Search Results

ONE OF THESE THINGS IS NOT LIKE THE OTHER:

● Shot: George Will: Today’s Germany is the best Germany the world has seen.

—The Virginian-Pilot, Tuesday.

● Chaser: Germany looks set to enter a recession after Europe’s financial giant sees unexpected collapse in industrial production.

—The London Daily Mail, Thursday.

● Hangover: Meet Europe’s Left Nationalists.

—The Nation, Thursday.

A movement in Germany that combines nationalism and socialism? What could go wrong?

(Via Small Dead Animals.)

INEXPLICABLY IS THE NEW UNEXPECTEDLY:

But you can be sure that these “inexplicable” errors will all point in one direction.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Facebook still hasn’t launched a big privacy feature that Mark Zuckerberg promised more than seven months ago. “It’s taking longer than we initially had thought.”

The product, called “Clear History,” got a lot of attention. Not only is browsing data important — Facebook uses it to target people with advertising — but CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Clear History himself during Facebook’s annual developer conference. Clear History was an olive branch meant to show everyone how serious Facebook is about privacy. […]

As it turns out, clearing your browser history was harder to implement than Facebook expected. It’s been more than seven months since Zuckerberg’s announcement and Facebook hasn’t mentioned Clear History since.

Tech blogger John Gruber adds, “I don’t think it was hard, per se, but that the entire announcement was bullshit intended to distract people from the biggest privacy scandal in company history — and Facebook is a company riddled with privacy scandals.”

Zuckerberg’s Everything is great! New Year’s message reads like a smokescreen covering a smokescreen.

UNEXPECTEDLY! Trump’s Trade War Comes With an Unexpected Bonus: More Trade.

THE PANIC IN NEEDLE PARK: De Blasio’s plan to safely dispose of used needles is failing.

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to have junkies toss their used syringes into special receptacles has failed to clean up drug-infested parks, and the bins are serving more as suggestion boxes — spreading the message that the city is OK with them shooting up there.

Unexpectedly.

(Classical reference in headline.)

UNEXPECTEDLY: Oil output goes AWOL in Venezuela as soldiers run PDVSA.

In a little-noted reversal of the Socialist government’s two-decade drive to nationalize the industry, the lack of expertise among military managers is leading PDVSA to hire outsiders to keep afloat even basic operations, like drilling and pumping oil. To the dismay of many familiar with Venezuela’s oil industry, some of the contracts are going to small, little-known firms with no experience in the sector.

Combined, industry veterans say, the steps leave Venezuela’s most important company – which accounts for over 90 percent of export revenue – with even fewer means to rebuild the nation’s coffers, pay its many creditors and regain self-sufficiency as an oil producer.

“What we are witnessing is a policy of destroying the oil industry,” said Jose Bodas, general secretary of the Oil Workers Federation, a national labor union. “The military officials don’t listen to workers. They want to give orders, but they don’t understand this complicated work.”

How can this be, when the officers in charge were all such good Socialists and Chavistas?

LATE-STAGE SOCIALISM: Gasoline Shortages Grip Venezuela’s Capital Ahead of Christmas.

Caracas awoke to shuttered service stations and long lines of vehicles as motorists tried to fill up their tanks before Venezuela’s extended-Christmas vacation kicks off. For the second consecutive day, honking messes of cars crawled along many of the city’s main arteries as residents thronged few remaining operational stations.

“I should be buying presents or helping to plan my sister’s wedding, but here I am stuck trying to gas-up since yesterday,” said Greiska Velasquez, a 23-year-old dentistry student, as her Chevrolet Aveo inched along a row of vehicles that stretched two blocks. “Nothing works here anymore, not even the gasoline.”

Sitting atop even more oil than Saudi Arabia, Venezuela has long sold the world’s cheapest gasoline, costing less than penny to fill up a tank.

The Chavistas bought votes by selling gasoline at below cost, and then ran out of gasoline — unexpectedly.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Venezuelans Regret Gun Ban. “Guns would have served as a vital pillar to remaining a free people, or at least able to put up a fight.”

As Kurt Schlichter is fond of saying, an armed person is a citizen but a disarmed person is a serf.

Eventually, anyway.

RELATED: NY Bill Would Require Gun Owners to Carry $1M Insurance Policies.

Since illegal gun owners and criminals won’t carry insurance, let’s call this bill what it really is: A payoff to Big Insurance and an infringement on the right to keep and bear arms.

UNEXPECTEDLY: ‘Many’ of Amazon’s Green Initiatives Will Fail, Company Executive Says.

THERE ARE NOT ENOUGH “UNEXPECTEDLY!”S FOR THIS REPORT: Off-Schedule and Over-Budget, California’s Bullet Train Is Hurtling Towards Disaster.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Cops and schools blundered in Parkland shooting, commission concludes.

LATE-STAGE SOCIALISM: The Price of a Cup of Coffee in Venezuela Is Up 285,614% in a Year.

Instead of celebrating minimum wage hikes in hyperinflation-pummeled Venezuela, consumers now run as fast as they can to buy goods before the inevitable price increases.

In other words, higher wages are as much bad news as good news as they simply mean the printing press will run faster at the central bank and businesses will react accordingly.

So after President Nicolas Maduro raised wages by a staggering 150 percent last week — the sixth minimum wage increase in 2018 alone — perhaps it comes as no surprise that a cup of coffee in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas doubled from the week earlier to 400 sovereign bolivars or about ($0.76).

Unexpectedly.

JOE PAPPALARDO: This Is The Golden Age Of Space Exploration.

Although our robotic explorers are working millions of miles apart, together they’re pursuing the same central mystery: how did the solar system form? Each probe is providing new hard, forensic evidence for planetary scientists, geologists, and astronomers to form a unified view of Earth’s origins, and how other planets could be home to its abundance of life.

“We’ve had missions all across the solar system…it’s been pretty spectacular,” says Tim Linn, senior space engineer at Lockheed Martin who’s division is running seven missions from its facilities in Colorado.

