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Steve Bannon tells French far-right ‘history is on our side’

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Former Trump adviser addresses Front National as Marine Le Pen attempts to relaunch her party

Donald Trumps former adviser Steve Bannon has told Frances far-right Front National that, history is on our side and will bring us victory in an address to the partys conference.

Announced as a surprise speaker at the event, Bannon said: You are part of a movement that is bigger than that in Italy, bigger than in Poland, bigger than in Hungary.

As Bannon entered the hall to cheers and applause, the US flag was unfurled above the stage.

Although no longer a White House staffer, Bannon, who has been doing a tour of European cities including Zurich, Milan and Rome, praised his former boss.

Our dear President Trump said: Weve had enough of globalists, he told FN members.

Todays politics cannot be summed up by the left-right divide. During the 2008 financial crisis, the governments and banks looked after themselves above all, they saved themselves and not the people.

Bannon said Trump had three main concerns: stopping massive immigration; persuading manufacturers who had left for China to return to the US; and pulling the US out of the quagmire conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

You recall the evening of the American election, the traditional medias were shocked. They could never have believed that the Americans had finally voted in their own interests.

You fight for your country and they call you racist. But the days when those kind of insults work is over. The establishment media are the dogs of the system. Every day, we become stronger and they become weaker. Let them call you racists, xenophobes or whatever else, wear these like a medal.

Bannon ended his discourse with: God bless America and vive la France.

At the two-day conference in the northern city of Lille, FN president Marine Le Pens is attempting to re-found her rightwing party, announcing a change of name to be revealed on Sunday and validated by a members vote to show the FN has come of age, shaken off its controversial past and is ready to govern.

Le Pen is also trying to reassert her personal and political authority after a drop in popularity following her crushing defeat by Emmanuel Macron in last years presidential election. Many in the party blame Le Pen for her chaotic and bizarre performance in a pre-final vote debate with Macron.

Le Pen is under investigation on claims she misused European Union staff for FN business, and facing defiance from her estranged father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, who founded the FN in the 1970s, but who has since been thrown out of the party for xenophobic and racist comments. He was stripped of his honorary president role in a change of rules at Saturdays congress.

Marine Le Pen also faces a possible future challenge from her niece, Marion Marechal Le Pen, who announced she was temporarily withdrawing from politics after the 2017 presidential election but is seen to be waiting in the wings.

Critics suggested inviting Bannon was hardly a sign of political maturity.

Jean-Marie Le Pen said: Its the big bosss surprise. I think Bannons OK but its not exactly the definition of de-demonising [the party] and its a bit of a paradox given that Steve Bannon was supposed to be Trumps most radical adviser, he said. But who knows. She [Marine] may end up coming round to my way of thinking.

Marine Le Pen said Bannon was interesting to listen to for those who are fighting against anything goes in their country.

FN spokesman Sbastien Chenu said Bannon symbolised voters rejection of the establishment.

He has also been the architect of a victory, that of Donald Trump, on whom nobody would have bet, particularly European media and politicians. So he can explain how victory is possible and how to bring it about. I find its always interesting to hear from someone who has won an election.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us

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Romanian film about fear of sexual intimacy wins Golden Bear at Berlin film festival

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Surprise win for Touch Me Not means Wes Andersons Isle of Dogs has to settle for best director prize

Touch Me Not, a Romanian film about fear of intimacy and achieving sexual liberation was the unexpected winner of the Golden Bear, the Berlin film festivals top award at the festivals concluding ceremony on Saturday.

Directed by Adina Pintilie, Touch Me Not was picked ahead of 18 other films, including Wes Andersons Isle of Dogs and Utoya July 22, by a jury headed by German director Tom Tykwer, best known for Run Lola Run. Based around an English womans attempt to overcome her intimacy issues, and ranging across everything from disability to sex clubs, Touch Me Not blends fiction and documentary and is Pintilies first feature film.

Touch
Touch Me Not director Adina Pintilie with the Golden Bear. Photograph: Thomas Niedermueller/Getty Images

The runner-up grand jury prize went to Mug (AKA Twarz), from Polish director Magorzata Szumowska, about a building worker who needs a face transplant after a gruesome accident. Guardian critic Peter Bradshaw described it as a strange, engaging film well and potently acted and directed, delving as it does in questions of national identity that are currently convulsing Poland.

Isle of Dogs was not completely ignored by the jury however: Anderson was given a Silver Bear for best director for his stop-motion animation about a pack of dogs living in a dystopian near-future Japan, which the Guardians Jonathan Romney said shows an indefatigably fertile imagination letting rip in inimitable style in a four-star review. Bill Murray, who voices one of the dogs, accepted the award on Andersons behalf.

The two Silver Bears for acting went to Ana Brun, star of The Heiresses, a Paraguayan film directed by Marcelo Martinessi about two apparently-prosperous women in a lesbian relationship who run into financial troubles, and Anthony Bajon as a junkie trying to beat his addiction in a priest-run retreat in the Cdric Kahn-directed drama The Prayer.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us

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The fascist movement that has brought Mussolini back to the mainstream

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The long read: Italys CasaPound has been central to normalising fascism again in the country of its birth. Now theyre trying to enter parliament

On the night of 27 December 2003, five men broke into a huge, empty office complex in Rome, just south of the citys main railway station, Roma Termini. A few days earlier, the men had put up fake fliers, appealing to the public for help to find a lost black cat called Pound. It was a way to avoid suspicion as they surveyed the building before breaking in.

