Repo Commentary-8/9/2018

IMG_0226
Jay Leno, my Commencement speaker at 1978 Andover High School gradation.
IMG_0227
IMG_0228
this is my Harmony Group, now voted best in Florida!
IMG_0229
i thought this was a cool cloud i saw the other day
IMG_0233IMG_0240
IMG_0241
Tuesday’s holiday
IMG_0243
IMG_0244
me too!
IMG_0245
Lake Worth, FL pier
IMG_0221IMG_0223
IMG_0225
license to carry in California
IMG_0242IMG_0251IMG_0207IMG_0211IMG_0212IMG_0213IMG_0214IMG_0086IMG_0090IMG_0091IMG_0107IMG_0108
IMG_0246
this is the upcoming Corvette
IMG_0247
The Reagans
IMG_0248
David Bowie
IMG_0249
Ferrari F-50
IMG_0250
Finally, a parking space for men who like grilling!

Hi everyone! I’ve been keeping busy, not only writing the Repo Commentary and exploring job opportunities, but now also consulting on two books.
My Repo Commentary is posted on my new website: http://www.repocommentary.com. You can also view it through LinkedIn and through Global Investors Group (ISF Magazine) website.
If you need to get hold of me, my cell is 646-753-1300, my email for work is jeffkidwell82@gmail.com, and you can also hit me up on Bloomberg and LinkedIn.
Since its inception in 1982, the Repo Commentary does not represent the views of any of my firms and reflects only my opinion and includes only publicly available information. I make a strong effort to attribute any quotes or thoughts that are not my own, I do not make any marketing spiels, and I really am more interested (70-80%) in entertaining you than boring (20-30%) you with too much market info. Feel free, as always, to send me information or pictures. Also, please send me feedback, as I want to make it better all the time.’

Wednesday’s Holidays or Events:

• International Cat Day
• National Dollar Day
• National Frozen Custard Day
• Odie Day (the cartoon)
• National Zucchini Day
• National Psychiatric Technician Appreciation Day
• Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day
• Date to Create
• Bullet Journal Day
• Dalek Day
• Happiness Happens Day
• Wear Your Mother’s Jewelry Day
• Ceasefire Day in Iraqi Kurdistan
• Namesday of the Queen (Sweden)
• Nane Nane Day (Tanzania)
• Signal Troops Day (Ukraine)
• Vore Day (based on a pun between 8/8 and Ate/Ate)
Tuesday was National Purple Heart Day, in honor of US soldiers wounded in battle.
Some Famous People Born Wednesday in History:
• 422-Casper, ruler of the Maya city of Palenque
• 1079-Emperor Horikawa of Japan
• 1170-Saint Dominic, founder of the Dominicans
• 1306-Rudolf II, Duke of Bavaria
• 1879-Bob Smith, American physician/surgeon, co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous
• 1884-Sara Teasdale, American poet and educator
• 1907-Benny Carter, American saxophonist, trumpet player
• 1910-Sylvia Sidney, American actress
• 1919-Dino De Laurentiis, Italian actor/producer
• 1921-Esther Williams, American swimmer and actress
• 1930-Jerry Tarkanian, American basketball player/coach
• 1932-Mel Tillis, American singer/sonwriter/guitarist
• 1933-Joe Tex, American soul singer/songwriter
• 1936-Frank Howard, baseball player/manager
• 1937-Dustin Hoffman, American actor/director
• 1938-Connie Stevens, American actress
• 1947-Ken Dryden, Canadian ice hockey player/lawyer/politician
• 1947-Larry Wilcox, American actor/director/producer
• 1949-Keith Carradine, American actor
• 1950-Ken Kutargi, Japanese businessman, creator of PlayStation
• 1953-Don Most, American actor/director
• 1955-Diddu, Icelandic singer/songwriter
• 1956-Chris Foreman, English singer/songwriter/guitarist
• 1956-David Grant, English singer
• 1958-Deborah Norville, American journalist
• 1961-The Edge, British/Irish musician/singer
• 1961-Rikki Rockett, American glam rock drummer with Poison
• 1976-Drew Lachey, American singer/actor
• 1980-Craig Breslow, American baseball player
• 1981-Roger Federer, Swiss tennis player
• 1989-Anthony Rizzo, American baseball player

This Day in History (Wednesday):

• 870-Treaty of Meerssen-King Louis the German and his half-brother Charles the Bald partition the Middle Frankish Kingdom into two larger east and west divisions.
• 1220-Sweden is defeated by Estonian tribes in the Battle of Lihula.
• 1503-King James IV of Scotland marries Margaret Tudor, daughter of King Henry VII of England in Edinburgh, Scotland.
• 1576-the cornerstone for Tycho Brahe’s Uraniborg observatory is laid on the island of Hven.
• 1585-John Davis entered Cumberland Sound in search of the Northwest Passage.
• 1585-Anglo-Spanish War-the Battle of Gravelines’ naval engagement ends, ending the Spanish Armada’s attempt to invade England.
• 1648-Mehmed IV succeeds Ibrahim I as Ottoman Emperor.
• 1709-Bartolomeu de Gusmao demonstrates the lifting power of hot air in an audience before the king of Portugal in Lisbon.
• 1786-Mont Blanc on the French-Italian border is climbed for the first time by Jacques Balmat and Dr. Michel-Gabriel Paccard.
• 1844-the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, headed by Brigham Young, is reaffirmed as the leading body of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
• 1863-American Civil War-following his defeat in the Battle of Gettysburg, Gen. Robert E. Lee sends a letter of resignation to Confederate President Jefferson Davis (which is refused upon receipt).
• 1876-Thomas Edison receives a patent for his mimeograph.
• 1908-Wilbur Wright makes his first flight at a racecourse at Le Mans, France. It is the Wright Brothers first public flight.
• 1918-WWI-the Battle of Amiens begins a string of almost continuous Allied victories with a push through the German front lines in the Hundred Days Offensive.
• 1929-the German airship Graf Zeppelin begins a round-the-world flight.
• 1942-Quit India Movement is launched in India against the British rule in response to Mohandas Gandhi’s call for swaraj or complete independence.
• 1945-the London Charter is signed by France, the UK, the Soviet Union, and the US, establishing the laws and procedures for the Nuremburg trials.
• 1946-the first flight of the Convair B-36, the world’s first mass-produced nuclear weapon delivery vehicle, the heaviest mass-produced piston-engined aircraft, with the longest wingspan of any military aircraft, and the first bomber with intercontinental range.
• 1963-the Great Train Robbery-in England, a gang of 15 train robbers steals GBP 2.6 million in bank notes.
• 1967-the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is founded by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.
• 1989-at a zebra crossing in London, photographer Iain Macmillan takes the iconic photo that becomes the cover image of the Beatles’ album “Abbey Road”. (I used to have a signed copy of that album)
• 1969-the Manson Family commits the Tate murders.
• 1973-Kim Dae-Jung, a South Korean politician and later president of South Korea, is kidnapped.
• 1974-President Richard Nixon, in a nationwide television address, announces his resignation from the office of President of the Unites States, effective noon the next day.
• 1988-the 8888 Uprising begins in Rangoon (Yangon), Burma (Myanmar). Let by students, hundreds of thousands join in nationwide protests against the one-party regime. On 9/18, the demonstrations end in a military crackdown which killed thousands.
• 1989-Space Shuttle STS-28 Mission Columbia takes off on a secret 5-day military mission.
• 1990-Iraq begins occupation of Kuwait and the state is annexed to Iraq. This would lead to the Gulf War shortly afterward.
• 2000-US Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley is raised to the surface after 136 years on the ocean floor and 30 years after it discovery by undersea explorer E. Lee Spence.
• 2007-an EF2 tornado touches down in Kings County and Richmond County, NY, the most powerful tornado in NY to date and the first in Brooklyn since 1889.
• 2008-a EuroCity express train en route from Krakow, Poland to Prague, Czech Republic strikes a part of motorway bridge that had fallen onto the railroad track near Studenka railway station in the Czech Republic and derails, killing 8 people and injuring 64 others.
• 2010-China Floods-a mudslide in Zhugqu County, Gansu, China kills more than 1400 people.
• 2013-a suicide bombing at a funeral in the Pakistani city of Quetta kills at least 31 people.
• 2016-terrorists attack a government hospital in Quetta, Pakistan with a suicide blast and shooting, killing between 70 and 94 people, and injuring around 130 others.