Talk to the NASA scientists and contractors who built these spacecraft and it becomes clear that it’s a great time to be in the space exploration game.

“If you look back through the history of planetary science, there were a few big missions every so often that did spectacular things, but there were long gaps in between the missions,” says Linn. “There was a pretty big push for the early Mars missions and some Venus missions, and then there was the Pioneer and Voyager spacecraft, but there was not a lot happening in the late 60’s and through the 70’s. Not very much happened in the 80’s, and then not too much happened in the 90’s either.”

But concentrating scientific minds (and government budgets) toward Mars changed everything.

Unexpectedly!

UNEXPECTEDLY: Tumblr’s anti-porn algorithm is flagging basically everything as NSFW.

This porn ban is already being implemented, with Tumblr flagging everything it deems to be explicit material. On a purely conceptual level, this was already bad news for many Tumblr users. An NSFW content ban will hurt the livelihoods of artists and sex workers on the site, and potentially lead to a mass exodus of bloggers who want to retain their creative freedom. However, it looks like the problems go even further because Tumblr’s content flagging algorithm is hopelessly incompetent. As soon as Tumblr started highlighting “explicit” content on Dec. 3, users reported having totally innocuous posts flagged on their accounts.

Tumblr and Twitter are already full of screencaps showing random posts mislabeled as explicit material. In some cases, you can kind of see how the mistake happened (for instance, art with partial but non-sexual nudity, or images that a bot might mistake for a human body), but there’s also a ton of content that appears to have been flagged at random.

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Taxpayers Will Pay $1 Million to Tear Down $18 Million Baseball Stadium That Predictably Failed to Rejuvenate Camden. “The stadium never turned a profit and the team skipped town when local officials decided to start charging rent.”

UNEXPECTEDLY: Democrats and media use Bush’s death as cudgel to beat Trump.

Because for the DNC-MSM, the only good Republican is a dead one.

UNEXPECTEDLY: New York Times Celebrates Muhammad as ‘Paragon of Compassion.’

K-12 IMPLOSION UPDATE: School Choice Moms’ Tipped the Governor’s Florida Race: DeSantis owes his win to unexpected support from minority women.

Believe it or not, Republican Ron DeSantis owes his victory in the Florida gubernatorial election to about 100,000 African-American women who unexpectedly chose him over the black Democratic candidate, Andrew Gillum.

Of the roughly 650,000 black women who voted in Florida, 18% chose Mr. DeSantis, according to CNN’s exit poll of 3,108 voters. This exceeded their support for GOP U.S. Senate candidate Rick Scott (9%), Mr. DeSantis’s performance among black men (8%) and the GOP’s national average among black women (7%).

To be sure, 18% of the black female vote in Florida is equal to less than 2% of the total electorate. But in an election decided by fewer than 40,000 votes, these 100,000 black women proved decisive. Their apparent ticket splitting helps to explain why the Florida governor’s race wasn’t as close as the Florida Senate race, though Mr. Gillum was widely expected to carry Democrat Sen. Bill Nelson to victory on his coattails.

What explains Mr. DeSantis’ surprising support from African-American women? Two words: school choice.

More than 100,000 low-income students in Florida participate in the Step Up For Students program, which grants tax-credit funded scholarships to attend private schools. Even more students are currently enrolled in the state’s 650 charter schools.

Most Step Up students are minorities whose mothers are registered Democrats. Yet many of these “school-choice moms” vote for gubernatorial candidates committed to protecting their ability to choose where their child goes to school.

Four years ago, Gov. Scott narrowly won re-election thanks to a spike in support from school-choice moms. In 2016 more than 10,000 scholarship recipients joined Martin Luther King III in Tallahassee to protest a lawsuit filed by the teachers union in America’s largest-ever school choice rally.

Regrettably, Mr. Gillum’s campaign chose to ignore signs that many minority voters view school choice as ‘’the civil rights issue of our time,” to quote Condoleezza Rice.

I don’t regret it all that much.

DID YOU NOTICE IT SNOWED IN HOUSTON? Yes, Houston, as in Texas. According to the National Weather Service, the home of the NFL Texans got it’s earliest-ever recorded snowfall on November 13. Naturally, the weather pundits there dubbed it “Snow-vember.”

But there’s far more significance to the Houston snowflakes than a mere interesting fact, according to American Thinker’s Brian Joondeph. He cites multiple other instances of unexpectedly early cold in the U.S. and points out that “perhaps the closed-minded climate warriors should entertain another possibility, that the climate is indeed changing, but not in the way they are assuming. Data from NASA suggests it’s global cooling, not warming that we should be concerned about.”

Why, it’s enough to freeze Al Gore at an inconvenient time!

UPDATE (FROM GLENN): Are we living in Fallen Angels?

 

NAME THAT PARTY: Lance Mason: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know.

A former Ohio lawmaker, Cuyahoga County judge and Cleveland city official is suspected in the stabbing death of his estranged wife, sources told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Lance Mason, who spent time in prison after being convicted of domestic violence, was arrested after Aisha Fraser was killed her Shaker Heights home, the newspaper reports.

Mason, a 51-year-old former Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court judge, has not yet been charged in connection with Fraser’s death, but was taken into custody Saturday morning, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. Three sources told the newspaper that Mason has been accused in the fatal stabbing of Fraser, who was a beloved teacher in Shaker Heights.

Mason had been working for Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson as a minority business development director, but the city announced Saturday that Mason had been fired. He was hired to the $45,000 per year job after his release from prison following the 2014 domestic violence conviction in a move by Jackson that generated controversy.

CTL-F, “Democrat” turns up zero results until the comments section, unexpectedly.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Men afraid to mentor young female lawyers, solicitor chief claims. “Senior male partners at law firms are refusing to mentor younger women because of fears that unjustified allegations will be made against them, the head of the profession claims. There has been an unanticipated and unwanted backlash caused by the #MeToo movement, Christina Blacklaws, president of the Law Society, argued last week. Ms Blacklaws told a conference on gender diversity that senior men were reluctant to engage in formal mentoring schemes with younger female colleagues for fear they might leave themselves open to allegations of inappropriate behaviour.”

