Monday, April 16, 2018

Diamond & Silk

Just days before Zuckerberg was slated to testify before key House and Senate congressional committees last week, Diamond and Silk alerted their followers on Facebook that their content was being suppressed by Zuckerberg's massive social media platform:

"Finally after several emails, chats, phone calls, appeals, beating around the bush, lies, and giving us the run around, Facebook gave us another bogus reason why Millions of people who have liked and/or followed our page no longer receives notification and why our page, post and video reach was reduced by a very large percentage.

"Here is the reply from Facebook... 'The Policy team has came to the conclusion that your content and your brand has been determined unsafe to the community.' Yep, this was FB conclusion after 6 Months, 29 days, 5 hrs, 40 minutes and 43 seconds. Oh and guess what else Facebook said: 'This decision is final and it is not appeal-able in any way.' "

The conservative website Drudge Report splashed it as a top story. Conservative Twitter accounts lit up with concern.

" 'BOOM' Diamond And Silk make the Drudge Report........ Don't start none, won't be none!" the partnership wrote on their Facebook page.

And then came the hearings where Zuckerberg faced Congress.


"There are a great many Americans who I think are deeply concerned that Facebook and other tech companies are engaged in a pervasive pattern of bias and political censorship," Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, told Zuckerberg. "Facebook has blocked Trump supporters Diamond and Silk's page after determining their content and brand were, quote, 'unsafe to the community.' "

"Why is Facebook censoring conservative bloggers such as Diamond and Silk?" asked Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas.

"What is unsafe about two black women supporting President Donald J. Trump?" asked Rep. Billy Long, R-Mo.

Zuckerberg said Facebook works to limit some categories of harmful content, such as material endorsing terrorism. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., responded, "Let me tell you something right now. Diamond and Silk is not terrorism."

The CEO told lawmakers that any efforts to limit the duo's reach was an "enforcement error" on the part of the Facebook team but did not detail what Facebook had done — or why.

A Facebook spokesperson told NPR that the message telling Diamond and Silk that they were "unsafe" should never have been sent and that any issues that the duo had with their reach on Facebook has to do with policy shifts over the last two years that prioritize posts from friends and family on Facebook news feeds over other pages such as political ones. Facebook also has a policy since 2016 of discouraging clickbait headlines.

Facebook has also adjusted its policy on how people like Diamond and Silk can make money off their Facebook pages, which was not made clear.

The Facebook spokesperson said that the company was responsible for explaining these policy changes to Diamond and Silk and wanted to apologize.

There are signs of an emerging detente between the social media giant and the Trump-defending duo. On Friday, Diamond and Silk posted on their Facebook page an email from a company representative.

"Thank you for reaching out to us and giving us the opportunity to apologize," the note read. The communique suggested that Facebook was hoping to set up a time to talk on the phone with Diamond and Silk.


This is not a conservative issue.  I’m really sick of the media spin.  I’m glad conservative members of Congress asked about it.  But this is an issue that matters to me and I noted it last week “.”  It matters to me because FACEBOOK was silencing two Black women and, historically, we have been the ones silenced.  Over and over, our voices have been silenced, forgotten, rendered invisible.  Look at Zora Neal Hurston.  Were it not for the work of Alice Walker, would we even realize how great and wonderful Zora’s writing is?  Or Coretta Scott King.  A historic figure, a woman who fought for Civil Rights and carried on after the government assassinated her husband.  Her death was not worth one column from THE NEW YORK TIMES (or any editorials).  She was rendered invisible by the paper. 


Or look at music.  For every Janis Joplin who paid tribute and honored the blues women, there were countless others ripping them off.  Over and over, the story of Black women is a story of silence and erasure.


So this nonsense of FACEBOOK censoring Diamond and Silk goes beyond conservative speech or anything else.  It goes to the historic treatment we have had to endure.  I don’t care about your politics on this issue, I’ll stand with you because of the way we have been treated.  That was my point last week.  Diamond and Silk are two strong Black women.  Their voices are needed.  Their participation in the public square is needed.  I will gladly and loudly defend them. 





A number of political parties that call themselves socialist proved they are nothing of the sort by lending support to Friday night’s illegal US, French and British bombing of Syria.

Groups like the American International Socialist Organization (ISO), Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), and the French New Anticapitalist Party (NPA) are pro-war organizations. They are participating in a propaganda campaign with the capitalist press organs and the intelligence agencies to spread the lie that the bombings are justified on a “humanitarian” basis and that additional military force is required. Socialists reject these attempts to cover imperialist intervention in a fraudulent “left” veneer.

First, these pseudo-left groups attack those who question the legitimacy of the CIA and MI6 claims that Assad used chemical weapons in Eastern Ghouta last week. They accept the claims produced by the same military intelligence agencies that spread the lie of “weapons of mass destruction” to justify the invasion of Iraq, which led to the deaths of over 1 million people.

