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ANDREW MCCARTHY: In Politicized Justice Department, Desperate Times Call for Disparate Measures.

It has now been confirmed that the Trump campaign was subjected to spying tactics under counterintelligence law — FISA surveillance, national-security letters, and covert intelligence operatives who work with the CIA and allied intelligence services. It made no difference, apparently, that there was an ongoing election campaign, which the FBI is supposed to avoid affecting; nor did it matter that the spy targets were American citizens, as to whom there is supposed to be evidence of purposeful, clandestine, criminal activity on behalf of a foreign power before counterintelligence powers are invoked.

But what was the rationale for using these spying authorities?

The fons et origo of the counterintelligence investigation was the suspicion — which our intelligence agencies assure us is a fact — that the Democratic National Committee’s server was hacked by covert Russian operatives. Without this cyber-espionage attack, there would be no investigation. But how do we know it really happened? The Obama Justice Department never took custody of the server — no subpoena, no search warrant. The server was thus never subjected to analysis by the FBI’s renowned forensics lab, and its evidentiary integrity was never preserved for courtroom presentation to a jury.

How come? Well, you see, there was an ongoing election campaign, so the Obama Justice Department figured it would be a terrible imposition to pry into the Democrats’ communications. So, yes, the entire “Russia hacked the election” narrative the nation has endured for nearly two years hinges on the say-so of CrowdStrike, a private DNC contractor with significant financial ties to the Clinton campaign.

In Investigations 101, using foreign-intelligence authorities to spy on Americans is extraordinary, while taking custody of essential physical evidence is basic. By the way, the government’s failure to ensure the evidentiary integrity of the DNC server by taking possession of it and performing its own rigorous testing on it makes it practically impossible to prosecute anyone for “colluding” in Russia’s cyber-espionage. It’s tough to prove that anyone conspired in something unless you can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the something actually happened the way you say it happened. To do that in a courtroom, you need evidence — a confident probability analysis by your intelligence agencies won’t do.

They covered for Hillary. They spied on Trump, and then when he unexpectedly won they panicked. Now, you’ll notice, all the mad leaking to the NYT and the WaPo is defensive in nature: Smoke-blowing to try to cover their tracks. In fact a lot of people involved in this should be in jail, and I’m beginning to think some of them might actually wind up going to jail.

LATE-STAGE SOCIALISM: Blackouts, hyperinflation, hunger: Maduro faces reelection as Venezuela deteriorates.

Since Maduro took over from Hugo Chávez — his mentor, who died in 2013 — Venezuela’s crisis has steadily intensified as a result of lower oil prices, corruption and a socialist system plagued with mismanagement. But as Maduro has sought to further consolidate power in the past 12 months, the economy, public services, security and health care have all but collapsed.

Armed gangs and Colombian guerrilla groups are operating unchecked on Venezuela’s borders. Pro-government militias are terrorizing urban areas, while police stand accused of extrajudicial killings. Four of the 10 most dangerous cities in the world are now in Venezuela, according to a 2017 study by the Igarapé Institute, a Brazilian think tank that studies violence.

Hundreds if not thousands of members of the armed forces are deserting, in part because of meager rations, according to military analysts. Power and water grids and the transportation systems are breaking down. In just the first three months of the year, Venezuela suffered 7,778 blackouts.

Saddled with a soaring inflation rate that has put food out of reach, Venezuelans, weakened and thin, are getting extraordinarily sick. Doctors say cases of diseases once thought largely eradicated — malaria, diphtheria, measles and tuberculosis — are not only resurfacing but surging.

In a nation that lives off oil, production is collapsing as plants break down and the bankrupt government cannot fix equipment. Venezuela’s unpaid creditors are beginning to tighten the financial noose, going after the country’s offshore assets.

[The Venezuelan oil industry is on a cliff’s edge. Trump could tip it over.]

At the state oil giant, 25,000 workers — more than a quarter of its staff — quit last year in a mass exodus. Fleeing workers are joining a flood of humanity, at least 5,000 people a day, exiting the country. The outflow has left schools without teachers, hospitals without doctors and nurses, and utilities without electricians and engineers.

“A failed state is one that cannot meet the most basic functions of government,” said Jean Paul Leidenz, an economist at Ecoanalítica, a Caracas-based analytical firm. “Venezuela now certainly has that characteristic.”

Unexpectedly.

And without comment from Bernie Sanders, Sean Penn, Michael Moore, et al.

The media seem finally to be taking serious note, usually framed around the upcoming election. One suspects they want to see Maduro go because he’s making Leftism look so bad.

UNEXPECTEDLY: I Wrote a Post Critical of Twitter’s New Rules — Guess What Happened Next.

I’M FROM THE GOVERNMENT AND I’M HERE TO HELP YOU: New Research Reinforces Earlier Studies Suggesting PDMPs Are Adding to Opioid Overdose Rate.

A study published last year by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania State University found that state Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs), a popular method used to drive down the opioid prescription rate, do not drive down opioid overdose death rates, but might have the unintended consequence of adding to them, by driving users to the underground market where dangerous drugs like fentanyl and heroin await them. Another study last October by a Purdue University researcher found that while PDMPs drove down the prescription rate of oxycodone, they significantly drove up the rate of heroin use.

Yesterday the Annals of Internal Medicine published a systematic research review by Columbia University epidemiologist David Fink and others that drew the same conclusion. The authors stated, “Evidence that PDMP implementation either increases or decreases nonfatal or fatal overdoses is largely insufficient, as is evidence regarding positive associations between specific administrative features and successful programs.” They added, “implementation of PDMPs may have unintended negative outcomes—namely, increased rates of heroin-related overdose.”

Meanwhile, all 50 states have implemented PDMPs and state and federal policymakers seem focused on beefing them up. This is driven by the mistaken belief that the opioid overdose rate is primarily the result of doctors over-prescribing opioids to patients. As I have written numerous times, the overdose crisis is primarily a product of drug prohibition, as non-medical users access drugs in the dangerous black market.

Unexpectedly!

WAIT, THATS NOT THE NARRATIVE: April was best month in history for U.S. budget, according to CBO figures.

The federal government took in a record tax haul in April en route to its biggest-ever monthly budget surplus, the Congressional Budget Office said, as a surging economy left Americans with more money in their paychecks — and this more to pay to Uncle Sam.

All told the government collected $515 billion and spent $297 billion, for a total monthly surplus of $218 billion. That swamped the previous monthly record of $190 billion, set in 2001.

CBO analysts were surprised by the surplus, which was some $40 billion more than they’d guessed at less than a month ago.

Analysts said they’ll have a better idea of what’s behind the surge as more information rolls in, but for now said it looks like individual taxpayers are paying more because they have higher incomes.

Unexpectedly!