Fun Fact of the Day:

In the 1970s, the US Air Force had plans to build an aircraft carrier from a Boeing 747, effectively creating a mothership.

Daily Affirmation/Thought/Pun/Quote:

“I never think of the future—it comes soon enough.”—Albert Einstein

International and Commodity Markets:

Oil prices on 7/25 were at $69.52/barrel. Today, they closed at $66.78, significantly lower. However, that has not translated to lower gasoline after at my West Palm Beach gas station, which actually inched up this week to $2.74. However, it varies wildly in Palm Beach County from $2.68 to $3.45, so you have to be careful. The USD versus the Yen is trading at $110.96, unchanged from where it was 7/26. The USD was at 1.1613 versus the Euro, stronger since 7/25. The USD is enormously since 7/25 against the GBP, at $1.2884. The USD is slightly down versus the CAD to $1.3018 since 7/25. Gold closed today at $1213.97/ounce, down somewhat from 7/25. Bitcoin was trading 7/9 at $6,717.99 and at $6,669.97 on 7/17. Then, it jumped to $8185.21 on 7/25. Today, it has collapsed to $6,300.01, barely above the $6000 water-line. The SEC delayed ETF decision has sent bitcoin price lower. Observers believe that the PBOC has not deliberately let yuan depreciate in the trade war with with the US. Turkey’s lira hit another record low.

Saudi Arabia Orders Its Fund Managers to Dump Canadian Assets. Saudi Arabia is ordering its citizens to leave Canada, selling its financial assets there and freezing trade between the two countries as part of an extraordinary diplomatic spat that has brought into global view the kingdom’s extreme sensitivity to Western criticism. WSJ

Discrepancy Over Saudi Oil Data Could Rattle Markets. Saudi Arabia has pressed independent energy analysts to alter their estimates of its oil production, people familiar with the matter said, a move that could put it in conflict with other members of the fractious Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. The world’s largest oil exporter has told OPEC it cut output in July, according to delegates, but estimates from the U.S. government and independent agencies say it boosted production—amounting to a huge difference of as much as half a million barrels a day. WSJ,

China Retaliates With New Tariffs, Hunkering Down for a Long Trade Fight.Beijing warned it would match the Trump administration step for step should it move ahead with new tariffs on Chinese imports, as trade data showed the country is shoring up its economy for a long trade conflict with the U.S. China’s Ministry of Commerce on Wednesday criticized the U.S.’s plan to impose new 25% tariffs on $16 billion in Chinese goods on Aug. 23, and released an updated list of items it would target with similar tariffs that would go into effect the same day. WSJ

Global Financial News:

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon said the US 10-year Treasury yield could hit 5.00%. In unrelated news, Global Investor announced that JPMorgan was looking to unload its stake in utility EquiLend. Several firms, particularly in the securities finance space, are expected to bid. Glencore reported a record first half profit. China Tower has now listed on the Hong Kong exchange, as has BeiGene. FSB and standard-setting agencies are consulting on effects of regulatory reforms on incentives to centrally clear OTC derivatives, per Finadium. Thomson Reuters has boosted its US Treasury and Interst Rate Swaps pricing solutions through a collaboration with Dealerweb and ICAP. Fidelity has begun no-fee ETFs per Sec Fin Monitor. US Treasury issued its 4th report in their series “A Financial System That Creates Economic Opportunities” and this one focuses on fintech. Requests for municipal CUSIP identifiers were down last month, after rising for 4 months in a row, according to CUSIP Global Services, while the overall total of municipal securities declined 28.9% and seems to show a near-term decrease in the issuance of new securities. Yesterday, New York City’s GO bond offering increased supply to the municipal bond market. Dun & Bradstreet has agreed to be taken private for $6.5 billion by an investor group headed by CC Capital, Cannae Holdings, and funds associated with Thomas H. Lee Partners, according to Reuters. FSB is warning that the Supplementary Leverage Ratio under Basel III could inadvertently discourage banks from centrally clearing derivatives on behalf of customers. According to an analysis by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the Fed’s MBS portfolio reduces the broader market’s exposure to prepayment risk. The Treasury Department has published proposed rules regarding a provision in the tax law that allows a 20% deduction for pass-through businesses. Many “specified service” businesses, such as investment managers, financial advisers and physicians, would not be eligible for the tax break, according to the WSJ. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are urging the Federal Reserve to revamp the CCAR to let bank balance sheets shrink, rather than remain static, during stress. The US Treasury’s Office of Financial Research is reportedly going to under job cuts, according to Reuters.

US Market News:

The Dow Jones closed down 45.16 points on Wednesday, leaving it at 25,583.75. S&P500 was nearly unchanged at 2857.70. Credit Suisse said that options investors are focusing on bullish call options on the S&P 500, as it is sitting around its second-highest close ever, per the WSJ. S&P 500 is only 15 points away from its all-time high, which was set in January. Nasdaq was up 4.06 points to 7888.33. Nasdaq is up more than 16% in 2018. Since we last looked 7/25, US Treasuries are mixed in yield, with 2yr at 2.668% (unchanged), 3yr at 2.761% (up almost 1bp), 5yr at 2.831% (down 1bp), 7yr at 2.912% (down 2bp), 10yr at 2.96% (down 1bp), and 30yr at 3.011% (up almost 2bp). Yesterday, the US sold a record amount, $26 billion, of 10-year notes. The auction was $1 billion larger than the auction in May.

Housing News:

Today we get news on Canada housing starts in July and most are expecting a 13.4% drop, retracing most of June’s gains. Yesterday’s building permits report seemed to confirm that. In the US, New Home Prices come out today and are expected to be flat in June, trimming the annual rate to only 0.7%, a far cry from the pace of 2017’s 9-year high.

Pricey Housing Markets in West Are Cooling Off Most Quickly. Western states experienced the sharpest decline for existing-home sales in the second quarter, a sign that rising prices, higher mortgage rates and, to a limited extent, the new tax law are weighing on pricier markets. WSJ

Repo News:  
It has been interesting watching repo funding rates, Fed Funds, and the SOFR. It’s interesting that SOFR is trading closer to O/N Fed Funds rate than to O/N GC Repo, which is because it is more heavily weighted in its calculation on the huge Triparty Repo component of the market, which is pure/lowest offer-side rate of Repo. It does not include the peer-to-peer, all-to-all electronic an OTC component. Until it does, it will always shade to the offer-side, lower rate, like Fed Funds. But, as Scott Skyrm asks, was that the purpose of the Fed, to create a secured O/N funding rate that was close to its Fed Funds rate? GC Treasury collateral has been trading O/N at the dealers at a 1.956% average and Agy MBS collateral has been trading O/N at the dealers about 5bp higher. However, SOFR is at 1.86% and Fed Funds were at 1.91%. Let’s back up a minute, it is worth noting that a) we are talking about dealer offer-side rates (not mid-market repo rates as I used to) and b) the MBS vs Treasury spread had averaged 1.7bp on the offer-side from Dealers since the beginning of 2016, and that has blown out in August to nearly 5bp. The really interesting thing is that many repo market participants are unsure why that happened. I think the number one reason has been the increase and decrease of the issuance of the two products and the repo cash preference lately for more just US Treasuries. There could be a reason deeper in investor and dealer positioning outright more MBS securities as a percentage of Treasuries. Wrightson points out that US Treasury issuance is projected to be a net reduction between the beginning of September and October, ending the cycle of ever-increasing issuance.

Securities Lending Times has been reporting that the first direct beneficial owner trade has been settled through cooperation of six organizations, including EquiLend Clearing Services, Eurex, BNY Mellon, Euroclear, PGGM, and Morgan Stanley.

