Friday, June 5, 2009

Something I don't totally understand

In Tuesday's Republican primary for Governor in New Jersey 330,000 people voted.

Last year there were a little over 1.6 million votes for John McCain in the state. There were almost 2 million votes for Barack Obama in Virginia.

So why is turnout in Virginia on Tuesday expected to be so much less than it was in New Jersey this week?

Both primary contests have been pretty spirited and had millions of dollars poured into them. It's actually easier to vote in Virginia where primaries are completely open than in New Jersey where just Republicans and independents can vote in a GOP primary.

I understand there's more of a tradition of vibrant primaries for Governor in New Jersey than Virginia but it still seems amazing to me that they would exceed the turnout of 200,000 at least one campaign is expecting by 65%.

We're already on the record saying we think turnout will be more around 300,000 with the caveat that projecting hard numbers of voters is not really what we do, but most folks seem to think turnout will be lower than that.

Why is there so little interest in Virginia compared to New Jersey? I'm interested in the thoughts of those who would understand this better than me.

Health Insurer Protection Bill Awaiting Vote

A bill that allows health insurance providers to withhold payment to health care providers if an avoidable medical error occurs is awaiting approval from the State House of Representatives. Currently is an avoidable medical error occurs that requires further treatment by a health care provider the health insurer has to foot the bill. The proposed legislation will not allow for the cost of the medical errors to be passed on to the consumer. State Representative Anthony DeLuca, who sponsored the bill and awaits its return the State House for a final vote, says the legislation will help insurance providers save money while promoting more responsible health care practices. DeLuca says the bill is only a small part of a larger puzzle to decrease the cost of health care.

PHOTO GALLERY: Flamboro Speedway - May 30, 2009 -

This is a photo gallery from Flamboro Speedway on Saturday, May 30, 2009. Thanks to Dave Franks for sharing his work. You can see Dave's website here.

Local Development Corporation Gets State Loan

The Regional Industrial Development Corporation (RIDC) of Southwestern Pennsylvania is receiving a low-interest investment loan from the state. The funds will be used to further renovate the former Geoffrey Boehm Chocolate Co. building in Lawrenceville into a location viable for a local technology company. The ten-year, $1.9 million loan will come from the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority at a 4% percent interest rate, which RIDC President Don Smith says will save the new tenant money. “This will allow us to provide some very sophisticated infrastructure for this company at a cost that is more effective for them, allowing them to preserve some of their cash and invest it in creating new products and new jobs,” says Smith. Smith says the two-story building already houses three technology companies in the Lawrenceville neighborhood, and the addition of a fourth will bring it to nearly 80% capacity. The total cost of the project is $4.7 million.

Women and African Americans key in Virginia

With just four days until the primary in Virginia, our final look at the undecideds finds that women and African Americans could hold the balance of power.

While we project 57% of primary voters overall to be women, 66% of the ones who reported being undecided in our last poll are. We've been saying all the way since February that none of these candidates was getting a leg up with that highly important Democratic primary demographic, and although Terry McAuliffe did have a solid lead with them in some of our May polling that's disappeared along with his overall lead. It's surprising the campaigns didn't do more to effectively target female voters.

We see 29% of voters on Tuesday being African Americans, but their accounting for 40% of the undecideds. I would not be surprised if black turnout ended up being more like 25% given how little the candidates seem to have caught on, and that's something the eventual nominee is going to have figure out for the fall or else it's going to be awfully difficult to beat Bob McDonnell. At some point it looked like black voters were going to be a boon to McAuliffe but now Brian Moran has tied it up with them and Creigh Deeds isn't nearly as far back as he was a month ago.

We still see a disproportionate number of conservative Democrats undecided- 29% compared to 15% of the overall electorate. That seems like it would work to Deeds' benefit, but like with black voters you have to consider the possibility that if none of the candidates have captured the attention of these voters yet they might just not turn out. It also makes you wonder if Moran's attacking Deeds for not being sufficiently progressive might have the highly unintended effect of helping him with this disproportionately undecided segment of voters.

One final note on the undecideds- as has consistently been the case there are a lot fewer of them in northern Virginia than anywhere else. That would seem to bode poorly for Moran's prospects. The largest segment of them is in Hampton Roads, so while metro DC may be getting a lot of attention this week, the contest could well be decided in Norfolk and Virginia Beach rather than Arlington and Alexandria.

Good times! The Bronx is up, while Flushing's down

The Yanks are looking very good - they've been winning series after series, with new heroes stepping up each day. The Mets - not so much.

Yesterday's Yankee win featured a very good Chien-Ming Wang - for two innings, that is. Then it started to fall apart for him. But I'm going to be hopeful, and figure that he'll be better once his arm strength improves.

However, if it's a mental issue affecting Wang, the Yankee "fans" booing him aren't helping. Just stop it already.

Fortunately, Mark Teixeria's hit, which looked like something out of a pinball machine, and Melky Cabrera's home run bailed out the Bombers. It was another nice victory. The Yanks are on quite a run, aren't they?

On the other hand, Squawker Jon's Mets are, well, crashing and burning and all that jazz. Too bad, so sad.

At least Jon's blog entry on how the Mets should just say no to Tom Glavine got noticed by both MetsBlog and Big League Stew. Very cool!

I also read on MetsBlog that the minor-league Binghamton Mets are wearing Star Trek-inspired jerseys at tonight's game. Jon's all excited about this. As for myself, if I had to sit through anything Star Trek-related, I'd be asking to get beamed up!

* * *

Last night, I dragged Squawker Jon to a sneak preview of "The Proposal," the upcoming Sandra Bullock/Ryan Reynolds romantic comedy. (Don't judge; the event was free!) The screening also showcased some of the shows on WE TV's Sunday night lineup, like "Bridezillas," "My Fair Wedding," and "Amazing Wedding Cakes." You can imagine Jon's reaction to all this.

After sitting through the screening, Squawker Jon let me have it. "I feel embarrassed," Jon squawked. "I don't think it's fun." My writing partner griped we have to "focus more on what we need to accomplish," and opined that "we have to take this personal, because this can't happen."

Oh, wait. That wasn't Jon; that was Carlos Beltran after the Mets got swept by the Pirates. Oops!

What do you think? Leave us a comment!

A big problem for NC Republicans

A higher percentage of conservatives in North Carolina identify as Democrats than moderates do as Republicans. As long as that's the case it's going to be very hard for the GOP to turn around its recent losing streak at the polls in the state.

Over the course of all our North Carolina polling so far in 2009 55% of moderates have identified as Democrats, with 20% Republicans, and 25% independents.

Among conservatives 61% are Republicans, 26% are Democrats, and 13% are independents.

Democrats are doing a better job of appealing to voters on the right side of the spectrum than Republicans are doing of attracting folks in the middle. It's pretty hard for the GOP to construct an electoral majority as long as that's the case. Nevertheless Republicans in both Washington and Raleigh this year have seemed more fixated on pleasing the far right than pursuing an agenda that would better help them reach out to the 80% of moderates who currently don't identify with their party.

Among liberals it's no surprise that 87% are Democrats, 8% are independents, and 5% are Republicans.

Specter to Address Democrats

Political observers are billing this weekend's Democratic State Committee Meeting in Pittsburgh's as Senator Arlen Specter's big debut with his new party.
When Senator Specter takes his place at the lectern on Saturday, he'll be facing a slightly skeptical crowd. County-level party officials throughout the state are saying they like Specter, but they want to hear him explain himself on a range of issues before they fully back the longtime Republican.
Party Chairman T.J. Rooney, a Specter backer, says he's confident the new convert can win over wary Democrats.

"Well, I think Senator Specter needs to remind the leaders of our party just how strong a leader he's been on issues we care about. Whether you talk about alternative energy, whether you talk about labor issues."

Allegheny County party chairman Jim Burn says he and other party leaders are looking forward to hearing their new ally explain himself.

"All of them are anxious to hear what he has to say about, a, why he switched. And b, what will his platform be, with respect to issues and values that are important to the Democratic voters and residents of the state?"

