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Decoding the extremist symbols and groups at the Capitol Hill insurrection –

Posted By on January 12, 2021

Flags, signs and symbols of racist, white supremacist and extremist groups were displayed along with Trump 2020 banners and American flags at Wednesdays riot at the US Capitol.

The pictures tell part of the story of the beliefs of some of those who chose to show up on that day from passionate and peaceful Trump supporters to extremists who showed their hate with their symbols as well as their actions.

The mixing of the groups is one issue that experts who track extremism and hate have long been concerned about.

The certification of the election results proved to be exactly the type of event that brought together various groups and could have led to radical ideas being shared, they say. The initial event, which was heavily promoted and encouraged by President Trump, gave all of these groups something to rally around.

This was an event designed to oppose the results of a free and fair democratic election and the transition of power that would naturally follow, Mark Pitcavage, a historian and expert in extremism with the Anti-Defamation League said.

CNN spoke with him to identify the symbols and understand the chilling messages of tyranny, white supremacy, anarchy, racism, anti-Semitism and hatred they portray.

While a noose on its own is often used as a form of racial intimidation, Pitcavage says he believes in this context the gallows were to suggest punishment for committing treason. It is suggesting that representatives and senators who vote to certify the election results, and possibly Vice President Pence, are committing treason and should be tried and hanged, he explains.

That treason rhetoric was seen on right-wing message boards in days leading up to the event.

The Three Percenters (also known as III%ers, 3%ers or Threepers) are part of the militia movement in the United States and are anti-government extremists, according to the ADL.

Like others in the militia movement, Three Percenters view themselves as defending the American people against government tyranny.

Because many adherents to the militia movement strongly support President Trump, in recent years, Three Percenters have not been as active in opposing the federal government, directing their ire at other perceived foes, including leftists/antifa, Muslims and immigrants, according to the ADL.

The groups name comes from an inaccurate claim that only three percent of the people in the colonies armed themselves and fought against the British during the Revolutionary War.

The flag seen above is their logo on the traditional Betsy Ross flag. Pitcavage says right-wing groups (mainstream or extreme), which think of themselves as patriotic, sometimes co-opt Americas first flag.

Release the Kraken flag

The flag references former Trump lawyer Sidney Powells comments that she was going to release the Kraken. Powell falsely said she had evidence that would destroy the idea that Joe Biden won the presidency.

The Kraken, a mammoth sea creature from Scandavian folklore, has turned into a meme in circles that believe the election was stolen. The Kraken, they say, is a cache of evidence that there was widespread fraud. On social media, QAnon conspiracy and fringe sites #ReleaseTheKraken has been widely shared along with false theories of fraud.

The far right has co-opted the OK sign as a trolling gesture and, for some, as a symbol of white power. The ADL added that symbol toits long-standing databaseof slogans and symbols used by extremists.

A photo from the riot at the US Capitol shows several people making the OK hand gesture.

Some of the people in the photo are also seen in a livestream from the rally, where they identify themselves as members of the Proud Boys, specifically the Arizona chapter.

The man livestreaming the event moves through the crowd at the Capitol saying support your local Proud Boys.

In the video, he goes up to a group wearing orange hats and says, They wanna know what the orange hats stand for.

One man replies that its a way to keep their group together before another chimes in: It stands for the best f*cking chapter in the best f*cking organization in the world.

Asked what that organization is, the man in an orange hat declares: The Proud Boys.

The Proud Boys has been supportive of President Trump and present in large numbers at Stop The Steal rallies in Washington, DC. The Proud Boys leader, Henry Tarrio, who goes by Enrique Tarrio, was released from police custody Tuesday oncharges related to allegedly burning a Black Lives Matter banner taken from a Black church last month during protests in the city after a Stop the Steal event. Tarrio has admitted to CNN he did burn the banner. He was ordered by a local judge to stay out of DC as he awaits trial, including during this weeks protests.

The green, white and black flag was created by some members of the 4chan online community to represent a made-up joke country named for Kek, a fictional god they also created. It has long been present at right-wing and far-right rallies.

The Kekistan flag is controversial because its design was partially derived from a Nazi-era flag; this was apparently done on purpose as a joke, Pitcavage explained. Younger right-wingers coming from the 4chan subculture (both mainstream right and extreme right) often like to display the Kekistan flag at rallies and events.

Altered Confederate and Gadsden flags were seen throughout the crowds at the Capitol. One Confederate battle flag variation included an image of assault rifle and the slogan Come and take it to convey an anti-gun control message. The phrase come and take it paraphrases the come and take them retort uttered by Spartan King Leonidas at the Battle of Thermopylae when the Persian King Xerxes told him and his people to lay down their spears in return for their lives, Pitcavage said.

The Gadsden flag, which is known to many as the Dont Tread on Me flag, is a traditional and historical patriotic flag dating to the American Revolution. The flag and symbol are also popular among Libertarians. But it also has been co-opted by right wing groups. Pitcavage explains that while some fly it as a symbol for patriotism, others use it as a symbol of resistance to perceived tyranny.

A man is seen wearing an Oath Keepers hat inside the Capitol after it was breached. The Oath Keepers is a pro-Trump, far-right, anti-government group that considers itself part of the militia movement charged to protect the country and defend the constitution. The group tries to recruit members from among active or retired military, first responders, or police.

Their leader has spouted vast conspiracy theories on his blog, accused Democrats of stealing the election, previously threatened violence if it was necessary on Election Day during an interview with far-right conspiracist Alex Jones and said his group would be armed to protect the White House if necessary, according to the ADL.

During the United States long Civil War, no Confederate battle flag came within the shadow of the US Capitol, but on Wednesday, an insurrectionist carried one right through its halls.

Photographers captured a man carrying it past the portraits of abolitionist Charles Sumner andslaveholder John Calhoun.

The flag was always a symbol of support for slavery. After World War II, it became a prominent symbol of Jim Crow and segregation, Pitcavage says not surprisingly, it is a popular symbol among white supremacists even outside the United States.

A rioter cloaks himself in an America First flag with the logo of the podcast by far-right commentator Nick Fuentes. Fuentes attended the event at the Capitol, but was photographed remaining outside the Capitol building.

America First was also a slogan President Trump used in describing his foreign policy. Its adoption was criticized by the ADL, which said it had an anti-Semitic use seeking to keep the US out of World War II.

The ADL says Fuentes is part of the groyper army, which the ADL calls a white supremacist group.

While the group and leaderships views align with those held by the white supremacist alt right, groypers attempt to normalize their ideology by aligning themselves with Christianity and traditional values ostensibly championed by the church, including marriage and family, the ADL explains. Like the alt right and other white supremacists, groypers believe they are working to defend against demographic and cultural changes that are destroying the true America a white, Christian nation.

A rioter inside the Capitol wore a Camp Auschwitz sweatshirt. The bottom of the shirt reads Work brings freedom, which is the rough translation of the words Arbeitmacht frei on the gates of the Nazi concentration camp. Auschwitz was the largest and most infamous Nazi concentration camp, where about 1.1 million people were killed during World War II.

