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What is QAnon and where did it come from? What to know about the far-right conspiracy theory



What is QAnon and where did it come from? What to know about the far-right conspiracy theory


A growing right-wing conspiracy theory has garnered national attention after Twitter announced it was removing and suspending accounts associated with it.

Roughly 7,000 Twitter accounts tied to QAnon, a baseless conspiracy theory that alleges the existence of a “deep state” with ties to a child sex trafficking ring, were removed from the platform. Eventually, 150,000 accounts affiliated with QAnon will be impacted with less visibility for other Twitter users.

The announcement comes as QAnon has trickled into mainstream politics and conversation, experts who study the beliefs and growing movement behind it say.

QAnon supporters holding up “Q” signs have been spotted at rallies for President Donald Trump, who has regularly retweeted QAnon-linked accounts; candidates with ties to the group have won Congressional primaries; and Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, recently posted a video using phrases and slogans tied to the conspiracy theory.

Supporters of President Donald Trump hold up their phones with messages referring to the QAnon conspiracy theory at a campaign rally at Las Vegas Convention Center on February 21, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Supporters of President Donald Trump hold up their phones with messages referring to the QAnon conspiracy theory at a campaign rally at Las Vegas Convention Center on February 21, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“It has grown very rapidly, and despite Twitter’s actions, there are really no indications that it is going to slow down,” said Travis View, who has been researching QAnon for the past two years and co-hosts the QAnon Anonymous podcast.

Here’s a look at QAnon, where it originated and what its followers believe:

What is QAnon and where did it come from?

The QAnon conspiracy theory baselessly claims that there is a “deep state” apparatus run by political elites, business leaders and Hollywood celebrities who are also pedophiles and actively working against Trump.

View described it as meta conspiracy theory that provides an underlying narrative for other baseless theories. According to View, its followers believe that this “worldwide cabal of satanic pedophiles” run “all the major levers of power,” including government, media, business and Hollywood.

QAnon theorists believe that were it not for Trump’s election in 2016, the cabal would stay in power, View says. But Trump, working with the military, is actively putting an end to it, according to the theory.

An anonymous poster named Q shares cryptic tips that followers then decode to learn the ways in which the “deep state” controls the world, how Trump is battling and marching orders to join in, said Angelo Carusone, the president of Media Matters for America, a nonprofit that researches misinformation in the United States.

The boogaloo movement is gaining momentum: Who are the boogaloo ‘bois’ and what do they want?

View said the first of these tips, dubbed Q drops, was posted on 4chan on Oct. 28, 2017, by a poster claiming to have insider information about the government. Q drops are “usually nonsense,” View said, but followers believe they are decoding these messages.

Carusone described it like an activity or “a choose your own adventure” for followers.

Part of what makes the QAnon theory so powerful is the trust that the original poster built in followers, Carusone said.

The platforms where the Q drops occur have changed over time, Carusone said. And followers of the theory share QAnon content on all major social media platforms.

Fact check: Ellen, Oprah, many others are not under house arrest for child sex trafficking

What do QAnon supporters believe?

There are a wide range of conspiracy theories that QAnon supporters believe, View said.

Many falsely believe that mainstream U.S. media outlets receive an email at 4 a.m. every morning dictating what to cover. Others bizarrely say adrenochrome, a chemical compound, is the drug of the elite, and the only way to get the substance is to torture and kill children. 

Others falsely say that John F. Kennedy Jr., didn’t die in a plane crash. The furniture retailer Wayfair was recently the target of an unsubstantiated QAnon belief that the company was trafficking children through listings of products with inflated prices.

“It sounds completely nutty, and it is,” Carusone said.

For many, these theories become obsessive and can take over a person’s life, View said. “We often see QAnon followers alienate family members because they believe they have been granted key to universe,” he said.

Many continue to adhere to the belief system, however, because they see themselves as evangelizing Q’s message, Carusone said.

Another central tenant of the QAnon theory is that there will be a “storm” during which 100,000 politicians, celebrities and business leaders involved in the “deep state” ring will be rounded up and held accountable, View said.

What’s the tie between Trump, other politicians and QAnon?

While Trump hasn’t specifically addressed QAnon, he has retweeted accounts that promote the QAnon conspiracy theory at least 185 times, according to Media Matters for America.

According to the group, Trump family members, including Donald Trump Jr., have amplified QAnon accounts on social media, too.

Carusone said that many of Trump’s QAnon retweets have come in recent months, fueling the theory’s growth and leading to more politicians openly supporting it.

Media Matters for America has also tracked more than 60 current or former 2020 congressional candidates who are tied to QAnon in some way. The group says that at least 14 candidates that will be on voters’ ballots in November have endorsed, given credence to or promoted QAnon beliefs.

“There are going to be Q members of Congress,” Carusone said. While some may distance themselves from messages explicitly tied QAnon and its symbols, the underlying beliefs are here to stay in U.S. politics, Carusone added.

“The core critique that Q is dabbling into gets at something that a lot of people believe and feel, especially right now: That there is this elite that has impunity, that gets away with anything that it wants,” Carusone said.

Boogaloo crackdown: Facebook bans movement, gives it same designation as hate groups and terrorists

Is QAnon dangerous?

A Yahoo News report from August 2019 says that the FBI identified fringe conspiracy theories as a domestic extremist threat, and it specifically mentions QAnon.

The majority of QAnon supporters say they are peaceful and most of their activities remain online, View said.

“The danger is essentially that there have been multiple instances where QAnon followers have taken their beliefs offline in violent or dangerous ways,” he added.

View cited multiple cases of violence connected to QAnon believers. 

In June 2018, Matthew Wright, motivated by his belief in QAnon, blocked the bridge near the Hoover Dam with a homemade armored vehicle. He later pleaded guilty to making a terrorist threat.

Anthony Comello, accused of killing Frank Cali, the alleged boss of the Gambino crime family, was influenced by right-wing hate speech and conspiracy theories, his lawyer said. He appeared in court with the letter “Q” written on his hand.

The Pizzagate conspiracy theory, a sort of precursor to the QAnon theory, culminated in a man driving from North Carolina to Washington, D.C., where he started firing an assault-style rifle at Comet Ping Pong pizzeria. No one was killed, but the event brought the fringe theory  in this case that there was a child sex trafficking ring operating in the basement of the pizzeria  into the national spotlight. 

View said the Pizzagate theory was based on a distorted attempt at decoding emails from John Podesta published by Wikileaks, and it plays on many similar themes of QAnon.

View said that posters believed to be Q have never openly advocated for violence  though they have organized target harassment of people.

“There’s this whole ‘the ends justify the means’ idea,” Carusone said of QAnon followers. “You have to be willing to rise up to save these children.”

Contributing: Richard Ruelas, Arizona Republic; Courtney Marabella, Asbury Park Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: QAnon conspiracy theory: What is it, how connected to Trump, Twitter



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



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


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



HHS official sorry for conspiracy theory video


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…



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


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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