Repo Commentary-8/29/18

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Three generations of heroes.
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I just thought it was humorous, not leaning either way.
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so true in Florida!
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new turbo Harley
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You’re doing it wrong!
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Hysterical!
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I’ve been keeping busy, not only writing the Repo Commentary, reaching out to clients, and exploring job opportunities, but now also consulting on two books and two articles.

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.’

Tuesday’s Holidays or Events:

• Today is Election Day for many states in the US for mid-term elections.
• Crackers Over the Keyboard Day
• Dream Day Quest and Jubilee
• International Read Comics in Public Day
• National Bow Tie Day
• National Power Rangers Day
• National Cherry Turnovers Day
• Radio Commercial Day
• Red Wine Day
• Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day
• Race Your Mouse Around the Icons Day
• Touch-A-Heart Tuesday
• Pony Express Day
• National Grandparents Day in Mexico

Some Famous People Born 8/28 in History:

• 932-Richard I, Duke of Normandy
• 1023-Go-Reizel, Emperor of Japan
• 1749-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German novelist, poet, playwright, diplomat
• 1774-Elizabeth Ann Seton, American nun and Saint, co-founded the Sisters of Charity Federation in the Vincentian-Setonian Tradition
• 1899-Charles Boyer, French-American actor, singer, producer
• 1913-Jack Dreyfus, American founded the Dreyfus Corporation
• 1925-Donald O’Connor, American actor, singer, dancer
• 1930-Ben Gazzara, American actor
• 1932-Andy Bathgate, NHL
• 1942-Sterling Morrison, American singer, guitarist
• 1943-Lou Piniella, MLB
• 1943-David Soul, American actor, singer
• 1950-Ron Guidry, MLB
• 1957-Daniel Stern, American actor, director
• 1958-Scott Hamilton, American figure skater
• 1964-Lee Janzen, American golfer
• 1965-Shania Twain, Canadian singer, songwriter
• 1969-Jack Black, American actor, comedian, singer
• 1969-Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and Founder of Leanin.org
• 1969-Jason Priestley, Canadian actor, director, producer
• 1969-Pierre Turgeon, NHL
• 1971-Todd Eldredge, American figure skater
• 1971-Janet Evans, American swimmer
• 1982-LeAnn Rimes, American singer, songwriter, actress
• 1986-Armie Hammer, American actor
• 1989-Cassadee Pope, American singer, songwriter

This Day in History (8/28):

• 475-the Roman general Orestes forces Western Roman Emperor Julius Nepos to flee his capital city of Ravenna.
• 489-Theodoric, King of the Ostrogoths, defeats Odoacer at the Battle of Isonzo, forcing his way into Italy.
• 632-Fatimah, daughter of the Islamic prophet Muhammad dies, with her cause of death being a controversial topic among the Sunni Muslims and Shia Muslims.
• 1189-Third Crusade: the Crusaders begin the Siege of Acre under Guy of Lusignan.
• 1521-the Ottoman Turks occupy Belgrade.
• 1524-the Kaqchikel Maya rebel against their former Spanish allies during the Spanish conquest of Guatemala.
• 1542-the Turkish-Portuguese War: Battle of Wofla: the Portuguese are scattered, their leader Christovao da Gama is captured and later executed.
• 1565-Pedro Menendez de Aviles sights land near St. Augustine, Florida and founds the oldest continuously occupied European-established city in the continental US.
• 1609-Henry Hudson discovers Delaware Bay.
• 1619-the election of Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor.
• 1789-William Herschel discovers a new moon of Saturn, Enceladus.
• 1810-Battle of Grand Port: the French accept the surrender of a British Navy fleet.
• 1830-the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad’s new Tom Thumb steam locomotive races a horse-drawn car, presaging steam’s role in US railroads.
• 1833-King William IV gives Royal Assent to the Slavery Abolition Act 1833, although slavery remained legal in the possessions of the East India Company until the passage of the Indian Slavery Act of 1843.
• 1845-the first issue of Scientific American magazine is published.
• 1849-after a month-long siege, Venice, which had declared itself independent as the Republic of San Marco, surrenders to Austria.
• 1861-American Civil War: Union forces attack Cape Hatteras, NC in the Battle of Hatteras Inlet Batteries, which lasts for two days.
• 1862-American Civil War: Second Battle of Bull Run (Manassas), which ended 8/30.
• 1867-the US takes possession of the (at this point unoccupied) Midway Atoll.
• 1879-Cetshwayo, last King of the Zulus, is captured by the British.
• 1898-Caleb Bradham’s beverage “Brad’s Drink” is renamed “Pepsi-Cola”.
• 1913-Queen Wilhelmina opens the Peace Palace in The Hague.
• 1914-WWI: the Royal Navy defeats the German fleet in the Battle of Heligoland Bight.
• 1914-WWI: German troops take the city of Namur in Belgium.
• 1916-WWI: Germany declares war on Romania.
• 1916-WWI: Italy declares war on Germany.
• 1916-ten Suffragettes are arrested while picketing the White House.
• 1924-the Georgian opposition stages the August Uprising against the Soviet Union.
• 1937-Toyota Motors becomes and independent company.
• 1944-WWII: Marseille and Toulon are liberated.
• 1955-black teenager, Emmett Till, is brutally murdered in Mississippi, galvanizing the nascent civil rights movement.
• 1957-US Sen. Strom Thurmond begins a filibuster to prevent the Senate from voting on Civil Rights Act of 1957; he stopped speaking 24 hours and 18 minutes later, the longest filibuster ever conducted by a single Senator.
• 1963-March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom: the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. gives his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
• 1964-the Philadelphia race riot begins.
• 1968-rioting takes place in Chicago during the Democratic National Convention, triggering a brutal police crackdown.
• 1988-Ramstein air show disaster: 3 aircraft of the Frecce Tricolori demonstration team collide and the wreckage falls into the crowd. 75 people are killed and 346 seriously injured.
• 1990-Iraq declares Kuwait to be its newest province.
• 1990-an F5 tornado strikes the Illinois cities of Plainfield and Joliet, killing 29 people.
• 1993-the Galileo spacecraft discovers a moon, later named Dactyl, around 243Ida, the first known asteroid moon.
• 2003-in “one of the most complicated and bizarre crimes in the annals of the FBI”, Brian Wells dies after becoming involved in a complex plot involving a bank robbery, a scavenger hunt, and a homemade explosive device.

