Links Christmas Day 2014

How a firefly lights up: Researchers reveal the secrets of the incredible ‘lantern’ structure the insects use to glow Daily Mail

Gunmaker staring down $1B in debt as gun sales slump New York Post. Cerberus.

Leon Black Takes On Paul Singer in Showdown Over $25 Billion Caesars Debt Bloomberg

How a Top Obama Crony Moved From Idaho To a $2 Million Washington Estate The Intercept

Mortgage Servicer Privity with Borrowers Credit Slips

Big food Vox. Ezra Klein interviews Michael Pollan

Enrollment for Obamacare jumps with 2 million new sign-ups McClatchy

N.C. watchdog wants regulators to investigate power market manipulation Star-News

Texas drilling permits dropped 50 percent, Railroad Commission reports Dallas Morning News

Natural gas flaring in Eagle Ford Shale already surpasses 2012 levels of waste and pollution AP. One lease flares one-quarter of its production (!).

Boom Bust Boom: Minsky at the Movies New Economics Perspectives

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Crowd Protesting Antonio Martin’s Death Shut Down Highway NBC. New shooting next town over from Ferguson.

Berkeley suspect’s grandmother: ‘I want to see the gun in his hand’ Los Angeles Times. The word we’re look for here is “drop gun.” I mean, I’d just hate to think that the lesson the police in the greater St Louis area took from the Michael Brown killing was to make sure that “armed” got into the headlines in the initial coverage. Not that I’m foily.

UPDATED: Chief Belmar: Berkeley Officer Did Not Have Body Camera On CBS Local. Couldn’t we have a hiatus on shooting young black men, exercising their Fourth Amendment rights or no?

The Spy Who Came in from the Confederacy The Junto

Ground Truth: In Dozier’s neglected cemetery, a search for lost boys and the reasons why they died Tampa Bay Times. Superb long-form reporting.


There is rationality at work in the season of forced goodwill FT

U.S. retailers likely to just meet holiday sales forecasts: experts Reuters

Why Christmas Is Huge in China The Atlantic

Sony Gaslighting

Sony Hack – Likely Inside Attacker Found – Obama Claim Discredited Moon of Alabama.

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Privacy analyst: ‘Santa is the ultimate role model for the NSA’ WaPo. Ho ho ho….


Crimea hit by blackout amid mounting Ukraine electricity crisis FT

Ukraine votes to drop non-aligned status BBC. NATO, here we come!

Ukraine Peace Talks Conclude for Night in Minsk ABC


As U.S. troops return to Iraq, more private contractors follow Reuters

ISIL downs warplane over Syria, claims capture of Jordanian pilot Hurriyet Daily News

For Syria’s President, The Year Ends Better Than It Began NPR

The left’s unsung success story Le Monde Diplomatique. Bolivia.

Love Activists turn former RBS office in London into housing protest squat Guardian (MR). Hilariously, the RBS office appears to have chain of title issues.

Thousands in Spain protest ban on demonstrations, burning national flag TribLive

The End of Tolerance? Anti-Muslim Movement Rattles Germany Der Spiegel

Greece – two alternative views Bill Mitchell

Time for gaijin to take a second look at Abe’s Womenomics Noahpinion

Risk in Fukushima No. 4 reactor mitigated as last of nuclear fuel removed Asahi Shimbun. One down…

Fukushima butterflies highlight heavy cost of nuclear disaster Deutsche Welle

Class Warfare

GDP Grows, Dow Soars While US Workers Still Chase Household Income, Wage Growth And Real Recovery International Business Times

How to Close the Racial Wealth Gap HuffPo. ” [T]he residual effects of wealth remain for 10-to-15 generations.”

Exclusive: U.S. minimum wage hikes to affect 1,400-plus Walmart stores Reuters. Because the minimum wage went up, not out of the goodness of Walmart’s corporate heart, as the headline does not make clear.