Nothing was left to chance: the date, between Christmas and New Year, was chosen because there wouldnt be many people around. Even the name and colour of the cat wasnt casual: Pound was a nod to the American poet and fascist evangelist Ezra Pound. And black was the colour associated with their hero, Benito Mussolini. They planned to start a radio station from inside their new building called Radio Bandiera Nera Black Flag Radio.

The man giving orders that night was Gianluca Iannone. Then 30, he was tall, burly and brusque. With his shaved head and thick beard, he looked a bit like a Hells Angel. He had me ne frego (I dont care the slogan used by Mussolinis troops) tattooed diagonally across the left side of his neck. Iannone was famous in fascist circles as the lead singer in a rock band called ZZA, and as the owner of a pub in Rome, the Cutty Sark, which was a meeting point for Romes extreme right.

The five men were nervous and excited as they took turns working on the wooden front door with crowbars. The others gathered close by, to watch and to provide cover. Once the door gave, they piled inside, pushing it shut behind them. What they found was breathtaking. There was a large entrance hall on the ground floor, a grand staircase, even a lift. There were 23 office suites in the seven-storey block. The previous occupier, a government quango, had moved out the year before, so the place was freezing and damp. But it was huge, covering thousands of square metres. The cherry on the cake was the terrace: a large, walled roof from which you could see the whole of Rome. The men gathered together up there and hugged, feeling that they had planted a flag in the centre of the Italian capital in a gritty neighbourhood, Esquilino, which was home to many African and Asian immigrants. Iannone dubbed their building the Italian embassy.

That building became the headquarters of a new movement called CasaPound. Over the next 15 years, it would open another 106 centres across Italy. Iannone, who had been in the Italian army for three years, described each new centre as a territorial reconquest. Because every centre was self-financing, and because they claimed to serve the people, those new centres in turn opened gyms, pubs, bookshops, parachute clubs, diving clubs, motorbike clubs, football teams, restaurants, nightclubs, tattoo parlours and barbershops. CasaPound suddenly seemed everywhere. But it presented itself as something beyond politics: this was metapolitics, echoing the influential fascist philosopher Giovanni Gentile, who wrote in 1925 that fascism was before all else a total conception of life.

CasaPounds
CasaPounds headquarters in a former government office building in Rome. Photograph: NurPhoto/Getty

Until then, fascist revivals had usually been seen, by the Italian mainstream, as nostalgic, uncultured and thuggish. CasaPound was different. It presented itself as forward-looking, cultured, even inclusive. Iannone had been drawn to fascism in his youth because of a fascination with the symbols, and now he creatively mixed and matched code words, slogans and symbols from Mussolinis ventennio (as his 20-year rule is known), and turned them into 21st-century song lyrics, logos and political positions. In a country in which style and pose are paramount, CasaPound was fascism for hipsters. There were reports of violence, but that for young men who felt aimless, sidelined, even emasculated only added to the attraction. Many flocked to pay their 15 to become members.

By the early 2000s, it was no longer taboo for mainstream politicians to speak warmly of Mussolini: admirers of Il Duce had become government ministers, and many fringe, fascist parties were growing in strength Forza Nuova, Fronte Sociale Nazionale, and various skinhead groups. But where the other fascists seemed like throwbacks to the 1930s, CasaPound focused on contemporary causes and staged creative campaigns: in 2006 they hung 400 mannequins all over Rome, with signs protesting about the citys housing crisis. In 2012, CasaPound militants occupied the European Unions office in Rome and dumped sacks of coal outside to protest on behalf of Italian miners. Many of their policies looked surprising: they were against immigration, of course, but on the supposedly progressive grounds that the exploitation of immigrant labourers represented a return to slavery.

Most Italians have been watching CasaPound with a mixture of fascination and alarm for 15 years, trying to work out quite what it is. The movement claims it is a democratic and credible variant of fascism, but it is accused of encouraging violence and racism. CasaPound militants have repeatedly told me that theyre a unifying force for Italy, but many Italians worry that they are merely recreating historical divisions in a society with a profound identity crisis.

That CasaPound question is now being posed with urgency, because it is aspiring to enter parliament next month. On 4 March, Italians will go to the polls in a general election in which centre-right and far-right parties are expected to triumph. CasaPounds own electoral chances are slim: although in the past they have received nearly 10% of the vote in certain constituencies, they will need at least 3% of all votes nationwide to gain any parliamentary seats, which seems almost inconceivable. Still, the proliferation and growth of rival far-right parties is not a sign of the movements obsolescence, but of its success. For 15 years, CasaPound has been like the yeast in the far-right dough the ingredient that makes everything around it rise.


CasaPound germinated in the late 1990s as a sort of Mussolini-admiring drinking club. Every Monday night, a dozen men would meet in the Cutty Sark and plan what next, as one recalled. It was there that Iannone met the man who would become his deputy, Simone Di Stefano. Di Stefano was two years younger and quieter, but a lifelong rightwing militant. We were situationists trying to wake people up, Di Stefano says, looking back, bohemian artists based on models like Obey Giant [Shepard Fairey] and Banksy.

In 1997, Iannone, Di Stefano and their mates had put up 10,000 stickers all over Rome: above eyeless faces, with barcoded foreheads and demented smiles, were just three unexplained words: Zeta Zero Alfa. It was the name of a punk rock band Iannone had decided to launch, its name hinting at both the American rock legends ZZ Top and at the notion that the world needed to go back to the beginning, back to the alfa.

Zetazeroalfa became, in the late 90s and early 2000s, an evangelising force for fascism. Touring all over Italy, the band sang raucous punk-rock songs with lyrics such as nel dubbio, mena (if in doubt, beat up) or amo questo mio popolo fiero / che non conosce pace (I love this proud people / that doesnt know peace). In those early days, Iannone had about 100 hardcore fans, who doubled as roadies, crew, security and salesmen. The group sold as many T-shirts as they did CDs, with lines such as Picchia il vip (beat up the VIP) and Accademia della sassaiola (academy of stone-throwing). The song that became a crowd favourite was Cinghiamattanza, meaning death by belt: at all the gigs it became a ritual for fans to take off their belts and leather each other.

