Who Is QAnon Shaman, The “Proud” Participant In US Capitol Siege?

Who Is QAnon Shaman, The "Proud" Participant In US Capitol Siege?

Remember this QAnon Shaman famously seen in the recent US Capitol violence? Well, in a recent interview with VICE News, he claimed to be “proud” of his participation in the event with no regrets. In doing so he has brought the far-right conspiracy group QAnon to the spotlight. Let us look at how the group was started, its core beliefs, and its rise in US politics.

Crux of the Matter

Viking At The Capitol
VICE News recently interviewed Jake Angeli, who is the bare-chested man with face paint, fur coat, and Viking-horns famously seen at the recent US Capitol siege and violence.

Angeli calls himself “QAnon Shaman” as per USA Today, with QAnon being among several far-right groups involved in the US Capitol incident.

I’m quite proud of my participation. I’d like to think I was an observer of history being made right in front of me.

Jake Angeli, the ‘QAnon Shaman’

What Is QAnon?

  • QAnon is a conspiracy theory movement pro-Trump in nature.
  • Started in 2017 after an anonymous user “Q” started posting conspiracy theories on 4chan.
  • 4chan is a discussion site like Reddit but with extremely less censorship – mostly used by extremists.

Identity

  • Q claims to be a high-rank intelligence officer – claims to have “Q security clearance” for accessing top-secret information.
  • Q’s exact identity unclear – an operating group also possible.

Core Beliefs Of QAnon
QAnon followers believe that:

  • The world is run by a Satan-worshipping group of pedophiles.
  • Thousands of “deep state operatives” involved with such a group.
  • The group list includes Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and Hollywood stars like Oprah Winfrey and Tom Hanks.
  • Donald Trump would save the world by eradicating the group.
  • “The Storm” would come when the “deep state” members would be arrested and executed.

More recent beliefs include:

  • Anti-Semitic views.
  • Covid-19 is a hoax designed by Democrats.


Problem

  • QAnon was earlier a fringe group – now open in public with estimated millions of followers.
  • 2018: A QAnon follower was arrested for planning a bomb planting in Illinois to raise awareness about “Pizzagate”.
    Pizzagate” is a conspiracy theory claiming that Hillary Clinton runs a child- trafficking racket from a pizza parlour’s basement in Washington.
  • Facebook data shows that QAnon membership grew by 581% amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • FBI has termed it as a potential source of ‘domestic terrorism’ – several incidents of violence noted.
    Recent Capitol siege prime example.

Trump Support

  • Trump publicly claims that he is not much aware of QAnon except that they “love our country (US)”.
  • However, he has never denounced QAnon and is widely thought of as its staunch supporter.

As per Media Matters For America (December 20)

  • Trump has “amplified QAnon-promoting Twitter accounts in at least 258 instances”.
  • At least 89 Republican candidates for Congress and 20 Republican state legislature candidates expressed open support for QAnon (2 and 4 of them won respectively) in 2020.
Curiopedia
  • As of November 2020, 4chan received more than 20 million unique monthly visitors, with more than 900,000 posts made daily. The site hosts boards dedicated to a wide variety of topics, from anime and manga to video games, music, literature, fitness, politics, and sports, among others.
  • Trump owned the Trump Taj Mahal – a casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. He even called it the ‘8th Wonder of the World’. It was under Trump’s possession for 26 years before going bankrupt in 2016.
  • In its most basic sense, an “anon” is an anonymous or pseudonymous Internet poster. On July 2, 2016, the anonymous posterFBIAnon“, a self-described “high-level analyst and strategist” who claimed to have “intimate knowledge of the inner workings of the Clinton case“, began posting false information about the 2016 investigation into the Clinton Foundation and claimed that Hillary Clinton would be imprisoned if Trump became president

SolarWinds Cyber Attack Against US Agencies

SolarWinds Cyber Attack Against US Agencies

Hackers from Russia are believed to have breached software provider SolarWinds by deploying a malware-laced update to infect the networks of multiple US agencies like Microsoft, Cisco, and government networks like the US Treasury and energy departments. Let’s see how they did it.