The NPA’s Joseph Daher wrote in an April 10 article titled “Syria: A nightmare without end” that the Syrian government “killed over 100 people in 24 hours, according to the first estimates, with especially strong suspicions of the use of chlorine and sarin gas.” Daher unquestionably accepts the claims that the Assad regime carried out a chemical gas attack in Ghouta on April 7. This charge has been promulgated throughout the media without evidence in order to justify an illegal war of aggression against Syria that has placed humanity on the verge of a nuclear world war between the US and Russia. In a post-bombing statement titled “With the Syrian people, against the bombings and all imperialist intervention,” the NPA called for a “rejection of the campaign to discredit the veracity of yet another criminal chemical attack by the regime.”

The ISO’s article from April 13, “US missiles won’t stop Syria’s suffering,” features a photo of a child on a ventilator taken from the widely circulated video that the CIA claims is “proof” that Assad used chemical weapons. The article states, “On April 7, a chemical attack carried out by the Syrian government forces in the city of Douma in southwestern Syria killed at least 43 people and left many others struggling to breathe.” The article declares that while the “Assad regime denied launching the chemical attack” and the “Russian government likewise claimed the reports of a gas attack were a ‘hoax,’” these “denials are a cruel lie.”

But US Defense Secretary James Mattis acknowledged Friday night in a press conference that he hadn’t found evidence that the Syrian government used chemical weapons until Friday afternoon, hours after the ISO’s article appeared. In other words, the ISO reached its guilty verdict before the Pentagon claims it reached theirs.

Second, the pseudo-left groups criticize the bombing campaign on the grounds that it does not go far enough and that more military intervention is required.



They are hideous.  Good for Will Morrow for calling them out.  They need to be rebuked.  I would also recommend Ava and C.I.’s “TV: Neither humanity nor honesty factor into corporate news ” which documents the way the big three networks – in their so-called public affairs programs – chose to ‘cover’ the bombing of Syria.

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
Monday, April 16, 2018.  Donald Trump leads the bombing of Syria, Iraqis protest while the US media attempts to divert and distract from the real issues.

In Iraq, protests.

In a bit of good news for Hayder al-Abadi, they weren't protesting government corruption.  They were instead protesting the US attacks on Syria that US President Donald Trump launched on Friday night.

A little after 9:00 pm EST, Donald appeared on US television to announce, "Today, the nations of Britain, France, and the United States of America have marshaled their righteous power against barbarism and brutality."

Righteous power?  Some would argue there was nothing righteous about it.  As Vijay Prashad pointed out on CLEARING THE FOG, if indeed there were chemical weapons at the spots bombed, what would be the point of bombing them?  Wouldn't that just put the chemicals into the air?

If you were waiting for the US corporate media to address that, you were waiting in vain.  As Ava and I explained  in "TV: Neither humanity nor honesty factor into corporate news," ABC, CBS and NBC all skipped the notion of questions on their so-called public affairs programs on Sunday.  ABC, in fact, was more interested in promoting their Sunday 'news' special -- George Stephanopoulos fawning over James Comey -- than in exploring Syria.

On RT's GOING UNDERGROUND, Afshin Rattansi could -- and did -- wonder, "Whether chemical weapons allegations have become the political weapon of choice to excuse western expansionism?"  But the US corporate media was silenced on this and any other issue of importance.  As Mark Crispin Miller pointed out on Friday's ON CONTACT WITH CHRIS HEDGES, "I would say that the things you hear us talk about the least -- because the press has blacked them out -- are what pose the greatest threat to us."

What couldn't be broadcast on US corporate media could be questioned elsewhere.  SPUTNIK points out:

French Minister of Economy and Finance Bruno Le Maire, who previously served as secretary of state for European affairs, said on Monday that he saw no parallels between the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, which was opposed by Paris at the time, and the strikes carried out on Syria by France and its allies this weekend.
"This is a ridiculous comparison. This situation has nothing to do with the current situation. There was no aggression from Iraq back then…. There was no Iraqi aggression, no Iraqi threat: why would you attack a state that does not threaten you?" Le Maire said on the Europe 1 broadcaster.

The US corporate media may question Donald Trump, may tear him apart daily, but they will never question war.

Wait, as Ava and I point out, they do question it -- they question whether any attack was enough and they fret that any action might make the government of Iran stronger.  That's their way of questioning -- begging for more and more war.

If the corporate media is craven (and it is), the American 'independent' media isn't a whole lot better as evidenced by COMMON DREAMS.  They 'cover' the strikes by running commentary by Juan Cole (born John Cole), the infamous CIA contractor.  Here's John V. Walsh (ANTIWAR.COM):

