Saturday, February 28, 2009

'Juve' With the Minimum and Remains Second in Italy

With a goal from midfielder Claudio Marchisio (44 ') defeated Juventus by the minimum difference andalusia Naples, today at the Italian Serie A football, and continues to escort the leader Inter, who on Sunday received the Roma.

With this result, the "Vecchia Signora" with 53 points in his 6 starts of the Lombards, comfortable leader.

Naples is in its sixth defeat in eight games.

The only goal in a very disputed first time, was somewhat fortunate, since the shooting Marchisio could have stayed in the hands of Argentine goalkeeper Nicolas Navarro, but the midfielder Manuele Blasi touched the ball inadvertently and disconcerted andalusia guardavallas (44 ).

The second half was played at a slower pace, but there were times for both the marker and did not move. Even the Argentinian Ezequiel Lavezzi scored a goal that was nullified by off-side of Fabio Cannavaro and defense on the final.

Before, this Saturday, with a doublet of Argentine Mauro Zarate (36, 81), Lazio (7) defeated Bologna (17th) 2-0.

The Italian team have suffered a black weeks in European competitions.

In the last two seasons, the Inter-Roma is considered the major shock of the "calcium", but things have changed since the whole of the capital, runner today is only sixth in the table and now has 16 points less than the Champion Inter.

But it was still important to the game at the stadium in San Siro for Inter. Five days after his tie as host of Manchester United (0-0) hopes to keep pace at the top of Serie A.

The AS Roma, which can be considered fortunate not to have lost by a more bulky marker to Arsenal in London (1-0) will seek revenge from the first round, when he was crushed by 4-0. This is closer to its goal of fourth place.

But the most disappointing team of the week was undoubtedly the AC Milan. UEFA was his great goal and it was not before the end of the sixteenth of Werder Bremen (1-1, 2-2) to tie left at home on Thursday when he was winning 2-0.

Distance in the classification, also eliminated Cup in Italy, and can only aspire to the second installment of the series, which ranks directly for the next Champions League. On Sunday he travels to Genoa to measure the Sampdoria (14th), another team eliminated from the UEFA Cup on Thursday.

Just behind, Fiorentina (4th) and Genoa (5th), who also aspire to a place in Champions, visit two teams from the bottom of the table, Reggina (20th and last) and Siena (15th), respectively.

Shelby 427 Betting Preview

Matt Kenseth will be trying to keep his winning streak alive this weekend when he takes the track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for Sunday afternoon's Shelby 427.

Kenseth held off Jeff Gordon to get the win last weekend in the Auto Club 500, making it two victories in a row for the Daytona 500 champion. Kyle Busch, Greg Biffle, and Kurt Busch rounded out the Top 5 on Sunday

Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards, Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, and Brian Vickers made up the rest of the Top 10 at the Auto Club 500. Martin Truex Jr. finished in 27th place, while Dale Earnhardt Jr. had to settle for a 39th-place result.

Sports Betting blog reports: Kenseth holds an 81-point lead on Gordon in the Sprint Cup Series driver standings after two events, with Stewart and Kurt Busch tied for third place. Biffle, Clint Bowyer, Michael Waltrip, David Ragan, Edwards, Juan Montoya, Elliott Sadler, and David Reutimann round out the Top 12.

Edwards won the March event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway last season, when it was called the UAW-Dodge 400. Johnson visited victory lane in this race in each of 2005, 2006, and 2007, while Kenseth took the checkered flag in both 2003 and 2004. Gordon (2001), Jeff Burton (1999 and 2000), and Mark Martin (1998) also have Nevada wins.

After racing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway the drivers of the Sprint Cup Series will move on to Atlanta for the Kobalt Tools 500 on March 8. The month then ends with the Food City 500 at Bristol on March 22, and the Goody's Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville on March 29.

Real Madrid kept their Persecution to the Leader FC Barcelona

Sports Betting blog reports: Real Madrid kept their persecution to the andalusia leader FC Barcelona after winning 2-0 at Espanyol today in the Spanish League football, while Sevilla, third, won 2-1 at Athletic Bilbao, with a doublet of Malian Frederic Kanoute .

Whites were found in the Montjuic stadium Espanyol with a well planted on the pitch at Real Madrid that he expected in his field, which prevented the Merengues move the ball control.

Locals, meanwhile, appealed mainly to the pressure in and out counterattack, but little by little, Espanyol noticing physical effort was made, leaving more space for a Real Madrid, which came more and more, until he reached the first hit both at fault.

José María Gutiérrez "Guti" drew from a lack of frontal area that sneaks by the right of the goal square Espanyol (67) and shortly after, Raul let go another great shot that went in the goal of Kameni (72).

The victory enables the Real Madrid maintain their pursuit to the andalusia leader, FC Barcelona, which is four points provisionally, pending rioja made by Barcelona on Sunday to face Atletico Madrid.

Sevilla won for his part smooth andalusia Athletic de Bilbao which had many problems to play the ball.

Andalusians came well placed thanks to Diego Capel for the band and shots of Kanouté, but that was the Athletic opened the scoring.

After a corner kick, the ball was dead in the area and there was Igor Gabilondo, to release a great shot which crept into the goal from Andres Palop (25), although a few minutes later came the emapate.

Kanouté topped crossed on a small area for a long pass from the right of Colombian Aquivaldo Mosquera (38).

The draw threw back to Athletic Bilbao after the rest was virtually locked in an area with Sevilla continued to press until the second time.

Kanouté checked again in front of the area, he left two defenders and unleashed a great shot, before which nothing could make Armando (58).

Liverpool Missed a Great Chance for the Premier League Title

Liverpool missed a great chance today to put pressure on Manchester United in the fight for the Premier League title by losing 2-0 to Middlesbrough at the date of the twenty-seventh championship.

An own goal from Xabi Alonso and Spanish from a Tuncay Sanli in the second part dealt the fatal blow to the team of Rafael Benitez.

Liverpool still seven points of leader Manchester United, which has 62 points and one match remaining. In addition, the team "red" fell to third place behind Chelsea's win over the Wigan Athletic 2-1.

"Before the match was difficult and now is even more difficult. We'll see what happens against Sunderland and try to improve, but now depends on United," admitted Benitez.

"If you want to stay on top of the table you have to dial. I do not mean much because for me it is clear that in the first twenty minutes we had five situations and we must seize if we win."

"We had some problems and injuries, some players were tired, but we had chances and control the first thirty minutes. Middlesbrough were better in the second half," the technical "network's", not with Fernando Torres after the Spanish suffered an ankle injury in the victory for the Champions League mid-week before the Real Madrid.

Chelsea opened the scoring through John Terry for 25 minutes, but eight minutes after Kieron Dyer was able to equalize the scoring for Wigan. Frank Lampard ended a victory "blue" time complementary.

Meanwhile, Arsenal today suffered its fourth consecutive tie the match with goals at home to Fulham. The result left Arsenal in fifth place, two of Everton, who sank a little more today at West Bromwich Albion in the last position of the table from the English Football League defeat 2-0.

Australia's Tim Cahill and Frenchman Louis Saha set the team goals for Liverpool, which is sixth with 44 points.

Cahill pitch to launch a corner goal nine minutes before the break, while Saha, who was returning to the team after an injury, closed the scoring at 70 minutes.

Two quick notes

I will be on the Larry Milian radio show each weekend on to squawk about the Yankees. His show airs on WTFL 640 in Florida. I was excited to be his new show's inaugural guest today! Best of wishes to our old Dos Amigos friend in his new radio gig. You can listen to his station by clicking here.

One other note - the 500 Home Run Club site is featuring articles on some of the African-American baseball legends who hit 500 or more homers, in honor of Black History Month. There's also a story about honorary 500 Home Run Club member Josh Gibson. And next week, they'll have even more fresh content on some of baseball's biggest legends.

Sebelius HHS Announcement Coming Monday?

Are we there yet? Almost. 

Our understanding is that the White House could announce Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius as HHS Secretary on Monday. 

Given the nature of the ups and downs for the HHS Secretary search, we want to stress that things could change at any moment and we'll do our best to keep you up to date. 