Burn and Diane Bowman, who chairs the Dauphin County Democratic Committee, say they both want to hear Specter spell out his stance on the Employee Free Choice Act. Specter's viewed as the swing vote on the controversial federal measure. Earlier this year he announced he wouldn't support the legislation as it stands right now.
But some Democrats are hoping he'll reconsider now that he's crossed the aisle.

ACT: Ford crate motor accepted in American-Canadian Tour rulebook

Waterbury, VT – The American Canadian Tour (ACT) announced today that the Ford S347JR crate engine has been approved for competition starting immediately.

For the past eighteen months the engineers from Ford Racing in Dearborn, Michigan have been working in conjunction with ACT motor builders Butler & MacMaster of Hallowell, Maine on the research and development of a Ford crate engine that will be compatible with the GM ZZ4 crate engine.

"It has taken a little longer than we had anticipated, but we wanted to make certain that the Ford program is going to fit our business model", said Tom Curley, President of the American Canadian Tour. "The important thing here was to make sure that the Ford and GM motors match up without one having an advantage over the other. It was just as important to have each motor capable of winning on our weekly tracks or at Tour events.  I think we have accomplished that after several changes over the past few months. I can't say enough about the cooperation we have had from Ford, Dave MacMaster and especially Kendell Legendre and Cris Michaud who have spent many hours preparing the car, and then have tested no less than seven or eight times to help bring this project to fruition", continued Curley.

Ford has shown a serious interest in getting back into grass roots racing at the local and regional level. The ACT business model, which puts a priority on weekly racing with select regional touring events in New England and the provinces of Quebec and Ontario, was tailor-made for the Ford crate engine program.  Mike Delahanty, Program Manager Sportsman Circle Track Racing for Ford said. "All of us at Ford Racing are excited to have the S347JR engine now approved to compete in one of the premier racing series in North America, ACT.  This has been one of the most rigorous approval processes yet for the Ford crate engines, and we expect to see Ford contending for ACT wins before the 2009 season is done.  Special thanks to the team of Cris Michaud and Kendell Legendre for their tireless efforts in testing and development."

The Michaud team has also competed in three ACT Tour events this season, while working to develop the Ford crate engine. The first event at the 4/10th oval at Lee USA in New Hampshire in April resulted in a 15th place first time effort in a field of 30 cars. The Merchants Bank team then headed to their home track, a ¼ mile bullring nicknamed the 'Site of Excitement', Thunder Road. The three-time King of the Road, Michaud, finished a respectable, but uncharacteristic, 16th, in the 30-car field.  More testing was conducted at the super-fast, reconfigured, ½ mile Airborne Speedway in Plattsburgh, NY. In a head-to-head test with veteran Airborne Champion Brent Dragon, and with input from both Michaud and Dragon, it was clear that some additional work needed to be done on the Ford project.

Enter Dave MacMaster, who worked with Ford Racing engineers to bring the compression up to exact tolerance levels.  More testing took place at White Mountain Motorsports Park and Thunder Road.  Finally, at the Thunder Road Memorial Day Classic ACT Tour event, Michaud raced his Ford from a 26th starting spot to a 4th place finish as many Thunder Road fans have become used to seeing over the past ten years.  Michaud was a serious contender to win, but got stalled behind a set of double file racing and just plain ran out of laps in the 100-lap event as he made his charge to the front.

"I first have to thank Kendell Legendre for all the work he put into getting our car converted to be able to handle the Ford engine. I also want to thank Ford Racing, Dave MacMaster and ACT for finally getting Ford into the game. I am especially pleased that Tom (Curley) asked me to test this new crate program for Ford. I remember 10 years ago when I was out of motors and ready to hang things up, Tom asked me to be the first to test the original GM crate. I feel like we have come full circle. Now I need to get Ford its first win in ACT racing, and a 4th Thunder Road King of the Road title in a Ford would really be sweet, especially during this 50th season celebration", said Michaud.

The first chance for Ford to officially enter the ACT Winner's Circle will be opening night at Thunder Road, June 11, 2009. Thunder Road will open for the 50th season of Thursday night racing with the Ferguson Waterworks trophy dashes. Gates will open at 5:00 and post time is 6:30. Admission is only $9.50 for adults and a family of two adults and two kids 6-12 can enter for only $20.

For additional information contact the Thunder Road office at 802.244.6963 or

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Core-haters get their wish

At different times over the last few months, we've heard talk about breaking up the Mets' core of David Wright, Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado. Now Reyes looks like he is joining Delgado on the "out indefinitely" list. Even if Beltran is fully recovered from his recent illness, the Mets are going to learn what life is like with half the core gone. And it is not likely to be pretty.

Sure, if the Mets had decided to trade Reyes in the offseason, they presumably would have gone into the season with more than Alex Cora to fill the shortstop spot. Rafael Furcal was a free agent. But Furcal is struggling this year and his best years appear behind him. Same with another free agent, Orlando Cabrera. So even if the Mets had planned to be without Reyes, they would still be in a lot of trouble.

The problem is that Reyes is irreplaceable.

But so are Wright, Beltran, Johan Santana and K-Rod, and while two of them have also had injury and illness concerns, at least they are all healthy now. All is not lost. Not yet, anyway.

Can the Mets still make the playoffs if Jose Reyes is out for an extended length of time? Tell us what you think.

Obama Chooses Lakers

NBA Finals favoritesThe president of the United States, Barack Obama, bet on the Los Angeles Lakers as the winners in the NBA finals which begins today at the Orlando Magic.

"The Lakers in six games," Obama said antistatic to a question about his prognosis for the final.

Obama is considered an expert on basketball, which comes to practice every day, since before the end of the championship college betting rightly called as the North Carolina quintet monarch.

According to ESPN the magazine dedicated to the clash between Lakers and Magic, a total of 59 percent of Americans considered the favorite quintet's display to take the coveted championship ring.

One of them is President Obama. The other 41 percent were inclined to the Magic.

It is the end number 30 for the Lakers, followed by the second and the sixth since 2000.

"The season has been a trend to be here. From the outset we talk about winning the title as a goal, "said Kobe Bryant, who won three rings at the beginning of the decade.

Its technical, Phil Jackson, look for the tenth, a record.

For the Magic, however, is the second final in 14 seasons.

"Maybe we can convince others to believe in us," said Dwight Howard, Magic star to comment on the role of victim of Orlando.

"I am confident that we are the weakest, but I believe in victory and also my team mates have the same thought," he added.

Howard, who managed a personal record of 40 points in the decider to Cleveland, as "rude" before the final and be given by the fact that he was going to be a duel between the Lakers and Cavs Bryant James.

Franchise expansion in 1989, six years after the Magic reached the NBA finals, but at that time fell 4-0 to the noise by the Houston Rockets.

Magic and Lakers met twice during the regular campaign with victories on both occasions for Orlando: 106-103 and 109-103.

The series, to the best of seven shocks, beginning with two games at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, following the three will be made in the Amway Arena in Orlando.

LeBron James Underwent Surgery on Tumor

NBA NewsGambling Advisor blog news: The basketball player LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers guard, was discharged yesterday after undergoing surgery to remove a benign tumor of the jaw. James, the most valuable player of the NBA season, suffers from this problem several months ago, but chose to delay his operation until the end of the play-off.

World Cup Qualifier odds – Big Weekend for Argentina, England, Portugal

World Cup Qualifier OddsOn the same day as the Belmont odds and some French Open finals betting, soccer brings us some exciting action with a huge day of World Cup Qualifying games. Let’s break down a few of the more noteworthy matchups for this Saturday.

