Saturday, February 24, 2018

What to Make of It? Venezuela Launches Petro Cryptocurrency

Venezuela Earns $735m in a Day From Petro Cryptocurrency Sales

by TeleSur

February 25, 2018

“Today, a cryptocurrency is being born that can take on Superman,” said Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

While cryptocurrency and blockchain experts said Venezuela's new digital currency, the "Petro", would not garner significant investment, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced on Tuesday that the country had earned US$735 million on the first day of pre-sales.

“Today, a cryptocurrency is being born that can take on Superman,” said Maduro, using the comic character as a reference to the United States, while giving an address on state television.

He added:

“For big problems, [we have created a] big solution... We Venezuelans are indomitable.”

Maduro noted that the Petro could be used to conduct sales in tourism, gasoline, and some oil transactions.

Venezuela's Cryptocurrency Superintendent, Carlos Vargas, stated that the Petro has already attracted investors from Qatar, Turkey and other parts of the Middle East, though Europeans and Americans will also participate.

The cryptocurrency, which will be backed by the country's oil resources, will bring in a new economic era in the nation. Maduro has stated that the goal of the new cryptocurrency is to combat sanctions, the “economic war,” waged by the U.S. government and its junior partners against Venezuela, all the while advancing “on issues of monetary sovereignty, to make financial transactions and “overcome the financial blockade.”

The launch of the Petro was announced in December. It is regulated by the Superintendence of Cryptocurrencies and Related Activities, as well as the Blockchain Observatory.

Cryptocurrencies typically are not backed by any government or central banks, nor are they regulated. However, the U.S. Security and Exchanges Commission has been increasingly tracking digital currencies, classing some tokens as securities, thus making them subject to oversight.

On this point, Maduro said:

"We have taken a giant step into the 21st Century... We are on the world’s technological vanguard.”

American Yearbook 2018

America's High School Yearbook: 2018

by Andy Myer - This Can't Be Happening

February 22, 2018

 American High School Yearbook: 2018 - Andy Myer,
(Creative Commons 2.0 copyright)

Here we are again. Another massacre in a school, this time in Parkland, Florida. Before we ultimately resign ourselves to this obscene state of affairs, shouldn't we at least see the actual crime scene photos? It's an argument made recently in Slate. Don't we deserve to have all relevant information and visual material as we debate the issue of guns in this country?

It's unlikely. In the meantime, let's close our eyes and imagine what the bodies of youngsters in Sandy Hook Elementary torn apart by assault weapon ammunition really look like. Conjure up the slumped figures peppered with slugs in the pews of the Sutherland Springs Church, the dead and wounded littering the campus of Virginia Tech, the concert grounds in Las Vegas, and the hallways and classrooms of Columbine and Stoneman Douglass High School. Think of the thousands of shattered families, whose lives surely will never be the same.

While we're at it, consider the injured survivors, some of whom will have lifelong disabilities, medical needs, and unalterably changed futures. Go on to contemplate the emotional distress of witnesses and first responders who may be physically unscathed, but will suffer PTSD for months, years, perhaps their entire lifetimes.

Don't stop there! Think of the millions of American schools students (elementary to high school) who are forced to participate in active shooter drills. They become wonderfully proficient in immediate responses to alarms, barricading doorways, picking up objects to hurl at an armed intruder, where they should assemble after the terror subsides, and how to properly exit their buildings in full view of heavily armed SWAT teams. Sweet dreams, kids!

Almost done. Now bring to mind the 30,000+ who die each year at the wrong end of a gun in far less spectacular ways, through suicide, in gang-related shootings, during marital disputes and drunken rages, or through accidental discharge of a gun. Tally up the astronomical emergency room costs we generate each year as the bodies — dying, dead and wounded — roll in.

Maybe now you have some vague notion of the cost our society pays for our inalienable right to fetishize and acquire millions of guns that give so many the illusion of enhanced power and imaginary safety.

Yep. It's time to see the photos, which will likely never see the light of day. In the meantime you have my pale rendition as a study aid.

Andy Myer is a cartoonist, writer, and published author/illustrator of three children’s books. His blog can be viewed at He generously offered this essay and drawing to ThisCantBeHappening!

McMaster's Less Than Heroic Battlefield Credentials

McMaster of War: Unrealistic war experience leads to Trump advisor overconfidence

by Dave Lindorff - This Can't Be Happening

February 21, 2018

This article appears in the London Review of Books

A number of military experts – including the defense secretary, James Mattis – have warned that a US war against North Korea would be hard, incredibly destructive and bloody, with civilian casualties in the millions, and could go badly for US forces.

But Lt. Gen. Herbert Raymond McMaster, President Trump’s national security adviser, is apparently insistent that ‘a military strike be considered as a serious option’.

One of Gen. McMaster’s claims to fame is a Silver Star he was awarded for a tank ‘battle’ he led in the desert during the so-called Gulf War of 1991.

As a young captain leading a troop with nine new Abrams M1A1 battle tanks, McMaster destroyed 28 Iraqi tanks in 23 minutes without losing any of his own or suffering any casualties.

McMaster’s exploit (later embellished with a name, the ‘Battle of 73 Easting’) was little more than a case of his having dramatically better equipment. His tanks were several generations ahead of the antique Russian-built T-72s of his Iraqi opponents.

They were protected by depleted uranium armour – a dense metal virtually impenetrable by conventional tank shells, anti-tank rockets and RPGs – and carried anti-tank munitions tipped with depleted uranium penetrators, which can punch through steel armour as if it were cardboard.

They then ignite a tank’s interior, exploding any ordnance inside and incinerating the crew.

The Abrams main cannon also has a significantly longer range than the tanks McMaster was confronting, meaning he and his men were able to pick off the Iraqi tanks while the shells fired back at them all fell short...

Turkey shoot: Capt. McMaster's vastly superior Abrams tanks were able to destroy these dug-in Iraqi tanks at a distance, out of range of any Iraqi returning fire

For the rest of this article in the LRB, please go to: London Review of Books [1]

Links: [1]

Baltimore Ban on Oil Train & Terminal Expansion

City Council Moves Forward With Ban on Crude Oil Facilities 


February 23, 2018

The proposal would ban new crude oil terminals in Baltimore and prevent two existing terminals from expanding, which advocates say would stop the city from becoming a crude oil hub and mitigate the risk of an oil train explosion.

Five years ago, a crude oil train derailed in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec. The resulting fire killed 47 people. Environmental activists are attempting to avoid such a disaster in Baltimore. 

Friday, February 23, 2018

"Eco" of Germany's Fascist Past

Umberto Eco and Germany’s New Fascism

by Thomas Klikauer  - CounterPunch

February 23, 2018

With the rise of Germany’s new right-wing populist party, the Alternative for Germany or AFD [mocked as “A F**** Disgrace”], a heated debate is taking place. The debate is about whether one should call the AFD Fascist or the German equivalent Nazi. Mainstream academics and media label the AFD right-wing, right extremism, populists, etc. One of the very few who call a spade a spade is none other than Germany’s Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel who has openly labelled AFD leaders “real Nazis”. Perhaps, one way to assess whether Germany’s AFD is a Nazi party or truly fascistic is to measure it against what became known as Ur-Fascism.

The AFG might fulfill the classical criteria of Ur-Fascism laid out by none other than Italian philosopher and creator of “In the Name of the Rose”, Umberto Eco.