Crux of the Matter

Is This A Supply Chain Attack?
Yes. Instead of directly attacking the federal government or a private company’s network, the hackers target a third-party vendor like SolarWinds this time, which supplies software to them.

What Is Orion?
It is a software created by SolarWinds, for centralized monitoring and management. It has clients from 33,000 companies, including 425 organisations in  Fortune 500.

So How Did The Malware Infiltrate?
The malicious software or malware was capable of accessing system files and blend in via legitimate activity, in order to deceive antivirus tools. Once installed, it gave a backdoor entry to the hackers to the systems and networks.

What About The Tech Agencies?
Internal machines used by CISO researchers along with Microsoft have found indicators of the malware in their systems. The latter has denied news agencies’ claims of its own systems being used to further the hacking campaign.

Is Russia Behind It?
Unnamed US officials have reportedly told news outlets that APT29, a codename linked to Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), is behind the attack. However as per a Facebook statement, the Russian embassy has denied responsibility.

What Is The US Government Doing Now?
The US Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency has issued an Emergency Directive 21-01, asking all “federal civilian agencies to review their networks” for indicators of the malware. Joe Biden has pledged to “impose substantial costs on those responsible for such malicious attacks.”.

Curiopedia
  • A Trojan horse is any malware which misleads users of its true intent. The term is derived from the Ancient Greek story of the deceptive Trojan Horse that led to the fall of the city of Troy.
  • Grayware is a term applied to unwanted applications or files that are not classified as malware, but can worsen the performance of computers and may cause security risks. Another term, potentially unwanted program (PUP) refers to applications that would be considered unwanted despite often having been downloaded by the user, possibly after failing to read a download agreement.
  • Before Internet access became widespread, viruses spread on personal computers by infecting executable programs or boot sectors of floppy disks. Early computer viruses were written for the Apple II and Macintosh, but they became more widespread with the dominance of the IBM PC and MS-DOS system.

Why Brazil President Bolsonaro Endorsed Trump?

Why Brazil President Bolsonaro Endorsed Trump?

As Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro endorsed Trump before the US elections, let us look at the similarities between the two and the unusual policies of the former.

Crux of the Matter

Bolsonaro Endorsing Trump
On 20 October 2020, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro endorsed Donald Trump for the 2020 US Elections. Bolsonaro said “God willing I will be able to attend” for Trump’s inauguration. His comments came after Brazil and the US signed a trade agreement for 5G and telecommunications.

Bolsonaro joined Hungary PM Viktor Orban and Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte in openly endorsing Trump’s re-election. However, their bid failed as Joe Biden is now the President-elect.

Bolsonaro-Trump
Bolsonaro was elected as the Brazilian President in 2018. He has served in the army as captain. Bolsonaro, a self-declared Trump admirer, has been nicknamed “Trump of the Tropics”. Trump and Bolsonaro are similar in their populist outlook, handling of Covid-19 pandemic and several key issues.

Handling Of Covid-19

  • Both Bolsonaro and Trump recovered from Covid-19 after downplaying its severity for months.
  • Both rejected Covid-19 threat by comparing it to “flu”.
  • The former reportedly claimed that Covid-19 masks are “for fairies”.

Some are going to die, they will die. Sorry, it’s life. You can’t stop a car factory just because you have traffic deaths.

Bolsonaro, speaking against lockdowns

Brazil has been severely affected by Covid pandemic. As of 11 November, Brazil had

  • 5.68 million cases.
  • 163k deaths.
  • Death rate: 763 per million people – 6th highest in the world.

Homophobia And Anti-Science Stance

  • Bolsonaro openly claimed “I’m homophobic – and very proud of it” in 2013.
  • He has also cut down on research funds and has been aggressive towards scientists and doctors.
  • He has sacked 2 Health Ministers in pandemic for alleged promotion of social distancing. In a similar manner, Trump called Dr. Fauci (Director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases) an “idiot” for his cautious Covid pandemic strategy.