Behind the Daily Paywall: The Site that Pays You to Read Pirated Articles Vice

Justine Sacco Is Good at Her Job, and How I Came To Peace With Her Gawker

I’m meeting a potential client about a website for his hotel Clients from Hell

Let us enjoy the greatest human escape of all Martin Wolf, FT

Pain Really Does Make Us Gain The New Yorker. What’s the best kind of pain?[1]

Waiting for the Sunrise The Archdruid Report

The Dark & Light of Francisco Goya New York Review of Books. Exhibition at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. I wish I could go!

Antidote du jour:


[1] Sham pain.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


    1. James

      Hmm… First MH-17 and then this. This Obama lying thing is starting to appear a tad bit habitual. If I didn’t know better, I might conclude that there was an actual agenda afoot. And since only his inner circle appears to be in on it, one might easily label it a… what’s that word? It eludes me right now.

      1. Demeter

        Alcohol and drug-driven clusterfuck?

        Damned if I can figure out what, if anything, Obama has on his agenda. With W, you knew good old predictable Cheney was in charge, at least. With adequate body guards, one could sleep at night.

  1. Jef

    I like Pollan but this whole thing about meat and eggs being bad is so misguided. livestock provides the most and best nutrition possible for human consumption. I agree with todays population who live in a cube sitting or laying watching a cube, drive a cube to work in a cube sitting staring at a cube all day require very little livestock elements in their diet but still will be better nourished to include some.

    Production of vegetable, legumes, grains, and fruits for human consumption is where most of the FF use is in Ag. Add grain production for livestock and you double FF use. Have the livestock do the harvesting of the fields directly and you cut FF use in half and increase the nutritional value enormously.

    As he says himself the problem is primarily with highly concentrated “industrial production” of food to continuously feed the capitalist machine. He just doesn’t apply his own understanding to livestock production.

    In fact you can not separate sustainable food production and healthy soil from livestock production they must co-exist to function as nature intended.

    By the way peas are hugely energy and water intensive crops.

    1. frosty zoom

      livestock provides the most and best nutrition possible for human consumption

      citation needed..

      Production of vegetable, legumes, grains, and fruits for human consumption is where most of the FF use is in Ag. Add grain production for livestock and you double FF use.

      most? double? huh?

        1. Jef

          What the hell!!!!! what do you not understand?

          Poullan is saying that raising beef and chicken in massive centralized locations requires massive grain operations else wear to produce feed for them and this creates large corbon foot print.

          I say let the livestock out onto the fields to do the harvesting themselves, no combine also healthy livestock, also fertile fields.

          Poullan would close high concentrations of livestock which require large grain and legume production for feeding for high concentrations of human populations requiring even greater grain and legume production to feed. Net loss. hello!!!

          1. frosty zoom

            so if an animal eats the grain first and then a human eats the animal, it’s more efficient?

            how is that possible?

            1. Vatch

              It’s not possible. An “inter tubes” search for

              grain used for meat production

              provides plenty of evidence. Vegetarianism is far more efficient that meat eating. I confess, I’m not a vegetarian, but I don’t each much meat. And frequently, I’ll spend a week or two as a lacto-ovo vegetarian.

              The only advantage to what Jef suggests is the use of the cattle waste to fertilize the fields. But the same goal can be accomplished by crop rotation and by allowing fields to be fallow periodically.

              1. susan the other

                If something, say beef, is very nutritious, it goes by definition that you do not need to eat very much of it. Animal protein goes a long way. But it was recently proven that munching (even all day long) on veggies cannot fully nourish us. We need an occasional cheese burger. “Occasional” is the key word here. And further research (Denmark on diabetes in the 1800s) has shown that an abundance of wheat lead to diabetes that skipped a generation and showed up in grandchildren. So temperance is good. No matter what you are eating.

      1. Jef

        Frosty – there is this new fangled thingy called the inter tubes or something. look it up you might just learn something. although there will most likely be just as much misinformation so I guess “YOU CAN’T KNOW”, SO…………..NEVER MIND.