In those years, Iannone was more rock star than blackshirt. His informal movement was more about music than manifestos. CasaPounds in-house lawyer, Domenico Di Tullio, was once the bassist and vocalist in a far-right band called Malabestia, evil beast. He was introduced to CasaPound when Iannone was teaching Thai boxing in a gym. CasaPound has always been, Di Tullio said, halfway between politics and rocknroll. Iannone was a canny entrepreneur: he co-founded a right-wing music label called Rupe Tarpeia the name of the Roman rock from which traitors were thrown to their deaths.

Casapound
CasaPound leader Gianluca Iannone. Photograph: Alamy

Iannone who was obsessed with Chuck Palahniuks Fight Club had been arrested a few times for assault, once for beating up an off-duty carabiniere at Predappio, the burial shrine of Mussolini, because he was drunk and being stupid. Revisionist historians and rightwing politicians in the 1990s worked hard to rehabilitate Mussolini: expressing admiration for him was no longer considered heretical, but a sign of courageous thinking. Mussolinis regime was airbrushed as benign he never killed anybody said Silvio Berlusconi, who became prime minister for the first time in 1994 and depicted as superior to the corruption and chaos of the avowedly anti-fascist First Republic that lasted from 1948 until 1992. Berlusconi and his far-right allies scorned the traditional anti-fascist celebrations of 25 April, the date of Italians liberation from Nazi fascism.

A canny politician, Berlusconi wasnt setting this agenda but following it. He knew it was a vote-winner. Buildings all over Italy, but especially in the south, still bear the faded letters of the word DUCE. There are many monuments, and even a mountain, that still bear his name. A country that doesnt renounce its past as much as absorb it, Italy was, by the turn of the millennium, more than ready to include Mussolinis grandchildren in the body politic.

In July 2002 the militants who had gathered around Gianluca Iannone and ZZA occupied their first building, an abandoned school north of Rome. Occupations had always been a form of protest by the far left in Italy: many squats had become social centres and were tacitly tolerated by police and politicians. Now the far right was trying the tactic. Iannone called the occupied school Casa Montag, after the protagonist of the Ray Bradbury novel Fahrenheit 451, Guy Montag.

It was the first of many occasions in which CasaPound would confound ideological expectations. Most people read Bradburys novel as a critique of an anti-intellectual, totalitarian state, but for the CasaPounders it represented their own oppression by the forces of anti-fascism in Italian politics, who they regarded as metaphorical book-burners. Anticipating the rhetoric of the alt-right, CasaPound claimed to be a space where debate is free.

Within 18 months, though, Iannones men had upgraded and moved to the very centre of Rome, occupying the huge building in Esquilino. Their aim in 2003 wasnt political in any parliamentary sense: the militants wanted to live cheaply together, to create a space for their ideals and, most of all, to make a statement.

In the entrance hall of their new home, CasaPounders painted a hundred or so surnames in garish colours, suggesting the ideological lineage of their movement. Many were obvious Mussolini, Oswald Mosley, Nietzsche, the writer and proto-fascist Gabriele DAnnunzio, the Italian fascist philosopher Julius Evola but many more were bizarre or wishful: Homer, Plato, Dante, Kerouac and even cartoon characters such as Captain Harlock and Corto Maltese. All were men.

The movement never hid its admiration for Benito Mussolini. Photos and slogans of Il Duce were put up. Every believer was referred to as a camerata (the fascist version of comrade) and exchanged the old-fashioned legionary handshake, grasping each others forearm rather than the hand. Above the door on the outside of the building, in beige, faux-marble, CASAPOVND appeared.


What made CasaPound unique was its game of smoke-and-mirrors with a fascinated Italian media. Both Di Stefano and Iannone were very media-savvy: Di Stefano was a graphic artist, and Iannone, after the army, had worked as a directors assistant on Unomattina, a breakfast show on RAI, the state broadcaster. They promoted CasaPound via prank calls to newspapers, the invasion of TV studios, the frenetic production of posters and stickers, the organisation of debates and the occasional act of violence.

They also began pushing for policies the left had given up hope of ever hearing again, such as the renationalisation of Italys banking, communications, health, transport and energy sectors. They cited the most progressive aspects of Mussolinis politics, focusing on his social doctrines regarding housing, unions, sanitation and a minimum wage. CasaPound accepted that the racial laws of 1938 (which introduced antisemitism and deportation) were errors; the movement claimed to be opposed to any form of discrimination based on racial or religious criteria, or on sexual inclination.

CasaPounds concentration on housing also appealed to voters of the old left. Its logo was a turtle (an animal that always has a roof over its head) and Ezra Pounds name was used in part because he had railed, in his poem Canto XLV, against rent (considered usury) and rapacious landlords. One of the first things CasaPound did in its occupied building was to hang sheets from the windows protesting against rent hikes and evictions in 2009, there were an average of 25 evictions in Rome every day. They campaigned for a social mortgage, in which rental payments would effectively become mortgage payments, turning the tenant into a homeowner. Within months, they had given shelter to dozens of homeless families, as well as to many camerati down on their luck.

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A CasaPound march in Rome in 2016. Photograph: Pacific Press/LightRocket/Getty

CasaPound presented itself as the house of the ideologically homeless too. Iannone said it offered a space of liberty, where anyone who has something to say and cant say it elsewhere will always find political asylum. It adopted a pose of being not a part of the debate, but the receptacle of it. It reminded some of Mussolinis line that fascism is the church of all the heresies.