Unanticipated and unwanted.

WEIRD HOW WHEN YOU IMPORT A BUNCH OF ANTI-SEMITES YOU GET MORE ANTISEMITISM: Merkel condemns resurgence of anti-Semitism on 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht. Unexpectedly!

UNEXPECTEDLY: The woke go broke.

If I’m right and liberal America – having worked through shock, denial, anger and bargaining – really is now at the fifth stage of grief, then the good news is the remaining two stages aren’t so bad: depression and then acceptance.

For celebrities and companies, the trick will be to avoid the ‘get woke, go broke’ trap and to arrive at acceptance with life savings and brand intact. The market doesn’t lie: political correctness is a dead ideology. It’s time to get over it.

Read the whole thing.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Thanks Obama: The 5 Prisoners Freed From Gitmo In Exchange For Bergdahl Join Insurgency In Qatar.

“The Taliban are bringing back their old generation, which means the Taliban have not changed their thinking or their leadership,” said Mir, according to the Military Times. “What we are more worried about is if tomorrow the Taliban say ‘we are ready to negotiate,’ who will represent Kabul? That is the big challenge because the government is so divided, not just ideologically but on ethnic lines.”

These men include, according to the Military Times, Mohammed Fazl, who oversaw the deaths of thousands of minority Shiites in 2000. It also includes Abdul Haq Wasiq, who was described as “the most significant Taliban leader held at Guantanamo Bay because of his particularly close relationship with Mullah Omar.”

Interrogation followed by execution is the only proper way to deal with foreign terrorists, who are afforded no POW protections under the Geneva Conventions.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Five freed from Gitmo in exchange for Bowe Bergdahl join insurgents in Qatar, Taliban says.

Flashback: “We will not transfer any detainee from Gitmo unless the threat that the detainee may pose to the United States or U.S. persons or interests will be sufficiently mitigated,” a “senior U.S. administration official” promised NBC News in 2014.

OH: US Sanctions Threats ‘Unexpectedly’ Led To Deeper Economic Ties Between Iran And Russia.

According to a report by Israeli political analyst Dana Weiss, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs has a secret document that describes Russia’s plan to aid Iran in subverting the incoming US Sanctions on the Islamic Republic’s oil exports.

According to Weiss, Iran will transfer its crude oil to Russian refineries on the Caspian Sea. After that Russia would present and sell the oil as Russian and reimburse Iran on the sales. According to the secret document, the plan was made together by Turkey, Russia and Iran during their summit on September 7th. In the summit the leaders of the three countries discussed avoiding an escalation in Idlib.

The document also said that European parties may be complacent in allowing Iran to circumvent US sanctions in order to trade oil with Asia. This would make sense, since the EU signatories on the Iran Nuclear Deal are interested in keeping Iran in the deal and upholding it. After all, the EU has made steps towards assisting Iran deal with the sanctions.

According to Weiss, this is worrying for Israel because Iran would avoid an economic collapse, which will also be reinforced by this new way of circumventing US sanctions.

We just need to find more soft spots to push on, is all.

UNEXPECTEDLY: The Mainstream Media Doesn’t Want You to Watch Gosnell.

As Jim Treacher has said:

BOTTOM STORY OF THE DAY: Mike Bloomberg re-registers as a Democrat.

Unexpectedly, as his namesake Website would say.

UPDATE: This is a much bigger story on Bloomberg: Privately-Funded Prosecutions: Michael Bloomberg Paying “Fellows” to Embed Themselves in State and Local Government to File Lawsuits — With the State’s Authority — Against the Left’s Enemies.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Me too excesses make male executives less likely to invite female colleagues on trips, to evening networking events or into their inner circles. People respond to incentives. If Me Too means that a man’s career and reputation can be ruined by an unfounded allegation of sexual harassment this creates obvious incentives for male supervisors to never be alone with female subordinates.

“PICK THE TARGET, FREEZE IT, PERSONALIZE IT, AND POLARIZE IT.” AND GEORGE SOROS IS A HECK OF A TARGET: Trump goes full Alinsky in the midterm race.

Unexpectedly.

A RATIONAL ATTITUDE: Many Americans curious, but cautious, about gene testing.

Around nine in 10 adults believe genetic testing can shed light on their own health risks, and those of their children and grandchildren, the poll found. But roughly 40 percent feel a genetic test is unnecessary if a family’s medical history and risk factors are already known.

And two-thirds thought genetic testing would cause excessive worry about their long-term health. The researchers added that people who simply want to learn where they come from could be unexpectedly alarmed about their genetic risk for a debilitating disease.

It’s important to remember that genetic test results are not 100 percent accurate, the researchers cautioned. Also, if you take a doctor-ordered DNA test, you can meet with a genetic counselor to help interpret the results. But if you buy a genetic test directly, you won’t have access to these services.

They’re iffy.

PEOPLE FLEE PEOPLE’S STATE, UNEXPECTEDLY: Venezuela Has Lost 13% of its Population in the Mass Exodus from Socialism. “Venezuela’s humanitarian crisis is causing refugee flows that may exceed those of the Syrian Civil War.”

Official figures from the International Organization of Migration (IOM) indicate that between 2015 and 2017, Venezuelan emigration more than doubled, increasing from 700,000 people to 1.5 million.

But the truth is that there are thousands of Venezuelans with dual citizenship who have left Venezuela; just as there are many more that arrive as tourists to their new destinations, and remain there. The incalculable migratory flow began with mass arrivals to neighboring Brazil and Colombia, but has now spread across the region.

According to the pollster ‘Consultores 21′, 40% of the population of Venezuela wants to emigrate; and according to estimates made by the sociologist Tomás Páez, by the middle of 2018, 15% of the Venezuelan population will have left the country, hoping to be able to return one day.