Umberto Eco identified fourteen elements that make up Fascism. The cult of tradition is the first item on Eco’s 14-point list. The AFD fancies The Cult of Germanic-Mythical Traditions (1) glorifying Germany’s Nazi past in particular. The party wants to return to traditions such as a racially purified and a deeply Anti-Semitic society – the so-called Volksgemeinschaft. The AFD seeks to revive honoring the Nazi-Army’s soldiers that went on a murderous killing spree throughout Europe torturing and slaughtering millions of people. This became known as Crimes of the Wehrmacht. The AFD’s cult of tradition is less directed towards the mythical and elusive Germanic-Aryan race and more towards Germany’s recent Nazi period (1933-1945).

Secondly, the AFD rejects modernism (2) hating modern liberal society, its art and culture, same-sex marriage, homosexuality, feminism, trade unions, post-1789 democracy, progressive political parties, and most, if not all, international institutions and global NGOs. It longs for a romantic past that was never really romantic. Instead, the romantic nostalgia for the past often mirrored what British philosopher Hobbes once called “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”. Like the real Nazis, the hatred of modernity has never prevented Nazis from using modern means, from applying scientific management to the Holocaust. The modern right-wing uses modern means like Facebook and Twitter.

The AFD’s Cult of Action for Action’s Sake (3) is expressed in many ways. All too often the AFD is “action-guided” rather than “thinking-guided”. Favoring actions over thinking often come with a rejection of intellectual discourse and rationality. Perhaps in reminiscence of Hitler’s “deep fear of the thinking man and [his] hatred of the intellect”, the AFD too espouses rampant anti-intellectualism. This is, at least partly, signified in the stupidity of some of its leaders. Their acronym (AFD) might actually stand for “Alternative for the Dumb”. Virtually, the same can be seen in the AfG’s street fighters called Peglia and the violence expressed by the so-called (and well armed) 15.600 Reichsbürgersovereign petit-bourgeois.

There might be a link between the rise of the AFD, its language of hate, and the rise of Nazi and racially motivated violence in Germany such as for example, the assassination attempt of Cologne mayor Henriette Reker in 2015 and a 2016 Munich mass shooting. Aligned to the even more violent and truly Neo-Nazis, it creates a political culture which supports the establishment of Anti-Semitic and racially cleansed “No-Go” areas (no Muslims, no Jews, etc.) recently extending to the East-Germany city of Cottbus.

Many inside Germany’s current pre-fascistic orbit – AFD, Pegida, Reichbürger, Neo-Nazis, Homeland Defense, Aryan Race, White Power, Freie Kameradschaft Dresden, etc. – believe that present day Germany is governed by the USA. They also fancy the annihilation of today’s Federal Republic of Germany in favor of a mythical Reich – a reactionary and militaristic Germanic empire. This is a quintessentially reactionary, fascistic or “fascistoid” idea. Here, the German language distinguishes between being outright fascistic and “fascistoid”. Fascistoid means showing fascistic tendencies, being similar to fascism and carrying elements of fascism without having yet reached the level of full fascism. Fascistoid denotes a pre-fascistic state.

For many fascists as for the AFD, Disagreement is Treason (4). This is found in the belief of extreme party loyalty – “them-vs-us”. Violate this and you are gone. This was most famously shown in the short-lived rise and demise of the AFD’s semi-Führer Petry. The party is plagued by in-fighting. Too many want to be the next Führer below Gauland. These changes come on the basis that one is getting the axe the moment one is slightly off the current party line.

Worst of all, once you have betrayed the AFD’s true Il Duce – Alexander Gauland – you are history. Next to strict party loyalty, the AFD calls everything critical about the AFG ‘fake news’. Much of this is mixed with a revival of an old Nazis idea of Joseph Goebbles’ Lügenpresse [lying press].

The xenophobic Fear of Difference (5) is standard repertoire of the AFD. Racial intolerance can almost daily be seen in the many xenophobic claims made by the AFD. Among the countless cases, recent instances are AFD-deputy and MP Jens Maier calling the son of tennis star Boris Becker “Halb-Neger” meaning half-negro or, more likely, “half-nigger”. Another case is AFD-boss Gauland’s personal assistant Shirley Borchardt’s “not so” personal racism. Hate speech remains a punishable crime in Germany. Many of these include not just the hallucination of an Anti-Semitic pure German race but also the demand to shoot and kill refugees at Germany’s borders. Much of this is linked to the aforementioned Volksgemeinschaft based on racial hatred of anyone looking not Aryan enough. The AFD is an active proponent of a planned return to the Volksgemeinschaft.

Sixth, the AFD does indeed Appeal to Social Frustration skillfully converting the negative impacts of neoliberalism’s cut of welfare provisions into racism. It re-directs these frustrations away from state and capitalism and against everyone foreign looking. Traditionally, fascism has always sought to overlay the vertical capital-vs.-labor conflict with the horizontal nation-vs.-nation conflict. The latter supports capitalism – the former challenges capitalism. Instead of exposing capital-labor contradictions, AFD racism sets worker against worker often German worker against non-German worker. As a consequence of the exploitation of social frustration, the AFD does well in disadvantaged geographical areas. It cleverly harnesses social frustration with capitalism and its adjacent political regimes currently expressed in a conservative-social-democracy coalition government.

The AFD also has a strong Obsession with a Plot (7). This comes largely through the right-wing and Neo-Nazi internet websites functioning as echo-chambers that mirror delusion about Islamic conspiracies seeking to infiltrate and destroy Germany. Never far away is the Jewish World Conspiracy. Inside the AFD, as one of its own members recently testified, there is a strong belief in the conspiracy of the Jewish banking family Rothschild and the Jew George Soros. Linked to such hallucinations is the idea that The Enemy is both Strong and Weak (8). This is found in the phantasm of a flood of Muslim refugees. They are accused of taking over Germany and eventually Europe.

In reality, Europe’s Muslims population numbers just 5.4% to 5.7% of Europe’s roughly 740 million people. Still, the AFD believes “Europe is full”. Many of these non-European and non-German people are presented as the enemy. Fascism thinks in strict friend and foe terms. The foe is to be exterminated. It is for them when AFD-sympathizers want to build a new railway from Berlin to Auschwitz. This sort of thinking is linked to the hallucination that Pacifism is Trafficking with the Enemy (9). AFD militarism strongly rejects pacifism. This particular fantasy feeds the media’s quest for the spectacle under the heading “when it thinks, its stinks – when it bleeds, it leads”. The AFD’s “Politics of Fear” focuses on the fear of Muslim terrorism. To defend Germans against that, a strong army is needed. The new enemy is Muslim terrorism of which virtually anyone non-German is accused. In some cases, 1950s anti-communist speeches can be re-delivered by simply swapping the word “communist” with the word “terrorist”.

Not surprisingly, AFD verbal militarism includes a call to arms to defend Aryan Germany and white Europe. Such calls have led to ‘racist murders as well as arson attacks against asylum seekers’. This is much in line with a Nietzsche-like Contempt for the Weak (10).

Those considered weak range from women, to refugees, handicapped people, LGBTQ and to those deemed surplus labor. In short everyone fitting the description of the Untermensch – the sub-human. Much of the defaming of the weak is geared towards de-humanization – a vital step towards Auschwitz as British philosopher Bauman has shown in his seminal masterpiece “Holocaust and Modernity”.

On the other side of current AFD ideology is the strong. The strong range from the sexually omnipotent African man (raping our blond women, in AFD mythology) to hero glorification (Wehrmacht soldiers and SS). For the AFD, this means Everybody is…to become a hero (11). Traditionally, such heroes are the Wehrmacht soldiers of Nazi Germany once engaged in a devastating race war in Eastern Europe. There is also an AFD call for a new Führer signified in the AFD’s very own demagogue Björn Höcke – the prominent AFD’s “would-like-to-be-Führer”. Like real fascism, the AFD links much of this to its own version of Machismo and weaponry (12). This can be seen, for example, in the AFD’s call for manliness. AFD-leader Höcke demands masculinity.