Fun Fact of the Day:

Seven of the first eight Olympic Gold Medals in the Hammer Throw were won by Irishmen born within a 30-mile radius of each other.

Daily Affirmation/Thought/Pun/Quote:

“I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best.”—Oscar Wilde

International and Commodity Markets:

Oil prices on 8/23 were at $67.88. On 8/28, it closed at $68.63/barrel, about $1 higher. However, that has not translated to higher gasoline at my West Palm Beach gas station, which actually dropped this week from $2.67 to $2.64/gallon. The USD versus the Yen is trading at $111.22, unchanged from where it was on 8/23. The USD was at 1.1658 versus the Euro, weaker since 8/23. The USD is also down since 8/23 against the GBP, at $1.2889. The USD is sharply lower versus the CAD to $1.2941 since 8/23. Gold closed yesterday at $1212.36/ounce, up from where it was 8/23. Bitcoin was trading at $8185.21 on 7/25. On 8/9, it collapsed to $6,300.01. Last week, it closed a little stronger at $6,534.50. But, today, is broke above $7000 and its 50-day moving average. Ireland’s FM says a no-deal Brexit is “very, very unlikely” but he said that Ireland will not back down on the key issue about the Irish border. We are in the midst of a British holiday. The GBP has been strengthening, despite a Bloomberg report that officials from both sides of the Brexit debate do not believe a deal is likely by the 10/18 EU Summit, and are instead looking at negotiating something maybe by mid-November.. There are also increasing concerns of a no-deal Brexit.. Overnight, investors continued to cheer the new US-Mexico trade deal, pushing world stock indexes higher and showing higher openings for US stocks, already having set new record highs yesterday. There is still a question on whether Congress will approve the new deal, with a deadline of 9/1. The new Mexican government takes over on 12/1. Today, Canada returns to the negotiation table with the US to see if they can hammer out a deal for themselves. President Trump has given Canada 4 days or face punishing 25% auto tariffs. The Mexican peso was down today after a 2-day rally. Canada’s dollar is up in anticipation of a potential trade deal. Turkey’s lira continues to fall. The Bank of Korea meets on Friday to set monetary policy, but with weak jobs growth, speculation has retreated from an interest rate increase. In Germany, GfK consumer confidence surprisingly slipped in September. It’s still only slightly below February’s record high. France’s preliminary estimate of Q2 real GDP was unrevised while monthly consumer spending increased in July, but was a weaker-than-expected result.

“Canada scrambles as U.S., Mexico ink NAFTA pact.” Globe and Mail

“U.S., Canada Launch Talks Amid Pressure to Rewrite Nafta…U.S. and Canadian negotiators began a last-minute sprint to complete a North American Free Trade Agreement rewrite, as pressure built on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to cut a deal and President Trump faced skepticism from Congress.” WSJ

“Trump Hails U.S.-Mexico Trade Pact, Says ‘We’ll See’ With Canada.” Wall Street Journa

Global Financial News:

Business Insider reported last week that leveraged loans to nonfinancial companies has risen to about $1.4 trillion, which is “eerily” similar to where they were in 2008. As thousands of college students head back to school, carrying bookbags, knapsacks, and billions of dollars of student loan debt, one wonders if this albatross around their necks is hindering their future success? I don’t know if this is related or not, but college dropouts in the US now surpass those heading back to school. A new study suggests that, despite a strong US economy, many Americans are struggling to get by.

US Market News:

The Dow Jones closed up a mere 14.38 points on Tuesday, leaving it at 26,064.02. S&P500 was up at 2597.52, unable to hold on to another record high. Nasdaq was up 12.14 points to 8030.04. The S&P 500 continued the longest US bull market in history. The WSJ reported that experts say Treasury market yields should trend up and that hedge funds and other investors are betting on those higher yields. Some economists and JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon says the yield on the 10-year note could reach 5%. It’s interesting, because global risks seem to be increasing, so there could be a flight to quality, and with stocks near all-time highs, will higher yields attract money away from stocks. That’s what I said at the end of last week, and wouldn’t you know it, on Monday, the S&P 500, the Dow Jones, and the Nasdaq all hit record highs. S&P 500 closed above 2,900 for the first time. Nasdaq Composite closed above 8,000 for the first time. The DJIA closed above 26,000 for the first time since February. Investors were thrilled about the new US-Mexico trade deal, which resolved several key issues between the two countries and the 5-year ‘sunset clause’ was extended to 16-years. Meanwhile, US Treasury market slumped, with the 10year yield moving toward 2.90% this morning. The trade deal helped investors ignore other macroeconomic events, such as President Trump’s ongoing legal issues, saber-rattling in Syria, decreasing gains in denuclearizing North Korea, Turkey’s faltering economic system, and fresh Russian sanctions. US Treasuries closed yesterday lower, with yields on 2years at 2.671%, 3years at 2.728%, 5years at 2.769%, 7years at 2.837%, 10years at 2.879%, and 30years at 3.029 (breaking through the 3% barrier). Many market participants, particularly repo market participants, have been lamenting the huge supply by the US Treasury in the front end of the market.