Pitcavage says he believes the shirt came from the now-defunct website Aryanwear. The design, which has been around for about 10 years according to Pitcavage, has been popping up on differing websites in recent weeks, though it is often taken down when a complaint is made.

A social media image shows Nationalist Social Club stickers on what appears to be US Capitol Police equipment Its unclear when the photo was taken, but it was posted Wednesday in a Telegram chat the group uses, which includes a Nazi symbol as part of their name.

NSC, apparently a word play on the National Socialists or Nazi party, is a neo-Nazi group that has regional chapters in both the United States and across the globe, according to the ADL. It is unclear if the sticker on the right refers to a New England chapter, or because the group originally called itself the New England Nationalists Club.

NSC members see themselves as soldiers at war with a hostile, Jewish-controlled system that is deliberately plotting the extinction of the white race, according to the ADL. Their goal is to form an underground network of white men who are willing to fight against their perceived enemies through localized direct actions.

There are still many questions about how exactly the attack on the Capitol happened and who led the charge. But the calls for overthrowing the government and for a civil or race war have long been rallying cries in far-right circles.

The shirts worn by these men on the Capitol grounds on Wednesday show there was at least an intention to commemorate the day. They wore pre-printed shirts, referencing Trumps signature Make America Great Again slogan, alongside the words Civil war and the date of the event that turned into insurrection.

Many commenters in far-right forums have written since the attack, that this is just the beginning of that civil war that many of them have long desired.

Update note: This story has been updated with new CNN reporting on the men pictured in orange hats who say they are affiliated with the Proud boys.

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Lawmakers Fear More Violence Ahead Of Inauguration Day : Insurrection At The Capitol: Live Updates – NPR

Posted By on January 12, 2021

At a bus stop on Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest in Washington, D.C., a notice from the FBI seeks information about people pictured during the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Al Drago/Getty Images hide caption

At a bus stop on Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest in Washington, D.C., a notice from the FBI seeks information about people pictured during the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.

The violence at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday was unprecedented in modern U.S. history but some pro-Trump extremists are promising it was just a taste of things to come.

"Many of Us will return on January 19, 2021, carrying Our weapons, in support of Our nation's resolve, towhich [sic] the world will never forget!!!" one person wrote on Parler, a site friendly to right-wing extremists. "We will come in numbers that no standing army or police agency can match."

That post was one of dozens spotted by the Alethea Group, which tracks online threats and disinformation. Various virtual fliers circulating on social media promise an "armed march" on Capitol Hill and in every state capital a few days before the inauguration. Other posts promise violence on Inauguration Day itself. One post encourages supporters to meet in D.C. specifically to prevent President-elect Joe Biden from entering the White House.

It's unclear how serious the threats of more violence are, but the continued determination of the president's most die-hard supporters to fight what they incorrectly perceive as an unfair election has some members of Congress wondering: Will the insurrection continue? And how can they stop it?

"What happened on Jan. 6, this past Wednesday, might not be the end of the insurrection, but the beginning," Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois told NPR's Weekend Edition.

"We need to be concerned," said Krishnamoorthi, a Democrat who is a member of the House Intelligence committee. Krishnamoorthi says he didn't anticipate how large the crowd outside the Capitol would become or that "the president would incite this mob to march on the Capitol to 'go wild' and instigate the insurrection."

"But we, at this point, have to be wiser to what's possible and we have to prepare accordingly," he said. "Our democracy will be OK; we just have to defend the Constitution and our country at all costs, at this point."

The Washington Post reports that FBI agents are investigating whether some of the Capitol rioters intended not just to disrupt the certification of the Electoral College votes, but also to capture or kill lawmakers. "Tell Pelosi we're coming for that [expletive]!" one rioter screamed at law enforcement. Others chanted, "Hang Mike Pence!"

Five people died in Wednesday's violence, including a Capitol police officer. And Krishnamoorthi is just one of several lawmakers who worry about what might be coming next.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, warned Saturday that he was notified of a "disturbing report of a death threat" received Friday by the Iowa Democratic Party. "Threats like this & violence are UNACCEPTABLE," he tweeted.

The likelihood of more violence is one of the reasons Twitter permanently suspended President Trump's account. "Plans for future armed protests have already begun proliferating on and off-Twitter, including a proposed secondary attack on the US Capitol and state capitol buildings on January 17, 2021," Twitter wrote.

Twitter was particularly concerned by a Trump tweet indicating he wouldn't attend the inauguration. That message "may also serve as encouragement to those potentially considering violent acts that the Inauguration would be a 'safe' target."

Although plans for more armed demonstrations are generally in their early stages, the potential for violence is very real, Alethea Group says. "We're in a tinderbox situation right now," Alethea Group's vice president of analysis, Cindy Otis, told NPR. "Communities online that either participated in Wednesday's violence or supported it are threatening that it was only the beginning of what they have long claimed is an inevitable civil war or revolution."

Otis, a former CIA analyst, says that extremist groups were likely encouraged by seeing how relatively easy it seemed to be to overtake the Capitol building and how close participants were able to get to political officials whom they see as enemies.

"One would hope that a siege on the Capitol building planned and organized in public view would inspire more preparation by the relevant agencies," she added.

Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, told CNN that the group was seeing online "chatter" from white supremacists online who feel "emboldened" by the current moment. "We fully expect that this violence could actually get worse before it gets better," he said.

Some state legislatures are also concerned about the potential for violence. In the wake of the Capitol insurrection, Florida lawmakers have proposed a measure that would increase penalties for people arrested during a violent protest.

"If you injure a police officer during that period of time, you will go to jail for at least six months," Florida House of Representatives Speaker Chris Sprowls told Fox News. "If you are arrested during an aggravated riot situation, you will spend the night in jail."

Despite heightened security concerns, Biden still plans to be inaugurated on the steps of the Capitol on Jan. 20. "We are confident in our security partners who have spent months planning and preparing for the inauguration, and we are continuing to work with them to ensure the utmost safety and security of the president-elect," a senior Biden inauguration official told The Washington Post.

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Lawmakers Fear More Violence Ahead Of Inauguration Day : Insurrection At The Capitol: Live Updates - NPR

Local filmmakers new documentary A Long Journey: The Hidden Jews of the Southwest to air on KPBS – Del Mar Times

Posted By on January 10, 2021

Oceanside filmmaker Isaac Artensteins new documentary, A Long Journey: The Hidden Jews of the Southwest chronicles the journey of the Sephardic Jews of New Mexico and the Southwest as well as the northern Mexican border town Ciudad Juarez. The documentary, which will air on KPBS on Monday, Jan. 11 at 7 p.m., examines how they found their ancient roots and returned to the Jewish faith.

Little is written in American history books about the secret or crypto Jews of the Southwest, and many people do not know much about them. Some of the ancestors of present day New Mexicans, for example, were Conversos or secret Jews who came to New Mexico when it was being colonized by Spain. During the time of the inquisition, the Conversos were Jews who pretended to convert to Catholicism to avoid being killed. Some of the conversos really did convert, but many continued practicing their Sephardic Jewish traditions in secret in their new land for generations, sometimes without even knowing why.