UNEXPECTEDLY! U.S. unemployment rate falls to 3.9 percent — lowest since 2000.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Whisky shops in England braced for Scottish booze cruisers as minimum alcohol pricing hits.

Whisky shops in Berwick and Carlisle are preparing for Scottish drinkers on booze cruises after the introduction of minimum pricing.

Industry experts have warned the new rules will mean drinkers may cross the border in search of cheaper alcohol.

At midnight tonight, new pricing rules to discourage problem drinking will increase the prices of alcohol in Scotland.

Shops in England are already preparing for the surge in Scottish customers by increasing stock of whisky, other spirits and beer.

The law will affect lower-end whisky, as it is the less expensive brands which will be hit by the minimum alcohol pricing, with price per unit set at 50p.

This means that 70cl bottle of whisky (28 units of alcohol) could not be sold for less than £14.

The House of Malt in Carlisle is hoping to cash in on the minimum alcohol pricing ruling. The shop specialises in high-end whiskys but is expanding its lower-end range for Scots hoping to buy cheap booze.

Hordes of angry Scotsmen driving south into England in search of cheap booze — what could go wrong?

UNEXPECTEDLY! Facebook Investigating Claim That Employee Used ‘Privileged Access’ to Cyber-Stalk Women.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Americans Have Little Confidence in Grads’ Readiness for Work, College, according to Gallop poll.

Who could have seen this one coming?

UNEXPECTEDLY! U.S. economy grew faster than expected in first quarter, the first since Trump’s tax cuts.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Broward County Scott Sheriff Israel defiant after 534-94 no confidence vote by his deputies.

UNEXPECTEDLY! Bush-bashing professor has Fresno State scrambling to keep its donors.

I WAS TOLD THIS WAS IMPOSSIBLE: Congressional Budget Office: Trump Tax Cuts Are Boosting Growth And Mostly Paying For Themselves. “Last June, the CBO said GDP growth for 2018 would be just 2%. Now it figures growth will be 3.3% — a significant upward revision. It also boosted its forecast for 2019 from a meager 1.5% to a respectable 2.4%.”

UPDATE: Unexpectedly! “Those who lack any understanding of how the world works are continually surprised.”

UNEXPECTEDLY: Chris Wallace Surprised At ‘How Bitchy’ Comey’s Book Is.

UNEXPECTEDLY: California’s Legal Weed Is So Heavily Taxed and Regulated That the Black Market Might Survive.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Nets Skimp on YouTube Shooter’s Animal Rights Extremism.

Say it with me:

SMASH ALL THE STATUES! AIRBRUSH ALL THE HISTORY! Michael Graham: It turns out the crazy rednecks were right! ALL history has to come down.

Unexpectedly.

And if you missed yesterday: “‘Is there a difference between honoring McKinley and Robert E. Lee?’ the mayor [of Arcata, CA], Sofia Pereira, who was part the majority, said in a recent interview. ‘They both represent historical pain.’”

UNEXPECTEDLY: Cultural-Marxist Left Doesn’t Like Term ‘Cultural Marxism,’ Michael Walsh writes.

Read the whole thing.

DISPATCHES FROM THE INTERSECTION OF 21st CENTURY RELATIONSHIPS AND NAME THAT PARTY: “A grand jury Thursday indicted Bryon Hefner, the husband of [state] Senator Stanley C. Rosenberg, on multiple charges of sexual assault, criminal lewdness, and distributing nude photographs without consent,” the Boston Globe reports, “unexpectedly” omitting Rosenberg’s party affiliation.

UNEXPECTEDLY: IS HE FOR REAL? DAVID HOGG HAD CHANCE TO TAKE THE HIGH ROAD WITH LAURA INGRAHAM AND ROYALLY BLEW IT.

It’s almost as old as Ezra Klein thinks the Constitution is, but Hogg might want to watch Elia Kazan’s cautionary 1957 film A Face in the Crowd a few times. He’s the boy band version of Lonesome Rhodes.

UNEXPECTEDLY: DNC Chairman Equates Census Citizenship Question to Voter Suppression.

NICK GILLESPIE: Hillary Clinton, Not Donald Trump or Cambridge Analytics, Is Gaslighting America: When can we as a country admit that the “most-qualified candidate in history” lost the 2016 election and get on with living our lives?

nstead of nailing down every electoral vote in less-glamorous precincts, the Clinton campaign spent time raising money and running up popular vote counts in California and New York (she won the popular vote by about 3 million). The same take-it-for-granted attitude that led to her loss was on brazen display in her recent comments to an Indian audience, where she explained “I won the places that represent two-thirds of America’s gross domestic product… I won the places that are optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward…. We don’t do well with married, white women…and part of that is an identification with the Republican Party, and a sort of ongoing pressure to vote the way that your husband, your boss, your son, whoever, believes you should.”

Whenever an election is unexpectedly close, there will always be weird things that crop up to “explain” the result. But just as with George W. Bush’s razor-thin victory in 2000, the real question isn’t what put the underdog over the top but how the hell the odds-on favorite managed to squander such a lead. In 2000, Bush didn’t win so much as Al Gore lost. So it is with 2016: Trump didn’t win as much as Hillary Clinton did everything possible to lose. And now we are paying for her loss by being treated to an endless procession of explanations that will take the measure of every possible reason except for her own incompetence, arrogance, and sense of entitlement.

The literal insanity coming from our alleged best-and-brightest in the wake of the 2016 election (undiminished in 2018!) is proof that our ruling class is unfit to rule.

PALLYWOOD, THE SEQUEL: Richard Landes at Second Draft: demonstrating how the MSM contributes to the Palestinian cause by hiding reality (video).

“Unexpectedly,” the MSM and reality have been mutually exclusive terms for quite some time now.

UNEXPECTEDLY: The projected cost of California’s bullet train from San Francisco to Los Angeles has jumped to $77 billion and the opening date has been pushed back four years to 2033, according to a business plan released Friday.

Sportswriter Scott Criscione tweets, “According to math at that price it’ll be roughly 201-Million dollars per mile. Someone is pulling off the greatest heist of all time.”

It’s the graft inherent in “The Desire Named Streetcar”  taken to its most extreme.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Washington Post Writer Advocates for Outright Socialism.

A little late, isn’t she? In early 2009, a publication then-owned by the Washington Post assured me that we were already all socialists.

