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Social Media Flooded With False Claims That BLM, ANTIFA Responsible for Siege of Capitol

Some right-wing figures even claimed that well-known QAnon supporters and white supremacists were, in fact, “Antifa” leftists.

Elias Marat

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In the aftermath of the brief storming of the U.S. Capitol building by pro-Trump militants, right-wing figures have been flooding social networks with allegations unsupported by evidence that anti-fascists (ANTIFA) were the true culprits for the botched insurrection.

In some cases, the claims were demonstrably false, with the individuals accused of being “ANTIFA” activists actually being notorious QAnon figures and outright neo-Nazis.

At about 3 p.m. Pacific Time, California Sen. Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield), the GOP state Senate leader, tweeted a link to a conspiracy theory alleging that members of the anti-fascist movement had stormed the Capitol, not rioters and militia members supporting the outgoing president. She later deleted the tweet after it attracted press attention.

“Patriots don’t act like this,” Grove tweeted, linking to a post by pro-Trump attorney Lin Wood. “This was Antifa.” Grove later posted a revised version that read: “This behavior is unacceptable and un-American.”

Republican U.S. Congressmen Louie Gohmert and Mo Brooks also spread the conspiracy theory on Twitter. Late Wednesday, Congressman Matt Goetz pushed the false claims on the House floor.

Disgraced former NYPD Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, whom Trump pardoned last year for his 2010 conviction on eight felonies, also went viral after posting a so-called “ANTIFA ALERT” that falsely claimed two of the men who appeared in a number of news agency photos from the siege on the Capitol were Black Lives Matter supporters.

In fact, the two are well-known neo-Nazi leaders — and neither was even in attendance at the D.C. rally, it turned out.

The man on the right whom he accused of being a left-wing activist was Matthew Heimbach, a notorious white supremacist Trump supporter and former head of the defunct Traditionalist Workers Party. Heimbach earned national notoriety after being caught on video assaulting a young Black woman protesting at a 2016 Trump campaign rally. Heimbach also helped promote the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that ended in violence and death.

The other person misidentified in the photo is “Jason Tankersley,” the founder of the neo-Nazi Maryland Skinheads. However, the man in the yellow hoodie turned out not to be Tankersley.

I am not now nor have I ever been a member of antifa and I was not in DC today,” Tankersley posted on his Facebook page shortly after the Capitol riots. 

Heimbach also emphatically denied being anywhere close to Washington on Wednesday, saying that he was instead with his step-daughter 600 miles away at his home in Chattanooga, Tennessee, at the time.

The two weren’t the only prominent hard-rightists that social media conspiracists accused of being left-wing rabble-rousers.

Among the more memorable images from the storming of the U.S. Capitol were images of Jake Angeli, a pro-Trump activist wearing Viking-themed tattoos, a strange fur outfit, horned hat, and painted face. Since 2019, Angeli has stationed himself on the sidewalk outside the Arizona State Capitol preaching fringe conspiracy theories espoused by QAnon.  

According to Arizona Central, the self-styled “QAnon Shaman” would shout, “You all know who Q is?” while explaining to passersby that Q “was a government agent who wanted to ‘take the country back’ from pedophiles and globalists.”

Other social media users identified Angeli as a “familiar face at pro-Trump rallies” and posted images of the activist posing with Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

However, viral social media posts from pro-Trump accounts made the demonstrably false claim that Angeli is a supporter of the Black Lives Matter and anti-fascist movements. Another Facebook user groundlessly alleged that because Angeli has an account on audition website Backstage.com, he must be a “BLM/Antifa PAID ‘Actor.’” The post is quickly making the rounds on the social media platform.

The photo of the “Q Shaman” at a BLM protest is real, no doubt. Yet the photo has been manipulated to crop out his QAnon sign. As it turns out, Angeli was present at the BLM protest as a pro-Trump counter-protestor.

Meanwhile, conservative newspaper The Washington Times posted a bizarre story that claimed, with zero evidence, that “Trump supporters say that antifa members disguised as one of them infiltrated” the mob that stormed the Capitol building. The article was cited by Rep. Matt Goetz in his widely-derided Wednesday night speech.

Citing an unnamed “retired military officer” the newspaper said that the facial recognition firm XRVision was able to match two of the participants in the Wednesday invasion of the Senate floor to “two Philadelphia antifa members.”