For the AFD masculinity leads to chauvinism and to Wehrhaftigkeit – a “culture of cruelty” spiced with violence and brutality and what Umberto Eco calls “weaponry”. Much of this is part of rampant AFD populism (13) with simple slogans for the simple minded. Fascism, Nazis and even the AFD features populism. The AFD is not an elite organization. Instead, it is based on what French sociologist LeBon calls “the crowd, the mass” or in Nietzsche’s terms ‘the herd’. The AFD fulfills the classical definition of populism as it promotes an ideology that claims to support the rights of ordinary people in their struggle against a privileged elite – the establishment. Its populism seeks to disrupt the existing social order by solidifying and mobilizing the bitterness of the common people against elites and the establishment. The AFD often portrays both bourgeois capitalists and socialist organizers as unfairly dominating the political landscape. As a consequence, the AFD claims to free Germany and the Germans from the rule of the elite.

Finally, Ur-Fascism speaks Newspeak (14). Some of the AFD’s more educated leaders skillfully merge reactionary terminology with present political vocabularies. Most AFD language, however, simply signifies a return to semi-fascist and crypto-Nazi language. It is not exactly Orwellian Newspeak as the AFD has not –yet– invented a new language. AFD language is basically racist vocabulary, standard Anti-Semitism, nationalism and the like. Instead of creating new words and an entire new language as in Orwell’s “1984”, the AFD sticks to classic crypto-fascist language.

It regularly gets extremely close to what would qualify as “hate speech” – a punishable offence according to Germany’s criminal code. Hate speech is known in Germany as Volksverhetzung. While mostly avoiding outright hate speech, AFD language creates a pro-Nazi atmosphere in which talk of “concentrating refugees in camps” as a “final solution” for refugees have increasingly become mainstream. It is “mainstreaming fascism” as Canadian philosopher Henry Giroux calls it. AFD leader Jeanette Ihme is, for example, among those AFD personalities already convicted of such an offence. According to a leading weekly “Die Zeit” (2nd January 2018) there are more than 100 lawsuits against the AFD on grounds of hate speech.

Given these rather preliminary investigations into the AFD measured against Umberto Eco’s Ur-Fascism, it is hard to avoid the impression that Germany’s new right-wing party AFD has indeed a fascistic ideology. It has very strong fascist tendencies. It is a fascistoid or pre-fascistic party. Despite all this, what the AFD is still lacking is a violent and brutish paramilitary street fighting organization like Italy’s blackshirts, Hungary’s Arrow-Cross, or Germany’s SA, HJ and later SS. These were running secret – and often not so secret – torture chambers between the 1920s and 1945. In many cases, this included rounding up, beating, and killing trade unionists, perceived non-Aryans, homosexuals, democrats, progressives, pacifists, liberals, communists, anarchists, Jewish people, gypsies, etc. Much of this was once so pointedly expressed in the magnificent words of Martin Niemöller:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Secondly, the AFD has not managed – so far – to convince Germany’s conservatives to appoint one of its own as the new Führer of Germany. In 1933, Adolf Hitler as the Nazi Reichskanzler came to power through a right-wing coalition government furnished by Germany’s conservatives. The Nazi Party simply never had the majority of German voters. Thirdly, and this is despite Gauland (the AFD’s ‘behind the scenes’ leader), the shiny front-women Alice Weidel, and semi-Nazi demagogue Björn Höcke, the AFD has not yet found a Hitler-style leader. Despite the many similarities to Fascism and Nazism, mainstream Germany refrains from calling Nazis Nazis preferring instead “right-wing populism”, “right extremism”, “nationalism”, “nationalistic right”, “far right”, “extreme right”, etc.

Beyond that, Germany’s powerful right-wing Springer press has decided to become somewhat the “semi-official” mouthpiece spreading AFD ideology. Its main outlet is, albeit declining but still with 1.8 million sold newspapers daily, the “Bild” tabloid. More often than not it broadcasts racism parroting AFD propaganda.

Bild still has an extremely large readership. Next to the massive support of the right-wing corporate press, AFD leaders are frequently invited to still very popular TV talk-shows where prominent TV-hosts such as Maischberger, Plasberg, and Lanz provide a mass broadcasting outlet for Nazi ideology.

The ideological goal of Germany’s version of Rupert Murdoch – Axel Cäsar Springer (1912-1985) and current bedfellows – is the normalization of the extreme right.

This is despite the fact that after Auschwitz there can be no political and cultural “normality” in Germany, as the eminent philosopher Adorno once said. This applies to Germany and the Germans.

The historical uniqueness of Auschwitz –factory style genocide– had two ingredients: Anti-Semitism and Germans. Even with the AFD’s very own court certified Holocaust denier, it is very clear by now that the AFD is not much more than a bunch of racists and Anti-Semitists. Many have already been called Offspring-Nazis [Nachwuchsnazis]. Certainly after the AFD’s latest party convention in 2017, the party has moved even more towards its racist and Anti-Semitic “völkische” side with the goal of an ethnically cleansed Germany based on a mythical Aryan race. Despite all this, there are at least five reasons why mainstream Germany avoids calling Germany’s new Nazis Nazis preferring instead to engage in “mainstreaming fascism”.

The first reason for not calling Germany’s new Nazis Nazis has something to do with the fact that Germany’s international image might be damaged by admitting that a new breed of Nazis has indeed entered Germany’s Parliament in 2017. Watching their eerie speeches in the legislature on YouTube is truly mind numbing. On election night, AFD Führer Gauland announced the AFD will “hunt Merkel”. These aren’t the positive images Germany’s industry (and its politicians) like to portray to the world. Much more than in 1933, today’s export oriented industry depends on a positive international image often presented as a clean, modern, scientific and technologically advanced. In 2016, German industry exports ranking just behind the USA and China. Any damage to this by telling the truth is to be avoided.

Unlike the days when Hitler was made Reichskanzler (30th January 1933), the majority of German industry today wants to avoid any damage to its carefully crafted image of simply being a machine-, pharmaceutical- and car exporting country. Corporations like Krupp, Porsche, BMWs, Mercedes, Volkswagens, Allianz, Deutsche Bank, SS-uniform-maker Hugo Boss, etc. although once heavily involved with Nazism, want to be seen to be distant to the newly rising image of Germanic Nazism. Instead, German corporations and Germany’s establishment pride themselves to be world champion of exports [Exportweltmeister]. Nazism might damage the pretense of a clean, modern, technology-driven and democratic Germany that has truly ended its recent Nazi past. As a consequence, mainstream Germany prefers populism under the propagandistic ideology “we are just like any other country” – even though it is the only country that has created Auschwitz.

Secondly, Germany’s establishment does not want to be reminded of its Nazi past, it also does not want to be reminded of what it did during the immediate post-Nazi years, namely the seamless integration of high-ranking – and not so high-ranking – Nazis into the legal (with 90 of the 170 top-bureaucrats being exNazis), political and economic apparatus of post-Nazi Germany. Even though the Allied Forces pushed the denazification of Germany between 1945 and 1949, it was soon wound down with the exception of a few high profile court cases carried through to make the world believe that Germany had broken with Nazism.

Meanwhile, Germany’s post-Nazi system was filled up with exNazis. Many of their names are listed in the seminal source: the Braunbuch. Still, there are some noteworthy Nazis: Waffen-SS Untersturmführer Hanns Martin Schleyer (later CDU and President of two powerful commercial organizations, the Confederation of German Employers’ Associations and the Federation of German Industries); SA Obersturmführer Theodor Oberländer (later: CDU and Minister); NSDAP member Karl Carstens and later President of Germany (CDU); Hans Globke’s extraordinary efforts in drafting the Nazi law for Anti-Semitism called “Protection of the German Blood” under Hitler, was later appointed undersecretary in Adenauer’s Chancellery.