In the February 16 issue of Newsweek (on newsstands February 9), “We Are All Socialists Now,” Newsweek Editor Jon Meacham and Evan Thomas observe that the America of 2009 has become a more socialist country, and the shift began not under a Democrat but a Republican. Plus: how the United States is turning European; the draw of gangs in L.A.; the blackberry president; why Americans don’t hate the rich; and an interview with the Prime Minister of Pakistan. (PRNewsFoto/NEWSWEEK) (Newscom TagID: prnphotos078747) [Photo via Newscom]

NO. NEXT QUESTION? Is Islam the Solution for Wayward Youth? “If young Muslims in Western countries who get involved in juvenile crimes stop what they’re doing and become observant in Islam, authorities should breathe a sigh of relief, no? That’s what Australian authorities encouraged recently. Things didn’t work out quite the way they had hoped.”

Unexpectedly.

EURABIA: ‘Hair-Raising’: Sharia Law Makes Its Debut in Swedish Court.

In a landmark case, the Solna District Court has acquitted an Iraqi man suspected of abusing wife by pushing her against furniture, pulling her hair and hitting her face with a shoe. The court called the credibility of the woman’s testimony into question, stressing her “lowly” parentage, the daily newspaper Aftonbladet reported.

In addition to stressing that the man “came from a good family,” unlike the woman, the court ruled that the fact that the woman turned to the police instead of the husband’s family “further” undermined her credibility. According to the court, “the normal thing” to do “in these circles” would be to try and resolve the conflict within the family.

The ruling, adopted by a divided court, triggered an immediate response from Sweden’s legal circles.

“This is one of the most prejudiced and strange judgments I have read. Not completely unexpectedly dictated by two lay judges. Still no one in charge who wants to do something about the lay judge system?” former Swedish Bar Association president Bengt Ivarsson tweeted.

​Prosecutor Josefine Dahlqvist appealed the ruling straight away, claiming that the ruling violated the foundations of Sweden’s legal system.

Of course it did — that was the entire point.

And I still think we need a word for cultural self-genocide.

UNEXPECTEDLY. New York Times: If GOP Wins Midterms, Democrats Will Rage at Russian Meddling.

I miss the good old days, when the Democrats simply blamed “right wing media bias” for their midterm losses.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Boston Globe: The Nation’s Toughest Gun Control Law Made Massachusetts Less Safe.

UNEXPECTEDLY: “We Don’t Belong Here Anymore” — Even Landlords Are Fleeing The Bay Area.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Hollywood Enters Gun Debate to Get Its Virtue-Signaling Back.

CAKEWALK SONAR LIVES — BANDLAB TECHNOLOGIES ACQUIRES CAKEWALK BRAND FROM GIBSON:

[Updated at 17.20pm GMT to reflect CEO Meng Kuok’s statement about not charging existing SONAR customers again for cross-grades and also BandLab’s hiring of Cakewalk personnel]

BandLab Technologies — the company behind social music platform BandLab, as well as Rolling Stone magazine, Mono cases, Harmony Guitars and more — have today announced the acquisition of certain assets and the complete set of intellectual property of Cakewalk Inc. from Gibson Brands.

CEO of BandLab Technologies, Meng Ru Kuok said, “The teams at both Gibson and BandLab felt that Cakewalk’s products deserved a new home where development could continue. We are pleased to be supporting Cakewalk’s passionate community of creators to ensure they have access to the best possible features and music products under the BandLab Technologies banner.”

It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster for Sonar users since November 2017 when previous owners Gibson unexpectedly announced that they were ceasing development of the popular Windows-based DAW. This latest news will come as a huge relief to those who rely on Sonar and other Cakewalk products such as the Z3TA +2 and Rapture Pro synths. There’s every reason to be optimistic about the future of Sonar after this announcement. BandLab have past form in acquiring and developing audio technologies — something they’ve done already with AudioStretch, an iOS app that slows down audio and video without any change to pitch for transcription and music learning.

As someone who has used Sonar as my primary digital audio workstation software since around 2000, for music, podcasts, and PJM’s late, lamented Sirius-XM show, I was genuinely stunned when Gibson unceremoniously pulled the plug on Cakewalk right around Thanksgiving of last year, after acquiring the company in 2013. I don’t know anything about BrandLab other than what is reported above, but I’m glad somebody bought the Cakewalk brand, which dates back to 1987.

Related: Speaking of Gibson, “S&P lowered its rating for Gibson to CCC-minus, from the already very low rating of CCC. S&P says a CCC-minus rating indicates that a default is imminent,” CNN reports, adding, “The company has $145 million in outstanding bank loans that will come due on July 23 and another $377 million of outstanding secured notes maturing on August 1. ‘With multiple maturities looming and operating weakness ongoing, we believe Nashville-based Gibson Brands could default on its debt obligations over the next six months,’ said S&P in a report from analyst Francis Cusimano Jr.”

THIS VETERAN FBI INVESTIGATOR MAY KNOW KEY DETAILS ON THE CLINTON EMAILS: But he suddenly and unexpectedly retired a few months into it. Some might wonder why. Long-time Clinton Foundation exposer Charles Ortel lays it out in LifeZette.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Dems Politicize Florida School Shooting.

Ongoing updates on the situation can be found at PJM’s Hot Mic section.

DISPATCHES FROM THE EDUCATION APOCALYPSE: Student Snowflakes Sign Petition To Ban ‘Offensive’ Valentine’s Day.

Unexpectedly.

Related: Woke bros wonder: How does a woke bro get laid in this difficult #MeToo era?

THE NASHVILLE POST: GIBSON ‘RUNNING OUT OF TIME — RAPIDLY.’

“Gibson Brands, Inc. today announced that the company made a $16.6 million coupon payment to holders of its $375 million, 8.875% senior secured notes due 2018.”

That simple statement issued a week ago — at all of 26 words, it’s less than a quarter the length of Gibson’s boilerplate company description that accompanied it — suggests a business-as-usual tone of a company taking care of its contractual commitments.

But the situation facing the iconic Nashville-based music instrument maker, which has annual revenues of more than $1 billion, is far from normal: CFO Bill Lawrence recently left the company after less than a year on the job and just six months before $375 million of senior secured notes will mature. On top of that, another $145 million in bank loans will come due immediately if those notes, issued in 2013, are not refinanced by July 23.

Less than six months out from those crucial deadlines, the prospects for an orderly refinancing — Gibson has hired investment bank Jefferies to help with that — look slim, observers say. And the alternative scenarios look likely to sideline longtime owner and CEO Henry Juszkiewicz.

That helps to explain why Gibson tossed Cakewalk, the 31-year old Boston-based digital audio workstation and home recording software manufacturer it acquired in 2013 under the bus this past November so unexpectedly. (In the non-ironic sense of the word; I was genuinely shocked when the news broke).

(Via Iowahawk.)

#METOO FALLOUT: Almost Half of Male Managers ‘Uncomfortable’ in a Work Activity With a Woman.

Unexpectedly.

 

CHANGE: U.S. jobless claims drop to near 45-year low.

UNEXPECTEDLY! New Minimum Wage Laws Will Eliminate More Than 260,000 Jobs in 2018.