Iannone was always a proponent of action. He knew fascism had always grown through taking the initiative: he spoke frequently about the proto-fascist arditi (daring ones), a squad of volunteers fighting under DAnnunzio, who seized the town of Fiume after the first world war in an attempt to resolve a border dispute between Italy and what was then Yugoslavia. Iannone knew that Mussolini had launched his first fascist manifesto from an occupied building in the piazza of San Sepolcro in Milan. But even here, in action, CasaPound was borrowing leftwing clothes: imitating the strategy of the Italian Marxist philosopher Antonio Gramsci, it aimed for what Gramsci had called cultural hegemony by infiltrating the cultural and leisure activities of everyday Italians.

So CasaPound began doing outreach on an unprecedented scale: in 2006 a student movement called Blocco Studentesco was started. A fascist womens movement, Tempo di Essere Madri (time to be a mother), was founded by Iannones wife. A pseudo-environmental group, La Foresta Che Avanza, began in order to put the regime into nature. (Earlier this month, 200 volunteers from La Foresta gathered to repair the huge tribute to Mussolini the word DUX, written with pine trees on a mountainside in Antrodoco.) The media whether intrigued, anxious or excited reported on every initiative: as Di Stefano told me, everything CasaPound did became news.

There was plenty of ideological contortionism. In 2007, CasaPound started describing itself not as fascist, but as estremo centro alto (the name of a ZZA song, which means extreme, high centre). It namechecked improbable influences, such as Che Guevara and the great anarchist singer-songwriters Rino Gaetano and Fabrizio De Andr.

That obfuscation was a continuation of what Italian fascism, contrary to stereotype, had often done. Mussolini once said: We dont believe in dogmatic programmes we allow ourselves the luxury of being aristocratic and democratic, conservatives and progressives, reactionaries and revolutionaries, legals and illegals. Mussolinis totalitarianism often implied not fierce clarity, but slipperiness. Mussolini did not have a philosophy, Umberto Eco once wrote. He had only rhetoric.

To political scientists, this creative, eccentric force from the political extremities was captivating. Between 2006 and 2014, dozens of books were published on the movement some by CasaPounds friends, but others by academic presses in Italy and abroad. The latter fretted about the sinister implications of Mussolinis favourite slogan: libro e moschetto fascista perfetto (the rhyme boasting that book and musket make the perfect fascist). How important, people wondered, was that musket? CasaPound sometimes relished its violent reputation, and was sometimes angered by it. It proudly called its occupations and stunts examples of guerrilla tactics, but other times their tone was softer: they were just atti goliardici, bohemian acts.

That paradoxical attitude towards violence was encapsulated in the huge red letters painted on a central wall of CasaPounds HQ: Santa Teppa Holy Mob. It was the phrase Mussolini once used to describe his blackshirts. CasaPound militants say that theyre constantly under attack from leftwing social centres and anti-fascists. When you get to know them, though, the position is slightly different. Were not a violent organisation, one militant told me, but were not non-violent either.


The fierce fighting between Italys partisans and fascists from 1943 to 1945 sometimes called the countrys civil war continued sporadically after the end of the second world war. But ever since 1952, when a law was passed that criminalised efforts to resuscitate Mussolinis fascist party, Italian fascists have seen themselves as the victims, rather than the instigators, of state repression. In reality, however, there was no Italian equivalent of Germanys denazification: throughout the postwar period, one far-right political party the Movimento Sociale Italiano (MSI) kept alive the flame of Mussolini, at its height in 1972 winning 9% or 2.7m votes. Various radical splinter groups emerged from within the MSI the most notorious being Pino Rautis Ordine Nuovo, which was involved in the bombing of a bank in 1969 that killed 17 civilians.

That atrocity was the beginning of a period known as the years of lead: in the 1970s, far-right and far-left groups fought, shot, bombed and kidnapped not only each other, but also the public and representatives of the state. Both sides used the rhetoric of the 1940s, recalling the heroism or disloyalty of the fascists and anti-fascists from three decades earlier.

But amid the violence of the 1970s, there were attempts to tap into the softer side of the far-right, with festivals where music, graphic design, history and ecology were discussed. They were called Hobbit camps, since JRR Tolkien had long been a hero for Italian neo-fascists, who liked to quote Bilbo Baggins line that deep roots dont freeze. There was a popular leftwing slur that fascists belonged in the sewers, and so a magazine called La Voce della Fogna (The Voice of the Sewer) was launched by unapologetics.

The neo-fascist movement that most influenced CasaPound, Terza Posizione, was founded in 1978. It claimed to reject both capitalism and communism, and like CasaPound tried to revive Mussolinis social policies. (Iannone has its symbol tattooed on the middle finger of his left hand. His deputy, Simone Di Stefano, spent a year in London working with one of the Terza Posizione founders in the 1990s.)

In the same year, two young militants were shot outside the offices of the MSI in Acca Larentia in Rome. That evening, when a journalist allegedly disrespected the victims by flicking a cigarette butt in a pool of blood, a riot began in which a third young man was killed by a policeman. Other deaths followed that initial bloodshed: the father of one of the young men killed committed suicide. On the first anniversary of Acca Larentia, another militant was killed by police.

Acca Larentia seemed proof, to fascists, that they were sitting ducks. Some renounced extremism altogether, but others simply took it further. A far-right terrorist organisation, NAR (the nuclei of armed revolutionaries) was founded and took part in variouskillingsand the bombing of Bologna railway station in 1980, in which 85 people died. As a state crackdown on the far-right began, the three founders of Terza Posizione fled abroad and the leaders of NAR were either killed or imprisoned.