I see the Repo and Securities Lending market as having changed in many permanent ways. We traditionally had a credit intermediator, the broker/dealers (originally just the primary broker/dealers) and later prime brokers, who were the pipeline through their respective repo matched books for collateral providers to trade with cash providers, without the two sides ever knowing about each other or facing each other. That lack of knowledge of the other side of the repo matched book came at a couple of costs, first, the bid/offer spread that went to the dealers and second, the defaults of the Financial Crisis and the impact on some of the dealers that then cost their clients. Clearly, with that pipeline becoming severely crimped by post-Financial Crisis regulatory reforms, consolidation and bankruptcies, and the resulting drop of about 60% in balance sheets being used for broker/dealer respective repo matched books, new pathways/pipelines needed to be found for cash provider and collateral provider clients. AVM’s Direct Repo™ was the first of one of such pathways. Since then, other pathways to these markets have been created, including: the Federal Reserve’s RRP program with cash providers, peer-to-peer financing as reported on Treasury OFR’s website between MMFs and Insurance Companies, As Agent repo through seclending agents and now some prime brokers, direct lending from beneficial owner to hedge funds who are short, indemnified As Agent repo, buyside to buyside Triparty Repo through two international clearing organizations, electronic all-to-all repo on a few electronic trading platforms like Elixium and BNY DBVX, FICC’s sponsored repo and cleared repo products to entice certain sectors of the buyside into that CCP, and other Repo and/or Seclending CCPs (several still being worked on, particularly in Europe). I believe this evolution will continue and eventually we will see all of these pathways used, including the traditional pathway (to probably a lesser than historical degree) through the broker/dealers and prime brokers.

Upcoming Repo Industry Conferences: 
 

• IMN will hold its 23rd annual European Beneficial Owners’ International Securities Finance & Collateral Management Conference in London, 9/12-9/13. I’ve attended this before.
• IMN will hold its 24th annual ABS East Conference in Miami Beach, on 9/23-25. I’ve attended this before.
• National Association of State Treasurers (NAST) will hold its Annual Conference in Scottsdale, AZ on 9/30-10/3. I’ve been invited to this before.
• SIFMA-will hold its Annual Meeting in Washington, DC on 10/1-10/2.
• Risk Management Association (RMA) will hold the 35th annual RMA Conference on Securities Lending in Key Biscayne, FL on 10/8-10/11. I will be there, I don’t want to break my streak of attending every one of them!
• Finadium will hold its 2nd annual Rates & Repo conference in NYC 11/5. I’m thinking of going to this one too. I have moderated/sponsored this one before.
• Association of Financial Professionals (AFP) is holding its annual Treasury & Finance conference in Chicago on 11/4-11/7.
• RISK USA will hold 24th annual conference in NYC 11/7-11/9. I have chaired/moderated this one before.

Federal Reserve News:

Fed Funds, which trade mostly between some banks and GSEs, opened today at 1.91%.

The next FOMC meetings are: 9/20/18, 11/1/18, 12/13/18, 1/30/19, 3/20/19, 5/1/19, 6/19/19, 7/31/19, 9/18/19, 10/30/19, 12/11/19, 1/29/20 (reflecting the Fed’s just announced tentative schedule for 2019).

The Federal Reserve’s Reverse Repo Facility (RRP), which has over 300 approved participants (16 banks, 14 GSEs, 101 money market funds from various fund families), is now set at the rate of 1.75%. The Fed is currently only repoing out US Treasuries from its portfolio and typically only Overnight. Remember when RRP was trading at year-end for $465 billion? Well, on 5/15, there was only $20 million in bids submitted. MMF cash and GSE cash has moved out of the Fed’s RRP and into the Repo market, but it hasn’t really brought down the GC repo rate, which is strange.

If you are wondering about RRP, it is nearly extinct. In July, excluding month-end, volume averaged only $2.8 billion per day. As Scott Skyrm says, it has just become a mechanism for the Fed to supply collateral when its scarce for money market funds on month-ends and quarter-ends, as dealer balance sheets dry up at those times.

Earthquakes and Volcanoes:

Sunday night, a 6.9 magnitude quake hit the popular tourist island Lombok in Indonesia. It was the second deadly quake in a week and has been followed by some 200 aftershocks. The earthquake also impacted the neighboring resort island of Bali. More than 98 people are dead and hundreds are injured. Thousands of tourists and locals spent the night outdoors and are currently stranded. Indonesia is prone to earthquakes, being situated on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific. In 2004, a massive quake of 9.1 magnitude that struck off of Sumatra island triggered a tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries.

Weather:

The Atlantic Hurricane Season began Friday, June 1st. For 2018, Colorado State University experts have predicted that this season will be a busy, above average hurricane season. They have predicted 14 named Tropical Storms, of which 7 will become Hurricanes. Both are above the averages of 12 and 6, respectively. But, remember, last year they were way off. Unfortunately, they were way off the wrong way, with way more storms. They had predicted 11 Tropical Storms, of which 4 would be Hurricanes. Instead, we had 17 Tropical Storms and had 10 Hurricanes. Here are the 2018 Storm names:
Alberto done
Beryl done
Chris done
Debby done
Ernesto
Florence
Gordon
Helene
Isaac
Joyce
Kirk
Leslie
Michael
Nadine
Oscar
Patty
Rafael
Sara
Tony
Valerie
William
The NHC reports that Tropical Storm Debby is beginning to accelerate NE over the cold waters of North Atlantic, probably reducing its likely impact on southern US.
The Government of Puerto Rico, which originally estimated that 64 US citizens died during Hurricane Maria, submitted a report to Congress last night that showed 1427 US citizens died in the hurricane, yet, the official death toll is still 64.
The Pacific Hurricane Season began on May 1st. Category-4 hurricane Hector blew by Hawaii, with winds of 145mph, probably hitting the area between Wednesday and Thursday. Meanwhile, Tropical Storm John weakened to a Tropical Storm, with 70 mph winds, but still has dangerous surve and is West of the Baja peninsula. Also, Tropical Storm Kristy has strengthened slightly while moving NNW over the open Pacific with 50 mph winds.
Let’s talk about weather, here in Florida, it is ridiculously hot, with temps in the mid-90s and ‘feels-like’ temps in the 105-110 range. Also, the water temperature is 88 degrees and the sand is really hot. But, I’m not complaining. Shark sightings, however, are on the rise. Temps and heat indexes are above 100 degrees in the West, Southwest, Northwest, and Northeast this week. The hot and dry conditions across the western US is only making the wildfire situation worse.

Sports News:

MLB:

The MLB season hit the 7/31 Trade Deadline. To recap the big trades over the last month (in the order I read them sort of): at the close of the trade deadline, the Pirates landed the best pitcher in the trade market in Rays’ ace Chris Archer for RHP Tyler Glasnow, OF Austin Meadows, and ‘a player to be named later’, the Braves countered by sending 4 prospects to the the Orioles for RHP Kevin Gausman and RHP Darren O’Day, the Dodgers swung for the fences to get 2B Brian Dozier from the Twins to put alongside recently acquired Manny Machado and gave the Twins 2B Logan Forsythe, OF Luke Raley, and LHP Devin Smeltzer, the Dodgers also acquired RHP John Axford from the Blue Jays for RHP Corey Copping, the Mariners landed outstanding OF Cameron Maybin of the Marlins to join his former teammate Dee Gordon and gave up INF Bryson Brigman and international bonus pool money, the Diamondbacks scoffed up LHP Jake Diekman and cash from the Rangers for RHP Wei-Chieh Huang and ‘a player to be named later’ (most traded guy ever) and Diekman actually used the bullpen cart to go from one team to the other, the Indians scarfed up OF Oscar Mercado from the Cardinals for OF Conner Capel and OF Jhon Torres, the Brewers beat the buzzer with a scoop up of Orioles INF Jonathan Schoop at the deadline for INF Jonathan Villar, RHP Luis Ortiz, and INF Jean Carmona, the White Sox picked up LHP Hunter Schryver from the Rays for international bonus money (I guess that’s important in the future), the Phillies acquired LHP Aaron Loup from the Blue Jays for RHP Jacob Waguespack, the Cubs picked up RHP Brandon Kintzler from the Nationals for RHP Jhon Romero, the Phillies picked up star C Wilson Ramos from the Rays for ‘a player to be named later’ (who should be in the HOF given how many times he’s been traded the last 100 years!), the D-Backs picked up awesome submariner RHP Brad Ziegler (who played for 7 seasons before with the D-Backs) from the Marlins for RHP Tommy Eveld, the Indians acquired CF Leonys Martin and RHP Kyle Dowdy from the rival Tigers for SS Willi Castro, the Rays acquired OF Tommy Pham and international bonus pool money from the Cardinals for LHP Genesis Cabrera, OF Justin Williams, RHP Roel Ramirez, the Pirates picked up RHP Keone Kela from the sinking Rangers for LHP Taylor Hearn and ‘a player to be named later’, the Red Sox shockingly acquired all-star 2B Ian Kinsler and cash for RHP Ty Buttrey and LHP Williams Jerez (I guess Dustin Pedroia is not coming back soon?), the Braves acquired OF Adam Duval from the reeling Reds for RHP Lucas Sims, RHP Matt Wisler, and OF Preston Tucker, the Yankees acquired starter Lance Lynn and cash from the Twins for RHP Luis Rojo and 1B/OF Tyler Austin, the Mariners acquired RHP Adam Warren from the Yankees for international bonus pool money, the Astros acquired starter Roberto Osuna from the Blue Jays for RHP Ken Giles, RHP Hector Perez, and RHP David Paulino, the Mariners acquired LHP Zach Duke from the Twins for RHP Chase De Jong and INF Ryan Costello, star SS Manny Machado was traded for 5 players by the Orioles to the Dodgers; the Orioles traded closer Zach Britton to the Yankees, who demoted their closer Aroldis Chapman, for RHP Dillon Tate, RHP Cody Carroll, and LHP Josh Rogers; the Rangers traded starter Cole Hamels to the Cubs for RHP Eddie Butler, RHP Rollie Lacy and another player; the Braves acquired RHP Brad Brach from the Orioles; the White Sox acquired LHP Caleb Frare from the Yankees for cash; the Cardinals acquired LHP Chase Shreve and RHP Giovanny Gallegos from the Yankees for 1B Luke Voit and cash; the Brewers acquired 3B Mike Moustakas from the Royals for OF Brett Phillips and RHP Jorge Lopez; the Astros acquired RHP Ryan Pressly from the Twins for RHP Jorge Alcala and OF Gilberto Celestino; the Philles acquired INF Asdrubal Cabrera from the Mets for RHP Franklyn Kilome; the Diamondbacks acquired IF Eduardo Escobar from the Twins for RHP Jhoan Duran, OF Gabriel Maciel, and OF Ernie De La Trinidad; the Mariners acquired RHP Sam Tuivailala fromt eh Cardinals for RHP Seth Elledge; the Braves acquired LHP Johnny Venters from the Rays for an international signing slot; the Yankees acquired LHP J.A. Happ from the Blue Jays for 3B Brandon Drury and OF Billy McKinney; the Brewers acquired RHP Joakim Soria from the White Sox for LHP Kodi Medieros and RHP Wilber Perez; the Astros acquired C Martin Maldonado from the Angels for LHP Patrick Sandoval and international bonus pool money; the Rockies acquired RHP Seung-Hwan Oh from the Blue Jays for 1B Chad Spanberger, OF Forrest Wall, and cash; the Diamonbacks acquired RHP Matt Andriese from the Rays for RHP Brian Shaffer and C Michael Perez; the Red Sox acquired starter Nathan Eovaldi from the Rays for LHP Jalen Beeks; the Royals acquired OF Brian Goodwin from the Nationals for RHP Jacob Condra-Bogan; the A’s acquired RHP Jeurys Familia from the Mets for 3B William Toffey, RHP Bobby Wahl, and international bonus pool money; the Cubs acquired RHP Jesse Chavez from the Rangers for LHP Tyler Thomas; the Indians acquired RP Brad Hand and RP Adam Cimber from the Padres for C Francisco Mejia; the Twins acquired OF Jeremy Hazelbaker from the Rays for cash; the Rays acquired LHP Hoby Milner from the Phillies for cash; the Indians acquired RHP James Hoyt from the Astros for RHP Tommy DeJuneas; and the Red Sox acquired 1B/OF Steve Pearce and cash from the Blue Jays for SS Santiago Espinal.
Okay, done! I can’t read the trade wire anymore. Font is too small and goes by too fast. It’s like the old NYSE ticker tape…none of you guys were around then.
In the AL East, the Red Sox have not let up on the gas. They became the first team to reach 81 wins this season last night. Sunday night, the Red Sox came from behind, down 4-1 in the 9th inning to beat Yankees’ closer Aroldis Chapman and sweep the Yankees in a crucial 4-game series at Fenway Park. That put the Red Sox at 45 games over .500, the best record they have had since 1913 with Babe Ruth. They have since won two more in Toronto, including a 10th inning barnburner Tuesday and a 10-7 victory last night. They have won 13 out of last 14, putting them 9 games ahead of the Yankees, who won on Monday 7-0 over the White Sox to stop their 5-game skid, with newly acquired starter Lance Lynn, and then came from behind to win again last night. The two teams still play each other many more times this season, particularly at the end, so anything can happen. The Red Sox ace, one of the best pitchers in MLB, Chris Sale, is still on the 10-day DL with some soreness in his shoulder, joining their starters Eduardo Rodriguez and Steven Wright, as well as their starting 2B Dustin Pedroia and their new replacement 2B Ian Kinsler. 3B Rafael Devers just came off the DL on Tuesday night. The Yankees manager Aaron Boone says discussed underperforming expensive starter Sonny Gray’s role in the rotation and moved him to the bullpen. During last week’s loss to the lowly Orioles, Yankees 3B coach Phil Nevin was chewing out players during the game. The Rays, Blue Jays, and Orioles threw in the towel a while ago. The AL Central, is still being led by the Indians, who just won 3 in a row, and who have a 10-game lead over the Twins, and there’s no one after that. The Twins appear to have given in, trading away key players. The Tigers (lost 6 in a row), White Sox, and Royals (lost 5 in a row) have thrown in the towel. In the AL West, the World Champion Astros are still in first place, but only 5 games ahead of the red—hot A’s winning 6 in a row (best record since the All-Star break in MLB), who jumped over the sinking Mariners, now 8 games back of the Indians. The Rangers and Trout-less Angels have thrown in the towel. In the NL East, the Phillies lead the Braves, but only by 1/2-game. The Nationals are only 6 games behind the Phillies. Yesterday, the Braves beat the Nats for the second time in a row, to improve their chances. The Marlins and Mets threw in the towel a long time ago. In the NL Central, the Cubs have somehow held on to first place, now 1 ½ games ahead of the Brewers. Neither team is playing terrific right now. Meanwhile, the Pirates have suddenly cooled off and are 7 1/2 games behind the Cubs. The Cards have jumped into the No.3 spot, just 6 ½ games behind the Cubs. Watch out for the Cards! The Reds have thrown in the towel. The NL West is still a tight race, with Diamondbacks overtaking the Dodgers by ½-game, and the Rockies close behind 3 games back. The Giants are also in striking distance, 6 ½ games back of the Diamondbacks. But Giants ace Johnny Cueto will now undergo Tommy John surgery. Only the Padres have thrown in the towel in this division. The Blue Jays have promoted Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to AAA. Meanwhile, SS Troy Tolowitzki is optimistic about his return this year to the Blue Jays from the DL. The Nationals demolished the rival Mets on last Tuesday 25-4, setting 3 records (most runs scored by Nats in a game, most hits by Nats in a game-26, worst loss in Mets history), but for some reason reliever Shawn Kelley for the Nats gave up a meaningless HR in the 9th inning and threw his glove 20 feet in disgust. Nats manager Dave Martinez, who deliberately did not put a position player in to pitch and embarrass the Mets, but instead used a pitcher, was so disgusted by Kelley’s tantrum that he yanked him and brought in another pitcher. The GM was even more enraged and immediately put Kelley on waivers and he will be out of the Nationals organization. After decades, the movie SANDLOT is getting a sequel. Astros star Springer left last Tuesday game injured and now has a second injury. Yankees’ new starter J.A. Happ reportedly was sent home with hand, foot and mouth disease. You don’t hear that very often. There are rumors that the Angles may be tossing manager Mike Sciosia. The Astros released a statement and activated controversial relief pitcher they acquired from the Blue Jays. Ex-Met Wally Backman is still seeking a way back to the Majors as a coach. A streaker at a Mariners game could be facing deportation from Canada. A convicted child molester, Oregaon State’s Luke Heimlich, went undrafted in the MLB 2018 Draft. Also, his contract was terminated by a Chinese baseball league. Red Sox announcer, Jerry Remy’s cancer has returned. Yankees’ OF Jacoby Ellsbury, who has been on the DL the entire season, is having another surgery and will be out 6 more weeks. Rick Ankiel is talking about a 2019 MLB comeback as a relief pitcher. He originally was a great starting pitcher, then had a fluke problem with wild pitches, then taught himself to be a slugging outfielder, until he was suspended a few times, and now he wants to be a relief pitcher. The Nationals and former Cardinals reliever Greg Holland have agreed to terms. Former MLB pitcher Esteban Loaiza will plead guilty in cocaine case. Roberto Osuan’s Astros debut was 5 pitches, 3 outs, and the win. On Monday, the Pirates acquired SS Adeiny Hechavarria from the Rays for RHP Matt Seelinger. Astros’ Carlos Correa’s foul ball actually bounced to his fiancée Daniella Rodriguez.

