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Sunday, April 30, 2023



Illustration by Ursula LeGuin. 

The private publisher (non government) Library of America has just issued a new volume of cat poems by the late Ursula Le Guin (1929-2018). It is a retrospective and the sixth book of her work by LOA and a fitting collection to celebrate April as Poetry month. 

The Cat  

He walks upon his paws 

To the places that he goes, 

Followed by his tail 

And preceded by his nose. 

 He knows what he is doing. 

He goes about his business. 

He need not explain it. 

He is being his isness. 

 Le Guin bio: Click here.  

Buy from LOA: Click here. 

Saturday, April 29, 2023



It wasn’t that long ago that The Chalk Board, an online guide to living well interviewed actress Kate Hudson to discover she loves her coffee black then she’ll sip on ginger smoothies before working out. 

 Like most Hollywood types they have a knack for attracting attention. Kate (below) showing off her feisty sense of humor posted on Instragram her ubiquitous cup of morning black coffee. 

Friday, April 28, 2023



Over a decade ago, Danielle's journey as the Magpie Whisperer began when she first discovered her fascination for these intelligent birds. From that point on, she dedicated herself to the study and care of magpies, developing a deep bond and understanding of their behaviors and personalities. A resident of Geelong, a port city 50 miles from Melborne, she has become a full-time licensed volunteer wildlife carer specializing in birds. 


Thursday, April 27, 2023



Chef Ayo Balogun of Dept of Culture is introducing North-Central Nigerian cuisine to American palates. 

 GUEST BLOG / By Anna Bressanin, BBC writer, producer with editor Laura Plasencia and photography by Ilya Shnitser--When Ayo Balogun was a teenager spending the summer cooking with his grandmother in Western Nigeria's Kwara State, his uncle took him out for an exciting night in the country's capital Lagos, living it up at all sorts of restaurants, from dive bars to posh clubs. "It was just one night. And I've been trying to recreate that evening since then. It's like, you're always chasing that thing," he said. 

Now in Brooklyn [327 Norstrand Avenue], after moving to the US in 1998, Balogun is the chef of Dept of Culture, one of the hottest new restaurants around, praised for its warm atmosphere, heart-warming dishes and mission of introducing regional Nigerian cuisine to American palates. The tiny restaurant located in a former barber shop was listed as one of the Best New Restaurants of 2022 by Eater and has been shortlisted for the prestigious James Beard Foundation Awards, which will announce winners in June. 

Dept of Culture opened only a year ago in the Brooklyn neighbourhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant, not far from the former Civil Service Café where Balogun organised his first pop-up dinners during the pandemic. (Balogun's parents were civil servants, hence the name.) Tiny but elegant, Dept of Culture only has one communal table and a counter with four stools. It can host just 16 people a night, and it's booked for months in advance. There are two seatings: 6 pm and 8:30 pm. 

Asaro, a porridge made with two kinds of yam: sweet potato and white yam tuber.

The restaurant, which has a fixed menu, is a BYOB establishment where guests share a meal and often more than one bottle that they brought from home. On a recent night, the first course was a dish called asaro, a deliciously textured porridge made with two kinds of yam – sweet potato and white yam tuber – and served with smoked shrimp and crayfish for a little extra kick. Balogun's father ate it as a schoolboy in the 1950s, but Balogun himself didn't like it as a child. 


The second course, iyán – a pounded yam served with smoked fish, efo (spinach), egusi (fermented melon seeds) and iru (locust beans) had a much more unexpected elastic texture. 

"Now, I found myself eating it all the time," he explained. "It makes me think of, like, Agatha Christie, and watching TV after coming back from school." For guests who are not accustomed to Nigerian cuisine, it's a dish that manages to be both comforting and familiar, even if you've never tried it before. 

The second course, iyán – a pounded yam served with smoked fish, efo (spinach), egusi (fermented melon seeds) and iru (locust beans) had a much more unexpected elastic texture. "It's like old people's food," joked Balogun. When talking about his food, Balogun not only shares tales of his country – which he says is "the most beautiful in the world" – but also makes a point of saying any ingredient names in Yoruba first. 

For instance, when introducing his spicy Goat Meat Pepper Soup – while reassuring guests that "you feel the heat, but it goes away" – Balogun spells out the name for pepper. "It's rodo. R-O-D-O," he said. After all, this is the Dept of Culture. 

See you in line.

Tuesday, April 25, 2023


The headline above sits atop of a recent article published in 

Here's a snippet: 

“…People who develop PTSD from military service or physical or sexual violence commonly experience depression and anxiety. Research on MDMA-facilitated psychotherapy, in which psychotherapists incorporate psychedelic sessions with traditional counseling, has shown that this treatment approach can effectively reduce PTSD symptoms by allowing patients to be willing and able to share traumatic memories to help process them. These reductions were larger than those seen in studies on prescription antidepressants alone. Based on this research, my team and I hypothesize that psychedelic sessions might have an advantage over traditional prescription antidepressants for patients with cancer-related depression or anxiety because it may help them deal with their underlying trauma…”

 CLICK HERE for the rest of the article by C. Michael White, Professor of Pharmacy Practice University of Connecticut.

Dr. White.

Monday, April 24, 2023



Lawyers representing Dominion Voting Systems talk to reporters outside the Leonard Williams Justice Center following a settlement with FOX News in Delaware Superior Court on April 18, 2023 in Wilmington, Delaware. According to reports, FOX will pay Dominion $787.5 million. Dominion was seeking $1.6 billion in damages because it claimed it was defamed by FOX when the cable network broadcast false claims that it was tied to late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, that it paid kickbacks to politicians and that its voting machines were 'rigged' and switched millions of votes from Donald Trump to Joe Biden in the 2020 election. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) 


GUESS BLOG / By Jane E. Kirtley, Professor of Media Ethics and Law, University of Minnesota as published by 

It’s all over but the spinning. 

At the eleventh hour, after the jury was sworn in and the lawyers were ready to make their opening statements, the judge presiding over Dominion Voting Systems v. Fox News announced on April 18, 2023, that the “parties have resolved the case.” 

Little is known about the reported US$787.5 million settlement, one of the largest known defamation awards in the country’s history. Fox issued a vaguely worded statement confirming the merits of Dominion’s defamation claims – “We acknowledge the Court’s rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false” – but was not required to make on-air apologies or corrections. With that, the lawsuit that captured public attention for two years ended. 

Dominion’s claims that Fox and its on-air pundits had damaged the voting equipment company’s reputation by falsely questioning the integrity of its operations during the 2020 elections were the same essential claims that any libel plaintiff must make for a case to proceed to trial. The issue is not truth, alone, but whether false statements harmed the plaintiff’s reputation, and whether the news organization was at fault for publishing those statements. 

Presiding Judge Eric Davis had already ruled that the many accusations Fox hosts and guests hurled at Dominion after the 2020 election – most notably that it switched votes from former President Donald Trump to challenger Joe Biden – were false as a matter of law. It was “CRYSTAL clear,” he wrote. All that remained for a jury to decide was whether the statements were made with actual malice. 

