EARLY EDITION: Five Quick News Stories For Your Water Cooler Chat (Tues. Jan 24)

Today's Stories: FBI's Russian collusion; Baby Crisis; Covid in China; Late Pope's Book scandal; Fentanyl Crisis redlines morgues

Here are the stories that no one is talking about … but should be.

1. Russiagate investigator charged … for Russian collusion

Somewhere out there, President Trump is laughing. One of the FBI investigators whose job it was to investigate Trump six ways past Sunday for any possible connection to nefarious financial dealings with Russia never did turn up evidence of criminal wrongdoing on Trump’s part.

That doesn’t mean he wasn’t instrumental in turning up an unlawful connection to Russian oligarchs. It just happened to be his own.

Charles McGonigal, former leader of the FBI’s New York counterintelligence division faces charges of sanctions-breaking and money laundering. He also faces a charge of taking money from a former foreign security officer.

Which oligarch was he working with? Oleg Deripaska.

This revelation will not help the FBI’s case in presenting itself as an honest broker while the House GOP’s Church-style commission puts federal ‘weaponized government’ under the microscope.

2. Japan’s baby crisis

Japan’s Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, has announced a new kind of crisis. They need more children.

With the world’s second-highest number of senior citizens (age 65+), and only 800k babies born last year, Japan faces a serious population crisis. The PM pulled no punches in saying:

“Japan is standing on the verge of whether we can continue to function as a society,” he said. “Focusing attention on policies regarding children and child-rearing is an issue that cannot wait and cannot be postponed. –TheGuardian

The solution he will propose is a ‘child-first social economy’ to reverse the drop in birth rate.

Other countries with similar looming demographic issues may watch with interest. Philosophical Malthusians, meanwhile, will watch with horror. For them, increasing the birth rate anywhere is a nightmare scenario.

3. China has not been handling its COVID outbreak well

Official CCP stats will downplay the seriousness. But some real-world metrics are hard to conceal. Like the reported spike in recruitment drives for workers at Chinese funeral homes.

Anecdotes are not the same as evidence, but one funeral home worker stated that cremations have shot up from about 90 a day before restrictions were lifted to between 400 and 500 a day. If that same pattern holds elsewhere, China is getting hammered. One virologist at Walter Reed has estimated casualties could be as high as 10 Million Covid deaths in China’s current wave.

Since global economies and supply chains are interconnected, it is too soon to say for sure what the ripple effect that many casualties could have beyond what is felt by the grieving families themselves.

4. Pope Benedict’s posthumous book makes scathing claims about how things are run under Francis

Pope Benedict, the first modern Pope to step down and make room for his successor, used some of the time after his retirement to write a final book. This one, entitled ‘What Christianity Is’, was to be released upon his death.

It leveled some very heavy criticism at Catholic culture under his successor, including an ideological swing in seminaries so severe that seminary students have been treating Pope Benedict’s writings like contraband — reading it in secret. Benedict claims that students caught reading his works are ‘considered unworthy of the priesthood’ citing his more traditionalist leanings as the reason.

He considers vocational training at seminaries to be ‘on the verge of collapse’.

Several shocking allegations about practices among the clergy are reportedly in the book, including claims that some bishops permit trainee priests to indulge in porn as an outlet for urges.

The claim sure to get the most attention will be the ‘gay sex clubs’ allegation in which his book is said to describe the existence of such clubs operating openly in some Catholic seminaries.

5. Fentanyl Crisis — West-Coast city running out of room to store the bodies

Seattle, Washington is very familiar with the growing fentanyl crisis. Scarcely three weeks into the new year and 35 people have already died from fentanyl poisoning. And that’s coming off a record-setting year in 2022, with preliminary numbers indicating 710 recorded fentanyl deaths.

It’s a bad sign when King County Medical Examiner’s Office is running out of room to store all the bodies. Overdoses have become the single largest problem the health director faces in the country, with fentanyl accounting for some 70% of those overdose deaths.

Seeing as most of the fentanyl comes through our southern border courtesy of criminal cartels, overflowing morgues in US cities seems like a pretty strong argument to harden the Southern border. Of course, not everyone sees it that way.

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