Tennis:

The Rogers Cup is currently being played 8/4-8/12. It is also referred to at the Canadian Open and is the 3rd oldest tournament in all of tennis. They are playing their matches at a few venues in Toronto. They are currently in the Round of 32. No.10 Copil, No.11 Berankis, No.9 Basic, and No.4 Jazin were upset in the qualifiers. Peter Polansky was ousted in rematch with Novak Djokovic. The last time they played each other was 9 years ago at the 2009 Rogers Cup in Montreal.

Golf:

The PGA Tour went to Akron, OH, to Firestone CC for the 20th and last WGC Bridgestone Invitational for the top-50 ranked golfers in the world, which is one of Tiger Woods’ favorite courses/tournaments, where he won a record 8 times. He’s had 12 top-10 finishes in 15 starts there and earned more than $11 million in total on that course. Tiger made the cut, but had trouble making the fairways and settled for an average score, particularly Saturday. He is beginning to tire, after a rigorous 13-tournament schedule, and still has 5 more tournaments this year, which would be his busiest since 2005. The winner was Justin Thomas, who ran away with Sunday’s round, beating Kyle Stanley by 4 strokes, for his 9th career win at age 25. Jordan Spieth ahs two more, but with a two-year headstart on Tour. Meanwhile, the non-Top-50 PGA players played the Barracuda Championship in Reno, NV, at Montreux G&CC. Andrew Putnam won over Chad Campbell with a Stableford scoring system. On the web.com tour, they played the KC Golf Classic and Sepp Straka won over Kyle Jones. The PGA Champions Tour played the 3M Championship and Kenny Perry won by 3 strokes over Wes Short Jr. In the Ricoh Women’s British Open, Georgia Hall won by 2 strokes over Pornanong Phatium. In case you are looking ahead, the 100th PGA Championship, the final major, is this week at Bellerive CC in St. Louis, MO. The defending champion there is last week’s winner Justin Thomas. The Ryder Cup will be in France 9/28-9/30. The British Open made a rules violation and should give itself a multiple-stroke penalty, as it somehow mistakenly sent the Open winnings ($154,480) of 12th place finisher, Tommy Fleetwood, to the wrong Tommy Fleetwood, a golf teacher. If you were watching the Bridgestone Invitational this past weekend, you no doubt noticed the yellow ribbon attached to every players’ cap. It was for Australian golfer and friend of all, Jarrod Lyle, who has been battling with cancer. Sadly, he died after the tournament.

Fighting:

WWE
The WWE announced its first-ever all women’s event, “Evolution”.
MMA
UFC Boise saw Dos Santos beat Ivanov after 5 rounds. In Bellator 203, Patricio Freire retained title in a split decision. After his Belator 202 injury, just 58 seconds into a fight with Michael MacDonald, Eduardo Dantas needs emergency surgery on his broken leg. Nick Diaz is calling out Cormier, saying his and Brock Lesnar’s WWE antics were embarrassing at UFC 226. An MMA fighter who pleaded guilty to raping a college student got 7 years in jail and lifetime probation. There are mixed feelings in the media about Chuck Liddell coming out of retirement to face Tito Ortiz for Golden Boy.

Boxing

On Saturday night:
Luis Ortiz decimated Razvan Conjanu with a 2nd round TKO, upsetting the heavyweight division and laying his claim to a title shot.
8/4
Sergey Kovalev vs. Eleider Alvarez-Kovalev’s WBO Light Heavyweight title
Former welterweight champions Andre Berto and Devon Alexander will fight at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Long Island, NY
Dmitry Bivol vs. TBA-Bivol’s WBA Light Heavyweight title
Sullivan Barrera vs. TBA-Light heavyweights
8/18
Carl Frampton vs. Luke Jackson-Frampton’s WBO interim Featherweight title
Tyson Fury vs. TBA-Heavyweights
9/8
Danny Garcia vs Shawn Porter title fight.
9/22
Anthony Joshua (2012 Olympic gold medalist at super heavyweight and current IBF, WBA, and WBO heavyweight champ will face Alexander Povetkin in London

Racing:

The winner of the Tour de France was Geraint Thomas.
NASCAR Chairman/CEO, Brian France, will be taking a leave of absence, after being pulled over for DUI and possession of oxycodone.
2018 NASCAR Schedule and results:
2/18 Daytona 500-Daytona Intl Speedway-won by Austin Dillon
2/25 Folds of Honor QuikTrip-Atlanta Motor Speedway-Kevin Harvick
3/4 Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube-Las Vegas Motor Speedway-Kevin Harvick
3/11 TicketGuardian 500-ISM Raceway-Kevin Harvick
3/18 Auto Club 400-Auto Club Speedway-Martin Truex Jr.
3/26 STP 500-Martinsville Speedway-Clint Bowyer
4/8 O’Reilly Auto Parts 500-Texas Motor Speedway-Kyle Busch
4/16 Food City 500-Bristol Motor Speedway-Kyle Busch
4/21 Toyota Owners 400-Richmond Raceway-Kyle Busch
4/29 GEICO 500-Talladega Speedway-Joey Logano
5/6 AAA 400 Drive for Autism-Dover International Speedway-Kevin Harvick
5/12 KC Masterpiece 400-Kansas Speedway-Kevin Harvick
5/19 Monster Energy Open-Charlotte Motor Speedway-AJ Allmendinger
5/19 Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race-Charlotte-Kevin Harvick
5/27 Coca-Cola 600-Charlotte Motor Speedway-Kyle Busch
6/3 Pocono 400-Pocono Raceway-Martin Truex Jr.
6/10 FireKeepers Casino 400-Michigan International Speedway-Clint Bowyer
6/24 Toyota/Save Mart 350-Sonoma Raceway-won by Martin Truex Jr.
7/1 Overton’s 400-Chicagoland Speedway-won by Kyle Busch.
7/7 Coke Zero Sugar 400–Daytona International Speedway-won by Erik Jones
7/14 Quaker State 400-Kentucky Speedway-won by Martin Truex Jr.
7/22 Foxwoods Resort Casino 301-New Hampshire Motor Speedway-won by Kevin Harvick over Kyle Busch.
7/29 Gander Outdoors 400-Pocono Raceway-won by Kyle Busch over Daniel Suarez.
8/5 GoBowling at the Glen-Watkins Glen International-won by Chase Eilliott over Martin Truex Jr.
8/12 Consumers Energy 400-Michigan International Speedway

NCAA Basketball:

Five-star Kahlil Whitney has committed to Kentucky.