There are many more.

These exNazis in politics, economy, law, education, culture, banking, sports, police, army, universities, the press, etc. were busy camouflaging Nazi crimes from the consciousness of Germans. At the same time, Germany’s film and TV industry assured that the past vanished into thin air. Nazi crimes and those responsible simply never appeared on German cinema and TV screens.

Noteworthy exceptions are, for example, Hildegard Knef’s Murderers Among Us (1948 released in Sweden!), East-Germany’s Naked Among Wolves (1963) and Günter Grass’ The Tin Drum (1979). Not surprisingly almost all Holocaust films eventually shown (after most Nazis had died a peaceful death) in a few selected cinemas and in mid-night TV were foreign. These were mostly “foreign” movies like Spencer Tracy’s US classic “The Seventh Cross”.

The first time German mass audience (including me) who saw a little bit of Nazi history on German TV was when the US mini-series called “Holocaust” (with Meryl Streep) was shown on German television in 1978. Half a decade later, an Australian written (Thomas Keneally) and US-made film called Schindler’s List (Steven Spielberg) was shown. It was as foreign as Claude Lanzman’s seminal masterpiece Shoah (France), Roman Polansky’s The Pianist (France, UK, Germany, Poland), Italy’s Life Is Beautiful, and Brad Pitt’s wishful Inglourious Basterds (USA). In other words, having successfully diminished Germany’s recent Nazi past in film and television, Germany’s establishment still seeks to avoid highlighting the “Germany-Nazi” link as much as possible. It simply carries on a long post-war tradition. The mainstream’s treatment of the AFD fits into the tradition of de-emphasizing Nazism.

Thirdly, the rise of the AFD, the upswing of its street fighters Pegida (the racist “Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West”), the AFD’s entering of Germany’s federal parliament and its mass media engineered widespread support and appeal might have convinced mainstream media that both – AFD and Pegida – are just too big to be called Nazis. Even though this should be even more of a reason to call both Nazis as its danger grows the moment the AFD infiltrates Germany’s political institutions.

Not just institutions but also size matters. Nazism, militarism, dictatorship, and fascism always needed massive support to take over democracy to destroy it – one of the unspoken goals of the AFD when seeking its racist Volksgemeinschaft. Currently, the AFD is boasting that a renewed conservative-social-democratic coalition government would mean that the AFD is Germany’s largest opposition party. The AFD talks pride in this. It means more institutional power, more self-importance, and more opportunities to broadcasts its hate speeches.

Fourthly, the Potsdam Agreement of 30th April 1946, the Proclamation Number Two of 20th September 1945, and a subsequent law (10th October 1945) clearly state that the intention of the Allied Forces is “to prevent the revival or reorganization of German militarism and Nazism”.

The objective of the Allied Forces was “to destroy the National Socialist Party and its affiliated and supervised organizations, to dissolve all Nazi institutions, to ensure that they are not revived in any form, and to prevent all Nazi and militarist activity or propaganda”. Violation of these provisions is a punishable offence.

These are the things Germany and the Germans do not want to be reminded of. Furthermore, article 21(2) of Germany’s constitution notes that “parties that, by reason of their aims or the behavior of their adherents, seek to undermine or abolish the free democratic basic order or to endanger the existence of the Federal Republic of Germany shall be unconstitutional”.

Despite having clear legal and constitutional provisions, mainstream Germany still shies away from a possible court case against the AFD. Calling Nazis Nazis would inevitably be a first step towards such as legal case as it makes clear what the AFD actually is. One of the real dangers of Nazism is not seeing it as a danger.

Fifthly, calling Nazis Nazis may conjure up renewed calls to declare the AFD illegal as its political goals will lead to the destruction of Germany and its democratic constitution. In AFD politics, current democratic institutions are to be replaced with an authoritarian Volksgemeinschaft. Previous supreme court cases against the AFD’s smaller frontrunner, the NPD failed in 2001-2003 under the social-democratic Chancellor Schröder. Contemplating a second attempt for a renewed anti-NPD court case in 2013-2017 was also abandoned. The second attempt occurred in the wake of the neo-Nazi NSU killings – the National-Socialist Underground. It was never followed through. In the NSU case, young Neo-Nazis received generous support from Germany’s secret service financing and arming NSU killings. Ten people including a female police officer between 2000 and 2007 died.

Despite rampant racism and Anti-Semitism with violent attacks and killings, German officials shy away from a legal showdown with a party that holds parliamentary seats and has a large support base throughout Germany. Historically and with the exception of the immediate post-war SRP, taking on Nazis has never been the intention of the German state. All this might explain why German mainstream avoids calling Nazis Nazis. 

Thomas Klikauer is the author of Managerialism (Palgrave, 2013).
More articles by:Thomas Klikauer

My Talk with Andre (Vltchek)

A Conversation with Andre Vltchek

by Danny Haiphong - Dissident Voice

February 23rd, 2018

“Those who claim to be objective, like the BBC or The New York Times, are actually the most professional propagandists for the Western Empire.”

This week I spoke with philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist Andre Vltchek. Vltchek has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. Three of his latest books are his tribute to The Great October Socialist Revolution, a revolutionary novel Aurora and a bestselling work of political non-fiction: Exposing Lies Of The Empire. His other books can be viewed here.

Also be sure to watch Rwanda Gambit, his groundbreaking documentary about Rwanda and DRCongo and his film/dialogue with Noam Chomsky On Western Terrorism. Vltchek presently resides in East Asia and the Middle East, and continues to work around the world.

He can be reached through his website and his Twitter.

I spoke with him about his work and his thoughts on the current imperialist attack on independent media.


Danny Haiphong: Could you give readers a background of who you are and what influenced you to take the path of independent journalism and analysis?

Andre Vltchek: First of all, lately I do not define myself as a journalist. These days, journalism is synonymous with ‘the oldest profession.’ I document the world, I inform people, and I propagate my political ideas. I don’t believe in “objective reporting” – it simply does not exist, and those who claim to be objective, like the BBC or The New York Times, are actually the most professional propagandists for the Western Empire. I may be a propagandist, too, but for the left, for internationalism.

And I never hide who I am and where I am standing, politically.

Who am I? To simplify it: a Cuban-style unapologetic ‘Commie’ and internationalist. Russian-born, quarter Chinese, novelist, filmmaker, philosopher and revolutionary.

DH: In the years I’ve followed your media work, you have covered such topics as neo-colonialism, the role of the Soviet Union in the rise of internationalist politics, and the little known imperialist wars on Syria and the Democratic Republic of Congo, to name a few. Could you tell me more about what led you to seek the truth on these matters?

AV: I witnessed terrible suffering of people in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. It often appeared that the Empire truly saw billions of human beings as ‘non-people,’ as some lowly beings who deserve to have no rights, who could be freely exploited, enslaved, even killed. This arrangement of the world made me sick, from my young age. It made me so sick, that I decided to get involved, to take action, to join the struggle against Western imperialism and neo-colonialism.

I never saw Western civilization or Western culture as something glorious or positive. It managed to literally slaughter hundreds of millions of human beings on all continents, for centuries.

I tried to understand the concept of imperialism, colonialism and neo-colonialism, in order to help to stop this deadly process. I went to Namibia to study the first Holocaust committed by Germans. I went to Congo (DRC), in order to understand extremity of European brutality, 100 years ago, and now.