Kazakhstan vs England – Saturday, June 6 @ 11:00 a.m. ET

Soccer betting lines: Kazakhstan +1300, England -700, Draw +500

Could England finally be on the verge of ending their stretch of disappointments over the last decade or so? The team that lost in the 2006 World-Cup qualifier sagged even more when it failed to reach Euro 2008, but the road to the World Cup doesn’t look so bad right now. The English destroyed Kazakhstan in October of 2008, pummeling them in the second-half especially en route to a 5-1 win. When England upped the pressure, particularly with Wayne Rooney, Kazakhstan couldn’t keep up. Even with Rio Ferdinand on the mend, the English will be fine.

Best betting online pick: England -700

Albania vs Portugal – Saturday, June 6 @ 2:45 p.m. ET

Soccer betting lines: Albania +625, Portugal -270, Draw +300

OK, Portugal, let’s go. What are you waiting for? Portugal’s fans have to be just a tiny bit antsy after 0-0 ties against Sweden and Albania, who they now face in a rematch. Playing on the road before what should be a rowdy Albanian crowd, are the Portugese in trouble? Cristiano Ronaldo, arguably the best footballer in the world, needs to find the net – something he hasn’t done yet in this round of qualifying. With Nani on the team as well, Portugal’s offense is too potent not to wake up. They’ll need to score early to take the crowd out of the game but they should prevail over Albania,

Best betting online pick: Portugal -270

Argentina vs Colombia – Saturday, June 6 @ 5:00 p.m. ET

Soccer betting lines: Argentina -345, Colombia +800, Draw +350

It’s not do-or-die for Argentina just yet, but they certainly could use a win after Bolivia destroyed them 6-1 in their last match. Their opponent just happens to be the team chasing them for World Cup berth: Colombia. The key to Saturday’s match will be discipline; in most of Argentina’s recent losses, the problems were rooted in red cards. Three of Bolivia’s six goals came after Angel Di Maria was tossed. A clean game will go a long way, as will the presence of Lionel Messi. Constantly mentioned in the “best in the world” debate, he’s had a great year, winning the Champions League and Spanish League with Barcelona. He’ll lead a group that should be hungry to get back in the win column. This match may be close, but Argentina should come out on top. Pick the team with something to prove if you wager on sports this Saturday.

Best betting online pick: Argentina -345

Bump in the Tobacco Road: Reimportation Returns in FDA Bill

Chairman Henry Waxman (D-California) is very close to achieving one of his objectives stretching back more than a decade: granting explicit authority for the Food & Drug Administration to regulate the marketing and development of tobacco products. The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (HR 1256) passed the House on April 2 by a commanding 298-112 vote and was cruising toward Senate passage this week.

But then Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) hauled out one of his long-term favorite projects (drug reimportation) and created a nasty hurdle in the final stretch of Waxman’s long journey. Dorgan (D-ND) proposed the “Pharmaceutical Market Access and Drug Safety Act of 2009” on June 2 to be introduced as an amendment to the anti-smoking bill. Dorgan has five of long-time allies on the issue: Olympia Snowe (R-ME), John McCain (R-AZ), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).

There is an interesting irony for Waxman as Dorgan tries to ride the success of the smoking bill. Waxman has never been a proponent of permitting drugs from lower cost markets to be imported to the U.S. as a cost control measure. That approach has been treated by Waxman and other prominent Democratic leaders in the health area as a distraction from more direct ways to address drug prices and a threat to FDA’s ability to protect quality manufacturing for pharmaceuticals.

If Dorgan can link drug reimportation onto the tobacco bill, Waxman may be faced with having to accept a provision he has fought for years if he wants to move forward with one of his top public health priorities.

Experience says that Dorgan will fail to attach reimportation in any meaningful way. Advocates for a strong FDA are watching the Dorgan amendment effort with worry and distaste. Adding tobacco authority and working to improve food control are big projects by themselves. FDA doesn't need to try to undertake the complicated system for assuring safe imports of drugs marketed in Canada or elsewhere. Congress has foiled the reimportation attempts many times in the past or added provisions that made in difficult or impossible to implement. But like Waxman’s tobacco crusade, reimportation seems to be an issue that won’t go away.

The environment around the reimportation debate is changing also. When the proposal first came up, opponents were able to raise the convincing threat of unsafe or poorly manufactured products from outside the US slipping into the domestic drug supply if reimportation were passed.

However, with many manufacturers outsourcing production of active ingredients to a wide variety of low-cost manufacturing locales, they are effectively eroding their own defense-of-quality argument. Domestic suppliers (brand and generic) have had enough well-publicized problems assuring the quality of their products with components from overseas to create a more favorable environment for reimportation. It is one of those Congressional pet projects which might linger around long enough to find the right time for enactment.

Kind of like FDA regulation of tobacco.

Castrol Canadian Touring Car Championship confirmed at the Honda Indy Toronto

TORONTO, ON - The Castrol Canadian Touring Car Championship Presented By Toyo Tires (CCTCC) has confirmed that it will be on the card for this summer's Honda Indy Toronto. The CCTCC will be featured with two events, billed as the 'Acura Sports Car Challenge.' As many as 50 cars are expected to compete in the two CCTCC races on the temporary street circuit on Toronto's lakeshore.

The CCTCC races will be run at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 11 and at 10 a.m. on Sunday, July 12. CCTCC qualifying is set to take place on Friday, July 10. The Castrol Canadian Touring Car Championship Presented By Toyo Tires is Canada's top road racing series and is comprised of two classes of race cars. The Touring Class features cars with only minimal modifications and engines up to 2.0 litres in size. The Super Touring Class is comprised of more powerful race cars with larger engines and more aerodynamic enhancements.

Both classes compete simultaneously and challenge for supremacy in their respective classes. The CCTCC runs May to September and in addition to the Honda Indy Toronto, will also appear at major road racing events and venues throughout Ontario and Quebec.

“The Castrol Canadian Touring Car Championship Presented By Toyo Tires is very excited to partner with the Honda Indy Toronto for the next three years,” said John Bondar, CCTCC President. “Toronto has always been one of the best events in North America and we look forward to being part of this fabulous show.  Our inclusion in the Honda Indy Toronto confirms the Championship as Canada’s premiere Touring Car championship.”

For more info visit

With files from the Honda Indy Toronto

Three Rivers Arts Festival, from June 5th to 14th

The Three Rivers Arts Festival gets its start tomorrow for its 50th annual run. With new ownership by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and the reopening of Point State Park, it will be a very exciting year, says Pittsburgh Cultural Trust Spokesperson Veronica Corpuz. She says there will be a great continuity between the park, Gateway Plaza, where the artist market booths are, and the various venues throughout the Cultural District. Corpuz says there will be more than 500 artists, along with many musical acts and other various activities.

Kevin Acklin Announces Run for Mayor

A Squirrel Hill resident and a business attorney knows it's going to be difficult running as an Independent for mayor, let alone running against incumbent Luke Ravenstahl. But that's not going to stop Kevin Acklin because he says it's more important to care about Pittsburgh residents, not irrelevant party affiliations. He says political ideologies are relevant to national figures, but not local office, where there is no democratic or republican way to fill a pothole or be ethical in government. There is a right way to do those things. Acklin started a nonprofit organization called Renew Pittsburgh about a year ago, and the experience in neighborhoods and getting to know the people has motivated him to run for office.

PennFuture Holds Annual "Green Energy Conference"

PennFuture's annual "Green Energy Conference" is underway and the focus of this years event is the use of stimulus dollars for renewable energy sources. The conference is discussing ways that citizens and governments can take advantage of the stimulus dollars. PennFuture President and CEO Jan Jarrett says this conference is very important because of the national attention being given to green energy and energy conservation. Jarrett says local and regional governments do not have to be the only entities taking advantage of the shift toward green energy. Jarrett says home owners can take advantage of tax credits and refunds for weatherizing their homes.

Why Terry Dropped

We've been saying all along that even among voters planning to vote for a particular candidate in the Virginia primary, a good chunk are open to changing their minds between now and election day. That means for each candidate a certain segment of their support is solid and a certain proportion of it is weak. The reason Terry McAuliffe dropped from the poll we released on May 22nd to the one we put out on Tuesday is that he lost a lot of his weak supporters.