It would be a remarkable turn of events for Sebelius' nomination, which appeared to be finished just one week ago. Not too long ago, the administration had settled on Sebelius for the position. To read our coverage, click here and here

Then, multiple people we trust on Capitol Hill said the nomination was in deep, deep trouble over the issue of abortion. Sebelius, a Roman Catholic, is understood to be pro-life but carried out pro-choice policies in her state and has links to a vocal pro-choice doctor in Kansas. Social conservatives in the Senate wouldn't allow the nomination to get through. To read our story on this, click here.   

However, it appears as though the White House decided to step in due to President Obama's personal relationship with Sebelius and desire that she fill the Cabinet post. To read our story, click here

The talk in town is that Nancy-Ann DeParle will be named to head up the White House Office for Health Reform. This, like everything else health, is subject to change. 

Former New York City Health Commissioner Margaret Hamburg is still in line to be tapped as FDA Commissioner and Baltimore Health Commissioner Joshua Sharfstein is expected to be named principal deputy. We stress that this arrangement could also change. 

So to summarize, assuming things remain as they are, HHS will look like this, with the possibilty of some of these candidates having dual roles in the White House: 

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius
HHS Deputy Secretary Bill Corr
HHS General Counsel Bill Schultz
CMS Administrator Don Berwick
CMS Deputy Administrator David Cutler
FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg
FDA Deputy Commissioner Joshua Sharfstein

We would like to emphasize that, with the downfall of the Daschle nomination, the economists in the White House (Larry Summers) and at OMB (Peter Orszag) have filled the health care reform vacuum. 

We'll tell you when we hear more. 

NRL Rugby 2009 – Just around the corner

The NRL rugby league is one of the toughest sporting competitions in the world and don't expect anything different in 2009.

Once again Melbourne and Manly will be up there. It will be interesting to see the NRL results St George gets with Wayne Bennett at the helm. They are at 16 to win the whole thing which are healthy NRL league odds.

Once were NRL rugby powerhouses of the 1980s, Parramatta and Canterbury are languishing at 30 and 36 respectively. Both have new coaches in Daniel Anderson and Kevin Moore respectively which probably goes someway behind the disrespectful odds those two have received.

He's not a rookie coach anymore so the honeymoon period is now over for Brad Fittler. They can get very impatient at Bondi Junction when the Roosters sit in the bottom half of the NRL ladder. It is also time for Jason Taylor to deliver NRL results to Redfern. They have been patient. They will be feeling the same way up in North Queensland and on the Gold Coast.

With Melbourne, Manly and Brisbane dominating for the majority of the decade, pretty much every other club wants to break their drought.

Squawker Media Alert: I will be on the radio today

Larry Milian, one of Miami's Dos Amigos radio stars, has an all-new weekly radio show, and I'm pleased to be a guest on the first week of the Larry Milian Show. Plus, it's my birthday!

Anyhow, if you're in South Florida, tune into WFTL at 640 on your AM dial to hear me on The Larry Milian Show. Everyone else can listen to me live by clicking here, and hitting the middle button on the page for 640.

I should be on the show at 12:45 p.m. today, squawking about the Yankees. Check it out!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Movies… For Free! Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Welcome to the first of a regular column showcasing classic movies that have fallen out of copyright and are available freely from the public domain (with streaming video!). Read the full article and watch the movie here!

Night of the Living Dead (1968).

Directed by George A. Romero.
Starring Duane Jones and Judith O’Dea.

First up is George A. Romero’s black and white indie classic, Night of the Living Dead – the film that revolutionised horror and launched the archetypal zombie into popular culture. Made on a budget of $114,000, the movie went on to gross over $30 million world-wide and spawned five sequels, including the masterful Dawn of the Dead (1978).

When the recently deceased begin to rise from the grave, a young woman, Barbra, narrowly escapes an attack and seeks refuge in an old farmhouse. There she discovers the film's hero, a black man named Ben (in a controversial casting decision for the time), a young couple and a family with a sick daughter. Together they must try to fend off the increasing hoard of flesh-eating monsters if they are to have any hope of surviving the night.

Embed courtesy of Internet Archive.

Click here to view all previous entries in our Movies... For Free! collection.

I want to believe Mike Piazza

Joel Sherman's column on Mike Piazza sums up how I feel about Piazza in light of the steroid age. Sherman likes Piazza and wants him to be clean. He has no evidence to suggest otherwise. But it's hard not to wonder about a 62nd-round draft pick who sets an all-time record for homers by a catcher.

I really hope Piazza is clean, also, and not just because I'm a big fan of his. If something comes out on Piazza, I'm going to have to reevaluate how I look at PED cheats. Because I'm just not ready to stop being a fan of his.

It's easy when the big names in the Mitchell Report from your team are people like Mo Vaughn. Seeing Todd Hundley's name was disappointing, but his best years were not memorable ones for the team as well.

Lenny Dykstra will always be a major figure in Met history, but by all accounts he did not start to bulk up until well after the 1986 season. He did hit 19 of his career 81 homers during a pennant-winning year, but that was in 1993 for the Phillies.

It's fun to sit back on this side of things and watch the parade of Yankee apologies, but it's hard to imagine that no Met stars were (or are) ever involved.

If only MLB would try full disclosure for a change. Release the other 103 names, but also emphasize that these were just the guys who got caught and that the problem was much more widespread. Estimate a number - 50%? 80% of players were juiced?

Until then, many fans will go for 100%, not just because it's as likely as any other, but because then it won't hurt as bad when it's one of your favorite players who has to make the apologies.

The heat is on! Jon and I are squawking for Heater magazine

Are you getting ready for your baseball fantasy league season? You should check out Heater Magazine, the newsletter that not only features uncommon stats for uncommon players, but it also features Squawker Jon and myself talking about the Yankees and Mets. The mag has a ton of other cool stuff for seamheads as well.

And while there is a cost to subscribe to Heater, we have a special offer for Squawker readers. You can get $5 off a Heater magazine subscription by clicking either here, if you're a Yankee fan, or here, if you're a Met fan or Yankee hater. Check it out!

World Baseball Classic betting – Are the Dominicans still a favorite?

World Baseball Classic betting is less than a week away, so it’s hard to believe a major contender’s online betting chances could change so dramatically in the few days before the event starts. But that seems to be the case for the Dominican Republic, which has lost some major names leading up to the WBC odds.

An All-Star team of sluggers – Albert Pujols, Vladimir Guerrero, Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Pena – not to mention dynamic young hurler Francisco Liriano – pulled out before the final World Baseball Classic betting rosters were announced on Feb. 24. Whom does that leave to keep the Dominican Republic a strong sportsbook contender?

The hitting lineup should still mash enough; Hanley Ramirez and Jose Reyes will set the table while David Ortiz and Alex Rodriguez – who clearly has a lot to prove – can drive ‘em in. Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz and the suddenly aging Miguel Tejada can provide pop at the bottom of the order.

The Dominicans’ big question mark in the World Baseball Classic odds is pitching. Liriano’s drop-out leaves the nation without a true ace in the tournament. The Dominicans have no shortage of guys with electric stuff, including Juan Cruz, Johnny Cueto and Ubaldo Jimenez, but they’ll need Edinson Volquez to match his MLB success of last year and a comeback performance from Pedro Martinez, who’ll be auditioning for a major-league job, would go a long way.

Sports Betting blog reports: Online betting fans certainly can’t write the Dominican Republic off in WBC betting, but Team USA may now be the tournament favorite.

DotW: State of the Union

Okay, we at IVB know that Tuesday night's speech wasn't really a state of the union address. Call Obama's discourse a precursor, a practice run, a preliminary to the real thing coming in 11 months. Whatever you call it, there's no denying the officially unofficial address will likely go down in history as one of the most important events--after the budget, also released this week--of 44's first 100 days. Not necessarily because, as Ezra Klein at American Prospect notes, it was a particularly inspiring--or terrorizing--speech. But because "he didn’t wrap his agenda in a lot of rhetoric about America’s mettle or hide it behind stories and icons. He just sort of said it." Imagine.

In a week where the Dow plummeted to lows not seen since 1997 and news on rising unemployment and falling home sales only added to the gloom, it's perhaps natural to take stock of the biopharma state of the union. Sadly, as investors worried over the mind-boggling $3.6 trillion federal budget Obama submitted Thursday, the stock prices of pharma companies, med-tech outfits and insurers dropped, illustrating again that there is no such thing as a recession proof industry.

