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The Week in 5

President Donald Trump's longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, leaves New York Federal Court after making a plea deal on Aug. 21, 2018. (Bryan Smith/Zuma Press/TNS)

By Jack Hervela

Center for Disease Control reports updated mortality rates

An increase in suicides and drug overdose lowered American life expectancy in 2017, according to reports from the Center for Disease Control.

With 2.8 million total deaths, America saw a 20,000 person jump from 2016.

CBS News reported this as, “the most deaths in a single year since the government began counting more than a century ago.”

While the increase in deaths reflects an aging population, an ominous trend was found with suicides and drug overdose.

Suicides rose to 47,000, up from  under 45,000 in 2016.

Drug overdoses slowly inched lower, clocking 70,000 deaths, yet the large presence of fentanyl in most overdoses reflects an opioid epidemic America is exhaustively losing.

These rising numbers shaved a month off average American life expectancy, leveling it around 78 years and seven months.

Socio-economic tensions regarding unfit living wages are largely to blame for the rise of suicides and prevalence of drugs. As Science Alert reports, “Men in fields associated with construction and extraction represent lines of work with the highest rate of deaths by suicide.”

West Virginia remained the state with the highest number of overdoses, fentanyl the overwhelming culprit.

Michael Cohen pleads guilty to ninth charge in special counsel probe

President Donald Trump’s embattled former lawyer Michael Cohen entered a new plea deal on Oct. 29 in which he pleaded guilty to lying before Congress on efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

Cohen admitted to muddling the fact that talks to pursue further real estate investment for the endeavor crossed over into the 2016 election.

The plea deal further leverages special counsel Robert S. Mueller III investigation into Russian collusion during the 2016 election as Cohen already has, “pleaded guilty to other crimes, provided dozens of hours of interviews with Mueller and implicated Trump in a campaign finance violation,” reported the Washington Post.

While Cohen is explicitly identified in the plea deal, mention of Trump is speculated to be through the mysterious “Individual 1,” referenced throughout.

Cohen initially said he quit talks on the deal in Jan. 2016, yet the plea deal reveals Cohen and Trump continued talks and briefings on the proposed Trump Tower through June 2016.

“He’s lying, very simply, to get a reduced sentence,” Trump said to reporters early Thursday, also calling Cohen, “weak.”

Figuring how this deal works into the larger probe is still being debated. For updates and key points, visit Politico here.

Michigan Senators introduce bills aimed at reversing marriage laws

State Sen. Rick Jones and Margaret O’Brien introduced bills on Oct. 29 in an effort to set Michigan’s marriage age limit at 16.

WOOD TV8 reports, “The bills would outlaw any marriages under the age of 16. Currently, judges can approve such marriages.”

Marriages involving parties under 16 can also currently marry with written consent from one guardian, not both.

“Under the proposed law, teens age 16 and 17 can get married with permission from both parents,” WOOD TV8 reported..

Besides the alarming fact Michigan recognizes marriages involving some brides as young as 14, the bills aim to level legal marriage age with age of consent, thus the 16 cut off.

WOOD TV8 will be staying updated as Jones pushes for a hearing on Tuesday, Dec. 4.

Climate assessment offers sobering reality

The United States Government published the latest National Climate Assessment on Nov. 23, expressing concern about the direction climate change is taking us.

While backed by 13 federal agencies, the report conflicts with many of the current administration’s efforts to break free of climate agreements and loosening car emission restrictions.

Rising sea levels threatening coastal regions, higher temperatures and adverse effects on wildfire patterns only breach the surface of findings published in the report.

“The report traces the effects climate change has already wrought upon every region of the United States, from nationwide heat waves to dwindling snowpacks in the West. In blunt and disturbing terms, it also envisions the devastation yet to come,” reported the Atlantic in a Sat. Nov. 26 article.

The full report can be found here.

Celebrities found with over $100,000 in unreported cryptocurrency income

The Securities and Exchange Commision charged music mogul DJ Khaled and champion boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. for not reporting cryptocurrency earnings from promoting such investments.

CNN reported that, “Mayweather failed to disclose that he’d received $300,000 from three different ICO (Initial Coin Offering) issuers, including $100,000 from Centra Tech. Khaled failed to disclose a payment of $50,000 from the same company.”

Both settled to give the money back to the SEC while also paying interest on penalties against each respective party.

The SEC also charged Centra Tech. with having an alleged fake ICO.

Khaled and Mayweather both promoted Centra Tech. on their various social media accounts, giving no mention of a paid partnership.

“Social media influencers are often paid promoters, not investment professionals.” said SEC enforcement division co-director Steven Peikin.