Police And Admiration For Dictators

  • Bolsonaro is a staunch advocate of ‘stricter’ police. In 2017, he claimed that “a policeman who doesn’t kill isn’t a policeman”.
  • He has repeatedly praised the dictator regime of Brazil (between 1964 and 1985). He has claimed that Augusto Pinochet (former dictator of Chile) “should have killed more people”.

If one wants to close the supreme court, you know what you do? You don’t even need to send a jeep. Send two soldiers.

Eduardo Bolsonaro, son of Jair Bolsonaro

Dealing With Amazon Forest Fires

  • In 2019, 89,178 fires were reported in the Amazon rainforest as per INPE. The numbers showed an increase from 68,345 fires in 2018.
  • Increase in deforestation and “clearing of land” by farmers have been cited as the main reasons for such increase.
  • Bolsonaro instead blamed “NGOs” for “setting up” fire, and rejected $20 million aid from the G7 summit in August 2019. He cited the “colonialist mindset” of the G7 as the reason for rejection.

Battle With Biden
In the US Presidential debate, Joe Biden expressed concern over Amazon forest fires.

The rainforests of Brazil are being torn down. I would be gathering up and making sure we had the countries of the world coming up with $20 billion, and say, ‘Here’s $20 billion. Stop tearing down the forest. And if you don’t then you’re gonna have significant economic consequences

Joe Biden

In reply, Bolsonaro labelled Biden’s statement “disastrous and unnecessary declaration”. He also accused Biden of being “greedy” towards the Amazon forest.

Curiopedia
  • The #EleNão (“not him”) movements of 2018 were demonstrations led by women which took place in several regions of Brazil. The main goal was to protest against Bolsonaro and his presidential campaign because of his sexist declarations.
  • The 1964 Brazilian coup d’état was a series of events in Brazil from March 31 to April 1 that led to the overthrow of President João Goulart by members of the Brazilian Armed Forces, supported by the United States government. The following day, with the military already in control of the country, the Brazilian Congress came out in support of the coup and endorsed it by declaring the office of the presidency vacant.
  • In an interview with Zero Hora in 2015, Bolsonaro argued that men and women should not receive the same salaries, because women get pregnant, adding that he believes federal law mandating paid maternity leave harms work productivity.

Anti-Semitism On Rise In US

Anti-Semitism On Rise In US

After looking at the suspension of UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe, let us take a look at the same phenomenon in the US, with incidents ranging from Holocaust denial to violent attacks.

Crux of the Matter

Bari Weiss Resignation
In July 2020, Bari Weiss resigned from The New York Times. Weiss (a Jewish writer) worked as a columnist in the NY Times and has also authored the book How to Fight Anti-Semitism.

She cited an “illiberal environment” as one of the reasons for the resignation. However, in her resignation letter, she also alleged “bullying” from colleagues who allegedly called her a “Nazi”.

Incidents In The US

  • October 2018: 11 Jewish people were killed in a Pittsburgh synagogue in the US, which has been cited as the worst anti-Semitic attack in US history.
  • The FBI affidavit of the case reported the accused to be saying “I just want to kill Jews”.
  • The Pittsburgh attack was followed by several such hate attacks on Jewish people.

Both Left and Right wings of the US have been accused of anti-Semitism.

  • Ilhan Omar of the Democratic party tweeted in 2012:
    “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel”.
  • Donald Trump has defended white nationalist groups that allegedly have chanted “Jews will not replace us” and have done the ‘Nazi salute’.

Holocaust Denial
Holocaust is the term for the killings of 6 million Jews by Nazi Germany during World War II. A recent survey (September 2020) in the US conducted on young adults found that (infographic below):

David Icke And ‘Lizard Theory’

  • David Icke, a conspiracy theorist, claims that the “Illuminati” runs the world.
  • Icke also claims that the Illuminati is the descendent of ‘shape-shifting lizards’, and believes that most of the Jewish people are such lizards. He also claims that the Holocaust was done by Jewish people themselves and allegedly blames the Jewish people for 9/11 attacks.
  • Surprisingly, Icke has been endorsed by famous writers like Alice Walker (writer of The Color Purple).