Here are the numbers from the May 22nd poll:



% of Supporters Solidly Committed

Total Solid Support

Total Weak Support
















And here are the numbers from the June 2nd poll:



% of Supporters Solidly Committed

Total Solid Support

Total Weak Support
















As you can see from these numbers, the percentage of voters solidly committed to McAuliffe stayed pretty much level, as you would expect if they are indeed solidly committed. But he dropped four points worth of weak support. People who were open to changing their minds about who to vote for logically would be much more susceptible to having their preferences influenced by attacks against McAuliffe and that appears to have hurt him.

Some folks seem to think this is a two person race between McAuliffe and Creigh Deeds. I don't buy that yet but it is interesting that Brian Moran's support is the weakest among the three candidates- you have to wonder if that means some folks planning to vote for him are more anti-McAuliffe than anything else and waiting to see who has the best chance of beating him at the end. By most measures Deeds fits that bill at this point.

Still, the fact that the pendulum shifted from McAuliffe to Deeds so rapidly is a lesson that it can also swing back toward McAuliffe or Moran equally as fast. I almost always feel confident that a Saturday/Sunday poll the weekend before the election reflects people's final choices but this is one case where there are so few voters with hardened opinions that even something minor in the last 48 hours before folks go to the polls could somehow shift the balance- it wouldn't take much.

R.I.P. David Carradine (1936 - 2009)

Kung Fu and Kill Bill star found dead...

Golden Globe and Emmy Award nominated actor David Carradine has been found dead in a hotel room in Bangkok, where he was staying while filming his latest movie Stretch. Early police reports indicated that Carradine - best known for his work as Kwai Chang Caine in the U.S. TV series Kung Fu (1972 - 1975) and the title character in Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill movies - committed suicide by hanging, although a statement later revealed the actor had died accidently while attempting auto-erotic asphyxiation. He was found by a maid in the early hours of Thursday morning, June 4th. He was 72.

The son of Hollywood actor John Carradine, Carradine enjoyed a long and successful career with over 100 screen credits to his name. He worked alongside legendary directors such as Martin Scorsese (Boxcar Bertha, Mean Streets) and Ingmar Bergman (The Serpent's Egg), and had enjoyed a career boost in recent years following his collaboration with Tarantino. His last appearance came alongside Jason Statham in the action sequel Crank: High Voltage.

Advertiser of the Day - Distaulo Racing

Just call him Anti-Yankee Bob! Watson imposes outrageous suspension on A.J. Burnett

I'm spitting mad over A.J. Burnett getting suspended for six games, while the real headhunter of Tuesday's game, Vincente Padilla, gets off with only a fine.

Let me get this straight. Padilla has hit 98 batters since 2000, putting him at a faster HBP pace than even Randy Johnson. The Rangers pitcher has repeatedly targeted Mark Teixeira, ever since Tex hit a homer off him. And he hit Teixeira not once but twice Tuesday night. Padilla's actions apparently so disturbed the Rangers front office that there are reports that the Texas team is planning on putting him on waivers.

Yet the newly-mustachioed Burnett, who didn't hit anybody with his up-and-in pitch to Nelson Cruz in defense of his teammate, is the one getting suspended for six games? Gimme a break.

Why should Burnett be suspended for standing up for Teixeira? It's an outrage. It's not like he had violated any sort of umpire's warning - the umps didn't say anything until after his pitch. And he wasn't thrown out of the game, either. His suspension is completely unjustified. What the heck is Bob Watson thinking?

Red Sox fans derisivelly call MLB's Watson "Yankee Bob," for what they perceive as a bias in favor of his old team. I think Watson's real nickname ought to be Anti-Yankee Bob, or maybe Ranger Rob, for this ridiculous decision. But it's typical of Watson - time after time, he's let other teams like the Red Sox do target practice on Yankee players, but the moment a Yankee retaliates, the way Joba Chamberlain did in 2007, it seems to be an automatic suspension.

Speaking of which, I don't want to hear Sox fans gripe about how Josh Beckett got suspended this year even though he didn't hit anybody, and wasn't thrown out of the game either. It was a very different situation. Beckett threw at Bobby Abreu's head because the Angel called time. When Abreu squawked, Beckett stormed off the mound and walked towards him. Much more aggressive than anything Burnett did.

Burnett is appealing this dopey decision. I hope he wins.

What do you think of MLB suspending A.J. Burnett for six games? Leave us a comment!

CONSOL Makes Production Estimate Changes

Pittsburgh based CONSOL Energy says it will resume longwall production at its Buchanan Mine in mid-July. The mine produces metallurgical coal used mostly by steel companies to make coke. The company idled most of its coal production at the mine in March as orders plummeted. CONSOL spokesperson Tom Hoffman says between reaching new agreements over past contractual commitments for coal and an expectation for rebounding steel orders the equipment, the decision was made to bring the equipment back on line. Hoffman says in the past year the demand for all types of coal has spiked and plunged. He says the company has no crystal ball but it does see “hopeful signs” in the economy and expects to see higher demand by the end of the year. The increased production at Buchannan will not return the mine to its full capacity. CONSOL has also made production announcements concerning two other mines. The company idled longwall production at its Blacksville #2 mine near Wana, West Virginia, beginning June 2, 2009, with the idle period expected to continue at least through July 18, 2009, which is the end of a three-week summer vacation period. The mine is one of seven high-Btu bituminous coal mines the company operates in Northern Appalachia. In total CONSOL Energy is adjusting its 2009 estimated production to 60 million tons from the previous target of 62 million tons.

All In The Family: Genentech and Roche Together At ASCO

In the immortal words of one Archie Bunker those were the days, weren’t they? Back when biotechs were biotechs (small and innovative—and usually cash poor) and pharma companies were pharma companies (big and blockbuster-focused and hugely profitable), everyone knew their place in the industry. But the disappearance of the DNA ticker symbol has made things so much more confusing. Should we think of Roche as pharma or biotech? Is Genentech a stand-alone biotech within Roche or the Swiss pharma’s future?

In one of their first appearances together since Roche officially took Genentech private, the two drug makers chose to make a big splash at the American Society of Clinical Oncology. (The Roche-Genentech business development dynamic duo of Joe McCracken and Dan Zabrowski also stepped out at BIO. Look for an indepth Q&A in a coming issue of IN VIVO.)

And what a splash they made. The newly consolidated Roche-Genentech oncology portfolio is soooo big that the industrious executives at the newly blended company couldn’t fit it into one night.

Indeed, the two organizations dominated ASCO, presenting 12% of the entire scientific content in various break-out sessions, plenaries, and posters. But it was the two-night event aimed at analysts—four hours of oncology updates—that illustrated what the future might look like for Rochetech (or is it Genenroche? It doesn’t have quite the same ring as Wy-Pfi, does it?)

The IN VIVO Blog couldn’t help but see the occasion as a wedding of sorts, with the requisite awkwardness and strained politeness of a rehearsal dinner on full display. (We aren’t revealing the identity of the drunk uncle.) The “head table” on stage was loaded 8 across with managers. And by night two, Roche felt compelled to put up nameplates—a move necessitated by the fact that analysts typically follow either Roche OR Genentech but not both and so might not have a sense of the cast of characters.

Much of the first night was spent rehashing the failed adjuvant colorectal cancer trial for Avastin, C-08. (There’s a slight possibility you’ve already heard about that, but see “The Pink Sheet” DAILY coverage here.) The firms also talked about new uses for old drugs – Herceptin’s move out of breast cancer with the ToGA trial in gastric cancer – and some new offerings from the early stage pipeline, like hedgehog inhibitor GDC-0449 and the BRAF-targeted PLX4032 partnered with Plexxikon. (Check back with the DAILY and “The Pink Sheet” in coming weeks for more coverage.)

But time was also spent addressing two particularly large elephants in the room: the on-going Roche/Genentech integration; and the impact the C-08 trial failure had on both the deal offer and the newly combined organization’s bottom line. Outgoing Roche head of U.S. pharma Bill Burns gave a finely orchestrated bit of messaging as he tried to dispel certain misperceptions.