As it turns out, the facial recognition software mismatched the image of the two individuals to a page on PhillyAntifa.org outing Heimbach and Tankersley as neo-Nazis.

Rep. Gohmert and various social media users also claimed that the man in the yellow hoodie had a hammer and sickle tattoo, with one widely-shared tweet even leaping to the wild conclusion that this was somehow evidence of a Communist Party of China (CPC) hand in Wednesday’s unrest. In truth, as many social media users point out, the tattoo is a logo from a video game.

XRVision later successfully forced the Washington Times to retract the claim, as well as the entire article from their website.

The Times also repeated the dubious claim that a so-called Antifa chapter sent out a message calling on members to “to disguise themselves as Trump supporters by wearing the distinctive red Make America Great Again (MAGA) hat.”

It wouldn’t be the first time that right-wing social media users and white supremacist groups have used fabricated social media posts and sock puppet accounts to frame Antifa for planning violent incidents. Groups such as neo-Nazi organization Identity Evropa have long been exposed for generating fake messages from non-existent “Antifa” national organizations.

Facebook executives have said that the goal of circulating such content is to plant a single false flag that can then be used to sow distrust about the target group.

Following last year’s outbreak of protests against police brutality and systemic racism, Trump and his supporters began attempting to brand Antifa a domestic terrorist organization that was responsible for the unrest resulting from the May 25 killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.

However, the term Antifa originates in the 1930s when left-wing activists opposed to far-right authoritarianism emerged as a global movement. In recent history, the phrase has come back as a political orientation opposed to ultranationalism and fascism in the U.S., Latin America and Europe.

Those who identify with the term typically favor direct action and autonomous mutual aid over policy reform. While many right-wing politicians such as Trump have tried to brand antifa as an organization, the group is not a formal organization.

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Bizarre

FBI ‘Aware Of’ Alleged Spotting of UFO by American Airlines Pilot Over New Mexico

Elias Marat

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New Mexico has long been considered the mecca for people interested in UFO incidents, with the southwestern state attracting tens of thousands of annual visitors to the alleged sites of close encounters in Roswell, as well as other sightings such as the Lonnie Zamora incident and the Aztec UFO crash.  

With such a rich history of alleged sightings of unidentified flying objects in New Mexico, it should come as no surprise that another close encounter has been reported – this time by a commercial airline pilot on Sunday afternoon.

At around 1 p.m. local time on Sunday, an unidentified aerial craft reportedly whooshed past American Airlines flight 2292 in the northern part of the state, startling the pilot who expressed his shock over the strange object flying overhead at a breathtaking rate of speed.

In a 15-second recording that was obtained by self-described “stealth chaser” Steve Douglass of Amarillo, Texas, and published on his blog Deep Black Horizon, the pilot can be heard excitedly communicating with air traffic controllers about the strange sighting he saw above the clouds during the passenger flight.

“Do you have any targets up here?” the pilot asks the Federal Aviation Administration traffic controllers.

“We just had something go right over the top of us,” he continues. “I hate to say this, but it looked like a long, cylindrical object that almost looked like a cruise missile type of thing moving really fast, and went right over the top of us.”

However, the response from Albuquerque Air Route Traffic Control Center can’t be heard due to local air traffic in Amarillo interfering with the channel, Douglass said. The blogger and author of “The Comprehensive Guide to Military Monitoring” also noted that there was no “no significant military aircraft presence was noted on ADS-B logs” and that the flight proceeded to land without incident at its destination in Phoenix, Arizona.

While the FAA has yet to comment on the strange encounter, American Airlines has confirmed that the recording of the radio communications with the pilot is fully authentic.

“Following a debrief with our Flight Crew and additional information received, we can confirm this radio transmission was from American Airlines Flight 2292 on Feb. 21,” a spokesman for the airliner wrote in an email to Fox News. The spokesman added that any additional inquiries should be addressed to the FBI.

However, the FBI response was equally opaque.

“The FBI is aware of the reported incident,” bureau spokesman Frank Connor wrote in an email. “While our policy is to neither confirm nor deny investigations, the FBI works continuously with our federal, state, local and tribal partners to share intelligence and protect the public.”

Furthermore, authorities at the nearby Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque reported that they had been alerted to the supposed encounter through the media, but officials at the base were not discussing the matter.

“We have no knowledge of this. We’re not aware of anything,” Lally Laksbergs told Wall Street Journal. Officials at White Sands Missile Range in southern New Mexico have not yet responded to media inquiries.

