Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Birth rates continue to decline

The baby bust that we all know about has gotten worse in a way that isn’t yet widely understood.

Birthrates, which have been falling for decades, declined even more during the Covid pandemic. And they have continued to fall since, according to a report to clients by James Pomeroy, a global economist for HSBC, the London-based bank. It’s titled, “The Baby Bust Intensifies: How Bad Could It Get?” (Sorry, no link.)

Pomeroy didn’t wait for the official data collectors such as the United Nations to assemble data trickling in from national statistical agencies. He went out and collected the numbers from them himself. Some are provisional or don’t cover all the way through the end of 2023, and “some are produced from very interesting back corners of government statistics offices,” Pomeroy wrote to me in an email.

While the final numbers may come in marginally different, they’re unlikely to change the message of this chart below, which itself is slightly updated from the one that appeared in the bank’s report. In most of the countries for which Pomeroy managed to get data, the total number of births continued to fall steeply in 2023. The United States did better than most, with a decline of 1.9 percent. The Czech Republic, Ireland and Poland all experienced declines of 10 percent or more.

Read the rest here.

FBI issues sober warning on Chinese cyberwarfare capabilities

FBI Director Christopher Wray on Wednesday warned that Chinese hackers are preparing to “wreak havoc and cause real-world harm” to the US.

“China’s hackers are positioning on American infrastructure in preparation to wreak havoc and cause real-world harm to American citizens and communities, if or when China decides the time has come to strike,” Wray told the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party.

Though cyber officials have long sounded the alarm about China’s offensive cyber capabilities, Wray’s dramatic public warning underlines the huge level of concern at the top of the US government about the threat Chinese hackers pose to critical infrastructure nationwide. The head of the National Security Agency and other senior US officials are also testifying on Chinese cyber activity in front of the panel Wednesday.

PRC hackers, Wray said, are targeting things like water treatment plants, electrical infrastructure and oil and natural gas pipelines, Wray said. “our water treatment plants, our electrical grid, our oil and natural gas pipelines, our transportation systems.

The Chinese hackers are working “to find and prepare to destroy or degrade the civilian critical infrastructure that keeps us safe and prosperous,” Wray said. “And let’s be clear: Cyber threats to our critical infrastructure represent real world threats to our physical safety.”

The Chinese government has previously denied allegations of hacking efforts.

Read the rest here.

Some not so great news

The Patriarch of Alexandria is getting squishy.

Monday, January 29, 2024

IRS contractor who leaked Trump's taxes gets 5 years

WASHINGTON — The former Internal Revenue Service contractor who leaked the tax records of former President Donald Trump to The New York Times as well as the tax records of billionaires like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk to ProPublica was sentenced Monday to five years in prison.

Charles Littlejohn pleaded guilty in October, and prosecutors sought the statutory maximum of five years in federal prison, saying that he "abused his position by unlawfully disclosing thousands of Americans’ federal tax returns and other private financial information to multiple news organizations." Prosecutors said that Littlejohn "weaponized his access to unmasked taxpayer data to further his own personal, political agenda, believing that he was above the law."

Read the rest here.


Jamie Dimon sounds the alarm over US debt

Jamie Dimon, the chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, recently painted a rather gloomy picture for the U.S. economy, likening the nation’s escalating debt to a high-speed drive toward a cliff. During a panel at the Bipartisan Policy Center, Dimon didn’t mince words about the dire consequences if the federal government fails to address this burgeoning issue.

Reflecting on the economy’s state back in 1982, with soaring inflation and unemployment rates juxtaposed against a significantly lower debt-to-GDP ratio, Dimon pointed out the stark difference with today’s scenario. Currently, the U.S. debt-to-GDP ratio stands over 100% and is projected to balloon to 130% by 2035. Dimon vividly described this as a ‘hockey stick’ moment on the horizon, a point of no return where global markets, heavily invested in U.S. debt, might revolt.

Joining Dimon in this grim forecast was former House Speaker Paul Ryan, who dubbed the snowballing debt “the most predictable crisis we’ve ever had.” The Congressional Budget Office’s latest findings only add to this bleak outlook, predicting the national debt to nearly double over the next three decades. By 2053, the debt could reach a staggering 181% of the GDP, a level unprecedented in U.S. history.

Dimon, known for his straight talk, suggested a solution that might raise a few eyebrows: taxing the rich more. At the same discussion, he emphasized the need for increased financial support for low-income populations. Advocating for an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit, Dimon proposed funding these initiatives by increasing taxes on wealthier Americans.

Read the rest here.

Thursday, January 25, 2024


New York's Democratic Socialists have run afoul of the state's infamously byzantine red tape and may be on the hook for hundreds of thousands of dollars. This could put a serious strain on the party's finances.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Why San Francisco Flushed $1.7 Million Down A Toilet They Couldn't Build

...Fifteen months after city officials were ready to throw a party in the Noe Valley Town Square to celebrate funding for a tiny bathroom with a toilet and sink, nothing but mulch remains in its place.