As the saying goes, you can't swing a dead cat without hitting a troubled biotech these days. Elan once again made the news with an announcement that it was shedding 230 jobs--half in Ireland and half in California--as it tries to control costs and marshall resources. (No word on the corporate jets.) Meantime, Vanda is the latest company to experience the full brunt of shareholder activism, while Intercytex shows regenerative medicine is still a tough area to grow a business.

And then there's Dynogen, this week's winner of IVB's little engine that couldn't prize. The company declared chapter 7 less than a year after trying to go public via the SPAC--or is it SCRAP?--route. Even as six law firms kvetched about their unpaid legal fees, Dynogen's venture backers, which include Oxford Bioscience Partners, SV Life Sciences, and Abingworth Management, took it on the chin despite sinking $67 million into the IBS developer.

In what is surely a sign of the times, this week Pfizer announced it was discontinuing work on two Phase III primary care products, PD 332,334 for generalized anxiety and esreboxetine for fibromyalgia, to redirect resources to drug candidates with more potential. The news shows that even Big Pharma face tough decisions these days about which programs to move forward and which to table. Could the news mark the beginning of the much vaunted Pfizer transformation CEO Kindler has talked about in the days since moving to acquire Wyeth? This blogger is reserving judgement until the New York pharma actually does some thing revolutionary, such as not just killing the programs but outlicensing them. (For another opinion on Pfizer's transormation potential be sure to check out this hilarous youtube video by a former Ann Arbor, MI-based employee.)

Meantime when it comes to dealmaking in the biopharma state, the big news this week was partnerships gone awry. Astellas made the decidely un-Japanese decision to go hostile in its quest for CV Therapeutics, despite the fact that the decision means Astellas violates a longstanding standstill agreement tied to the California biotech's Lexiscan imaging agent. The Roche/Genentech saga continues apace, with Roche marshalling its economic might by issuiing over $30 billion in bonds in the past two weeks, and Genentech preparing to woo investors at its annual R&D day in NYC on Monday. (Better be some good danish at that meeting...)

Synta’s shocking news that it was halting a Phase III trial of metastatic melanoma drug elesclomol due to excess mortality likely portends an end to its rich partnership with GlaxoSmithKline. Originally inked in 2007, the agreement has added just over $100 million to Synta’s coffers. And, as we wrote on Monday, Johnson & Johnson and Basilea seem poised to begin a very public fight over milestone payments tied to regulatory approval of the antibiotic ceftobiprole. Frustrated over European and US regulatory delays associated with the drug, Basilea announced it was seeking arbitration to obtain compensation from partner J&J for outstanding milestones and the value of the opportunity lost in not having ceftobiprole on the market.

Here at IVB, we know that not all deals are created equal. We, the bloggers, in order to form a more perfect industry, provide for the common defense and promote the general welfare, bring you another edition of Deals of the Week. (Domestic tranquility is not, however, guaranteed.)

Merck Serono/Ambrx: Merck Serono and Ambrx formed a more perfect union this week as they expanded their existing relationship to include the development and commercialization of a preclinical biological multiple sclerosis candidate, ARX424. According to the deal, announced Feb. 24, Darmstadt, Germany-based Merck Serono gains exclusive global development and commercial rights for the MS compound. In exchange, Merck Serono will pay an undisclosed sum to Ambrx, plus pick up an equity stake. Ambrx also stands to receive undisclosed clinical, regulatory and commercial milestone payments for drugs that make it to market, plus royalties on global sales, as part of the package. Furthermore, it has the option down the line of converting royalty rights in the US to a profit-and-loss sharing agreement. San Diego-based Ambrx is one of those increasingly rare beasts: a biotech with plenty of cash resources that's announcing staff increases rather than layoffs. In the last 20 months, Ambrx raked in $60 million thanks to the recent equity deal and milestone payments from its alliance partners, which also include Merck and Eli Lilly. Thanks to these resources, CEO Steve Kaldor says, conservatively speaking, his firm should be able to get through late 2011 or early 2012 with no need for new financing or equity deals. "We continue to sustain a multi-year runway while growing our biologics product portfolio and innovative platform" he said. Of course, it helps that Ambrx's RECODE (reconstituted chemically orthogonal directed engineering) technology allows the company to endow native proteins with new therapeutic propertis. And readers you know what that means. Even if the company is devoting much of its efforts to creating first-in-class molecules, there is the potential to use RECODE to create follow-on biologics, be they true generics or copy cat molecules with a twist. It's an area of intense interest to Big Pharma these days, especially given the Obama Administration's willingness to include FOB legislation in the most recent Congressional budget. (Teva and Merck dominate the Big Pharma FOB horse race currently thanks to their deal making in recent months, a topic highlighted in the February issue of IN VIVO.) As for the MS compound that was central to the Merck Serono/Ambrx deal, there are few details on the exact nature of the protein in question. "It may be a pioneering target or a follow-on biologic. We are not divulging what class it is," Kaldor told our sister publication "The Pink Sheet" DAILY. Whatever class it is, it's IVB's bet that Ambrx will not long remain an independent company. Merck Serono is our pick to buy it.

CSL/Xencor: Any doubts about interest in next generation technology that provides souped-up antibodies, look no further than news that Aussie biopharma company CSL signed an R&D alliance with Xencor to gain access to the privately-held biotech's Xmab technology, which allows the optimization of antibodies to create molecules with increased potency and longer half-lives. Details of the agreement--from its apparent breadth to the size of the upfront payment and downstream milestones--were lacking. It's the second such alliance Xencor has signed this month. Earlier in February, the biotech announced it was teaming up with Human Genome Sciences to use Xmab to create better versions of the Rockville, Maryland-based company's antibodies. Details of that transaction weren't disclosed, either. For the privately-held Xencor the two transactions--even if modest in size--likely provide much needed non-dilutive funding. The company, which has raised $130 million since its 1997 founding, last raised money in Oct. 2007 when it tacked an additional $15 million onto a 2006 $45 million Series E, which was led by MedImmune Ventures with additional backing by Novo Nordisk and HealthCare Ventures. (New investors in the Series E extension included Oxford Bioscience Partners and Merlin Nexus.) It's hard to tell how long Xencor's backers are willing to subsidize the company, but despite numerous partnerships--including deals with Centocor, Genentech, and Boehringer Ingelheim, no suitors have been sufficiently impressed with the technology to want to acquire the Monrovia, CA-based company despite pharma's 2007 land-grab for next generation antibody technologies. It could be that companies are still waiting for validation that the technology works as advertised: molecules in Xencor's internal pipeline are still at a very early stage. The biotech's lead product, an anti-CD30 for Hodgkin lymphoma and other T-cell lymphomas, is only in Phase I development.

Actelion/GeneraMedix: In a continuing bid to strengthen its position in the pulmonary arterial hypertension market, Switzerland's Actelion announced Monday that it would pay an undisclosed amount for worldwide development and commercialization rights to an IV formulation of epoprostenol from the injectable generics group GeneraMedix. Approved by FDA in June last year, this improved formulation of GlaxoSmithKline's (now generic) Flolan offers more convenient storage options than epoprostenol alternatives, including another generic from Teva approved last year. While not likely to be a large deal, the tie-up makes sense. It allows Actelion to leverage its existing infrastructure and expertise in this specialist field, where it already sells the lead drug Tracleer (bosentan). But there is no way epoprostenol will come anywhere close to replacing Tracleer, which sold CHF 1,294 million in 2008, and is under increasing pressure from contenders marketed by Gilead and United Therapeutics. (A generic version will also be available come 2015 for those keeping track.) According to analysts at Piper Jaffray, who estimate total worldwide sales of IV PAH therapies are worth about $200 million to $300 million, epoprostenol may add $30 million to $50 million in sales before 2014. To make up the revenue gap from potential lost Tracleer sales, look for Actelion, which has a sizeable war chest--approximately CHF 1.1 billion in cash at the end of 2008--to sign additional deals in the coming months.