There is the story of Tim Herrera, a cowboy, New Mexican cattle rancher, and proud Jew. Although not everyone in his mostly Catholic family approved, he rediscovered his Sephardic Jewish roots and converted to Judaism as did his wife and children. He embraced his faith and roots so strongly that he is currently in the process of moving to Israel as he wants to bring his experience as a rancher to the Holy Land and raise cattle there. Herrera is one of various Sephardic New Mexicans who have embraced Judaism, a theme the documentary explores.

Artenstein and his crew traveled throughout New Mexico and southwest Texas to explore the world of the descendants of the crypto Jews and how many of them are exploring their family trees and coming back to Judaism, not always an easy feat. First, they have to research their ancestors and find the documentation that shows that they are descendants of Sephardic Jews. In fact, the Jewish Federation of New Mexico is one of the leaders in confirming a Sephardic background. Next, some have to contend with families who, like Herreras family, are dismayed that they are leaving the Catholic Church.

While filming, Artenstein and his crew met and interviewed many interesting characters starting with cowboy Herrera. There is the scholar Ron D. Hart, who wrote the companion book for the film. There is the artist Charlie Carrillo, a Santero (one who draws saints or retablos) whose work is inspired by Spanish Jewish and Catholic imagery. Although Carrillo is Catholic, he is proud of the Sephardic roots many New Mexicans have. There is Blanca Carrasco, who speaks honestly about grappling with not feeling accepted by some of the congregants at her previous synagogue and her road to Judaism.One of the most charismatic of all the people interviewed is Stephen Leon, the Rabbi Emeritus of Congregation BNai Zion in El Paso, Texas. A warm and jovial Ashkenazi Jew from New Jersey, he has made it his lifes mission to serve the Sephardic community of El Paso and also Ciudad Juarez across the border. He helped many in their conversion and assimilation.

This documentary is also worthy because it can be the catalyst for different discussions, including the history and traditions of Sephardic Jews in the Southwest. In the United States, much more is known about Ashkenazi Jews.

Cowboy Tim Herrera on horseback.


Finally, up until last year, the Spanish government was offering Spanish citizenship to those who could prove they had Sephardic blood. There was a rush of Jews from around the world that coveted Spanish citizenship who applied to the program. Many researched their ancestry to prove they had Sephardic blood and were able to obtain the citizenship. Some of this is discussed in the film.

The photography in the documentary is stunning, especially the aerial views. It gives the viewer a sense of the cultural and national landscape, especially New Mexico. Artenstein worked with his other long-time collaborator, his director of cinematography, Sergio Ulloa.

Artenstein is also known for his films Tijuana Jews and To the Ends of the Earth, A Portrait of Jewish San Diego. His website is

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Local filmmakers new documentary A Long Journey: The Hidden Jews of the Southwest to air on KPBS - Del Mar Times

The Hidden Meanings of Ladino Music and Poetry – Jewish Journal

Posted By on January 10, 2021

Fifteen years ago, when I was living in Los Angeles, I never imagined that the provocative questions I had about the hidden meanings of Ladino music and poetry would take me to working and teaching at Cambridge University, where I find myself today.

My own Sephardi background and ancestry from northern Morocco were always present, propelling me in my journey. As a performer of Ladino music in the Los Angeles area, I directed a choir founded by members of the Sephardic Havurah from Sephardic Temple Tiferet Israel. I spent my Shabbat dinners with a group of Canadian and Israeli Moroccans, and I went to synagogue in what was an almost private shtibl recreating a Moroccan synagogue on the corner of Olympic and La Cienega. It was clear to me that no matter where in the world a small Moroccan community formed, the transmission of its culture and identity remained strong.

My experiences and perceptions drastically changed when I was awarded a Senior Fulbright Research Fellowship to Tangier to study the Judeo-Spanish music of Northern Morocco in an obscure language that nobody talked about Haketia, or Moroccan Judeo-Spanish.

Since then, collecting, researching and performing the music of the Jews of Morocco has consumed my waking hours. Suddenly, I was able to hear the songs of my maternal ancestors, which had been almost completely forgotten after they emigrated to South America in the nineteenth century. I reconnected to an ancient part of my own history, which prompted a slew of questions: How does one enter the unspoken messages of a communitys subconscious through its music? How can I, as a researcher and performer, transmit the depth and beauty of this millenary communitys sounds especially when the news cycle and political concerns dominate the discourse?

I began my research by investigating the songs that Moroccan Jews sung to their children while putting them to sleep, the soft humming of a woman preparing Shabbat dinner and the melodies sung around the Shabbat table or during Havdalah. These are the songs that generations carry with them across their migrations, forming the sonic backbone of Moroccan Jewish communities in Madrid, Toronto, Caracas and Paris.

In contrast to the celebratory public music that Jews sing at Muslim and Jewish weddings and on national television and radio, these private repertoires tell another story. They are usually stories of belief in tsaddikim, humorous or satiric stories from the communitys history or fictional depictions of violent episodes following a breach of the strict boundaries around womens sexuality and marital faithfulness. These songs tell the inner story of who the Jews are for the Jews not who they are for their Muslim friends and neighbors.

These songs tell the inner story of who the Jews are for the Jews.

During the ten years I lived in Morocco, certain pieces of my life went into fast forward: I married a Jewish music producer from Casablanca, finished a Ph.D. at the Sorbonne in Paris, had three children, started a sound archive (KHOYA: Jewish Morocco Sound Archive), founded a Jewish film festival and sang for ambassadors, counselors to the palace, ministers and diplomats, artists, filmmakers and national festivals of diversity.

And what I discovered in those ten years was that music in Morocco is split along gendered lines. Only men or non-marriageable women sing the public sphere repertoires in the public sphere whereas the reputable matriarchs of the generation transmit music in the private sphere. This tradition brings the message of Jewish transmission and continuity squarely onto the laps of women singers. They sing about sexual boundaries, fertility and love of God. I have been fortunate enough to witness a grandmother sing a wedding song to her grandson while wrapping a ribbon around a dollop of henna on his palm on the morning of his Bar Mitzvah; and I have watched an aunt sing a humorous song about a difficult mother-in-law to a young bride on the night of her mikveh immersion.

In these intimate moments of transition between life cycle periods, womens singing infuses the younger generation with the bracha, or baraka in Moroccos Arabic (blessing), they need to protect and bless their lives. Surprisingly (or not), the communitys soundtrack has a varied playlist: Hebrew liturgical music as well as Judeo-Spanish, Judeo-Arabic and Judeo-Amazigh humorous and moralistic songs. Moroccan Jews listen, sing and dance to a splendid porousness of classic Moroccan Andalusian; popular chaabi music; French, Spanish, Israeli, Latin American, American and British pop; and the songs of dith Piaf, Abdel Wahab, Enrico Macias, Sarita Montiel and John Lennon confirming that a very Jewish cosmopolitanism and multilingualism is ever present.