NCAA Football:

College football season kickoff is on 8/25. Just a reminder, Alabama won the National Championship last season. Legendary coach, Urban Meyer, of Ohio State has been put on paid administrative leave, while it conducts an investigation on whether the coach knew of a reported 2015 incident of domestic abuse between former assistant coach Zach Smith and his ex-wife. Jay Paterno says Ohio State should “wait for facts” regarding Urban Meyer. I’m not saying anything, as many of the 658,000 Penn State alumni read this Commentary. Florida transfers Van Jefferson and Trevon Grimes have been cleared by the NCAA as eligible to play. Gainesville PD released a video of finding an AR-15 in Florida WR’s car. Nebraska coach Scott Frost’s house was burglarized. Georgia added to their wealth of RBs with 5-star John Emery Jr. commitment. Alabama has extended Nick Saban’s contract through 2025 season. Former Miami RB Tyrone Moss is dead at 33. QB Jalen Hurts said to Nick Saban that he is staying at Alabama, to compete with Tua Tagovailoa. A Maine freshman football player died after collapsing during workout. FSU and LSU reportedly agreed to a two-game series.
Here is Sporting News’ way-too-early Top 25 rankings:
1. Alabama
2. Clemson
3. Georgia
4. Ohio State
5. Oklahoma
6. Wisconsin
7. Washington
8. Auburn
9. Notre Dame
10. Penn State
11. Miami
12. Michigan
13. Michigan State
14. Stanford
15. USC
16. UCF
17. Virginia Tech
18. LSU
19. TCU
20. FSU
21. Oklahoma State
22. Texas
23. South Carolina
24. Mississippi State
25. Boise State

NFL:

The NFL preseason has started with last week’s Hall of Fame game, between the Bears and Ravens. A slate of preseason games will be contested tonight. The NFL regular season is 9/6. The Patriots signed WR Eric Decker. Former NFL star Shawne Merriman, 34, signed deal with World Bare Knuckle Fighting Federation. Packers Jake Ryan reportedly has torn ACL and is out for the season. Johnny Manziel “feels very blessed” to be starting his first CFL game on Friday. The Saints have signed WR Michael Floyd. Browns WR Antonio Callaway has been cited for marijuana possession reportedly. Jets QB Teddy Bridgewater says he is grateful for a second chance. And, just like that, the Jets reward him by saying that they are willing to trade him for the right offer. Nice! Retired WR Steve Smith Sr. is detailing his battle with depression. After his unusual Hall of Fame Induction (on his own in Tennessee), Terrell Owens had a workout for a CFL team the next day. The Pro Football Hall of Fame is now considering requiring future inductees to attend enshrinement. QB Philip Rivers says he isn’t thinking about retirement. WR Odell Beckham Jr.’s negotiation stalled again with the Giants. Malcolm Jenkins is hinting at a Players Coalition statement on National Anthem policy. Browns coach Hue Jackson says that Duke Johnson is not moving to WR. Rams DT Aaron Donalds says he does not plan to end his holdout anytime soon. The Cardinals lost their starting center, A.Q. Shipley, with season-ending ACL injury. Falcons signed safety Ricardo Allen to a 3year extension. The Patriots officially released WR Malcolm Mitchell, who has been hampered by injuries since missing all of last season. He just had a knee procedure at the end of July. NFL legend, Jim Brown, one of the first athletes to speak out about race and politics, recently gave a hard-line stance about protesting the National Anthem by kneeling before NFL games. The man who once organized the “Cleveland Summit” between him, Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Muhammad Ali to address race and political issues and support Ali’s refusal to serve in the Vietnam War, says he would never kneel for a National Anthem “and I will always respect the flag.” The National Anthem protest controversy has now made its way back to the 49ers, who vowed yesterday to have a special ceremony to honor the American flag prior to kickoff of its preseason game tonight against the Cowboys in the 49ers’ Levi’s Stadium. They will halt all movement in the stadium, including concessions of food and drinks and purchases at team store, and even entrance of fans into the stadium during the National Anthem.

NHL:

The NHL preseason starts on 9/15. Coyotes will retire Shane Doan’s No.19 jersey. Bruins will retire Rick Middleton’s No.16 jersey. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has been in gambling negotiations. Defenseman Brady Skjei agreed to a 6year deal with the Rangers. Canuck’s president Trevor Linden left the organization. Wild and Jason Zucker agreed to a 5year/$27.5 million deal. Jarome Iginla will announce his retirement from the NHL with the Flames. Penguins owner and former legend Mario Lemieux has listed his Quebec castle for $22 million. Blackhawks legend Stan Mikita has died at age 78. William Karlsson and Golden Knights avoided arbitration with an 11th hour deal. The Ducks signed goaltender John Gibson to an 8year/$51.2 million extension. The Senators signed leading scorer Mark Stone to a 1year deal. The Sabres acquired Jeff Skinner from the Hurricanes.

NBA:

The NBA Finals also mercifully ended in June, after starting their season in October. The Summer League is underway. Preseason will be upon us soon. The Jazz extended Dante Exum to a 3year contract worth $33 million. Akron, Ohio’s LeBron James declined his option for hometeam Cavaliers and then quickly signed with the Lakers for 4years/$154 million. Kevin Love has signed a 4-year extension with the Cavaliers for 4years/$120 million. Spurs superstar Kawhi Leonard finally landed with the Raptors. After a falling out with San Antonio, he says he will “fall in love with Toronto”. He gets $20 million for this upcoming season and then will be eligible for a 5year/$190 million max extension next summer. If he doesn’t sign with the Raptors for that amount, the most he can get from a new team will be 4years/$141 million, significantly less money. The Raptors sent face-of-the-franchise DeMar DeRozan to the Spurs. The Warriors snatched up free agent DeMarcus Cousins for one year/$5.3 million. The Rockets snatched up Carmelo Anthony to a veteran/minimum deal. They also re-signed free agent Clint Capela. That followed their re-signing of star Chris Paul to a 4year/$160 million contract. But, they did lose Trevor Ariza to a one year/$15 million deal with the Suns when free agency began on 7/1. Dwight Howard says he wants to finish his career with the Wizards. Tobias Harris has reportedly turned down an $80 million extension offer from the Clippers. Dirk Nowitzki has re-signed with the Mavericks for 21st season and his set to break the NBA record. Reportedly, free agent Isaiah Thomas was open to returning to the Celtics. There are rumors that Dwyane Wade may be heading to China from the Heat. ESPN’s new power couple, Jalen Rose and Molly Qerim have gotten married in private. The Knicks reached agreement with Noah Vonleh. 76ers tar Joel Embiid says his goal is to win MVP next season. Derrick Rose announced that he’s starting a scholarship program. The Bucks waived guard Brandon Jennings. There is a rumor that the Cavs are looking to sign former Bulls guard David Nwaba. The Pacers are reportedly near extension with coach Nate McMillan. There is a rumor that the Nets and Knicks will be pursuing Celtics’ Kyrie Irving next offseason. The NBA and WBNA singed a historic deal with betting sponsor MGM. The Feds have busted a $70 million counterfeit Air Jordans ring.

Travel News:

I took the next step, the high-speed BrightLine train from West Palm Beach, FL to Miami, FL, and loved it! It took only 1 hour and 6 minutes, a ride that normally takes me 2 hours minimum to up to at least 3 hours. The white leather seats and free drinks, plus a partnership with Lyft that gets you 10% off. For $30! An Alaska sightseeing plane crash has left 4 dead and 1 missing. A small plane crashed into a California parking lot, killing 5 people, all inside the plane, one mile from the airport. The 645-foot-tall Millennium Tower in San Francisco is back in the news. Dubbed “the Leaning Tower of San Francisco”, cost $550 million to build and is full of lavish condominiums and many amenities, and many tech barons and famous tenants, like QB Joe Montana. At a residents’ meeting in May of 2016, those residents were told that the building was sinking and tilting. So far, since the foundation was poured in 2006, according to CBS News, the building has sunk 17 inches and tilted 14 inches to the NW. It was anticipated that the building would sink about 4-5 inches over its 100-year life. The building is built out of concrete, rather than steel, which saved the builders money, but made the structure much heavier. Another potential problem is that its foundation of concrete is driven 80 feet into the ground, which includes rubble from the 1906 earthquake, brick, landfill, gold rush sand, mud and clay. To reach bedrock, you would have to go down 200 feet. The three solutions that have so far been proposed are: freezing the ground under the building, chopping off the top 20 stories to reduce the weight, or driving pillars into the bedrock and have the foundation rest on them. Some tenants reportedly have now sold their apartments for approximately half of what they purchased them for. The second-largest wildfire in California’s history, the Mendocino Complex fire, is only 30% contained and has burned more than 273,000 acres. It is on pace to become the largest wildfire in state history, surpassing the Thomas fire, which burned some 281,000 acres in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties late last year. They have now deployed US Army soldiers to help fight the wildfire. An abandoned fort used to defend the British during WWI is up for sale, along with the entire private island it is sitting on, off the coast of Pembrokeshire in the UK. The Stack Rock Fort was built in 1850 and decommissioned in 1929. It needs a lot of work and is up for $500,000. A 79-year-old Junkers Ju 52 aircraft crashed in Switzerland, killing all 20 people on board. Hard Rock says it prefers the Hokkaido Prefecture for its Japan international resort, as it announced group revenue of $6 billion in 2017. The mother of a dead fetus that was found on Tuesday on an American Airlines plane has been identified as a Brooklyn, NY teenager.