 Dominion Voting Systems CEO John Poulos, third from right, leaves court with members of his legal team after reaching a reported $787.5 million settlement with Fox News. Alex Wong/ Getty Images News via Getty Images. 

 Actual malice is the legal standard established by the Supreme Court in 1964 in New York Times v. Sullivan that applies to public officials and public figures. In most cases, corporations like Dominion that offer goods or services for sale are also considered public figures, as the Supreme Court held in 1984 in Bose Corp. v. Consumers Union. 

In these cases, corporations must prove that the statements about their businesses were published with knowledge that they are false, or with reckless disregard for whether they were true or not. The high court’s rationale in New York Times v. Sullivan, which involved a police commissioner in Alabama who was unhappy with media coverage of the Civil Rights Movement, was that powerful individuals should not be able to file frivolous suits aimed at silencing the press in order to vindicate their reputations. 

As a scholar of media ethics and law, I have followed Dominion’s defamation suit against Fox News closely, because it presented a direct threat to the Sullivan standard, which for nearly 60 years has protected journalists and authors from lawsuits brought by U.S. politicians, sheriffs, international arms dealers, political operatives and many others who would seek to punish and curtail robust reporting about them and their activities. 

The facts were on Dominion’s side 

Dominion had a tremendous advantage on the eve of trial. Pretrial discovery revealed a trail of texts and email messages that documented the doubts of executives, editors and pundits at Fox about the veracity of the claims of a conspiracy to steal the 2020 elections, of which Dominion was supposedly an integral part. 

They showed that, although Fox fact-checkers operating in the network’s own “brain room” had debunked many of these claims as early as Nov. 20, 2020, Fox hosts continued to invite guests like Trump attorneys Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, who clung to their theory of a vast conspiracy to steal the presidency from Trump. And it appeared that the motivation for these decisions was to try to hold on to viewers who, once they heard Fox call the state of Arizona for Biden, temporarily decamped to other conservative news outlets like OANN and Newsmax that reinforced their preferred narrative rather than challenge it. 

So things didn’t look good for Fox, and that was before the parade of high-profile witnesses, ranging from Fox Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch to hosts like Maria Bartiromo, Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity, were expected to be required to take the witness stand and submit to cross-examination. Dominion’s lawyers, no doubt, were about to evoke the legendary Watergate hearings question – “What did [the president] know and when did he know it?” And Fox’s institutional integrity would be on the line, as well as that of its pundits. 

After the settlement was made public, Dominion claimed vindication of its reputation, declaring that “truth matters,” and that “for our democracy to endure another 250 years … we must share a commitment to facts.” 

Fox, for its part, grudgingly conceded that it had to “acknowledge the Court’s rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false,” but added that the settlement was really a victory of sorts, because it “reflects Fox’s continued commitment to the highest journalistic standards.” 

 I can hear the gales of cynical laughter from many who think Fox has no journalistic standards whatsoever. Those critics must be dismayed that Fox and its employees will not be raked over the coals and otherwise humiliated in the court of public opinion, as well as in the courtroom. 

Disinformation was at the heart of the case 

But those who are disappointed may have been seeking more from this case than a libel suit can deliver. For many, it had become a surrogate for their unhappiness – or even incandescent rage – directed toward Fox for its editorial positions. It was a referendum not only on Fox’s coverage of Dominion, but also on its long-established pattern of favoring one political viewpoint over all others, even at the expense of telling the truth. In other words, it was about disinformation and the people who are persuaded by it. 

Many people would like to ban disinformation. But who decides what is disinformation? Under U.S. law, we don’t ask government tribunals to decide “the truth.” I have written about how experiences in other countries show that it is dangerous to ask courts, or any instrumentality of government, to do so. 

If that sounds improbable, recall that it wasn’t that long ago that Donald Trump, while still a candidate, was calling news media like CNN and The New York Times “fake news.” He wanted to “open up the libel laws” and threatened to shut these outlets down. If the government decides which media sources are “real” or “fake,” a free press – and freedom of expression as we have known it – will cease to exist. As the late Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson wrote in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette in 1943, “If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in matters of politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion.” That means that the law tolerates errors in journalism – which are inevitable – as part of the search for truth. 

I hold no brief for Fox. But had the Dominion case gone to the jury, the inevitable appeal by whomever lost would give the Supreme Court the chance to reconsider and possibly eliminate the New York Times v. Sullivan standard that protects all news media of all political stripes. At least two justices, Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch, have indicated they are eager to do just that, even though it has been the constitutional standard for nearly 60 years. Given this court’s willingness to overturn precedent, as it did with abortion rights, there is no guarantee that another three justices might not join them. 

In the end, this lawsuit was about two questions: Did Fox knowingly publish false statements about Dominion that harmed the company’s reputation, and did it do so knowing, or having reason to know, that they were false? It has already vindicated Dominion and exposed Fox’s questionable practices to the public. Anything more will have to wait for another day, which may come sooner than we think. Smartmatic, which builds electronic voting systems, has a pending libel suit against Fox and is poised to continue the battle. 

Sunday, April 23, 2023


By Thomas Shess. 

Based on characters developed for the novel Cantina Psalms. 


He heard a woman scream. 

 She was close by. 

 Tom Gresham jumped off his office sofa. He had been asleep. Light from the hallway shone through his opaque glass door. He couldn’t remember any of the tenants in the two-story building working so late. So far, the only one he knew involved with the building was the property manager, who was based downtown. 

 As for the other tenants, he hadn’t met any of them in the three months since the grand opening of his investigations agency at Granada and University in San Diego's historic North Park neighborhood.

 He grabbed his snub nose .38 from his desk drawer and moved into the chilly hallway. 

The office door at the far end of the hallway was wide open. Lettering on the glass door read Emily Slater Tax Services. 

 Inside a radio was playing softly. 

 He stepped inside. Fresh coffee was mixing with the aroma of stacked duplicating paper. 

Gresham stopped cold. Contents of her purse had been rifled through and dumped on the floor. He heard a stumbling overhead that sounded as if a heavy box was being dragged across the roof, Gresham flashed on how the landlord had avoided fixing the lock on the main door downstairs. It was open 24 hours. 

 Any jerk could come off the street and see her alone. 

Gresham returned to the hallway. "Where are you?"

"On the roof," the woman yelled.

Gresham hustled up the stairs.  The door to the roof was open.

 Emily Slater was struggling with a transient. 

“Stop it. Just let go of me,” she was furious. 

The bearded man had his arm around her head. 

 “Let go of her,” Gresham shouted and assumed a two-handed police stance. He aimed the gun at the man’s face. 

 “This is no business of yours,” the red-headed man turned. He was holding a small paring knife at the woman’s jawbone beneath her right ear. 

 Gresham put his index finger to his lips. He didn’t want her to scream again. Steadily, he moved forward. “Drop the knife!” 

“You’re no cop.” 