If only there were some kind of easy-to-understand relationship between price and demand, maybe do-gooders wouldn’t keep making the same mistakes.

AMERICA’S LOST DECADE:

Many negative consequences flow reliably from a financial crisis, including unemployment, political turmoil, and piles of sovereign debt. Since the 2008 financial meltdown, however, we’ve seen none of the good consequences—and there are supposed to be good ones. Crashes and severe recessions often are followed by bursts of innovation that lay the groundwork for several decades of future growth and productivity increases. Severe economic downturns can perform a vital cleansing for the economy, toppling unchallengeable market positions and clearing a path for newcomers with disruptive ideas. The economic transformations that followed major worldwide crashes prior to 2008—in 1873, 1929, and 1973—were breathtaking. Indeed, the 1870s, 1930s, and 1970s were among the most innovative decades in history. The 1930s, for example, remembered mostly for the Great Depression, were also a time of great technological progress, in areas such as jet engines, synthetic materials, television, and computers. The 1970s saw enormous advances in personal computing, the digital camera, the Internet and e-mail (via the ARPANET), automotive technology (such as antilock brakes), phones that were truly mobile (even if you weren’t in a car), CAT and MRI scans, recombinant DNA, and IVF.

Yet here we are, nearly a decade after the worst financial crisis in modern memory, and we’ve seen few of these kinds of benefits. Don’t let heady stock prices, record corporate profits, and low unemployment fool you. America is only now emerging from a lost decade. Instead of renewal, the last ten years were blighted by slow growth, stagnant productivity, limited social mobility, long-term unemployment and underemployment, and despair.

Unexpectedly:

CHANGE: Tillerson says U.S. still considering Venezuela oil sale restrictions.

I wouldn’t bother. Why provide Maduro another with another foreign scapegoat when Venezuelan oil production is already cratering (unexpectedly!) under socialism?

DON’T BE EVIL: There’s A Newfound Hatred Of Silicon Valley.

“Unexpectedly.” Or as J. Christian Adams wrote last month, Employee Lawsuit Reveals Google As Intolerant Race Cult.

UPDATE (FROM GLENN): They were warned, years ago. But no dice.

L.A.’S HOMELESSNESS SURGED 75% IN SIX YEARS. HERE’S WHY THE CRISIS HAS BEEN DECADES IN THE MAKING:

Three out of four homeless people — 41,000 — live in cars, campers, tents and lean-tos, by far the biggest single group of unsheltered people in any U.S. city. If you took out Los Angeles, national homelessness would have dropped last year for the first time since the recession.

People left behind by the economic recovery can’t compete with young professionals who have bid rents up to record levels.

In another era, they might have found refuge in crumbling hotels and tenements. But many of those buildings were lost in the city’s post-recession spree of building, evictions and renovations.

The problem has only gotten worse since Mayor Eric Garcetti took office in 2013 and a liberal Democratic supermajority emerged in 2016 on the county Board of Supervisors.

Unexpectedly. And if you missed it last month, here’s California in a single headline: Anaheim to evict homeless to make way for flood-control project and preserve bike path.

The video in the post at Twitchy of ten speed-bicyclists in full spandex Lance Armstrong Tour de France gear and GoPro-equipped helmets videotaping themselves riding past an endless row of homeless tents is California in a single video:

Ayn Rand didn’t write The Return of the Primitive as a how-to guide.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Dodge under fire after using Martin Luther King Jr. in  Super Bowl ad.

And note this:

As Twitchy says, “oof.”

UPDATE: MLK Jr’s Daughter & Foundation Denounce Dodge Super Bowl Ad.

CITING TAX REFORM, Altria will give its employees $3000 bonuses.

Related: Best Buy to hand out bonuses to workers. “The Minneapolis-based chain says that this month it will pay one-time bonuses of $1,000 to full-time workers and $500 to part-time employees.”

Crumbs, says Nancy Pelosi. But we’re sure seeing a lot of crumbs.

UPDATE: Unexpectedly!

UNEXPECTEDLY: A male backlash against #MeToo is brewing.

“I’m getting the feeling that we’re going back 20 years as female professionals,” said Green, who owns her company. “I fully anticipate I’m going to be competing with another firm that is currently owned by some male, and the deciding factor is going to be: ‘You don’t want to hire a female lobbying firm in this environment.’”

This kind of thinking is catching on in aggressively P.C. Silicon Valley, where men are taking to message boards like Reddit to express interest in sex segregation — sometimes labeled “Men Going Their Own Way,” or the “Man-o-Sphere.” How will that work out for women in the tech industry, where they already face substantial challenges?

Read the whole thing. On Thursday, Dr. Helen wrote, “There must be a better method that results in more true predators being brought to justice than a movement like #MeToo that results in so many false positives, but then, that may be their underlying goal. Because sadly, #Me Too thinks all men are guilty.”

And that all women are victims. Or as Megan McArdle wrote last month, “Listen to the ‘Bad Feminists’ — They’re the ones who still believe women have power.”

LATE-STAGE SOCIALISM: Venezuela’s Oil Power Vanishing, Hard Default Fears Rising.

The country has over $1 billion in overdue interest payments, which is more than 10% of the country’s central bank reserves at this point.

There has been no official communication from the government on any other coupon payments and lengthy delays are now prompting review on whether the oil firm has entered into permanent default. If so, bond holders will accelerate and request principal payment. Of course, they will not get their principal payments, at least not immediately.

“The markets will recognize declining probability of payment each day that passes without receipt of funds or notification from the intermediaries,” says Siobhan Morden, a managing director at Nomura in New York.

Defaults stress erodes the margin of flexibility for Maduro and exposes a worse phase of cashflow woes for the bills the country owes in dollars.

Unexpectedly.

UNEXPECTEDLY! Exxon Mobil to invest $50 billion in US over 5 years, citing tax reform.

UNEXPECTEDLY: CNN’s Jeff Toobin Regrets Being Too Tough On Hillary Clinton in 2016: ‘False Equivalence’ to Trump.

Flashback: An internal memo written by ABC News Political Director Mark Halperin admonishes ABC staff: During coverage of Democrat Kerry and Republican Bush not to “reflexively and artificially hold both sides ‘equally’ accountable.”

Two guesses as to which side of the scale Halperin was pushing down on with his thumb back in October of 2004.

Just think of the media as being Democratic operatives with lavaliers, and it all makes sense.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Grammy Awards Ratings Down Sharply From 2017 in Early Nielsen Numbers.

Who wants to watch MSNBC with uglier fashions and a lousier soundtrack?

And astonishingly enough, even worse journalism, to boot: ‘Don’t ruin great music with trash’: Nikki Haley complains after Grammys feature Hillary Clinton reading ‘Fire and Fury’ with UN envoy saying she prefers her ‘music without the politics.’

