Repo Commentary-9/11/2018

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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. And i/we’ve got two conferences coming up!

My Repo Commentary is posted on my new website: http://www.repocommentary.com. It also pops up on LinkedIn and the Global Investors Group (ISF Magazine) website.

If you need to get hold of me, my cell is still 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.’

Monday’s Holidays or Events:

• Blame It On The Large Hadron Collider Day
• I’m On Top Of It Day
• International Creepy Boston Dynamics Robotic Horse Day
• International Make-Up Day
• National Boss/Employee Exchange Day
• National Swap Ideas Day
• National Hot Dog Day
• Sew Be It Day
• The Beginning of Rosh Hashanah (Judaism)
• TV Dinner Day
• World Suicide Prevention Day
• Amerindian Heritage Day in Guyana
• Children’s Day in Honduras
• Gibraltar National Day
• Saint George’s Caye Day in Belize
• Teachers’ Day in China

Tuesday is the 17th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the US of 9/11/2001 at the World Trade Center in NYC, at the Pentagon, and a foiled attack on Washington, DC brought down by passengers in a field in Pennsylvania. During the attacks performed by using 4 commercial passenger planes, 2,996 people were killed (including the 19 hijackers) and more than 6,000 others injured. 265 of the deaths were on the 4 planes. I was working at Morgan Stanley at the time and we had recently merged with Dean Witter, so we were the largest occupant of the World Trade Center towers, with some 3500 workers spread out on 28 floors. Our hero security team of 12 were the only Morgan Stanley fatalities, because of their valiant efforts. I lost many friends and many clients in the attacks. Many of us lost family members, co-workers, and friends in the attacks. Many people are still struggling with the after effects of the terrorist attacks, not just because of emotional loss, but also over 7,500 first responders at each of the sites has come down with some form of cancer, many of them dying. Doctors say that those cancers were caused by the toxic dust and hazardous chemicals from the attacks. We will never forget.

Some Famous People Born 9/10 in History:

• 920-Louis IV of France
• 1839-Isaac K. Funk, co-founder of Funk & Wagnalls Encyclopedia
• 1925-Roy Brown, American singer/songwriter
• 1927-Johnny Keating, Scottish trombonist/composer/producer
• 1929-Arnold Palmer, golfer/designer
• 1933-Karl Lagerfeld, German-French fashion designer/photographer
• 1934-Roger Maris, MLB
• 1940-Roy Ayers, American singer/songwriter/musician
• 1941-Gunpei Yokoi, Japanese video game designer, invented Game Boy
• 1945-Jose Feliciano, Puerto Rican singer/songwriter/guitarist
• 1946-Don Powell, English rock drummer (Slade)
• 1947-Larry Nelson, golfer
• 1948-Bob Lanier, NBA
• 1948-Charlie Waters, NFL
• 1949-Barriemore Barlow, English rock drummer/songwriter (Jethro Tull)
• 1949-Bill O’Reilly, American journalist/author
• 1950-Rosie Flores, American singer/guitarist
• 1950-Joe Perry, American singer/songwriter/guitarist
• 1951-Bill Rogers, golfer
• 1953-Amy Irving, American actress
• 1957-Carol Decker, English singer/songwriter (T’Pau)
• 1960-Colin Firth, English actor/producer
• 1963-Randy Johnson, MLB
• 1968-Guy Ritchie, English director/producer/screenwriter
• 1972-James Duval, American actor/producer
• 1974-Ryan Phillippe, American actor/producer
• 1974-Ben Wallace, NBA
• 1983-Joey Votto, MLB
• 1985-Neil Walker, MLB
• 1987-Paul Goldschmidt, MLB

This Day in History (9/10):

• 506-the bishops of Visigothic Gaul meet in the Council of Agde.
• 1419-John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy, is assassinated by adherents to the Dauphin, the future Charles VII of France.
• 1509-an earthquake known as “The Lesser Judgment Day” hits Constantinople.
• 1547-the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh, the last full-scale military confrontation between England and Scotland, resulting in a decisive victory for the forces of Edward VI.
• 1570-Spanish Jesuit missionaries land in present-day Virginia to establish the short-lived Ajacan Mission.
• 1608-John Smith is elected council president of Jamestown, Virginia.
• 1776-American Revolutionary War: Nathan Hale volunteers to spy for the Continental Army.
• 1798-at the Battle of St. George’s Caye, British Honduras defeats Spain.
• 1813-the United States defeats the British Fleet at the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812.
• 1823-Simon Bolivar is named President of Peru.
• 1846-Elias Howe is granted a patent for the sewing machine.
• 1897-Lattimer massacre: a sheriff’s posse kills 19 unarmed striking immigrant miners in Lattimer, PA.
• 1898-Empress Elisabeth of Austria is assassinated by Luigi Lucheni.
• 1918-Russian Civil War: the Red Army captures Kazan.
• 1919-Austria and the Allies sign the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye recognizing the independence of Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia.
• 1936-the first World Individual Motorcycle Speedway Championship is held at London’s Wembley Stadium.
• 1939-WWII: the submarine HMS Oxley is mistakenly sunk by the submarine HMS Triton near Norway and becomes the Royal Navy’s first loss of a submarine in the war.
• 1939-WWII: Canada declares war on Germany, joining the Allies (Poland, France, United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia).
• 1942-WWII: the British Army carries out an amphibious landing on Madagascar to re-launch Allied operations in the Madagascar Campaign.
• 1943-WWII: in the course of Operation Achse, German troops began their occupation of Rome.
• 1960-Summer Olympics in Rome, Abebe Bikila becomes the first sub-Saharan African to win a gold medal, winning the marathon in bare feet.
• 1961-in the Italian Gran Prix, a crash causes the death of German Formula One driver Wolfgang von Trips and 13 spectators who are hit by his Ferrari.
• 1967-the people of Gibraltar vote to remain a British dependency rather than becoming part of Spain.
• 1974-Guinea-Bissau gains independence from Portugal.
• 1976-a British Airways Hawker Siddeley Trident and an Inex-Adria DC-9 collide near Zabreb, Yugoslavia, killing 176.
• 1977-Hamida Djandoubi, convicted of torture and murder, is the last person to be executed by guillotine in France.
• 2000-Operation Barras successfully frees 6 British soldiers held captive for over two weeks and contributes to the end of the Sierra Leone Civil War.
• 2001-the Michael Jackson 30th Anniversary Celebration concert was held September 7th and September 10th in NYC’s Madison Square Garden, hosted by Michael Jackson. I was actually there on 9/10/2001. The star-studded shows not only featured MJ and a reunion of The Jacksons, but also featured performances by Samuel L. Jackson (narrating), Usher, Mya, Whitney Houston, Marlon Brando (speech), Billy Gilman, Shaggy, Monica, Al Jarreau, Jill Scott, Deborah Cox, James Ingram, Gloria Estefan, Marc Anthony, Liza Minnelli, Destiny’s Child, Ray Charles, Cassandra Wilson, Elizabeth Taylor (introduction), NSYNC, Britney Spears, Chris Tucker, Dionne Warwick, Gloria Gaynor, 98 Degrees, Luther Vandross, Missy Elliott, Nelly Furtado, Aaron Carter, and Gladys Knight. Several of the stars were actually staying at the downtown Marriott Vista hotel, which was destroyed during the following day’s terrorist attacks.
• 2002-Switzerland, traditionally a neutral country, becomes a full member of the United Nations.
• 2007-former PM of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, returns to Pakistan after 7 years in exile, following a military coup in October 1999.
• 2008-the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, described as the biggest scientific experiment in history, is powered up in Geneva, Switzerland.
• 2017-Hurricane Irma makes landfall on Cudjoe Key, Florida as a Category 4, after causing catastrophic damage throughout the Caribbean. Irma will result in 134 deaths and $64.76 billion in damage.

