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Now QAnons conspiracy theories are taking root across Europe – Coda Story

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Qanon spreads in Europe

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In June, Carol Schaeffer reported on a surge of participation in German online groups related to QAnon an elaborate U.S.-focused conspiracy theory in which President Donald Trump is portrayed as fighting a secret network of powerful individuals involved in Satanic pedophile rings.

Now, a new report by Newsguard, a U.S.-based tech company that tracks online disinformation, shows that QAnons ideology is growing across Europe. Websites, pages, social media groups and accounts have appeared in countries such as the U.K., France and Italy, gathering large numbers of followers. 

Researchers concluded that themes central to QAnon, which was birthed with a post on the web forum 4Chan in late 2017, have been deftly fitted to various political environments overseas. Along with playing to widespread concerns about the Covid-19 pandemic, they state that the movements ability to tailor itself to different national audiences has played a significant part in its global growth.

Early on, European websites raised questions about how QAnon theories applied to their countries, underlining that the deep state at the heart of these theories knew no borders. This allowed these theories to slowly morph, and target local representations of the elites at the heart of Qs narrative,  the report reads. 

For example in July, the German website Compact-Online, which propagates right-wing views and pro-Kremlin disinformation, echoed accusations leveled at high-profile U.S. figures such as Hillary Clinton and former president Barack Obama by claiming that German politicians are also secretly managing pedophile networks. QAnon followers also consider Germanys Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Emmanuel Macron of France to be under the control of a shadowy cabal pulling the strings of international politics. 

Conspiracy theories are inherently malleable, and some have been smoothly adapted to fit new national contexts. European countries will have their own issues that fit neatly with QAnon narratives Jimmy Saviles prolific history of sex abuse in the U.K., for example, or Prince Andrews implication in the Jeffrey Epstein scandal, said David Lawrence of the British advocacy group Hope not Hate. 

More widely, in recent years trust in institutions has eroded in many European countries, opening the door for conspiracy theories and the far right an issue that has been exacerbated by the pandemic and subsequent government measures.

This week, The Guardian published an investigation that studied over 170 European QAnon groups and accounts on Facebook and Instagram, with more than 4.6 million followers. According to the article, dozens of new groups have appeared since June and the following of existing accounts has increased by 34% in the same period. 

Meanwhile, back on home turf, QAnon theories are moving ever closer to the halls of power. The conspiracy has exploded in the U.S., with hundreds of thousands of adherents and millions of interactions on social media. This week, Marjorie Taylor Greene, an open supporter of the movement, won the state of Georgias Republican primary for the House of Representatives and is almost certain to gain a place on Capitol Hill. 

She is not the only QAnon follower on the ballot in November. According to Media Matters, around 20 candidates across the country have endorsed or spoken favorably about the theory.

QAnon believers are running for office and in some cases winning, and that could happen in other democracies. It also inspires violent crime and terrorism, which is why, here in the U.S,, the FBI has named it as a domestic terrorism threat, said Melissa Ryan, CEO of CARD Strategies, a firm that helps progressive organizations fight disinformation. 

QAnon will probably outlast Trump here in the U.S. It’s terrifying to think of it taking hold in multiple countries, where folks can coordinate online and keep the conspiracy alive.

Photo by Grischa Stanjek / democ.

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Sanders and Schumer call on McConnell to hold hearings to fight election conspiracy theories – KTVZ

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Sanders and Schumer call on McConnell to hold hearings to fight election conspiracy theories - KTVZ

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Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York are calling on Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to create a new bipartisan committee focused on election integrity and schedule hearings to reassure Americans over a process President Donald Trump has repeatedly sought to undermine.

There is growing anxiety among Democrats, and some Republicans, that Trump will not only continue to sow doubt over the legitimacy of the coming election but throw the subsequent count into chaos by declaring victory before all the votes can be tallied, including the millions that will arrive by mail.

In a letter to McConnell, Sanders and Schumer quote back the Kentucky senator’s own words, in which he attested to the reliability of mail-in voting by citing its successes in Oregon, Washington and Colorado, which have been using the system for years.