“Since we are all sitting together as a united family now, and I know that this may be something in the back of many of your minds, I want to lay to rest two or three elements I think the mischief makers in the media were playing on in the run up to the family coming together.” (Us? Make mischief? Your Honor, in our defense, Roche made it fairly easy to categorize “the family” as dysfunctional.)

Burns delved first into continued questions about the ability of Genentech to remain an independent entity with its traditional characteristics of a quirky culture, high science, and individually-driven success. Ever since Roche announced its hostile bid for Genentech last July, that fear has been one of the brightest issues burning. Noting incessant references in the press to questions such as “Will people stay?” and “What will happen?” Burns emphasized the quick steps Roche took to establish a management team.

IVB cannot tell a lie. Roche did in fact move swiftly—within weeks of the disappearance of the DNA ticker came the April 14th announcement outlining changes at Genentech. But what Burns conveniently forgot to mention is that those changes included losing some of Genentech’s most talented leaders: Arthur Levinson and Susan Desmond-Hellman stepped down from their roles as CEO and Product development president, becoming mere advisors. A few weeks later Desmond-Hellman confirmed what media had speculated: she would be leaving Genentech to take the reins as UCSF’s chancellor, a position that starts in August.

Burns also pointed out that Roche has followed up on its intention to keep some of the innovation coming out of the Genentech labs operating “as is” in South San Francisco. (We are willing to bet however, that G’s researchers would have given up their iphones and their apple computers if it would have kept Levinson and Desmond-Hellman on board.) Moreover, said Burns, operations are continuing as normal under the leadership of Richard Scheller and his more than able assistants, Marc Tessier-Lavigne and Andy Chan.

“The team is fully in place and we have given them also the elements like business development that are required to make sure that accessing some of the bright new elements, either enablers in science or early programs, can continue,” he told investors.

Along with those tortured phrasings, Burns unveiled the creation of an internal acronym that describes Genentech’s function in the Roche family: “GReD”, for Genentech Research and early Development. IVB’s reaction? The “pharmafication” of Genentech is complete—it has its own nutty alphabet descriptor that is just one letter shy of the word greed. (Defn. Greed: (noun) the excessive desire to acquire or possess more—especially more material wealth—than one needs or deserves.)

Burns also tried to “put on the table and lay to rest” allegations that the then-pending C-08 trial results played a critical role in both the timing and the price of Roche’s even more hostile move in January, when it lowered its offer price from $89 to $86.50. Acknowledging that the potential for Avastin use in the adjuvant setting had “raised the rates” and was clearly “an inflection point for the then independent Genentech stock,” he maintained it was just one more data point Roche execs used to calculate their valuation. Acknowledging that the C-08 trial results were significant, Burns asserted “you do not go into a $46 billion privatization on the basis of one clinical trial.”

--by Mary Jo Laffler and Ellen Foster Licking

NC tepid on Sotomayor Confirmation

Just 39% of North Carolina voters say they think the Senate should confirm Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the Supreme Court, while 43% say it should not and 18% are unsure.

It's pretty easy to pinpoint why the numbers break down that way. Republicans in the state are more opposed to her confirmation than Democrats are supportive of it. 72% of GOP voters say the Senate should turn her down with only 13% expressing a desire for approval. Among Democrats 59% think she should be confirmed and 24% are opposed. Independents are almost evenly split with 37% opposing Sotomayor and 33% in favor.

There is a gender gap in the numbers, although it is not huge. 47% of men think she should not be confirmed, while just 40% of women feel that way.

The bottom line on these numbers as it relates to Kay Hagan and Richard Burr is that with public opinion pretty much split on her in the state they don't really have anything to gain or lose no matter how they vote on her confirmation.

Full results here.

Study Brings Up Film Tax Credit Debate

The state’s current system of giving tax credits to filmmakers was backed up by a study given to the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee. The study results showed that the taxes generated by these films (almost $63 million this year) do not reach the total spent in tax credits each year ($75 million). However, the other benefits of the filming, including jobs created and money spent on goods and services far outweigh the state’s output. As much as $524 million in wages and spending were made by the state this year, the study says.

However, the program and the study are not without critics. State Senator Patricia Vance (R – Cumberland) says though this income is certainly a good thing for the state, the fact remains that the money coming directly back to the state government still falls short of its expenses. With a $3.2 billion budget deficit threatening education programs and even tax levels, Vance says programs like this are unacceptable. “I’m very confident the people I’m hearing from don’t want their taxes raised to preserve a subsidy for the film industry. I’m not saying in good times it may not be a good thing. I’m saying that when we’re talking about closing libraries and cutting off mental health services, we have to have good priorities about where we’re going to put the money,” says Vance.

The mid-state senator says the study itself wasn’t actually conducted by the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee; rather, she says it was carried out by a private company based in Los Angeles, California. Vance says this erases the known credibility associated with the state committee. She adds that most of the money coming in to the state from the filmmakers’ spending is going only to Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, where the majority of the movies are filmed. However, the money for the tax credits comes evenly from across the state.

What's more startling - A.J. Burnett's new mustache or the Yankees being fan-friendly?

While I haven't exactly been thrilled with much of the new Yankee Stadium, from the ticket prices to the atmosphere to the food, there is one new tradition that I'm totally on board with.

I was pleasantly surprised to hear about how Brian Cashman, Joe Girardi, and Brian Bruney greeted fans in the Great Hall before yesterday's game. What a cool thing to do! (Click here to see pix, courtesy of Looks like fans got to talk with them, get autographs from them, and pose for photos with them as well.

Here's hoping Squawker reader Peggy got to meet at least one of them - it was her birthday yesterday, after all! Too bad last night's game, which Peggy attended, was so putrid!

The Yanks are planning on doing this type of meet-and-greet once each homestand. What a great new tradition for the Great Hall!

And that's not all. CC Sabathia and Phil Coke gave Bronx kids haircuts yesterday, at Jordan's Barber Shop. (Click here to see the pix.) Those kids must have been thrilled to meet the pitchers.

Speaking of hair, A.J. Burnett started debuting his new look this week - he's growing a mustache! The new blog Big League Screw (no, that's not a typo - it's a different blog from our friends at Yahoo's Big League Stew) noticed a shocking development - A. J. Burnett is growing a mustache! (Click here to see his new look.)

What's more startling - A.J. Burnett's new mustache or the Yankees being fan-friendly?

Problem Solving Courts Approved by PA Senate

With a unanimous vote the PA Senate approved legislation that would statutorily authorize the implementation of problem solving courts in the Commonwealth. Problem solving courts include, among other options, mental health courts and drug courts. The goal is to divert non-violent offenders from jail cells and into supervision programs. The courts are intended to encourage rehabilitation and lower corrections costs. State Senator Jane Orie of McCandless says, "As a former prosecutor and a strong advocate for improving our drug rehabilitation and mental health systems, I believe this legislation is crucial to helping those in need and to improving public safety." "These courts will reduce prison overcrowding and improve cooperation between our criminal justice system and drug and alcohol and mental health systems," says Orie. Allegheny County recently established a veterans' court and has been praised for its success. The law would not force counties to create the special courts but the measure makes it easier to get funding if a county should be interested. According to Sen. Orie, the average cost of building a new prison in Pennsylvania is $200 million and the cost of housing a prisoner can run as much as $30,000 a year. She says approximately 20% of Pennsylvania’s prison population suffers from mental illness. Orie says, “In many cases, we are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to incarcerate mentally ill patients or those with addictions who would benefit far more from treatment, medication and counseling.”

RAD suspends Discretionary Capital Grants for 2010

The Allegheny Regional Asset District, which bases it revenue primarily on a portion of the county sales tax, is facing cutbacks. The RAD provides operating money for parks, libraries and regional attractions. RAD Executive Director David Donahoe says that is currently their priority. He says they also provide money for the discretionary capital fund, which assists with renovations and improvements. But since there is going to be almost an 8 percent drop in sales tax revenue from last June, the program will have to be suspended. Donahoe says he hopes they will be able to restore the program for the following year. However, he says those who are funded through the operating grant are still able to spend their money on renovations. It's just that the Regional Asset District will not be able to provide additional money for improvement projects.