Fun Fact of the Day:

Upon his death, pirate Olivier Levasseur had tossed a cryptogram into a crowd and told them if they could figure out his message, his treasure (now estimated at $200 million) would be theirs, a treasure that to this day has never been found.

Daily Affirmation/Thought/Pun/Quote:

“The past cannot be cured.”—Queen Elizabeth I

International and Commodity Markets:

Oil prices on 8/22 closed at $68.63/barrel. Today (9/10) however, it has pulled back on concerns that US inventories are growing, closing at $67.54/barrel. I was able to find gasoline at $2.66/gallon at my West Palm Beach gas station, but most stations have gasoline prices up about 5 cents from where they were last week, not down like oil. The USD versus the Yen is trading at $111.10, unchanged from where it was on 8/28. The USD was at 1.1597 versus the Euro, stronger since 8/28. The USD is sharply down since 8/28 against the GBP, at $1.3027. The USD is much higher versus the CAD to $1.3159 since 8/28. Gold closed today at $1196.20/ounce, down from where it was 8/28. Bitcoin was trading at $8185.21 on 7/25. On 8/9, it collapsed to $6,300.01. Last week, it broke above $7000 and its 50-day moving average. If you thought you’d seen the lows, however, you were wrong. It is already down 65% since its peak in December, but now the stochastics point to potential further problems. It keeps having lower highs and the Directional Movement Index is suggesting that bullish buying pressure has ended and selling pressure has begun. It closed today at $6,413.87. Bank of Canada met to discuss monetary policy and chose to keep rates unchanged at 1.50%. Weak data continues out of Germany. France’s trade gap narrowed in July. It’s industrial production also showed steady growth. In Italy, bond yields finally fell, after FM Tria signaled his pledge to keep the fiscal deficit below 3% of GDP. However, Italy’s retail sales dropped in July, the fourth drop in five months. Mexican Economy Minister said his country wants a dispute over US steel and aluminum tariffs resolved before it signs the renegotiated NAFTA. US business leaders have urged President Trump to reconsider tariffs on an additional $200 billion in Chinese goods. They say retaliatory tariffs would increase costs and would stifle innovation, according to Bloomberg. Australia’s NAB business confidence index fell 3 points to a reading of 4 in August.

“’A devaluation of oilsands assets’: New rules on sulphur will make a fifth of output uneconomic within two years…From the lack of available pipeline capacity to the potential adoption of electric cars, there is no shortage of threats facing the Canadian oilsands. But the latest menace lies in a seemingly innocuous and highly common element: sulphur.” National Post

“U.S. refinery maintenance expected to weigh on Canadian heavy crude prices…Canada’s heavy oil producers face sustained pressure as big U.S. refineries gear up for seasonal maintenance, sapping demand just as the industry grapples with delays to proposed export pipelines.” Globe and Mail

“Trump Eyes a Japan Trade Fight: In a Thursday phone call, the President sounds courteous and stable, but unfortunately still focused on trade deficits. People inclined to believe that the President is crazy should pause before accepting such diagnoses from journalists without medical degrees quoting anonymous non-doctors in the federal bureaucracy. But investors hoping for a quick end to the Trump trade debates may have reason to be nervous.” Wall Street Journal

S&P’s China-Ratings Plan Risks Too Many Triple-A’s: S&P Global Inc. is developing a custom credit-rating scale for China that will likely mean more triple-A’s, worrying investors about inflated grades. The credit-rating company, which is setting up an independent business in China, recently said it will tailor a system for rating bonds from businesses, local governments and other issuers there.”  Wall Street Journal,

“China Sees Hints of a Past Threat: Inflation…..Pork is up. Vegetables are up. Gasoline is up. Even the official numbers, usually tame, are up. Prices are rising in China — and that could complicate Beijing’s efforts to prop up a slowing economy and navigate President Trump’s trade war.” New York Times

“China asks WTO for sanctions in U.S. trade dispute: China will ask the World Trade Organization next week for permission to impose sanctions on the United States, for Washington’s non-compliance with a ruling in a dispute over U.S. dumping duties that China initiated in 2013, a meeting agenda showed on Tuesday. The request is likely to lead to years of legal wrangling over the case for sanctions and the amount. Last year China won a WTO ruling in the dispute, which related to several industries including machinery and electronics, light industry, metals and minerals, with an annual export value of up to $8.4 billion.” Reuters

Global Financial News:

The US trade deficit posted the biggest one-month increase since March 2015 as rising imports and falling exports pushed it to $50.1 billion in July, according to Commerce Department. Emerging Markets are now in their longest slump since the Financial Crisis, according to Bloomberg. The bear market has arrived for emerging market stocks, as the MSCI Emerging Markets Index has closed more than 20% below a January high, entering the bear market. The US Senate has confirmed Elad Roisman, chief counsel of the Senate banking committee, as a member of the SEC. The House GOP says that a US government shutdown is unlikely, although President Trump said that the government will shut down before 9/30 if discussions about a border wall remain unresolved. The White House Council of Economic Advisers says wages in the US have risen 1.4% in the past year, disputing statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that say they have slowed, according to the NY Times. Fund managers are showing enthusiasm for European high-yield debt, despite political tensions in Italy and $10 billion in issuance expected this month. The UK Financial Conduct Authority and the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission have both urged the EU to ease access to bloc for foreign banks and other financial institutions, as the UK and EU negotiate future trade terms post-Brexit. Jeb Hensarling, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, has proposed a Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac solution, in which he would repeal their charters and institute Ginnie Mae, a government corporation that would effectively guarantee repayment to investors in Federal Housing Administration and other government-insured loans via a network of approved issuers. J. Christopher Giancarlo, chairman of the CFTC, says the odds of US deference to foreign regulators regarding derivatives trading will increase if the EU abandons a proposal to expand oversight of US clearinghouses. Concerns about the escalating US vs China trade battle continue to bother investors. China reportedly is inviting US bankers to a meeting with Chinese VP Wang Quishan and other officials Sunday in Beijing. China reportedly hopes the meeting becomes a biannual event and improves financial relations between the countries. AXA has secured all regulatory approvals for merger with XL Group.