To know about history of anti-Semitism, check this story: Brief History Of Anti-Semitism

Curiopedia
  • Zionism is a movement among the Jewsish People which envisioned a separate state for the Jews in the territory defined as ‘the Holy Land’ or the ‘Land of Israel’. Theodre Herzl is the founder of the modern Zionistic Movement.
  • In Medieval Europe, Jewish people were forced to live in a certain neighbourhood called ghettos. They wore a yellow badge on their garment or a special hat called a Judenhut to distinguish themselves from the Christians.
  • Many theorists contend that a variety of historical events were orchestrated by the Illuminati. Like the French Revolution, the Battle of Waterloo, and the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy.

Water War At Mexico-US Border

Water War At Mexico-US Border

Several thinkers have claimed that the next big war would occur over water. A demo was presented recently on the Mexico-US border, as several farmers have taken over the dam which would have transferred water from the drought struck area to the US as part of an agreement.

Crux of the Matter

Dam Protests
In September 2020, more than 1000 farmers went to the ‘La Boquilla dam’, situated in Chihuahua state (northern Mexico). Equipped with sticks and stones, the farmers went to protest against the imminent transfer of water to the US.

National Guard troops abandoned their posts though 1 protester was killed. Farmers have turned off the water valves and have been present at the dam since. They have put a demand to wait for rains or transfer water from other regions to the US instead of burning the drought struck Chihuahua.

Why Is The Water Transferred?

  • 1944: Mexico and the US signed a ‘Water Treaty’ to regulate the use of water in regions at the border of the 2 nations.
  • Mexico receives 4 times the amount of water it transfers to the US.
  • Mexico currently owes between 319 and 426 MCM water to the US – to be transferred before 24 October.

Politics Home And Abroad

  • Chihuahua Governor Javier Corral has claimed that the protesters did not attack first. Corral belongs to the conservative National Action Party (NAP).
  • NAP has joined the protesters against left-wing President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
  • Obrador has been reportedly pushing for compliance to avoid being targeted by Trump ahead of November 2020 US elections.

Socio-Political Turbulence In Mexico
Extreme wealth inequality and drug cartels have been cited as major problems in Mexico.

  • 2006: New police force was created for the ‘war on drugs’ under President Felipe Calderón. 200,000 “drug-related killings” have been reported since then (as of 2018).
  • Civilian and political casualties occur regularly due to fights between drug cartels.
  • Annual revenue of Mexican drug cartels from sales in the US has been estimated at $20-30 billion.
  • On the other hand, ~42% of Mexicans live in poverty (as of 2018).

Relations With US

  • 90% of ‘heroin’ consumed in the US enters the country from Mexico.
  • 1992: Mexico, Canada, and the US signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which removed tariffs from most products moving between the 3 nations.
  • Tensions between Mexico and the US have increased since Donald Trump became the latter’s President in 2016. He promised to build a “big, beautiful wall” along the entire 2,000 km long Mexico-US border in the 2016 campaign. He stated that the aim of constructing a wall is to stop illegal Mexican migrants from entering the US.
  • A barrier of length 654 miles existed before Trump’s election. Trump Government has completed 307 miles of the border wall. However, only 5 miles of it is new, with the rest either being “replacement walls or secondary to existing walls”.
  • Trump has also threatened Mexico with tariffs though recently the NAFTA was replaced with an enhanced United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
Curiopedia
  • Indus Water treaty is a water sharing treaty between India and Pakistan regarding the sharing of water of the Indus River and its tributaries. This treaty is considered to be one of the most successful water sharing agreements. 
  • Chihuahua dogs, one of the smallest canine breeds, originated from the state of Chihuahua. 
  • Grand Canyon is a canyon formed on the river colorado. Also, one of the most famous dams of the world, the Hoover Dam is also located in the Colorado Basin. 
  • Until 1836, Texas was a part of Mexico; after that Texas became independent and established itself as the Republic of Texas, an independent state. Following the war between the USA and Mexico in 1846, Texas became a part of the Union, and Mexico had to give 130,104 km2 of its area to the USA