Has a new documentary finally unmasked the true identity of “Q”, the mysterious prophet at the center of the QAnon conspiracy movement that has enraptured millions of Americans? It increasingly seems that this may be the case.
QAnon emerged in October 2017 on the internet chat forum, 4Chan, which had been home to the so-called “alt-right” far-right movement. The QAnon movement has been at the center of incendiary accusations over a secret cabal of supposedly cannibalistic child sex-trafficking elites, conspiracies linking 5G to the ongoing pandemic, as well as claims that former President Donald Trump is leading a war against globalist elites, among other claims.
However, the HBO series “Q: Into the Storm” by filmmaker Cullen Hoback may finally have revealed the man at the center of the conspiratorial movement. Rather than being a top-secret government operative, instead the culprit may have been the most obvious one: Ron Watkins, the administrator of fringe message board 8kun.
In the Sunday finale for the miniseries, Watkins is revealed to have been lying about the role he played in the over 4,000 messages or “QDrops” posted since the movement’s inception.
While discussing his role in disseminating voter-fraud claims following Trump’s 2020 election loss, Watkins explained: “It was basically three years of intelligence training, teaching normies how to do intelligence work. It was basically what I was doing anonymously before, but never as Q.”
Hoback saw this as a tacit admission of guilt by Ron Watkins, who has been living in the Philippines, Japan, and the U.S. with his father Jim for the past three years.
As Hoback seemed to realize that Watkins may actually have been the wizard behind the curtain, Watkins smiled and cleared his throat before repeating: “Never as Q. I promise. I am not Q.”
While the scene isn’t proof of Watkins’ role, he also messaged his 150,000 subscribers on Telegram late Sunday: “Friendly reminder: I am not Q. Have a good weekend.”
However, the makers of the HBO documentary have concluded that Watkins is, in fact, at the center of the sprawling QAnon movement that has become central to far-right activities in the U.S., even to the point of having adherents elected to public office.
Indeed, Q has largely disappeared since Watkins announced his departure from 8kun on Dec. 8, reports VICE News.
Hoback’s conclusions are largely supported by other QAnon researchers.
“Some of the evidence has been out there for a long time, and some of it was evidence that Hoback either uncovered or put together,” Mike Rothschild, a QAnon researcher, wrote in the Daily Dot.
“But all of it leads back to the same place: that there are very few other people who could have and would have made the Q drops other than the person who ran the place where they were posted. QAnon can’t exist without the Watkinses, and 8kun without Q’s devotees may as well not exist.”
However, experts warn that the movement may have grown beyond the father-son team behind 8kun.
“Even if it was only Ron Watkins, the movement has grown far beyond one person or alias,” Rita Katz, executive director of SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors online extremism, told Washington Post.
“It is now a global societal virus that has become a vessel for everything from [anti-vaccine] misinformation and coronavirus conspiracy theories to political agendas,” she added. But “everything Jim or Ron Watkins say should be taken with skepticism — even if that statement comes in the form of a bizarre ‘slip-up.’”
Derek Chauvin Found GUILTY of Murdering George Floyd
Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has been found guilty on all counts in the murder of George Floyd, the 46-year-old Black man whose death at Chauvin’s hands last May sparked a long period of unrest and major protests against policing and racism in America.
After deliberating for about 10 hours over two days, the jury found Chauvin guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter for the killing of Floyd on a street corner last year on Memorial Day.
The second-degree murder charge carries a maximum sentence of 40 years. The third-degree murder charge carries a maximum sentence of 25 years, and second-degree manslaughter can carry up to 10 years.
In harrowing video footage from the May 25, 2020, incident that has been seen billions of times across the globe, Chauvin could be seen kneeling on the neck of Floyd for over nine minutes while fellow Minneapolis officers Tou Thao, J Alexander Kueng, and Thomas Lane stood by. Meanwhile, a horrified crowd of bystanders filmed and pled with officers as the event transpired.
On Monday, the prosecution and defense presented their closing arguments to the jury.
Prosecutors argued that Chauvin’s actions directly led to Floyd dying from low oxygen, or asphyxia. Prosecutor Steve Schleicher said that Chauvin “chose pride over policing,” calling his actions “unnecessary, gratuitous and disproportionate.” He also reminded the jury that Chauvin’s hundreds of hours of training over the course of 19 years with the Minneapolis Police Department should have led to a different outcome than Floyd’s death during a crisis.
The prosecution also focused on the fact that Chauvin knee was on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds.