A few months after receiving my Ph.D. in Arts, Literature and Civilization, I applied to a research position at Cambridge University to form part of a team of researchers working on the musical encounters across the strait of Gibraltar. I proposed focusing on the use of the Jewish voice in the regions musical and cultural diplomacy. I got the job and have been in Cambridge since 2018. Fittingly, my college affiliation is with Peterhouse, Cambridges oldest college, founded in 1287 on a Jewish merchants land only three years before the expulsion of the Jews from England. Tradition, ritual, knowledge and Judaism continue to intermingle in my Cambridge life.

In the Spring of 2021, I will build the pilot project for the KHOYA archive, an online exhibit of Jewish Saharan womens songs for birth funded by Cambridge Universitys Arts and Humanities Impact Fund. The exhibit will demonstrate how womens songs of the private sphere are at the heart of deep ancestral identity transmission. Other womens songs, which I recently released on Spotify, do the same, they include:

Fifteen years ago, I thought that the synagogue held the deepest part of Jewish transmission in Morocco. But today, I know it to be the songs from home. I can only imagine what the next fifteen years will bring in my quest for the musical heart of our people.

Dr. Vanessa Paloma Elbaz is a Research Associate at the Faculty of Music of the University of Cambridge. She has a Ph.D. from the Center for Middle Eastern and Mediterranean Studies of Sorbonne Paris Cit University and was a Senior Fulbright Research Fellow to Morocco. She has been described by the New York Times as a kind of one-woman roving museum of her own.

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The Hidden Meanings of Ladino Music and Poetry - Jewish Journal

My Sweet Canary and Cloudy Sunday Streaming Globally in Commemoration of Holocaust Remembrance – The Pappas Post

Posted By on January 10, 2021

Hellenic Film Society USA (HFS) is streaming two Jewish-themed Greek films throughout the month of January to mark Holocaust Remembrance. The films are available to global audiences and are streaming on-demand, via the organizations website.

The drama, Cloudy Sunday, and documentary, My Sweet Canary, began streaming worldwide on Sunday, January 3 and will remain available for viewing through Saturday, February 6.

Cloudy Sunday (Ouzeri Tsitsanis is the films Greek title), directed by Manoussos Manousakis, is a drama set in the Nazi-occupied Greek city of Thessaloniki in 1943, when during an alarming escalation of Jewish persecution, a young Christian resistance fighter falls in love with a Jewish woman.

Traditional Sephardic music and the melodies of Vasilis Tsitsanis add to the poignancy of this enthralling drama about love and the horrors of war. The Forward calls it a powerful, melancholy text that has important implications for contemporary struggles.

My Sweet Canary, a Greek/Israeli co-production written and directed by Roy Sher, is a rousing documentary about the life of legendary Greek singer Roza Eskenazy, a Sephardic Jew who is widely credited with popularizing the musical genre of rebetika, considered a form of Greek blues, during a 50-year career that began in the 1920s. Both films will be shown with English subtitles.

The Hellenic Film Society is proud to recognize, during Holocaust Remembrance, Jewish contributions to Greek culture, and to pay tribute to the tens of thousands lost in concentration camps, says Jimmy DeMetro, president of the Hellenic Film Society.

The moving films weve selected capture the joys as well as the horrors of that time and will resonate with todays audiences. Nearly 60,000 Greek Jews died in the Holocaust during the Nazi occupation of Greece during World War II.

The two films are presented as part of the Hellenic Film Societys Always on Sunday on Demand film series, an outgrowth of the Always on Sunday film series which began at the prestigious Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, NY in 2018.

The monthly online series follows the successful virtual Greek film festival that HFS presented in July after the pandemic forced movie theaters to close indefinitely, precluding the presentation of the New York Greek Film Expo, the Societys annual spring film festival in theaters around the New York metropolitan area.

Januarys programming is made possible by a generous donation from the Koslosky Family Foundation.

Is The Pappas Post worth $5 a month for all of the content you read? On any given month, we publish dozens of articles that educate, inform, entertain, inspire and enrich thousands who read The Pappas Post. Im asking those who frequent the site to chip in and help keep the quality of our content high and free. Click here and start your monthly or annual support today. If you choose to pay(a) $5/month or moreor(b) $50/year or morethen you will be able to browse our site completely ad-free!

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My Sweet Canary and Cloudy Sunday Streaming Globally in Commemoration of Holocaust Remembrance - The Pappas Post

Holocaust Remembrance Day of the Greek Jewry on Jan. 21 via Zoom – The National Herald

Posted By on January 10, 2021

NEW YORK This year, the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day of the Greek Jewry will be held virtually via Zoom on January 21, 6 PM EST. The event features The Good Shepherds, an exhibition by the Jewish Museum of Greece in cooperation with The American Friends of the Jewish Museum of Greece. The speakers include His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, Ambassador of Greece to the United States Alexandra Papadopoulou, and Dr. Mimis N. Cohen.

Any questions may be submitted via email:

This year, the effort to mitigate the spread of COVID has inadvertently underscored the importance of the commemoration ceremony, which will, for the first time, be held virtually, but on a Pan-American level, under the auspices of the Embassy of Greece in Washington, DC, and with the participation of every Greek Consular Authority in the USA.

The idea for The Good Shepherds exhibition by the Jewish Museum of Greece (JMG) originated with Mr. Samuel (Makis) Matsas, President of the Museum. A child of the Occupation, who survived thanks to the timely escape of his parents and the generosity of friends and strangers, Mr. Matsas asked the museum to research the conditions under which senior members of the Christian clergy and eminent rabbis acted in various ways to assist persecuted Jews during the Nazi Occupation.

The exhibit showcases the positive actions, gestures of sympathy or support, and rescue attempts, no matter how large or small, revealed by JMG research, to honor those involved at the time and inspire us today. It also aims to highlight the importance of individual choice within an extremely complex, suffocating, and often contradictory context. The stories are illustrated by original artefacts belonging to some of the senior clerics featured in the exhibition. The exhibition has been realized within the framework of a three-year-long programmatic cooperation between the Museum and the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Athens.

As noted in the invitation sent out by Public Diplomacy Office in New York of the Permanent Mission of Greece to the UN and the Consulate General of Greece in New York, this event will, once more, especially under the current circumstances, unequivocally reaffirm our common and relentless commitment to stand against anti-Semitism.

The American Friends of the Jewish Museum of Greece (AFJMG) is the only official representative of the Jewish Museum of Greece (JMG) in the United States of America. It is a tax-exempt, not-for-profit 501 (c) (3) organization registered in the States of New York and Illinois. AFJMG is also a Jewish Community Federation & Endowment Fund approved public charity. AFJMG is the oldest association affiliated with JMG to bring together Sephardic and Romaniot Jews in North America. AFJMG maintains close relations with other Jewish organizations as well as government agencies both in the United States and Greece.

The Jewish Museum of Greece was founded in 1977. In 1998 The Jewish Museum of Greece moved to its own building in the center of Athens and has become the fulcrum of renewal of Jewish community life and a lead agent for Holocaust studies in Europe, visited each year by thousands of visitors in Athens, Greece.

