CHICAGO — Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Friday blamed too many guns on city streets and parents not keeping track of their children for a week of violence in Chicago that culminated Thursday night with a mass shooting outside a McDonald’s restaurant and CTA station on the Near North Side. Teens and young people have fought “since the beginning of time,” Lightfoot said at an unrelated news conference, but “the difference now is too many of them have guns and this is exactly what we saw last night.” Parents need to know where their young people are, Lightfoot said. “That is the thing that has got to s...
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Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas on Friday denied being in a feud with a three-year-old Muppet in his latest incident involving a resident of Sesame Street.
The brouhaha started when the educational TV show ran a public service announcement in which Elmo gets vaccinated.
In the PSA, Elmo's dad Louie says he had questions about the vaccine and spoke with the family's pediatrician.
"I learned that Elmo getting vaccinated was the best way to keep himself, our friends, neighbors, and everyone else healthy and enjoying the things they love," he said.
On Tuesday, Cruz complained that Sesame Street had Elmo "aggressively advocate for vaccinating children UNDER 5."
CBS News published a story under the headline, "Elmo talks about getting COVID vaccine; Ted Cruz has a problem with that."
Days later Cruz was still thinking about the fictional character known for referring to himself in the third person.
"Corporate media having fun pretending I’m in a fight with the red furry muppet Elmo. Nope," Cruz claimed, on day three of his complaints about vaccinations.
He then launched the conspiracy theory that the PSA, "spread dishonest government propaganda to toddlers."
And this was not the first time he's complained about a resident of Elmo's neighborhood getting vaccinated.
In November, the Harvard-educated lawyer attacked Sesame Street after Big Bird was vaccinated and received mockery so widespread he was roasted on "Saturday Night Live."
\u201cIt's okay to have questions about COVID-19 vaccines for children! Elmo's dad Louie talked to their pediatrician, and learned that Elmo getting vaccinated is the best way to keep him and his whole neighborhood safe and healthy! #CaringForEachOther\u201d— Sesame Street (@Sesame Street) 1656423000
The movement is anti-government in nature, and its followers believe they’re immune from the laws of their government. They also have a proclivity for violence, as demonstrated by a number of high-profile incidents, including an armed standoff in Massachusetts in July 2021.
As a behavioural scientist and researcher of this movement, I have been monitoring Romana Didulo, a conspiracy influencer based in British Columbia, who has proclaimed herself “Queen of Canada,” “commander-in-chief,” “Head of State and Government” and “president and national Indigenous chief of the Kingdom of Canada.”
Recently, Didulo has promoted herself to “Queen of the World.”
‘Queen of Canada’ tours the country
She tours Canada in a recreational vehicle, accompanied by an entourage. They hold “meet and greets” where Didulo speaks formally. These are recorded and posted on multiple channels on Telegram, an encrypted messaging app.
Didulo has nearly 66,000 followers, known as “I AMs.” They are currently raising funds to purchase a new $65,000 RV for their queen.
Didulo is a sovereign citizen of a different variety. She espouses a dogma comprised of a mixture of QAnon conspiracy theories, pseudo-legal sovereign-citizen beliefs and new age spirituality.
She tells her followers of her supernatural abilities. She claims she can become invisible by “cloaking” herself. This power is not unusual for beings of her race, she says. She is not of this Earth. She is a member of a highly advanced, alien race — an Arcturian, an alien being with special celestial powers.
They possess “med beds.” Med beds, according to Didulo, are advanced healing chambers that cure medical ailments, regrow limbs and organs, reverse aging and can even make one immortal.
She promises full access to these beds, complete with their miracles, to all of her followers. Telegram posts suggest that many of her followers are fervently awaiting her promised technology, possibly delaying legitimate medical care.
A follower asks Didula a question about Med beds on her Telegram page.
Didulo’s speeches are filled with fantastical stories, including how she became the reigning monarch of Canada. She claims the Chinese military had clandestinely invaded secret, underground tunnels that criss-cross Canada. With great difficulty, she commanded her forces and cleared the tunnels of the Chinese communists.
She also claims to have access to the billions of dollars stored at the Vatican. She claims to be a “shape shifter” who can assume any physical appearance she chooses. The “U.S. commander-in-chief” has assigned Didulo to end the war in Ukraine by acting as the “mediator” between United States and Russia. She claimed recently that Russian President Vladimir Putin, a close friend, had personally gifted her an autographed watch.
It’s tempting to take Didulo lightly, but she is not an innocuous figure. She has strong influence over her many followers. Most recently, she has “decreed” that in Canada, all utilities are free, taxes are optional and all debts have been wiped clean. In response, some followers have stopped paying their bills, have had their utilities shut off and lost their homes.
Didulo followers ask for help on her Telegram page.
Last year, she instructed her followers to send “cease-and-desist” letters to school and health-care officials involved in COVID-19 testing, vaccines or masking efforts.
Didulo believes that anyone who received the COVID-19 vaccine has had their DNA restructured and is slowly, but inevitably, turning into a controllable robot. She does, however, offer a cure that requires listening daily to sounds at certain designated frequencies.
In 2021, she was detained for allegedly encouraging her followers to “shoot to kill” anyone involved in vaccinating young people against COVID-19, adding that the “traders” — or traitors — will face a military tribunal punishable by “fire squad or hanging.”
One of her followers was subsequently arrested after posting online threats aimed at his daughter’s school.
