Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Fact Check; Is Defense Planning a Blackout?

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Fact Check; Is Defense Planning a Blackout?

Article excerpt

Byline: Carole Fader

Times-Union readers want to know:

I heard that the Department of Defense is planning to send out a global electromagnetic pulse that would create a national blackout and that the antifa (anti-Fascist groups in the U.S.) is involved. Is that true?

The U.S. Army conducted a regularly scheduled communications drill with ham radio operators on Nov. 4. It had no effect on the electric power grid.

The drill typically involves several hundred amateur radio operators practicing how they would use their equipment to help military communications in case of a major power outage, according to a statement that Charlie Stadtlander, chief of public affairs for the U.S. Army Cyber Command, sent to FactCheck.org.

As FactCheck.org reports: "The exercise has gone largely unnoticed each year since it started in 2013. But not this year. That's because Nov. 4 is also the date on which far-right bloggers have forecast a violent uprising by antifa, a loosely organized group of anti-fascist activists. So, some websites have now spun the annual ham radio exercise into a conspiracy theory involving a government shutdown of the power grid in concert with an antifa-led riot."

Neither is true.

The idea of an antifa uprising was put out there by a now-deleted tweet that said: "Can't wait for November 4th when millions of antifa supersoldiers will behead all white parents and small business owners in the town square."

The writer of the tweet - who includes Trump family jokes and antifa-related humor - explained in a column for Vice that it was intended to be satire.

Gateway Pundit, a conservative blog, wrote about the tweet as though it were a real threat, and that story was picked up and published on several sites. FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to help identify and label viral fake news stories flagged by readers on the social media network and this story was flagged by Facebook users.

One leftist group planned to hold rallies in cities across the country on Nov. 4. But, Andy Zee, one of the founders of that organization, called Refuse Fascism, told The Washington Post that the group is committed to nonviolent protest. …

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