All of which flows into Iowahawk’s observation about the left’s long march into cultural institutions, pop and otherwise:

Related: CBS fail in progress: #Grammys fans are pissed CBS is showing golf instead of the red carpet.

Perhaps the golf game was pulling in better ratings?

UNEXPECTEDLY! NYT: Weird how for the first time since the financial crisis, the economy is really taking off.

MAINSTREAM MEDIA IGNORES PELOSI’S ‘CRUMBS’ COMMENTS ABOUT BONUSES.

Unexpectedly.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Facebook censors The Rebel’s ad about Christian genocide documentary.

THE PASSWORD IS: LYSENKOISM. Feminist Event Encourages Scientists To Only Pursue ‘Socially Just’ Research: “Got that? They want scientists to only undertake studies and only publish conclusions that will support a radical feminist worldview. Testicular cancer is striking down many men in their prime, you say? Well, don’t you dare invest scarce research money into finding a cure — men already have too many advantages.”

Unexpectedly.

(Classical reference in headline.)

NAME THAT PARTY: Texas Politician Accused of ‘Grooming’ Grieving Mother for Sex and a Ponzi Scheme:

Texas state Sen. Carlos Uresti “groomed” nearly $900,000 out of a former client and grieving mother by cultivating a sexual relationship with her, according to prosecutors in court on Monday.

The 54-year-old Uresti, who has also been accused by multiple women of sexual harassment during his time as a legislator, is on trial for 11 felony charges—including money laundering, wire fraud, and securities fraud—over his alleged part in a Ponzi scheme involving frac sand company FourWinds Logistics‍. Uresti, who served as legal counsel for the now-defunct company, has repeatedly denied all of the charges.

“Unexpectedly,” it takes the Daily Beast 15 paragraphs to reveal that Uresti is a Democrat, in the second-to-last ‘graph. At least the San Antonio Express-News article linked to in the above except identifies it in the fourth paragraph.

(Via Neontaster.)

UNEXPECTEDLY: AMVETS says NFL censored its ad against flag protests.

Pete Rozelle is pretty much doing non-stop 360s in his grave at this point.

BLUE STATE BLUES: New Englanders Have Only Themselves to Blame for Energy Price Spikes.

Both prices and demand for domestic natural gas have surged as people have started plugging in their space heaters. Gas consumption set a new record for daily use on January 1, surpassing the previous record set in January 2014 in the midst of the “Polar Vortex.” Energy prices in most of the country increased 20–30 percent to account for the strong demand before quickly returning to previous levels. But in parts of New England prices spiked more than 400 percent.

Why? New England — including Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island — is the only part of the country that has constrained supplies of natural gas. This constraint is largely self-induced by “above-ground” political issues. Local and state opposition have blocked a number of natural gas pipelines in recent years, with the result that the region hasn’t benefited from the gas production growth in the Marcellus shale formation in nearby Pennsylvania.

Unexpectedly.

MEGAN MCARDLE: Listen to the ‘Bad Feminists:’ They’re the ones who still believe women have power.

Was it only a year ago that Margaret Atwood was the avatar for feminist resistance? That’s when the TV adaptation of her “Handmaid’s Tale” was widely praised for being “unexpectedly timely” (and I poked gentle fun at the notion).

But oh, how time does fly these days. Suddenly Atwood is defending herself from the charge of being a “bad feminist” because she suggested that railroading the accused out of their jobs without any semblance of due process was not, in the end, apt to be a net social improvement.

There is something odd happening to feminism these days, a stark split between its older and its younger practitioners. Daphne Merkin hinted at it in her recent New York Times op-ed on women’s misgivings about the #MeToo movement. Caitlin Flanagan came right out and said it after the comic actor Aziz Ansari was the subject of a humiliating tell-all about a recent date: “Sexual mores in the West have changed so rapidly over the past 100 years that by the time you reach 50, intimate accounts of commonplace sexual events of the young seem like science fiction,” she writes. “You understand the vocabulary and the sentence structure, but all of the events take place in outer space. You’re just too old.”

I have now had dozens of conversations about #MeToo with women my age or older, all of which are some variant on “What the hey?” It’s not that we’re opposed to #MeToo; we are overjoyed to see slime like Harvey Weinstein flushed out of the woodwork, and the studio system. But we see sharp distinctions between Weinstein and guys who press aggressively — embarrassingly, adulterously — for sex. To women in their 20s, it seems that distinction is invisible, and the social punishments demanded for the latter are scarcely less than those meted out for forcible rape.

There’s something else we notice, something that seems deeply connected to these demands for justice: These women express a feeling of overwhelming powerlessness, even though they are not being threatened, either physically or economically. How has the most empowered generation of women in all of human history come to feel less control over their bodies than their grandmothers did?

You could write a pretty strong argument for restoring patriarchy, just by quoting millennial feminists talking about how weak and fragile women are.

UNEXPECTEDLY: President Trump Releases ‘Fake News Awards,’ Crashes GOP Website.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Alec Baldwin Defends Woody Allen Against ‘Unfair’ Backlash Over Alleged Child Abuse.

Flashback: “Anthony Weiner Is a Modern Human Being.”

—Alec Baldwin, the Huffington Post, June 9, 2011.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Soda Tax Sticker Shock Grips Seattle.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Brain-Dead Lefties Blame Trump for False Missile Alert.

Related:

STUDY: The Effects of Rent Control Expansion on Tenants, Landlords, and Inequality: Evidence from San Francisco.

The whole thing is behind the SSRN paywall, but maybe you’ll find it worth your $5.

Here’s the summary:

We exploit quasi-experimental variation in assignment of rent control to study its impacts on tenants, landlords, and the overall rental market. Leveraging new data tracking individuals’ migration, we find rent control increased renters’ probabilities of staying at their addresses by nearly 20%. Landlords treated by rent control reduced rental housing supply by 15%, causing a 5.1% city-wide rent increase. Using a dynamic, neighborhood choice model, we find rent control offered large benefits to covered tenants.

Unexpectedly.

SHOT: Concerns mount as Venezuela closes in on petro, an oil-backed cryptocurrency.

A cryptocurrency backed by oil would be a big first. A cryptocurrency backed by a sovereign government would be even bigger.

But while Venezuela claims it is going to do both very soon with the petro, experts are doubtful the country has the capabilities or the characteristics to achieve its goal.

The petro will be dogged by a major question, “Is it redeemable, in other words, can you take physical delivery?” notes finance professor Stephen McKeon of the University of Oregon.

The strength of any currency backed by a commodity, regardless of whether it is physical or digital, is that holders must believe they can exchange it for the actual commodity. When the U.S. was on the gold standard, individuals could bring their dollars to a bank and exchange them for physical gold.