For a generation, through the 1980s and early 1990s,fascism seemed finished. But when Silvio Berlusconi burst into politics looking for anti-communist allies, he identified the MSI as his ideal political partner. The party renamed itself the National Alliance, and became the second-largest component in Berlusconis ruling centre-right coalition in 1994. The wind had changed completely: many of the militants on the far-right in the 1970s old hands from the MSI were now in government. In 1999 the three founders of Terza Posizione returned from exile.

That was the context in which CasaPound, in the early 2000s, first began to flourish: it was full of marginalised men who had grown up in the wilderness years of the 80s and early 90s. They were convinced that fascists had been mistreated and killed by communist hatred and servants of the state, as a plaque memorialising the murders at Acca Larentia put it.

But in fact, their bread was buttered on both sides: they presented themselves as underdogs, but their ideological fathers were now at the very top of Italian political power. They could claim to be the victims of repressive laws banning the revival of fascism, but because those laws were never enforced, they could proselytise with impunity.

Benito
Benito Mussolini in 1927. Photograph: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images

By 2005, CasaPound was toying with electoral politics. One its militants stood for election in Lazio on the electoral list of one of Berlusconis cabinet ministers, who had been a press officer of the MSI. From 2006 until 2008 CasaPound joined another offshoot of the MSI, the Tricolour Flame. Neither alliance produced any seats in parliament, but both afforded more publicity and respectability to the slow-moving but determined turtle.

In 2008, Gianni Alemanno, who had been imprisoned as a far-right militant, became mayor of Rome. He looked on CasaPounds occupations with a decidedly indulgent eye and that same year CasaPound occupied another building: an abandoned railway station near the Stadio Olimpico. Called Area 19 (1919 was the year Mussolini announced the first fascist manifesto), it became a gym by day and nightclub by night.

Meanwhile young CasaPound heavies enjoyed public shows of force. In 2009, Blocco Studentesco CasaPounds youth movement came to Romes central square, Piazza Navona, armed with truncheons painted with the Italian tricolor. They found a use for them on leftwing students. When one TV programme criticised Blocco Studentesco, its offices were occupied by CasaPound militants.

On 13 December 2011, Gianluca Casseri, a CasaPound sympathiser in Tuscany, left home with a Magnum 357 in his bag. He was a taciturn loner, 50 years old, rotund with short, grey hair, but had found a home in CasaPound: he had held a launch for his fantasy novel The Keys of Chaos at the local club.

On that December morning, Casseri had a plan to shoot as many immigrants as possible. He went to a square in Florence and, at 12.30pm, killed two Senegalese men, Samb Modou and Diop Mor. He shot another man, Moustapha Dieng, in the back and throat and then got in his blue VW Polo and drove off. Just over two hours later, Casseri was at the citys central market, where he shot two more men, Sougou Mor and Mbenghe Cheike, who survived the attack. He then turned his gun on himself in the markets underground carpark.

After Casseris murders, CasaPounds leaders were invited on to national television to face the accusation that they were fomenting violence. In a special programme about the killings, the former president of the Rai TV channel accused Iannone of having ideologically armed the killer. Ezra Pounds daughter, Mary de Rachewiltz, began a legal action (which she eventually lost) to stop CasaPound using and sullying her fathers name. They distort his ideas, she said, theyre violent. [My father] wanted an encounter between civilisations.

It was true that CasaPounds language and imagery was relentlessly combative. In its Rome bookshop Iron Head you can buy posters of insurgents from far-flung civil wars with automatic weapons wearing ZZA T-shirts. They speak about trincerocrazia, an -ocracy for people who have done their time in the trenches. The shell of their turtle logo also has a military meaning: it represents the testuggine, the carapace of shields used by the Roman army. All of this makes the movement edgy and decidedly testosteronic: 87% of the movements Facebook supporters are male and 62% are between 16 and 30.

Its a movement that is tight, compact and united. When youre among the militants inside that shell, the disdain for the outside world is almost cultish. The separation between insider and outsider is clear and loyalty is total: I do whatever Gianluca [Iannone] tells me to, one female militant has said. The movement has published a political and historical glossary for all novice militants, so they always know what to say.

Iannone himself is forcefully charismatic and physically imposing tall, tattooed and gravel-voiced and perhaps even bears a slight resemblance to Mussolini. Its easy to see why lost youngsters might be desperate to please (and scared to displease) him. Hes a very pure leader, Di Stefano told me, with evident admiration, as we took a walk with his two chihuahuas called Punk and Rock.


By 2013, aggressive leadership was what a lot of Italians were longing for. The country was facing an unprecedented crisis of confidence. In 2010 youth unemployment was at almost 30%, and would rise to over 40% by 2015. That year, Italys national statistics office suggested that almost 5 million Italians were living in absolute poverty. The degradation in certain suburbs the lack of rubbish collections was just the most visible example suggested that the Italian state was, in places, almost entirely absent. The success of the populist Five Star Movement coming from nowhere to win 25.55% of the vote in the 2013 elections showed the Italian electorate would respond to a party that was angry and anti-establishment. (The fathers of two of the leading lights of the Five Star Movement, Luigi Di Maio and Alessandro Di Battista, were both in the MSI.)