Health News:

The entire class of 30 students at the new College of Medicine at the University of Houston will get free tuition for all 4 years, thanks to an anonymous donor of $3 million. You may have noticed the movement among restaurants and a few chains to stop using plastic straws and either use no straws or used biodegradable paper straws in their place. But, plastic straws are the tip of the plastic iceberg that we have created. In the 1950s, polypropylene (the technical term for plastic) changed the world, as the cheap, durable, sanitary, and light pellets could be molded into almost anything. The problem is that it doesn’t biodegrade, so it lasts a really long time. We have produced some 8.3 billion metric tons of the stuff, which could cover the entire state of California. 70% of plastic winds up in landfills for decades. But, every year, somewhere between 5 and 12 million metric tons of it winds up in the ocean. It winds up killing wildlife and also winds up back in our food, salt, and water. The World Economic Forum predicts that by 2050, unless something drastic is done, our oceans will contain more plastic than fish. By the way, only about 9% of plastic gets recycled. UnitedHealth is reported to have agreed to buy Genoa Health.

Animal News:

A shark sighting in the surf of Myrtle Beach caused a seaside frenzy. South Carolina, particularly along myrtle beach and garden city beach, does see sharks every summer. Typically, the species are spinner sharks (not very aggressive), hammerhead sharks (not very aggressive), blacktip sharks (can bite humans), lemon sharks (usually don’t bite humans), tiger sharks (very dangerous to humans, No.3), and bull sharks (very dangerous to everything, including other sharks, No.5). The most dangerous shark to humans is the Great White, which is not common in the shallow coastal waters. The 3rd-most dangerous shark is the Shortfin Mako and it has been blamed for many attacks on humans, but it is typically to fisherman as it is a deepwater fish. The 4th most dangerous shark is the Oceanic Whitetip Shark, which has the reputation of being the first sharks to arrive on the scene when an ocean ship runs afoul. Did you know that the first sharks evolved more than 400 million years ago, long before mammals, dinosaurs, and flowering plants? They have survived at least 4 mass extinctions, including one that killed off 90% of all species on Earth. There are more than 500 species of sharks. The Great White shark dates back to the early Eocene era, which lasted from about 56 to 34 million years ago. Sharks’ use of electroreception and the amazing conductivity of saltwater mean that a shark could theoretically detect the current from a AA battery 1,000 miles away. A Colorado Springs catastrophic hailstorm with softball-sized hail hit a zoo and killed at least 2 animals and injured 14 people, when it swept through the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo two days ago. A Russian couple live with a 300lb grizzly bear, named Stephen, who was adopted by them 25 years ago. A mysterious ape-like creature was caught on video lurking the foothills near a popular hiking trial in La Crescenta, CA.

Entertainment News:

Discovery’s Shark Week (or Shaq Week this year) is over. But, a new movie MEG, which features the giant prehistoric shark, megalodon, is coming out in theaters. Showtime is being accused of deliberately killing off an actress in a series who had complained about pay parity with male actors. Charlotte Rae, housemother on The Facts of Life, has died at age 92. A model, Shubnum Khan, just discovered that marketers have been featuring her facial image from a photoshoot for which she hadn’t even been paid. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are still hashing out their divorce, two years later, and their child custody. On her first stop of her UK tour, in Brighton, Britney Spears forgot what town she was in on stage and had to ask a band member (while still on mic) where she was. Pink had to cancel a few shows in Australia due to abdominal illness and dehydration. Disney looks toward a brighter future with Fox. MSNBC anchor Stephanie Ruhle made a huge slip-up on life TV that’s now all over the Internet. She was speaking about the brave firefighters who are dealing with the California wildfires and accidentally said “farting” instead of “fighting” on air. She apologized, but struggled to keep a straight face for the rest of the serious broadcast. In the now two year contentious divorce, Brad Pitt is hitting back at Angelina Jolie with allegations of his own. My 600-lb Life star was found dead earlier this month in South Carolina and the Coroner’s office has just revealed that the cause of death was suicide.

This week’s box-office fell, as the blockbusters fell and the debuts underperformed. MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: FALLOUT (which I must see and review for you) stayed at No.1 for the 2nd week, raking in an additional $35.3 million, bringing its total to $125 million (still short of its $178 million cost); No.2 was the debut of DISNEY’S CHRISTOPHER ROBIN (which I might go see) which gathered $24.6 million in its first week; No.3 was the debut of THE SPY WHO DUMPED ME (which I may wind up seeing), which took in only $12 million in its first week; MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN (which I must see) fell from No.2 to No.4, taking in only $9 million in its 3rd week; THE EQUALIZER 2 (with Denzel Washington, which I want to see) fell from No.3 to No.5 this week, taking in only $8.8 million in its 3rd week. THE DARKEST MINDS debuted at No.8 with $5.8 million. Nothing else was remarkable, except Dwayne Johnson’s SKYSCRAPER falling from No.9 to No.14 after making only $2.2 million in its 4th week and only a total of $64.5 million of its $125 million cost. Hopefully, he didn’t sink a lot of his own money in that movie.
Movies coming out this week: Spike Lee’s true story BLACKKLANSMAN, DOG DAYS, THE MEG (Jason Straithe and prehistoric megladon shark), SLENDER MAN (creepy movie version of social media phenomenon), BUYBUST, THE ISLAND SKATE KITCHEN, MADLELINE’s MADELINE.

Movie Reviews:

I’m woefully behind, sorry. I’ll catch up this weekend.

Technology & Space News:

Famous hacker Anonymous has vowed to take down and expose QAnon. After 28 years in Space, the Hubble Telescope is still sending back some spectacular images of the vast heavens. Astronauts have repeatedly upgraded Hubble over the years, making its discoveries increasingly more dramatic. It has taught us that there may be as many as 2 trillion galaxies, each with potential 100 billion stars (like our Milky Way). That is more stars than grains of sand on every beach and desert on Earth. Most stars have their own planets. Blue stars are newer, hotter stars, yellow stars (like our Sun) are middle-aged stars, and red stars are older, cooler stars. Hubble has even changed what we thought the age of the universe is, now 13.8 billion years. Hubble is expected to continue working for 3-5 years more. It will be replaced by the more powerful James Webb telescope, set to launch in 2021, which will have the ability to see the first stars and galaxies that were formed in the universe, the very first moments of the universe. Hubble can only see a red blob, a galaxy from 400 million years after the Big Bang. An Amish man has started an Uber ride service with horse and buggy. Analysts have been suggesting that Tesla needs to go private, although some shareholders say that is a “step back.” Tesla board members are talking to Elon Musk about going private. Musk has tweeted that he could take Tesla private at $420. Yet, Tesla’s stock has surged on a report that a Saudi Wealth Fund is building a $2 billion stake, per Bloomberg. New York City has become the first major city to issue a blow to Uber and Lyft, limiting licenses for the two ride-sharing services on Wednesday. The AI industry has been estimated at $19 trillion by The Motley Fool.

Political News:

There are reports that Dianne Feinstein had a Chinese spy as her driver for 20 years. President Trump now admits that his campaign 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer and his son was to get foreign info on Hillary Clinton, which he said is not illegal. He originally said that the meeting was on Russian adoptions. The White House has lowered the tariffs imposed on Canadian newsprint. It appears that only one company in the US was pushing for the tariffs. Feds’ star witness, his longtime business partner Rick Gates, testified at Manafort trial. He said that he committed crimes with Paul Manafort. Now, Kristin Davis, the “Manhattan Madam”, who says she provided prostitutes to NY’s rich and famous, is reportedly scheduled to testify before Mueller’s grand jury. President Trump and Congress are both on vacation right now.

