Facts Matter: Parkland activists' financial backing isn't from billionaire Soros

  • Florida high school shooting survivors, from left, Arieyanna Williams, Natalie Daskal and Emma Gonzalez, walk around Chicago's south side on Saturday, knocking on doors and registering people to vote.

    Florida high school shooting survivors, from left, Arieyanna Williams, Natalie Daskal and Emma Gonzalez, walk around Chicago's south side on Saturday, knocking on doors and registering people to vote. Associated Press

  • Twitter users found Meghan Markle "creepy" and robotic after she and new husband Prince Harry were introduced on "Britain's Got Talent." Turns out they were robots, not the royal couple.

    Twitter users found Meghan Markle "creepy" and robotic after she and new husband Prince Harry were introduced on "Britain's Got Talent." Turns out they were robots, not the royal couple.

 
 
Updated 6/16/2018 5:12 PM

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students' national tour to reform gun laws and urge young people to vote resurrected a social media claim that their efforts are bankrolled by billionaire Democratic donor George Soros.

The claims are false, Soros' organization told the Tampa Bay Times. Soros and his Open Society Foundation have supported organizations working on gun violence prevention in the past, but don't currently do so, his spokeswoman, Laura Silber, told the news organization. He does approve of the students' efforts, she said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The students stopped Saturday at the DuPage Unitarian Universalist Church in Naperville on their "Road to Change" bus tour of 50 cities in 20 states.

The Soros claim first surfaced around the time of the March For Our Lives rally that followed the Feb. 14 shooting that killed 17 people at the Parkland, Florida, school. A claim distributed via social media that Soros offered $300 to each of the protesters also is false, according to Snopes.com.

Students have raised $3.6 million on a GoFundMe site and are fundraising on marchforourlives.com, with big donors including Oprah Winfrey, George and Amal Clooney and Gucci, HuffPost quoted a spokeswoman for the campaign as saying.

Robotic royals

A video that appeared to show newlyweds Prince Harry and Meghan Markle drew attention from social media users who claimed the pair are robots.

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The video shows the host of TV show "Britain's Got Talent" greeting the "special guests" as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex clap and nod without blinking.

Twitter users called the appearance "really creepy" and spun conspiracy theories.

It turns out the couple in the audience were robots -- but they weren't Harry and Meghan.

Two "live figures" created by Madame Tussauds, the famous wax museum based in London, made the TV appearance as a marketing stunt, according to Snopes.com.

The wax creations will be unveiled this month at the London museum and can walk, talk and interact so guests can "feel as if they are really meeting" the royals, according to the Madame Tussauds website.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Cages or enclosures?

Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon said in his visit to a border patrol facility in McAllen, Texas, he saw hundreds of immigrant children "locked up in cages" made out of fencing topped with wire and nets, which the Trump administration disputes.

Were they cages?

An administration official told The Washington Post they are not. The processing locations keep children no more than three days and does use barriers to separate them by gender and age groups "for the safety and security of all minors in the custody," the official told the Post.

Photos obtained by the Post, taken by the McAllen Monitor and Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts in 2014, show the fences and appear to show a thin mesh netting on top, the Post said, adding the covering is difficult to discern from the photos.

Nearly 50,000 families were apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border between October and April. The number of immigrant children separated from their parents has been on the rise due to President Donald Trump's zero-tolerance policies, the Post reports.

Meanwhile, a photo of a toddler crying inside a cage making the rounds on social media is not an immigrant child in custody, according to Snopes.com.

The image of the young boy clutching the bars and sobbing has been matched with a caption stating the child was detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.

The photograph is actually from an earlier protest rally at Dallas City Hall in Texas against the Trump administration's policies that separate immigrant children from their parents. The boy is in a mock cage that was part of the demonstration. Another photo from the event shows the same boy walking outside the "cage."

False arrest

A Florida police chief claimed his department had a 100 percent arrest rate for burglaries, but now he and two officers are accused of framing a teenager to get the perfect score.

Former Biscayne Park Chief Raimundo Atesiano and officers Charlie Dayoub and Raul Fernandez are charged with civil rights violations, according to The Washington Post.

Atesiano is accused of having the officers arrest the teen even though he knew there was no evidence to back up the charges, the Post said. Authorities say Fernandez agreed to write and notarize the false narratives and Dayoub signed the affidavits.

Atesiano wanted to tout the arrest record at a town council meeting in 2013, according to the Post.

• Bob Oswald is a veteran Chicago-area journalist and former news editor of the Elgin Courier-News. Contact him at boboswald33@gmail.com.

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