“House Republicans Push to Lock In Tax Cuts Past 2025…Even though the legislation dubbed “Tax Reform 2.0” isn’t likely to become law this year or have significant practical effect on individual tax returns until today’s sixth-graders are in college, Republicans see advantages in voting now.” WSJ

US Market News:

The Dow Jones has waffled lower since my 8/29 Repo Commentary, closing today down 59.47 points to 25,857.07. S&P 500, however, was up another 5.45 to close at an astonishing 2,877.13, nearly 300 points above where it was during my 8/29 Repo Commentary. Nasdaq was also up another 21.62 points to close at 7,924.16, which was below the 8,030.04 is set on 8/28. US Treasury prices closed today lower, with yields higher on 2years at 2.73% (up 2bp), 3years at 2.78% (unchanged), 5years at 2.83 (up 1bp), 7years at 2.89% (up 1bp), 10years at 2.94% (up 1bp), and 30years at 3.09% (down 2bp). Many market participants, particularly repo market participants, have been lamenting the huge supply by the US Treasury in the front end of the market. The trading of US Treasuries is shifting to direct-streaming venues from electronic platforms to avoid minimum spread sizes and high platform fees. So far, those alternative venues represent only about 10% of the market, but experts say the shift is gathering momentum, according to Risk. Unemployment claims have fallen to the lowest level since 1960s. Small business optimism has surged to the highest level ever, even higher than during the Reagan era. Republicans have unveiled a plan to make tax cuts permanent.

Housing News:

The latest US housing data last week showed the market wobbling and began investors worrying. In talking to my real estate friends down here in Florida, it’s about not having enough supply to meet demand, particularly on the commercial real estat side. However, it’s hard to believe when you see all the new condo skyscrapers being built and new gated communities being built. But, even the office of Employment in Florida has issued an alert that they need more builders, carpenters, etc. to build all of this growth in population. The real estate brokers say that it is still a sellers’ market, that they hold the upper hand in negotiations in Florida, the opposite of what I hear is happening in the metropolitan NYC area, especially in the luxury real estate market. CBS put out a warning article today to real estate investors, saying that home prices in the US have never been higher, since January’s housing values eclipsed the 2006 pre-Crisis peak and since have only pushed higher. CBS points to the Federal Reserve raising interest rates higher which will have a negative impact on home affordability, a slowdown in new home construction and sales of existing homes, and weakening demographics. Millennials, hampered by rising student loan debt and cooling wages, have very low homeownership rates. Their rate is about 8% below the homeownership rates of Gen X and Baby Boomers before them at the same age. CBS is not the only one raising a flag, as I reported last week that CNBC had had a similar article, and even Fannie Mae’s Economic and Strategic Research Group is warning of a “mass exodus” on the horizon as the “homeownership demand from younger generations is insufficient to fill the void left by multitudes of departing older owners.” There always seems to be 2 residential real estate markets when you talk about real estate, particularly in NYC. There’s the buy/sell real estate market and the rental real estate market. It turns out that year-over-year, rents in Queens saw an 8.3% increase in July, far outpacing Manhattan (1.7%) and the national average (2.8%). However, NYC buy/sell real estate currently favors the buyer’s, particularly at the high-end. Bloomberg has reported that sellers are reluctantly finally coming around. However, it doesn’t appear that the new tax bill has had much impact yet, according to the NY Times.

Canadian commercial real estate investment reached new heights in the second quarter, boosted by a pair of big acquisitions and by the lure of attractive, income-producing property. Transactions reached $16.5 billion. That’s 38 per cent more than the previous record, set in the first quarter of last year, and more than twice the five-year quarterly average, CBRE Group Inc. said in a report Monday. Deal volume for the first six months was $26.8 billion, a half-year record. Business FinancialPost

Repo News:  

Friday’s employment report hurt short-term interest rates, sending repo rates higher, with the market now pricing even more Fed tightening. They still haven’t priced a full 4th tightening, but a greater percentage of one. It looks like one on 9/26 FOMC is a foregone conclusion and another one on 12/19 FOMC is very likely. That brings us to 2019, where the market just a few weeks ago was only pricing in one more 2019 Fed tightening. That appears to be changing now.

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 absolutely won’t miss this conference! I know I have dozens of promised drinks and chats with you all while I’m up there, so I have to organize all that.
• 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.

NY Fed President John Williams said that a flattening or inversion of the yield curve would not be the deciding factor or drive Federal Reserve interest rate decisions.

Eric Rosengren, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, signaled the U.S. central bank should continue raising its benchmark short-term interest rate at its current quarterly pace over the coming year, including at policy meetings this September and December… After that point, he said it was likely tight labor markets and strong economic growth could prompt additional rate increases designed to deliberately slow the economy and prevent overheating. WSJ

Earthquakes and Volcanoes:

An earthquake in the south of Hokkaido, Japan resulted in at least 17 deaths. It triggered deadly landslides and knocked out power to millions of people.

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 done
Florence coming
Gordon done
Helene coming
Isaac coming
Joyce
Kirk
Leslie
Michael
Nadine
Oscar
Patty
Rafael
Sara
Tony
Valerie
William

Historically, the most active month for hurricanes in the Atlantic is September. 9/10 is statistically the most active date of the hurricane season. It is also the anniversary of last year’s devastating Hurricane Irma, which destroyed much of the Florida Keys. So far, September hasn’t disappointed with Gordon having hit Florida and then surging to the Gulf coast of Alabama and Louisiana, leaving a wide swath of heavy rains and fatal flooding in the South, particularly in parts of Texas. Right behind Hurricane Gordon, Hurricane Florence is strengthening, maybe up to Category 4, and is targeting South Carolina and North Carolina towards the end of this week, and the Atlantic coast prepares for his first hurricane landfall of the season, and it could be a bad one. Governors are issuing evacuation orders, the US Army at Fort Bragg has suspended several field operations, to keep soldiers safe, the US Navy is moving out much of its fleet from Virginia, and there are increasing concerns about some nuclear plants that are in the path. Already formed behind Florence, is Tropical Storm Isaac which is not expected to make it to Hurricane and my impact some of the Caribbean before it is wiped out by wind sheer. Behind Tropical Storm Isaac, is Hurricane Helene, right near the Cape Verde islands. She may cause a problem, as the NHC recently upgraded her. There is also a Tropical Depression which has formed around the Yucatan Peninsula, but has a very low chance of forming into a Hurricane. 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. Typhoon Jebi affected Taiwan and Japan, killing at least 17 people and causing extensive damage in the Kansai region of Japan. In the Eastern North Pacific, Tropical Storm Paul is slightly stronger at 45mph.

Let’s talk about weather, here in Florida, the heat has come off to just high 80s and low 90s, rather than high 90s, but humidity is very high and daily thunderstorms continue to pop up. The Northeast had warmed up suddenly last week, but now has cooled and is experiencing some serious rain, some of which is causing flooding and delaying sporting events. 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.

Sports News:

MLB:

The MLB regular season is about 85% over, with around 20-23 games left to play.