The defense, however, argued that Floyd’s use of illegal drugs and a pre-existing heart condition were to blame and that “the totality of the circumstances,” including exposure to carbon monoxide, led to his death in police custody.
38 witnesses were called by prosecutors, including the teenager who recorded the widely seen video that has been played endlessly over the past year. She and other bystanders testified that they remain haunted by Floyd’s death. The defense called seven witnesses, including two experts.
Floyd’s death rekindled a long-seething anger over police brutality and racial oppression in the United States, with cities across the U.S. and the world rising up in protest over his killing and the killings of other victims of law enforcement.
President Joe Biden had expressed his wish for “the right verdict” without specifying explicitly whether the verdict would be guilty or not guilty. Biden had been careful not to comment on a potential outcome in Chauvin’s trial while urging calm.
Residents, activists and journalists descended on the Hennepin County Courthouse in downtown Minneapolis when the announcement was made at 2:30 pm local time that the verdict has been reached. The crowd greeted the judge’s announcement of Chauvin’s guilty charges with applause and cheers.
Cliffhanger: Mountain Biker Saved From “Imminent Death” After Falling Into Canyon
A Southern California mountain biker is likely counting his blessings after he was rescued from what authorities describe as “imminent death”” after falling from the side of a cliff in the Angeles National Forest.
The mountain biker, described as an older man, fell into the canyon at Mt. Wilson on Thursday morning and was dangling hundreds of feet above the ground before his fellow bikers, and eventually a special team from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, rescued him.
For some time the man dangled by a thin cord around his ankle that was tied to his bicycle while hanging on for dear life “like a cat,” Capt. Tom Giandomenico of the LASD special enforcement bureau told the Los Angeles Times.
“He knew he was in such a precarious situation. He was just scared to even rotate his head to look at us. He just didn’t want to move a muscle,” LASD Deputy Richard Thomsen told CBSLA.
Additionally, when the helicopter team arrived it wasn’t just a matter of simply hoisting the man to safety, as the air generated by the helicopter’s rotor would have sent the man plummeting to “imminent death,” Giandomenico added.
“Because he was head-down on the rock face there, that dropped probably a good 40 feet before it hit some soft dirt and a boulder,” Sheriff’s Deputy Scott Helbring said. “And beyond that was hundreds of feet down to the bottom of the canyon.”
Instead, one of the members of the special enforcement team composed of former SWAT officers devised a plan to rappel down to the man and move him to a ledge below, from which the two could be airlifted to safety.
However, due to a lack of boulders or trees, there was nothing to tie a rope to – and thus no way to rappel down to anything.
So instead, the special enforcement team used the man’s brother and another friend to be their anchor, a plan that ultimately succeeded.
Giandomenico called the rescue “one of the more significant, courageous maneuvers I’ve seen.”
“Heroic, in my opinion,” he added.
Scientists Create First-Ever Embryos With Monkey and Human Cells
For the first time, scientists have created embryos in a lab that contain the cells of both humans and monkeys.
Scientists hope that by creating chimeric embryos – embryos containing cells from two distinct species – they might be able to create organs for people who desperately need transplants.
Over 100,000 people in the United States lone are currently on a waiting list for organ transplants crucial to saving their lives, but the supply of donor organs has dropped significantly since the pandemic began unfolding.
Researchers have attempted to inject human stem cells into the embryos of pigs and sheep in recent years in hopes of growing organs for transplants, but this hasn’t yielded positive results. Scientists are hoping that by turning to macaque monkeys, which share a greater genetic similarity to humans, they may have more success.
In a study published Thursday in the journal Cell, researchers in the U.S. and China injected 25 pluripotent stem cells from humans into embryos from macaque monkeys.
After one day, the researchers detected human cells beginning to grow in 132 of the embryos. They embryos ultimately survived for 19 days.
However, bioethicists have raised concerns about the potential for abusing medical regulations that currently govern the treatment of animal and human subjects, as well as the possibility that a rogue scientists might potentially spike living creatures with human cells.
“My first question is: Why?” Kirstin Matthews, a science and technology fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute, told NPR. “I think the public is going to be concerned, and I am as well, that we’re just kind of pushing forward with science without having a proper conversation about what we should or should not do.”
Researchers insist that the study serves purely humanitarian goals that could save countless lives in the future.
“This work is an important step that provides very compelling evidence that someday when we understand fully what the process is we could make them develop into a heart or a kidney or lungs,” said University of Michigan professor Jeffrey Platt, who was not involved in the study.
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