Inside
Inside the CasaPound headquarters in Rome. Photograph: Antonio Masiello/Getty Images

By then CasaPound was becoming known far beyond Italy. The lift in its Rome HQ was covered by stickers with the logos of far-right pilgrims from across the globe. CasaPound had always voraciously consumed foreign trends and repackaged them for an Italian audience: it had absorbed the anticapitalist ideas of Frances Nouvelle Droite (new right) movement, and built friendships with members of Greeces neo-Nazi Golden Dawn. Now French visitors started talking about a 2012 book by Renaud Camus called The Great Replacement: it spoke of the idea that native Europeans would soon be completely sidelined and substituted by waves of immigrants. It was a theory that had caught on in the US. This was the root of the identitarian doctrine, which claimed that globalisation had created a homogeneous culture with no distinct national or cultural identities. True pluralism ethnopluralism would mean racial separation.

These ideas famously influenced both Steve Bannon at Breitbart and the American white supremacist leader Richard Spencer but they also percolated into the thinking of CasaPounds cultural attache, Adriano Scianca. Scianca, who lives in Umbria, is the editor of CasaPounds magazine, Primato Nazionale (which has a circulation, they say, of 25,000). In 2016 he published a book called The Sacred Identity: The cancellation of a people from the face of the earth, he wrote, is factually the number one [aim] in the diary of all the global oligarchs. It sounds silly, but these ideas soon made their way into mainstream newspapers and very quickly racial separation became official CasaPound policy.

Throughout 2014 and 2015, CasaPound leaders organised rallies against asylum centres that were due to open. They formed a movement, with Matteo Salvinis Northern League (a formerly separatist movement which was, by then, purely nationalist) called Sovereignty: Italians First was the slogan. All over Italy from Gorizia to Milan, from Vicenza to Genoa every time a vacant building was converted into an asylum centre, CasaPound members would make friends among the locals opposing the centres, distributing food parcels, clearing rubbish, and offering strategies and strong-arms. (CasaPound argued that because a proportion of immigrants had arrived illegally, their opposition was about legality rather than race.)

Simone Di Stefano is CasaPounds political leader and its most prominent candidate in next weeks elections. With his neat, salt-and-pepper hair and trim beard, he looks like any other moderate politician. But his problem is now the opposite of his rhetoric: its not that the Italian establishment excludes the far-right from politics, but that there are now so many far right parties, CasaPound seems just one among many. Di Stefano is, therefore, distinguishing himself by campaigning to leave the European Union and urging a military intervention in Libya to halt the flow of migrants: We have to resolve the problem of Africa, he told me.

These ideas are not likely to appeal to many Italian voters but CasaPounds job is already done. It has been essential to the normalisation of fascism. At the end of 2017, Il Tempo newspaper announced Benito Mussolini as its person of the year. It wasnt being facetious: Il Duce barged into the news agenda every week last year. A few weeks ago, even a leftwing politician in Florence said that nobody in this country has done more than Mussolini. Today, 73 years after his death, he is more admired than traditional Italian heroes such as Giuseppes Garibaldi and Mazzini.

CasaPound has also been a participant in an escalating political conflict in which violence both verbal and physical has become commonplace. When you speak to CasaPound militants, theyre quick to say they only commit violence in self-defence, but their definition of self-defence is extremely elastic. Luca Marsella, a top colonel in the movement, once said to 14-year-old schoolchildren who were protesting against a new CasaPound centre: Ill cut your throats like dogs, Ill kill all of you. Another militant was convicted of beating up leftwing activists in Rome in 2011 when they were putting up posters. Another activist, Giovanni Battista Ceniti, was involved in a murder, though as Iannone pointed out he had already been expelled from CasaPound for intellectual laziness. In February last year, in Viterbo, two militants, Jacopo Polidori and Michele Santini, beat up a man who had dared to post an ironic comment about CasaPound on Facebook. A leftwing site has compiled an interactive map of episodes of reported fascist violence across the peninsula and there are so many incidents that you can barely see the boot of Italy.

Then, earlier this month, a man who had previously stood for election with the far-right Northern League, and had ties to CasaPound, went on a two-hour shooting rampage in the town of Macerata. Luca Traini fired his Glock pistol at anyone with black skin. What was shocking wasnt just the bloodshed (he injured six people, but all survived), but that it all seemed unsurprising in the current climate. Trainis inspiration was old-fashioned fascism: he had the Wolfsangel rune (used by both Nazis and Italys Terza Posizione) on his forehead. He gave a Roman salute at the monument to Italys war dead.

But in the aftermath of his shooting, mainstream politicians on the so-called centre-right blamed immigration, not Traini. Berlusconi, who has embraced the far right as he attempts to engineer another election win, spoke of a social bomb created by foreigners. Italy, he said, needs to deport 600,000 illegal immigrants.


On Sunday 7 January this year, CasaPound organised a mass rally in Rome to mark the 40th anniversary of the Acca Larentia killings. Four or five thousand people turned up, many wearing similar clothes: bomber jackets and black beanies, military fatigues or drainpipe jeans. There were 50 men in red CasaPound bibs, the security detail, shepherding the troops. Not everyone was a CasaPound militant, but the other groups all fell in behind Gianluca Iannone and Simone di Stefano. This, it was clear, was their show.

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Offended by Koreans eating dog? I trust youve never had a bacon butty | Chas Newkey-Burden

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Frightened animals being caged, killed and turned into food wed never dream of such evils in the western world, writes journalist and author Chas Newkey-Burden

Offended by Koreans eating dog? I trust youve never had a bacon butty

Frightened animals being caged, killed and turned into food wed never dream of such evils in the west would we?

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Ten arrested over murder of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia

Maltas PM, Joseph Muscat, offers personal commitment that those responsible for the killing will be found

Police in Malta have arrested 10 suspects over the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, the countrys prime minister has said, nearly two months after the anti-corruption journalist was killed by a powerful car bomb.

