Japan Loses Spot as Third-Largest Economy

    AP reports that Japan’s economy is now the world’s fourth-largest after it contracted in the last quarter of 2023 and fell behind Germany:

    Japan was historically touted as “an economic miracle,” rising from the ashes of World War II to become the second largest economy after the U.S.. It kept that going through the 1970s and 1980s. But for most of the past 30 years the economy has grown only moderately at times, mainly remaining in the doldrums after the collapse of its financial bubble began in 1990.

    The U.S. remains the world’s largest economy by far followed by China and India. Russia is now number 11, just ahead of Mexico. You can see the full list here.

    New Car Prices Escalating


    The average price of a new vehicle rose from $39,813 in January 2021 to $47,358 in January 2024. Median income in the United States is about $44,225. Average personal income in the United States is $63,214.

    Crime on the Rise in the Nation’s Capital

    The Georgetowner:

    U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, announced Jan. 26 the Justice Department will be dedicating new resources to combating carjackings and the rise in violent crime in the nation’s capital. “Last year, we saw an encouraging decline in violent crime in many parts of the country, but there is much more work to do – including here in the District of Columbia,” Garland said in a Jan. 26 press release.

    According the The Washington Examiner, Washington, D.C., “ended 2023 with a 26 percent increase in overall crime compared to last year,” per MPD and D.C. data. And, “that included a 39 percent increase in violent crime, and carjackings rose for the sixth year in a row, totaling 959 reported incidents.”

    The High Cost of WWII

    The Second World War lasted for 2,174 days, cost $1.5 trillion and claimed the lives of over 50 million people. That represents 23,000 lives lost every day, or more than fifteen people killed every minute, for six long years.

    Roberts, Andrew. The Storm of War (p. 579). HarperCollins e-books. Kindle Edition.

    Nearly 1m Americans Are ‘Kinless’

    Paula Span writing in The New York Times:

    An estimated 6.6 percent of American adults aged 55 and older have no living spouse or biological children, according to a study published in 2017 in The Journals of Gerontology: Series B. (Researchers often use this definition of kinlessness because spouses and children are the relatives most apt to serve as family caregivers.)

    About 1 percent fit a narrower definition — lacking a spouse or partner, children and biological siblings. The figure rises to 3 percent among women over 75.

    Those aren’t high proportions, but they amount to a lot of kinless people: close to a million older Americans without a spouse or partner, children or siblings in 2019, including about 370,000 women over 75.

    China’s Population Declining Rapidly


    With the number of babies in free fall—fewer than 10 million were born in 2022, compared with around 16 million in 2012—China is headed toward a demographic collapse. China’s population, now around 1.4 billion, is likely to drop to just around half a billion by 2100, according to some projections. 

    Demographers and researchers predict that data will show Chinese births dipping below 9 million in 2023. The United Nations forecasts 23 million births in India, which in 2023 passed China as the world’s most populous country. The U.S. will have around 3.7 million babies born in 2023, the U.N. estimated.

    China has also made it much harder to block pregnancies or to get an abortion.

    French Museums Welcomed Record Numbers in 2023

    Le Louvre had 8.9 million visitors in 2023, up 14% compared with 2022. Versailles had 8.1 million visitors, 18% of whom were Americans. Most, but not all, French museums reached pre-Covid levels of attendance.

    Only the Pompidou Center had a decrease in visitors due to a strike in October. The Pompidou Center will be closed from 2025 to 2030 for much needed renovations 50 years after its opening.

    2023: DC’s Deadliest Year Since 1997

    The Washington Post:

    The nation’s capital recorded more homicides in 2023 than in any year since 1997, giving the District the fifth-highest murder rate among the nation’s biggest cities.

    The 274 confirmed victims ranged from infants to octogenarians. They were killed in homes, in Metro stations and in motor vehicles; they were killed in alleys, in school zones and in public parks. They were slain on streets by acquaintances and strangers and in the crossfire of warring neighborhood crews, in double shootings and triple shootings. They died in the dark and the dawn and under the midday sun in all parts of Washington, from its poorest precincts to its busiest commercial and nightlife areas.

    World War II - Total Civilian and Military Deaths in Millions

    Country Military Deaths in Millions
    Soviet Union 24
    China 20
    Germany 6.6 to 6.8
    Poland 5.6
    Japan 2.6 to 3.1
    India 1.5 to 2.5
    France 0.6
    UK 0.45
    US 0.42

    Source: The National WWII Museum, New Orleans, Louisiana