Cephalon/Arana: Arana's mystery buyer has a name: Cephalon. On Feb. 26, Aussie biotech Arana announced that it was involved in take-over discussions. Trading on the Australian Stock Exchange was halted in anticipation of a buy-out. One day later Cephalon revealed that it intends to offer A$1.40-a-share for the biotech, a 69% premium to Arana's closing stock price on Feb. 25. If the offer goes through at the current price--and it does have the support of Arana's independent directors absent a superior proposal from another party--it will be worth approximately A$318 million ($207 million USD). In support of its bid, Cephalon took steps to secure nearly 20% of Arana's issued shares from the Aussie outfit's two largest shareholders, Start-Up Australia Ventures and Rockwell Securities Ltd., before launching the formal offer. The deal represents a slight shift in Cephalon's deal-making strategy in recent months in that it is not tied to any contingent value rights. Recall that Cephalon's recent $100 million tie-up with Ception was an option-based deal that gave the Frazer, PA-based company the right to buy the smaller biotech for an additional $250 million plus milestones and earn-outs if a Phase IIb/III trial of Ception's antibody reslizumab for eosinophilic asthma panned out. But the recent deal is certainly in-line with Cephalon's stated desire to build a larger presence in both biologics and inflammatory disease. Together with the ImmuPharma compounds Cephalon recently locked up and Ception's reslizumab, Arana's portfolio of tumor necrosis factor (TNF) alpha blockers, gives Cephalon a tidy pipeline of drugs aimed at diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriasis. Indeed, Arana's Phase II novel anti-TNF domain antibody for psoriasis, ART621, was the primary driver of the deal. Of course, it helps that in addition to a novel pipeline of products, Arana also comes with a guaranteed revenue stream: thanks to strong IP in the anti-TNF space, the biotech receives royalties from Abbott Laboratories and Johnson & Johnson on Humira and Remicade.

Medtronic/CoreValve: As we wrote earlier this week, you know Medtronic's $1.03 billion buying spree is only the beginning, not the end, of the long-anticipated land grab around the percutaneous valve replacement field and its two major sub-markets--aortic and mitral valve devices. There has been a lag of several years since Edwards Lifesciences did the first major deal in the space, acquiring aortic player Percutaneous Valve Technology (PVT) in late 2003. But the promise of the market has continued to grow as investment remained active, technology improved, and the competition increaed. Give Medtronic credit for the executing the old "shock and awe" routine with perfection, by picking up a pair of percutaneous players in quick succession: CoreValve Inc. and Ventor Technologies Ltd. For Medtronic, these deals represent not just an investment in technology building. In CoreValve, the device behemoth gets a company that is already competing aggressively in the European aortic market, where CoreValve's smaller-sized system is running neck-and-neck with long-time leader Edwards. The deal could spark a torrent of additional partnering, especially as Edwards Lifesciences and St. Jude looked to build armamentariums competitive with Medtronic's.

Interested in future deals-of-the-week candidates? Check out the the January issue of Medtech Insight for the full story on percutaneous aortic valve players, and the technical and operational challenges facing the field.

(Photo courtesy of flickr user tsevis through a creative commons license.)

NASCAR SPRINT CUP: Jimmie Johnson Pre-Las Vegas Press Conference Transcript

February 27, 2009

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S IMPALA SS met with media and discussed having a bad run at Las Vegas last year, the impact of no testing, engine problems at California and his difficulties there, making mistakes on pit road, how to rebound from a poor season start, and more. Full Transcript:

“I’m excited to be back. I’m trying to forget about last year’s race. We ran well at California last weekend, but kind of lost the handle on things as the race went on. But I think looking back on it now we kind of understand what we did and what went on. So I think we’re really excited about today. Our qualifying program has been really, really strong the last six or eight months and I feel good about that. I think the track has been aging and has been much more competitive and more fun to drive and better action for the fans. So I’m just looking forward to it. It’s nice to be back in the swing of things and back in a rhythm and a normal work week and being on a track where we actually have to drive it and worry about set-up and springs and shocks and all that stuff so I’m real excited to be back.”

“It was extremely humbling, and almost embarrassing in some ways. One, obviously the performance, but two, to be so frustrated on the radio and (crew chief) Chad (Knaus) and I weren’t holding any punches back and forget that there were so many people listening, especially the 3,000 we were visiting with in the sponsor test afterwards. And to walk in and have them recite some of the smart remarks and I had for Chad and that he had for me, it was embarrassing on that front and really helped me recognize and realize who is listening and all that kind of stuff. So it was a humbling and embarrassing experience all in one.”

“It was the start of us recognizing that we didn’t have the speed on the 1.5-mile tracks. We raced at California, obviously, and finished second, but we struggled all through practice and late in practice we hit on something that the No. 24 (Jeff Gordon) car was trying and we had a good race. So we thought, okay, we’re just going about it the wrong way but now we’ve got it. We came here and totally missed it again and we never got back. We tried the No. 24 set up it didn’t work; we tried the No. 88 (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) set-up and it didn’t work. So at that point we admitted we had a problem and we needed to catch up. In the pre-season testing that took place we were off, but we didn’t really overreact. But this race here made us say, all right, we’re really got something going on and we need to sort it out. And from this point forward, it took two or three months before we started breathing easier.
“And I’d say, really in my eyes, in July at Chicago when we really raced the No. 18 (Kyle Busch) for the win at the end, that’s when I felt like all right, we’ve caught up now and we’re where we need to be.”

“I look at the resources we have and the relationships that exist between the NO. 48 car and the engineering staff and it builds a lot of confidence for those days when you don’t perform like you want to. We found that last year when we were living through this stuff that the two previous years and really the five or six previous seasons, that yeah, we’ve been out to lunch at times but eventually we’ll find our way back and we’ll be competitive again. And it wasn’t fun last year. We did get nervous about the Chase and some other things, but deep down inside, we didn’t panic and kind of fall apart as a race team because we had the experience of going to the basement and finding our way back up. It’s a great characteristic for this race team. I think we’ve been tested time and time again and we’ve continued to work hard and come back and be competitive after a period of time. So I’m excited about every year and the challenges that come. One thing that’s different this year though, if we do end up in that hole, is that we can’t test. And last year, if we didn’t have testing, I don’t think we would have found the magic and gotten our cars right before the Chase started.”

“No, we didn’t. We were fortunate on that front. It appears that a batch of valve springs that got our other two cars and they literally broke on the same lap. Fortunately my car and Jeff’s car didn’t have those in them or the No. 39 (Ryan Newman) or the No. 14 (Tony Stewart) and we made it through. So it’s frustrating on that part because there is no way to x-ray valve spring and components beforehand to find impurities. Once something breaks, you can get in there and look at it and it’s pretty easy at that point for our guys to know what went on. But it’s frustrating on the front side. We develop components for months and months on end and endurance test them and then you get a batch that comes in that has some containment in it and you have a failure. It’s just one of the risks that are out there.

“At the start of the race, the car was really good, but tight. As we tried to help the car, we actually kept making it tighter. Looking back on it, I really felt like the splitter was on the ground. So we made adjustments to help the front travel of the car to get the splitter off the ground and it just made the car worse. Come to find out after looking at our travels afterwards, the splitter wasn’t on the ground. So I kind of steered us in the wrong direction there. I was just tight. It wasn’t the splitter dragging and making the car tight. And the adjustments we made to try to help that just hurt it even more. We kind of missed it a little bit there and tuned ourselves out, which is not common for the No. 48 car but you live and learn and we have a better idea of what to do this week.”

“It’s still kind of early to tell. I think that once we get to June – July, we’ll have a better Idea of the testing and whether it has helped our sport in the competition or hurt it. I think over a period of time without testing, it will hurt and there will be more separation from the top teams to the bottom teams for sure. That’s just my opinion. I know there is a large group, and that group seems to be growing, that wants to keep this ban on testing. I’m certainly not in favor of it. I think we need some sort of on-track testing to advance the cars. But we’ve been dominant at different points in the year. It’s tough to be dominant all year long. With the Chase format last year it really put us in the game. Otherwise, we would have been so far out, mathematically, that I’m not sure we could have gotten back. I’m not sure how the points tallied up at the end with the No. 18 having troubles, but I don’t think we would have won the championship last year if it weren’t for the Chase. So, it’s so tough to find new technology when all you do is get two hours of practice today and the majority of the teams will be focused on qualifying practice, so I’ll get five laps today, then two laps in qualifying and then you get two 45-minute sessions tomorrow. It’s really tough to work in new stuff. And if you’re off, it’s even more difficult. And it you’re fast, you can try a set-up, your baseline set-up, and go and have a baseline run to look at and then make changes. It’s simple. If it’s faster, you leave it in. If it slows you down, you take it out. With such limited on-track activity, if you’re in a hole you’ll never get out. Or, it’s going to take you so long to get out that if a team is dominant and a team does have something, and it looks like the No. 17 (Matt Kenseth) is on that path right now, that they’ll hang onto it for a much longer period of time than we’ve seen in the past.”