However, Douglass has expressed doubt that the close encounter was with a military projectile.

“It was a Sunday. Basically, it’s a military’s day off,” Douglass told KVII News, where he works as a photographer. “When tests occur, the military notifies the FAA, aircraft are kept out of the area and their schedules and strict flight lanes as aircraft need to stay in to not interfere with these tests. That’s not what happened.”

“Whatever it was came fast, right at them and right over them, which gave them a big enough scare that they had to report it,” he added. “If the military can’t explain what it is, what’s flying out there that we don’t know about?”

In recent years, officials with the U.S. government have been increasingly vocal in its discussions of UFOs, which they prefer to refer to as unidentified aerial phenomena or UAPs.

In September 2019, U.S. Navy officials admitted that widely-circulating video footage captured by Navy pilots purportedly showing UFOs flying through the skies did, in fact, depict actual “unknown” objects that flew into U.S. airspace. The videos had been released months prior by To The Stars Academy of Arts & Sciences (TTS), a private “UFO research organization” founded by former Blink 182 frontman Tom De Longe. 

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Activism

Akon Finally Breaks Ground On His Futuristic $10 Billion Solar Powered “Crypto City”

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The rapper, entrepreneur, and philanthropist Akon has been making significant progress on his development plans in Africa, which involve the creation of a futuristic city that runs on clean energy and cryptocurrency.

In January of last year, Akon revealed that his agreements with Senegal President Macky Sall were going forward, and a few months later it was announced that the engineering and consulting firm KE International was awarded a $6 billion contract to build the city. The company previously said it had already received $4 billion from investors for the first two phases of Akon City’s construction, giving the project a price tag of at least $10 billion. 

The project goes much further than just this one city and it has already begun to make an impact across the continent. In the short time since the deal was finalized last year, a large number of solar street lights, and solar home lighting units, have been installed across 14 African countries, according to Akon Lighting Africa.

The effort was made possible by a private-public partnership model and a well-established network of partners including SOLEKTRA INT, SUMEC, and NARI.

Phase 1 of construction on the city is expected to be completed in 2023, and will include roads, a hospital, residences, hotels, a police station, a waste facility, a school, and a solar power plant. The entire city is expected to be finished around 2029. The city’s economy will be facilitated by Akon’s cryptocurrency “Akoin,” which runs on the Stellar blockchain. Stellar is a crypto ecosystem that includes its own cryptocurrency XLM, and also allows for the development of other projects, such as decentralized exchanges and additional currencies like Akoin. Banks around the world have also been considering using the Stellar blockchain for stablecoin deployment. 

Akon believes that cryptocurrency is the solution to the corruption problems that create widespread inequality in Africa because the blockchain provides a record that would make corruption extremely obvious if it were to take place. With an independent cryptocurrency, governments are unable to print money and devalue the currency, and the control of the money is decentralized.

In an interview with TMZ last year, Akon compared the vision that he has for the city with the fictional “Wakanda” from the movie Black Panther.

“This movie literally made an idea of what Africa could really be. It’s just ironic that I was already working on this before the movie came out, but it’s something that helped me a lot when I was trying to explain to explain to people what I was trying to do,” Akon said.

The city’s crypto-economic system will also solve many problems specific to the developing world, like instantly calculating conversation rates for currencies, which is often an obstacle because there are so many different regional currencies and methods of trade. In some cases, people even use prepaid cellphone minutes as a currency because it is easier to use and exchange than traditional currencies. Akon says that the Akoin wallet will allow users to trade between cryptocurrencies, fiat currencies, and cellphone minutes instantly without having to go through a major exchange using Atomic Swap technology. The app will also teach users to become more familiar with the technology in general.

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Health

California Bill Backed by PTSD War Veterans Groups Would Legalize Psychedelics Statewide

Elias Marat

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California could soon decriminalize psychedelics statewide if one legislator’s new bill is passed, marking another step by the Golden State to do away with laws seen by critics as antiquated vestiges of the failed U.S. war on drugs.

On Thursday, Senator Scott Wiener of San Francisco introduced Bill 519, which would comprehensively decriminalize the use of and possession of psychedelics, following the lead of such places as Oakland, Santa Cruz, the District of Columbia, and Oregon, which have all decriminalized the drugs to varying degrees.