Joseph Muscat told a press conference that eight people all Maltese nationals, most with criminal records had been detained in early-morning raids in three different parts of the island. He tweeted later that two more suspects were also in custody.

Joseph Muscat (@JosephMuscat_JM)

An additional 2 persons have been apprehended in #DaphneCaruanaGalizia murder probe, bringing total to 10 arrests. Authorities have all areas of interest under control since early this morning and searches are underway.

December 4, 2017

Muscat said there was a reasonable suspicion the suspects were involved in the killing of Caruana Galizia, whose popular blog attacked high-level political corruption, shady business dealings and organised crime on the island.

The joint police and military operation was the first breakthrough for the Maltese investigation, which has been helped by experts from the FBI, Europol and the Finnish and Dutch security services. Police now have 48 hours to interrogate the suspects and either charge or release them.

Muscat, who was a frequent target of Caruana Galizias blog reports along with others in his inner circle, said he could give no further details of the arrests, the suspects or the evidence against them, but offered his personal commitment that those responsible for the killing would be found.

Caruana Galizias son Matthew, who is also a reporter, told the Guardian his family were in the dark about the arrests and had been given no further information beyond a phone call from a magistrates office after the arrests were made public.

At a separate event, the islands police commissioner, Lawrence Cutajar, refused to take any questions about the arrests, which have been called one of the biggest police operations in Maltese history.

They took place in Marsa, where other car bombings have occurred, as well as Zebbug, a village in central Malta, and in the northern town of St Pauls Bay. A section of Lighters Wharf in the port area of Marsa was still sealed off later on Monday as military personnel and police used sniffer dogs to search buildings.

The murder on 16 October sent shockwaves through the island and alarmed the EU, which was already concerned about the rule of law on Malta. The blocs smallest member state has often been branded a haven for dubious foreign money.

Last week, MEPs visiting Malta on a fact-finding mission said they had arrived seriously concerned about the rule of law and were leaving even more worried. They said an apparent reluctance to investigate and prosecute major cases had created a perception of impunity.

The journalists family are taking legal action against the islands police, saying the investigation into the killing cannot be impartial and independent since Caruana Galizia wrote critical articles about both the senior officer now running it, Silvio Valletta, and his wife, a top government minister.

The family have alleged that her murder was a targeted killing of a journalist whose work focused on uncovering corruption, criminality, conflicts of interest and ethical failures in decision-making by politicians and their associates.

The family have raised other concerns about the investigation, which they say appears to be focusing only on forensic evidence rather than examining financial transactions that could uncover vital evidence. They also suggest leaks from within the police could intimidate potential informants.

The most significant investigations by the murdered journalist stemmed from the Panama Papers, a leak of documents from the archives of the offshore law firm Mossack Fonseca. Maltas government is offering a 1m reward for information relating to the killing.

A top Italian prosecutor, Carmelo Zuccaro, has said he believes the murder could be linked to an investigation he is leading into a fuel-smuggling operation spanning Libya, Malta and Italy and involving organised crime groups in Sicily. Caruana Galizia wrote about some of those linked to the inquiry.

Antonio Di Pietro, an Italian politician and judge who was a prosecutor in Italys anti-corruption Mani Pulite corruption trials in the 1990s, said on Monday that Caruana Galizias murder had all the hallmarks of a mafia-style killing.

It was professional and a classic mafia-style homicide, Di Pietro told the Times of Malta. The mafias style is intimidation. The target was not only poor Caruana Galizia but all those around her because it was a clear warning: be careful or youll suffer the same fate.

Responding to a public letter from eight of the worlds largest media organisations including the New York Times, BBC and the Guardian, the first vice-president of the EU commission, Frans Timmermans, last month issued a strong warning to Malta.

The eyes of Europe are on the Maltese authorities, Timmermans said. We want those directly and indirectly responsible for this horrible murder to be brought to justice.

Additional reporting by Lorenzo Tondo

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Charles Manson, cult leader and convicted murderer, dies aged 83

Manson and his family became notorious for the murder of Sharon Tate and six others during the summer of 1969

Charles Manson, the pseudo-satanic sociopath behind a string of killings that shocked California out of its late 1960s cultural reverie, died on Sunday after almost a half century in prison.

The 83-year-old, who died of natural causes, had been serving multiple life sentences in state prison in Corcoran, California, for orchestrating the violence in 1969 that claimed the lives of Sharon Tate, the heavily pregnant wife of film director Roman Polanski, and six others.

While his death prompted the inevitable and renewed questioning around why his grim notoriety had been so enduring, Michele Hanisee, president of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys for Los Angeles County, said: Today, Mansons victims are the ones who should be remembered and mourned on the occasion of his death.

She went on to quote the late Vincent Bugliosi, the prosecutor who put Manson behind bars, who had said: Manson was an evil, sophisticated conman with twisted and warped moral values.

Quick Guide

A quick guide to Charles Manson

Who was Charles Manson?

Charles Mansonwasone of the most notorious murderers of the 20th century. Heleda cult known as the Manson Family in California, most of whom were disaffected young women. Some became killers under his messianic influence.

Murder from afar

Despite spending more than 40 years in prison for the murders of seven people in 1969,Manson did not carry out the killings.Insteadhe convincedmembers of his familyto murder. One of their victims was the actor Sharon Tate, who was married to Roman Polanski and was more than eight months’ pregnant when she was killed.

Celebrity friends

By the time of histrial in 1971, Manson hadspent half of his life in correctional institutions forvarious crimes. He became a singer-songwriter before the Tate murders andgot a break in the music industry when he metBeach Boys’ Dennis Wilson,who let him crash at his home.