“Last time. Let go of her.” 

“I’m dealing with this scene, man. Go mind your own business?” 

Gresham cocked the blue plated revolver. 

“You take one more step and she gets cut—bad.” The bum drew a thin line of blood on her neck. 

 She grimaced. 

“You’re a second away from having five bullets into your ugly face.” 

“Brave man.” 

“Braver than you. I’m not the one holding a knife to a woman.” 

“Don’t step any closer!” the bum shouted. He moved the knife away from her throat and pointed it toward Gresham. 

That move freed the woman’s right hand. Instantly, she lashed at his face scraping long nails across his forehead. 

The man howled in pain. Blood from the gash on his eyelid blurred his vision. 

She followed with a fierce uppercut under his chin. His tongue was mashed between his teeth. Blood flooded his mouth. 

The small knife hit the floor. 

Gresham kicked it away 

Still close to her assailant, she slammed her knee into his crotch. The blow blew the air out of his lungs. Her nails tore at his ear as she pushed him to the asphalt covered roof. She wasn’t finished. Hell-bent she yanked the man’s head into the air by his greasy hair then slammed it hard on the metal corner of an air-conditioning vent. Blood poured from his scalp. 

“Whoa, whoa. You got him down. Slow down.” Gresham pulled her away with his left hand. 

The woman was drenched in adrenaline. “I got five kids at home. I’m working my ass off through tax season and this bastard wants to get cute. I’ll show him what cute is.” She pulled away from Gresham only to step around him to kick the bum in the ass. 

“That’s enough. You clean his clock any more and no one will believe he attacked you.” 


Emily Slater, her dark hair now pulled back into a ponytail, sat on his sofa sipped the tea she had made for herself, Gresham and the two investigating cops. She glanced at Gresham, who was sitting on the corner of his desk. “You smoke?” 


 The patrolwoman saw the unlit cigarette in Emily's hand and handed her a small book of matches from a pocket on her leather service belt. 

“Thanks. Doctor tells me I shouldn’t smoke. If I thought it made a difference, I’d stop.” 

Gresham noticed no sign of her calming down. 

 The bum, however, had sustained enough damage that the male officer called the paramedics. The gash along the back of his head needed stitches. Emily blew her smoke away from Gresham. 

“They seemed disappointed that I refused to go to the ER."

"You got his blood on you."

"I want someone to take his dna.  That scum probably has every known disease,” she said.  

He half smiled and noticed discoloration under her eyes. Two classic shiners were making their debut. “You should go to the emergency room. He cut your neck, too.” 

 “The paramedic took care of it.” 

 “Look, that knife was ugly. You have to get a tetanus shot at least.” 

 “I have a doctor’s appointment every day this week. I’ll have them take a look at it.” 

“You need anything?’ 

 “No, I called my boys while you were talking to the officers in the hall. I told them I’d be late getting home. They’ve been going through hell lately and now this. I didn’t have the heart to tell them over the phone. I’ll tell them when I get home.” 

 “How old are they?” “Fourteen, 12 and the triplets are ten.” 

 “That is a basketball team and one monster food bill,” Gresham smiled. 

 “They’re all I got.” 

 “What are you going to tell them?” 

 “The truth.” 

 “That always seems to work,” Gresham said. 

 “Thanks for everything you did tonight,” she said, “I thought I could handle him sooner. I did what he told me and kept waiting for an opening. He was stronger than I thought. And God did he have booze breath.” 

 “Actually you handled yourself nicely once you got away from the knife.” 

 “I took a couple of self-defense classes at the Navy wives club. Are you sure you don’t have any smokes here?” 

 “I’d offer to drive you home, but I don’t have a car.” 

“Really. You’re an odd duck. I thought everyone had a car?” “I just moved her from San Francisco. I didn’t need a car there and I...” 

She interrupted, “That’s OK, I’m parked on the street."

Gresham took a long look at her face. He hadn’t seen such discoloration happen so quickly. “Maybe you should go see a doctor—your eyes and cheeks are getting really bruised.” 

“The medication I’m on makes any bruise I get really ugly.” 

“I’m sorry.” Gresham thought for a second then decided not to ask any more personal questions. But he did wonder if there was a husband or boyfriend in the picture. If so why wasn’t he here? 

“Look, you’ve been an angel,” she repeated, “I’ll bring the donuts tomorrow.” 

“I think you deserve a day off.” Gresham walked her to her car. “By the way, did you know the bum?” 

“I’ve seen him around.” 

“Did you tell the officers that?” “No. I didn’t want them to think there was something going on between us.” 

“Smart.” he said, then paused before saying “cops back off on domestic beefs, but I think you should press charges. Pulling a knife on you ups what he did to a felony.  Assault with a deadly weapon."

“I saw the guy once. I think he’s a bartender at Tammy Shanters on Ray Street. He waited on us?” 


“I went there for a birthday drink with my neighbor.” 

 “Remember his name?” 

“Not really. Until tonight I haven't given him a second thought."

 “Don’t be nice. He had a knife, Emily. Press charges. You don’t know that guys record. Let’ the cops figure it out.” 

“How do you know so much.” 

“I was a cop.” 

She nodded, “Where?” 

“San Francisco.” 


 The postman stuck his head into Gresham’s office. “Did the tax lady go out of business? I can’t get anymore stuff into her mailbox.”

 “I haven't seen her.” It was then that Gresham realized it had been more than a week since Emily Slater beat the bum senseless in her office. The linebacker-sized postman shook his head. “She’s such a nice lady. Hope she’s not back in the hospital.” 

 “Really?” Gresham saw sadness in the man’s face. The postman continued, “She told me she has leukemia. Bad stuff. She’s been in and out of remission. She’s such a good person. Every cold day she makes me coffee. I don’t get too many chances to sit for five minutes. But she’d always ask about my family. She makes everyone feel like family. And, I keep drinking her coffee and delivering mail from clinics, hospitals, doctors, and insurance companies—you name it. It just ain’t fair.” The postman spoke slowly in a baritone that made his words seem like a news broadcast. 

 “She have a husband?” Gresham asked. “Jeez, that’s the worst of it,” said the mailman. “Kids are all on Social Security, plus what’s left of the Navy insurance. Their father was a Navy flight instructor. I don’t know the details but it was a training accident.” 

“How long ago was that?” “She told me once, I forget. But it has to be at least ten years. She told me she was pregnant with her triplets when it happened.” 

“That’s a lot of punches for one family to take,” Gresham said. “It has to be tough on her—having all those boys."

The postman didn’t answer. Instead he wore a helpless expression. “Say, I almost forgot my job. Sorry, man. She was on my mind because I got this letter for you from her. I’m not so god damned nosy all the time. I just feel like she’s family,” he repeated. 

Gresham took the letter. The return envelope was on Emily Slater’s stationery. The handwriting looked like one of her boys addressed it. “Wait,” Gresham said to the postman. “What’s your name?” 

“Bill Anderson.” 