One out of six have left, and there are still shortages of everything.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Study Shows Consequences Cut Illegal Immigration. “Research shows prosecution reduces migrant reentry after deportation.”

As the wise man once said, “Tell me how you measure me, and I will tell you how I will behave.”

SOCIALISM ALWAYS KILLS THE GOLDEN GOOSE. ALWAYS. Venezuela’s Crisis Imperils Citgo, Its American ‘Cash Cow.’

The production of the parent company, known as Pdvsa, has been hard hit by the country’s turmoil. It is struggling to meet more than $1 billion in payments due in the next couple of months on its bonds and other obligations, including compensation for property it had nationalized. Trump administration sanctions are squeezing its ability to borrow.

If Pdvsa defaults, its collateral — Citgo — could become prey. It would be vulnerable to a takeover by creditors, with other oil companies or private equity investors watching for the opportunity to take a stake.

“The loss of Citgo would be the coup de grâce for Pdvsa,” said Gustavo Coronel, a former member of the parent company’s board. “The psychological impact for Pdvsa and the Maduro regime would be catastrophic.”

The financial impact won’t be anything to sneeze at, either.

Plus, a quick editorial check on this NYT story reveals yet another heaping dose of Sergeant Schultzism:

If I recall correctly, the NYT wasn’t so shy about using the S-word back before Venezuela’s inevitable crisis hit. Unexpectedly, of course.

DOES ANYBODY REMEMBER LAUGHTER? PC is Killing Comedy. Will They Ban Laughter Next?

Wait, let me run Jeff Dunetz’s latest post past Sandra Fluke:

(Artwork by Jon Gabriel of Ricochet.com.)

Unexpectedly.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Outrage over Chinese-Canadian girl murdered by “refugee” shocks media.

UNEXPECTEDLY: The Results Are In After Socialist Venezuela Dramatically Raised Its Minimum Wage — It Ain’t Pretty.

Alongside rampant inflation, the government also threatened jail time for businesses that raised their prices. According to the Miami Herald, the combined economic conditions fostered the environment for 40 percent of Venezuelan stores to close after the wage hike.

“It is a perfect storm,” Maria Carolina Uzcategui, president of the National Council of Commerce and Services of Venezuela, said. “These decisions are leading many business people to say, ‘No, I can’t do it any more,'” she added.

Economist Orlando Ochoa pointed to the country’s currency market as a source of economic woes. “The government sector has the monopoly on imports, the currency market is dysfunctional and there’s hyperinflation,” he said.

“So, if salaries are increased by decree, and the commercial and industrial sectors cannot sell their products because of these problems, and on top of that because of electricity blackouts, infrastructure problems and the loss of qualified personnel, which is leaving the country, then it’s easy to understand that many may prefer to close.”

Up next: Directive 10-289.

UNEXPECTEDLY!  Working Men and Women Optimistic About Future.

UNEXPECTEDLY!  Incomes Up, Poverty Down in 2017.

GET WOKE, GO BROKE: Viewership for Miss America 2019 plunges 23% after swimsuit portion is cut.

Unexpectedly.

GREAT MOMENTS IN GASLIGHTING: “Trump has drawn much of the media into a distortion of their traditional roles,” claims Ted Koppel in the Washington Post:

Whether by strategy or inadvertence, President Trump has drawn much of the media into a distortion of their traditional roles. Editors and reporters insist that they are bound by the strictures of objectivity, but the very nature of the president’s character — the preening, the boasting, the torrent of careless tweets and the avalanche of lies, the seemingly reckless assaults on pillars of the establishment — provokes reactions that confirm precisely what Trump’s most avid supporters already believe: The creatures of “the swamp” belong to a secret society from which they are excluded.

For a quarter century, Koppel hosted Nightline on ABC, the network where Clinton Foundation contributor George Stephanopoulos poses daily as being “objective,” and whose former equally objective anchor, the late Peter Jennings derided the arrival of a Republican House and Senate in 1994 as the American voters having a “temper tantrum.” Speaking of Jennings, as John Fund noted on Sunday at NRO in his encomium to the capriciousness that was Sen. John McCain:

During the 2000 Republican presidential convention in Philadelphia, I went to a tony restaurant to attend a reception. By accident, I stumbled into a room chock-full of top-shelf media types: Dan Rather of CBS, the late Peter Jennings of ABC, Tom Brokaw of NBC, Arthur Sulzberger of the New York Times. After a few minutes, I realized I was at the wrong event. It was a birthday party for John McCain. I recall telling Peter Jennings that it was a strange party for a politician to have. As far as I could tell, there were no family members present, no donors, no party officials. In a deadpan tone, Jennings told me: “Well, this is really the first meeting of John McCain’s next precinct-organizing committee.”

But when McCain ran a more conventionally conservative campaign in 2008, competing with the media’s new heartthrob, Barack Obama, the pundits turned on him with a vengeance. According to the Pew Research Center, between the Republican National Convention’s close on September 4 and the final presidential debate on October 15, McCain’s media coverage was negative over positive by a 4-to-1 ratio.

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd complained that McCain had “turned on his former base, the news media.” He now had feet of clay: “Even some of McCain’s former aides are disturbed by the 73-year-old’s hostile, vindictive, sarcastic persona.”

Gosh, whatever could have soured McCain’s mood?

Incidentally, Koppel’s essay arrives a day after Chuck Todd of NBC wrote in the Atlantic that “It’s Time for the Press to Stop Complaining—And to Start Fighting Back.”

Unexpectedly.

“UNEXPECTEDLY”: South Africa Unexpectedly Slides Into Recession For The First Time Since 2009.

LATE-STAGE SOCIALISM: The exodus from Venezuela threatens to descend into chaos.

Threatens?

EVER since Nicolás Maduro became president of Venezuela, the plight of the country’s citizens has gone from bad to worse. On August 19th 1,000 Venezuelan migrants fled from the Brazilian border town of Pacaraima after locals attacked them with sticks and stones. Around 60 Brazilian soldiers are expected to arrive in the town today to ensure safe passage for Venezuelans entering the country. Elsewhere, however, the situation is deteriorating. On August 18th Ecuador unexpectedly began requiring Venezuelans crossing into their country from Colombia to present passports rather than identity cards. Peru will do the same from August 25th.