The toilet project broke down the minute taxpayers realized the city was planning an event to celebrate $1.7 million in state funds that local politicians had secured for the lone 150-square-foot structure. That’s enough to purchase a single-family home in San Francisco — with multiple bathrooms.

Even more confounding was the explanation that the tiny bathroom would take two to three years to install because of the city’s labyrinthine permitting and building process. City leaders quickly canceled their potty party, and Gov. Gavin Newsom of California took back the funds.

Read the rest here.

You know that you have lost it when even the New York Times is roasting your city for its dysfunctional moonbat government that can't build a single seater public relief station with a budget of more than a million and half and spends another half million on designer trash bins that run $12k a pop. (They decided not to go ahead with that one either.)

Some good news from Greece

Holy Synod of Greece: A Loud, Unanimous, Historic “NO” To Same-Sex Marriage

HT: Dr. Tighe

Trump sees warning signs ahead of November

Former President Trump appears to be on a glide path to the Republican nomination after the first two primary contests, but his victories in Iowa and New Hampshire contained warning signs about his potential vulnerability in a general election.

In Iowa, nearly half of those who backed GOP candidate Nikki Haley said they would vote for President Biden over Trump in a general election.

Republican voters in New Hampshire expressed concerns about Trump as well, with one CBS News poll showing 47 percent of Republican primary voters saying they believe Trump would be unfit to serve as president if he were convicted in one of his four upcoming criminal trials. 

Read the rest here.

Who is rich?

The Guardian thinks anyone who makes over £60,000 (around $76,000) is wealthy and should be taxed accordingly. In the United States, that is considered middle class. In some parts of the country, it is on the low end of middle class. 

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Quote of the day: Javier Milei unloads at Davos

"Socialism always and everywhere makes people poorer. It has failed in every country where it has been tried. Failed economically, socially and culturally. And it has murdered more than a hundred million people."

Tuesday, January 16, 2024


(in reference the preceding post) Joe Biden's job approval rating stands at 45% and Trump leads him in a two-man race by around 7%. With so many third-party candidates running, it's difficult to assess who is likely to benefit from the spoilers. 


Donald Trump won by a comfortable margin. The big surprise according to the press/media was that DeSantis narrowly took second place. I was not shocked as I figured it would be close, but I had thought Haley would be take the number two spot by a slim margin. Beyond all of that I think the press, and Trumpists, are misreading the result's significance.

They are all saying that it is proof of Trump's strength. Some were calling it a landslide. I disagree. Trump took 51% of the vote in a state where he has enormous support among the substantial Protestant Evangelical portion of the population. If that had been anyone other than a former president, and twice nominee of his party, I'd agree that the results were decisive and indicative of a near certain nomination. But we are talking about a former president and two time nominee of the GOP. And he ONLY got a tick over half the vote against two fairly weak opponents. 

This was not a ringing endorsement by Iowa voters and if I were a Trumpist with one foot in the real world, admittedly that's a stretch, I'd be nervous over these numbers. If this had been any other Republican ex-president with the possible exception of Nixon, I'd have expected at least 75% of the vote. A not insignificant number of those voting for DeSantis or Haley have made it very clear that they are not enamored with Trump and want someone else. Some have indicated that they will not vote for him in November. Suggesting that they would either stay home, skip that line on the ballot or vote third party.

Trump lost the last election (YES, he did lose) by around 4.5% of the popular vote. He can't afford to actually lose any of the votes he did get in 2020. 

Is Trump still the overwhelmingly likely nominee of the GOP? Yes. But the nomination is only the first step in the election. Those numbers should be a source of serious concern for team Trump as they eye the November general election.

Friday, January 12, 2024


Matthew 7:15

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Vatican official says St. Peter’s Basilica will bless homosexual ‘couples’

Source. (HT Dr. Tighe) 

Let us pause to consider the sheer enormity of this news. 

In light of the Francis pontificate in general, and this most recent repudiation of basic Christian faith and doctrine, I believe the time has come for us to have a serious discussion about how the Orthodox Church should view the Roman Church and the nature of whatever relationship we are going to have with Rome going forward. One thing I think can be said pretty safely. Any talk of restoration of communion is now dead.

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Trump vowed he’d ‘never’ help Europe if it’s attacked

BRUSSELS — One of Europe's most senior politicians recounted how former U.S. President Donald Trump privately warned that America would not come to the EU's aid if it was attacked militarily.

"You need to understand that if Europe is under attack we will never come to help you and to support you," Trump told European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in 2020, according to French European Commissioner Thierry Breton, who was also present at a meeting at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

"By the way, NATO is dead, and we will leave, we will quit NATO," Trump also said, according to Breton. "And he added, ‘and by the way, you owe me $400 billion, because you didn’t pay, you Germans, what you had to pay for defense,'" Breton said about the tense meeting, where the EU's then-trade chief Phil Hogan was also present.

Read the rest here.

Monday, January 08, 2024

Francis condemns surrogate motherhood

Pope Francis has made a statement on a controversial moral topic... that I more or less agree with. I think I need to lie down. 