Didulo seems to have a vindictive streak. She brags about being a dictator. Anyone complaining that her decrees are ineffective will be banned from her Telegram pages. Ex-followers report that she has threatened to shoot them or “hang them …from military helicopters” and hover them “above a volcano or commercial crocodile farms…”
She commonly refers to herself in the third person, often proclaiming her importance. She says she renamed the city of Victoria “Queen Romana City” and Prince Edward Island to “Province of Queen Romana.”
Didulo is deceiving her followers. Her decrees are hurting them. Nothing she suggests is legal or true. Her followers are hurt, but they are not blameless. They are drawn to her because of greed. They want something for nothing. She promises them free money, no bills, no taxes and all they have to do is believe.
In reality, they are trying to steal gas, electricity, water and to refrain from repaying the money they’ve borrowed from banks. As they see it, they are entitled to free money and utilities. They want gas without paying for it. They want to stop paying the mortgage company, but still hold onto their homes.
For people motivated by greed, her philosophies and teachings offer a justification for thievery. All they have to do is believe that the real leader of Canada and the world is a shape-shifting alien, a starseed from Arcturia.
Like most followers of conspiracy theorists espousing outlandish falsehoods, Didulo’s disciples will learn the hard way that they’ve been duped. In the meantime, they can cause serious real-world problems, and even terror, for their fellow law-abiding citizens. That’s why Didulo’s rise must not be ignored.
Her tactics and edicts are nonsense with no basis in reality. They do not work and will never work. They are not legal, and there are no loopholes that excuse people from being good, responsible citizens.
Colorado Republicans rejected several freak-show candidates – but still have an outright seditionist in their ranks
A common response to the Colorado primary election results this week was to remark that Republican voters rejected the election conspiracists, returned the party to the mainstream, signaled support for the establishment over the fringe.
It’s true that in several high-profile races the most reality-challenged, “team crazy” candidates got beat bad. That’s a relief.
But now we’re supposed to equate those losses to some realignment in the Colorado Republican Party with basic principles of democracy and constitutional order? As former White House lawyer Eric Herschmann might say, “Are you out of your effing mind?”
One candidate said to represent the party’s late preference for “sanity” is Heidi Ganahl, a University of Colorado regent who beat Greg Lopez in the Republican primary for governor. Lopez amplified election conspiracy theories, notably by saying former President Donald Trump won the 2020 election and through vocal support of Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, an over-the-top election denier who is under felony indictment for her role in an election security breach in her own office.
But Ganahl hardly scores much better. From the moment she announced her candidacy in September, Ganahl steadfastly avoided answering whether she believed the “big lie” that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump. At the same time, she described Colorado-based U.S. Election Integrity Plan, which promotes baseless conspiracies, as “doing great things.” Earlier this month, she could finally bring herself to say, “I don’t believe there was enough fraud that would have flipped the election.” The approval this earned her was utterly undeserved — she still claims there was fraud, even though it was all but nonexistent, and she continued to promote the idea the election had “issues” that would justify doubts about the security of U.S. elections.
Next to Lopez, Ganahl might appear mainstream. Next to the history of American democratic norms, she’s a subversive extremist.
A bigger obstacle to any claim that Colorado Republicans were chastened by the last two years of nuttery in their ranks is the triumph of Rep. Lauren Boebert.
A similar dynamic was at play in the Republican contest between two U.S. Senate candidates, state Rep. Ron Hanks and construction executive Joe O’Dea. Hanks is a no-nuance election denier who crossed police lines at the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection. It’s not hard to run to his left, as did O’Dea, who won the primary. He was lauded for clearing the low bar of accepting Joe Biden’s presidency. But he also said he would support a possible Trump presidential candidacy in 2024. As the recent House hearings on the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol have demonstrated, Trump knew that he lost the 2020 election but conspired to pursue illegal and violence-prone efforts to overturn the results. He committed one of the greatest crimes in the history of the country, but O’Dea would put him back in the country’s most powerful office.
Next to Hanks, O’Dea might appear reasonable. Next to the restraints against America’s slide toward autocracy, he’s an enemy of democracy.
A bigger obstacle to any claim that Colorado Republicans were chastened by the last two years of nuttery in their ranks is the triumph of Rep. Lauren Boebert, the face of the party, the state’s most influential election denier, and an outright seditionist. She helped inspire the insurrection and maintains a cultish devotion to Trump. She trounced her primary opponent Tuesday.
There are few figures in the country who approach Boebert’s political looniness. She is the fringe’s fringe. Colorado Republicans did that.
Unlike Ganahl and O’Dea, who are running for offices elected by a statewide electorate, Boebert faced voters only in her district, which is conservative. But it’s hard to imagine Boebert losing a primary in either of Colorado’s other two conservative districts, or just about any conservative district in the country, because, as is demonstrated in her fundraising success, social media popularity and numerous TV appearances, she skillfully embodies a post-Trump Republican style of provocation, insults, cruelty and truth-aversion that has proved so appealing to the party’s OAN-poisoned base. A majority of Republicans still falsely believe the 2020 election was stolen. That does not exclude Colorado Republicans.
The primary election spelled defeat for some of Colorado’s Trumpiest, freak-show candidates. Sure, let’s celebrate that.
The election did not, however, mark a return of the party to sanity. As long as its members support the coup-attempt leader Trump, hedge on election denial, and embrace democracy-hating seditionists, the party will remain unqualified for a status of good standing.
Colorado Newsline is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Colorado Newsline maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Quentin Young for questions: email@example.com. Follow Colorado Newsline on Facebook and Twitter.
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