“Wait. I’d like you to be here when I open this.” Both men’s faces were solemn. The clumsy, but neat handwriting turned out to be a dinner invitation. Gresham smiled. “It’s not bad news.” 

“Good,” the postman’s shoulder’s straightened up. “That’s good news right there.” 

Gresham read on. “Thank you very much for helping our mom the other day. We would like to invite you to dinner on Friday, February 12 at 6:30 p.m. We would appreciate the courtesy of a reply.” A stamped envelope was included. 

“They just invited me to dinner,” Gresham smiled. “All five boys signed it.” Bill Anderson grinned. “A personal thank you--that’s something special. That’s great, I can’t get my kids to pick up after themselves.” 

"Want to go?" Gresham asked.

"I wasn't invited."

"You can be my date."

They laughed. "You tell me how it went," the postman said.


Emily Slater and her boys lived at the end of Granada Avenue where the North Park community ends and becomes Switzer Canyon. On the south side of the wide shrub choked canyon is Burlingame, another bungalow neighborhood south of North Park. 

 It was an upscale one-story early 20th century craftsman home with some paint chipping happening on the window frames and the upstairs roof fascia, but the lawn and shrubs were trimmed and green. 

 The sun was about an hour from setting basking the city in its famous Mediterranean glow. It was a light that inspired artists to either grab their paintbrushes or their golf clubs. From the side of the house the view was of the nearby municipal golf course. 

 A small plaque was posted above the doorbell. It read: The Dunlap House, 1915. Historical Landmark No. 139. 

 A young teen, almost Gresham’s height answered the door. He was wearing dark slacks, a white shirt and a tie that most likely his mother picked. “Mr. Gresham, welcome aboard, sir. I’m Josh Slater.” 

 Gresham didn’t pay attention to the firm handshake, instead he looked at the receiving line. Five sons oldest to youngest, tallest to smallest stood in the foyer of the gumwood paneled home. They were dressed the same as Josh. “Gentlemen, thank you for the invitation. You have a beautiful home.” Gresham arrived wearing gray slacks, a red vest sweater over a white shirt and blue tie. 

 The triplets smiled. The one at the end of the line looked confused. He whispered to his sibling. “He’s not wearing a coat.” The middle triplet smiled and turned to his brother. “Then, don’t ask him to hang it up in the closet.” 

 Josh pointed toward the dining room, “A famous architect named Douglas Dunlap designed the house in 1915. Mom said to give you a tour. She’ll be down in a minute.” Gresham admired the rich ruby color of the wood wainscoting. The walls of the adjacent living and dining room were painted in tans and muted green. Hardwood oak floors were covered with Gingko patterned area rugs. “Mr. Dunlap and his family lived in this house for a long time.” Josh said. 

 “It’s our house,” said the second brother. 

 Josh stopped. “This is my brother, Douglas.” 

 “Doug. Call me Doug.” 

 Gresham shook hands down the line. “Doug doesn’t like to dress up. He’d rather be killing aliens on his computer.” Gresham smiled. “What kind of computer?” “Mac 24, the big one.” 

 “Nice, Big Mac. That’s what I have.” Doug, who was three inches shorter than his brother, smiled revealing a mouth full of braces. “That’s cool. My mom’s computer if from last century. It’s in her bedroom.” 

 Doug Slater stood behind the triplets, who were eager for their time in the spotlight. They squirmed. 

 Josh put his hand on the head of each brother as he introduced him. “This is Matthew…” 

 “Matt. I’m Matt. Pleased to meet you.” 

 Gresham shook hands. 

 The ten-year-old had a firmer grip than his older brothers. 

 “This is Mark.” The triplets were identical. Gresham was trying to associate each with the different color of ties. 

 “And, this must be Luke.” 

 “No. I’m Michael.” 

 “Ah, of course, my pleasure. Is it Mike or Michael,” Gresham shook the silliest hand. 

 “Mike, the Monster.” Josh said. 

 “Are you going to be our new dad?” Mike asked bluntly. 

Josh rolled his eyes. “Mr. Gresham is our guest for dinner.” 

Gresham actually was ready for such a question. “You have a wonderful father. No one will ever replace him.” 

“Thank you, sir,” Josh grabbed his brother by the ear. “I’m sure there’s something for you to do in the kitchen.” He marched Mike out of the room. 

“We’re in the Majors already.” Matt stepped forward. 

"Is that little league?” 

“Yes sir.” 

“That’s great. Do ten year olds get to play with the 12 year olds.” 

 “Unfortunately,” Doug said. 

 “But, we play just as much as you do,” said Mark. 

 The younger Slaters didn’t share the darker coloring of the eldest brothers. Instead they had reddish streaks to their brown hair. Josh and Doug’s complexions were pale, while the trio had ruddier skin. 

 All five had a row of freckles crossing ear to ear across high cheeks and perfectly shaped noses. They were all brothers for sure. 


The dining room table was a stunning piece of shining oak. Place mats instead of a tablecloth revealed the subtle beauty of the patterned inlays, a design that was repeated in the eight chairs. The place settings were precise. The china and crystal glassware had distinctive Frank Lloyd Wright designed. A massive lantern shaped period chandelier was muted and gave off a gold light 

 It was not an architectural style Gresham was familiar with, but in the short time he had been in North Park, he admired the neighborhood’s upscale bungalow chic. 

 “You’ll excuse us, sir, we have things to do in the kitchen,” Doug shepherded his brothers to the back of the house. Josh returned. “I hope you weren’t too mortified by Mike.” 

“I am having a good time. I can’t remember the last time I had a home cooked meal.” 

Next to the living room was a large parlor that had French doors leading on to a large wrap around front porch. The walls were covered with family photos. Josh led Gresham to a series of framed photos on a cellaret. He pointed to a uniformed naval officer who was standing next to a small boy. “That’s me and my dad. All of these photos are of me or Doug with dad.” Gresham leaned forward. 

“That’s an F-35. Oldie but goodie."

 “Yes sir, he’s standing on the deck of the U.S.S. Obama. He was a fighter pilot in the Ukrainian War then became a flight training instructor. He taught other pilots how to land on carriers.” 

 “I can’t think of a more difficult job,” Gresham said. He could see from the photos that the younger Slater men looked very much like their father. Only Josh had the delicate features and coloring of his mother. Gresham looked around the room. Framed were many of his father’s medals, including a framed letter of condolences from the President. 

“What’s your father’s name? “Michael Edward Slater, Jr. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy. That’s where I want to go.” Gresham looked at Josh. There was no sadness in the boy’s face. 

 “I was told your father was killed in a crash.” 

“A first timer missed a wave off, sir. The rookie pilot panicked. A large crosswind surprised him and he slammed it into the deck. Dad went down with him.” 

“I’m sorry, Josh.” 

“That was his job, sir. They were working for our country. I hope to do the same thing.” 

“Keep your grades up and you won’t have any trouble.” 

 “Yes sir. Mom said you’re a private detective.” 

“That’s what I do for a living.” 

“Have you always been a detective?” 