At some point, I finally understood that the only way to reach permanent peace on Earth, based on justice, would be to force Western powers from the position of power, of controlling the world.

DH: In your bio, I’ve noticed that you have written for Russian and Chinese outlets such as RT, New Eastern Outlook, and The People’s Daily. What is the difference, in your opinion, in the quality of journalism that emanates from these countries as opposed to the US and West?

AV: Media outlets that you mentioned belong to the countries which are fighting against Western imperialism and its global dominance. These countries are my allies; therefore, I write for their media, I make films for them, and appear on their television networks. It is not only Russian and Chinese media, but also several outlets in Latin America and the Middle East.

What is different about them? They serve their nations, their people, not some corporate freaks. I like when people work for well-being of their countries: I like healthy patriotism, especially when it is combined with the internationalist principles.

DH: How has the media landscape in the US and West changed since you became a journalist and how have such changes affected broader efforts to understand the developments and changes occurring worldwide?

AV: Media landscape in the West is evolving in one direction only: it is being increasingly, now almost exclusively, controlled by the corporate interests. Corporate interests, in turn, are controlling the state, in both Europe and North America. There is no democracy in the West: governments are being selected, not elected.

Most of the media is upholding, glorifying this process. It is definitely not challenging it, philosophically and ideologically. In the past, long decades ago, there was at least some philosophical debate about the direction in which our civilization and our planet was evolving. Now it all stopped.

Mass media became synonymous with imperialist propaganda. It is all very well-orchestrated; choreographed. And people in the West are so thoroughly brainwashed that they stopped asking questions regarding the most essential issues.

DH: Since late 2016, the US and Western corporate press and political establishment has been obsessed with the notion that Russia has infiltrated US and Western democracy, influencing elections through the promotion of “fake news.” This accusation has produced grave consequences for alternative media outlets and journalists, as publications such as RT and Black Agenda Report have been labeled dupes of the Russians and subsequently censored by internet search engines such as Google and social media like Facebook. Has social media censorship affected your work at all and what would you say is the significance of this campaign against independent journalism?

AV: In the future, and may this future come soon, those who are performing this outrageous censorship, will be judged by history and labeled as collaborators with the Western imperialist regime, which in turn is synonymous with fascism.

In the meantime, we are now fighting information, or call it a media war. The Western media is directly and indirectly promoting Western imperialism, while some independent media outlets, including Black Agenda Report, and, of course, many non-Western television stations and publications are doing their best to expose the lies and crimes of Western regime and its journo collaborators.

Of course, internet search engines as well as social media are huge business organizations. We cannot expect them to be on our side.

But people, millions of them, even in the West, are now “migrating” to the alternative media sources, like RT, TeleSUR, PressTV, CGTV, but also those that are produced in the West, like TGP, Investig’Action, Black Agenda Report or Dissident Voice.

“The Western media is directly and indirectly promoting Western imperialism.”

And about Russia? Look, it is actually all very simple. And let us say it as it is, brutally: Many Russians look like whites, but they are not really whites, they have their own culture, which is more Asian than European. For centuries, Russia was attacked from the West, by Scandinavians, French, Germans, the US after the Revolution, by the UK, Czechs, Poles, and many others.

Russia lost tens of millions of people, but it never ended up on its knees. It became an internationalist power, siding with the oppressed, sponsoring countless anti-colonialist struggles in all corners of the world. One could say, it most likely saved the world from Western fascism, on more than one occasion.

The West never forgave Russians for this: white-looking ‘traitors’ who instead of joining the plunder, has been fighting for the oppressed! That is all there is to it; to that anti-Russian hysteria in the West.

DH: You recently wrote a piece criticizing the Western left for abandoning the principle of internationalism. Could you elaborate on your argument and relate it to the question of which way forward the alternative and independent media should go in the current political climate in the US and West?

AV: Yes, I wrote a very critical, some would say damning essay, basically claiming that the Western left is finished and has no right to give advice to any revolutionary country or government in Africa, Asia or Latin America. And if they give advice and are taken seriously, progressive countries end up being defeated, like Argentina and Brazil were defeated, recently.

I don’t even trust the Western left when it criticizes politicians like Zuma or Duterte.

The majority of people in the West are not able to commit themselves. They are too selfish, too egotistic. And they are full of nihilism: sweating and shitting nihilism.

They reject all ideologies and they do not want to govern. They despise those who are holding power. However, without ideology and without aiming at governing, no true revolution can take place. I don’t think Western left is serious: there is no revolutionary force there, no willingness to sacrifice anything for the struggle. It is all weak, spineless and boring: like shouting at the high definition television set, or insulting opponents in the pub.

The Western left wants more and more privileges for North American and especially European citizens. Who pays for these privileges? Devastated, raped nations in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, as well as those ‘south of the border.’ But French, Italian, Spanish or US intellectuals from the so-called left do not want to talk about this. They are not and don’t claim to be, internationalists.

“The Western left is all weak, spineless and boring.”

I will say more, and this will hurt: they are, many of them are, racist. Not racist in traditional sense, no. They talk racial equality, they are politically correct. It is a different type of racism: they do not mind if millions of Congolese people are sacrificed, so the French workers could have shorter working day or better medical benefits. They are also convinced that countries like China with much greater culture than the West, could and should be judged and defined (“Is China really a Communist country?” For instance) from London, New York or Paris. It is so pathetically arrogant! It is grotesque.

The Western left hates those revolutionaries in Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East who still dare, who are fighting, who are not afraid to govern.

Independent political media? In the West? It should learn how to be revolutionary, again. Otherwise it will never inspire anyone, anymore. People are bored and tired of theories and clichés. In the West, people are often tired and depressed about themselves, and they’d welcome some mighty kicks into their own asses. In the exploited countries, people do not want to be appeased; they want to fight, to rebel, to have media on their side, carrying their voices.

DH: What are some projects and organizations, if any, that you are working on right now and where can we find your work?

AV: I cooperate with many internationalist media outlets all over the world, be they in Russia, China, Latin America, the Middle East or Africa.

Best way to follow my work is by going to my website. All my latest stuff is there.

As always, I’m running myself to the ground, working day and night, but it is as always great fun! In one month or so, my new book on revolutionary philosophy will be published with the title On Western Nihilism and Revolutionary Optimism. I’m making two documentary films about the absolute environmental devastation of Borneo Island, particularly its Indonesian part (called Kalimantan). And I’m collecting footage in Afghanistan for a low budget feature film.

I’m also writing a book about that wonderful but scarred country, and about how the West totally perverted modern Afghan history. I’m involved in a theatre project in Hamburg, and I’m writing two new books.

There is no time to lose. This is a great intellectual war against the West and its deadly imperialism. And for the first time in modern history, we are winning this war. And ‘they’ know it. That is why they are running amok, attacking, censoring. Soon, no one will be taking them seriously. This is our great chance. That is why we have to work day and night, every day and every night, until the final victory!

• First published in Black Agenda Report

Danny Haiphong is an activist and journalist in the New York City area. He can be reached at
 Read other articles by Danny.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Canada "Engaging" to Death in Honduras

Take Action: Canada "Engaging" to Death in Honduras

by MiningWatch Canada

February 22, 2018

Your support is needed in response to the dire situation facing Hondurans in the aftermath of national elections in late November that have been widely-denounced given evidence of electoral fraud and a campaign of state violence against hundreds of protests across the country since.

Not even the usually pliant Organization of American States was willing to accept the Honduras election results; nonetheless, on December 22nd, the Canadian government expressed its support when the electoral tribunal named incumbent Juan Orlando Hernández as President.