The exodus has surged under Mr Maduro’s rule, characterised by political repression and grotesque economic mismanagement. Inflation has spiralled as high as 80,000%, making cash all but useless and food and medicine scarce. On August 20th the government will knock five zeros off its currency and anchor it to the oil price via a government-run virtual currency. In a poll conducted at the end of 2017, half of 18- to 29-year-olds and 55% of the middle class said they wanted to leave the country. Of those who hoped to flee, two-thirds gave the state of the economy as their reason.

We’ve seen this narrative before. Notice how Maduro is being set up as the bad guy here, the Stalin to Chavez’s Lenin — the brute who betrayed the noble ideals of the revolution.

Never mind the fact that everything that Stalin …er, Maduro… did was set in motion by Chavez. And that only untimely deaths prevented Lenin or Chavez from fulfilling their own vile plans themselves.

NEW ZIMBABWE: Record Number of White South African Farms for Sale But No One is Buying. “The government’s plan to seize white farmland without compensation is becoming a nightmare reality.”

Unexpectedly.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Millennial Couple Bikes Near ISIS Territory to Prove ‘Humans Are Kind’ and Gets Killed.

“You read the papers and you’re led to believe that the world is a big, scary place,” Austin wrote.

“People, the narrative goes, are not to be trusted. People are bad. People are evil.”

“I don’t buy it,” he continued. “Evil is a make-believe concept we’ve invented to deal with the complexities of fellow humans holding values and beliefs and perspectives different than our own… By and large, humans are kind. Self-interested sometimes, myopic sometimes, but kind. Generous and wonderful and kind.”

However, Austin and Geoghegan’s dream trip came to a tragic and gruesome end when they got to Tajikistan, a ​weak state with a known terrorist threat that shares a border with Afghanistan, where ISIS and other terrorist groups are ​highly active. They were riding their bikes through the country on July 29 when a car rammed them, ​​according to CBS News. Five men got out of the car and stabbed the couple to death along with two other cyclists, one from Switzerland and the other from the Netherlands.

Two days later, ISIS released a video showing the same men sitting in front of the group’s black flag. They looked at the camera and vowed to kill “disbelievers,” ​according to The New York Times.

What an unnecessary, sad story.

ACADEMY AWARDS SELL OUT TO STUDIOS, ADD “POPULAR MOVIE” AWARD, WILL CUT ON-AIR AWARDS IN HALF:

This means the big studio films that are ignored at the Oscars– like Disney, Marvel, Disney, Pixar, etc – will now have a People’s Choice type award. Filmmaking will not be the issue. But now “Mission Impossible” will be in a group with “Black Panther.”

Also, the Oscars will move up to February 9th, two weeks earlier than usual. Which means that the nominating period will be short, short, short. The Grammys won’t be happy– that’s their date– but what the hell. The studios have wanted this for a long time, and the Academy has capitulated.

It’s a cowing to crap.

The on air broadcast beginning in 2020 will also halve the number of awards given on air. This means, like the Emmys and the Grammys, “creative” awards will happen at a different time. No more sound editing on Oscar night, kids. It’s just gonna be stars, stars, stars. How was the movie made? Who cares, really? Find out later.

Well, the end was near. The Oscar ratings keep getting lower and lower. The studios are getting no recognition for their tent pole movies. It’s a very Trumpian philosophy.

It’s also the philosophy of the men who built Hollywood. In the 1998 A&E documentary version of Neal Gabler’s excellent 1989 book, An Empire of their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood, the narrator (actor R.H. Thomson) notes that after being unable to break the monopoly that east coast-based Thomas Edison had on moviemaking at the start of the 20th century, the largely Jewish immigrants who created what we now call Hollywood went west, both for the excellent weather that allowed them to film outdoors throughout most of the year, and for the freedom to build, as Gabler dubbed it in his title, “An Empire of their Own,” far from Edison’s (often anti-Semitic) control. Eventually, with 75 percent of the public going to the movies at least once a week between the wars:

Actors became the gods and goddesses of the new American religion. And where there are new gods, there must be new idols. So the studio heads began a movie guild with the lofty title of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. It was [MGM’s Louis B.] Mayer’s brilliant idea [in 1929] to create the Oscars, where the movie moguls could honor themselves by giving each other awards. In this way, they went from being a group of immigrant Jews, to award-winning American producers.

Not to mention, as one biographer quoted Mayer, “I found that the best way to handle [filmmakers] was to hang medals all over them. […] If I got them cups and awards they’d kill themselves to produce what I wanted. That’s why the Academy Award was created.”

By the late 1930s, the original Hollywood moguls were producing a far better product than today’s endless retreads of superhero and sci-fi franchises, the vast majority of which print money* for Disney. And what do you know – as Peter Labuza of the Village Voice tweets, “So ABC which is owned by Disney changed the categories for the Oscars by creating a category that creates more Oscars for films by Disney. Cool cool cool.”

Odds-on favorite to win this new popular movie award is of course, Disney’s Black Panther, but Mark Harris, author of Pictures at a Revolution, notes that “It truly is something that in the year Black Panther, a movie made just about entirely by and with black people, grosses $700 million, the Academy’s reaction is, ‘We need to invent something separate…but equal.’”

Unexpectedly. By which I mean, straight of out Michael Graham’s Redneck Nation thesis.

* In seemingly endless forms, from the movies themselves, the Blu-Ray and streaming sales, the soundtracks, the toys, the Disney rides, etc., etc.

TRUMP MAY LOSE STAR ON WALK OF FAME, BUT HARVEY WEINSTEIN AND KEVIN SPACEY WON’T.

Unexpectedly.