Helter Skelter

It is believed that Manson intended using the murders to incite an apocalyptic race war he called Helter Skelter, taking the name from the Beatles song.

Notorious by name

Thekillings and the seven-month trial that followed were the subjects of fevered news coveragein the US.Manson occupieda dark, persistent place in American culture, inspiring music, T-shirts and half the stage name of musicianMarilyn Manson.

Photograph: Los Angeles Times

As the leader of a cult known as the Manson Family, Manson had instructed his followers, made up mostly of disaffected young women, to carry out the killings. The brutality of the murders set Los Angeles on edge, and ended the sunny optimism of the 60s counterculture and its aspirations to a new society built on peace and love. Manson presented himself as a demonic force: at trial, he carved a Nazi swastika into his forehead.

The five received the death penalty but were spared when capital punishment was temporarily abolished following a ruling by the supreme court in 1972.

Manson and three female followers, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten, were convicted of murder and conspiracy to murder. Another defendant, Charles Tex Watson, was convicted later.

Tate, the wife of Polanski, who was out of the country the night of her murder, was eight and a half months pregnant when Mansons followers broke into her home in Los Angeles. They stabbed and shot Tate and her visitors, Jay Sebring, Voytek Frykowski, coffee heiress Abigail Folger and Steven Parent.The word Pig was written in blood on the front door. Tate, who had starred in The Valley of the Dolls, was stabbed 16 times, and an X was carved into her stomach.

The next night, his followers murdered couple Leno and Rosemary LaBianca.

Although the followers committed the murders, Manson had ordered them. At the LaBianca home, he tied up the couple before leaving others to carry out the killings.

After his death on Sunday night, Tates sister Debra told NBC: One could say Ive forgiven them, which is quite different than forgetting what they are capable of. It is for this reason I fight so hard to make sure that each of these individuals stays in prison until the end of their natural days.

In the 2004 book Sharon Tate Recollection, Polanski wrote: Even after so many years, I find myself unable to watch a spectacular sunset or visit a lovely old house or experience visual pleasure of any kind without instinctively telling myself how much she would have loved it all.

Prosecutors at the time said Manson and his cult were trying to spark a race war that he believed was foretold in the Beatles song Helter Skelter, and hoped the Black Panthers would be blamed for the killings.

Before the murders, Manson spent most of his teens and 20s in and out of prison, and he later became a singer-songwriter. He got a break in the music industry when he met the Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson. The group later recorded Never Learn Not to Love, which Manson had written.

Manson
Manson in a 2017 California department of corrections photo. Photograph: Reuters

He became friends with the Byrds producer Terry Melcher (the son of Doris Day) and even recorded 13 folksy songs for an album that eventually was titled Lie: The Love and Terror Cult; it was released in March 1970 to help pay for his defense.

Manson had established himself as a would-be cult leader in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. He took a handful of followers, some of whom would later be convicted in the killings, to the old Spahn Movie Ranch north of LA and turned it into a hedonistic commune.

Van Houten, the youngest member of the original Manson Family, later said that Manson had used sex, LSD, Bible readings, repeated playing of the Beatles White Album and rambling lectures about triggering a revolution to brainwash her.

Van Houten, 68, was convicted of the killings of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. She was recommended for parole in September but Californias governor, Jerry Brown, has yet to approve the recommendation. He rejected an earlier decision, concluding that Van Houten posed an unreasonable danger to society if released from prison.

In June, officials denied a parole request by Krenwinkel, the states longest-serving female prisoner, after her attorney said she had been abused by Manson or another person. She has been denied parole multiple times in the past.

Mansons lawyer, Irving Kanarek, claimed his client was innocent during a 2014 interview with the Guardian. No question he was legally innocent. And, more than that, he was actually innocent, Kanarek said, arguing that there was no evidence connecting him to the case.

At a 2012 parole hearing, which was denied, Manson was quoted as having said to one of his prison psychologists: Im special. Im not like the average inmate. I have spent my life in prison. I have put five people in the grave. I am a very dangerous man.

According to the LA Times, Manson committed hundreds of rules violations while being held at the Corcoran state prison, including assault, repeated possession of a weapon and threatening staff. Officials said he has spat in guards faces, started fights, tried to cause a flood and set his mattress ablaze.

In 2014, Manson and Afton Elaine Burton, a 26-year-old Manson devotee, were granted a marriage license, but it expired before the two could marry. She had faithfully visited him in prison for seven years. Manson had been denied parole 12 times, with his next hearing set for 2027.

His death is unlikely to end interest in his crimes. Quentin Tarantino is believed to be preparing a film that uses the murders as a backdrop for its main plot, and an adaptation of Emma Clines bestselling 2016 novel, The Girls, is on the way.

Writer Joan Didion interviewed Linda Kasabian, the Manson family member who acted as a lookout in the Tate and LaBianca killings and later gave evidence at the trial, and described the atmosphere in Hollywood in an essay from her collection The White Album (1979).

Everything was unmentionable but nothing was unimaginable Didion wrote. A demented and seductive vortical tension was building in the community. The jitters were setting in. I recall a time when the dogs barked every night and the moon was always full.

I remember that no one was surprised.

Reached at home in Manhattan, Didion, 82, told the Guardian: Mansons legacy was never obvious to me. It wasnt obvious when I went to talk with Linda Kasabian, and it isnt obvious to me now. But I do find it easy to put him from my mind.

In 2008, California officials ordered the search of a deserted ranch in Death Valley where Manson and his family briefly resided. The search turned up no evidence of human remains.

Manson may be gone but the persistence of his dark vision endures. I am crime, he proclaimed in a telephone call to the New York Post from prison in the mid-2000s.

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