Trump has repeatedly questioned the validity of mail-in voting, promoted conspiracy theories questioning election security, called on supporters to act as unsanctioned “poll watchers,” and suggested that the absence of a clear result by the evening of November 3 would in some way cast doubt on the eventual outcome. Key allies in powerful positions, like Attorney General Bill Barr, have followed suit. Barr has persisted in puffing up a debunked claim that ballots received by mail would somehow strip the sender of their privacy — ignoring well-established safeguards.

By escalating the matter now, Sanders and Schumer are responding to growing concern, in partisan and nonpartisan spaces, that Americans are not adequately prepared for the potential of a longer-than-usual wait for results or Trump’s willingness to short-circuit the democratic process if he smells defeat.

“Democrats and Republicans in Congress must come together to ensure that we have a free and fair election where every vote is cast and counted without intimidation,” Sanders told CNN, “where no one has to put his or her health in danger to cast a ballot, and where we have full confidence in the results.”

The proposed hearings would invite a cross-section of election officials from across the country to testify to the security and reliability of mail-in, early- and in-person voting — subjects on which Sanders and Schumer, again, referenced McConnell’s own words.

“Despite the clear security of our vote-by-mail system, some have continued to undermine it with unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud,” they wrote. “As you have correctly said, people ‘can vote early, you can vote on Election Day, or you can drop it in the mail,’ and that voters should ‘not worry about your vote not counting.’”

The minority leader and Sanders, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, also want more detailed discussion about the fraught hours, or days, after the polls close and a real-time watch of the election horse race potentially swings from one candidate to another.

“We know a number of states may well be counting ballots for a period of time after Election Day, and that those votes may be determinative in this election,” the senators wrote to McConnell. “To avoid disinformation, conspiracy theories, and suspicion about results, we must understand the likely timeline for this process.”

The letter goes on to reference the recent war games-style preparations conducted by a group called the Transition Integrity Project, a bipartisan gathering of operatives and academics that made headlines when some of the outcomes of their exercises — including “both street-level violence and political impasse” — were reported on in late July.

“A bipartisan group of experts and officials have studied multiple scenarios where the outcome of the election was not immediately known. Some of these scenarios resulted in unrest and even violence,” Sanders and Schumer wrote, suggesting the Senate should elevate similar discussions and familiarize the public with the uncertainties ahead. “We would like to hear from the most knowledgeable people in the country as to how we can do everything possible to make sure that the election and the period afterward is secure and peaceful.”

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HHS official sorry for conspiracy theory video

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HHS official sorry for conspiracy theory video

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HHS supported Caputo, with a statement that called him a critical, integral part of the presidents coronavirus response, leading on public messaging as Americans need public health information to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic.

There was no immediate statement from the White House.

Attempts to reach Caputo were unsuccessful.

On Capitol Hill, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., called on Azar to fire Caputo, accusing the spokesman of trying to interfere with CDC reports to the medical and scientific community, as well as the public at large. And Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called on Azar himself to resign, citing interference with the CDC as one example of what he termed the administration’s failures.

Officials at CDC have privately complained of recent efforts by political appointees at main HHS to try to edit or press for changes in the agency’s weekly MMWR publications, a go-to resource for public health professionals.

MMWR articles are technical, but they reveal telling details. One published earlier this year noted that while Trump’s travel restrictions dramatically reduced travel from China in February, nothing was being done at that time to restrict travel from Italy and Europe, where the coronavirus was spreading widely and rapidly. Analysis of virus samples from hard-hit New York in March suggested it was introduced there from Europe and other parts of the U.S., the CDC article reported.

Caputo is an unswerving Trump loyalist. His recent book, The Ukraine Hoax, claims the presidents phony impeachment was rooted in a vast conspiracy.

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unwinona:This is exactly what conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers have done with their HIV/AIDS…

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unwinona:This is exactly what conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers have done with their HIV/AIDS...

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My RSS Feedunwinona:

This is exactly what conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers have done with their HIV/AIDS and Polio narrative (among others), only we’re seeing it escalated to weeks and months instead of years or decades.

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