“I was a cop for 10 years in San Francisco.” 

 “That’s a tough job, too.” Josh said. 

Gresham smiled. “Not as tough as landing on an aircraft carrier at night. So what’s for dinner?” 

“Roasted chicken, brown rice with gravy. Spinach salad sautéed fresh carrots and cut green beans and Parker House rolls. Do you drink wine, sir?” 

“No. Water is fine.” 

Josh walked to the dinner table and reached underneath for a small button to press.

He walked back to the mantle over the fireplace and pointed to another photograph. “Dad was awarded a Navy Cross.” 

“Makes you pretty proud of him doesn’t it?” 

 “Yes sir, but…” Josh didn’t finish the sentence. Mark or Mike or Matt interrupted. The youngster was wearing a white apron that hung down to his ankles. “You rang,” he grinned. “No wine. Instead we'll all have cranberry juice and San Pellegrino water.” 

 “Yes, master.” 

 “You guys run a tight ship here. Your mom must appreciate it.” 

 “It’s easier to run a neat house than it is to find things in a messy one,” he said. 

 “Is that your line.” 

 “No. It’s moms.” 

 “How is she feeling?” “My mother has terminal cancer, sir. We’ve been told by the doctors she has about three months to live.” 

 Gresham blinked at Josh’s bluntness. It wasn’t an answer he expected. “I can’t tell you how sorry I am to hear that.” 

 “Hear what?” Emily Slater said softly as she walked into the parlor. Gresham was stunned. She was beautiful. She absolutely glowed. 

 “Josh was telling me you’re not feeling well,” Gresham finally said. 

 “I’m fine. Dinner is about to be served. Did Josh give you the executive tour?” 

 “Yes, I am impressed with your boys and your husband’s accomplishments.” 

 “I’m blessed to be surrounded by good men,” she smiled. She was wearing a dark mahogany colored dinner gown with a matching jacket that elegantly complimented her pale complexion. Her hair was fuller and much more styled that the last time he saw her. 

“I’m so glad you could make it,” she grabbed Gresham’s hand and led him to the kitchen. “They’ve been working like bees since your RSVP.” 

 “This is great. Is this all their work?’ 

 “Yes. I’m more buttoned down than their father would have ever been with them. But I want them to be gentlemen.” 

 “You’ve succeeded, Emily.” 

 “I hope so.” She led him into the kitchen. Standing with her back to the counter was a very attractive woman in her late 20’s, who had a remarkable resemblance to the boys. She was dressed for dinner while the boys in the kitchen still had aprons on. 

 Gresham laughed to himself. He could now recognize Mike. He was the one with the reddened ear. 

 Douglas was slicing the roasted chicken, while the triplets were filling the salad bowls and carrying them out to the table. “This is my sister Marie, Emily said. She's my husband's sister.  Aunt Marie."

 Gresham reached across and shook her hand. There was pinkness to her skin that was crowned with auburn shoulder length hair. 

 “You look beautiful, Emily,” Marie said with a perfect smile. 

“You’re both gorgeous,” he smiled.

“Emily, I see you brought us a charmer.” 

 “The men invited him,” Emily nodded to her sister with a hint of a chiding gesture. 

 “Josh, shall we sit down?” Marie said as she picked up the rolls. 

 “Parker House rolls,” Gresham said, “I haven’t had them in years.” 

Mike bit into his roll and said with a mouthful, "we call them French rolls."

"I like those, too," Gresham laughed.

"Don't let them fool you.  They're old fashioned midwestern rolls," Emily said, "We're from Nebraska."

At dinner, Gresham learned that Marie was a government attorney, who had recently moved from Boston to San Diego. Until she landed a house for herself, she lived with the family. There was hint of a divorce, but Gresham was avoiding as many conversational landmines as possible. 

He learned the boys shared all household responsibilities. Josh handled the bookkeeping for his mother. They organized the shopping, including constant UBER runs to the supermarket. And, although, he was only 14, Josh could drive the SUV if necessary. The younger boys were in charge of cleaning, laundry, dish washing, trash collecting, cat feeding, landscaping and anything that needed to be fixed. 

Marie funded most of the household expenses. 

Gresham walked to the kitchen with Marie, carrying his dessert dish. The boys were busy clearing the table. Douglas was making coffee and Josh was loading the dishwasher. “They’re classy kids. I can’t believe how efficient they are,” Gresham said to Marie. 

“Believe me they weren’t this way when my brother was alive. They were the biggest collection of piggies that I had ever seen. They were a mess. And, their schoolwork was falling away, especially Josh. They were well on their way to being regular punks.” 

“I don’t believe it,” Gresham said, “This isn’t something that they can fake. They’re perfect.” 

“When Emily knew her cancer had returned she sat them all around the kitchen table and told them she was dying. She had invited one of Josh’s teachers, who is a priest from Saint Augustine High to help break it to the boys. “Father John worked with their grief. This didn’t happen right away, but soon the boys realized what they had to do. Basically, Father John told them that life wasn’t always fair that God must have had a bigger need for their parents,” Marie said. “Emily asked me if I could help Josh and Doug raise the triplets. I moved out here in a heartbeat.” 

“That was good of you. But had to be complicated?” 

“I lost a fiancé over my decision. The guy’s going to be Governor of Massachuesetts some day, but family comes first.” 

“I saw first hand, Emily is a fighter. She’s battling this isn’t she?” Gresham asked. 

 “Of course, but what can she do? The Navy has brought in some of the top cancer doctors to handle her treatment. They’ve been great, but so far she hasn’t caught a break.” 

"Well, I can see she’s made sure she’s left you five gentlemen to help you run the household."

"I'm a very lucky woman.” Marie cleared her throat. “I want to thank you for helping Emily that night in her office. I stop thinking about what could have happened.” 

 “That bastard was lucky I was there because Emily was about to put him into bum heaven.” “DA isn’t after felony charges. The guy didn’t have prior convictions for assaulting women,” Marie said. “Emily said she wouldn’t press charges if he went into chemical rehab.” 

“Did he?” “He better because the slime met his match.” Marie turned to see her sister enter the kitchen. 

 “I thought for a minute they put you to work,” Emily said smiling at Tom.  She carried in a glass of red wine into the kitchen, “Can I interest anyone in a glass of port?” Gresham smiled. “Water’s fine besides I was telling her my life story.’ 

Marie grinned, “He was not. I was telling him how proud I am to be your sister.’ 

 “Well, if you keep this up I’m going to need the entire bottle.” 

Tom, who promised not to drink alcohol after he left Jenner Rehab Hospital a year earlier raised his hand, "I change my mind. I'll have a glass of your port.

Emily and Tom toasted while the triplets were making short work of the dinner dishes. 

 Douglas was storing away the leftovers into the refrigerator. 

 A triplet stepped on the hem of his apron. 

 Josh grabbed him before he fell to the floor. “It’s just not your day, is it, Mikey.” Josh said with emphasis. 

 The best grin of the evening came from the red-eared baby raccoon. 