Activist Edwin Espinal is one of over twenty political
prisoners being held in a maximum security prison where
he could spend years before ever seeing a judge.

Please take action here, to write to Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and your own MP calling for diplomatic action, urging that Edwin and others be freed.

Weakly, Canada also urged Hernández’ regime “to protect human rights and ensure that those responsible for violations are held accountable,” while failing to acknowledge that it is the Hernández regime that has been perpetuating the violence.

Canadian journalist Sandra Cuffe reports that, since the November 26 elections,

“More than 35 protesters and bystanders have been killed by security forces and other unknown perpetrators, hundreds injured, and more than 1,000 detained. At least 22 people remain in jail in different parts of the country on charges related to protests.” 

She has also noted that this is far worse than the state repression that followed the June 2009 military backed coup in Honduras, since which time the ultra-right National party in Honduras increasingly centralized power.

“This is state-led terrorism in Honduras, and the Canadian government is supporting it,” comments Jackie McVicar, coordinator of United for Mining Justice who participated in a faith-based delegation to Honduras in the lead up to Hernández’s inauguration on January 27th.

Not only did Canada come out in support of the recent election results; since 2009 the Canadian government has taken advantage of an increasingly authoritarian and violent context in Honduras to lobby for a new mining law that favours translational mining investments and to conclude a free trade agreement.

Honduras Solidarity Network coordinator Karen Spring notes that Canadian authorities have argued that Canada must “engage” with Honduras in order to influence the human rights situation. But she and others close to the ground, who accompany communities affected by Canadian-owned mines and tourism projects, and who have been reporting on intensifying criminalization and violence against social movement organizations since 2009, say continued engagement instead serves to empower the elite in Honduras and favour Canadian economic interests.

In other words, the support that Canada, the US and others lend to the Honduran government creates an enabling environment for Honduran officials to jail political opponents in maximum security prisons, execute protesters in the streets, and terrorize the population, while corruption festers and crimes such as the murder of Berta Cáceres in 2016 fail to be fully investigated, because there are few consequences to doing otherwise.

In an excellent two-part documentary series, Canadian filmmaker Jesse Freeston observes that while not a single country flew in a minister or head of state for Hernández’s highly militarized inauguration on January 27th, eleven countries - among them Canada - and several international financial institutions continue to send funds and weapons to the Honduras government.

Please respond by showing your solidarity with Honduran political prisoners, including Edwin Espinal and at least 20 others jailed on charges related to protests against election fraud in Honduras. Espinal has suffered state harassment since the 2009 coup d’etat and was detained on January 19th after a national strike. Family members and human rights organizations are being denied entry to visit him. Immediate action is required to push for Edwin’s release and to ensure his safety.

Visit this site to write to Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland and your MP urging they press Honduran authorities for Edwin's freedom.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Menace Circling Venezuela

Venezuela: Revenge of the Mad-Dog Empire

by Ajamu Baraka - CounterPunch

February 21, 2018    

Only in the world of comic-book fantasies is the United States a friend to the oppressed in Africa or anywhere else on the planet.

In the real world, the U.S. is a predator, colonial/capitalist nation. But like the imagined nation of Wakanda, in the latest cultural assault on critical mass consciousness, “American exceptionalism” and “make America great again” – two slogans representing both sides of the imperialist coin, ruling class interests are obscured and the people are reduced to working against their objective interests and being accomplices to imperial lawlessness.

Photo by Diariocritico de Venezuela | CC BY 2.0 

In every part of the world, the United States is engaged in maniacal, criminal assaults on democracy, basic human decency and common sense. From its support for armed jihadists groups in Syria and its illegal occupation of that nation, transferring heavy military equipment to its puppet regime in Ukraine, supporting unending war in Afghanistan, to the military invasion of African, the commitment to maintaining U.S. global dominance has moved war and militarism to the center of U.S. strategy.

But nowhere is U.S. criminality more apparent and unrelenting than right here in the Americas where the Pan-European project was born in 1492. That was the year “Europe” was born, emerging from its relative cultural backwardness using with terrifying efficiency the only advantage it had over the more civilized people of the region—armor protection and steel weapons—to slaughter the people, take the land and begin the 500-hundred-year nightmare the people of the world have suffered ever since.

Today, the barbarism of the Pan-European project continues under the tutelage of what history will record—if humanity survives—as the most violent, racist, oppressive human experience ever to have emerged in the short span of human existence on Earth: The United States of America.

After centuries experiencing the horrors of genocide, slavery, military dictatorships, environmental destruction, and neoliberal exploitation, the people of Latin America began to slowly extract themselves from the clutches of the hegemon from the North. Social movements and peoples undeterred by coups, structural adjustment and death squads started to take back their history in Ecuador, Bolivia, Brazil, and the rest of the continent. Venezuela has led the way, proclaiming the dawn of a 21st century socialism that would create the new society and the new human in the process.

Because of imperial overreach, the same trap that has ensnared other empires in decline, the U.S. was preoccupied with attempting to manage the mess it had created for itself as a result of the disastrous belief that it could fight two major wars simultaneously. So, while it was bogged down in Western Asia and the so-called “Middle East”, the full force of the U.S. repressive apparatus was not deployed against the fledgling people’s movements and the nominal capture of the state by those movements in Latin America. Of course, the United States helped to engineer a failed coup against Hugo Chavez and it continued training police and military forces in the region. But it wasn’t until the administration of Barack Obama that the deadly gaze of the United States began to really re-focus on Latin America, with Venezuela as its main target.

In what appears on the surface to be a ludicrous position, Barack Obama declared Venezuela a threat to U.S. national security on three different occasions. However, the United States is the enforcer for the global capitalist system and the head of the white, Western, capitalist united front. With that in mind, seeing Venezuela as a threat made sense. Venezuela has been the driving force for the nations of the Americas south of the U.S. border attempting to free themselves from the yoke of U.S. imperialism.

The Trump administration took up with enthusiasm the policy of destabilization, subversion, and economic warfare that was intensified under the Obama administration. Violent regime change is now clearly the objective of the administration. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called for the Venezuelan military to overthrow the government while on a visit to the region and reports have surfaced of military forces from Colombia and Brazil being deployed to their respective borders with Venezuela.

Another clear sign that the lives of the people of Venezuela will be sacrificed with violent regime change is the collapse of the dialogue between the Venezuelan government and the counter-revolutionary opposition that had been taking place for almost two years. Up until just a few days ago, it appeared an agreement was in place for a peaceful political resolution.

The move toward a violent intervention became more apparent when discussions abruptly ended as the opposition decided not to sign an agreement designed to move both parties toward an eventual political resolution.

Concerned about the general disarray among the opposition and the fact that the ruling party and government won 18 out of 23 governorships in regional elections in October 2017, the Trump administration announced that it would not recognize the results of the upcoming Presidential election to be held April 22. All the evidence points to the administration, along with the Venezuela oligarchy, opting for a strategy of regime change, even though it will result in mass slaughter and the dictatorship that the United States pretends to be opposed to in Venezuela.

The moves by the Trump administration represent an ominous re-introduction of the worst imperialist excesses of the late 20th century, where violent coups were the preferred response to any threats to the rule of capital and U.S. imperialist control. Yet, what is even more ominous about the situation unfolding in Venezuela is that unlike a few decades ago, when there was a vocal and active radical and left opposition to U.S. imperialism, the left and many radicals in the U.S. are in open class collaboration with imperialism.

The left in the United States and Western Europe has completely abandoned any idea of solidarity with global South’s revolutionary projects. A bizarre example of the reactionary nature of the European left was the European Parliament awarding the Sakharov Freedom Prize to the Venezuelan “opposition,” a group that has openly attacked journalists and burned alive two dozen people of primarily Black or dark complexions who they assumed were probably government supporters because they were poor and black. Clearly for the representatives in the European Union’s only democratic body, the integrity of the press and “Black lives” really don’t matter!