Presuming Venezuela can get the oil out of the ground — quite the presumption, these days — how would you like to take delivery of the physical product? Gold is useful because it its value is portable and divisible in exactly the ways that a barrel of oil is not.

CHASER: Venezuela 2017 annual inflation at 2,616 percent.

Opposition politicians, whose numbers are broadly in line with analysts’ estimates, on Monday put December’s inflation figure alone at 85 percent, well into hyperinflation territory for which the benchmark is usually 50 percent.

“Inflation in December alone is greater than accumulated inflation (over the whole year) for all of Latin America,” said lawmaker José Guerra.

Venezuelan authorities did not respond to a request for comment.

They were too busy dreaming that their DOA cryptocurrency would restore some purchasing power to the Maduro regime and its flunkies.

HANGOVER: Halliburton Says $400 Million Exposure To Venezuela Could Be Problematic.

Unexpectedly.

DID A REPUBLICAN SENATOR ACTUALLY MEET WITH A PSYCHIATRIST ABOUT TRUMP’S SANITY? “The ‘meeting’ isn’t quite what Politico made it out to be.”

Unexpectedly.

Related: How The Media Mainstreamed A Democratic Conspiracy Theory.

DISPATCHES FROM THE CADDYSHACK NEWS NETWORK: CNN Whines About Truck Blocking Golf Course [VIDEO].

The Secret Service and the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office both denied responsibility for the truck, causing CNN to launch into full-on conspiracy theory mode.

“Today this truck showed up out of nowhere and actually moved at one point when our journalists tried to get a different angle,” CNN’s Ryan Nobles cried. “It’s clear no one wanted us to get a picture of the president golfing.”

The Secret Service responded to CNN’s inquiries about the truck with an appropriate level of snark, stating, “The USSS is in the business of protection and investigations not in commissioning vehicles to block the media’s view of the president’s golf swing.”

CNN will get to the bottom of who the truck driver was – and then doxx the daylights out of him. You know they don’t take any guff from their viewers at Time-Warner-CNN-HBO.

Related:

23: The number of times over the past day that CNN has mentioned the white box truck that obscured view of Trump golfing.

0: For comparison, the number of times CNN has mentioned that Politico report on Obama admin’s quashing of Hezbollah investigation.

Unexpectedly.

Update: “At this point, I think the only way we get CNN off this dumb truck story is if we tell them there are Hezbollah drug runners released by Obama behind it.” Heh, indeed.™

LATE-STAGE SOCIALISM: Venezuelans scramble to survive as merchants demand dollars.

“There’s no point keeping bolivars.”

For a decade and a half, strict exchange controls have severely limited access to dollars. A black market in hard currency has spread in response, and as once-sky-high oil revenue runs dry, Venezuela’s economy is in free-fall.

The practice adopted by gourmet and design stores in Caracas over the last couple of years to charge in dollars to a select group of expatriates or Venezuelans with access to greenbacks is fast spreading.

Food sellers, dental and medical clinics, and others are starting to charge in dollars or their black market equivalent – putting many basic goods and services out of reach for a large number of Venezuelans.

According to the opposition-led National Assembly, November’s rise in prices topped academics’ traditional benchmark for hyperinflation of more than 50 percent a month – and could end the year at 2,000 percent. The government has not published inflation data for more than a year.

“I can’t think in bolivars anymore, because you have to give a different price every hour,” said Yoselin Aguirre, 27, who makes and sells jewelry in the Paraguana peninsula and has recently pegged prices to the dollar. “To survive, you have to dollarize.”

Eventually, every America-despising socialist state ends up pining for US dollars it can no longer steal enough to trade for.

Unexpectedly.

A STRANGE GAME. THE ONLY WINNING MOVE IS NOT TO PLAY.

● Shot:

As part of her Let’s Move campaign, [Michelle Obama] wants to help families make better choices — especially the 23.5 million Americans living in largely urban, low-income areas where access to healthy food can be spotty.

The White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity has identified this challenge of bringing more nutritious, affordable foods to so-called food deserts as one of the key pillars to solving the epidemic.

“We can give people all of the information in the world about healthy eating… but if parents can’t buy the food they need to prepare those meals… if their only options for groceries are in the corner gas station or the local mini mart, then all of that is just talk… and that’s not what Let’s Move is about,” she said.

—“First Lady: Let’s Move Fruits And Veggies To ‘Food Deserts,’” NPR, July 20, 2011.

And what happens if businesses go along with this, and take the risk of installing Whole Foods or farmers’ markets-style venues in higher crime urban areas? As they at the college that gave us the esteemed Senator Blutarsky, you f***ed up; you trusted us. And — unexpectedly! — you’ll be called a racist either way.

● Chaser:

Two professors from San Diego State University claim…that 44 percent of San Diego’s farmers’ markets cater to “households from higher socio-economic backgrounds,” which raises property values and “[displaces] low-income residents and people of color.”

“The most insidious part of this gentrification process is that alternative food initiatives work against the community activists and residents who first mobilized to fight environmental injustices and provide these amenities but have significantly less political and economic clout than developers and real estate professionals,” the academics write.

The men claim that negative externalities of “white habitus” formed at farmers’ markets can be managed through “inclusive steps that balance new initiatives and neighborhood stability to make cities ‘just green enough.’”*

—“Professors claim farmers’ markets cultivate racism: ‘Habits of white people are normalized,’” the Washington Times, yesterday.

* “Just green enough?” I knew Al Gore declared Mission Accomplished on radical environmentalism when he sold off his cable television network to Big Oil five years ago; it’s nice to see his fellow far leftists confirm that.

LATE-STAGE SOCIALISM: Venezuela’s Oil Industry Staggers Closer To Collapse.

Venezuela used to have a diversified economy and some of the world’s largest proven oil reserves. Now they have an oil-dependent economy yet can’t even get the oil extracted.

Unexpectedly, of course, and certainly the fault of wreckers, hoarders, saboteurs, Trotskyites, kulaks, Yankee Imperialists, counterrevolutionaries, and Jews.

UH-OH: U.S. warship unexpectedly docks in Port Colborne.

A U.S. navy warship named for Arkansas’ capital city that was to pass down the Welland Canal for its homeport in Florida docked in Port Colborne Wednesday afternoon due to a reported mechanical issue.

The USS Little Rock, a Freedom-class Littoral Combat Ship, was recently-commissioned alongside its namesake in Buffalo Harbor, marking the first time that has happened in the navy’s 242-year history, according to a website dedicated to the vessel’s commissioning.

The new warship is one of a number of Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) the navy will operate in waters close to shore.

It was built in Marinette, Wisc., at a cost of between US$300 million and $350 million.

