NOT REAL NEWS: A look at what didn’t happen this week


A roundup of some of the most popular but completely untrue stories and visuals of the week. None of these are legit, even though they were shared widely on social media. The Associated Press checked them out. Here are the facts:


No evidence that DNA sequence used in Pfizer shot leads to cancer and other health issues

CLAIM: Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine contains a DNA sequence called Simian Virus 40 that can cause health problems, including cancer.

THE FACTS: No evidence has been found to suggest DNA fragments used in the development of the coronavirus vaccine — such as a portion of SV40’s DNA sequence — are causing health problems in people who have received the COVID-19 vaccine. A recent congressional hearing r evived the baseless claim that coronavirus vaccines contain dangerous levels of monkey virus DNA. Following the hearing, social media users began sharing a post with information from The Epoch Times website that reported Congress was warned at the hearing about “DNA fragments” detected in the inoculation made by Pfizer and BioNTech. The post cites testimony from Dr. Robert Malone, who played a role in developing the messenger RNA, or mRNA, technology used in the vaccine, claiming the shot includes a DNA sequence called Simian Virus 40, or SV40. “The sequence leaves behind residual DNA that could cause problems,” reads one Instagram post. But the Nov. 13 hearing at the U.S. Capitol, which was held by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and other vaccine critics in the House of Representatives, repeated long-debunked falsehoods about the contents of the shot and purported health risks like cancer. Government regulatory agencies and vaccine experts told The Associated Press that the Simian Virus itself isn’t present in the vaccine, and there’s no evidence anything contained in the vaccine could alter a person’s DNA or lead to cancer and other illnesses. The European Medicines Agency, which regulates vaccines in European Union nations, explained that “non-functional” fragments of SV40’s DNA sequence are used as “starting material” in producing the vaccine. But they’re mostly being broken down and removed in the manufacturing process. Trace amounts might remain at “very low levels” in the final product, the agency and others acknowledged, but they are well within established safety guidelines.“ EMA has seen no evidence of an association between mRNA vaccines and adverse events that could be linked to the presence of DNA material, nor are we aware of any scientific evidence showing that the very small amounts of residual DNA that may be present in vaccine batches could integrate into the DNA of vaccinated individuals,” the Amsterdam-based agency wrote in an emailed statement. The Food and Drug Administration, which regulates vaccines in the U.S., echoed the sentiment, saying no safety concerns about residual DNA in COVID vaccines have been identified, despite more than one billion shots being administered. “The FDA stands behind its findings of quality, safety, and efficacy for the mRNA vaccines,” the agency wrote, deferring further questions to Pfizer and other vaccine makers. Pfizer, in an emailed statement, stressed that the use of the SV40 sequence is common practice in developing vaccines, including the influenza and hepatitis shots that have been administered globally for decades. ”There is no evidence to support claims that the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine contains plasmid DNA that could potentially impact a person’s DNA or be a theoretical cancer risk,” the company wrote, referring to DNA materials used to trigger an immune response during vaccine development. Spokespersons for The Epoch Times didn’t respond to messages seeking comment.

—-Associated Press writer Philip Marcelo in New York contributed this report.


Newly released Jan. 6 footage does not show a federal agent flashing his badge while undercover

CLAIM: Security camera footage from Jan. 6, 2021, shows a federal agent disguised as a supporter of then-President Donald Trump during the attack on the U.S. Capitol.

THE FACTS: The man in the video is not a federal agent. It’s Kevin James Lyons, a Chicago man who was sentenced in July to more than four years in federal prison for his role in the attack. Multiple images of Lyons at the Capitol, dressed as he is in the footage, appear in court documents. The false claim emerged after House Speaker Mike Johnson on Nov. 17 began releasing thousands of hours of footage from the Capitol insurrection. Social media users — including members of Congress — seized on a clip saying it proved that undercover federal agents participated in the riot. The video, which is 5 minutes and 31 seconds long, shows rioters and law enforcement personnel moving through a hallway in the Capitol. At 21 seconds into the video, a man appears from behind a column wearing a red “Make America Great Again” hat, a camouflage scarf covering most of his face, and a dark blue sweatshirt layered over a green sweatshirt. He walks toward the camera, flashing his palms at the 36-second mark with a small object in his right hand. “And that ladies and gentlemen is a badge… with a red hat and fully disguised,” reads one post on X that shared a screenshot of the footage paused as Lyons is flashing his palms. But these claims play on enduring conspiracytheories about federal agents orchestrating the events of Jan. 6. Lyons was sentenced on July 14 to 51 months in federal prison for the part he played in the riot. Court documents include multiple images of Lyons inside the Capitol, dressed in the same outfit as in the security footage. For example, one shows Lyons recording himself in a mirror in the office of then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi. In another, he sits in a car holding a framed photograph from Pelosi’s office, which shows her with the late Congressman John Lewis, a civil rights movement icon who died in July 2020. It is unclear exactly what Lyons is holding in his right hand when he flashes his palms. Lyons was convicted in April of six charges, including obstruction of an official proceeding. In addition to prison time, he was ordered to pay $2,000 in restitution to the Architect of the Capitol and complete 36 months of supervised release. Johnson on Friday publicly released about 90 hours of security footage from the Jan. 6 attack. An additional 44,000 hours is expected to be posted online over the next several months, the AP has reported.