        1. different clue

          If I were to offer the assertion that eco-balanced livestock, managed and deployed the right way within a perennial polyculture system (such as rangeland or multi-year pasture-plantings) could lead to net-carbon-suckdown over and above any carbon the animals themselves emit from their physical bodies in the course of their lives, I would try to offer links to buttress plausibly my claim. I would view it as an info-spreading opportunity.
          I suspect some preliminary info is out there, badly scattered and hard to find and pull together.
          Also, no picky-poo data-dense measurement-science has yet been conducted on range under livestock or pasture under livestock to be able to measure exactly how much carbon does or doesn’t build up in the post-grazing above-surface plant parts, the undersurface plant parts , and the carbon in the rhizospheric soil material beTWEEN the actual roots. Or if it has, I haven’t heard of it reaching the semi-MSM sources I graze for information.

          1. Jef

            You don’t even know it but you just argued for the killing off of humanity as they out number livestock. Do you even think before you type?

            1. different clue


              I didn’t know you were so hard of thinking. I will say it again and this time I will use small words. And I will type real slow . . . so you can keep up.

              If you are going to say something in a discussion thread, and someone asks you to show some evidence for what you said, the polite thing to do is to offer some links to sources showing what you said. It shows you know the subject you are discussing.

              When someone asks you for links or evidence and you tell them to go find their own links, that is an obvious tell that you don’t have any links and that you don’t have any information. You have revealed yourself to be too frivolous a contributor for the serious commenters here to take seriously. (Sorry for using some big words after all. I couldn’t dumb myself down to your level. I really tried.)

  2. Jim Haygood

    It’s 25 years since President Nicolae Ceausescu (‘Nick,’ to his grateful people) and First Lady Elena were deposed by firing squad on Christmas Day, 1989.

    Ceausescu’s Securitate secret police were a kind of combination of the NSA, CIA interrogators and a Drug War SWAT team. ‘We disappeared some folks,’ President Nick used to joke in light-hearted moments.

    Now Romania’s nascent democracy is overseen by America, via its NATO military occupation. Doubtless today the Romanian people are showering our troops with roses and chocolates.

    Merry Romanian Christmas to our comrades in Peoples States everywhere!

  3. Carolinian

    Christmas in China….that’s just sad. Perhaps it’s time for astronomers to rename the third planet from the sun “America” and be done with it. All the peoples of the world will get a vote in case President Yellen turns out to be an unjust ruler.

    We will still have wars of course but they will be civil wars. That is unless some Martians turn up and then the neocons can spiel on tv about the Martian menace.

    Peace on Earth this day.

    1. frosty zoom

      don’t forget those “separatist plutonian rebels” backed by the “terrorist regime” on ganymede.

  4. Stephen Haust

    “Thousands in Spain protest ban on demonstrations, burning national flag”

    Look out for this one! Yes, it’s from Associated Press but try to remember
    that Richard Mellon Scaife did not die without legacy.
    He left TribLive behind and that’s what this link is.

    1. I.G.I.

      Yes, scary to read, but not entirely surprising: 40 years, more or less, after Franco Spain is still sharply divided between reactionary Francoists (on all important levers of the state, the military, the jurisprudence, and the economic life), and largely powerless moderate or progressive Spaniards. Btw, Greece suffers from the same paralyzing societal divide …

  5. Paul Niemi

    Here is a link to a New York Times article about successes in forest restoration, especially in Costa Rica:

    It has to do with the role healthy forests play in sequestering carbon from the atmosphere, versus the release of sequestered carbon when forests are cleared, and the effect that has on climate. Particularly, the restoration of natural forest, to agricultural lands that have proven to be of marginal economic value, is an environmental success in an increasing number of places around the world, and the article contains many maps showing areas of deforestation as well as where some reforestation is occurring.

    1. frosty zoom

      it’s cool to go into a “reforested” area planted in the 50s or 60s — coniferous trees planted real close together in corn-like rows. totally surreal.

    2. financial matters

      This is definitely a good thing but it can be misleading.