In the AL East, the Red Sox have righted their ship, after finally hitting one of those losing streaks that have plagued all the other MLB teams, but they still never lost 4 games in a row (yet). They are the only MLB team this year to have accomplished that feat (or not accomplished that feat). Their lead over the Yankees increased to 9 ½ games, as the Red Sox just swept the NL East first place Braves, mostly in impressive comebacks, and won 7 of their last 10. The Yankees just finished battling the red-hot A’s, who could be their Wild Card one-game opponent, and the A’s have sights on either stealing the AL West division from the Astros, or, at the least, grabbing home field advantage for that game against the Yankees. The A’s managed to beat the Yankees two out of those three games. This past weekend, the Red Sox staved off a 3-game sweep at Fenway by the Astros, with a walk-off win Sunday night. Meanwhile, the Yankees also lost 2 out of 3 to the Mariners. In the AL Central, it’s nothing but Indians now, having opened up a 16 ½ game lead over the Twins, who just lost 8 of their last 10. So much for all the off-season trading and drafting by the Twins. In the AL West, despite the A’s beating up the Yankees, they didn’t gain any ground on the World Champion Astros, who won 7 of their last 10 and lead by 3 ½ games. Switching to the NL East, the Braves, despite being swept by Boston, still held a 3 ½-game lead over the Phillies, who also lost 6 out of 10. The Nats didn’t gain on the Braves either, having also lost 6 out of 10. The NL Central has been interesting, but the first place Cubs are finally getting their act together offensively and on the mound. Yu Darvish is out for surgery and Cole Hamels has been good. The Cubs still have a 4 ½-game lead over the Brewers and 5-game lead over the Cardinals, who are quietly very much in contention. In the NL West, it has been neck-and-neck, with the Diamondbacks hitting a skid, losing 7 of 10, and falling out of first place, while the Rockies snuck into first place and the Dodgers won 7 of their last 10. The Rockies lead by 1 ½-games over the Dodgers and 2 1/2-games over the Diamondbacks. This could go down to the last week of the season.

In case you are watching the AL MVP or potential Triple Crown race, Red Sox Mookie Betts’ slight slump may have opened the door for his teammate, J.D. Martinez’s bid for the Triple Crown. He was leading J.D. in batting average .348 to 3.30, but now leads by only one percentage point .336 to .335. And those two lead all of MLB in batting average. In Home Runs, J.D. Martinez has 39, second to A’s Khris Davis with 40 (which leads MLB), and ahead of Indians’ Jose Ramirez with 37. In RBIs, J.D. leads MLB with 115 and Khris Davis is second with 106. So, J.D. is very close to a potential Triple Crown, last accomplished by Miguel Cabrera in 2012 (and Carl Yastrzemski before that in 1967), but there is still a lot of time left. Indians’ Jose Ramirez is likely to become MLB’s first 30-30 man (30 HRs and 30 stolen bases) in years, and has a chance to actually be a 40-40 man. The last 30-30 men were Mike Trout in 2012 and Ryan Braun in 2012. The last 40-40 man was Alfonso Soriano in 2006. I remember when Jose Canseco did it in 1988, followed by Barry Bonds in 1996, and Alex Rodriguez in 1998. After mentioning all this great hitting, particularly on the AL side, the current MLB batting average is the lowest at this point in the season since 1972. So, pitching has been dominant. I never would have guessed, but there was only one no-hitter in MLB last year (and one in 2016) and there have already been 3 this year (one was combined between 4 pitchers). In 2015, there were 7 no-hitters.

83-year-old brother of former Dodgers’ legend manager Tommy Lasorda was killed in a car crash this week in Boca Raton, FL. The “Marlins Man” reportedly will sign a 1-day contract with Miami, ending the feud between him and the team. The superfan, who in real-life is a Florida lawyer, will sign for 9/17 and make his first visit to Marlins Park this season. His big day will include a media conference, a chance to shag balls in the outfield, and the opportunity to present the Marlins’ lineup card to the umpires. He had been a season ticket holder since the franchise started in 1993 and always stood out in orange behind home plate on telecasts. He was even spotted in the same outfit at about 200 other sporting events each year. But, he became angry when the franchise was sold and the team traded away its top stars. So, he faced off against Derek Jeter in a Town Hall meeting held for grievances. He still offered the team $200,000 for 3 years of his season tickets behind home plate, but the team wanted $220,000, so he renounced his fanship, becoming a free agent. It is now official, 2B star Dustin Pedroia will not return to the Red Sox this season. Manager Alex Cora made the announcement Friday and added that Pedroia has arthroscopic knee surgery in July. He is still under contract with the Sox for another 3 years. The team has been platooning Eduardo Nunez, Brock Holt, newcomer Ian Kinsler, and Brandon Phillips in his place. The Red Sox will be getting back ace Chris Sale for this weekend’s series against the World Champion Astros in Fenway Park. Tony Gwynn’s family has settled with the tobacco company that they associated with his death. Pirates OF Gregory Polanco will miss remainder of season with injury. A few people celebrated the 20th anniversary of Mark McGwire’s 62nd HR. Although it broke Roger Maris’ record, it is still a very controversial record in a very shady MLB period of history. You all may disagree with me, but I have heard the Hall of Fame officials say that the Hall is about the history of the game, not just those that are honored. How do you skip the history of 5years of HR battles between Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Barry Bonds, when everyone was glued to the TVs?. Attendance and viewership was way up and money for the MLB was way up, how could they suddenly say they didn’t benefit from that and it wasn’t part of MLB history. Even Shoeless Joe Jackson’s story is in the Hall of Fame. Why aren’t these juiced HR hitters, one of the top 2 pitchers of all time, Roger Clemens, and the No.1 hitter (and without juice), Pete Rose? How do you have a display, “oh, here is the No.2 hitter of all time’s placque”? Several teams are reportedly upset about the Indians’ Josh Donaldson trade, from the Blue Jays at the 8/31 deadline, including the Yankees, Red Sox, and Astros, all likely playoff teams in the AL. Those teams want to know just how Donaldson cleared waivers in the first place. The rules state that a player must be certified as healthy in order to be placed on trade waivers. There was a dispute with the Blue Jays over his health, but somehow Donaldson agreed he was healthy when the MLBPA got involved. Yet, when he arrived at the Indians, he was placed on the 10-day DL. Donaldson is a free agent at the end of the year, but, because he cleared waivers, is eligible to play this year and in the playoffs.

Tennis:

The 138th US Open was played at Forest Hill in Queens. There have been some major surprises in this major and some unbelievable performances. Roger Federer was knocked out by the No.73 tennis player. Serena Williams has been crushing opponents and actually changed her style of play to more like doubles and playing the net in the semifinals to wipe out her opponent. I would be scared to see her looming at the net with all those rippling muscles! And a sport that typically isn’t mire in controversy wound up there Saturday afternoon for the Women’s final, between Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka. Serena was losing early and was penalized a point by the umpire for illegal coaching from her coach. She vehemently denied that any infraction occurred and argued strongly with the umpire. She said that the umpire was calling her a “liar” and a “cheat” and she said “she would rather lose than win that way.” She also said that this always happens to her at the US Open and that it’s because she is a woman. When play resumed, the umpire then announced the score of the next set by awarding a full game, without a point being served, to Serena’s opponent, for the verbal abuse of an umpire. That started another tirade, which included other tournament officials. But, her pleas of it being “unfair” and “he should apologize” were ignored, and frazzled, she went on to lose the match and the Major tournament. She was very gracious to her opponent in the awards ceremony afterwards, but it was clear that she was still upset with tournament officials and the umpire, who she didn’t even shake the hand of at the end of the match. This will likely be a major new story for several months, very unusual controversy in tennis, and particularly close to home, given that the Williams’ sisters live here in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. On Sunday, the WTA fined Serena $17,000 for verbally abusing the chair umpire, receiving coaching advice during the match, and breaking her tennis racket in anger. Most people are supporting Serena, and several male tennis players have described their bad behavior, which was not fined or penalized. However, Martina Navratilova has called Serena out on her bad behavior. Overshadowed, was Naomi Osaka’s first Grand Slam event win and the first Japanese player to win a US Open singles event.