ITS ORIGIN AND PURPOSE, STILL A TOTAL MYSTERY. Prosecutors: Son Of Prominent Imam Was Training Children To Commit School Shootings.

The son of a prominent Brooklyn-based imam was training children at a New Mexico compound to commit schools shootings, prosecutors said in court documents released Wednesday.

Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, 39, was training 11 children at a compound north of Taos, New Mexico, according to The Associated Press. Authorities raided the compound Friday and arrested Wahhaj, two of his siblings and two other men during a search for Wahhaj’s son, who had been abducted from Georgia late in 2017. (RELATED: 11 Children Rescued From New Mexico Compound Run By Armed Muslim ‘Extremists’)

A 3-year-old boy was found buried near the compound, but has not been identified. Wahhaj’s son was not among the children rescued.

Residents in Amalia, New Mexico, near the Colorado border, had complained for months about the squalid conditions of the makeshift compound before Friday’s raid, according to news reports. Authorities recovered multiple firearms as well as an AR-15.

“Unexpectedly,” AP left out many of those details when they tweeted the story out.

UNEXPECTED HEADLINES: Democratic Socialist Agenda To Cost $42.5 Trillion In Next Decade, Says … Vox?

Now wait just a minute, some astute readers will protest, that doesn’t sound like the Vox we know. And you’d be right — because to Vox’s credit, they offered some space to analyst Brian Riedl of the Manhattan Institute. Riedl also previously served as adviser to Senators Rob Portman and Marco Rubio, as well as Mitt Romney, and did a gig as staff director for the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Growth.

Riedl has extensive experience in estimating legislative proposals and their costs, which comes in handy even when analyzing pie-in-the-sky proposals. Using projections primarily from either liberal or libertarian-leaning resources, Riedl patiently totes up the costs from all of the above to get a final cost for the first decade of Democratic Socialism — $42.5 trillion in new spending.

And that’s before the ripple effects create the need for even more spending, which creates even more ripple effects, etc., until a once-wealthy country is ruined.

Unexpectedly, of course.

DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: White Supremacist Extremists Skirting Social Media Bans. “They ‘continue to leverage social media to communicate, organize, and spread propaganda, despite the efforts of mainstream social media companies to remove extremist content from their online platforms’.”

Unexpectedly.

AND AGAIN: “Last night, Twitter suspended Candace Owens, who has 663,000 Twitter followers, for 12 hours on account of an unspecified violation of the platform’s terms and conditions. Maybe it was because Candace tweeted this criticism of Sarah Jeong:”

Owens posted a series of tweets simply reversing the colors in Jeong’s multiyear jeremiad against whites. “There was no way Twitter could sustain the suspension, in view of the hateful trash that is constantly tweeted by leftists like Jeong. But some low-level employee evidently vented his or her hostility toward conservatism by arbitrarily suspending Owens.”

That does seem to be the ongoing pattern — unexpectedly.

UPDATE: The Daily Caller quotes Owens herself:

“The thing is, I wouldn’t have minded if I was locked out, because I actually agree with Twitter that that language is inappropriate,” Owens said.

“My point in tweeting that and replacing the word with black and Jewish yesterday was to show how different that mentality is when you see it in that context and you see talking about Jewish people and predisposed to burning under the sun or black people saying they should live underground,” she said.

“It’s horrifically racist, but somehow we’ve gotten to a point in society where it’s OK to say the exact same thing about white people, and that’s problematic.”

It’s been brewing for a very long time. As an American Thinker columnist notes, “Let’s all thank Sarah Jeong for showing us what liberals think of white people.”

UNEXPECTEDLY: Israel Declares Itself To Be A Jewish State: Liberals Go Nuts.

WINNING: U.S. Oil Shock: Production Hits 11 Million, Inventories Jump Unexpectedly.

The Energy Information Administration said U.S. output hit 11 million barrels per day last week, after holding at 10.9 million bpd for the prior five weeks. Just five months ago, domestic production topped 10 million bpd.

But production data from the lower 48 states appears to be getting rounded off in recent weeks, meaning actual output may be slightly below 11 million bpd.

Crude stockpiles rose by 5.8 million barrels. Gasoline supplies fell by 3.2 million barrels. Analysts polled by S&P Global expected a 3 million-barrel drop in crude stockpiles and a 1 million-barrel drop in gasoline supplies.

I get the feeling that when summer peak demand fades and refineries have a chance to catch up with crude inventories, that pump prices will fall hard and fast.

Just nobody tell Obama.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Obama, Who’s Totally Not a Socialist and It’s Racist to Suggest He Is: Hey, Let’s Give Everyone a Income from the State for Doing Nothing At All.

Why, it’s as if there was a certain amount of gaslighting being done to the American people by the MSM from 2007 through the end of 2016. And when I say a certain amount, I mean an endless amount, to paraphrase Monty Python’s Vice Admiral Sir John Cunningham.

UNEXPECTEDLY: The $15 Minimum Wage Is Wreaking Havoc On New York City Dining.

This minimum wage spike has forced several New York City businesses to shutter their doors and will claim many more victims soon. Businesses must meet the $15 wage by the end of 2018, the culmination of mandatory increment increases that began in 2016. Restaurants where staff earn tips are subject to a $5 per hour tip credit, but must pay $10 per hour. That is nearly double the 2014 minimum wage of $8 with a $3 tip credit.

For many businesses, this egregious law is not just an inconvenience, it is simply unaffordable. The most recent victim is long-time staple, The Coffee Shop, a tremendously popular Union Square bar and café favored by many celebrities.

In explaining his decision to close following 28 years of high-volume business, owner Charles Milite told the New York Post, “The times have changed in our industry. The rents are very high and now the minimum wage is going up and we have a huge number of employees.”

If only there were some kind of predictable relationship between price and demand which politicians could look to before passing laws like this one.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Turkey’s Erdogan flexes new powers with decrees on second anniversary of coup.

