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BOOKS > Writer Cockburn passes away at 71

NEW YORK - The Associated Press

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Radical writer Alexander Cockburn, a longtime columnist for The Nation magazine and editor of the political newsletter CounterPunch, died Friday in Germany at age 71. He had been receiving treatment for two years for cancer, his fellow editor at CounterPunch, Jeffrey St. Clair, wrote on the publication’s website.

Cockburn, who lived in recent years in California, was known for a pen that spared few on either the left or right for policies that he felt were hypocritical or corrupt.

In his last column for The Nation, published July 11, he lamented the “culture of rabid criminality” in the international banking system and predicted that even reform and tough enforcement wouldn’t save it from eventual collapse. In another recent missive, he likened President Barack Obama to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il for supporting the handling of suspected terrorists in military, rather than civilian, courts -- a step he called another “mile marker in the steady slide of the U.S. downhill towards the status of a banana republic.” Cockburn infuriated some liberals by writing skeptically about global warming, and bothered neoconservatives with his ferocious attacks on Israel.

“He was an extraordinarily provocative, polemical, elegant columnist and writer. And he certainly was someone who never wavered in dissenting from what was the conventional line,” said Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of The Nation.

Cockburn disclosed his illness to only a few people. In his essay announcing Cockburn’s death, St. Clair wrote that he kept quiet about the cancer because he didn’t want friends and readers showering him with sympathy.

July/23/2012

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