Golf:

Shocking news in the world of golf, as Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy each shot 62 in the first round of the FedEx Cup’s next event, the BMW Championship which started Thursday in Pennsylvania. They fell off the pace on Friday, but regained form on Saturday, as other star players bunched up near the top of the leaderboard. On Sunday, play was suspended for the final round because of weather. They resumed today, just outside of Philadelphia, on the soggy course with damp and cold weather. At the end of the round, Keegan Bradley and Justin Rose wound up tied at -20 and went into a Playoff. Rose could have won it with a putt on the 18th, but missed. Then, shockingly missed a short putt for Par on the first playoff hole. Bradley won for the first time on Tour in 6 years. There was a silver lining in the loss for Rose, as he moved to No.1 in the World ranking. The top 30 players will play in the final FedEx Cup event in Atlanta at EastLake for all the money. On the European Tour, I wouldn’t want to be a putter for Thomas Pieters. This guy in May’s European Tour’s BMW Championship broke an iron in half after a bad shot. This week, at the Omgea European Masters, after 2 opening birdies, was looking good until he had a double bogey and a quadruple bogey, and, of course, snapped his putter in half. Thing is, in the pros, you can’t replace the club, so now you are putting with whatever, a 1-iron, a 3-wood, etc.

Fighting:

Boxing

Manny Pacquiao is suing Top Rank Boxing over unpaid fees for Matthysse fight. This weekend, welterweight Amir Khan gave a dominant performance in his unanimous decision over Samuel Vargas in Birmingham, England and then called out Manny Pacquiao, although fans really want to seem him take on fellow Englishman Kell Brook.

9/15 huge buildup for mega middleweight 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:

At the Italian Grand Prix this weekend, Monza’s Temple of Speed, Russian Time’s Tadasuke Makino won the thrilling F2 Feature Race. In the F2 Sprint Race, George Russell, the F2 championship leader in points, won, putting him further ahead of Lando Norris. Before the race, the point spread between Russell and Norris had closed to just 5 points, as Russell had gone on winless run of 8 races. In the GP3 Feature Race, David Beckmann won his second race with new team Trident Racing, narrowly ahead of ART Gran Prix’s Anthoine Hubert.

In the IndyCar Series, the San Diego Grand Prix is coming up this weekend.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. will drive the Brickyard 400 pace car. He also made news by estimating for an interview that he had at least 20 concussions during his racing career. Elliott Sadler will stop driving full-time after 2018 season. NASCAR has invited Fernando Alonso to race in Daytona 500. NASCAR is in trouble, with race attendance shrinking (-14.7%), TV ratings plummeting (-20%), and sponsors leaving. Even in this struggling sport with its antiquated business model, you would think the defending Cup Series champion, Martin Truex Jr. or one of the best NASCAR drivers of all time, Jimmie Johnson (7-time champ and 18-season veteran), would be able to find sponsorship. But, the answer is ‘no’. Truex’s team, Furniture Row Racing, said last week that it is shutting down after this season. This follows July’s news that the No.78 Toyota team’s primary sponsor, 5-hour Energy, is leaving NASCAR at the end of the season. And that follows the news from Jimmie Johnson’s sponsor for his career, Lowe’s, that it’s leaving the sport too. Former sponsors that are already out include Target, Home Depot, Sprint, UPS, Subway, Great Clips, GoDaddy. The sport’s executives refuse to realize that the business model, relying heavily on sponsors to exist, and typically spend about $30 million to field a car for a full season, is flawed.

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.
9/10 Rain not only plagued golf’s BMW Championship, but also the two NASCAR races at Indianapolis had to be completed a day later, today. The Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis was won by Brad Keselowski, giving team Roger Penske their first win in the brickyard.

NCAA Football:

College football season kickoff was on 8/25, and now all of the teams have played their two weeks. The College of the Ozarks, an NAIA program in Missouri, will no longer wear their Nike-designed jerseys, following the company’s decision to feature former NFL QB Colin Kaepernick in its advertising campaigns. My Michigan State Spartans, after barely beating unranked Utah State in Week 1, wound up losing a close game with Arizona State in Week 2, falling from a contender at No.13 to barely in the running at No.25.

Here is Sporting News’ way-too-early Original 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
After week 2, the official AP Poll is:

1. Alabama (2-0)
2. Clemson (2-0)
3. Georgia (2-0)
4. Ohio State (2-0)
5. Oklahoma (2-0)
6. Wisconsin (2-0)
7. Auburn (2-0)
8. Notre Dame (2-0)
9. Stanford (2-0)
10. Washington (1-1)
11. Penn State (2-0)
12. LSU (2-0)
13. Virginia Tech (2-0)
14. West Virginia (2-0)
15. TCU (2-0)
16. Mississippi State (2-0)
17. Boise State (2-0)
18. UCF (2-0)
19. Michigan (1-1)
20. Oregon (2-0)
21. Miami (1-1)
22. USC (1-1)
23. Arizona State (2-0)
24. Oklahoma State (2-0)
25. Michigan State (1-1)

NFL:

The 99th NFL regular season began Thursday night with a sloppy game between the Super Bowl Champ Eagles and the Falcons, won by the Eagles, 18-12, holding off the Falcons near the goal line at the end of the game. The Eagles managed to cover the 1-point spread. How much do Steelers’ players hate teammate Le’Veon Bell for continuing to hold out for more money and expecting to do so at least into November? It’s one thing for the star RB of the team to hold out in the offseason or even the preseason, but during the season is very unusual and is having a disastrous impact on the Steelers’ chances. He was expected to show up this week and sign his one-year franchise player tender, as he has done the last couple of years for whopping $14.55 million, by far the most for any RB in the NFL. The Steelers offered him a longterm deal around $15 million per year, which Bell turned down. So, the options for the Steelers at this point are: 1) rescind the franchise tag for 2018, which would make Bell a free agent and allow him to sign with any team (which could be their rival Bengals or Patriots); 2) the Steelers could place a no franchise designation for 2019 in Bell’s contract, then Bell would become a free agent next year (which they should do anyway, since the franchise tag next year will go up to $23 million); or 3) give Bell a raise for 2018, as they aren’t allowed now to extend him with a longer contract. Rams’ RB Todd Gurley will earn more than $20 million this year, so maybe that’s Bell’s goal. Bell is now forfeiting $855,529 for each game he misses this year and, if he doesn’t report by Week 11, he will be barred from playing in the NFL for anyone in 2018. Up until Gurley signed his $14 million per year contract, the highest paid RB was paid $8.5 million/year. Running backs are looked at as limited positions by the free agency market with particular scrutiny about their age, injuries, and usages, and they tend to have shorter NFL careers because of the wear and tear and banging. Wide receivers, for example, tend to get hit only if a ball is thrown to them and then usually only once. Running backs bounce off most of the defensive line and secondary players on every play, getting hit continually. Of course, Bell has been arguing that his 400 plus touches each year include a lot of wide receiver work too. As I mentioned, Nike shocked the public by announcing that they would be featuring former NFL QB Colin Kaepernick in a controversial ad campaign that applauds his kneeling protest during the National Anthem two years ago. The ad first featured on Thursday night’s game received mixed reactions from the public. The stock market has not been kind to Nike’s stock price since the announcement. Heavy rain and high winds are expected to affect the Browns’ season opener against the Steelers. Chargers DE Joey Bosa will miss the opener against the Chiefs. The Browns are expected to reach out to free agent superstar WR Dez Bryant again. Falcons’ safety Keanu Neal will be out for the season with torn ACL in Thursday night’s game. Broncos’ QB Tommy Maddox will be the NFL’s youngest-ever starting QB. Former Cowboys RB Joseph Randle has been arrested and charged with rape. Richard Sherman says an NFL lockout in 2021 is “going to happen.” Eagles No.1 starting QB, Carson Wentz, will not be cleared to play for “several weeks” according to report. Former Browns LB Mychal Kendricks has pleaded guilty to insider trading. Chargers’ retired legend, Antonio Gates, has been reportedly practicing with his ‘family’ and may be available for the Chargers’ opener. Earl Thomas reportedly ended his holdout and will report to the Seahawks. The Patriots won an NFL record 78th straight game when leading by 10+ points at halftime. Veteran RB Adrian Peterson, picked up late by the Redskins, reached 2 milestones Sunday: his 100th career rushing TD and he surpassed Jim Brown for total rushing yards of 12,312, to move into 10th place on the all-time rushing list. After a blowout loss to the Ravens Sunday, Bills’ coach Sean McDermott won’t commit to starting QB. Still free agent superstar WR Dez Bryant has named the to possible teams he would consider, the Patriots and the Redskins. Seahawks’ WR Doug Baldwin went on IR with knee injury. The Steelers/Browns tie was the first NFL tie in Week 1 since 1971. Heavy rain and winds had an impact on the entire game. The Steelers seemed not to miss RB Le’Veon Bell, and they rescinded his franchise tag, but also said they have no plans to trade the disgruntled holdout. Former NFL player Kenyatta Jones has died at age 39. Jaguars lost RB Leonard Fournette with a hamstring injury. Bucs’ WR DeSean Jackson suffered a concussion. Texans’ CB Kevin Johnson, who just came back from being out 2 games for a concussion, suffered another concussion against the Patriots. That will likely leave him unable to play for 4-6 weeks. Also, the Texans star OT Seantrel Henderson is likely out for the season with an ankle injury. As for National Anthem debate, the League and the Players Association never came to an agreement on policy, but there didn’t seem to be much dissension in Week 1. I only saw two players for the Dolphins kneeling during the National Anthem. Adam “Pacman” Jones has been forced to pay $12.4 million for 2007 strip club incident. Bucs’ suspended QB Jameis Winston lost his Nike endorsement deal. The Falcons placed Keanu Neal on IR and signed DE Steven Means. Panthers’ TE Greg Olsen left game early with foot injury. Bengals safety Shawn Williams was ejected after his helmet-to-helmet hit on QB Andrew Luck of the Colts. Titans TE Delanie Walker gruesomely broke his ankle in the Dolphins game, after a catch and tackle, and will be out for the season, in a game that went over 6 hours because of two huge rain delays in Miami. Also, Titans QB Marcus Mariota had to leave the game with an elbow injury. Incidentally, NFL fans are slamming Carrie Underwood’s new Sunday Night Football theme song.

Week 1 NFL schedule:

Bills @ Ravens, Ravens picked by 7.5, but probably win by more. Well, the Ravens won by a lot more 47-3.
Bengals @ Colts, Colts by 3, but I smell an upset by the Bengals. Sure enough, the Bengals upset the Colts at the end, although QB Andrew Luck had a good comeback, but not good enough.
Texans @ Patriots, Patriots by 6 ½, Patriots will probably win a close one, but not cover the spread. Well, the Patriots did win and they DID cover the spread. Game was sloppy, particularly for Texans QB Watson, and the score made it seem closer, 27-20, than it actually was.
Jaguars @ Giants, Giants by 3, Jags could upset Giants 17-13. I called this one close, as the Jags did upset the Giants 20-15.
Steelers @ Browns, Browns by 4, probably only time browns picked to win, most analysts think the Steeler s will eke out an upset. Well, I called this one well, as the Steelers had a large lead, despite 3 interceptions by Big Ben. But, then the Browns came back and tied it up to go to OT, where neither team could make their field goals and had to settle for a tie. So, maybe that’s a moral victory for the Browns, but they still are winless in their last 17 games.
49ers @ Vikings, Vikings by 6 1/2, analysts expect the Vikings to blow them out. The Vikings did win 24-16.
Buccaneers @ Saints, Saints by 9 ½, analysts either think the Saints will blow out the Winston-less Bucs or win and not cover the spread. Well, neither of those happened, as it turned out to be shootout and an upset by the Bucs 48-40.
Titans @ Dolphins, Titans by 1 1/2, Dolphins may upset Titans. I was right again (I should have bet on all these games!), as the Dolphins did eventually upset the Titans 24-17, with both teams scoring 2 Q4 TDs, after a long rain delay.
Chiefs @ Chargers, Chargers by 3 1/2, despite the Chargers losing last 8 games to Chiefs, analysts think Chargers will win at home over rookie QB. The analysts were wrong and the Chargers lost their 9th in a row to the Chiefs, 38-28.
Cowboys @ Panthers, Panthers by 3, I think cowboys could be better than thought, but this is anyone’s game. And It really was anyone’s game, a sloppy, boring one, in which the Panthers prevailed 16-8.
Seahawks @ Broncos, Broncos by 2 1/2, the Seahawks lost lots of people and are expected to get beaten by the Broncos. I expected the Broncos to win big, but they won a close one, 27-24.
Redskins @ Cardinals, Cards by 1, this is expected to be really close, with the Cards just edging Redskins. Well, the analysts were wrong and the Redskins put up 21 Q2 points and trounced the Cards, 24-6.
Bears @ Packers, Packers by 7 1/2, nobody is expecting the Bears to win but the trade last week for the best defensive player in the NFL will make this a much closer game. And indeed the analysts were right. Malik had a sack, caused a fumble and had an interception for a TD; a huge impact. He also injured QB Aaron Rodger’s leg early, knocking him out of the game. That helped the Bears establish a 20-0 lead into Q3, when the resilient QB came back and led the Packers all the way back to a stunning comeback win 24-23.

Monday 9/10 (a rare double-header MNF)
Jets @ Lions, Lions by 6 1/2, expected to be much closer, with Lions winning. Well the pundits were very wrong about this one, despite QB Sam Darnold of the Jets throwing an interception on his very first pass, as the Lions became unglued and QB Matt Stafford threw 4 interceptions, with the Jets crushing the Lions 48-17.
Rams @ Raiders, Rams by 4, I think the Rams could be one of the super bowl teams, but it’s very early.  Some analysts think the Rams could blow the Raiders out. I couldn’t stay up late enough to see if the pundits were right, but it turns out they were. Despite a lackluster start by the Rams, they outscored the Raiders in the second half 23-0, to secure a 33-13 win.