“Yield Curve Suggests Rising, But Still Low, Risk Of Recession, San Francisco Fed Says.” Wall Street Journal

Housing News:

CNBC reported last week that the housing recover isn’t over, it just feels like it. US new home sales sunk to a 9-month low, as housing market appears to wobble. US existing home sales declined for 4th straight month in July too. Homebuilder sentiment fell to the lowest point in almost a year. Weekly mortgage applications have also dropped last week. A new report from real estate firm NeighborhoodX reveals NYC is the most expensive place to buy real estate in the country on a per square-foot basis, with some rates over $10,000/square foot! NYC luxury apartment sales have dropped, as evidenced by Million Dollar Listings-New York. CNBC looked into tax laws and less international buyers as the obstacles. HUD has filed a discrimination complaint against Facebook. New Zealand has banned foreigners from buying houses, in parliament’s hopes to bring down ever-rising housing prices. Baltimore received a $30 million grant to help housing redevelopment. The city’s overall plan is for $889 million to revitalize 3 neighborhoods. CNBC says that “unaffordable” Hong Kong home prices could fall by double digits. Today, we see the Case-Shiller home prices report, which should show the slowing of price increases to a 6.4% annual pace in the US. Sure enough, home prices in 20 US cities posted the smallest gains since 2016. Las Vegas has now dethroned Seattle as the nation’s hottest housing market, after Seattle held the top spot for nearly 2 years. The Case-Shiller report showed that Seattle, which had topped the home price report for 21 months in a row (second-longest streak in the report’s 31-year history), had drastically cooled off (although it is still No.2). Las Vegas, which was the poster-child for the housing bubble and foreclosures, losing more than 60% of its peak value and foreclosing at a rate six times the national average, has seen low inventory and skyrocketing housing prices double their low-point in 2012. Also, population and employment growth have driven prices, as Las Vegas is among the fastest growing US cities. The typical single-family house in Las Vegas now sells for $290,000, just above the US national average, but much cheaper than the median home in Seattle at $805,000. Before you run to Las Vegas to buy a house though, take note that in June, Fitch Ratings said Las Vegas was the most over-valued home market in the country, with home prices 20-24% higher than market fundamentals would dictate. The same report said that Seattle was 10-14% overvalued.

“Britons Are Dipping Into Pensions to Help Children Buy Houses… Britain’s baby boomers are sacrificing their retirements to hoist their poorer offspring onto the property ladder. Nearly one in five over 55-year-olds are accepting lower living standards to help family members to buy a home, according to a Legal & General report on Tuesday” Bloomberg

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. GC Treasury collateral had been trading O/N at the dealers at a 1.956% average and Agy MBS collateral had 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. Month-end funding pressure showed up this week, particularly yesterday, with Treasury GC trading O/N at 2.05-2.10% for month-end, which also happens to be over a long (4 day) Labor Day holiday weekend. Coupled with the long holiday weekend, is a huge settlement of 2year notes, 5year notes, and 7year notes. This is part of the net new US Treasury issuance in August of $200 billion. September is expected to have much less US Treasury issuance.

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. 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.

According to FOMC members, the Fed is expected to raise interest rates 3ctimes in 2018 and 3 times in 2019. So far, we had a tightening of 25bp in March 2018 and a 25bp tightening in June 2018. We now have a full 25bp tightening priced into September 2018 FOMC meeting. Despite the Fed’s guidance on rate hikes, the market is diverging about those 3 tightenings in 2019, pricing only 2 of them in so far.

Earthquakes and Volcanoes:

A massive 6.3-magnitude earthquake hit six miles deep and 188 miles off the coast of Oregon, increasing fears that “the Big One” will soon hit the US. This latest quake followed an intense week of seismic activity in the Ring of Fire, where some 70 earthquakes hit in just 48 hours. A cluster of 16 movements above 4.5 magnitude hit Monday and 53 hit the same region last Sunday. Researchers are examining the rings of drowned trees in landslide-dammed lakes for clues to further hazards in the Cascadia’s quakes. The quakes have been felt in Indonesia, Bolivia, Japan, and Fiji, all part of the horseshoe-shaped Ring of Fire fault line between the Pacific Plate and the Juan de Fuca Plate. “The Big One” is the name of a large earthquake that hits along the 700-mile-long divide between the two plates about every 400 years. This area is also known as the Cascadia subduction zone, where one plate moves underneath the other. “The Big One” was estimated to be above magnitude 8 and were around 600 BC, 170 BC, 400 AD, 810 AD, 1310 AD, and 1700 AD. I’ve spoken in the Commentary about the Ring of Fire several times, so let me show you a map of it (which I think you can only see on the http://www.repocommentary.com website):

The Northwest quakes are not the only ones getting seismologists’ attention right now. In July, a 100-foot fissure opened up in Grand Teton National Park, not far from the potentially catastrophic Yellowstone volcano. That followed some 155 small earthquakes in Yellowstone National Park. Both parks have been closed periodically this season. Let’s keep an eye on this. A massive earthquake in Iran killed at least 2 people and injured hundred. It was in the same area that another earthquake killed more than 600 people in November. 26km SW of Javanrud, Iran, a 6.0 magnitude quake hit on 8/25. 138km WNW of Iberia, Peru, a 7.1 magnitude quake hit on 8/24. 45km SSE of Tanaga Volcano, Alaska, a 6.3 magnitude quake hit on 8/23. 10km West of Yaguaraparo, Venezuela, a 5.8 magnitude quake hit on 8/22. 265km WNW of Bandon, Oregon, a 6.2 magnitude quake hit on 8/22. 79km East of Lakatoro, Vanuatu (the most active quake area in the world), a 6.5 magnitude quake hit on 8/21. 30km NE of Rio Caribe, Venezuela, a 7.3 magnitude quake hit on 8/21.

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

Historically, the most active month for hurricanes in the Atlantic begins this weekend. Multiple tropical waves are forecast to emerge off the coast of western Africa, some of which could develop into tropical cyclones.

The Pacific Hurricane Season began on May 1st. Hurricanes are quite rare in Hawaii. In fact, since 1955, only 19 hurricanes have come within 300 miles of Hawaii. Yet, Hurricane Lane, which was up to Category 5, luckily hit Hawaii as a Category 2 storm. It still whipped the islands with 19 inches of rain.

Let’s talk about weather, here in Florida, it is still ridiculously hot, with temps in the low to mid-90s for perhaps 40 days in a row and ‘feels-like’ temps in the 105-110 range. Also, the water temperature is 88 degrees and the sand is really hot. We are, once again, getting daily low, dangerous thunderstorms sporadically. The Northeast had cooled off last week and was experiencing some serious rain, in fact half a month’s worth in a short time. The temps had been cooler than average. But, that changed quickly and this week, temps were in the 90s and today are pushing 100 degrees in some areas. It has been having a dramatic effect on the US Open in Queens, NY, where 5 different players had to withdraw yesterday because of the heat. The Southwest has also gotten somewhat stormy, while the West Coast remains quite sunny and warm. Summer snow is now blanketing Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming. So much for Fall. My friend in Maine always asks me, since I live in Florida, “don’t you miss the 4 seasons?” and I reply, “don’t you?” I at least get Summer and one or two days of Spring, while he gets Winter and two weeks of Summer.