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Holocaust Remembrance Day of the Greek Jewry on Jan. 21 via Zoom - The National Herald

The Big Question: Can the U.S. Defuse Violent Right-Wing Extremism? – BloombergQuint

Posted By on January 10, 2021

(Bloomberg Opinion) -- This is one of a series of interviews by Bloomberg Opinion columnists on how to solve todays most pressing policy challenges. It has been condensed and edited.

Romesh Ratnesar:The Jan. 6 stormingof the Capitol was an alarming assaulton American democracy. You served in theObama administrationand are nowthe head of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which is at the forefront of monitoring and fighting hate groups and violentextremism.Did what happened on Wednesdaycome as a surprise to you?

Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO, Anti-Defamation League:What I would say is that it wasshocking, but not surprising. Theattack on the Capitol was in many ways abookend of what you saw play out in the summer of 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia from Charlottesville to Capitol Hill. In Charlottesville, you had hardcore white supremacists who converged on that college town and marched out in the open, unapologetic and unafraid. And then you had a president who said in the aftermath, There were fine people on both sides. At ADL, we are the oldest anti-hate group in the world. We have been tracking extremists and fighting this battle for generations. We monitor these actors, not just on the public web, but you know, in their private messaging spaces. And when I say they feel emboldened, Im saying that because thats what they were saying. They were saying, verbatim, We feel emboldened.

In the intervening years, you had white-supremacist media being credentialed by the White House.Youhad extremists showing up in meetings in the Oval Office. You had interns flashingthe white supremacist OK sign in photos. You had the presidentadopting not just their rhetoricbut their ideas and enshrining them in policy. You had moments like last fall, when asked to condemn white supremacists, he told the Proud Boys to stand back and stand by. For years, the president has been undermining so many of our institutions Congress, the Democratic Party, members of his own party who disagree with him, the judiciary, the civil service, a free press. He has been taking a sledgehammer to the very foundations of our system. And then, of course, for the last six months, he has been relentlessly going after our electoral process, which is the invisible firmament that holds those institutions together.

And so, after years of this behavior, what we saw on Jan. 6 was the culmination. But whereasin Charlottesville, you had hardcore white supremacists, you had something profoundly different on Wednesday. When they stormed the Capitol, you had the extremists in front, but then you had hundreds of ordinary Americans behind them. If Charlottesville was the introduction of extremism in the political conversation, Wednesday was the normalization of extremism. That is a frightening development. I would describe it as nothing less than maybe the darkest day our democracy has ever seen.

RR: How would you characterize the attack? Was this a mob riot, or something more coordinated or organized?

JG:There is no doubt this was a watershed moment for the white supremacist movement in the United States. This was an achievement that even escaped the Confederacy they never penetrated theCapitol. Wednesdays attack involved a melange of right-wing extremists. There were white supremacists. There were anti-government types. There were armed militia members. There were Boogaloo enthusiasts. There were accelerationists. This was a whos who of right-wing extremism. The act of breaching the Capitol not the protests on the lawn, where there were thousands of ordinary Americans who were swept up in the President's unending and relentless rhetoric but those who actually stormed the Capitol, these were not protesters, they were militants. This was not spontaneous;it was planned. I think weve got to be intentional with our language. We cant let them off the hook, as if this somehow just happened. This was very deliberate. It was domestic terrorism, and it needs to be treated as such by law enforcement authorities.

RR: Leading up to this there was a great deal of evidence on social media about these groups plans. ADL and other organizations have tracked them. If these threats were coming from, say, a jihadist group, you would have expected a huge security presence and much more aggressive efforts by our intelligence and law-enforcement bodies to disrupt the plot. Why wasnt that done?

JG:I think well need a thoroughinvestigation. I think its fair to ask these questions. Why werent they better prepared? At the ADL, we work with law enforcement actively. Were the largest trainer of law enforcement on extremism and hate in the United States. We had been reaching out to law enforcement ahead of this, because we knew this was going to be serious. So I think weve got to ask, why werent they better prepared? And I think we can also ask, why did they respond in a way thats so profoundly different than what theyve done with peaceful protests at the Capitol, from Black Lives Matter protests to immigration? I dont understand that.

Its fair to say the FBI knows what a threat white supremacists are. U.S. attorneys know the threat of right-wing extremism. So do state and local police. If you look at the dataon hate-related murders over the last decade, 76% have been committed by right-wing extremists. You can go back to the explosion in 1995 of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City to today, this trend hasnt changed. Absent the attack on 9/11, the human toll wrought by right-wing extremists blows away any other kind of terror thats happened in the homeland. And I dont think this ends on January 20. This wasnt the beginning of the end so much as the end of the beginning. If these extremists felt emboldened after Charlottesville, you better believe they are exulting after what happened on Wednesday. So its going to take not just a whole of government effort, but a whole of society effort if we want to turn this around.

RR: So one thing thats changed since 1995 is the rise of social media and the extent to which these movements can propagateonline. What further steps should technology companies be taking to remove this content from their platforms?

JG:First things first, I think we need to reckon with the fact that the person most responsible for this situation is President Donald J. Trump. The blame is firmly and squarely at his feet. But yes, I think we have to look at and be clear-eyed about the role that social media companiesplay. I worked in Silicon Valley before I went into government service. ADL opened up a presence in Silicon Valley, theCenter for Technology and Society, in 2017, because I felt that Facebook was really the frontline in fighting extremism. I used to build software products and I know from managing teams of engineers that we need to engage these companies, because the pace of innovation is so great. I dont think we can rely on policymakers to keep pace with quantum computing and all of the extraordinary developments happening aroundinnovative technologies, like AI and machine learning and natural-language processing. You can forget it if you think thatfolks in Washington who are still on their Hotmail accounts will figure this out on their own. We need the companies to beengaged with us.

After the George Floyd murder last summer, when Facebook failed to move as quickly as seemed clearly appropriate to combat white supremacist content, we launched a Stop Hate for Profit campaign. It was the first time in 15 years that Facebook responded to pressure and started to institute reforms. They started taking white supremacy much more seriously. They created a civil-rights executive position on their leadership team. They expressed a willingness to participate in an audit of their hate content. They started classifying Holocaust denialism as hate speech that they would take off.

In the wake of the attack on the Capitol, we demanded that Twitter and Facebook and all the major services ban Trump from their platforms. Freedom of expression is not the freedom to incite violence. That is not protected speech. I was an executive at Starbucks. If someone stands in the middle of a Starbucks and starts screaming obscenities at the staff, you dont say freedom of speech you throw him out. As businesses, whether youre in media, orhospitality, orretail, you make those kinds of choices every day.I think these mainstream services that area huge part of our information economyneed to make choices. Companies like Facebook and Twitter are surely accountable to their shareholders today, but theyre really and truly accountable to history. And they need to get on the right side of this issue, once and for all.

RR: As the head of the ADL, you have conversations all the time with CEOs ofFortune 500 companies. You also have a background as an entrepreneur and an impact investor.Beyond the tech industry, what role can corporate America play in depriving these extremist networks of the oxygen they need to thrive?