Under the proposed law, a range of psychedelic drugs including psilocybin – the hallucinogen in “magic” mushrooms – psilocyn, 3,4-MDMA (also known as molly or ecstasy), LSD, ketamine, DMT, ibogaine, and mescaline would all be decriminalized. Like a previous law passed in 2018 that expunged cannabis-related convictions from the records of Californians, Bill 519 would also wipe clean prior convictions for the use or possession of drugs.

While the comprehensive decriminalization measure would open the door to any sort of use of the drugs, not limited to medical, it would also be tied to measures that endorse the medicinal and therapeutic benefits of psychedelics which have gained increased recognition from health experts and researchers in recent years.

Given the severity of our mental health crisis, we shouldn’t be criminalizing people for using drugs that have shown significant promise in treating mental health conditions,” Wiener said in a statement. “People should be able to seek alternative treatment for diseases like anxiety, depression, and PTSD, and we need to make science-based treatments available to those in need.”

The bill has also been heavily supported by two groups, the Heroic Hearts Project and VETS (Vets Exploring Treatment Solutions), both nonprofit organizations that assist veterans in addressing mental health challenges stemming from trauma, such as PTSD.

The strategy tout the medical benefits of the drugs is one that has been used with success in past efforts by drug policy reform advocates.

“That’s how it worked with cannabis,” Oregonian drug policy reform advocate Anthony Johnson told the Guardian. Johnson helped lead efforts in his state to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of basically all illicit drugs through Measure 110, which voters overwhelmingly approved in November.

“It’s definitely a way to help people that need it first and foremost, but also then to educate the public about these substances of how the drug war has been a failed policy and how there is a better approach,” Johnson added.

In the case of Oregon’s Measure 109, which cleared the way for the all-out legalization of psilocybin mushrooms, petitioners highlighted the need to end the prohibition of the substance as a means toward treating mental health challenges through alternative methods.

“Healthcare professionals, veterans, mothers, people struggling with depression, anxiety, addiction and end of life distress, community organizations, and so many others answered to call for a new option to help so many who are suffering,” a coalition of Oregon advocates said in a statement last November following voters’ overwhelming approval of the legal psilocybin therapy bill.

As has been the case in other states, however, the largest obstacle to decriminalization has been law enforcement, who cite concerns over public safety, and the private prison industry which enjoys generous profits from state contracts to incarcerate drug users. However, state Senator Wiener hopes that the testimony of veterans will help convince opponents of the need to shed their preconceptions and biases toward users of psychedelic drugs.

“There’s a stereotype of who’s using psychedelics, but it’s much broader than that and when you have veterans coming into the Capitol talking about how psychedelics help them with PTSD and help them get their lives back, that’s incredibly powerful for legislators,” Wiener explained.

Among those veterans is 38-year-old veteran Juliana Mercer, who spent 16 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, including 10 years of active duty service over the course of one tour in Iraq and one in Afghanistan.

As a four-year member of the wounded warriors unit, Mercer saw unspeakable horrors that left an indelible impression on her psyche – ultimately resulting in long-term trauma that she was largely unable to address.

“I lost quite a few friends and just saw a lot of a lot of damage and destruction along the way,” Mercer said. “I put all of that stuff away and kind of forgot about it for a while, and once I slowed down it was all just sitting there and I didn’t know what to do with it.”

While her first experience with psychedelics was recreational, she eventually gained a sense of connectedness that had been absent for years. She eventually reached out to the Heroic Hearts Project a year and a half ago to undergo ayahuasca therapy, which she said had completely exceeded expectations in allowing her to release “years of grief.”

“I kept hearing that when you do some of these plant medicines, you’ll be able to do 10 years worth of work in one session,” Mercer explained. “Just one of my sessions really brought out all of that pain and the grief that I didn’t even know was in there and allowed me to just completely release it and expel it, things that I had no idea were there.”

For licensed clinical social worker Lauren Taus, therapies involving plants such as ayahuasca and psilocybin are simply strong tools rather than cure-alls for mental health challenges. However, with the ongoing pandemic compounding a mental health crisis that has long been felt across the United States, Taus is adamant that such potent tools must be decriminalized.

“The causes of trauma are multiplying way faster than the solutions,” Taus said. “Current treatment is generally not very effective.”

“Psychedelic medicine has been engaged with globally for eons,” she added. “This stuff works and we deserve to have access to solutions that will be sustainable.”

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