The death toll from flooding in the Indian site of Karala has risen to 445. Nearly one million peace have been displaced.

Sports News:

MLB:

The MLB regular season is about 80% over, with around 30-35 games left to play.

In the AL East, the Red Sox have finally hit one of those streaks that have plagued all the other MLB teams, losing 5 out of their last 7 games, watching their lead over the Yankees slip from 12 games to 6 ½ games. The Yankees have won 15 of their last 20, after losing 4 in a row to Boston. Now, if you are a superstitious Red Sox fan, like me (and most), this chart comparing 1978’s dreadful collapse and ultimate loss to Bucky Dent and the Yankees in a one-game playoff versus the curve of 2018 record, could get your heart out of rhythm. (I think only the people that look on my website will be able to see this chart):

Of course, the Yankees would have to go 22-9 in their last 31 games and the Red Sox would have to go 15-15, just to tie. So, the Red Sox have won 90 games and have the best record in baseball, although they have lost 3 in a row. They have yet to lose 4 in a row this year, the only team in the Majors who hasn’t. Yankees will be getting Didi Gregorius, Gary Sanchez, and Aaron Judge soon, they hope, off of the DL. The Rays have now won 8 in a row. The Orioles have lost 8 in a row and now have an ugly 37-94 record. In the AL Central, the Indians remain perched atop the division, with the Twins 13 games behind, after the Twins lost 3 in a row. The Tigers also lost 3 in a row. In the AL West, the Astros have a 1 ½-game edge over the A’s and 6 ½ games over the Mariners. The Astros have won 5 games in a row. Whichever team doesn’t win this division will likely be battling with the Yankees from the other Wild Card spot. In the NL, it’s a 5-team race for the Wild Card. In the NL East, the Braves have opened up a 3-game lead over the Phillies and an 8 ½-game lead over the Nats, who have pretty much given up. In the NL Central, the Cubs have won 5 in a row to push their lead to 4-games over the Cardinals and 4 ½-games over the Brewers. Both of those teams have legitimates sights on a Wild Card spot. The Reds have lost 5 games in a row. In the NL West, the Diamondbacks have won 7 out of 10 to take first place, the Rockies have won 7 out of 10 to trail by 1-game, and the Dodgers have won 3 in a row to climb back to 2 ½ games behind. This has been a tight race all year and continues to be.

Matt Carpenter of the Cardinals tied a St. Louis record with 4 doubles in the same game, in a rout of the Rockies. The latest trade deadline is 8/31 and the Mets were particularly active. They had already traded pitcher Jeurys Familia to the A’s, who has been a key addition, and Asdrubal Cabrera to the Phillies. The Mets traded last year’s Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista to the Phillies, after the 37-year-old free agent had found no suitors until the Braves picked him up for a minor league contract. He was then released in May by the Braves and picked up by the Mets. The Phillies had claimed him on waivers, so they now owe the Mets cash or a player to be named later. Blue Jays Kendrys Morales is nearing an MLB record, with home runs in 7 straight games. The record is 8, held by Ken Griffey, Jr., Don Mattingly, and Dale Long. The lights went out again at Dodgers Stadium against the Padres. Giants’ catcher, Buster Posey, has opted for season-ending knee surgery. The fountain at Royals field flooded the outfield and the bullpen, causing a 30-minute delay. Ace Matt Harvey stays with Reds after Brewers waiver claim. Braves’ sensation Ronald Acuna Jr. resumed his HR run against the Marlins and got plunked again by the pitcher. Indians IF Jose Ramirez has a chance to pull off a rare honor, to lead the AL in HRs and stolen bases. Somehow, I’ve avoided this story, but it wouldn’t be fair for me to miss any news items for you. Astros’ superstar ace Justin Verlander revealed that he was charged a hefty price Friday for his team’s World Series win last year, $1 million. The MLB pitcher shared a photo on Twitter of his check from a restaurant at The Beverly Hills Hotel in California, in which a “miscellaneous” charge for being a “Dodger Killer” was listed along with various menu items. The Astros beat the Dodgers 4 games to 3, with a 5-1 win in Game 7.

If you are fans for one of those teams that has already thrown in the towel, you may be interested to know that MLB has already released its 2019 regular season schedule and will have the earliest Opening Day game EVER, on March 28, 2019!

Meanwhile, the 72nd Little League World Series had been going on between 16 teams, and Game 30 was the Championship Game in Williamsport on 8/26. Hawaii (who had beaten Southeast 3-0) beat Asia-Pacific (who had beaten Japan 2-1) 3-0 to win the championship. Japan was the defending champions from last year. In the consolation game, Japan beat Southeast 8-2.

Tennis:

All focus is now on the last major, the 138th US Open, being played at Forest Hill in Queens. Serena Williams was told that she cannot where her white catsuit anymore at the French Open, revealing a new dress code, which caused a minor controversy. Nike and Billie Jean King defended her. Her first match was Monday, and in a little tongue-in-cheek, she won wearing a tutu. Her sister, Venus, weathered the steamy heat, looking a bit drained, to beat her Russian opponent. Roger Federer’s first match is Tuesday. The matches actually began last week with the qualifiers and run through 9/9. A shocker already, as women’s No.1 seed Simona Halep was ousted in two sets in her first match, versus Kaia Kaneopi! On the men’s side, Andy Murray had a tough time in his first match with Australian Duckworth. Five players had to withdraw yesterday from their matches because of the extreme heat and a heat index (incorporating humidity) has been over 100-105 degrees.