The courageous struggle of the Venezuelan people to defend their national sovereignty and dignity in the face of the murderous intentions of their North American neighbors and the racist obsequious Venezuelan oligarchy deserves the support of all true anti-imperialists. Whatever failure or internal contradiction we see in the Bolivarian process does not outweigh the principle that anti-imperialists must support national independence, especially when a nation is in the cross hairs of the greatest gangster nation on the planet.

For those of us who inhibit the colonized Black and Brown zones of non-being, as Fanon referred to them, to not resist the white supremacist, colonial/capitalist patriarchy at the center of the U.S./EU/NATO axis of domination is moral and political suicide.

When Secretary of State Rex Tillerson orders the Venezuelan opposition to undermine the agreement to stabilize the situation in Venezuela while simultaneously undermining the internal Korea efforts toward de-escalating the tensions between North and South Korea, we see the familiar hand of classic European colonialist divide-and-rule tactics that propelled them to global dominance and continues to give Western imperialism a leash (lease?) on life.

But for James “Mad Dog” Mattis, the U.S. Secretary of Defense, and all the Mad Dogs of empire, the people of the world have seen behind the curtain and are not impressed with the diversionary smoke and fire of your weapons and bellicosity. The people know they have the cure for the virus that affects you, but you will not be happy with their treatment plan.   
Ajamu Baraka is the national organizer of the Black Alliance for Peace and was the 2016 candidate for vice president on the Green Party ticket. He is an editor and contributing columnist for the Black Agenda Report and contributing columnist for Counterpunch magazine. 
More articles by:Ajamu Baraka 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Gorilla Radio with Chris Cook, Jesse Freeston, Ramzy Baroud, Janine Bandcroft February 22, 2018

This Week on GR

by C. L. Cook -

February 22, 2018

Foreign meddling in electoral politics can legitimately be compared to an act of war. Just ask the voters of Honduras whose popular president was forced out of office at gunpoint by agents working for the interests of offshore corporations.

Since the replacement of Mel Zelaya in 2009 the coupsters, anointed by the good offices of El Norte, have run roughshod over the rights and dignity of the people, putting in place by hook, crook, bullets and batons an old-fashioned fascist regime; a banana republic the likes of which has not been seen since the last time Uncle Sam ran the show.

Listen. Hear.

Jesse Freeston is a Canadian documentary filmmaker and video journalist. A seminal member of The Real News Network, he’s also produced documentaries for teleSUR, the world’s largest Spanish-language public broadcaster, and his latest film, Resistencia: The Fight for the Aguan Valley documents an agrarian take-over of palm oil plantations by share-cropping farmers. He's currently working on his next independent film, Human Park.

Jesse is back in Honduras and a few weeks ago released the two-part report, 'Honduras: The Never-Ending Coup' on TRNN.

Jesse Freeston in the first half.

And; media-shaded the last few years by neigbouring regional conflicts, and more recently by the Olympics and spotlight hogging Trump political circus, Gaza, and Palestine generally, has garnered scant coverage in North America's press. That changed a little with Israel's aerial and tank bombardment of the embattled enclave last week; but that the attention would hover a little longer there to reveal the desperate, ongoing plight of the World's largest and longest refugee crisis.

Dr. Ramzy Baroud is an American-Arab journalist, media consultant, syndicated columnist, educator, founder and editor of the Palestine Chronicle, past editor of numerous online and print news organizations, and author. He's currently embarking on a World-tour to promote his latest book, 'The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story' to provide, he says, "a new take on the history of the Palestinian people, one in which the refugees are the core theme".

That tour will bring Ramzy to our town next week, 7pm Friday March 2nd, right here at UVic's David Strong building.

Ramzy Baroud and bringing the voice to Palestine's refugees in the second half.

And; Victoria-based activist and CFUV broadcaster at-large, Janine Bandcroft will be here with the Left Coast Events bulletin to bring us up to speed with some of what's good going on in and around Victoria in the coming week.

But first, Jesse Freeston and the story of Honduras' never-ending coup.

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, airing live every Thursday between 11-Noon Pacific Time. In Victoria at 101.9FM, and on the internet at:  He also serves as a contributing editor to the web news site, Check out the GR blog at:

As a Ghost, Julian Assange Escapes

Julian Assange and His Doppelganger 

by Denis A Conroy - CounterCurrents

February 19, 2018

Walking along Hans Crescent every morning on my way to work, I stop briefly to look up at the balcony fronting the room which Julian Assange occupies in the Ecuadorian Embassy.

I’ve been passing his place of residence for five years now and I’ve yet to catch a glimpse of him.

What I do see though, are some of Her Majesties compliant factotums doing their surveillance-best to keep tabs on the Ecuadorian Embassy and to monitor the founder of WikiLeaks…now in situ…compliments of the arse-licking British government ‘doing-it’ for American imperialism.

Casting a second glance in the direction of Julian Assange’s balcony, I wondered how the greying Julian, pallid from long confinement within a sunless space must feel, regarding the findings of The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention when it determined that “the arbitrary detention of Julian Assange ought to be terminated: that his physical integrity and freedom of movement be respected, and that he should be entitled to an enforceable right to compensation”.

As I proceed along Hans Crescent I become aware that I am moving towards the city’s financial sector in the company of an army of well-dressed arse-lickers, insouciantly marching to the beat of a market ethos that had turned wine into water and morality into blandishments of the vulgar kind. In the land of the tiara, the bowler-hat, the umbrella and the well-fitting two-piece office outfit, an order of soft-power has evolved whereby tolerance of America’s iniquitous hard-power has blindsided the better instincts of the masses, thus allowing a culture of predation to continue. People seem content to go along with any shit if a pay-check is in the offing, I surmised.

The ubiquitous US empire, I realized, had become an omnipresent force capable of vacuuming up and silencing all who dared question the activities of a system promulgating political chicanery…and it doesn’t approve of unauthorized disclosure, as the Julian Assange case demonstrates. Particularly as the covert activities of the ever-expanding American Empire …criminal by any measure…have become ever more rabid and rancid in its’ quest for full spectrum dominance.

Fat chance that the masters of the universe would give a fig about the UN vote…pigs might fly I thought… recalling that the UN findings reflected the injustice of a system that hounded a man whose only crime was speaking truth to power. As I exited Hans Crescent, I felt queasy upon realising that its’ the ‘poodles’…in this case the British variety…who sustain the status quo. When I arrived at my office I felt somewhat dejected, and closing the door on the outside world, sat myself down at my desk and said aloud to nobody in particular, “compliance is the flip side of expediency”.

As morning turned to afternoon, I continued to reflect on the life of Julian Assange. Here was a man who was in possession of 250,000 diplomatic cables which shone an uncomfortable spotlight on US foreign policy. He published material documenting extrajudicial killings in Kenya, a report on toxic waste dumping on the Ivory Coast and Guantanamo Bay detention camp procedures and material involving large banks such as Kaupthing and Julius Baer. He also revealed the ugly truth of crimes committed by US forces in Iraq and the West’s role in the destabilization of Ukraine in 2014 plus the destruction of Libya, etc, etc, etc, etc.

A heroic man is wilting in a sunless room, while people on the outside are wallowing in deceit and predation. I had to do something I decided…no matter how little, absurd or ridiculous!

