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.”
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.
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.”
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 .
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.
Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida
A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.
In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.
“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.
Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.
Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.
Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.
Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.
However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.
Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son
A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.
The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.
The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.
“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.
“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.
The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.
The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.
“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.
The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.
The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.
Video Shows Taliban Taking Joyride in Captured US Blackhawk Helicopter
The rapid fall of Kabul to the Taliban has resulted in a number of surreal sights – from footage of the Islamist group’s fighters exercising at a presidential gym to clips of combatants having a great time on bumper cars at the local fun park.
However, a new video of Taliban members seemingly testing their skills in the cockpit of a commandeered UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter shows the chilling extent to which U.S. wares have fallen into the hands of a group it spent trillions of dollars, and exhaustive resources, to stamp out.
In the new video, shared on Twitter, the front-line utility helicopter can be seen taxiing on the ground at Kandahar Airport in southeastern Afghanistan, moving along the tarmac. It is unclear who exactly was sitting in the cockpit, and the Black Hawk cannot be seen taking off or flying.
It is unlikely that the Taliban have any combatants who are sufficiently trained to fly a UH-60 Black Hawk.
The helicopter, which carries a $6 million price tag, is just a small part of the massive haul that fell into the militant group’s hands after the country’s central government seemingly evaporated on Aug. 14 amid the withdrawal of U.S. and coalition troops.
Some 200,000 firearms, 20,000 Humvees and hundreds of aircraft financed by Washington for the now-defunct Afghan Army are believed to be in the possession of the Taliban.
The firearms include M24 sniper rifles, M18 assault weapons, anti-tank missiles, automatic grenade launchers, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.
Taliban fighters in the elite Badri 313 Brigade have been seen in propaganda images showing off in uniforms and wielding weaponry meant for the special forces units of the Afghan Army.
The U.S. is known to have purchased 42,000 light tactical vehicles, 9,000 medium tactical vehicles and over 22,000 Humvees between 2003 and 2016.
The White House remains unclear on how much weaponry has fallen into Taliban hands, with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan admitting last week that the U.S. lacks a “clear picture of just how much missing $83 billion of military inventory” the group has.