 “Coffee is served,” Douglas said. 

 “Decaf, OK?” 

 “Perfect,” Gresham said. “Lead the way.” 

 Josh linked arms with his mom escorting her to the parlor, where the boys had set up a dessert buffet as was fitting for the man of the house.  The excellent souffle took Gresham's mind off his own mother, the woman who instructed Fr. MacDonald to take care of her boy.  

Seeing the triplets eye the dessert made Gresham quickly change moods. "I was a fine dinner," he reached over to touch Emily's hand.  

Marie grabbed Josh in a headlock and kissed his forehead.

"OOOooo, Get a room," Mikey squealed. No one else in the room had powdered sugar on their faces.


Saturday, April 22, 2023



North Park Little League has been around forever. A Sunny Saturday Spring morning like today is a good time to catch the action on the Morley Field diamonds located in the northwest corner of San Diego’s impressive Balboa Park. 


The photo above shows a team strategy huddle. And, by the way, who says there’s no pink in baseball. The image is reminiscent of the work of icon American painter and illustrator Norman Rockwell (see left). 

Morley Field Sports Complex is a recreation area in Balboa Park named after John Morley, who served as park superintendent in Balboa Park from 1911 to 1939. The first president of North Park Little League was Dwayne Maley, a baseball coach at San Diego High School. The original founding committee in the early 1950s were Joe Schloss (who coached Little League for more than 60 years), Garnet Ramsey, Mary Nettles, Chester Denzin and Bill Whittaker. CLICK HERE for a 2015 Union-Tribune feature on Joe Schloss, North Park Little League’s legendary founding spirit. 


The league has produced Major League players like John D’Acquisto, Jerry DaVanon, Gregg Nettles, Jim Nettles and Bob Cluck. Temporary fences are put up on the Morley Field baseball and softball fields during for North Park Little League games. The five fields are named after Hall of Fame Major League Ted Williams, who was raised in North Park; Danny Milsap; Joe Schloss, Bill Whitaker and John Perretta. Joe Schloss was honored with Joe Schloss Day by the City and County of San Diego on May 16, 2015. CLICK HERE. 


By Thomas Shess, founder of North Park News CLICK HERE 

Did we say it's cool to wear pink in baseball?




GUEST BLOG / By CNN’s Senior Politics Writer Zachary Wolf--It's easy to dismiss the importance of how sports and politics commingle in American life. But it's also a mistake. 

 There's an excellent new book by our former CNN colleague Chris Cillizza to bring you up to speed. "Power Players: Sports, Politics, and the American Presidency" is about more than just the sporting lives of US presidents, although those details and backstories are quite interesting. I had no idea that Ronald Reagan was deep into weight lifting or that Donald Trump played college squash. (Cillizza also has a newsletter.) 

 In a larger sense the book is about how politicians try to manipulate their images, what voters expect from their elected leaders, and how the country has evolved since the 1950s. Dwight Eisenhower's ties to golfing and the suburban sprawl created by the interstate system that bears his name is no coincidence. 

 Soccer moms, NASCAR dads, and now, Cilizza argues, pickleball voters. I talked to him about the book, presidents and sports. 

 Why this book? 


Zachary Wolf
CNN’S ZACHARY WOLF: Two things I know about you, Chris Cillizza: You know a lot about presidents and a lot about sports. So this book is a natural fit. But what's the thing that inspired you to write it? 

 CHRIS CILLIZZA: You nailed it! Sports and politics are my two passions and I have long been looking for a way to write about both of them in a book format. The idea actually came from a series of conversations between my editor, Sean Desmond, and I about what we could do in the space. Credit where credit is due, it was his seed of an idea that led to the book. What so intrigued both of us was that with one notable exception — LBJ — every president from Eisenhower through Biden had formative experiences in athletics. Whether they were a star (Gerald Ford playing football at Michigan) or, um, not (Richard Nixon as a tackling dummy for the football team at Whittier College), they all had some early connection to sports that helped to make them who they were. And it wasn't just that they played sports at a young age either. Lots of them (Eisenhower with golf, Obama with basketball) played well into middle age and the presidency. And all of them — LBJ included — rooted for teams and followed sports at least to some extent. (Ronald Reagan was perhaps the most casual sports fan of the modern presidents; he was much more into horseback riding than watching golf or football or hoops on TV or in person). So, it just sort of made sense to write a book detailing the presidents' relationships with sports. To be honest, I was surprised it hadn't been done before! 

 Some very surprising details about bowling and Babe Ruth 

 WOLF: I was surprised to learn that in avid bowler Richard Nixon's day top bowlers made more money than top baseball or football players. What's something you learned that took you by surprise? 


CILLIZZA: I love that fact. A bowler was the first athlete in the country to be sponsored by a company! I got really into the George H.W. Bush chapter for a lot of reasons but most notably because he was our sportiest president. He played tennis growing up and baseball in college. And, throughout his life he was a maniacal competitor. (As he aged, he would compete against the grandkids to see who could fall asleep first.) My favorite fact I learned about Bush during the research and writing of the chapter was that Bush actually met Babe Ruth in person less than a month before the Sultan of Swat died. Ruth was donating his memoirs to Yale and Bush was the captain of the Yale baseball team. There's a great photo of Ruth ceremonially handing the memoir over to Bush. What a cool moment — along the lines of when a young Bill Clinton met JFK. 

 Who did the public see most clearly? 

 WOLF: So much of this is about perceptions. Jimmy Carter and Bush fought wimp images even though Carter was an avid fisherman and Bush was a good athlete. Kennedy is perceived to be an athlete even though he was hobbled by injury. Ford is perceived to be an oaf even though he's the most accomplished athlete president. And so on. Of which president did the public have the most authentic perception?

CILLIZZA: I think Nixon. Nixon was an incredibly awkward guy — socially and athletically. He played football in high school and college but he was, literally, just cannon fodder for the better players. And, he just sort of took it. According to his teammates — in high school and college — Nixon's best attribute was that no matter how many times he got knocked down, he would always get up. Sound familiar? Nixon also had a football coach in college he loved — Chief Newman — who was an outsider like him. The coach was Native American and, as a result couldn't get a job coaching a bigger college team. So he was stuck at Whittier. Nixon really identified with Newman, and saw himself as someone who would always have to fight harder for any opportunity he got. (Nixon even kicked off his 1960 presidential campaign at the Whittier football field.) I think the popular image of Nixon as sort of a strange guy who was always on the outside looking in is very much affirmed by his experience in sports. But what he learned in sports served him well in his political life — that it's not about how many times you get knocked down, it's about how many times you get up. 

 This is actually quite important 

 WOLF: You document lot of consequential presidential moments revolving around sports -- George W. Bush on the World Series mound after 9/11, Carter and the Olympic boycott. How important is it for a president to take sports seriously? 