—- Associated Press reporter Melissa Goldin in New York contributed this report. ___

Video shows Israeli soldiers raising a flag over a Gaza school building, not a hospital

CLAIM: A video shows Israeli soldiers placing a flag atop Gaza’s Shifa Hospital.

THE FACTS: The video shows the soldiers raising the country’s flag over a United Nations-operated school in the city, not the hospital, a U.N. agency spokesperson confirmed. But posts online misrepresent the footage,,saying the video was taken at Gaza’s largest hospital, which became a focal point in the latest conflict between Israel and Hamas this month. In the video, three soldiers walk along a flat rooftop carrying a flagpole bearing the Israeli flag and its distinctive Star of David, along with another purple and white flag. The group, dressed in heavy military gear, silently affixes the pole to a short column along the edge of the roof before quickly walking away. “They set up their flag on top of the Al Shifa Hospital To congratulate themselves on “conquering” a place filled with premature babies, injured kids and dead woman,” the text on the brief clip reads. But the flag wasn’t raised at Shifa Hospital — which Israel raided last week, claiming it hid a command center for Hamas — but at a school elsewhere in the city. Juliette Touma, a spokesperson for the U.N.’s Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, confirmed in an email Tuesday that the building shown in the video houses one of its schools in the Hamas-controlled Gaza City. Indeed, at one point in the video, the three soldiers step over the letters “UN” written in large dark-colored capital letters on the rooftop floor. But Touma declined to say which of the more than 180 schools the agency operates in the Gaza Strip is shown in the video. She also said it was unclear when the flag was raised or whether or not it’s still there. “This is what we have for now and we don’t have more details,” Touma wrote. Spokespersons for the Israeli government and military didn’t respond to emails seeking comment. But the video appears to have been taken from the roof of a school building at the intersection of Tariq Ibn Ziyad and Al-Naser roads, which is located about one mile from the hospital. Satellite imagery on Google Earth shows the letters “UN” painted on the long flat roof of one building, and matches several distinctly-styled structures that are shown in the video surrounding the campus complex that includes at least four schools for boys. For example, at the beginning of the clip, a tower with a red roof and a tall antenna on top can be seen in the upper left of the clip. That matches a building a block away on the map. Another building in front of the soldiers as they plant the flag has a unique curved facade and window on the top level, which is also visible in the satellite image. It’s unclear who first shared the video, but Israeli journalist Hallel Bitton Rosen shared a longer, clearer version of the footage on his social media accounts on Nov. 15. Rosen, who didn’t respond to emails seeking comment, described the clip in a post written in Hebrew as showing soldiers from the Israeli military’s Givati Brigade raising a flag atop a school. The Givati Brigade is composed of infantry units and has a purple and white flag similar to the one flown along with the Israeli flag in the video.

—- Philip Marcelo


Video misrepresents Biden’s departure from White House turkey pardon

CLAIM: A video clip shows President Joe Biden “abruptly” leaving this year’s Thanksgiving turkey pardoning ceremony at the White House.

THE FACTS: In the full video of Monday’s ceremony, Biden spends several minutes speaking and taking photos with guests after pardoning two turkeys in an address before hundreds of attendees. He can be seen waving to the crowd, plus giving a thumbs up and a salute, before leaving the event. But in the edited clip he leaves abruptly after the pardoning, turning away from the crowd and breaking into a light jog for a few moments before slowing to a walk as he makes his way to the White House. Two Marines standing in front of the door part to let him through and salute as he goes inside. “Biden abruptly leaves his turkey pardon ceremony and half-jogs back inside,” reads one post on X, formerly Twitter. In the full video from the ceremony, Biden makes a more prolonged departure from the South Lawn of the White House. Immediately after pardoning two turkeys, named Liberty and Bell, Biden can be seen speaking with Steve Lykken, chairman of the National Turkey Federation, and Jose Rojas, vice president of Jennie-O Turkey Store. Biden then speaks for several minutes with some of the hundreds of guests and p oses for photos. Finally, standing next to his granddaughter, Maisy Biden, the president waves to the crowd, giving a thumbs up and a salute, before making his exit. The tradition of pardoning turkeys dates back to 1947 when the National Turkey Federation, which represents turkey farmers and producers, first presented a National Thanksgiving Turkey to President Harry Truman.

—- Melissa Goldin


Find AP Fact Checks here:


Follow @APFactCheck on Twitter:

Source: post

No posts to display