Cole claims to be a man of the "Left" and he appears with painful frequency on Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now as the reigning "expert" on the war on Libya.  This is deeply troubling – on at least two counts. First, can one be a member of the "Left" and also an advocate for the brutal intervention by the Great Western Powers in the affairs of a small, relatively poor country?  Apparently so, at least in Democracy Now’s version of the "Left."  Second, it appears that Cole’s essential function these days is to convince wavering progressives that the war on Libya is fine and dandy.  But how can such damaged goods as Cole credibly perform this marketing mission so vital to Obama’s war?
Miraculously, Cole got just the rehabilitation he needed to continue with this vital propaganda function when it was disclosed by the New York Times on June 15 that he was the object of a White House inquiry way back in 2005 in Bush times. The source and reason for this leak and the publication of it by the NYT at this time, so many years later, should be of great interest, but they are unknown.   Within a week of the Times piece Cole was accorded a hero’s welcome on Democracy Now, as he appeared with retired CIA agent Glenn Carle who had served 23 years in the clandestine services of the CIA in part as an "interrogator."  Carl had just retired from the CIA at the time of the White House request and was at the time employed at the National Intelligence Council, which authors the National Intelligence Estimate. 
It hit this listener like a ton of bricks when it was disclosed in Goodman’s interview that Cole was a long time "consultant" for the CIA, the National Intelligence Council and other agencies.

Yet COMMON DREAMS is publishing him still?  As the late Alexander Cockburn (COUNTERPUNCH) observed in 2011, "On Amy Goodman's Democracy Now one was far more likely to hear CIA-consultant Juan Cole issuing fervent support for the entire intervention than rather any vigorous interviewing of informed sources about what was actually happening on the ground in Libya."

It's offensive to a free exchange for Cole to be included due to his clandestine activities in the past (and currently).  It's also offensive for COMMON DREAMS to publish Cole's piece about Iraqis saying "We've seen this movie and it doesn't end well."

What movie?

And what Iraqi would say that?

War Hawk Cole would say it.  It's all a big joke to him.

But Iraqis did not take to the streets to protest the bombing of Syria because it reminded them of "a movie."

How patronizing and insulting can the corrupt Juan Cole be -- and don't let COMMON DREAMS off, they elected to post that crap.

For Iraqis who are still living with daily bombings on the ground and with the US-led coalition still dropping bombs on them from the air --  April 6th saw the coalition bombing Tuz, April 8th saw the bombing Rutbah, April 11th saw the bombing Qaim and April 12 saw the bombing of Qaim again (per the US Defense Dept) -- this is not "a movie."  It's insulting for Cole to claim that it is.

US bombed Iraq and killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis  over suspected weapons of mass destruction. US has now bombed Syria over suspected chemical weapons. How many Syrians would get killed?

The Iraqi people took to the streets because they've lived with destruction passed off as 'liberation' and they know where this lead.

Nehal Mostafa (IRAQI NEWS) reports:

Hundreds of Iraqi citizens protested on Sunday in central Baghdad against the aistrikes carried out against Syria on Saturday, AlSumaria News reported.
The civilians, according to the report, staged a demonstration in al-Tahrir region in Baghdad against the airstrikes launched by U.S., backed by Britain and France, against Syria.
The protesters raised Iraqi and Syrian flag in solidarity with Syrian people. They also chanted against the U.S. and its allies.
Earlier today, security troops blocked the roads near from Tahrir region and imposed tight measures as the protest was staged.

Stop destroying Syria as you destroyed our country," shouted protesters in Baghdad's Tahrir Square, in reference to the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq. "No to America, no to the bombardment of Syria," they chanted.

NPR adds, "Demonstrators gathered in major cities across Iraq on Sunday to protest U.S.-led airstrikes against Syria in protests called for by Muqtada Sadr, the influential Shiite cleric who led the Mehdi Army that fought U.S. forces after the toppling of Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003.  The demonstrations took place in Baghdad, Basra and Najaf."

US flags burned as Iraqis protest Syria strikes...even Iraq knows that the actions in Syria were not only unjust, but politically motivated. They themselves have experienced the power of US / UK salvation.


May 12th, elections are supposed to take place in Iraq.  Ali Jawad (ANADOLU AGENCY) notes, "A total of 24 million Iraqis are eligible to cast their ballots to elect members of parliament, who will in turn elect the Iraqi president and prime minister."  RUDAW adds, "Around 7,000 candidates have registered to stand in the May 12 poll, with 329 parliamentary seats up for grabs."  RUDAW also notes that 60 Christian candidates are competing for the five allotted minority seats.

Campaigning started over the weekend.

On the first official day of campaigning for Iraq’s national elections, a single election poster hangs next to a sign warning of unexploded devices in Mosul’s devastated Old City.

Some in Iraq are not eager to vote.

In , citizens have been showing their feelings about the upcoming by ripping up posters of election candidates. Iraqis no longer believe elections will change anything and have grown tired and distrustful of a corrupt, failed political system


Along with those who will choose not to vote, there are those who will not be allowed to vote.  Amnesty International's Donatella Rovera Tweets:

's are in less than a month but 2.5 millions Iraqis remain displaced by war, mostly Sunnis & Yazidis.  Not clear how many of them will be able to vote. If they can't vote, it will have long-term implication - Not good 

In 2009, Iraq's Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi stood up for the displaced and demanded they be represented.  In 2018, with al-Hashemi not in the country, no one seems willing to step forward and stand up for the displaced.

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