Bill Would Revive State Health Care Agency

A state agency to help regulate medical costs would get another five years of funding if a bill is signed by Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell. The Senate approved legislation allowing the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4) to continue operations through the summer of 2014. Prime sponsor Patricia Vance (R – Cumberland) says it’s hard to tell just how much money the council will receive over a half-decade. “Well, it depends. Their budget has been cut this year, probably because they were reinstated by an executive order of the governor. It depends on how much is allocated every budget year. That’s impossible to tell at this point,” says Vance. She says the program provides a valuable service to people seeking information on health care by indexing the quality and pricing of state hospitals and medical centers. Despite their name, the PHC4 does not have any active power to contain health care costs, though. “I believe that knowledge is power, and if consumers have this information then it’s their obligation to act upon it,” says Vance.

NASCAR @ DELAWARE SPEEDWAY: Pre-Race Party tonight at Crabby Joe's in Strathroy

Fans can meet NASCAR Canadian Tire Series drivers Kennington, Whitlock, Hathaway and Hanssen

London, ON - With the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series set to make its debut at Delaware Speedway on Saturday, June 6th, the track is inviting fans to a free pre-race party at Crabby Joe’s in Strathroy on Thursday, June 4th from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

NASCAR Canadian Tire Series drivers confirmed to attend include last week’s race winner in Quebec, Dave Whitlock, along with DJ Kennington, Joey Hanssen and Jason Hathaway. Kennington and Hanssen’s cars will be on display. Race fans are welcome to stop by, visit with the drivers, collect autographs and take photos.

MyFM Radio (105.7 FM in Strathroy) will also be at Crabby Joe’s for the event. MyFM is also giving away tickets to listeners in the days leading up to the race on June 6th.

Crabby Joe’s Strathroy is the sponsor of the newly refurbished Crabby Joe’s Patio at Delaware Speedway. The restaurant is located at 323 Caradoc Street in Strathroy.

The NASCAR Canadian Tires Series will race at Delaware Speedway on Saturday, June 6th. Spectator Gates open at 4:00 p.m. More information is available at

NASCAR @ DELAWARE SPEEDWAY: NASCAR Midway & displays set for NCATS race on June 5-6

London, ON (May 26, 2009): A wide variety of interactive displays and vendors will be on site at Delaware Speedway for the upcoming NASCAR Canadian Tire Series race weekend, June 5th and 6th. In addition to a first-class race lineup (the winged Auto Value Super Sprints on June 5th and the track’s inaugural NASCAR Canadian Tire Series event June 6th), race fans will enjoy the NASCAR midway and display area.

Vendors and displays confirmed to be on site on Saturday, June 6th include:

· NASCAR souvenir trailer that includes both NASCAR Canadian Tire Series and popular NASCAR Sprint Cup Series merchandise

· A 50-foot by 50-foot NASCAR display area that includes information and interaction from a variety of series supporters

· NASCAR’s Canadian Tire “Fast Track Tour” trailer

· Dickie’s “Canadian Worker of the Year” display trailer

· BX 93 Radio’s Summer Fun Torrent powered by Dale Downie (Summer Cruiser)

· Napolean Grills sampling display

· Inside Track Motorsport News

· London’s Best Rock FM 96 Summer Cruiser

· 103.9 “The Hawk” Summer Cruiser

· Carling Race Team Display area

· Have Bus Will Travel Racing Tours SuperCoach

· Racing Radios

· Red Beard’s Sports

Many of the vendors will be on site for the Auto Value Super Sprint race on Friday June 5th.

Have Bus Will Travel Racing Tours will be giving away a Racing Tour for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race Weekend, August 15th and 16th at Michigan International Speedway (“NASCAR Canada Day @ MIS”).

Former Delaware Speedway Super Stock champion and APC Late Model Rookie of the Year and current NASCAR Canadian Tire Series driver, Jason Hathaway is scheduled to sign autographs at the Napolean Grills display on the Friday night.

More information about the event is available at

NASCAR @ DELAWARE SPEEDWAY: "Ted Reader Tailgate Zone" added to NCATS event on June 6

Free area for race fans to be located in tent overlooking Turn 1

London, ON (May 29, 2009): The official team known for working with award-winning chef and food entertainer, Ted Reader, will be at Delaware Speedway for its inaugural NASCAR Canadian Tire Series race on Saturday, June 6th. Though Reader himself will not be on hand, his barbecue team equipped with Ted’s brand of fun and flavour, will be holding court in the “Ted Reader Tailgate Zone” the day of the race.

Reader and his team have parlayed a passion for food into a culinary tour de force that includes more than a dozen cook books, shelves of food products, live culinary performances, TV and radio cooking shows and appearances as well as culinary demonstrations, a catering company and teaching. Reader’s latest book, “Napolean’s Everyday Gourmet Grilling” was released last month.

At Delaware Speedway, Reader’s team will use his trademark barbecue rig to “Tedify” the track’s standard menu for guests in the licensed “Ted Reader Tailgate Zone,” which will be located on the turn one hill, overlooking the front straightaway. The area will also feature live music from the band “Black Belt Jones” and is free with race admission (Age of majority required).

More information about Reader, his books, recipes and food products is available online at

The appearance is being made possible through an association with Napolean Grills, who will also have a taste-test display in the NASCAR Midway area both Friday, June 5th and Saturday, June 6th. Napolean-sponsored driver, Jason Hathaway, will be signing autographs at the Napolean Grills display on the Friday night. Hathaway, a former Delaware Speedway Street Stock champion and APC Late Model Rookie of the Year, will compete in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series race on the Saturday night (June 6th).

Spectator gates will open at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, June 5, with racing set to start at 8:00 p.m. The program for that evening features the only 2009 appearance of the wildly popular winged Auto Value Super Sprints, along with Delaware Speedway’s Demar Aggregates Trucks and POWERADE Modifeds, both of which are part of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series (i.e., weekly racing).

On Saturday (June 6), spectator gates will open at 4:00 p.m. Pre-race activities include a 50-lap Delaware Super Stock race and a NASCAR Canadian Tire Series driver autograph session. The NASCAR Canadian Tire Series “Delaware 200” is schedule to take the green flag shortly after 8:00 p.m.

From Delaware Speedway

NASCAR Canadian Tire Series: John Fletcher returns to action at Delaware

MILTON, ON - John Fletcher will be making a return to the track this weekend driving the LUCAS OIL/JBM Leasing #49 Dodge in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series' Delaware 200. This is the team’s first outing in 2009 as the series first stop was in St-Eustache, QC, and only plan to do the Ontario NASCAR events. Fletcher and the LUCAS OIL/JBM Leasing # 49 Dodge will be carrying additional support from B&B Decals, Trailers By Jim Bray, Bray Auto/Truck Recyclers, Stratafax Calgary, Little Blessing’s and HYPE Energy Drinks.

The expected crowd of 10,000 people will witness more than 20 of Canada’s best teams compete in the only national stock car touring series as it makes its first stop at the NASCAR-sanctioned speedway. Although John has not been in the car since last season's NCATS race at Cayuga Speedway, he will not be waiting that long again.

John and the LUCAS Oil/JBM Leasing Team will also run Mosport International Speedway Dickies 200 event at the famed 2.459 Road Course June 13-14, but also a return to OSCAAR on Saturday June 13 at the 1/3 mile Barrie Speedway, double duty in two different style cars on two extreme different tracks. What a way to get the 2009 season underway! The roar of the #61 JBM Leasing OSCAAR and perennial favourite to win has not been heard in the series since 2007 and the 2006 series champion is looking forward to the return at a track he has won three in a row.