BALTIMORE POLICE STOPPED NOTICING CRIME AFTER FREDDIE GRAY’S DEATH. A WAVE OF KILLINGS FOLLOWED:

Just before a wave of violence turned Baltimore into the nation’s deadliest big city, a curious thing happened to its police force: officers suddenly seemed to stop noticing crime.

Police officers reported seeing fewer drug dealers on street corners. They encountered fewer people who had open arrest warrants.

Police questioned fewer people on the street. They stopped fewer cars.

In the space of just a few days in spring 2015 – as Baltimore faced a wave of rioting after Freddie Gray, a black man, died from injuries he suffered in the back of a police van – officers in nearly every part of the city appeared to turn a blind eye to everyday violations. They still answered calls for help. But the number of potential violations they reported seeing themselves dropped by nearly half. It has largely stayed that way ever since.

Unexpectedly.

Incidentally, Baltimore’s last Republican mayor left office before the Beatles released Sgt. Pepper.

SPACE TO DESTROY: Baltimore police stopped noticing crime after Freddie Gray’s death. A wave of killings followed. Unexpectedly!

On Facebook, Walter Olson comments: “One additional factor that deserved a mention: the federal consent decree by which the city yielded up policy control to Washington over some areas of policing.”

UNEXPECTEDLY: In shocking twist, IHOP acknowledges it faked IHOb name change to promote burgers. “That will come to no surprise to some Internet sleuths, who combed through federal records, finding no proof of the restaurant officially changing its name.”

UNEXPECTEDLY: Texas is CNBC’s Top State for Business in America this year.

California is 25th, New York 27th. John Harwood, hardest hit.

UNEXPECTEDLY: More dogs being poisoned by marijuana, vets say.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Millionaires Flee California After Tax Hike.

Prop. 30 raised the state’s top income tax rate by more than 29%, increasing it three percentage points from 10.3% to 13.3%, which is now the highest state income tax rate in the nation. Prop. 30 also hiked the tax rate on income between $300,000 and $500,000 by two percentage points (a 21.5% rate increase), and raised the rate on income between $500,000 and $1,000,000 by three percentage points (a more than 32% rate hike).

In 2016, California voters extended the Prop. 30 income tax increases, which were originally scheduled to expire in 2019, until 2030. There will be an effort to extend those income tax hikes yet again prior to their expiration in 2030; book it now.

Varner’s new research examined taxpayers who were and were not hit by the Prop. 30 rate hikes. He found that in the two years before the Prop. 30 tax hike was imposed (2011 and 2012), net in-migration for both groups “was positive and roughly constant.” Yet following 2012 and the passage of Prop. 30, net in-migration dropped for households that were facing an effective tax increase of 0.5 percent or more. The reduction was greatest for households facing the highest effective tax hike, according to Varner and his coauthors.

This isn’t surprising for those who are familiar with other attempts to soak the rich with punitive state income tax hikes on high earners.

California already drove out much of its middle class, and now the “regular rich” are heading for the exits. That leaves the super-rich and the poor — a situation fairly described as feudal.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Dems blast booming jobs report, Trump worker agenda, ‘reckless.’

Related: The U.S.’ Colorblind Jobs Boom Under Trump Continues: “It may be a surprise, but President Trump is nowhere near as unpopular among minority voters as the biased mainstream media suggest. Why is that? In a word, jobs.”

Hence the “reckless” freakout.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Fish for flour? Barter is the new currency in collapsing Venezuela.

Julio Blanco, a 34-year-old motorcycle driver in Caracas, said he now allows trusted clients to make payments by bank transfer because there is simply not enough cash available.

“I prefer food as payment,” said Blanco, while waiting for customers at the poor west end of Caracas. “I do services for food in order to survive.”

In the hillside Caracas slum of La Vega, home to 124,000 people, Alfredo Silva offers a haircut for 1 million bolivars, about 30 cents at the black market exchange rate.

He accepts transfers or food but sometimes takes clients to a nearby butcher shop and asks them to buy him something worth the same as the haircut.

In Rio Chico, Marvin Guaramato arrives at the lagoon driving a car loaded with boxes of oil, pasta and corn flour, which is used to make a Venezuelan grilled pancake known as arepas.

The fishermen scramble to swap their catch in a brief and confused frenzy. One of them, Reinaldo Armas, was satisfied to have picked up products for family members in his village.

Still, sometimes he doesn’t manage to exchange his catch for anything, he says.

“Some days, I spend five hours without swapping anything and I have to take all that fish home,” he said.

Socialism — in his case literally — stinks.

UNEXPECTEDLY! Ontario’s Minimum Wage Hike Has Been Disastrous, Especially for Disabled Workers. If only there had been some way of knowing this would happen.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Suspect in Boise Stabbing Spree Doesn’t Quite Match Media’s Narrative.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Obama’s Disappearance is a Myth.

Obama is doing far more to shape the political landscape than is visible. In fact, for an ex-prez, he’s taking an unusually active role in politics, including helping radical protest groups fight Trump and his policies and devising a scheme to flip the GOP majority in the House and permanently turn red seats blue.

From his sprawling DC office not far from the White House, where he oversees a full-time staff of 20, Obama has held regular meetings with Democratic lawmakers, as well as DNC chief Tom Perez, whom he personally helped install to run the Democratic Party. Obama has also met with his attorney general, Eric Holder, to craft a strategy to redraw congressional district maps in Democrats’ favor, according to Politico. Holder now runs the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, which Obama helped his old friend launch.

Read the whole thing.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Guardians of the Galaxy Director Blames Trump, Sans Proof, for Newspaper Massacre.

UNEXPECTEDLY: The Left’s Reaction to Justice Kennedy’s Retirement Is Over-The-Top Unhinged.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Soda Taxes Hit Poor the Most. “Taxes imposed by Democrats have made soda more expensive than beer.”

Taxes levied per ounce on sugary drinks by Democrats in Berkeley, Philadelphia, and Seattle are even more regressive, according to the study. The middle class would pay the most if Congress passed a nationwide soda tax, as two-thirds of its revenue would come from those earning between $20,000 and $100,000.