It left Buffalo Wednesday morning and after the delivery of two pilots to it in the Port Colborne anchorage, some four kilometres offshore, it tied up along the east wall of the Welland Canal in the city.

The USS Little Rock was headed to Naval Station Mayport, its homeport in Jacksonville, Fla.

There was no word on how long the vessel would be tied up in Port Colborne. The area it is docked alongside on the canal is restricted and there is no public access.

The LCS ships have been almost nothing but trouble — late, over budget, and with serious operational issues.

JOEL KOTKIN: The New Mandarins Of The Deep State.

America’s authoritarian shift did not start with Trump’s election, but has been brewing for years. In the Obama years, we lived under “pen and phone” rule by decree that largely disempowered both Congress and local control. The former president’s legacy to the progressive coalition — paused briefly when power unexpectedly went to the GOP — means continued Democratic support for agglomeration of power in the executive.

This form of executive dictatorship is now more likely to return to the White House in 2020. The notion of enlightened rule from above may have even been further justified by the very fact that what Time’s Joe Klein has called “a nation of dodos” voted for Trump in the first place. The hoi polloi can be appealed to and cajoled, it appears, but not really trusted.

Unlike Trump, whose political methods are both offensive and self-defeating, the mandarins can count on support from most of the media, the non-profit world and the ascendant techie wing of the tech/media oligarchy, what Daniel Bell called “the priests of the machine.” Unlike the factionalized Republicans, the new mandarinate — entertainment, news media, law, software — share a strong commitment to a common progressive ideology.

More important still, the mandarins control most of the means of communication, particularly those that attract younger people. This will assist, as our secular pontiff, Jerry Brown, put it, efforts to successfully “brainwash” the masses. China’s recently anointed emperor, Xi Jinping, admired by Brown and many other American mandarins, may emerge as the new role model. That is, after Xi has shown how control of education and media can work on getting the masses to embrace “right thinking.”

I’m not sure the peasants will be as easy to put down as all that. And the loss of legitimacy by the “Establishment” far exceeds anything that happened in the 1960s.

LATE-STAGE SOCIALISM: Flood of Venezuelans are fleeing depressed country.

“Leaving was tough, but staying would have been tougher,” said Andrea Sequiera, 29, as she waits at the back of the line with her husband Luis, 31, and 8-year-old son Fabian. ”We know lots of people who would like to get out of Venezuela but can’t afford the ticket.”

Although Venezuelans for years have been fleeing the “socialist revolution” first launched by the late Hugo Chávez in 1999, in recent months the trickle has turned into a flood as living conditions become ever more dire — from hyperinflation to acute shortages of food and medicine to one of the worst homicide rates in the world.

In response to protests over the once-wealthy country’s seeming demise, President Nicolás Maduro’s increasingly authoritarian regime has cracked down on opponents, making prospects for improved times less and less likely.

Unexpectedly.

UNEXPECTEDLY! US retail sales rose 0.8% in Nov, vs 0.3% increase expected.

IN A VENEZUELA RAVAGED BY INFLATION, ‘A RACE FOR SURVIVAL:’

The economic turmoil has put families — poor and affluent alike — at the intersection of some very tough choices, bred a stressful uncertainty about the course of any given day and turned the most basic tasks into feats of endurance.

Oh sure – but the sex there is awesome, the Times assures me.

On a more serious note, typing ctrl-F “socialism” on the Times’ article on Venezuela brings back zero results, unexpectedly.

HILLARY CLINTON DISPLAYS HER USUAL LEGENDARY SELF-AWARENESS:

Thursday night, a little more than a year after her shocking loss to President Donald Trump, Secretary Clinton returned to Philly for a promotional event at the Academy of Music for her campaign memoir, What Happened. At the event, which was sold-out but not quite full, with an audience about two-thirds female, Clinton was interviewed on-stage by Philly native and best-selling author Jennifer Weiner.

* * * * * * * *

When it came to sexism and the media, it was Weiner who brought up the elephant in the room, reading out a section of What Happened about the September 2016 Commander-in-Chief Forum on NBC, in which the host separately interviewed both candidates but was notably tougher on Clinton than Trump. That host? Matt Lauer.

“Every day I believe more in karma,” Clinton said to that, referring further to several “men who shaped the narrative” during the campaign who have since been sidelined in the wave of sexual harassment scandals.

Control-F “Bill Clinton” returns zero results, unexpectedly.

LATE-STAGE SOCIALISM: How Venezuela inadvertently became a cashless economy.

The cash crunch is so acute that ATMs now provide a daily limit of 10,000 bolívars, enough to buy just a few cups of coffee. Black-market money changers charge commissions of up to 20% to score paper money for small business people who pay their workers in cash. Banks are running out of banknotes.

“Sometimes, bank tellers will only pay you half of your pension and suggest that you come back later for the rest,” said Marta Milano, who was waiting in a long line outside a state-run bank in Caracas hoping to collect her pension.

Although many nations are moving away from paper money in favor of electronic payments – for convenience and to reduce street crime – critics contend that Venezuela is inadvertently turning into a cashless society thanks to economic blunders by President Nicolás Maduro’s socialist government.

Out-of-control state spending, government currency controls and other policies have led to what many describe as hyperinflation, as well the collapse of the bolívar – which now trades at about 107,000 to the pound on the black market.

Now, there is not enough cash in circulation to keep up with skyrocketing prices.

Another thing there isn’t enough of to go around? “Unexpectedlys” for this report.

MICHAEL BARONE: Angela Merkel and Davos rebuked in Germany.

It’s been a tough era for Davos Man, the personification of the great and the good who meet in the World Economic Forum in that Swiss ski resort every January. The rebukes just keep coming: the Euro crisis, Brexit, Trump, and now, and once again unexpectedly, Angela Merkel’s failure to form a German government.

For a dozen years, European elites who have recoiled from former President George W. Bush and swooned over former President Barack Obama have regarded Merkel as a rock-solid firmament of good sense. Her considerable internal political skills, her seeming unflappability, her upholding of conventional wisdoms, both well- and ill-founded, have made her a favorite at Davos.

Merkel has been the pillar of the European Union and seems to have been the dominant force behind the multiple responses to each in a succession of euro crises. It helps, of course, that Germany has Europe’s largest economy, one mostly unscathed by the 2008 financial crisis — though that owes much to the Thatcherish labor law reforms of Merkel’s predecessor, the Social Democrat Gerhard Schroeder.

By standard political science rules of thumb, Merkel and others in the Christian Democratic Union, or CDU, should have been a big winner in the Sept. 24 elections. The national unemployment rate is 3.7 percent. Inflation, the bugaboo of Germans since the 1920s, is low. The Social Democrats’ leader is untested in national politics.