JG:I think there are a few things. Brands and businesses have the ability to vote with their purse strings. They have the opportunity to participate in our society with how they hire and how they contribute to the communities in which they operate andwhat they do with their profits. Im proud to have worked for Starbucks, which has been really foot-forward on this since Howard Shultz founded the company. So what I would say is that companies can decide, do we want to patronize businesses that are out of step with basic norms, like decency and equality? That shows up in terms of advertising dollars. Facebooks collecting $70 billion a yearin advertising. Companies can make a decision: Do I want to put my dollars there? Or do I want to put them to work at a different business that might not give me as micro-targeted a demographic, but will allow me to look at my employees in the eye, allow me to look at my shareholders and my customers in the eye and say, were on the right side of history.

RR:Theres also the issue of corporate political contributions.

JG: Right.Companies have PACs, their executives can make contributions and I think they need to think really hard about whether they support individuals who would at a minimum, dismiss an assault on our democracy, let alone participate in that process. They dont have to answer to me. I think they have to answer to their employees, they have to answer to their customers and ultimately they have to answer to their children. I dont think thats really such a hard call. One of the most important things that happened in the last 48 hours was the National Association of Manufacturers stepped up and condemned Trump and those who enabled him. The NAM is not exactly an outpost of the Democratic Party, right? This was an important symbolic move. This is not about politics and social media. This is about principles. This is about the purpose of our country. Theres no right and left on this, theres only right and wrong.

RR: Whats the bottom line? Based on your own governmentexperience, whatcan the Biden administration do to mobilize a whole of society response to combat the threat of right-wing violent extremism?

JG: President Biden should issue an Executive Order on day one creating an anti-hate capacity at the White House. He should create a White House Task Force on fighting hate and promotingnational healing, a cabinet-level working group, and should appoint Vice President Harris to chair it. She understands these issues, I think, in a pretty visceral way and much of her career has been focused on it. Another thing we need to do is acknowledge right-wing extremism, and white supremacy specifically, as a global terror threat. In terms of the agencies you need to have at the table, you need to have the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security, but you also need to have the State Department and USAID. You need to have both the FBI and the CIA. There wereEuropean white supremacists marching in Charlottesville. Im sure when the dust settlesand we sift through the wreckage, well find there were European white supremacists marching this week. Were tracking these people; weknow that these connections are real.

In addition to creating this White House capacity so that the full resources of the executive branch are leveraged, you need to be engaged with Congress. You need both parties here. This cant be seen as some kind of vendetta by the Democrats. This needs to be a bipartisan effort through and through that also can reach down to the state and local level. Theres a lot that can be done in this context you can leverage DHSs officer community partnerships tofight the radicalization of young people. Because the reality is there are a lot of people who are upset for good reason. The middle class has shrunk; the gap between the haves and the have-nots has grown. The structural issues are real, and they need to be addressed, but at the same time, that doesnt preclude us from fighting the threat of radicalization. So I think youve got to fight the white supremacists with a clenched fist and youve got to use an open hand to kind of heal the country.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

Romesh Ratnesar writes editorials on education, economic opportunity and work for Bloomberg Opinion. He was deputy editor of Bloomberg Businessweek and an editor and foreign correspondent for Time. He has served in the State Department, and is author of Tear Down This Wall.

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The Big Question: Can the U.S. Defuse Violent Right-Wing Extremism? - BloombergQuint

Opinion: We have to work together to protect democracy from threats – The Detroit News

Posted By on January 10, 2021

Carolyn Normandin and Kamilia Landrum Published 9:57 p.m. ET Jan. 7, 2021

Escalating political tensions and the rise of political extremism have been felt acutely in Michigan. In the run-up to Novembers election, our state saw the worst that extremism and the uncontrolled spread of misinformation has to offer. The challenges of the political moment have been enhanced by the most dangerous public health emergency in a century.

During an election like no other in recent memory, the gravity of the moment was felt by voters who made their voices heard despite attacks on our electoral process that continue to stoke the flames of political extremism. These threats are all too real for Michigan residents. Beyond the plot against our governor, Michigan has witnessed high-profile threats against our secretary of state, state representatives and our electors.

Voters made their voices heard despite attacks on our electoral process that continue to stoke the flames of political extremism, the authors write.(Photo: Win McNamee, Getty Images)

It is because these threats persist that the Anti-Defamation League and the Detroit Branch NAACP joined a broad nonpartisan coalition to share resources and expertise to protect voting rights and prevent the spread of extremism in our state. This year, upwards of 30 like-minded institutions representing diverse communities and oriented towardproductive engagement in our democratic processes joined together to ensure Michiganians participate in our Democratic process unencumbered and irrespective of preferred outcome.

Through theTake Your Soles to the Poles campaign, the Detroit Branch NAACP canvassed 20,000 homes, made more than 50,000 calls, organized outreach to various faith-based, civicand labor organizations, created social media campaigns to mobilize voters and conducted voter registration efforts in the Wayne County Jail.Both Detroit Branch NAACP and the ADL supported voter hotline efforts and offered support from lawyers to protect voters from intimidation and harassment.

Alongside the states residents and its municipal leaders, we have worked toward our shared goal to protect the electoral system in our state and the processes, protocolsand personnel it is composed of from the threats of sabotage, misinformationand violence. This year, the ADL, the Detroit Branch NAACPand our partners have brought together leaders on a bipartisan basis to better understand the risks that our systems and voters face.

Prior to the election, the ADL and its partners held meetings with mayors, governors, attorneys general and other leaders nationwide to convey trends in extremism and offer tools to help them mitigate the threat. Across the country, the ADL reached over 20,000 law enforcement officials with these tools and worked closely with state leadership from both parties here in Michigan.

As the election ends and the winner is sworn in, our work will not stop. We must remain vigilant. Between 2019 and 2020 our country saw nearly 10,000 incidents characterized by racism, antisemitism, white supremacism and other forms of hate and extremism. Our state experienced more than 130 incidents, including the alleged plot against our governor, and threats against many other state officials. Confronting these challenges requires the ADL, the Detroit Branch NAACPand many other important organizations to band together and push back against these forces.

We remain firm in our belief that this threat can be countered with civic action, educationand the commitment of our partners in state and local government. We call on policymakers and leaders at all levels in Michigan to consider all avenues that would foster an environment where hate and extremism are pushed to the margins, including legal, educationaland regulatory measures. This must be accompanied by a bipartisan and full-throated rejection of efforts to traffic in conspiracy theories and extremist ideas particularly those in public and political life.

Leaders from across Michigans civil society have proven that by working together we can inform and engage millions of voters and help protect access to the polls. With the help of organizations like the ADL and the Detroit Branch NAACP, state and municipal leadership, organizations like MichiganVoting.organd countless residents and communities, we can continue to exercise our greatest constitutional gifts and preserve our democratic institutions.

Carolyn Normandin is the Michigan regional directorof the Anti-Defamation League. Kamilia Landrum is executive director of the Detroit Branch NAACP.