Saturday, January 06, 2024

Russia on course to lose half-million men in Ukraine

In a short statement posted on X (formerly twitter), the British Ministry of Defense states that intelligence assessments suggest Russia casualty rates have grown to more than 300 per day in 2023. At that rate MoD anticipates Russian casualties will top 500,000 by the end of the current year.

Friday, January 05, 2024

Hydroxychloroquine linked to ~17,000 deaths during Covid

Nearly 17,000 people may have died after taking hydroxycholoroquine during the first wave of Covid-19, according to a study by French researchers.

The anti-malaria drug was prescribed to some patients hospitalized with Covid-19 during the first wave of the pandemic, "despite the absence of evidence documenting its clinical benefits," the researchers point out in their paper, published in the February issue of Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy.

Now, researchers have estimated that some 16,990 people in six countries — France, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Turkey and the U.S. — may have died as a result.

That figure stems from a study published in the Nature scientific journal in 2021 which reported an 11 percent increase in the mortality rate, linked to its prescription against Covid-19, because of the potential adverse effects like heart rhythm disorders, and its use instead of other effective treatments.

Researchers from universities in Lyon, France, and Québec, Canada, used that figure to analyze hospitalization data for Covid in each of the six countries, exposure to hydroxychloroquine and the increase in the relative risk of death linked to the drug.

In fact, they say the figure may be far higher given the study only concerns six countries from March to July 2020, when the drug was prescribed much more widely.

Hydroxychloroquine gained prominence partly due to French virologist Didier Raoult who had headed the Méditerranée Infection Foundation hospital, but was later removed amid growing controversy.

It was also considered something of a “miracle cure” by the then-U.S. President Donald Trump, who said: “What do you have to lose? Take it.”

California’s minimum wage woes are a cautionary tale for the nation

As people rushed to do holiday shopping and prepare meals for family gatherings last month, it was impossible not to notice the rise in prices in recent years. The same is true for the price of labor, particularly for low-wage workers in California — and this is not coincidental.

California’s minimum wage increased from $15.50 an hour to $16 an hour on Jan 1. But some workers will see an even bigger hike. 

Fast food workers will enjoy a $20 per hour minimum wage — a 29 percent increase over the previous rate — beginning in April, and certain health care employees will see a jump to as much as $23 an hour in June, rising to $25 an hour in 2026. Notably, the latter includes not only what one might usually think of as health care workers, but also medical facility support staff, including janitors and cleaning crews, security guards and hospital gift shop cashiers.

The economic implications are all too familiar, as we have seen this scenario play out over and over again. A portion of the increase in labor costs for minimum wage workers will be passed along to consumers through higher prices. Indeed, within weeks of the fast food minimum wage bill, Assembly Bill 1228, being signed into law in September, McDonald’s and Chipotle announced that they would be forced to raise food prices in California.

Some workers will benefit, but many others will see their hours cut and benefits slashed or end up losing their jobs to compensate for the higher costs. Pizza Hut restaurants across the state are already planning on eliminating more than 1,200 delivery driver positions (a number that is likely to grow) in response. And in New York City, which just raised its minimum wage to $17.96 an hour last month, companies such as Uber and DoorDash are compensating by imposing higher delivery fees, and food delivery workers are seeing fewer tips and reduced hours and scheduling flexibility. 

Read the rest here.

How many more times will we be conned by crypto?

Why haven’t floating rate cryptocurrencies gone the way of the Beta recorder? Fifteen years of experience have laid bare their fundamental flaws.  

They have no intrinsic value, offer little to no transparency, and anyone — priest or felon — can issue, operate or manage them. Sometimes we don’t even know who creates crypto coins. Their price is often driven by rumors on social media, and once users lose confidence, with no government oversight, the only way to realize any value is to sell before everyone else does. There is no house, car, securities, company or tangible value to liquidate at the bottom of a cryptocurrency run.  

It should not have been surprising in 2021 when economic reality momentarily replaced irrational exuberance and the price of Bitcoin dropped precipitously. That reduction in cryptocurrency value was comparable in magnitude to the crash of the stock market in the Great Depression. Billions more dollars subsequently vanished in the bankruptcies of FTX, Genesis Global Capital, Celsius, Voyager Digital, BlockFi, and Three Arrows Capital.  

Even in the face of mounting evidence exposing their flaws, cryptocurrencies have survived as crypto acolytes reflexively defend it. They dismiss pioneers like Sam Bankman-Fried (FTX) and Changpeng Zhao (Binance) as one-off anomalies who strayed from the true gospel. Investment experts rationalize a continuing financial faith in cryptocurrency because they see its decentralized transparency and it's a “neighborhood-watch” type of oversight as the future of finance. If that were true, it would defy two centuries of experience that have painted a picture of what makes complex financial systems work. 

Read the rest here.

Thursday, January 04, 2024

For the record

The actor Shia LaBeouf has reportedly converted into the Catholic Church. LaBeouf apparently was drawn to Catholicism while playing the title role in a biopic about the late Padre Pio (recognized as a saint in the Roman Church). He has reportedly expressed a strong attachment to an antiquated form of liturgy that is not held in high regard by the current occupant of the Chair of Peter.