Golf:

Tiger’s surprising play at the US Open Championship got him into the mix of the FedEx Cup Playoffs and may have secured him a spot to PLAY in the Ryder Cup, rather than just Vice-Chair it again. Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself, first Tiger is played in the Northern Trust tournament this past weekend, his first FedEx Cup Playoff event since 2013. He did not play great, but made the cut, barely, after lipping out a 3-foot putt on the 18th hole on Friday. Playing bogie-free golf, while admirable (and probably unattainable for me) just doesn’t win tournaments. He finished at -4. Bryson DeChambeau ran away with the tournament, in Paramus, NJ. This week’s FedEx Cup tournament is the Dell Technologies Championship at TPC Boston, and Rickie Fowler has already had to withdraw because of that nagging oblique injury. On the Champions circuit, 6 straight birdies propelled Scott Parel to his first Champions title.

Soccer:

The ex-chief of Brazil soccer has been sentenced to 4 years in prison after a FIFA probe. Zaha could soon play for Real Madrid.

Fighting:

Boxing

IBF super-featherweight champion Tevin Farmer signed co-promotional deal with Matchroom Boxing for multiple fights. He will have an 10/20 title defense against Jemes Tennyson on DAZN. Also on the card will be WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders vs. Demetrius Andrade.

9/8
Danny Garcia vs Shawn Porter title fight.

9/15 huge buildup for mega rematch between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin, after their split draw in Las Vegas.

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

The first card of Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing USA will feature former welterweight champion Jessie Vargas (28-2-1) against junior welterweight title challenger Thomas Dulorme (24-3) on 10/6 at the Wintrust Arena in Chicago.

Racing:

Dale Earnhardt Jr. will drive the Brickyard 400 pace car. Elliott Sadler will stop driving full-time after 2018 season. NASCAR has invited Fernando Alonso to race in Daytona 500.

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-won by Kevin Harvick in all 3 stages.
8/18 Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race-Bristol Motor Speedway-Kurt Busch’s first win of the season and first in 58 races.

Apparently, I thought I had grabbed the majority of the US populace with NASCAR news and occasional horse racing news, but I really need to expand my horizons, according to some of my European an Far East clients. So, this weekend was the Forumula 1 Johnnie Walker Belgian Grand Prix and the winner was Sebastian Vettel who drove a Ferrari. He beat a Mercedes driven by Lewis Hamilton (which sounds oddly familiar). My Mercedes when I had one couldn’t beat a Vespa, so I’m not surprised that Ferrari won. But seriously, I’m not sure what “starting grid”, “qualifying” and all these “practice” positions indicate. I’m obviously going to have to do some more research. If it matters, Sebastian Vettel, from Germany, was vaulted into the No.2 position overall in Driver Standings, ahead of another Ferrari driver with a lot of umlauts and behind said Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain. Beyond that, there was something about a ‘halo’, a ‘smash’, and a ‘grid penalty’. A ‘grid’ seems to be what they call the pole position and where the drivers qualified, but I’m not sure yet. I haven’t watched F-1 since the 1970s and that time I ran into that Michael Schumacher character at one of our Repo Conferences.

NCAA Basketball:

Five-star Kahlil Whitney has committed to Kentucky. Former Michigan State women’s gymnastics coach, Kathie Klages, faces a felony charge for allegedly failing to disclose sexual abuse allegations against Larry Nassar.

NCAA Football:

College football season kickoff was on 8/25, but most major teams haven’t played yet. Just a reminder, Alabama won the National Championship last season. Mississippi State QB Nick Fitzgerald has been suspended by the team for the season opener. Alabama coach Nick Saban has not chosen whether Hurts or Tagovailoa will start at QB. At Florida State, they finally named Deondra Francois as starting QB against Virginia Tech. Michigan WR Tarik Black will be out for “some weeks”. Clemson named Kelly Bryant as starting QB over Trevor Lawrence. Nebraska announced that freshman Adrian Martinez will be starting QB. USC freshman JT Daniels won the starting QB competition. 8 Rutgers football players have been arrested in connection to a credit card scam.

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 concluded its 4 games for each team. The NFL regular season is 9/6. In 2018, the highest paid players will be 1. Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons-$30 million; 2. Kirk Cousins, QB, Vikings-$28 million; 3. Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, 49ers-$27.5 million; Matt Stafford, QB, Lions-$27 million; 5. Derek Carr, QB, Raiders-$25 million; 6. Drew Brees, QB, Saints-$25 million; 7. Andrew Luck, QB, Colts-$24.594 million; Alex Smith, QB, Redskins-$23.5 million; Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens-$22.13 million; and 10. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers-$22 million. The top 10 paid players will be ALL QBs and none of them named Brady! Brady, doesn’t even show up on the list until No.16 for $20.5 million. A non-QB doesn’t show up on the list until No.19 Von Miller, OLB, Broncos-$19.083 million. Jaguars WR Marquis Lee will have knew surgery and go on injured reserve. The Patriots agreed to a 5-year deal with OL Mason. The Giants are reportedly close to paying WR Odell Beckham Jr. a big money 5-year extension. Bills’ QB Josh Allen struggled in preseason loss to Bengals. The Broncos signed longtime Bengals’ Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones. Bengals’ Andy Dalton got standing ovation from Bills fans and threw TD on first drive. The Vikings acquired center Brett Jones from the Giants. 31-year-old Patriots WR Eric Decker has announced his retirement from the NFL. The Patriots are woefully thin at WR now, after losing Amendola to Miami, cutting Britt, having Edelman get suspended for 4 games, and now Decker retiring. Eagles starting QB Carson Wentz has still not been cleared for contact, so Nick Foles, the Super Bowl MVP is still playing. Dolphins LB Kiko Alonso ended up staggering over to the wrong sideline and hanging out after a play. Bears coach Matt Nagy is defending his decision to bench all of his starters. I’m surprised more teams don’t do that. It’s so dangerous for them to play these 4 meaningless games. Josh Gordon has been activated by Browns but is dealing hamstring issues. The Bucs are meeting with former Ravens RB Terrance West. The Browns have reportedly offered Dez Bryant a deal. Vikings’ Antwione Williams has been reportedly fined $20,000 for controversial penalty. Dolphins’ Julius Thomas is retiring from NFL to pursue doctorate in psychology. Cardinals signed injured center A.Q. Shipley to one-year contract extension. Browns QB Tyrod Taylor suffered a dislocated pinky to his non-throwing hand. Raiders signed corner Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Coach Harbaugh wants to keep QB Robert Griffin III. The Steelers signed kicker Chris Boswell to a new 5-year contract. The 49ers sent LB Eli Harold to the Lions.