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Opinion: We have to work together to protect democracy from threats - The Detroit News

Sacha Baron Cohen on Facebook, Twitter and Trump – Variety

Posted By on January 10, 2021

On Friday, Twitter banned Donald Trump from his favorite platform, citing the 45th presidents potential to whip up more violence after the weeks deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol. The ban followed Mark Zuckerbergs decision to bar Trump indefinitely from Facebook, limiting the presidents ability to communicate directly to tens of millions of his most diehard supporters. The move kicked off praise from liberal sectors and condemnation from conservatives who believe its an example of Silicon Valley overreach.

For Sacha Baron Cohen, it was the culmination of an extensive campaign, one that has seen the comedian use his celebrity to mount an unusually consequential effort to press big tech to crack down on QAnon and other fringe and far-right groups. Shortly after Twitter enacted its ban, Baron Cohen, one of the most outspoken critics of social medias role in spreading conspiracy theories and hate speech, was ebullient.

We did it, he tweeted. He followed that tweet with another message, This is the most important moment in the history of social media. The worlds largest platforms have banned the worlds biggest purveyor of lies, conspiracies and hate. To every Facebook and Twitter employee, user and advocate who fought for thisthe entire world thanks you!

During an extensive interview for a recentVariety cover story on his star turns in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm and The Trial of the Chicago 7, Baron Cohen made it clear that he was worried that social media platforms posed an existential threat to democracy.

Authoritarian regimes rely on shared lies, democracies rely on a system of shared facts, Baron Cohen said. People have their own opinions about that system of shared facts. Social media is predisposed to spread lies and conspiracy theories, while the truth is quite boring and dull. So people dont want to wait for the truth and they dont want to share the truth.

Baron Cohen first went public with many of those concerns in 2019 at the Anti-Defamation Leagues Never Is Now summit, where he delivered a blistering take-down of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social media companies hands-off approach to policing their content. He then helped form Stop Hate for Profit, a coalition of advocacy groups and civil rights organizations that included the NAACP, Free Press, and the ADL. That organization successfully mounted advertiser boycotts and convinced celebrities to stop posting on Instagram in protest. Its one of the reasons that Facebook banned QAnon and Twitter started offering disclaimers on content that made baseless claims about election rigging. It was not a position, that of digital Cassandra, that Baron Cohen eagerly embraced.

Ive spent my entire career trying to shy away from publicity, he told Variety during the cover interview, adding, While I was aware of the dangers of social media from 2015 onwards, I was trying to find a celebrity who would actually take up the cause. They know who they are, but I approached a number of celebrities over the years, trying to say: Listen, this is the issue right now. This is really dangerous. Will you be the mouthpiece for the cause? All of them refused.

When he spoke to Variety in December, Baron Cohen was eerily prescient in outlining the risks he thought some of these claims of voting fraud posed even after Trump lost the presidency to Joe Biden.

The danger of Trump and Trump-ism will remain, Baron Cohen said. We still have 80% of those who voted for Trump believing the election was stolen and thats a very dangerous figure. Im a comedian and an actor. Im not a historian or a sociologist, but having spoken to some of the eminent historians who specialize in how democracies turn into authoritarian regimes, theres a consensus that when you have a large body of the population who believe theyve been wronged, that segment of the population can be used to do horrific things.

The connection between that type of outrage and the violence it can provoke was vividly on display during the insurrection at the Capitol. Baron Cohen also predicted that social media platforms could have a deleterious impact on the ability of public health officials to encourage Americans to take the coronavirus vaccine.

If [social media companies] dont act fast to stop anti-vaxxers from spreading their conspiracy theories on social media, the amount of people who die will be hundreds of thousands, if not millions more, he said.

Zuckerberg and other Silicon Valley figures have been reluctant to crack down on conspiracy theorists because they argue it violates free speech. Baron Cohen doesnt buy that argument.

The tend to keep on spouting the phrase freedom of speech without any real understanding of the purpose of freedom of speech and the definition of freedom of speech or that the United States has an exceptional view of freedom of speech that came about because of its exceptional history, Baron Cohen said. There are limits to freedom of speech in Europe that came about because of the effect of Nazism. There is a form of ideological imperialism whereby the views of a handful of billionaires in Silicon Valley is imposed on the entire world.

The Borat star has a novel idea. He argues that Facebook, Twitter and other platforms should deploy an army of digital fact checkers and monitors to curb the spread of conspiracy theories.

These are trillion dollar companies, he said. Theyre run by some of the richest people in the world. There is huge unemployment now due to coronavirus.

Baron Cohen went on to argue that these companies should say, We are going to share some of that wealth. We are going to employ hundreds of thousands of people, potentially millions of people worldwide, and share these profits and use these people to help curb the excesses of our companies.

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Sacha Baron Cohen on Facebook, Twitter and Trump - Variety

Extremists intensify calls for violence ahead of Inauguration Day – WDJT

Posted By on January 10, 2021

By Rob Kuznia, Curt Devine, Scott Bronstein and Bob Ortega, CNN

(CNN) -- "Trump or war. Today. That simple."

"If you don't know how to shoot: You need to learn. NOW."

"we will storm the government buildings, kill cops, kill security guards, kill federal employees and agents, and demand a recount."

In the weeks, days and hours ahead of Wednesday's siege on the Capitol by President Donald Trump's zealous supporters, the warning signs were clear: online posts from hate groups and right-wing provocateurs agitating for civil war, the deaths of top lawmakers and attacks on law enforcement.

And now, as the dust settles and the country struggles to make sense of the violence that left five dead -- including an officer with the US Capitol Police -- experts warn that the calls for violence have only intensified ahead of Inauguration Day, when President-elect Joe Biden will be sworn in as commander in chief.

"We are seeing ... chatter from these white supremacists, from these far-right extremists -- they feel emboldened in this moment," said Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, which tracks and counters hate. "We fully expect that this violence could actually get worse before it gets better."

Wednesday's chaos -- which erupted during a protest to dissuade Congress from certifying the results of Biden's unambiguous win -- showed a loss of control and sudden breaking of the bond that for four years had held Trump, his supporters and the Republican leadership together in lockstep.

After rioters charged through a barricade, assaulted police officers, shattered windows and stormed into the hallowed building that was torched by the invading British military in 1814, Trump made a tepid plea for them to go home -- although he repeated the falsehood that the election had been stolen. Republican leaders that night -- including Vice President Mike Pence and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell -- condemned the rioters in the strongest terms.

But it all appeared to have little effect on the radicalized right.

"Trump WILL be sworn in for a second term on January 20th!!," said a commenter on, a pro-Trump online forum, on Thursday, the day after the siege. "We must not let the communists win. Even if we have to burn DC to the ground. Tomorrow we take back DC and take back our country!!"

John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at the Citizen Lab -- a group at the University of Toronto that monitors cybersecurity -- said he is "terribly concerned" about the inauguration.

"While the broader public was aghast at what happened (Wednesday) at the Capitol, in certain corners of the sort of right wing conversation, what happened ... is viewed as a success," he told CNN.

In the days and weeks before the attack on the Capitol, signs that the protest could spiral into violence were in abundance.

