WASHINGTON TWP. -- A life-size cutout of Pope Francis has been returned after it was apparently boosted Thursday night after a bingo fundraiser at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church. Late Friday, police in Washington Township, Gloucester County, wrote "UPDATE: THE POPE HAS BEEN RETURNED" on their Facebook page atop a previous plea for the return of the pontiff.
QAnon cultists pretending to be dead tech mogul John McAfee in latest bizarre twist to right-wing conspiracy
QAnon cultists are pretending to be the late tech mogul John McAfee, who died last month in a Spanish jail, in the latest twist to the convoluted conspiracy theory.
The anti-virus software entrepreneur and fellow conspiracist died from an apparent suicide June 23 while awaiting extradition to the U.S. on tax charges, but QAnon adherents are setting up fake accounts on the right-wing Telegram platform claiming to be McAfee and angering prominent QAnon influencers, reported The Daily Beast.
"I Would Describe Myself As Quite Sane and Lucid, Which is Why I'm Still Alive. John McAfee," posted the largest of those accounts, which has more than 125,000 subscribers.
McAfee's Instagram account, which was run by others while he was jailed and has since been taken down, sparked a frenzy in the QAnon world when it posted a large "Q" graphic shortly after his death, and three Telegram accounts emerged in the middle of this month purporting to be the late software pioneer, whose widow, lawyer and the Spanish government have all confirmed is indeed dead.
"I have been in close contact with John's widow, Janice McAfee, who identified the body some weeks ago," said his former lawyer Andrew Gordon. "There is no reason to suspect John might still be alive, and certainly not that he would be running any Telegram channels which he did not open prior to his death."
The phony accounts have attacked Gordon and posted easily obtained documents, such as McAfee's gun license, as "proof" of their identity, and their sudden popularity has angered some longer-running conspiracists on the platform.
"I usually never call out people," posted one influencer with more than 145,000 followers. "But this one here needs to be called [FAKE] [INFILTRATION]."
That account then implicated the phony McAfees in a conspiracy theory involving China, and even some of the most prominent QAnon accounts have denounced the imposters.
"The John McAfee telegram account didnt [sic] announce anything at the end of the countdown," wrote Ron Watkins, who has denied the widely held belief that he controlled the original "Q" account. "None of the alleged 31 terabytes of deadman's switch data has materialized. Now his account is posting Q-style drops and signing them as McAfee. Be careful."
On Thursday, the Springfield News-Leader released a blistering fact-check of Springfield City Councilor Angela Romine, who caused a stir on Monday when she claimed that COVID-19 already has multiple cures so there's no need to get vaccinated.
"We're not prescribing a certain prescription because it's for off-label use, which could help people that are sick with COVID, and it's not being used because it was politicized... and demonized," said Romine in a speech to the council. "Right now we're trying even a vaccine that has severe side effects, but we're not willing to try a protocol that has helped people. One doctor even came out and said she's treated 900 patients and she's had zero deaths, yet we're not prescribing them here."
According to the report, she later clarified that the two drugs she meant are hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin.
Hydroxychloroquine, a drug used to treat malaria and arthritis, has been a popular alternative treatment for COVID-19 ever since former President Donald Trump claimed it helped him prevent the disease, and some people have even drank fish tank cleaner because it contained similar compounds.
But previous studies suggesting it could be beneficial have been discredited, noted the report: "FDA removed emergency authorization for the drug to treat COVID-19 and the organization who published the study retracted it, saying it had many methodological flaws and relied on 'Chinese sources that lacked real evidence.' Several subsequent studies on the drug found it was not effective to treat COVID-19 and could even worsen symptoms of the virus."
"Meanwhile, ivermectin is a drug primarily used on livestock to remove parasites. It is not an antiviral drug," said the report. "One study concluded it was beneficial to treat COVID, but 'the study was retracted for plagiarism and for incorrect interpretation of data,' Dr. Nancy Yoon, chief medical officer with the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, told the News-Leader last week. Calling the drug 'unsafe and dangerous,' Yoon said she believed no 'doctor is recommending it to patients.'"
Even with the vaccines now available and broadly effective, some Trump allies are still trying to tout these discredited alternative treatments. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) was briefly suspended from YouTube in June for sharing conspiracy theory videos promoting hydroxychloroquine.
MSNBC's Morning Joe agrees Republicans are acting like 'morons' on masks 'to make a stupid political point'
MSNBC's Joe Scarborough ripped House minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and other Republican lawmakers balking at the reinstatement of mask rules at the U.S. Capitol.
The Republican leader mocked the House physician for recommending the return of masks, prompting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to call him a "moron," and the "Morning Joe" host agreed.
"If they don't care about anybody else outside of their family, worry about their children, other people's children, their loved ones," Scarborough said, "as we had in a report earlier this week, in Alabama emergency rooms a lot more children this year than there were last year with the delta variant. I'm hearing the same thing out of Florida, emergency rooms and hospitals that the pediatric wards are finding a lot more of an impact for younger children this year than last year because of the delta variant."
Scarborough said GOP lawmakers were needlessly endangering children too young to be vaccinated to show loyalty to Donald Trump.
"There is so much at stake here, and I do expect more members, more members of the press getting angry about the fact that a lot of these jackasses are literally putting their children's lives in danger because they're trying to make a political point -- a stupid political point, but a political point all the same," he said. "It's like last year, in the middle of a pandemic that killed over 600,000 people, what was it, Trump's chief of staff Mark Meadows, was making fun of -- Jake [Sherman], it may have been you -- 'You look funny in that mask.'"
Punchbowl reporter Sherman, a guest on the program, admitted he had been the target of Meadows' mockery.
"To which Jake said, 'We don't want to die,'" co-host Mika Brzezinski pointed out.
"We don't want our children to end up in the hospital," Scarborough added, "and we don't want our parents to die. This is not hard, Mika. It's not hard."
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