NHL:

The NHL preseason starts on 9/15. Erik Karlsson trade chatter has reheated. He has now said that he wants to play in the US and won’t re-sign with a Canadian team. NHL’s top free-agent prize signed with the Maple Leafs. Former Red Wings No.1 pick Joe Murphy is now homeless, according to recent documentary. Senators assistant GM Randy Lee resigned after July suspension. Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin and wife welcomed their first child. Bryan Berard the No.1 pick in 1995 has filed a concussion-related lawsuit. On the trade rumor front, the Bruins are expected to acquire a winger. They may be able to get Blue Jackets’ Artemi Panarin or Flyers’ Wayne Simmonds. Also, former Bruin center Tyler Sequin has failed to sign a contract extension with the Stars. As the Red Wings continue to rebuild, questions linger over where their veterans, like Jimmy Howard, Gustav Nyquist, and Trevor Daley will wind up. The NHL is reportedly considering reinstating Slava Voynov.

NBA:

The Summer League is underway. Preseason will be upon us soon. The NBA Board of Governors will vote on major changes for 2018-19 season. NBA free-agency is still a big topic in the news. Spurs’ Manu Ginobili announced his retirement. Lakers’ Lonzo Ball reportedly has torn meniscus. Meanwhile, his annoying father, LaVar Ball, and his two brothers, LiAngelo and LaMelo) have been ripped by their former Lithuanian coach, saying “they started destroying” the team. Their stint in professional Lithuanian basketball did not last long. Jimmy Butler of the Wolves says he is open to playing with LeBron James on the Lakers. Seattle Storm’s Breanna Stewart was named WNBA MVP. Warriors’ star Stephen Curry is now opening up about women’s equality and WNBA pay vs NBA pay in basketball. Kobe Bryant is shooting down rumors about coming out of retirement just to play with LeBron James on the Lakers. Former Warriors guard Nick Young was arrested in Hollywood. Former Kings’ Ty Lawson is working out with the Pelicans. Isaiah Thomas says the Nuggets “will be making” the playoffs next season. Diana Taurasi won her 13th consecutive single-elimination. Kawhi Leonard says he is open to re-signing with the Raptors.

Travel News:

Did you know that Amex Platinum cardholders get automatic elite status at Marriott, Starwood, and Hilton hotels around the world? China has suspended a popular ride share service by Didi Chuxing, following the murder of a passenger. Didi is the world’s largest ride-sharing firm by number of rides. JetBlue has instituted new baggage and flight change fees. Great. There is an Anthony Bourdain travel documentary coming out next year. Did you know, and this isn’t one of those movies, one in every 50 travelers finds the love of their life while on a flight? Now, totally unrelated, a couple spent 13 hours straight riding the Jurassic Park ride at Universal in Orlando, FL and then got engaged. Okay, a little weird. There is a “completely untouched” Scottish island for sale for a mere $154,000. The full moon we just had was not the ‘Blueberry Moon’ but ‘The Sturgeon Moon’, the 9th full moon of 2018. The World’s first beer hotel with in-room taps and shower mini-bars, is finally open. The DogHouse in Columbus, OH sports 32-rooms and a spa that uses beer-infused products. Ironically, it is owned by a Scottish beer company, BrewDog, not US. Well, we are approaching Labor Day, which is a US holiday to celebrate our workers, but is also kind of the unofficial ‘end of summer’ holiday, certainly the end of Hamptons and Newport, RI summer rentals. It is, unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on where you live and which side of the fence you are on, the beginning of the school year. Yelp! Compiled a list of the 10 “must-see” US destinations for the Labor Day Weekend getaway:

Half Moon Bay, CA
St. Augustine, FL
Miami Beach, FL (could be)
Savannah, GA
Capitola, CA (never even heard of this one)
Charleston, SC
Wisconsin Dells, WI (yes, I’ve heard of this one)
Corpus Christi, TX
Saratoga Springs, NY
Hilton Head Island, SC (bring alligator repellant)

Did you know that Zurich, Switzerland’s coolest area is also its red light district, Bahnofstrasse? A hotel fire in Harbin, China, killed 19 people and injured more than 20 others. In Orlando, FL, two workers were killed when they fell from a scaffolding, working on a new section of one of the Disney amusement parks’ attractions.

“Global Car Sales Hit Speed Bump as Demand Slows and Trade Tensions Loom…After nearly a decade of growth, new-vehicle sales in the world’s largest auto markets are entering their first sustained slowdown since the global financial crisis, putting pressure on profits as uncertainty around the U.S.’s trade policies looms.”WSJ,

Health News:

A new study suggests that aspirin and fish oil may not actually help with heart risk. Scientists think that marijuana may stay in breast milk for as much as 6 days. Diet drug Belviq is the first one shown not to hurt heart in any way. Ex-CDC Director Frieden has been arrested on sex charges. An EpiPen shortage is causing concern as school year begins. King Bio kids products have been recalled for contamination. Almond milk has been recalled over cow’s milk concerns. A type of whey powder, likely source of salmonella, has been recalled. Speaking of salmonella, an outbreak linked to raw turkey has sickened at least 90 people. More than 500 people have been sickened now by McDonald’s salads, likely with listeria. It turns out that in water utilities around Georgia, the system for testing lead in water may not have been working as it should, leaving some people uninformed about potential dangers. The FDA has cleared first Tretinoin lotion for acne (Altreno). Missouri has become the first state to regulate the use of word “meat”. A new study suggests that air pollution causes a ‘huge’ reduction in intelligence. China is reportedly withholding samples of a dangerous flu virus from the US. New research shows that deaths from drugs, alcohol, and suicide now outpace diabetes. Scientists believe they have found a genetic link between marijuana and schizophrenia. One in seven US adults is now on marijuana.