Advance Democracy, Inc., a nonpartisan governance watchdog, highlighted red flags on social media. In the six days leading up to the event, for instance, there were 1,480 posts from QAnon-related accounts that referenced the event and contained terms of violence. On Parler, the report said, multiple posts referenced war, including statements like "the war begins today."

Ali Alexander, a political activist who has organized pro-Trump rallies, including one of the demonstrations that converged on the Capitol lawn Wednesday, accused the left of "trying to push us to war." In late December, Alexander told followers on Periscope that he and three GOP congressman -- Reps. Paul Gosar and Andy Biggs of Arizona and Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama -- were planning something big.

"It was to build momentum and pressure and then on the day change hearts and minds of Congress peoples who weren't yet decided or who saw everyone outside and said, 'I can't be on the other side of that mob,'" Ali said, though he did not call for violence.

CNN reached out to the offices of all three congressman, but only Biggs responded, with a statement from a spokesperson denying that he worked in any way with Alexander or any protestors.

"Congressman Biggs is not aware of hearing of or meeting Mr. Alexander at any point -- let alone working with him to organize some part of a planned protest," the spokesperson said. "He did not have any contact with protestors or rioters, nor did he ever encourage or foster the rally or protests. He was focused on his research and arguments to work within the confines of the law and established precedent to restore integrity to our elections, and to ensure that all Americans -- regardless of party affiliation -- can again have complete trust in our elections systems."

Several organizations that monitor extremism online issued warnings beforehand.

On January 4, the ADL published a lengthy blog post detailing threats of violence pertaining to the upcoming rally.

"In response to a user who wondered what happens if Congress ignores 'evidence' that President Trump won the election, a user wrote, 'Storm the capitol,'" the ADL's blog post says.

The post went on to say while it wasn't aware of any credible threats violence planned for January 6, "if the past is any indication, the combination of an extremist presence at the rallies and the heated nature of the rhetoric suggests that violence is a possibility."

Also on January 4, a risk analysis by the security firm G4S stated that "current rhetoric suggests that there will be attendees who have violent intent, including armed militia groups" between January 6 and Inauguration Day.

The analysis cited numerous posts in recent weeks advocating violence on the right-wing site, including one from late December that said, "We will have to achieve an actual tactical victory like storming and occupying Congress, to have the intended effect."

Another said, "Patriots who STILL, AT THIS POINT IN TIME, are too cowardly to condone violence, are part of the problem."

Security experts said they were puzzled by the flat-footed response of law enforcement.

"The surprising part of it is why it was so much less aggressively policed," said Jonathan Wood, director of global risk analysis for London-based Control Risks. "Many security analysts were surprised by the lack of security, and by the lack of a robust security response."

Federal and local law enforcement officials insist they had no idea the siege would happen.

"There was no intelligence that suggested there would be a breach of the US Capitol," said DC Police Chief Robert Contee at a press conference Thursday.

Steven A. Sund, who is resigning as chief of the US Capitol Police amid criticism over the apparent lack of preparedness to deal with the violent mob, said in a statement that the department had a robust plan to address "anticipated First Amendment activities."

"But make no mistake -- these mass riots were not First Amendment activities; they were criminal riotous behavior," he said Thursday.

As for security on Inauguration Day, the Secret Service issued a statement saying its plans for the event have been long in the making.

"The inauguration of the President of the United States is a foundational element of our democracy," the agency said in a statement. "The safety and security of all those participating in the 59th Presidential Inauguration is of the utmost importance."

Robert Dodge, president of corporate risk services at G4S -- which issued the January 4 warning -- said in the months leading up to January 6, he saw "a lot of concerning and hostile rhetoric, which in our world we call a threat indicator."

He added that the US Capitol building seemed to lack the proper fortification.

"Did people approaching the Capitol see a proper level of physical barriers, of psychological barriers such as signs saying do not cross this line or you will be arrested?" he said. "You saw the glass windows being broken in. Why weren't some of those reinforced? It looks like there were some serious physical security challenges that got left to the Capitol police to mitigate."

It isn't just the fringe elements who have gotten swept up in the current fervor. Mingling with the crowd of militia groups, white nationalists and high-profile conspiracy theorists on the Capitol lawn on Wednesday were other citizens who made the trip to challenge the certification.

One was Texas resident and former mayoral candidate Jenny Cudd, whose campaign slogan was "Jenny for Mayor."

After railing against what she described as voter fraud and a stolen election, she called for the death of those who have committed treason.

"All we need is one public hanging, and then people will start acting right -- kind of like it would be useful if we still had the firing squad for the death penalty," Cudd said. "We shall see if there will be a public hanging in our future because it is still considered a valid form of death for treason."

Cudd posted a video the night before the protests, where she talked about how the next day was going to be a "ruckus."

"I don't know what y'all think about a revolution, but I'm all for it," she said. "Nobody actually wants war, nobody wants bloodshed, but the government works for us and unfortunately it appears that they have forgotten that, quite a lot, so if a revolution is what it takes then so be it."

Right-wing news network OANN posted a photo of Cudd on Twitter Wednesday afternoon showing her inside the Capitol, wearing a Trump flag around her as a cape. And that evening, she posted a video from her hotel, where she drank a beer and choked back tears as she took her followers through what had happened that day.

"When Pence betrayed us is when we decided to storm the Capitol," she said.

On Friday, Cudd told a local TV news outlet that she did nothing illegal.

"I pretty well walked up the steps and then there was an open door to the Capitol," she said. "I personally did not tear down anything, destroy anything."

In response to a CNN request for comment Friday, Cudd texted a link to a video of herself repeating a version of the statement she made to the local outlet, saying, "cancel culture is in full force," and that she has "received several death threats, along with thousands of one-star reviews" for her business.

Joel Finkelstein, director of the Network Contagion Research Institute at Rutgers University, said conspiracies on the web have mushroomed from smaller, obscure sites like 8kun frequented by adherents of QAnon to more mainstream sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The result, he said, is that many of the people drawn to the protests Wednesday were not extremists but rather ordinary Americans who did not understand that they had been lied to.

"These are our neighbors -- these are these are our neighbors and friends," he said. "They are people we all know. They were doing it on Facebook. They were doing it on Twitter. The threats to our democracy aren't coming just from 8chan. And they're not coming just from QAnon."

Some of the more disturbingly violent chatter on social media reflects what appears to be a growing hostility toward Republican leaders on the part of Trump supporters.

"I'm fairly certain seeing Pelosis and Mitch the Bitch swinging bodies from a rope will get more attention from sheeple who normally don't follow or care about politics," said a commenter Wednesday on

And as law enforcement has begun to take a heavier hand with right-wing extremist groups -- Proud Boys leader Henry "Enrique" Tarrio was arrested by DC police ahead of the January 6 protest -- experts are noticing a growing antipathy for police in these circles, which have tended to consider themselves allies of men and women in uniform.

"That creates a pretty dangerous situation," said Southern Poverty Law Center senior research analyst Cassie Miller. "Because not only might there be violent encounters with leftists but it kind of increases the potential that there's going to be a violent confrontation with cops as well."

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Extremists intensify calls for violence ahead of Inauguration Day - WDJT

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