CILLIZZA: Very — and I am not just saying that because I want people to buy the book! Sports — whether playing them or spectating them — is a very common way that people interact with their world. And politics is the business of understanding people — what they care about, what motivates them, what they live for. You can't do that and you just ignore the impact of sports on our daily lives. For lots and lots of people, their week revolves around watching their favorite football team on Sunday. Or going to a baseball game once a month. Understanding that motivation is a way to connect with people. To say 'I get your life' — which is, at root, what all politicians are trying to do. Even LBJ, who couldn't have cared less about sports, understood how much sports mattered. When he was a young senator trying to accrue power, he realized that Richard Russell, the Senate majority leader, a) loved baseball and b) was very much a loner. Suddenly LBJ developed an interest in baseball — and the two men would go to tons of games together. Russell became LBJ's mentor — and a hugely powerful ally. 

 The end of the era of the college athlete president 

 WOLF: Most of the modern presidents before Bill Clinton played sports, either football or baseball, in college, although only Gerald Ford did it at a high level. Today college sports seem like the stuff of elite athletes, not politicians. What do you take from that shift? 

 CILLIZZA: That's a really interesting observation. In some ways, it feels like military service. There was once a time when virtually everyone who ran for president — or any other office — had served. It was almost a necessity. Now, fewer and fewer politicians have served in the military. I don't know why so many fewer politicians — and presidents — now play sports in college. Biden was supposed to play football at the University of Delaware but his grades were too bad his freshman year, By his junior year, he had met the woman who would become his first wife — and he had other priorities. Trump actually did play a sport in college — squash at Fordham — but doesn't ever talk about it. (Trump was also a pretty good high school baseball player although not as good as he claims to be. Surprise surprise surprise.) Obama played basketball throughout his young life and college years but was never good enough to play for any of the places he went to school. George W. Bush was a decent natural athlete but it wasn't until later in his life — when he found endurance sports — that he came into his own. Bill Clinton was a pretty terrible athlete although he did claim to have dunked a basketball in a childhood CYO game. There are arguably some sports and exercise fads to be considered in this book. 

 Prepare for the 'pickleball voter' 

 WOLF: Nixon bowled. Reagan pumped iron. Carter, Clinton and Bush jogged. What's the next sport or exercise phenomenon you expect to see in the White House? 

 CILLIZZA: Pickleball! For real. In the Biden chapter of the book, I wrote a whole section on pickleball and the pickleball voter. (Older, affluent folks.) I think the next president — maybe after the likely Trump-Biden race in 2024 — will be a pickleball player. Can't you see Ron DeSantis or Gavin Newsom talking about the aerobic benefits of pickleball and having strategic conversations about not going in the "kitchen" (look it up!) 

 Who would you golf with? 

 WOLF: The tie that binds all these presidents, Democrat and Republican, is golf. If you could play one round of golf with one president, living or dead, who would it be and why? 

 CILLIZZA: Hmmmm... I think Eisenhower actually. He wasn't the best golfer ever to be president — that was probably JFK — but he played the most. And Ike's golfing was part and parcel of showing America, post World War II, what they could and should do with their new suburban lifestyle and the free time they found they had. Plus, I think it would be amazing to hear Ike's war stories as we went around the links. Fun Ike fact: He was a bridge addict. He loved golf and played it all the time. Any number of people have written that bridge approximated the strategy required in war in a way that no other game can. For Eisenhower, it calmed him — and he often played on the eve of major missions during World War II.  

Friday, April 21, 2023




 Edward Jones’ investment strategists in the following report provide their thoughts on current opportunities and potential risks for the second quarter 2023. 

 Second Quarter 2023 Economic Outlook 

While the economy remained resilient in Q1 and the labor market showed ongoing strength, there may be signs of softening in the quarter ahead. 

Higher interest rates and inflation weigh on households and corporate earnings — The Federal Reserve raised interest rates twice in Q1, bringing the federal funds rate to around 5%, its highest level since 2007. These higher interest rates increase the cost of borrowing for consumers and corporations, putting downward pressure on demand broadly. As a result, consumer confidence has moderated, and corporate earnings growth has been revised lower. For 2023, S&P 500 earnings growth is now expected to be around 1%, well below the 10% growth estimate expected mid-2022. 

Banking sector turmoil may have ripple effects — While the recent volatility in the banking sector has stabilized, there may be longer-term impacts to economic activity. These may come in the form of banks tightening their lending standards and an increase in regulations focused on regional banks. As banks pull back on potential loans, corporate and consumer spending may moderate as well. Perhaps the silver lining is that tighter credit availability may also move inflation marginally lower, which could support a pause in the Fed’s interest rate-hiking campaign. 

We still anticipate a mild recession in 2023 — In our view, a mild economic downturn remains likely and may begin sometime in the second half of 2023. We would expect to see consumption fall and the labor market to soften, although more modestly than in past recessions, with the unemployment rate perhaps remaining below 5%. We continue to see inflation moderating, with core inflation heading toward 3% by year-end. With this backdrop, the Fed is likely to pause hiking interest rates by mid2023, which historically has been beneficial for both stock and bond markets. Past performance is not a guarantee of what will happen in the future. 

 Recommended action for investors: Action for investors While volatility may increase as an economic downturn emerges, markets are also forward-looking and can start to recover months ahead of a recession’s end. We recommend investors use pullbacks to diversify, rebalance and add quality investments to portfolios, according to their personal financial goals, ahead of a potentially more sustainable recovery. 

 Second Quarter 2023 Equity Outlook 

Markets wrapped up a volatile but positive quarter as strength in tech offset weakness in banks, but the path to recovery could be bumpy in the short term. We think further moderation in inflation and a likely Federal Reserve interest rate pause by early summer can support a positive outlook for the remainder of 2023. 

Volatility to stay elevated as growth slows — The economy started Q1 on solid footing, but we expect some softness ahead as the effects of monetary tightening filter through. While we anticipate a modest recession, we don’t expect a deep or prolonged downturn given the solid consumer finances and labor market dynamics. We believe a rebound could materialize in the second half of the year. 

Stocks can start looking through the valley — As the economy slows, earnings will likely continue to be under some pressure. But last year’s decline in valuations potentially discounts some of the challenges. Though emerging bull markets don’t follow a timetable, stocks tend to move ahead of the economy and can bottom before economic data and headlines improve. 

3 reasons mid-October could have marked the bottom — 

1. Even with lingering price pressures, we’re seeing a trend of disinflation. The path lower is unlikely to be a straight line, but even with historic low unemployment, wage pressures have started to moderate. 

2. After hiking rates aggressively over the past 12 months, the Fed is nearing the end of its tightening campaign. A Fed pause has historically been a catalyst for improved equity performance. 

3. S&P 500 earnings estimates have been cut to about 1% from about 10% a year ago. In our view, this better reflects the expected growth slowdown. 

 Recommended action for investors: We recommend a neutral allocation to U.S. large caps, with an overweight position in emerging markets and an underweight to small caps. We favor increased allocations within health care and consumer discretionary and reduced allocations to utilities and communication services. Consider dollar-cost averaging to take advantage of the volatility and position portfolios for a more sustainable rebound. 