Animal News:

I had all these great shark and alligator pictures in the Repo Commentary last week, along with the changes to the Trump Oval Office, but it turns out that you could only see them if you looked at it on to the http://www.repocommentary.com website. Sorry. In Hawaii, an Alabama man was fined $1500 for touching a Hawaiian monk seal and harassing a sea turtle on Kauai and then posting those pictures on social media. The Courier-Journal is reporting on a sadistic trend of some pet owners, desperate for narcotic drugs, injuring their pets to get narcotics from the pets’ veterinarian. DEA officials have sent out a warning to veterinarians, saying that this is a real issue. In one case, a Kentucky woman used her husband’s disposable razor blades to cut her mixed-breed retriever, Alice, on multiple occasions to get an opioid painkiller. The owner eventually confessed to her actions and was sentenced to 4 years behind bars for obtaining a controlled substance by making false statements (felony) and torture of a cat or dog (misdemeanor). A judge is now set to rule on whether Yellowstone-area grizzly bears can be hunted. There have been 37 shark attacks worldwide so far this year, 21 of them in the US, and 9 of those in Florida. Sharktivity reports that at least 15 great white sharks have been sighted very close to shore in Cape Cod in the last week. The Number One advice in Cape Cod is to avoid swimming anywhere near the seals. Sharktivity is part of the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, “which supports scientific research, improves public safety, and educates the community to inspire conservation of Atlantic White Sharks.” It now has an app for cellular phones that tracks sightings of tagged great white sharks. The app has Shark Alerts, Sightings, Satellite Detection, and Acoustic Detection.

Entertainment News:

Award-winning playwright, screenwriter, and author, Neil Simon, has died of complications from pneumonia at age 91. The prolific writer wrote more than 30 plays and nearly as many movie screenplays. He received more combined Oscar and Tony nominations than any other writer. Ironically, he was born on the 4th of July. Nationally syndicated radio host Dan Loesch says it is time social media platforms reined in bias against politics and applied their terms of service, after a Twitter use threatened to attack her children. Burning Man, a festival for some 70,000 people, began on Sunday in Black Rock City, a temporary city in Nevada where the event is held every August. Lines to get in reportedly hit 10 hours wait due to dust storms that caused danger driving conditions and the gates to be closed for 3 hours. A sign of the times, Pittsburgh has become the largest city in the US without a daily print newspaper. One electronic news source may also be having trouble, as BUZZFEED has recently asked its audience for donations. Leading journalists have banded together to call for EU copyright reform. 82-year-old actor Robert Redford’s latest movie, THE OLD MAN AND THE GUN, is about to be released in theaters 9/28. After six decades of charming us with his acting, Redford said the movie will be his final one as an actor. The Sumner Redstone civil war began to heat up again, as his daughter prepares to take control. Eddie Murphy is expecting his 10th child. This will be his second child with longtime girlfriend Paige Butcher. The 57-year-old Murphy has 8 other children from previous relationships with ex-wife Nicole Murphy, ex-girfriend Tamara Hood, ex-girlfriend Paulette McNeely, and ex-girlfriend Spice Girl Mel B. Luckily, he has several projects to support his growing family, including movies DOLEMITE IS MY NAME, TRIPLETS, and BEVERLY HILLS COPS 4. The man who allegedly gave Demi Lovato the drugs is speaking about her overdose. The Sister Wives family that had to flee Utah has relocated to Arizona. Buzz is swirling that Alec Baldwin will play Bruce Wayne’s dad in JOKER movie, the next instalment of the many BATMAN movies’ franchise. Pauly D fed cannoli to fans at a club. In the media, Angelina Jolie is no longer coming off as the saint she was purported to be. Brad Pitt said he is “sickened” by her in an interview. Kanye West says he wants to teach people how to wear sandals. Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s The Row will launch a men’s line now. Bella Thorne apparently is showing off her new bikini and armpit hair on Instagram. Tobias Menzies is playing Prince Philip in THE CROWN. Rihanna has shared a rare photo with her parents after forgiving her father. Chris Stapleton is topping the list of CMA Awards nominations. Do they have a CMA award show every month? Have you see the eerie pictures of Paul McCartney’s grandson? (you’ll only be able to see this on the website, I fear)
The Asia Argento assault story of the 17-year-old boy is apparently getting even more bizarre now. Bobbi Kristina’s friend who found her dead in the bathtub has just died from an overdose himself. Ben Affleck is back in alcohol rehab and apparently stopped at a Jack-in-the-Box on the way there. The buzz is that Bob Costas is bailing on NBC because it’s not a fit anymore. Johnny Depp scored a victory in court in lengthy legal battle against his ex-lawyer. K-pop band BTS beat Taylor Swift’s YouTube record for most video views in 24 hours.

This week’s box-office was very weak, as the blockbusters fell and the debuts underperformed. Also, I failed to live up to my promise to go and catch up on movies, which certainly put a dent in their revenues. CRAZY RICH ASIANS, which had debuted at No.1 last week, somehow stayed at No.1 with $24.8 million (with a total now of $76.6 million and a cost of just $30 million to make) in Weed 2; staying at No.2 was megladon Shark movie THE MEG, which still made $12.8 million in its 3rd week ($105 million total for a movie that cost $130 million); No.3 was the debut of THE HAPPYTIME MURDERS, with $9.5 million (low for a movie that cost $40 million to make); No.4 was still MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: FALLOUT (which I still want to see and review for you) with $8.1 million, in its 5th week (total so far of $194 million, clearing its $178 million budget); and No.5 was MILE 22, which fell from No.3, with a disappointing $6.4 million (total of only $25.5 million for cost of $50 million), in its 2nd week. The highest next debut was at No.10 for A.X.L., which was on limited release and only made $2.8 million. I was going to see ALPHA, but then I found out it is all subtitles, so a film, not a movie. I still want to see MAMMA MIA HERE WE GO AGAIN. If you are looking for the flop of the summer, it is probably Dwayne Johnson in SKYSCRAPER, which cost $125 million to make and has had revenue of only $67.1 million.