More information on John Fletcher can be found at, for information on the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series visit

On Andy Pettitte's aching back and Chien-Ming Wang being back in the rotation

Last night's game was a frustrating slog right from the beginning. Andy Pettitte looked terrible - he gave up six walks, seven hits, and four runs in five innings. This is the second start in a row where he seemed to be affected by a bad back. What's going on there?

After last night's game,'s Peter Abraham made a reference to Andy Pettitte's incentive-laden contract. According to the Cot's Baseball Contracts site, Pettite's 2009 contract, which gives him a base salary of $5.5 million, has an additional $6.5 million in incentives, broken out this way:
  • $4.5M in performance bonuses: $0.5M each for 150, 160, 170 IP; $0.75M each for 180, 190, 200, 210 IP
  • $2M in roster bonuses: $0.1M for 120 days on active 25-man roster; $0.2M for 130 days; $0.25M each for 140, 150 days; $0.4M each for 160, 170, 180 days
Incentive-based contracts can be good - look at how Carl Pavano miraculously became as healthy as a horse once he had to sign one this year - but they might also encourage players to play through the pain a little too much. I hope that's not what's happening here with Pettitte.

In addition to Pettitte's pitching, the rest of the game also had frustrating moments, particularly the lack of timely hitting. While Alex Rodriguez did get an RBI single earlier in the game, he also had some big failures with runners in scoring position last night. And boy, did the Yankee Stadium crowd let him hear it. Not good - I wish fans would stop booing their own players. It's a fact of life, though, for A-Rod.

Speaking of which, I hope the Yankee Stadium crowd is supportive, not derisive, when Chien-Ming Wang pitches again this afternoon. I think the Yanks are making the right move in having him start again, and moving Phil Hughes to the bullpen.

And no, I'm not going to pull a Mike Francesa and say that Joba Chamberlain should go to the pen. I heard Brian Cashman on Michael Kay's show talk about how that Joba is still doing that simulated first inning in the bullpen before each start. Given that, it makes even less sense to put him in the pen.

* * *

In other news, I was excited about the tantalizing possibility of Tom Glavine becoming a Met again, now that he's been released from the Braves. Omar, do the right thing and sign Glavine!

Here's why I'm so hot to get Glavine as a Met. Squawker Jon is a lot more mild-mannered than I am - shocking, I know! - but Tom Glavine seems to really get under skin. The angriest Squawker post Jon has ever done was after Glavine's horrendous first inning in the last game of 2007. Squawker Jon didn't exactly care for Tom saying how he wasn't devastated after that loss, or how he tried to justify that statement the following spring.

So yeah, I'd love to see Glavine as a Met again. Would be thrilled to see Jon and all the other denizens of Mets Nation having to cheer for him. What fun!

Is something wrong with Andy Pettitte? What do you think of Chien-Ming Wang going back into the Yankee rotation? Tell us what you think!

Ohsweken Speedway: Lone Wolf Pit Stop presents Friday Night Thunder this week

By Tommy Goudge (June 4, 2009) – After Mother Nature decided to give Ohsweken Speedway the night off last week, Friday Night Thunder kicks back into high gear this week as Lone Wolf Pit Stop presents the action.  The Corr/Pak Merchandising Sprint Cars will be back in action, while the ESSO Thunder Stocks, ESSO Mini Stocks, and Bombers will also join in on the fun!

After two rounds of Corr/Pak Sprint Car action, Tom Huppunen leads the points standings on the strength of a win and a runner-up finish in the first two weeks.  Huppunen and Dain Naida dueled for the win in round two, with Naida coming out the victor at the end of the hard-fought twenty lap feature.  Meanwhile Ryan Hunsinger, Glenn Styres, Kevin Job, and Brad Malloy have had strong starts to their seasons and round out the top five in points.

The ESSO Thunder Stocks get back to action on Friday night, after a scintillating feature two weeks ago.  With the checkered flag in sight, Jamie Cox was able to power his way to victory around week one winner Shayne Pierce.  Pierce did hold onto the runner-up spot and holds the points lead by seventeen markers over Jeremy Bean, who has had a strong start to his ’09 season.  Glen Leinen, Lee Winger, and Cox round out the current top five in the championship standings heading into this Friday’s event.

The ESSO Mini Stocks competitors are all chasing young Mitchell Brown these days.  The third-generation driver from Brantford has won both of the first two rounds of the Mini Stocks season, but with success comes increased difficulty, as the frequent front-runners will start deeper in the pack with each passing week.  Abel Castelein and Kevin Hilborn have both looked strong early on this season, and will be looking to stop Mitch’s streak on Friday night.  Those two drivers are currently second and third in points, while Mike Evers and Chase Hess round out the top five.

In Bomber action, a new winner visited victory lane in the last event as Jesse McDonald dominated the feature.  It is opening night winner Karl Sault who leads the points, however, followed by Dale Cooke, Kacey Huffman, McDonald, and Brad Hill.

Advanced reserved seat tickets for the World of Outlaws Late Models June 18 featuring guest star Ken Schrader, World of Outlaws Sprint Cars July 28 and 29, and Canadian Sprint Car Nationals September 18 and 19 are on sale now. Please visit www.OhswekenSpeedway and call 1-888-720-RACE to order yours today!

Ohsweken Speedway's Friday Night Thunder returns this Friday, June 5 when Lone Wolf Pit Stop presents the Corr/Pak Merchandising Sprint Cars, ESSO Thunder Stocks, ESSO Mini-Stocks, and Bombers. Friday Night Thunder at Ohsweken offers an affordable, fast-paced, and exciting evening of family entertainment just a short drive away from most Mid-Western Ontario locations. Adult general admission is just $10, while Seniors and Students are $8, and Kids age 12 and under are FREE! Please visit for more information. Spectator gates open @ 6:00p.m., with the first race taking the green flag at 7:45p.m. this Friday, June 5!

Stiller's Resignation

I was interested to see Laura Leslie report that Bonner Stiller ran for reelection last year even though he wanted to step down because Republicans were concerned about losing his seat.

It's true that this seat has been competitive in the not so distant past. Powerful Democrat David Redwine held it for years before losing it by just 169 votes in 2002 and then a slightly more conclusive 457 in 2004. Stiller was reelected by wide margins in 2006 and 2008 after Redwine stopped trying to get his seat back.

Still, I'm not sure how good of an opportunity there is for Democrats here even in an open seat situation. Brunswick County is certainly trending in a Republican direction. For instance let's took at the Presidential results there. In 2004 John Kerry lost the county by 21 points and in 2008 Barack Obama lost it by 17 points. So Obama's four point gain in that county runs well behind the more than 12 point gain he made relative to Kerry statewide that allowed him to win North Carolina. 53% of straight ticket voters in the county last year were Republicans even as just 40% were statewide.

That's not to say it's impossible for a Democrat to win here. Civitas' partisan index shows NC-17 as R+8 and there are Democrats representing comparably Republican districts, including Ray Warren's R+11 and Alice Underhill and Bob England's R+7's. But the trend for Democrats is not good here, and that's why I thought it was a little odd Republicans apparently goaded him to run again for fear of losing the seat. They would have to mess up pretty bad not to retain this district.

Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprint Stars Head to Autodrome Granby and Drummond

By Dean Reynolds

SYRACUSE, NY – Each year one of the look forward to trips on the Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints (ESS) tour is the weekend visits to the Autodromes of Granby and Drummond.  This weekend will be the first of three of those trips and with last weekend’s wash out it will kick off the Northwood 2 Construction/LaSalle Motorsports Canadian Sprint Car Series.

Granby and Drummond produce the largest purse for a full point show on the entire Lucas Oil tour with each event paying $2,000 to win with $450 just to take the green.  With the added dollars the Quebec fans will see a great battle among their fellow Canadian sprint car drivers vs. the drivers from the United States for bragging rights.

Current ESS point leader Lance Yonge will lead the brigade up to Quebec.  As a matter of fact, the top seven drivers in points are from the states and all seven will be towing North which include Doug Emery, Justin Barger, Chuck Hebing, Tim Kelly, Tommy Wickham and Jessica Zemken. 