NHL:

The NHL training camps start this week. The first preseason games are 9/15. The puck drops on the regular season, for some teams, on 10/3. In the first weekend of the regular season, on Saturday, the NHL will invade Sweden for their Global Series game between the Oilers and the Devils. Former Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty is headed to the Golden Knights, after a lengthy contract debate and deteriorating relationship with the team that he played for for 10 years. The Canadiens get in return veteran Tomas Tatar and top prospect Nick Suzuki. Pacioretty was a five-time 30-goal scorer, but Tatar is a 4-time 20-goal scorer. The Golden Knights needed this trade, after losing James Neal to free agency, losing Nate Schmidt to 20 game suspension, and after picking up veteran Paul Stastny. The Flames signed All-Star Noah Hanifin. The Jets signed captain Blake Wheeler to a 5year contract extension. The Capitals took the Stanley Cup on its first trip to China and had it at the Great Wall. A Seattle NHL team expansion is edging closer to reality. 4-time Stanley Cup champion, Ab McDonald, died at age 82. Devils’ great, Martin Brodeur, has joined the team’s front office. The Maple Leafs hired Canada hockey legend Hayley Wickenheiser for a front-office role.

NBA:

Luol Deng agreed to one-year deal with Timberwolves. The Celtics are now favored to take the LeBron-less East. The West looks like it could be a wild shootout. Cavs Rodney Hood accepted a qualifying offer.. Celtics’ Jabari Bird was arrested on kidnapping and assault charges.

In Women’s basketball, Canada came close to an upset, but couldn’t defeat team USA. In the 2018 WNBA Finals, the No.1 Seattle Storm take on the No.3 Washington Mystics. The Storm are led by their veteran Sue Bird, who could have left after their disappointing 2015 season, but stayed in Seattle, and their new WNBA MVP, Breann Stewart. The matchup will also include Mystics’ former MVP Delle Donne. Despite having a combined 33 years of coaching experience between them, both coaches are vying for their first WNBA title.

Travel News:

The 200-year-old National Museum in Brazil went up in flames. One person is dead after a Russian passenger plane went off a Sochi runway and caught fire. I don’t know if you are old enough to remember the iconic toy store, FAO Schwartz, which was featured in the movie BIG and had its headquarters across from The Plaza Hotel in NYC, as well as many locations throughout the country, particularly at high-end malls, like one in Las Vegas? Well, although the company filed bankruptcy and closed all of its stores, it is returning to NYC and will have a new home at Rockefeller Center in November. NYC also has had 26 Step-Above Sports Bars suddenly spring up all over. Macau casino stocks are tumbling on growth concerns. An archeologist believes he has now determined the secret of Stonehenge. Stonehenge, which lines ups perfectly with the sun for 5,000 years on two days per year, has huge stones that were thought to have been dragged there from hundreds of miles away, or flown there by ancient aliens, and have been worshipped by druids and others for hundreds of years. Anyway, this guy thinks the stones just happened to already be there on site. Recent analysis of the people buried there have shown they were all from a civilization that was hundreds of miles away. So, I don’t think the puzzle has been solved. Our booming US economy led to record summer travel. Las Vegas is booming again, but also preparing for next slump, taking some chips off the table.

Health News:

I’m not sure now if I am on the Keto Diet or the Paleo Diet, which was kind of a modified Atkins Diet, whatever. Something about carbs are bad and try to get the body to burn fat or fatty acids for fuel, which is much more efficient, like a Tesla, without the production problems. Meat and certain veggies and fruit are good, as is chocolate and caffeine, but carbs and sugar are bad. You’ll tell me if it worked when you see me in October at RMA and November at Finadium. There is a growing risk of Lyme disease and a new debate over why there isn’t a vaccine for humans but there is for dogs and cats. Doctors say that it could take 3-10 years to develop a version for humans, which would also protect us from other tick-borne diseases. A new study suggests that millions of elderly Americans are hooked on Xanax. Venezuela has turned to breast milk donations, as baby formula prices soared. CDC officials are already urging to prepare for a very bad flu season. I will be getting my vaccine soon. A cryogenics firm is being sued for freezing a man’s head instead of his whole body.

Animal News:

A shark bit a man swimming in St. Lucie County. An elephant massacre is underway in Botswana, as poachers killed 90 animals, in just the past 2 months. It appears that poachers are targeting male elephants older than 35, killing them near watering spots and hacking off their tusks, said Elephants Without Borders spokesman. Six white rhinos have also been killed and mutilated. Botswana has long been a refuge for some 130,000 of the gentle giants, more than one-third of Africa’s remaining elephants. Conservationists think it is no coincidence that the massacre has occurred right after the government chose to change its law allowing its anti-poaching force to shoot any poachers on sight, and disarming them without any explanation. That government team had killed 52 poachers over the past 20 years. There is also a recent poaching problem in Asia for Asian elephants who are poached for their skin. Britain is imposing one of the world’s toughest ivory bans. Hong Kong recently voted to ban all ivory sales. Did you know that Utah wildlife officials airdrop thousands of fish into lakes? Florida has been plagued with non-native Burmese pythons that don’t appear to have a natural predator (except occasionally alligators, although it goes both ways), reproduce frequently, and grow to be gigantic. Now, there is a new concern, as officials have discovered hybrid pythons, which could threaten the Florida Everglades even more. The hybrids harbor more robust genes that allow them to adapt various types of environments. A Facebook illegal animal trade has been exposed in Thailand. New research has revealed that low doses of a commonly used pesticide potentially harm the Northern Leopard frog by inhibiting their brain development. The Australian fur seal pup population is shrinking, despite species-wide protection implemented in 1975. Evidence of exposure to phthalates, chemical compounds used in hundreds of consumer products, has been found in resident bottlenose dolphins in Sarasota Bay, Florida, which are endocrine disruptors. A new study suggests that rattlesnakes and other venomous reptiles may bite more people during rainy years than in seasons of drought.

Entertainment News:

Actor Burt Reynolds, a local resident here in Jupiter, FL, died of a heart attack on Saturday at age 84. Reynolds first rose to prominence in TV on Gunsmoke, Hawk, and Dan August shows. His breakout movie role was in DELIVERANCE and he then had several subsequent box office hits, including THE LONGEST YARD, SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT, SEMI-TOUGH, HOOPER, THE CANNONBALL RUN, THE BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS and BOOGIE NIGHTS. Although during his career, he claimed to have been born in Waycross, GA, he was actually born in Lansing, MI.
Sylvester Stallone says the new RAMBO movie production is “starting soon”. FAST AND FURIOUS spinoff’s first day of production began today. It will be called HOBBS AND SHAW. Amidst sexual allegations by 6 more women (total now 12 according to reporter with New Yorker magazine, while negotiating his exit package with CBS, Chairman Leslie Moonves finally leaves CBS. His exit package was estimated to be as high as $100 million. His wife of 13 years, Julie Chen, has stood behind him and has decided to take a few days of her CBS show The Talk. Somehow, if you like I missed it, Miss New York was crowned Miss America. I no longer really understand the need for pageants anymore. 200 actors and scientists have banded together to demand climate change action. The Creative Arts Emmy Awards were held last night and John Legend became the first black man to reach the rare and elite status of EGOT (having now won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony), as he won the Emmy for Jesus Christ Superstar. He has 10 Grammy Awards, received his Oscar in 2015 for his song “Glory” in SELMA, and received his Tony in 2017 for his role as co-producer of “Jitney”. Also, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice also achieved EGOT status, winning Emmy’s for the same show with Legend. The late Anthony Bourdain won 6 posthumous Emmys for Parts Unknown. The actual Primetime Emmy Awards will be announced next week, at the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards, hosted by Michael Che and Colin Jost of Saturday Night Live, when Legend is also nominated for an outstanding actor in a limited series or movie. Olivia Newton-John has been diagnosed with cancer for the third time. James Van Der Beek has opened up about his wife’s 3 miscarriages. Brandon Jenner and Leah Felder have split after 6 years of marriage. Last Man Standing star Tim Allen has thanked fans for support. Rapper Mac Miller died of a possible overdose last week at the age of 26. An autopsy was performed but more tests are needed. He was the ex-boyfriend of singer Ariana Grande. Although fans are upset with Carrie Underwood’s latest song for NBC’s Sunday Night Football in America, she is set to receive her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Ryan Lochte and Kayla Rae apparently got married again. Hollywood/Broadway legend, Carole Cook, went after President Trump, saying she wants to see President Trump get assassinated, and asking, “Where’s John Wilkes Booth when you need him?” That’s in very poor taste and comedienne, Kathy Griffin, did much less to ruin her career. New York Fashion Week has begun and started with a tribute by Kate Spade’s company for the late style icon and a birthday for designer Karl Lagerfeld. Former Disney star Orlando Brown has been jailed in Las Vegas, pending domestic battery trial. Gwen Stefani says Blake Shelton’s ex is creepy. Ewan McGregor’s daughter Clara regrets calling her dad’s girlfriend “trash”. Drake and Meek Mill have ended their long-standing feud at Boston concert. Nikki Minaj and Noah Cyrus is furious at boyfriend Lil Xan’s accusation that she’s cheating with Charlie Puth. IMAX has signed a new deal in China.