“I think that F1 would be awesome to go and experience. It doesn’t matter if it’s Kyle or who would get that opportunity to go over and do it. The question really boils down to being competitive. It’s hard to leave a championship caliber team, a race-winning team for sure, and go and start over; and with a start-up team, I read some of the stuff yesterday on that. The competitor in all of us, and if you had a chance to go get in a red car or a silver car, it would be an easy decision. But a start up team is really the tough part that whoever those drivers will be will have to face. I think that anyone who has ever driven a race car looks at F1 and gets excited and would love to have an opportunity to drive one of those vehicles and to race at some of those tracks.”

“Pit road is a tough situation. There are numerous times when you look at your rpm’s and you’re 100 off and you got to pit road a little fast and you’re 100 off you know that there is a segment of time when you can give some back and hopefully get it right. So then you’re left with the difficult situation to let off and try to give back that time because you know you got into that box too fast. And then you’re waiting and hoping they don’t call your number out for a pass-through penalty. And then getting into your pit box, if you can get into it a half a second faster than the other guys, then you’re overall time in the pit box is less and you make up spots. So there is a lot of time to be made. But at the same time, the risks that you take, if under green and you have to serve a pass-through penalty, it’s almost not work the risk in some cases. I’ve been nailed for speeding problems. I got in trouble at Atlanta in the Chase last year. You’re walking such a tight rope and a fine line that it’s easy to get busted.”

“I think a lot of it, at least for our success, has been going to the race track and validating things. The simulation programs are good and we use them to help work on ideas. But once you get on the track, the feel that each driver has is so different that on track really is the best thing for that. Over the years, we’ve been able to dream up really neat things on the computers and through the seven post machines and all that stuff, but until you validate it on track, it’s tough. But I think it’s going to put the importance back into the simulation modes. I think your teammates, and maybe even as a group, the whole corporation is off. This guy starts with this set-up and this concept. Someone is here and someone is there. You can go at it that way. So I think your teammates will be a big part of this as well as time goes on.”

From Chevy

The racecar will stick to the track like spackle or paste....

Team Evercleanse Ready to Race in Sebring and Long Beach Grand Prix

Evercleanse, the industry leader in natural health maintenance supplements, has joined forces with Symbion Marketing to sponsor a new Porsche GT3 Cup Car. The Evercleanse car will make its debut at Sebring in February and appear again at the prestigious Long Beach Grand Prix in April. The car will be driven by Rob Morgan, an accomplished NASCAR veteran.

Los Angeles, CA (PR Web) January 9, 2008 – Evercleanse, in conjunction with Symbion Marketing and NADA Guides, is proud to announce their sponsorship of a race car in the Long Beach Grand Prix in April.

The new Porsche GT3 Cup Car will be driven by racing pro Rob Morgan at Sebring in March before it hits the streets of Long Beach for the prestigious Grand Prix the following month.

Evercleanse, the most reputable and effective colonic health supplement on the market, is excited to partner with Symbion Marketing and NADA Guides to sponsor the high performance Porsche.

The car will be driven by Rob Morgan, a seasoned driver that grew up in Arkansas with racing in his blood. His father, Charles Morgan, was a SCCA and IMSA driver. Rob followed in his father's footsteps and began racing in IMSA in 1992. He made his way to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Since then, he has raced in SCCA Trans Am and Grand Am's Daytona Prototype Series.

Morgan is best known for his GTS-1 Class win in the 1996 24 Hours of Daytona. In 1997, he placed second overall driving a Ferrari 333SP for Scandia Racing in the same event. He also owns TruSpeed Motorcars, a dealership specializing in high performance Porsches in southern California.

“We’re very excited to have the opportunity with NADA Guides and Symbion to sponsor Rob Morgan’s car. He’s a very accomplished race car driver,” said Douglas Davis, Co-Founder of Hindsight Nutritionals, Evercleanse’s parent company.

The Long Beach Grand Prix is the longest running major street race in North America. The 2009 race will be held from April 17 - 19 on the streets of Long Beach, CA. Team Evercleanse eagerly anticipates the race and looks forward to increasing their visibility on the racing circuit throughout 2009.

For additional information on Team Evercleanse, contact Douglas D. Davis at (888)848-2729, extension 101 or visit Evercleanse online at

About Evercleanse: Evercleanse is the leading natural detoxification product on the market. Its proprietary blend features healthy fiber and probiotics to enhance your body’s overall well being. Visit to learn more about the benefits of Evercleanse.

Transit Riders May Get Tax Credit

Pennsylvania State Senator Wayne Fontana of Brookline has proposed legislation that would provide a tax credit for mass transit users. He says the details of the legislation are still to be determined but he wants to offer a $100 dollar tax credit on the state income tax form. He says the details will be worked out in committee and then brought to the full senate. State Rep. Nick Kotik of Coraopolis will serve as the sponsor for legislation in the lower chamber. Among the details to be worked out would be how riders would prove the expenses and how much an individual would have to spend to get the credit. Fontana says even the amount of the credit is open to debate. He says he thinks there will be more support from both sides of the aisle by making this a tax credit rather than some sort of subsidy to the transit agencies or the riders. Fontana says if the rest of the legislature gets excited about the idea and moves quickly there may even be a credit on the 2009 tax form. He says just incase, regular riders may want to start saving receipts. Fontana says this could put 30 million dollars into PAT riders pockets alone.

Andersen Racing Becomes Presenting Sponsor Of Canada's New TRAK Karting Series

DIRTcar: $20,000 DIRTcar All-Star 100 Showcases 2009 Advance Series Schedule For Big-Blocks!

Historic DIRTcar All-Star 100 Anchors Solid 2009 Advance Series Schedule

Weedsport, NY – February 27, 2009 - By Tom Skibinski, Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series PR Director

Finding a unique niche among a trio of mega-buck Modified shows spread across the Northeast Region, the first-ever DIRTcar All-Star 100 at Cayuga County Fair Speedway headlines a solid schedule of point races currently comprising the 2009 Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series.

Culminating with the crowning of an overall Hoosier Tire-VP Racing Fuels Mr. DIRTcar Champion for the 34th consecutive year, the ’09 Advance Series ventures as far south as Maryland with customary trips to Canada continuing to attract international acclaim.

“Its been a work in process but when fans come to Weedsport on July 26 they’ll be part of the biggest event in the history of short-track racing for Big-Block Modifieds,” beamed Cory Reed, DIRTcar Racing Northeast Director of Competition & Track Sanctioning, after putting his stamp on a purse of well over $60,000 that will be handed out in Cayuga County’s greatest spectacle in 55 years of racing. “With $20,000 to win and $1,000 to start, it’s already a can’t miss event from start to finish. We’ve never staged anything like this before, maybe won’t ever again, so you just gotta be here to believe it like everybody else.”

In just one more month the ‘North-South Shootout 100’ at Hagerstown Speedway on March 28 officially throws into high gear the Advance Auto Parts Series points chase. And before the curtain drops in October, the best in the business will contend for a $20,000 top prize during DIRTcar All-Star Weekend at Cayuga County, as well as set their sights on the rejuvenated $17,500-to-win Mr. DIRT Track, USA Championship at Lebanon Valley Speedway on August 27, and pool together all their talents for one shot at the $50,000 payday that awaits first-place in the 38th Rite Aid 200 at the New York State Fairgrounds on October 11.

“Its been very rewarding this off-season with tracks working closer together to secure dates in the best interest of both fans and drivers,” added Reed, indicating that discussions remain ongoing as additional series dates are pending at this time. “The schedule offers a number of back-to-back events that reach a great mix of markets and serve to further showcase the Big-Block Modifieds in our region.”

“We got off to a great start a couple weeks back in Florida and we’re excited to carry the momentum back here in the north. There’s a solid core of tracks in New York and the return of title events to Big Diamond and Lernerville will be a big treat for fans in Pennsylvania. And on tap for a second straight summer is our four-race swing through Canada, once again making Ontario and Quebec great destination points for travelers.”

