him in prison.

At the royal marriage feast, Herodia's voluptuous daughter Salome (left) dances for the court and so delightful is her performance that the King drunkenly announces that she can demand whatever reward she desires. Salome consults her mother, who suggests that she asks for the head of John the Baptist.

Nonetheless, John's earthly mission has already been accomplished. Prior to his arrest, incarceration and beheading, he had recognized and identified The One who will save the people from eternal enslavement to the forces of evil - indeed, Ha Adon Yeheshua Ha Mashi'akh or long-awaited Messiah - and baptized him in the living waters of the river Jordan. The young Master Yeshua's encounter with his shamanic initiator, John the Baptist transforms him into The Christos or Anointed King.

Yeshua emerges from his full immersion in the Jordan reborn as The Christos, awakened to his own earthly mission, even as a voice from heaven resounds in his head: "You are verily my Sun in whom I am so well pleased!"

John the Baptist is widely acknowledged as a Man of Godly Wisdom and his naming of Yeshua as The One facilitates the Master Yeshua's mission of awakening the people.

Traveling from village to village to explain his vision of humanity's New Dawn, Yeshua amasses a following that grows by the day. Few can resist his penetrating intelligence and charisma, his aura of nobility and innate leadership. The Galileans are convinced that the King has finally returned to reclaim his Heavenly Kingdom on Earth.

However, obstacles abound on the road to Glory, Kingdom and Power...

The Sadduccees fear radical change, having adapted nicely to Roman Occupation and invested their lives in mercantile activities, they cling anxiously to the Status Quo and speak of compromise, patience, reconciliation with Herod, and appeasement of Rome, lest turmoil descend upon the nation.

The Pharisees and Scribes, on the other hand, realize that the Return of the King could result in a diminution of their worldly authority and wealth; possibly total loss of their powers and privileges, gained at the expense of the ignorant masses. For generations they have toiled under the yoke of Roman Occupation, learning to serve time and their own self-interest. Now, along comes a visionary from out of the blue whose impassioned talk of the Kingdom of Heaven sends shivers of incomprehension through their weakened spines. They are being asked to make a leap of faith into uncharted territory, to live by aspirations long forgotten and ideals long forsaken... never before has a crisis of such magnitude befallen the nation!

Can this Miracle Worker, this self-proclaimed Messiah, this uncrowned King be trusted? Will he lead us to the Promised Land at long last... or to Damnation and Ruin?

This is a story that has been told and retold throughout the ages. The plot remains the same, as do the key characters. What changes are the time and place, the costume and set design. And, as always, how the story ends - whether in tragedy or triumph - is entirely in our own hands.

[First posted 25 September 2008. Reposted 9 January 2014 & 23 December 2014]