 Second Quarter 2023 Fixed-Income Outlook 

Government bond yields moved sharply lower in Q1 as the banking crisis unfolded, and investors flocked to safe-haven assets such as Treasury bonds. We would expect yields to stabilize and move somewhat higher in Q2, although the peak in yields for this cycle may be behind us. 

A Fed pause is likely on the horizon — We expect the Federal Reserve to pause raising interest rates in mid-2023, especially as economic growth softens and inflation continues to moderate. This would also likely cap an upward move in Treasury yields. Although markets are forecasting multiple rate cuts in 2023, we would not expect the Fed to pivot to lower rates unless inflation was closer to its 2% target or the economy was materially weaker. Inflation is still elevated, and the economy and labor market continue to show signs of resilience. However, the Fed could signal rate cuts toward year-end, as inflation potentially heads toward 3%. 

A pause in rate hikes has favored bond returns — Since 1984, the average return for investment-grade bonds from a Fed pause to its first rate cut is about 7%. Notably, in Q1, investment-grade bonds were up about 4%, as yields moved lower late in the quarter and investors sought safe-haven assets during the banking uncertainty. We would expect bonds to continue to offer this diversification benefit in the months ahead, especially during periods of equity market volatility. 

Opportunities may be forming for longer-duration bonds — In Q1, investors continued to seek higher-yielding investments in liquid assets, including CDs, money market funds and short-term Treasury bonds. But we see opportunities forming to complement these potentially with longer-duration bonds, particularly in the investment-grade space. These bonds not only lock in yields for longer, but also have the opportunity for price appreciation, especially if the Fed does pause and, over time, move interest rates lower. 

 Recommended action for investors: We see opportunities forming to complement shorter-duration bonds and CDs with longer duration bonds, especially in the investment-grade space. We recommend working with a financial advisor to ensure your portfolio has adequate fixed income diversification to meet your financial goals. 

 Second Quarter 2023 International Outlook 

Global growth could stay lackluster this year. But China’s reopening, a potentially softening U.S. dollar and still-attractive valuations suggest international diversification could benefit portfolios again this year. 

Europe dodges recession, but risks remain — Confidence in Europe has started to recover as a warm winter helped avert a much-feared energy crisis. Natural gas prices have now returned to where they were before the Ukraine invasion. With the help of a strong labor market, the economy grew in Q4 despite expectations for a contraction. Downside risks remain as the rise in borrowing costs likely pressures demand. 

China’s reopening provides a boost — After battling a COVID-19 resurgence, China pivoted away from its zero-COVID policy in Q1. This has led to a pickup in factory activity and should release pent-up consumer demand in the coming months. At the same time, the government continues to support growth. As a result, China is the only major country where growth is expected to accelerate from last year. 

The global fight against inflation continues — Eurozone inflation appears to have peaked, but core inflation — which excludes food and energy — remains sticky and is higher than in the U.S. Because of this, the European central bank might stop hiking rates after the Federal Reserve does. With the difference between U.S. and European policy rates likely to narrow, the U.S. dollar could weaken, boosting international returns. 

International valuations are not stretched, despite recent rally — International equities have outperformed U.S. equities over the past six months and one year. But despite the rally, international equities still trade at a near-record discount relative to U.S. equities. This suggests there is more room for global indexes to make up some ground lost over the past decade. 

 Recommended action for investors: We recommend an overweight position in emerging-market equities that could benefit from China’s reopening and the potential for a softer U.S. dollar. 


2023 started strong on signs the pressure to global growth might not be as bad as previously feared. But market volatility reappeared as investors weighed the potential economic impact of higher inflation and financial sector concerns, highlighting the value of portfolio diversification.

 A rate-hiking pause draws nearer — Inflation concerns initially flared on signals prices may be trending downward more slowly than expected. The Federal Reserve hiked interest rates two more times in the quarter to help prevent elevated inflation from becoming a long-term drag on growth. Price pressures continued easing, and interest rates finished Q1 lower. We may not have seen the final rate hike, but updated Fed projections indicate a pause has drawn nearer, which could provide stronger footing for portfolios. 

Financial sector concerns weigh on growth expectations — Turmoil surrounding U.S. regional banks, such as Silicon Valley Bank, and some larger, more global peers triggered uncertainty about the health of the banking industry. While lending conditions are likely to tighten, it may take time before the full impact of the recent banking-related crisis is known. But swift action from key authorities to provide stability, as well as the strength of banks more broadly, boosted confidence and reduced concerns as Q1 ended. 

Leadership rotates, but markets remain resilient — Brighter growth expectations supported more economically sensitive segments of the market in Q1 until inflation- and bank-related concerns rotated markets into a more defensive tone. All recommended asset classes ended the quarter higher. Large-cap stocks led equities, while U.S. small-cap stocks lagged. Strong returns from growth-oriented equities, such as technology stocks, helped overcome weakness within financials and energy. Bond values rose as yields fell, offering a buffer against stock market volatility. 

 Recommended action for investors: Markets are likely to be sensitive to additional news about the banking system, the path of inflation and monetary policy expectations. Work with your financial advisor to identify opportunities to add quality investments at lower prices, potentially enhancing your portfolio’s diversification. 



With the recent financial shock from the bank crisis, we suspect policymakers will want to avoid a government default. Political standoffs may add anxiety for markets, but we believe that will prove temporary, with sights turning back toward the economy and corporate fundamentals. 

Drama, not default — This year, likely sometime this summer, lawmakers will need to raise the U.S. debt ceiling. Despite deep party divides, we believe a deal will ultimately be reached as both sides recognize that a default on U.S. government debt is unacceptable. We suspect a compromise to raise the debt ceiling will be accompanied by a modest cut to future discretionary spending as well as potentially small, targeted increases on certain taxes. 

While this debt limit increase simply kicks the can down the road, we expect this outcome because: 1) it’s the most viable move for now because larger budget issues cannot be solved this year, and 2) lawmakers should want to avoid adding a fiscal crisis to an already softening economy. The resiliency and vibrancy of the U.S. economy will enable the U.S. government to carry an elevated debt load with manageable financing costs (interest rates) for some time to come — but not forever. Eventually, more difficult budget decisions will be required, including a combination of taxes and adjustments to both discretionary and nondiscretionary (including Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security) spending. 

Markets tend to move on quickly — This frequency means Markets largely look past routine debt limit changes, though contentious political standoffs have spurred temporary adverse reactions. Brinkmanship tactics do pose a risk, but we think the more likely outcome will be some short-term volatility in stocks and bonds as any potential deadline draws closer in the absence of a deal, with markets quickly shifting back to focus on fundamentals, not Washington. 

 Recommended action for investors: Market volatility in response to debt ceiling showdowns has been short-lived in the past. Even following the 2011 episode, equities rebounded shortly after and Treasury bonds rallied. We would view any debt-ceiling weakness as temporary, and we’d recommend adding to long-term positions on any such Washington-driven pullbacks.