Advance Auto Parts Series activity kicked off in February with open-wheel teams traveling south for the 38th Alltel DIRTcar Nationals By UNOH at Volusia Speedway Park. Veteran New Yorker Pat Ward (2 wins) was crowned Big-Block points champion while New Jersey star Brett Hearn and Delaware driver Jamie Mills shared victory lane in the annual Sunshine State shootout.

‘Spring Fever 75’ hits Big Diamond Raceway (April 26) a month after Hagerstown while June is filled by a unique dirt/asphalt doubleheader at Lebanon Valley (June 6) and Airborne Speedway (June 7), with 100 show-up points awarded to every driver attempting to qualify for the ‘Battle of Plattsburgh.’ The 100-lap ‘Big Show’ promoted by

Brett Hearn at Orange County Fair Speedway closes out the month on June 17 while Ransomville (July 3) and Fulton (July 4) speedways combine to kick off the busy month of July with an Independence Day celebration to remember.

The ‘Great Canadian Tour’ returns the second week in July, featuring four successive nights of racing for the mighty Mod Squad at Brockville, autodromes Granby and Drummond, and Cornwall in the Akwesasne-Mohawk Casino 100. The mid-season comes to a head when Jack Deery’s DIRTcar NE charter member Cayuga County puts $20K on the line for 100 laps around the storied 3/8-miler under the lights.

A return to Merrittville Speedway (Aug. 3) in the Niagara Frontier for the ‘Trevor Wilkins Memorial’ leads off August followed by overnight stops in the states at Brewerton (Aug. 7) and Canandaigua (Aug. 8) speedways during Watkins Glen Cup Weekend. Stand alone shows in New York’s Thousand Island Region for Can-Am Motorsport Park’s (Aug. 21) ‘Battle at the Border’ blockbuster and the Capital District crowd-pleaser boasting $17.5K on top at The Valley help send kids off to school in style.

The Labor Day holiday includes a traditional twin-bill at Cayuga County (Sept. 6) and Rolling Wheels Raceway Park (Sept. 7), while September showcases the ‘Autumn-Motive Fest 75’ at Lernerville Speedway and ‘World Series Weekend 100’ at Rolling Wheels. In October during Super DIRT Week, the famed Syracuse Mile hosts the crown jewel Advance Series Rite Aid 200 --- the richest race of its kind found anywhere in the United States today.

For additional information, contact Series Director Cory Reed in the DIRTcar Northeast Office (315/834-6606) during normal business hours or log into the homepage at anytime to find out more about the ‘09 Advance Series.

2009 Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series Schedule
NP=Non-Point event; SP=Show-Up Point event.                                
*All events subject to change.
DAY-DATE    TRACK                                   LOCATION/WINNER
Wed-Feb 11  Volusia Speedway Park-NP Pat Ward
Thr-Feb 12    Volusia Speedway Park-NP Pat Ward
Fri-Feb 13      Volusia Speedway Park-NP Jamie Mills
Sat-Feb 14    Volusia Speedway Park-NP Brett Hearn
Sat-Mar 28     Hagerstown Speedway       Hagerstown,MD
Sun-Apr 26   Big Diamond Raceway        Minersville,PA
Sun-May 24  -TBA-
Sat-Jun 6       Lebanon Valley Speedway  West Lebanon,NY
Sun-Jun 7     Airborne Speedway-SP       Plattsburgh,NY
Wed-Jun 17  Orange Co Fair Speedway  Middletown,NY
Fri-Jul 3         Ransomville Speedway      Ransomville,NY
Sat-Jul 4        Fulton Speedway                 Fulton,NY
Thr-Jul 9        Brockville Ont Speedway    Brockville,ONT
Fri-Jul 10       Autodrome Granby               Granby,QUE
Sat-Jul 11      Autodrome Drummond       Drummondville,QUE
Sun-Jul 12    Cornwall Motor Speedway              Cornwall,ONT
Sun-Jul 26    Cayuga Co Fair Speedway Weedsport,NY ($20,000-to-win)
Mon-Aug 3    Merrittville Speedway           Thorold,ONT
Fri-Aug 7       Brewerton Speedway           Brewerton,NY
Sat-Aug 8      Canandaigua Speedway    Canandaigua,NY
Fri-Aug 21     Can-Am Motorsports Park   LaFargeville,NY
Thr-Aug 27    Lebanon Valley Speedway  West Lebanon,NY ($17,500-to-win)
Sun-Sep 6     Cayuga Co Fair Speedway Weedsport,NY
Mon-Sep 7    Rolling Wheels Raceway   Elbridge,NY
Fri-Sep 11     Lernerville Speedway          Sarver,PA
Sat-Sep 19    -TBA-
Sat-Sep 26    Rolling Wheels Raceway    Elbridge,NY
Sun-Oct 11    New York State Fairgrnds   Syracuse,NY ($50,000-to-win)
Sun-Oct 18    -TBA-
Sun-Oct 25    -TBA-

Wind Farms Face New Restrictions

Some Somerset County residents say they've had enough of wind farms. Quemahoning Township has become the latest in the county to impose tighter restrictions on noise levels and on how close windmills can be to neighboring properties. Horizon Wind Energy told the Daily American newspaper that the new ordinance may alter its plans to build what would be the largest wind farm in the county.

Somerset County Commissioner John Vatavuk says townships have the right to impose stricter regulations on wind farms. The county has its own ordinance. Vatavuk says he personally feels that wind farms are a good source of green energy and a revenue generator for the county... but he understands that some people don't like them as neighbors. Aside from noise and setback issues, he says the windmills can create large shadows, harm bats and birds, and fling ice onto neighboring land.

Fogle Leaves the Carnegie for L.A.

Douglas Fogle, curator of contemporary art and organizer of the Carnegie International 2008, will leave the Carnegie Museum of Art to become deputy director and chief curator of the Hammer Museum of Los Angeles in May.

"Life on Mars" , the 55th Carnegie International, was seen by more people than any other since the first in 1896.

Next week

Coming next week we'll have the second of our monthly tracking polls on the Virginia Democratic race for Governor. It will be interesting to see if Terry McAuliffe's big bucks have allowed him to take the outright lead or if Brian Moran is hanging on. Also, last month we saw Creigh Deeds behind the pack and we'll find out if he's closing in at all.

We're also going to have another vote next week on where we should poll next weekend. We'll offer the Connecticut (Chris Dodd v. Rob Simmons, Richard Blumenthal v. Rob Simmons), and Delaware (Mike Castle v. Beau Biden, Mike Castle v. John Carney) options again. We'll add Kentucky to the list as well since Jim Bunning has had a bunch more missteps since Kos did a poll there a month ago.

Anything else we should put on the radar screen?

North Shore Connector Officially Over Budget

With the awarding of two construction contracts today the price of the north shore connector has gone over its original $435 million budget. The board approved a contract to lay the rail lines the entire length of the project and another for the elevators at the north shore station. The project is now expected to come in nearly $118 million over budget with three contracts yet to be bid. Those contracts are for “station finishes.” PAT CEO Steve Bland says more than $61 million coming from the “formula funds” portion of the federal stimulus package will fill half of the gap. That money is expected to be delivered in the next two months. Bland says he is optimistic PAT will also get some “new starts” money from the stimulus as well. He says there are only a handful of projects in the nation that qualify for that money. Bland says there are other pots of money to be competitively award that he thinks will flow to the connector project. He says if the project were shut down today they would have spent $320 million for nothing and if they had to mothball the project waiting for new funds it would cost $10 million right away and another $3.5 million in cost increases each month.

Notes on the Elon Poll

-Sometimes Civitas, Elon, and PPP generate very different numbers on the same issue...and sometimes we don't. Elon found 52-39 support for the stimulus, Civitas got 50-36, and we got 50-39. The consistency of those numbers would lead me to believe that's about right.

-Elon, like Civitas, finds Barack Obama's approval rating much higher than us at 59-25. Just more evidence of a possible IVR/live caller disparity as I suggested earlier this week. I hope their numbers are the more accurate reflection but I'm guessing Republicans are being more charitable to human interviewers.

-They also found 73% support for an increase in the cigarette tax. That's consistent with other polling showing strong majority support for that, which is why I found the quick efforts of legislative leadership to scuttle it last year kind of curious. I'm sure they were more concerned with how the increase would be portrayed in campaign ads than with general public opinion on it.

Is $20+ for standing-room tickets a reasonable amount?