While they had a slow early start, the Canadian faithful will be out in full force looking to improve their point status.  Defending champion Steve Poirier, Michael Parent, Brian McDonald, Lee Ladouceur, Alain Bergeron, Daniel Lampron, Normand Beaudreault, Sylvain Ericksen and others will be hoping to give the expected big crowds something to cheer about.

Throw in Jeff Cook, Anthony Cain, Cory Sparks, Jim Porter, James Hanson and possibly a modified driver or two fans will have a pit full of winged wonders.

The Northwood 2 Construction/LaSalle Motorsports Canadian Sprint Car Series brought to you by 730 Truck Stop and Genesis Shocks in an association with Mohawk Racing Parts, Engine Research and Coffrage Daniel Lampron is a series within a series on the Lucas Oil Tour.  More than $12,000 is set up for the special 10 race series North of the border.  With the rain out events at Ohsweken and Merrittville, Granby and Drummond will now kick off that tour.

Autodromes Granby and Drummond…the stars and cars from the Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints.  On June 5 and 6 it will be a tradition that has carried on for over 26 years and that is excitement guaranteed!!

Southern Ontario Sprints tour heads back to Brighton for June 6 date

By Tommy Goudge (June 4, 2009) – The Southern Ontario Sprints tour is back in action at Brighton Speedway this Saturday, June 6 for the third round of the championship series with defending champion Glenn Styres leading the way.

Styres followed up a season-opening victory at Brighton with a runner-up finish at South Buxton on May 23.  Chasing Styres for the points lead on Saturday are Warren Mahoney, Justin Martin, Ryan Hunsinger, Adam West, and Bob Crawford, to name just a few.  Meanwhile Rick Wilson isn’t chasing points, but he is chasing the feature win at Brighton this weekend, as he tries to add to his lead atop the all-time SOS feature wins list.

All of the drivers will also be looking to take the early lead in the Riverside Bar and Grill mini-series points fund, which encompasses the remaining five events at Brighton for the Southern Ontario Sprints this season, starting with Saturday night’s event. 

Don’t miss the third round of the Southern Ontario Sprints season on Saturday, June 6!  Vanderlaan’s Building Supplies will present the evening’s activities, featuring the third round of the SOS season presented by Holiday Inn of Trenton, along with Brighton’s popular Pro Stocks, Comp 4’s, Pure Stocks, and Stingers.  Make sure to come early and catch Brighton’s pre-race show, the Lucas Oil Hot Seat, LIVE in the courtyard starting at 6:20 p.m.!

Southern Ontario Sprints 2009 Season, Round #3

Brighton Speedway
775 County Road 64
Brighton, Ontario
K0K 1H0
Phone: (613)-475-1102 or toll free 1-(866)-681-1102
On the Web:

Saturday, June 6, 2009
Pit Gates open @ 3:00p.m., Spectator Gates Open @ 5:30p.m., Sprint Car Hot Laps @ 5:50p.m., Racing @ 7:00p.m.
Tickets: $18 Adults, $14 Youth and Seniors, $4 Children Ages 7-12, FREE Children Ages 6 and Under, $45 Family Pass
** Advance ticket sales are available for all SOS events at Brighton Speedway in 2009.  Visit for details. **

Please visit for more news and information about the Southern Ontario Sprints.  2009 marks the fourteenth year of operation for the Southern Ontario Sprints.  Nine Championship Points events are on the schedule this season, plus five special non-points events.  Together they create the fourteen race 2009 schedule, brought to you by Wiseco Performance, ASi Racewear, BS&B Radiator, Fatheadz Eyewear, Triple X Race Co., Kenetic Photos, and

COBRA Offered to Small Business Employees

Employees at small businesses in the state may soon have the ability to keep their health insurance if they loose their job. Both the PA House and Senate have approved legislation that would extend federal Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) to employees that used to work at companies with 2-19 employees. (COBRA) provides former employees, retirees, spouses, former spouses, and dependent children the right to continuation of health coverage at group rates for up to 18 months. The so-called "Mini-COBRA" health insurance plan still needs to be signed by the governor. A spokesperson for Gov. Ed Rendell says he supports the bill. PA Senator Don White says, "It is an important step in the right direction to maintain affordable accessibility to essential health care. Most significantly, it does not cost the Pennsylvania taxpayers one dime. This measure is already in place in many other states and it is time we make it part of Pennsylvania's health care network. " "House Bill 1089 could provide an important safety net to thousands of individuals who work for small businesses and find themselves to be between jobs," says White. The federal stimulus act provides a 65% federal subsidy for COBRA premiums. The subsidy is good for up to nine months for those covered by COBRA as well as those in a state continuation program such as the Mini-COBRA program established by this legislation.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Federer and Del Potro Advance to Semifinals at Roland Garros

Federer and Del Potro Advance to SemifinalsRoger Federer was to get two wins of the only Grand Slam that he escaped in his career on Wednesday to advance to the semifinals of the French Open, but first will face Argentine Juan Martin del Potro.

Defeated the Swiss 7-6 (6), 6-2, 6-4 Gael Monfils at the French and reached the semifinals of a major for the 20th consecutive time. Del Potro, however, advanced to his first semifinal of a Grand Slam to win 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 to Spanish Tommy Robredo.

Del Potro is the first semifinalist at Roland Garros since Argentine David Nalbandian lost to Federer in 2006. His best result so far in a major was the quarterfinals of the United States Open in 2008 and the Australia Open in 2009.

I'm very happy, I'm in a semifinal of a Grand Slam, said Del Potro. This was a very difficult match for both, we knew we had opportunities. The most important thing was to win and play with Federer on Friday.

Pre fifth has never won in five encounters with the Swiss in the second world ranking, although experiencing a great moment after a roll Robredo and French Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the final round.

The native of Tandil, in 20 years, even won a set against Federer in their grief, which is crowned by road for the first time in the brick dust of Paris.

He (Federer) does everything with his perfect game. His game gives me many problems, and so I've never won, said Del Potro. We have played many games, so we already know. I think I know what's going to do, and I will do my utmost to return his serve and by doing so they, not give any points.

Federer lost the last three finals in Roland Garros at the hands of Rafael Nadal, but no longer have to worry about the Spanish that was eliminated in round, Robin Soderling.

It will be a good match. I took the advantage at the moment. Already we have faced and I have several victories advantage, Federer said about his duel with Del Potro, who won this year in the semifinals of the Madrid Masters.

In Madrid, the event on clay was much more closed. It is true that in recent years has greatly improved. Will then be a very difficult, he added.

Soderling will dispute the other semi final against Chilean Fernando Gonzalez, whose 4-3 mark against the Swedish.

Federer seeks his 14th Grand Slam title, which empataría record with Pete Sampras.

I felt some pressure before the match against Monfils, Federer confessed. I was very nervous because I thought it would be very difficult.

For its part, Serena Williams was eliminated by Svetlana Kuznetsova in the quarterfinals of the women's arm and lost the chance to win his third consecutive title in a Grand Slam tournament.

The U.S. did not take one set point in the first set and eventually fell 7-6 (3), 5-7, 7-5 before the Russian.

Kuznetsova saved a break point when they drew 5-6 in the first set. After winning nine of the next 10 points to take advantage.

Williams won the last three points in the second set and took advantage of 3-1 in the third. But Kuznetsova broke back and the service in the last game.

In the third set I had an opportunity and I became very nervous, and basically gave him, said Williams. It was like saying, take, want to go to the semifinals? Because I do not want.

Honestly, I think I lost my fault and not something she has done, he added.

The U.S. Pre second, he had won 18 matches in a row in the majors and was looking for his 11th Grand Slam title.

Kuznetsova will face in the semifinals of the Australian Samantha Stosur, who crushed 6-1, 6-3 to Romanian Sorana Cirstea.

Stosur broke him twice to take his opponent in the first set and three times in the second, including the last game.