If an excise tax per fluid ounces were to be enacted, households earning less than $100,000 would pay 78 percent of the tax.

“Sugar-sweetened beverage taxes theoretically offer the potential for reducing externality health-care costs stemming from excessive sugar consumption, and in this way they may raise the prospect of efficiency gains by signaling to consumers these higher social costs,” according to the study. “However, these taxes also raise equity concerns to the extent these goods represent a disproportionate share of the consumption among lower-income households.”

The Tax Foundation analyzed household consumption data from Nielsen and found as income increases, soda consumption decreases. Those consuming the most soda, and therefore affected by soda taxes, fall into lower-income tax brackets.

Democrats hate poor people.

YOU WILL NEVER FIND A MORE WRETCHED HIVE OF SCUM AND VILLAINY: Washington, D.C.: the Psychopath Capital of America. A new study ranks each state, plus D.C., by their psychopathic tendencies. The race for first? It isn’t even close.

Unexpectedly.

GREAT MOMENTS IN PRIORITIES:

● Shot: Watch: NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio tries to enter child facility in Texas.

Twitchy, today.

● Chaser: Power outage triggers mass subway delays.

—The New York Daily News, Tuesday.

In 2011, Victor Davis Hanson warned of “The Bloomberg Syndrome:” “Quite simply, the next time your elected local or state official holds a press conference about global warming, the Middle East, or the national political climate, expect to experience poor county law enforcement, bad municipal services, or regional insolvency.”

Though whatever his flaws and politics, Michael Bloomberg’s era as New York’s mayor is looking increasingly good in retrospect – “unexpectedly,” as they say in his namesake publications.

(Via Stephen Miller.)

#FIGHTFOR15: The First Burger Built by a Robot Is About to Hit the Bay Area.

Unexpectedly.

HMM: Erdoğan “open to coalition” in parliament.

“If we don’t get 300 (seats, in a 600-seat parliament), then the search for a coalition could be on,” Erdoğan told radio host Mehmet Gezegen during a recorded interview.

The AKP lost its majority in elections in June 2015, but on that occasion neither a coalition government was formed, nor did the ruling party follow legal guidelines turning over the mandate to form a government to the opposition.

Rather, snap elections were held in November that year amid severe security threats from the extremist jihadist Islamic State and groups linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group that has sought Kurdish self-rule through armed struggle since the mid-1980s.

The AKP reclaimed their majority that November, and went on to win a tightly contested referendum in 2017 that will grant vastly enhanced powers to the president chosen on Sunday, when the presidential election will also be held.

An unexpectedly strong performance by the four parties in the opposition Nation Alliance has led to speculation that the ruling party could face unforeseen trouble in one or both elections.

Either Erdoğan is trying out a “kinder, gentler” look to help his election chances, or he’s seeking the broadest possible parliamentary support as the Sultan Apparent, or something has him spooked.

THERE’S THAT WORD AGAIN! Weekly Job Claims Unexpectedly Fall. And retail sales are unexpectedly up.

WHY ARE DEMOCRAT MONOPOLY CITIES SUCH CESSPITS OF FISCAL PROFLIGACY?  Sloppy city bookkeeping ripe for abuse, Philly Controller says in audit. “Unexpectedly,” that headline at the Philadelphia Daily News completely undersells the problem:

Philadelphia’s government has the worst accounting practices among the nation’s 10 largest cities, with $924 million in bookkeeping errors alone last year, according to an audit released Tuesday by City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart.

That’s on top of the now-infamous missing $33 million, the discrepancy between what the city’s records say it has and what is in the bank — the result of a failure to reconcile the city’s cash account over several years, Rhynhart said at a news conference.

In total, the controller’s auditors found two “material weaknesses” and eight “significant deficiencies” in the fiscal 2017 books. The accounting terms refer to serious issues with the city’s internal financial controls.

“This is a major problem and needs to be treated that way by the mayor and the finance director on down,” Rhynhart told the Inquirer and Daily News. “If the City of Philadelphia is talking about tax increases, let’s get our house in order.”

$900 million here, $900 million there, and sooner or later you’re talking about real money.

HIGHER MINIMUM WAGES INCREASE POVERTY IN POOR NEIGHBORHOODS, STUDY FINDS.

Unexpectedly.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Yet another study finds that women’s choices lead to lower pay. Generous parental leave options lead women to spend more time at home, which in turn takes them out of the workforce for an extended period of time, causing the gender wage gap to expand.

How many more times do we need to prove that the gender wage gap cannot conclusively be linked to discrimination?

NO BIG DEAL, JUST IRAN FINALLY ADMITTING IT HELPED THE 9/11 HIJACKERS.

Unexpectedly.

UNEXPECTEDLY. Huffington Post’s Luke O’Brien: “No Remorse” For Doxxing Counter-Jihadi.

ALL POLITICS IS LOCAL: Keith Ellison’s Last-Minute Move Throws Minnesota Politics Into Chaos.

“It’s a shitshow,” said one Democratic strategist in the state of Ellison’s decision Tuesday.

In the governor’s race, Tim Walz, who in 2016 managed to win a rural district that Donald Trump also carried, was far ahead in fundraising and had won many straw polls. But last week, the party unexpectedly backed Erin Murphy, a more progressive woman from the Twin Cities, over Walz — setting up a contested primary between Walz and, at the last minute, current attorney general Lori Swanson, who jumped into the race.

Ellison used Swanson’s entry into the governor’s race to announce his plans to run for state attorney general, setting up a competitive primary there, as well.

Minnesota Democrats were hoping to come out of the state’s convention — part of a complicated nominating process that comes before the August primary — with the party’s biggest races settled and primaries uncontested. Instead, they got something of a frenzy, with unexpected endorsements and late entries mucking up the race for both governor and state AG — developments that are likely to suck precious money and energy out of the state’s half-dozen other important races.

It couldn’t happen to a nicer party.

UNEXPECTEDLY: California “motor voter” program registers thousands of voters twice.

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.