While Squawker Jon is able to write about Mets baseball games, there's a whole lot of controversy going on in Yankeeland that has little to do with the spring training action.

One of them is the obstructed-seats controversy. But another one should be the outrageous price the Yanks are planning on charging for standing-room-only tickets. Here's what's been happening:

I squawked last year about how there were going to be new stadium seats in the bleachers with obstructed views due to the sports bar in center field. Yankee ownership thought it was enough to put in TVs so people could see the action, instead of rectifying the sight view. And then they had the nerve to charge $12 for these seats!

After this became a huge controversy - Neil Best of Newsday has done a great job of writing about it - Yankee COO Lonn Trost tried to do damage control. First, he defended the seat prices to Best, telling him "we will have TVs in the walls there,"and then snapping:
"We had a choice of selling it to somebody or not," Trost said. Some views are obstructed "a little bit, but for $12, it's a choice of taking it or not."
Who's advising Trost on PR, A-Rod? Sheesh.

I guess even Trost eventually realized that this was not the best response. So he went on WFAN's Mike Francesa this week to try to do damage control. I say try, because he was not all that successful. He complained about "misinformation and disinformation" and fans' "lack of understanding." He said there weren't obstructed seat views, but architectually shadowed seats. And then he told Francesa this, which directly contradicted what he said to Newsday just a few days before:
"Those seats are being sold at $5, not $12," he said. "I think some seats may have gone out improperly invoiced. Those are going to be corrected, but those 600 seats are going to be $5."
But while Francesa did get this concession out of Trost, albeit with no explanation or admission of wrongdoing, he left unchallenged something even more ridiculous - Trost's announcement that the new stadium will offer 1000+ standing-room-only tickets per game in the $20 price range.

My brother always points out that these days, with big-screen HDTVs being more and more affordable, that you now can see the game much better at home, than in the ballpark. And at least you have a seat there!

I've never liked the bleacher seats myself - I detest seats without backs, there's no protection from the sun during day games, and they were cut off from the rest of the stadium in the old ballpark - but the bleachers are a comparative bargain to spending over $20 just for the privilege of standing in the stadium. Good grief.

On WFAN, Trost also made the point that 90% of the stadium seats are $100 or under. Very misleading, of course - it's not as if spending, say, $85 for one ticket is reasonable. And as Jay Jaffe of Baseball Prospectus noted, the $85 seat he was offered had a lovely view of the foul pole instead of home plate (click here to see just how bad the seat is.)

Was Watching's Steve Lombardi wrote back in 2007 that he feared the new stadium would be like an infamous luxury vessel:
Thinking about it some more, I’m starting to wonder if Yankee Stadium will become like the Titanic when it set out to sea – with all the rich people staying on top, living the high-life, and all the poor people jammed into the bowels of the ship, crammed in there, huddled, and wondering what it’s like for the affluent folks in the nice parts of the vessel.
Good news, Steve. While Trost danced around the fact that these foul pole seats are bad - and expensive - he did say on WFAN that the peons - err, fans - who ponied up for the standing-room-only non-seats would still be able to spend money - I mean, get access - to all parts of the ballpark, like the Hard Rock Cafe, the martini bar, and the steakhouse. Well, that's a relief!

Trost also explained about how so many fewer seats are available in the new stadium. But whose fault is that, exactly? It's ownership's fault, for deliberately making a new ballpark with many fewer available seats. And for counting standing-room-only seats as part of the stadium's new capacity, which means that there really are 1,000 less seats than previously announced.

And appealing to the rich isn't exactly working - for all their marketing efforts, the stadium still has seven unsold luxury suites, and over 1,000 of those premium seats (those tickets ranging from $350 to $2500) unsold.

But don't expect the prices to go down. Trost told Neil Best this week that "our prices are our prices." Nice!

This is one of the reasons I miss George Steinbrenner. Because, for all his faults, he at least tried to think about the average fan every once in the while. I don't get that same sense from the team's front office now. And that's a shame.

Neil Best has been the, well, best at exposing these outrages - he's lived up to the Watchdog title of his blog. Which makes it even more of a shame that Newsday, his paper, is now planning on charging for access to its website. Let's see - take a web site that has been extraordinarily successful, and hit up those readers who made it a success with exorbitant money demands during a recession. Sounds like the Yankees!

I have been hearing horror stories about the Yankees' season ticket process. If you have a story of your own to share, please post it as a comment, or email it to me at Thanks.

Crossover Appeal

Digging through the crosstabs of our Texas poll yesterday, it really caught my attention that 37% of Democrats said they had a positive opinion of Kay Bailey Hutchison. It got me wondering if she had the strongest bipartisan appeal of any public official we've polled on in the last few months.

Since December we've done favorability or approval ratings for 40 politicians in Texas, North Carolina, New York, Ohio, Colorado, Missouri, and New Hampshire. Of that group only four had better than 30% approval/favorability from the opposite party.

The one who did best across party lines was Andrew Cuomo in New York. 49% of Republicans said they had a favorable opinion of him. That may be somewhat inflated because of the timing of the poll- it was at a juncture where it looked like Hillary Clinton's replacement might come down to him or Caroline Kennedy, and they certainly liked him more than her. Either way, quite an impressive performance.

Hutchison was tied for second best at 37% with Kit Bond of Missouri. We took the temperature on Bond within a couple days of him announcing his retirement and he definitely benefited from that. His numbers with Democrats had been a lot worse last summer.

The fourth member of the 30+ club is North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper. He gets a 31% approval rating from Republicans, made all the more impressive by the fact that 32% don't have an opinion of him one way or the other.

This quick analysis indicates that 30% or better is the 90th percentile for crossover popularity on a politician, so that's certainly something we'll pay attention to as we continue conducting surveys looking toward 2010.

Come to Bristol Speedway with Have Bus!

From Have Bus Will Travel...

We have a special offer for the Holy Grail of Motorsports.... Bristol Motor Speedway. Have Bus Will Travel Racing Tours along with the Quality Inn and the Track have reduced the price by about 15%.

Please see the trip flyer here for pricing and weekend details to the "World's Fastest Half Mile" March 19 - 23, 2009. Don't delay, we leave in just three weeks and still have a few seats available.

You can also check out our Bristol commercial on "You Tube" here (but ignore the pricing as it's been reduced).

Thank you to all of you who came by to visit us at the Canadian International Auto Show and fill out a ballot for a Canada Day at MIS Racing Tour. Our lucky winner was Joann Subject of Limehouse, ON, Congratulations.

Don't forget to stop by the Have Bus Will Travel Racing Tours booth at the Performance World Car Show at the International Centre March 13, 14, & 15 to get your own Tour of our MotorSports SuperCoach, and reserve your spot on one of our Racing Tours.

Contact us for more information 1-888-428-3287.

Looking foward to taking you Racing.

Doug Andrews & Tara MacLeod
Have Bus Will Travel Racing Tours
536 Pefferlaw Rd.
Pefferlaw, ON L0E 1N0

Ohsweken Speedway: Spring registration and info meeting March 28

For Immediate Release – Ken Pelkie, OHSWEKEN Speedway

Ohsweken Speedway will be holding an information and registration meeting to interested parties on Saturday afternoon, March 28th. The session will be conducted in Brantford, Ontario at the Best Western – Brant Park Inn & Conference Centre located at 19 Holiday Drive just off HWY 403 at the Wayne Gretzky Parkway exit beginning at 1:00 PM.

Rules packages for all divisions will be available along with printed schedules. Questions and clarification of any rules will be handled by appropriate officials including Glen Hils and Doug Leonard. Pit memberships and Receivers will be available to purchase. To view the official rules and procedures online you can visit the Ohsweken Speedway website. All drivers, crew members and officials are urged to attend.

Glenn Styres and Ken Pelkie will be on hand to conduct the session. In the mean time, any and all questions regarding the 2008 racing programs should be addressed to Ken at our toll free number 1-888-720-RACE (7223) or by email to

Then on Friday, Saturday, & Sunday, March 27/28/29 Ohsweken Speedway will be on hand in London, Ontario at the Western Fair Progress building at 900 King Street for the London Auto Expo.

And a reminder that Reserved Seat Tickets for the June 18th World of Outlaw Late Model, July 27th/28th World of Outlaw Sprint, and September 18th/19th Canadian Sprint Car Nationals continue to be offered daily by phone at 1-888-720-7223. Plenty of good quality seats remain for all five dates.