Yet the CDU and its Bavarian partner the Christian Social Union, or CSU, got only 33 percent of the vote — their lowest percentage since West Germany started voting in 1949. The Social Democratic Party for Germany, or SPD, arguably the world’s oldest social democratic party, plummeted to 21 percent. The two major parties thus barely topped 50 percent, compared to the high 60s in 2005-13 and 76 to 77 percent in 1992-2002.

This, like Brexit in Britain and Donald Trump’s victory in the United States, was a slap in the face of the political, media, and business establishment.

Maybe the establishment would get slapped less if it were less awful.

JUST BE HONEST, MILLENNIALS, AND SAY YOU DON’T WANT KIDS.

Unexpectedly.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Turkey’s Erdogan takes on financial markets again. And may lose, again.

Erdogan triggered a slump in lira assets this week by reviving his long-standing criticism of conventional central banking, namely, that policy makers should cut interest rates — rather than raise them — to stem soaring inflation.

That approach didn’t work in January 2014 when the central bank eventually had to more than double borrowing costs to stem a flight of foreign cash. As the lira plunges toward a record-low of four to the dollar, traders say he’ll be pushed into a corner again if he wants to avoid alienating the very investors he needs to sustain his economy.

“Nobody genuinely believes that high interest rates cause inflation, this is populist rhetoric from Erdogan. I’d be very surprised if he himself believes it,” said Paul McNamara, a London-based fund manager at GAM UK, which sold all its Turkish holdings months ago. “The lira is going to keep falling until we see tighter money.”

As James Carville quipped 25 years ago, upon discovering the limits even the White House faced going up again free markets, “I would like to come back as the bond market. You can intimidate everybody.”

DISPATCHES FROM THE K-12 IMPLOSION: NYC’s high school equivalency program is a complete boondoggle.

Unexpectedly.

FRANKEN ACCUSER: I’m not calling for him to step down.

Does this save him? If his own victim isn’t willing to call what he did a firing offense, Senate Dems could hide behind that as a reason to give him a second chance — if no one else accuses him of sexual misconduct. But what if someone does? Watch the clip and you’ll see Leeann Tweeden note that she’s already received a phone call from a woman claiming that something similar happened between her and Franken.

He’s all broken up about it, apparently. And by “it,” I of course mean getting caught.

Unexpectedly.

LATE-STAGE SOCIALISM: Venezuela just defaulted, moving deeper into crisis.

Venezuela has no other meaningful income other than the oil it sells abroad. The government, meanwhile, has failed for years to ship in enough food and medicine for its citizens. As a result, Venezuelans are waiting hours in line to buy food and dying in hospitals that lack basic resources.

If investors seize the country’s oil shipments, the food and medical shortages would worsen quickly.

“Then it’s pandemonium,” says Fernando Freijedo, an analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit, a research firm. “The humanitarian crisis is already pretty dire … it boggles the mind what could happen next.”

Apparently the only thing Venezuela hasn’t run out of is Unexpectedlys.

Also, this being CNN, “This story has been updated to characterize Venezuela’s government as socialist.”

UNEXPECTEDLY: The Media Doesn’t Want to Talk about the 26th Victim of the Texas Church Massacre.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Sweden’s Sexual Assault Crisis Presents a Feminist Paradox.

UNEXPECTEDLY! The California Marijuana Tax Problem: Why Prices Could Increase 70% in 2018.

California will include a 15% levy on all cannabis sales in the state, including medical pot products, starting in January. Meanwhile, local governments are also adding taxes for sellers and growers that could result in a 70% increase in the price of a small bag of good quality marijuana in parts of the state.

Between state and local taxes, some buyers will see an effective tax as high as 45% on adult-use cannabis in California. Proponents of legalization have long pointed to the collection of state and local taxes on marijuana sales as a big benefit.

The new cannabis industry in the state has a projected value of $7 billion with the potential to collect $1 billion per year in tax revenue. But industry leaders in California claim that the high taxes give illicit vendors the upper hand.

“High tax rates raise prices in legal markets, reinforcing the price advantage of black markets,” the global credit ratings firm Fitch Ratings said in a report. “California’s black markets for cannabis were well established long before its voters legalized cannabis in November 2016 and are expected to dominate post-legalization production.”

Only California could legalize pot and still make black markets more attractive than ever.

LATE-STAGE SOCIALISM: Crisis in Venezuelan hospitals — too many patients, too few beds.

Services are very limited in both public hospitals and private clinics, where shortages of supplies have reduced the number of beds available to little more than 25 percent of what the country needs, according to experts.

But finding a hospital bed is no guarantee that the patient will receive the required treatment because hospitals have less than 5 percent of the supplies and medicines needed to function normally, said Douglas Leon Natera, president of the Venezuelan Medical Federation.

“Any Venezuelan who gets sick here in the country today runs the risk of entering a clinic only to have the relatives leave crying” because “there’s nothing” in many hospitals, Leon Natera told el Nuevo Herald in a telephone interview.

“We have barely 3 or 4 percent of the supplies and medicines [needed], which is really nothing,” he said. “And the showcase hospitals, which receive the most resources, may have only 10 to 12 percent.”

Pummeled by the collapse of the Chavista economic model and low oil prices, the government of President Nicolas Maduro has put strict limits on the importation of food, medicines and other basic goods.

Unexpectedly.

OHIO MAN UNEXPECTEDLY WORKING FLORIDA MAN’S TERRITORY: Feds Indict Ohio Man for Possession of Stolen Missile Warning System, Other Weapons.

UNEXPECTEDLY!  First Read of 3rd Quarter GDP at 3.0%, Beating 2.5% Expectation.

ONCE UPON A TIME YOU DRESSED SO FINE. THREW THE BUMS A DIME IN YOUR PRIME, DIDN’T YOU? Harvey Weinstein tried to buy Rolling Stone.

While recent reports said disgraced Weinstein landed a $4 million crisis mortgage on his $15 million Manhattan townhouse to fund his brewing legal battles — sources tell us that the money was actually arranged months before his scandal hit as he was putting together funds and a consortium to buy Rolling Stone.

But the Weinstein Rolling Stone bid was dropped once accusations against him started piling up after the bombshell pieces in the New York Times and New Yorker.

Considering Rolling Stone’s standards these days, that really is “unexpectedly.”

 

UNEXPECTEDLY: Progressive, “Fair Wage” Pizza Shop Closing Its Doors.

UNEXPECTEDLY! Bay Area hammered by loss of 4,700 jobs: Lack of affordable housing strangles hiring efforts. “I always thought that if I went into the tech industry, I could create a prosperous future for myself. But who wants to commute six hours a day? You should be able to afford a place to live near where you have to work.”

It’s weird how when you adopt a bunch of regulations limiting the supply of housing, the price goes up.