Writer, analyst, and blogger

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A new political novel by Justin Podur

About The Demands of the Dead

When police killed his two best friends in a supposedly accidental shooting, detective Mark Brown left the force bitter and angry, abandoning a promising career and leaving his special skills to languish. A year later, the trail of one of the killers has Mark looking south, to Mexico, just as he receives a mysterious, anonymous, encrypted message over e-mail: The dead demand much more than vengeance. Drawn into the conflict zone by the connection to the deaths of his friends, Mark finds that he has to work on both sides to solve the case, in a place where any mistake could endanger lives – or reignite a war.

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On abuse

Thanks to the News Insider I saw this story about how Israel is 'stunned' by the abuse of Palestinians by its police. An example:

... three [police] confessed to ordering the 17-year-olds into their jeeps and driving them off to a nearby forest, where they were beaten with sticks, punched, had milk poured over them and were forced to kiss the policemen's boots and chew sand and stones.

Congo troubles

Rwanda invaded Congo again, it seems -- with local backing. In Kinshasa, a protest against the UN and the government for failing to stop the invasion was suppressed, with UN troops firing on protesters and killing at least 2. I tried to write an introductory article on the Congo conflict a few months back to help readers begin to get a handle on one of the major mass murders of the past decade.

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The Venezuela Recall Trap

Looks like yet another country will be going to the polls before the United States, with Venezuela set on the course of a recall referendum for Chavez. The article linked is from venezuelanalysis.com, which is where I would recommend English-speakers go. ZNet Venezuela Watch is good too, there is much overlap.

Palestine death toll

Paul de Rooij, writing in Counterpunch, has a good analysis of Palestinian deaths at the hands of Israel. He calculates an average of 2.25 Palestinians killed each day -- day in, day out, since 2000. Based on Red Crescent figures. IMEMC did their own body count for May -- 137 Palestinians killed.

Elections as punishment

Today I saw in the headlines that Stephen Harper, that raving racist lunatic who might just replace gangster Paul Martin (the 'gangster' epithet is based on his behaviour as regards Haiti) as the Canadian Prime Minister, is planning to drop the gun registry and put more cops on the streets. In other words, harmonize Canadian crime policies with those of the United States, which is a model for social cohesion and just plain feelings of safety and well-being on the streets.

This is one aspect of the Canadian elite that I've never understood.

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USO: the punishment for winning begins

A few days ago I blogged about the end of the oil worker's strike in Colombia, and how they won an agreement preventing the privatization at some cost to the workers. The pattern after a successful strike or demonstration in Colombia is very predictable: workers, especially union leaders, start getting picked off and assassinated by paramilitaries. That began yesterday with the murder of Fabio Burbano at his home, yesterday night, according to a communique from USO. He was a part-time worker and a union activist.

The State Department Doesn't Know Where Castano Is

Gonzalo Gallegos, spokesman for the US State Dept. for the Western Hemisphere, said about Castano: "We have not been in contact with that individual. We don't know where he is, and we don't know where the information came from."

The information he's referring to is the information that Castano was smuggled -- by Americans -- out of Colombia and into Israel, via Panama. An official denial from the State Department and an official denial from the Israeli Ambassador in Colombia are enough to make a person really suspect that Castano is in Israel.

Colombia's ELN, Mexico, and the Government

Colombia's second-largest guerrilla group, the ELN (Ejercito de la Liberacion Nacional, or Army of National Liberation) is talking to the government and to the Mexican government about a possible peace negotiation with the Mexican government as guarantor.

Carlos Castano not in Israel?

Israel's ambassador to Colombia, Yair Recanati, said that Castano that the embassy hadn't heard a word from him about him going to Israel, according to an interview with RCN Television (Colombia's big television network). This doesn't exactly mean that he's not in Israel, although the 'diplomatic sources' who told AFP that he was in Israel (from which the Ha'aretz and El Tiempo stories drew) were never named. It seems that those looking for a definitive location for this paramilitary warlord are destined for disappointment... for now...

Carlos Castano in Israel

Colombia's El Tiempo and Israel's Haaretz are reporting that Carlos Castano, the head of Colombia's paramilitaries, the drug trafficker, the mass murderer, has been smuggled into Israel after 'disappearing' about a month ago.

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