Be sure to log on to the official website of Ohsweken Speedway at for all the latest information as momentum is starting to build while we count down to the test and tune session on Friday night, May 8th.

ARCA West Sportsmen Series

Merced, CA 2-19-2009 - Officials from ARCA West announced today that the WESCAR and WCSS series have joined with ARCA West to become part of the growing ARCA West family of racing with continued growth and expansion in the Canadian and Pacific regions.

The new ARCA West Sportsmen Series was created to provide race teams with an opportunity to show their skills in an affordable racing program with growth potential, said Rick Michaud,
President of ARCA West.

“The timing of this affiliation with ARCA West and its racing programs will enhance sportsman
racing. We are making major strides with unbelievable opportunities”, said Bob Williams.
Bob will become the new director of the Sportsman Series in BC. “With Bob Williams
continuing his sportsman duties, the series is off to a great start.” said Richard Michaud,
President of ARCA West.

For information on ARCA and ARCA West’s Series, go to:

MAY 9 Vernon, BC Sunvalley Speedway
MAY 30 Williams Lake, BC Thunder Mountain Speedway
JUNE 13 Prince George PGARA Speedway Chieftain/Penzoil 100
JULY 18 Vernon, BC Sunvalley Speedway OK Tire 100
(Canadian Tire NASCAR weekend. Top 20 in ARCA points guaranteed start)
AUGUST 15 Quesnel, BC QARA Goldpan Speedway United Concrete 100
SEPTEMBER 12 Vernon, BC Sunvalley Speedway Catapiller 100

State Foots Bill for Religious Books

Good government advocates say they're riled by news that more than 13-thousand taxpayer dollars were spent on Bibles, Torahs and Qurans for swearing in ceremonies. According to a Philadelphia Inquirer report, 220 state representatives and senators were given personalized books, and taxpayers footed the bill. In all, the gifts cost 13-thousand-seven hundred dollars. Good government activist Gene Stilp says the purchase shows the General Assembly is out of touch. He says, “Two things wrong here. Taxpayer money for an item that families should provide, and two, taxpayer money for a religious item. There has to be a separation of church and state, simple as that.” Stilp says this is a clear issue that voters in Pennsylvania have been complaining about for years, “We're getting tired of saying this to the senators and representatives, but send the money back, ok? Or send the bibles back.” House Majority Leader Todd Eachus wasn't available for comment, and Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi's office didn't return calls on the topic. The Bibles, Torahs and Qurans ranged in price from $30 to $90, according to the Inquirer report.

Poll shows PA Residents Like Government Spending

Pennsylvania residents are putting a lot of faith in government efforts to turn around the economy. A new poll from Franklin and Marshall College finds this may not be a good time to be a small government conservative. A majority of Pennsylvania residents say the economy is bad, but are hopeful things will start turning around within the next year, and they think government will play a part in that change. Poll director Terry Madonna says more than 70 percent of respondents want to see government spending on health care increase, if it means more people are covered. He says, “I don't think the average resident in Pennsylvania is looking so much now for cutting programs or laying off employees, as they are toward expanding some government services given the nature of the recession.” Madonna says 64 percent of respondents "strongly favor" increasing government spending meant to boost business in Pennsylvania. A majority favor raising cigarette taxes, though Rendell's proposals to tax Marcellus Shale extractions and allow counties to impose a one percent sales tax generated low approval levels.

Robbers Shoot at Victims in Duquesne University Garage

A robber fired a gun at three people in a parking garage next to the A.J. Palumbo Center last night during the City League basketball championship games. No one was injured and two suspects, believed to be high school students, have been arrested by police. The shooting occurred around 7:30 and the suspects were caught after a brief chase on foot. The victims were walking up the stairs of the parking garage on Forbes Avenue when the suspects caught them and ordered them to lie down. One of the victims ran, prompting one of the suspects to shoot until his gun jammed. The victims' property was recovered.

Innovation Is the Pharmaceutical Industry's Only Salvation

We here at The IN VIVO Blog probably get a little bit too caught up in our own blathering. As a tonic, we'll be inviting some outsiders to contribute. As here: to get an investor's point of view on the industry, we asked T. Rowe Price biotech analyst Jay Markowitz, MD to share some of his thoughts.

If the movie Cool Hand Luke were a commentary on the pharmaceutical industry, the most memorable line would be, "what we've got here is failure to innovate." (For an IN VIVO take on Cool Hand Luke and innovation via the JP Morgan Healthcare meeting, click here)

The decline of the drug industry is all the more dramatic in the context of its past accomplishments. Many of the most important advances in health, from HIV to cancer, are attributable to new drugs. And yet in a 2008 survey by USA Today, the Kaiser Foundation, and the Harvard School of Public Health, 44% of Americans had an unfavorable view of the pharmaceutical industry. Only health insurers and oil companies did worse.

The industry's woes boil down to a single cause: inadequate innovation. It is estimated that by 2015, $200 billion worth of branded drug sales may be lost to generic competition. The 24 new drugs approved by the FDA in 2008 was the highest number since 2004; only nine came from multinational drug companies. This meager number can replenish but a fraction of pending lost sales.

The poor record of new drug approvals can’t be blamed on a lack of R&D spending. Last year the major pharmaceutical companies spent over $50 billion on drug discovery and development. If current trends are any guide, the $1 billion estimated cost per new drug now will seem like a bargain in the future.

The industry finds itself in such a predicament because it can no longer go after me-too drugs in such blockbuster categories as ulcer medicines, blood pressure pills, antidepressants, and cholesterol lowering agents. Pharmaceutical companies previously had the luxury of letting someone else take the risk of innovation; if that someone succeeded, the drug company could follow fast with a similar drug that might have some advantages. It paid more to imitate than create. With minimal clinical differentiation of their products, companies needed to spend heavily on marketing to drive sales. But it was more profitable to spend on drug promotion than drug creation.

That equation is changing. Now that cheap generics and multiple branded drugs are available in many therapeutic categories, innovation may end up being all that pays.

To reverse its current plight and not only survive but thrive in the future, industry leaders must accept the gravity of their situation and address its root cause.

First, they must recognize that innovation is more about people than process; it can neither be scaled nor industrialized. Drug companies ought to pare back internal research, foster a more entrepreneurial culture, and be more open-minded about accessing research done by others. Far more productive to divide a $1 billion research investment among ten to twenty small, scrappy, hungry companies than to concentrate in one that is big and complacent.

Second, they need to leverage their strengths in drug development and regulatory affairs. Whereas smaller companies may be more adept at discovering novel drugs, testing them in people and getting them approved put a premium on money, manpower, and experience. Because they are constrained by capital and limited know how, all too often smaller companies make mistakes by under-investing in clinical trials or pursuing needlessly risky approval strategies. Pharmaceutical companies should grasp the opportunity to partner with smaller companies in the middle phases of human testing, thereby providing the necessary money and expertise to minimize the chance that a drug fails because it was developed for the wrong indication or because of poor planning and execution. Good new drugs are too precious to delay or waste.

Third, they should embrace comparative-effectiveness testing and value-based drug pricing to support the argument for first- or best-in-class drugs. Although such a strategy would result in higher clinical attrition, clear product differentiation would reduce the need for sales and marketing. Far better for data, not advertising, to determine which drugs are prescribed.

And fourth, they should not view mega-mergers as a solution. Yes, in the short term, consolidation can increase sales and, by reducing redundant costs, profits. And it can bring new capabilities to the acquirer. But it will ultimately disappoint unless it redresses fundamental problems. For a merger between two big pharmaceutical companies to generate long term value, it must result in more novel drugs than each would have created separately.

From my point of view as an investor, the drug industry -- despite its challenges -- is ideally positioned to translate tremendous gains in chemistry, biology, and genetics into important new medicines that extend lives and reduce suffering. But it must discard its risk-averse and xenophobic culture, embrace the drug discovery work taking place in hundreds of creative, entrepreneurial companies, and recognize that constant innovation is its only hope for sustainable growth. The good news is that there are ample opportunities to succeed. Several pharmaceutical companies are already taking appropriate steps to revive their businesses. But these steps must be bigger and faster.

Jay's views do not necessarily reflect those of his employer, T. Rowe Price, Inc., an investment management company.