This week’s box-office was not as weak as expected, maybe because of the weather. THE NUN, a scary movie, debuted at No.1 and made an astonishing $53.8 million (it only cost $22 million to make); PEPPERMENT, the new action movie with Jennifer Garner continued the strong trend that started with SUPERWOMAN for female action movies, debuting with $13.4 million (it only cost $25 million to make); CRAZY RICH ASIANS, which had debuted at No.1 two weeks ago and then somehow stayed at No.1 again last week, this time fell to No.3, with $13.1 million, (total so far $135.8 million) in its 4th week; the megladon Shark movie THE MEG, which still made $6.1 million in its 5th week ($131.7 million total for a movie that cost $130 million, so just crossed the boundary); and No.5 was SEARCHING with $4.6 million in its 3rd week. GOD BLESS THE BROKEN ROAD was the only other debut to break the Top 25, at No.11.

Movies coming out this week: THE PREDATOR (a remake of the original PREDATOR that had Arnold Schwarzenegger), A SIMPLE FAVOR, UNBROKEN:PATH TO REDEMPTION, WHITE BOY RICK, AMERICAN CHAOS, ANTONIO LOPEZ 1970:SEX FASHION, ARMED, BEL CANTO, THE CHILDREN ACT, THE DAWN WALL, DON’T LEAVE HOME, HALE COUNTY THIS MORNING, HE’S OUT THERE, LETTER FROM MASANJIA, LIZZIE, MDMA, PATIENT ZERO, SCIENCE FAIR, THE RIOT ACT, and A WIZARD’S TALE. Now, that school has started pretty much everywhere in the US, more movies are coming out and we are starting to see some of the horror movies for our upcoming Halloween holiday (we still have the very important Veteran’s Day holiday before then though).

Technology & Space News:

Saudi Aramco is looking into creating a $1 billion venture capital fund to invest in companies with technology that complements its petroleum-based business. The company reportedly might open an office in the US to help if find deals, according to the WSJ. WSJ reports that Alibaba’s Zhang has been nicknamed “Free and Unfettered”. Optium Cyber Systems entered into agreement to acquire security firm. Stryker will acquire Invuity. USA Technologies stock fell 11% on news it won’t meet filing deadline. Mysterious radio bursts from outer space have been detected. US military is now getting new tooth radios for secret communications. Apple has a huge announcement tomorrow (9/12), when it will likely announce new products (and my Verizon salesrep says it will reduce prices on existing products, which is great for me since my iPhone 6 is having its third malfunctioning lithium battery). Bezos is banning books around him. Amazon is talking about putting some workers in a cage? A DC airport has surprised passengers with facial-recognition boarding.

Political News:

President Trump is fighting back against Bob Woodward’s new book, “Fear: Trump in the White House”, which allegedly reports on disturbing feelings of White House staffers towards the President.

US News:

A gas explosion outside of Pittsburgh, PA forced evacuations today. Two more suspects have been arrested in the fatal shooting of North Carolina mayor and his wife. Rep Ron DeSantis has resigned from Congress to focus on his race for Florida Governor. In Dallas, a policewoman entered an apartment that she claims she thought was her own and shot and killed the unarmed resident. She is now facing manslaughter charges, which could be upgraded to murder charges, as the police investigation continues. Illegal crossings of the US border have surged, as 100 Bangladeshi Nationals were just apprehended near Texas.

International News:

Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right candidate in the upcoming Brazilian presidential election, is stabbed during a campaign rally. The Supreme Court of India struck down portions of the colonial-era Section 377, thereby making all private consensual sexual acts between adults legal. Arif Alvi was elected as President of Pakistan. On Sunday, North Korea celebrated its 70th birthday with a huge military march, similar to the annual march in Red Square in Russia. But, for the first time, this parade had the goose-stepping troops, artillery, and tanks, but no missile launchers or ICBMs. Clearly, the North Korean president was trying to show a different message to the world than previously. President Trump actually tweeted “thank you” to Kim Jong Un after the parade. Germany’s new far-right campaign poster is being assailed as unsubtly racist. Austerity and 2008’s Financial Crisis are being blamed for Sweden’s far right gains in their election and not the refugee crisis. The Samoan PM has said that leaders who deny climate change are “utterly stupid.” A Catholic School for Youth with hearing problems was raided by Argentine authorities in sex abuse inquiry. Britain has charged 2 Russians over nerve agent Novichok poisoning in Salisbury. A UN report says that the rate of migrants dying in the Mediterranean Sea spiked in 2018. Jalaluddin Haqqani, founder of militant Afghan Haqqani Network, has been found dead. Norwegian police have launched an investigation into disappearance of WikiLeaks associate. Reuters journalists in Myanmar were sentenced to 7 years in prison for breaching State Secrets Act. Worldwide gun deaths have just crossed the 250,000 level for the year. UN experts say that some Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen may actually be war crimes. The UN has accused the Myanmar army of genocide in Rohingya deaths. Treasurer Scott Morrison will become Australia’s next PM. South Africa is “close to a war zone” with 57 murders per day..

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.

My 5-part harmony singing group, Generation Gap, was just voted by InTune Magazine as the Best Harmony Group in the state of Florida, quite an honor! We are beginning to ramp our gigs again as season approaches. I am back in the sweltering heat in my genuine polyester jumpsuits occasionally.

If you are interested in seeing longer, more famous, concerts, there are many coming to Florida, perhaps when you will be visiting:

Scorpions and Queensryche-Hollywood, September 12
Dierks Bentley-West Palm Beach, September 14
Sammy Hagar-Hollywood, September 15
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
Marilyn Manson w H090909-Hollywood, October 30
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
Cher and Chic-Sunrise, January 19
Fleetwood Mac-Sunrise, February 20
Pink-Sunrise-March 1 (I might have to go)
Paul Anka-Fort Lauderdale-March 4
Elton John-Sunrise, March 16

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