US News:

McDonald’s Big Mac was originally going to be named “The Aristocrat”, but luckily a secretary in their corporate headquarters renamed it. In other McDonald’s news, after an ex-cop rigged their annual Monopoly game, McDonald’s decided to award 15 random players the top prize of $1 million. Illegal northern border crossings into the US increased by 142% from last year. Yet, the media has been focusing more on the US/Mexico southern border crossings. Ironically, the government watchdog agency is questioning whether the southern border wall is worth construction. Unfortunately, not an uncommon news story, but 66 people were shot all over Chicago in a spate of weekend violence that killed 12 people. There have been no arrests yet. The Chicago Sun Times reported that 80% of murders in Chicago go unsolved. Mayor Rahm gave an emotional speech, in which he said “We are a better city”, decrying Chicago gun violence. The 3 mothers (and 2 men) of 11 children found at “filthy” half-submerged compound in Taos, NM, have been arrested. The children, ranging in age from 1 to 15, were starving with no food and water and kept in a half-buried trailer. Beachgoers in western Michigan, Grand Haven, formed a human chain from a beach to attempt to rescue a swimmer in hazardous wave conditions. Unfortunately, he, along with another swimmer, drowned. Three other people have been hospitalized. There were 150 people in in Titusville, Florida area, when a gunman started firing at a back-to-school festival on Saturday and an armed bystander stepped in to shoot him. The shooter, who is in the hospital with a bad head wound, got into a fistfight earlier in the day and returned to the park with a gun. Cincinnati police officers used a Taser on an 11-year-old girl, who was suspected of shoplifting. The police chief has launched an investigation into the incident. Rescuers were dispatched to an area near Idaho Falls on Monday and have rescued a man trapped an overturned truck.

International News:

President Trump has reimposed the sanctions on Iran, after announcing that the US is withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal. Secretary of State Pompeo added that there would need to be “enormous change” in Iran to now reverse US sanctions. President Trump has imposed further sanctions on Russia over the UK nerve-agent attack. Saudi Arabia expelled the Canadian ambassador, after Canada demanded that Saudi Arabia release two imprisoned Canadian women who protested there for women’s rights. Saudi Arabia immediately recalled its own ambassador to Canada and stopped all investment in Canada. As tensions increased Wednesday, the Kingdom executed a man by crucifixion. The Syrian civil war has cost more than 500,000 lives and has displaced more than 12 million people. 153 years ago, the Geneva Convention on rules of war was started because of one specific war crime, the bombing of hospitals, which marked the beginning of the Red Cross. According to CBS’ 60 Minutes, the latest atrocity by Syrian President Assad is reportedly the deliberate bombing of hospitals, particularly after they fill up with chemical warfare victims. More than 850 medical professionals, several of them volunteer US doctors, have already been killed in these bombings by the government. The Syrian-American Medical Society is now building underground hospitals, excavating caves, to help them escape from airstrikes. An explosion near Italy airport killed 2 people and injured dozens of others.

Florida:

Parts of Florida, including the Treasure Coast (east coast) and the (west coast), are under a State of Emergency, with lagoons, rivers, canals and beaches closed. Many fish and oysters have been dying and the toxic muck, which is different on both coasts, is also very dangerous to humans. On the East Coast near the beaches and in the St. Lucie River, several canals, there is a blue-green algae plume which is killing everything and stinking up the area. The Army Corps of Engineers discharges periodically this poisonous water from the Lake Okeechobee’s huge Herbert Hoover dike, which was built after a major hurricane there 100 years ago, which caused major flooding in the area, killing some 2500 people, the . To avoid that ever happening again and to help Florida’s sugar farmers who took over the swampland of the Everglades before 1900, they built the dike and pumping drains to the East at Port St. Lucie River and to the West. They basically changed the natural route for six thousand years of water from Lake Okeechobee to the grasslands and the Everglades. It turns out that the sugar farming, which uses phosphorous in its fertilizer, is actually creating the blue-green algae. The blue-green algae is the the consistency of coffee grounds, smells putrid, and can damage human livers. Most conservationists believe the only solution is for the state to buy back the land from the sugar farmers and let the water flow back to the Everglades. Of course, the blue-green algae problem has been exacerbated this year by high amounts of rain and higher-than-normal temperatures in Florida, forcing more discharge and growing more algae. The problem on the West Coast of Florida, in Sarasota County and Collier County, in addition to the discharges near Fort Myers from the canal from Lake Okeechobee, that is killing wildlife, much of it sea turtles (as it is turtle nesting season for several species), and keeping tourists off the beaches is Red Tide. Red Tide is a toxic red algae bloom which flourishes in extra warm weather. The temperature of the seawater is approaching 90 degrees, creating a massive Red Tide bloom, the sea spray of which causes respiratory problems in humans. You get a constant cough or wheeze that you can’t get rid of and it can be deadly for those with COPD or Asthma. It can also be ingested and is toxic for humans, by eating mussels or oysters from the area. The Red Tide is ravaging the southwest coast of Florida, and may have killing a 26-foot-long whale shark for the first known time, at Sanibel Island, FL. A Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission biologist sampled several of the shark’s organs and they all tested positive for brevetoxin, a neurotoxin created by the harmful algae called Karenia brevis, which is one of many types of algae found in red tide. Manatees, dolphins, and grouper have also been reported dead as a result of the red tide bloom. All of this is damaging the tourist industry, at the number one fishing capital of the world. If that isn’t enough to worry about in Florida (snakes, sharks, spiders, Burmese pythons, panthers, bears, alligators, crocodiles, blue-green algae, and red tide), a Texas man has died over the weekend, after contracting flesh-eating bacteria, fishing off the Gulf coast of Florida, according to officials. He was ‘wade fishing’ with some open sores on his legs in an area that is a breeding ground for oysters and the Vibrio vunificus bacteria that inhabits those areas. He had severe leg pain, blistering skin lesions, fever, nausea and vomiting. He died less than 36 hours after being admitted to the hospital. Vibrio is known to be found in coastal waters where oysters live and cause an estimated 80,000 illnesses and at least 100 deaths in the US annually, according to the CDC. Just last week, a Florida man died from eating an oyster with the same species of the bacteria, according to the NY Post. That’s it! Between JAWS and now MEG and all these algae and bacteria, I’m not stepping in the ocean.
It is back-to-school season here in Florida.
I will be performing as Elvis Presley in full jumpsuit and blackened hair on 8/16 (the anniversary of his death) at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, FL. Then my harmony group, Generation Gap, just voted by In Tune Magazine as the Best Harmony Group in the state of Florida, will be performing 9/2 at Cucina Cabana 1pm-3pm in North Palm Beach, FL and again 9/29 at Double Roads Tavern 5pm-8pm in Jupiter, FL.
If you are interested in seeing longer, more famous, concerts, there are many coming to Florida, perhaps when you will be visiting:
Rod Stewart & Cyndi Lauper-Hollywood-July 24
Smashing Pumpkins-Miami-July 24
Sugarland, Frankie Ballard & Lindsay Eli-Pensacola-July 26
Don McLean-Ponte Vedra Beach-July 27
Britney Spears-Hollywood-July 28-29
Dave Matthews Band-West Palm Beach-July 27-28
Lauryn Hill-Miami, July 31
Counting Crows-West Palm Beach, August 1
Miranda Lambert & Little Big Town-West Palm Beach-August 4
Janet Jackson-Miami-August 5
Pentatonix-West Palm Beach-August 7
Imagine Dragons-West Palm Beach, August 9
Shakira-Sunrise-August 15
Def Leppard & Journey-Sunrise, August 17
Shakira-Miami, August 17-18
Taylor Swift-Miami, August 18
Lindsey Stirling & Evanescence-West Palm Beach, August 18
Memories of Elvis-Fort Lauderdale, August 18
Jeff Beck, Paul Rodgers & Ann Wilson-West Palm Beach, August 25
Rick Springfield-Pompano Beach, August 28
Beyonce and Jay-Z-Miami Gardens, August 31
K.D. Lang-Fort Lauderdale-September 7
Paul Simon-Sunrise, September 8
Christine Aguilera-Hollywood, September 25
Lady Antebellum, Darius Rucker & Russell Dickerson-West Palm Beach, September 29
Phil Collins-Sunrise-October 5
Kid Rock and Brantley Gilbert-West Palm Beach, October 13
Nikki Minaj with Future-Miami-October 19
Alice in Chains-Hollywood-October 28
Toto-Pompano Beach-October 28
Simple Minds-Miami, November 8
Willie Nelson-Estero, November 12
Elton John-Sunrise, November 23 (I’m there)
Elton John-Miami, November 24
Brian Wilson-Hollywood, December 12
Kansas-Fort Lauderdale-December 15
Fleetwood Mac-Sunrise, February 20
Pink-Sunrise-March 1
Paul Anka-Fort Lauderdale-March 4
Elton John-Sunrise, March 16

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s