It was the evening my old friend Gulliver F. Romano and I joked about my likeness to Julian Assange that the plot was conceived. We were dining in Soho and were in an ebullient mood. Gulliver F. Romano had established for himself a reputation…now legendary…for innovative artistry in creating special-effects in the cinematic industry. He proved time and again that he was a master craftsman capable of transforming any character’s appearance with his life-like latex masks. In the world of cinema, these artifacts came to be regarded as realer than real. His reputation as a special effects engineer was without parallel.

“You’re a dead ringer for Julian he said laughingly…and you’re his perfect doppelganger…same height, same build, same everything! With one of my masks, even his mother would be taken in.

Your government is a cabal of arse-licking pussies” he declared, referring to the fact that I held the same citizenship as Julian.

“They’re more concerned about who is rooting whom at home, than having the balls to say something in defence of one of their own citizens who speaks out about the barbarity of a mob who famously despatch mercenaries to every corner of the globe in the name of democracy.
Losers are arse-lickers who feel secure if they spend their lives on their knees. Julian is a moral patriot at odds with the sinecure of pygmies who constitute the Australian Government.”

Pausing a moment, Gulliver F. Romano then moved closer to me and whispered, “You’re a very wealthy lawyer with a feeling for justice…so maybe you can do something for country and cause?”

As a wealthy lawyer and someone aware of the power of imagination, Gulliver F. Romano’s passionate praise for the West’s favourite bete noir greatly lifted my spirits. I thought Gulliver F. Romano was on to something…but what?Over the following days, my mind was like a washing-machine churning over a whole range of futile frilly thoughts without ever being able to escape the loop that repeatedly poured negative energy into a vacuum. I was beginning to feel that nobody could be free until Julian Assange was free.

About a week after my discussion about doppelgangers with Gulliver F. Romano, I was again passing through Hans Crescent when I noticed a smart new billboard advertising the availability of recently renovated apartments directly opposite the Ecuadorian Embassy.

“A grand Knightsbridge residence featuring an elegant Edwardian red brick façade and encompassing 31 luxury apartments, penthouses and duplexes—sitting adjacent to Harrods” were for sale or lease…declared Queens-New-Age-Style-Developments-Of-Knightsbridge. 

That these apartments had balconies very similar to the ones adorning the Ecuadorian Embassy directly across Hans Crescent made me reach for my cell phone.

Later that day when I rang Gulliver F. Romano to tell him that I had leased a luxury apartment directly opposite the one Julian Assange occupied in the Ecuadorian Embassy, he shouted “aha! aha!” into the phone, which was quickly followed by… “I’ll be right over” …before hanging up.

Over the course of the following week Gulliver F. Romano and I hatched an April-Fools day event. He said that he had become interested in making masks a long time ago on discovering that they were the key to understanding power. He declared that he thought that Honore De Balzac got it right centuries ago when he said,

“Bureaucracy is a giant mechanism operated by pygmies.”

Officialdom, he said, “forever imposes a mask upon society, the primary objective being to install ‘in situ’ mechanisms that it can control.This is done by ramping-up the fear of having our freedoms taken away from us or by magnifying external threats.Power masquerading as truth’s doppelganger is what is behind the mask, and Julian Assange is yet another example of how we can be caught in this dragnet.”

Weeks passed while Gulliver F. Romano perfected the Julian Assange mask and I studied the attire Julian favoured…shirts, shoes, pants, linen jackets etc…and his body movements per the videos we obtained.When the day came to fit the mask on me, our excitement was palpable.

After Gulliver F. Romano applied the mask to my face he stepped back a meter and an uncanny silence ensued.

Just as the fear of failure was starting to form in my mind, Gulliver threw his arms over his head and exclaimed,

“My magnum opus… its’ perfect… OMG!!”

On the morning of the 1st April I ventured out onto my balcony at 8am knowing that the pedestrian traffic had by now increased exponentially.

Looking for all the world like the real Julian Assange, I stood next to 9 feet tall placard which read;






Within minutes a crowd had assembled, and many of them, their eyes oscillating between my balcony and Julian’s,seemed to react with mesmeric amusement to what appeared to be Julian Assange’s surprising change of habitat. How was it…or who approved of such a move…when and why did he take possession of one of London’s more luxurious state-of-the-art apartments, may very well have been the first questions many of them were asking themselves.

When Her Majesty’s compliant surveillance-factotums discovered that Julian Assange had done-a- bunk… achieving a state of ex situ that would have made Harry Houdini envious… pandemonium broke out among them.Soon, super-special squads were called in to replace the merely special squad who had seemingly failed in their duty. The SAS, M1-5, M1-6plus an assortment of affiliated actors were soon on the scene…the impossible had occurred and heads would roll!!

Within the hour, the Crescent was sealed off as a thoroughfare, and the media was anticipating activities of the pictorial kind…action that could make TV couch-potatoes shuffle on their fat buttocks throughout the world, as they reveled in the excitement of the drama.

Gulliver F. Romano and I were happy that we had the prescience of mind to send an explanation of what we intended to do as an April 1stjoke to Julian Assange before the event we planned happened. We hoped that the bottle of champagne we had sent to him the day before, accompanied by an account of what motivated us to do what we would do on the 1st of April would reach him on time.

In it, I explained that I would like to engage with him in a toast to freedom from our respective balconies.I also reminded him that Honored Balzac had insights into the vagaries of the justice system too,

“Laws are spider webs through which the big flies pass, and the little ones get caught.”

 The message concluded with a request that he be on his balcony at midday so that we could drink a toast to his health and freedom.

The SAS shouted and banged on the door to my apartment that I had fortified. They kept shouting, “open the door Mr. Friedel”, to which Gulliver F. Romano replied, “there is nobody in here breaking any law…go away!” As midday approached, and Special Forces continued to manoeuvre a front-end loader with heavily equipped combat-troops in the direction of my balcony, the cacophony of noise…a blend of helicopter blades, door-pounding, loud amplified and hysterical communications from the street below reached a crescendo.

On the stroke of noon, Julian Assange appeared on his balcony with a bottle of champagne and a glass…his presence had the effect of anesthetizing a public affray…a truly best of British moment was about to occur…an epiphany perhaps…was about to redeem the common people from the bread and circuses aspect of the day. Something conscionable was being reawakened in the collective psyche.

A few individuals within what was by now a multitude of people shrieked with a kind of mad glee upon noticing a second Julian Assange…the real Julian Assange…appear on his balcony. Soon the entire congress gathered below in Hans Crescent became electrified by the dual apparition. The TV cameras were quick to capture the spectacle of two Assange’s looking at each other and smiling.

Then the strangest of things happened; it was as though the eyes of the surveillance apparatus were rendered blind by an inexplicable force. It was as though the bustle and hubris of officialdom’s day-to-day bland rule was checkmated by an expression of grassroots farce that enabled the common people to take centre stage for a moment, causing ‘authority’ to mysteriously faded from view. It was the moment where the collective voice of the people reappeared to remind ‘authority’ that the common people had clout too…admittedly it took two David’s to kneecap Goliath.

As the helicopters disappeared and the prattle of communication-hysteria subsided, the noise in Hans Crescent was replaced with expressions of incredulity and good cheer. By now Hans Crescent was jam-packed with people and television cameras, there to stimulate the imagination of a global audience. So, it was at the point where the two Julian’s were seen lifting their glasses in unison to toast freedom, that a mighty roar was heard across London.It appeared that a proud people had for a moment been able to rediscover their civic bearings and discard the livery worn by arse-lickers. Rising from their knees,they rid themselves of the values of a bellicose American empire now deemed to be beyond the pale of civilised behaviour.

I smiled as Julian emptied his glass, not only had I finally caught a glimpse of him, I had supped with him as well.

Denis A. Conroy, Freelance Writer, Australia