Movies coming out this week: OPERATION FINALE, KIN, SEARCHING, ACTIVE MEASURES, BIG BROTHER, BLOOD FEST, THE LITTLE STRANGER, PICK OF THE LITTER, SNOW QUEEN 2: FIRE AND ICE, and YA VEREMOS.

Technology & Space News:

Not far from the movie depiction, the memoir by Steve Jobs’ daughter also portrays the Apple co-founder as a mean person whose behavior was enabled by those around him. Elon Musk just announced that he no longer wants to make Tesla a private company. Data from several US states is showing that thousands of Amazon employees are using food stamps. In fact, nearly 1 out of every 3 Amazon employees in Arizona is on food stamps and 1 in every 10 in Ohio are on food stamps. President Trump has accused Google of rigging search results against him and called it “a very serious situation” that “will be addressed.” The White House is now looking at regulating Google. Best Buy revenue fell the most in almost one year, as growth is seen cooling off. Robot strawberry pickers could end the need for human workers. Droid butlers are coming to one chic Miami hotel. Silicon Valley has taken another step toward autonomous flying, since autonomous driving has gone so well. Amazon reportedly wants to help you start your own delivery business.

Political News:

According to PredictIt, the odds of a President Trump impeachment are increasing, after he was implicated in federal crimes by his former personal attorney Michael Cohen. An ESPN host, Max Kellerman, teed off on Tiger Woods during his show First Take because of Tiger’s “thoughtless” refusal to take a shot at President Trump. Apparently, Kellerman got “angry” when Woods was asked about his relationship with Trump and Woods urged people “to respect the office of the President.” The host then chastised Woods with a long dissertation and finished by saying, “that is a stupid comment.” This isn’t the first time that ESPN has decided to wade into the middle of politics with opinions offered by liberal hosts and anchors and abandon the neutral reporting of sports news.

US News:

Florida officials and FBI agents are pouring over the scene of the popular Jacksonville, FL Landing boardwalk, where a gamer shot up a Madden 19 video game tournament on Sunday, killing 2 people and injuring 12 more, before turning the handgun on himself. Authorities now believe the California man, who killed a man who played video games to earn money for college and a West Virginia man whose e-sports winnings helped support his young family, “clearly targeted other gamers” at the Florida tournament, himself a competitor in the tournament. Flags are at half-staff throughout the country for hero Senator John McCain, who succumbed to a rare form of brain cancer on Sunday, shortly after his family ended his treatment. Ironically, he died on the same date (9 years later) as his longtime political opponent, Sen. Edward Kennedy, who also died of the same rare form of brain cancer. Oddly, President Trump withdrew at the last minute a statement that would have praised Sen. John McCain following his death. The two have feuded or years and the President was reportedly not invited to his funeral. McCain’s office announced his pallbearers and other aspects of 3 days of services for hero. Actor Warren Beatty will join other former Senators (Hart, Gramm, Feingold, Whitehouse) and Vice President Joe Biden as pallbearers. Also paying tribute to McCain will be Jeff Flake, Joe Biden, Meghan McCain, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Henry Kissinger, Lindsay Graham, Joe Lieberman, and Kelly Ayote. A video of a mystery woman in a t-shirt and possibly shackles appearing on a Texas homeowner’s doorstep has prompted officials to launch a search for her. A Miami model is facing a murder charge, after he was captured on video using a bat to beat a homeless man who later died, all captured on surveillance video. A Texas couple’s fun-filled road trip to Michigan to see a rock concert ended with them arrested on Monday, after police said they had discovered that the couple had left their 11-year-old daughter home alone for days. University of North Carolina leaders have met to discuss the toppling of a Confederate statue on campus by rowdy students. The mother of a 9-year-old boy says her son committed suicide after coming out gay and then being bullied by his classmates. Authorities in a suburb of Philadelphia are searching for a person of interest, after the murder of a former Playboy playmate was discovered strangled in her apartment. The Catholic diocese of Buffalo, not one in Pennsylvania, has resigned as pastor of his NY church, after a sexual abuse complaint. A firefighter and a good Samaritan leapt into action as gunfire erupted at a New Mexico convenience store, as surveillance footage shows the the two heroes shielding women and children at the store. Some NYCHA employees are now being accused of using housing projects for wild orgies, according to the NY Post. A Texas man says he’s selling 3-D printed gun plans, despite authorities halt.

International News:

Pope Francis has refused to comment on the bombshell allegations of sexual abuse cover ups in Pennsylvania dioceses, which may involve thousands of victims and over 300 priests. North Korea’s state newspaper is claiming that the US is secretly plotting to “unleash a war” while it is continuing to negotiate peace “with a smile on its face” with the regime. The Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) leader in Afghanistan was killed in a US airstrike. Scott Morrison replaced Malcolm Turnbull as PM of Australia, after a change of Liberal Party leadership. Saudi Arabia still intends to behead Israa al-Ghomgham, who is to be tried before the Saudi terrorism tribunal on charges solely related to peaceful human-rights activism, according to a Human Rights Watch report. Five other Shiites face the same potential fate. The charges include chanting slogans hostile to the regime, filing protests, posting on social media, seeking to inflame public opinion, and providing moral support to rioters. Russia is currently staging its largest war games in 40 years, using 300,000 troops.

Florida:

The Governor has declared a State of Emergency for parts of Florida. The West Coast, particularly Southwest (which is very unusual) is suffering the worst bloom of Red Tide in Florida’s history, and scientists are actually pointing to African desert sand as a possible culprit, not human pollution. On the East Coast, the state is suffering from deadly blue-green algae, which is directly linked to the runoffs (both East and West) from Lake Okeechobee and use of phosphorous in fertilizer for the sugar plantations just south of Lake Okeechobee that now block the runoff from seeping into the filtering swamps of the Everglades. Both problems are deeply impacting the wildlife, fishing industry, and tourism industry of Florida. A Florida Chick-fil-A restaurant is opening its franchise right net to another Chick-fil-A restaurant. That’s weird.

My harmony group, Generation Gap, was just voted by InTune Magazine as the Best Harmony Group in the state of Florida, and I (again in full Elvis attire) 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:

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

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