      “In the battle to limit the risks of climate change, it has been clear for decades that focusing on the world’s immense tropical forests — saving the ones that are left, and perhaps letting new ones grow — is the single most promising near-term strategy.”

      This can take the eye off the ball. The single most promising thing is more difficult and is cutting fossil fuel emissions. This can too easily drift into the financial carbon market letting emitters make money and continue to emit by saving forests often to the extent that they prohibit native populations from sustainably using the forests.

      ““For thousands of years, the march of civilization has been associated with converting natural ecosystems to crops that serve only man,” said Glenn Hurowitz, a managing director at Climate Advisers, a consultancy in Washington.”

      Climate Advisers is heavily into the carbon trading strategy.

      But it’s good to have Greenpeace on board. They seem to be one of the least compromised environmental groups and one that is keeping it’s eye on the ball.

      ““The public should take heart,” said Rolf Skar, who helps lead forest conservation work for the environmental group Greenpeace. “We are at a potentially historic moment where the world is starting to wake up to this issue, and to apply real solutions.”

      Still, Greenpeace and other groups expect years of hard work as they try to hold business leaders and politicians accountable for the torrent of promises they have made lately.”

      1. participant-observer-observed

        (that’s binary)

        Peace and good will and continued sharp wits among NC community and long life & vigorous health to Yves & NC!

  6. cnchal

    Cerberus Capital Management’s bet on America’s biggest gunmaker has backfired.

    Merry Christmas

    Remington, . . . is struggling with more than $1 billion of debt as sales slump.

    Remington is also facing an expensive recall that could cost more than $25 million, said a source. This month the company said it would replace millions of triggers after reports that guns would fire without being triggered.

    In late 2012, Cerberus tried unsuccessfully to sell Remington, formerly known as the Freedom Group, for $1.3 billion, a source said. A group of well-off Midwestern families expressed interest at a lower price of between $800 million and $900 million.
    . . .
    Remington passed and ended up borrowing more money to pay investors a dividend, raising its debt load to more than $1 billion.

    Potential buyers will just wait for the company to sink further into trouble and try to pick up the pieces on the cheap, a source predicted. That’s especially true now that the demand for long guns, like the ones Remington makes, has faded.

    The punchline?

    “A sporting rifle is nice to have, unlike a handgun, which is perceived as a necessity,” James said.

  7. jgordon

    North Korea responsible for the Sony hack? My first reaction on hearing the statement from the FBI and the regime was that it must be a lie, you know, because the regime and its lackeys are well known for being both duplicitous and incompetent. Good to see my gut feelings are calibrated correctly on that.

    Conversely, if they had said that they were sure North Korea had not done it, then I naturally may have assumed that North Korea must have done it. I’m happy to know that the political hacks in the Obama regime have not yet reached that level of mendaciousness, as then I would be seriously confused whenever they said something.

      1. hunkerdown

        And for a stiff, guitar-shredded but curiously enjoyable digestif, may I recommend “Every Time I Shake My Head (It’s Like Christmas)”, from Bumblefoot’s pre-GnR days…

  8. Les

    The “Daily Paywall” is already shut down…..
    Too much attention?
    I see the internet going the way of cable, basic cable is just garbage.
    People will have a form of the internet, but not all the info.

  9. Vatch

    This would be funny, except the consequences could be very bad for the women in custody, who’ve already been incarcerated for nearly a month:

    Two Saudi women who were detained for defying a ban on female drivers are to be tried in a terrorism court, activists say.

    Loujain al-Hathloul, 25, and Maysa al-Amoudi, 33, have been in detention for nearly a month.

    The women’s cases had reportedly been transferred over comments they had made on social media – rather than for their driving, according to activists.

  10. owenfinn

    PM Abe`s efforts to have more women join the workforce is not motivated by any sense of equality. He simply sees a neoliberal exploitation opportunity.

  11. Howard Beale IV

    Leon Black vs. Paul Singer: Now if they could only do their fight like MTV’s Celebrity Deathmatch…..

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