Linked and Loaded New Years Eve

Links to what I’ve been reading, and officially the last Linked and Loaded of 2011. See you on the flip-side.

Fascinating account from Iris Chung on North Korean defectors:

“I wasn’t human,” Joseph recalled. “I had no fat at all, no muscles, just skin. My hair was falling out. My eyes were sunken in. Looking in the mirror, I asked myself, ‘Is this me?’”

Joseph (a pseudonym this defector has adopted for protection) left North Korea nearly three years ago – something which, up until the last decade, very few people did. With North Korea’s weakening economy, mid-1990s famine, and easing of border controls with China, there are now some 23,000 defectors living in South Korea. Many experience forced labor, starvation, human trafficking, sexual assault, and other abuses in their journeys to get to the South.

Kevin Drum recaps the 21st Century Nullification Crisis:

In the 19th century, the theory of nullification, and the crisis it provoked, was all about states’ rights. Nullification advocates argued that the constitution was a compact between sovereign states, and therefore states could choose to ignore federal laws that they considered unconstitutional.

The Civil War largely put an end to this clash, but in the 21st century there’s a new theory of nullification. This one, though, isn’t about a conflict between states and the federal government. It’s about a conflict within the federal government.  […]

The year in White House photos from Pete Souza:

“Despite security concerns, the President decided to walk into the street to wave to people gathered outside the Cidade de Deus favela community center in Rio de Janeiro. As he was walking, a young boy reached out of a closed door and the President reached over to give him a fist bump.”

Suzy Khimm points out that United States debt outperformed gold this year:

Inside the Beltway, our country’s debt load was politically toxic in 2011, but in the global marketplace, it was even better than gold. The euro-zone crisis sent investors fleeing for the relative safety of U.S. Treasurys. Now the U.S. bond market is set to have its best year since 2008, with a 13.7 percent return — significantly outperforming the stock market in 2011. What’s more, the Wall Street Journal points out, “the biggest star was the 30-year Treasury bond, with a 35% return, far outpacing even gold, another favorite safe-haven asset.”

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