Monday, November 30, 2009

NFL Odds – Underdog Bills Could Take Down banged-up Jets

NFL Odds – Underdog Bills Could Take Down banged-up JetsWarm up for Saturday’s Florida vs Alabama picks with some NFL action on Thursday night, as Buffalo “hosts” the New York Jets in Toronto. The Bills come into this game as the underdog, but they could take advantage of an ailing Jets quarterback who had a nightmare the last time he faced Buffalo.

Jets vs Bills odds – Thursday, December 3, 8:20 PM ET

The Jets (4-7) fell 16-13 in overtime at home in Week 6 to the Bills, and Sanchez was a major culprit, going 10-of-29 for 119 yards and five picks in the worst game of his career to date. This overshadowed a career day for running back Thomas Jones, who had 210 yards and a score on 22 carries as the Jets ran for 318 yards. The Jets also committed 14 penalties on the day, and they’re not good enough to overcome that many mistakes, even after a 17-6 win over Carolina last week.

In that win over the Jets, Ryan Fitzpatrick took over for the injured Trent Edwards, going 10-of-25 for 116 yards and a touchdown, along with a pick. Now, Fitzpatrick is entrenched as the starter and he’s built a good connection with Terrell Owens, who has averaged 126 yards over the last three games. The Bills are coming off of a 31-14 pasting of Miami in which they exploded for 24 points in the final quarter, and as NFL odds has made them an underdog, they could even more motivation.

NFL odds in your online sportsbook have the Jets as a 3-point favorite, but they’ve dropped six of their last 10 against the Bills overall. Even though their defense was on fire against the Panthers, it’s tough to put the Jets in your NFL picks until Sanchez gets his head back the game, throwing seven picks in his last three games with only a pair of touchdowns. Also, he left the Carolina game with a knee injury and even though he says he’ll be fine, you may want to check out the news wire after Wednesday’s practice. If he’s at less than 100%, even the New York defense can’t save them on Thursday.

NFL picks: Buffalo +3

NFL Betting – Week 13 Early Look

NFL Betting – Week 13 Early Look The Florida Alabama odds will take the cake as the biggest sports betting event of the week, so we should probably take an early look at NFL picks before the big college game distracts us. Check out these matchups.

New York Jets (-2.5) @ Buffalo Bills

Thursday, December 3, 8:20 p.m. ET

The Jets and Bills head north of the border to visit Toronto in the game being billed as “T.O. in T.O.” It’s true that Terrell Owens has enjoyed quite the resurgence under interim head coach Perry Fewell, but his two monster games came against Jacksonville and Miami. Each of those teams plays shaky pass defense. The Jets, meanwhile, defend the pass very well and can shut down pretty much any wideout in the league using phenomenal corner Darrelle Revis. I’d bet at my online sportsbook that Owens disappears this week.

The Jets have the second-best rushing offense in the NFL and the Bills rank dead last against the run. Expect Gang Green to run the ball down Buffalo’s throat and neutralize the Bills’ offense en route to a stifling win.

NFL betting pick: Jets -2.5

Tennessee Titans @ Indianapolis Colts (-7)

Sunday, December 6, 1:00 p.m. ET

What a comeback for Vince Young. The former NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year has been a throwback to his Texas days this season, winning all five of his starts and helping Tennessee become the first team in NFL history to win five straight after starting 0-6.

The undefeated Colts, however, have a record of their own. They’ve won five straight games after trailing to start the fourth quarter – a stat that reflects Peyton Manning’s brilliance in the clutch. It seems no lead is safe with him at the helm and, versus a Titans secondary he shredded once already this season, we should expect another big day from him. Don’t be surprised if this game turns into a shootout, as the Titans lead the NFL in rushing and should do some damage through the air too, but the Colts always pull away. Manning leads his team downfield and Indy’s “D” usually comes up with a big play or two, as it did against Houston last week. Stick with Indy.

NFL betting pick: Colts -7

Sunset Speedway: Track rebuild shots Nov. 29, 2009

Work is progressing nicely at Sunset Speedway, south of Barrie, Ontario. Thanks to Steve Slaughter for forwarding these photos of the work in progress.

College Corner: Dominion Grad Kowalick Kicks Way to All Conference Honors at Salisbury

(Nov. 30, 2009) - Dominion High School grad Tommy Kowalick had quite a sophomore season at Salisbury University as the kicker was named Atlantic Central Football Conference Special Teams Player of the Week three times and earned All-Conference honors for the second straight season.

Kowalick went 33 of 35 on extra point attempts on the season, had a 60-yard average on kickoffs and went 5 of 7 on

2011 ford mustang V-6 goes high-tech: new 305-Hp engine, six-SPEED transmission expected to Deliver 30 MPG highway

  • For 2011, Mustang makes sports coupe news with a new high-performance, all-aluminum Duratec® 3.7-litre DOHC Ti-VCT V-6 that delivers 305 horsepower and an expected best-in-class 30 mpg highway with six-speed automatic transmission – no other vehicle in the industry can beat that combination
  • Six-speed transmissions – manual and automatic – combine with newly standard limited-slip differential and revised suspension for road-carving driving dynamics and handling
  • New technology and convenience features include: Standard integrated spotter mirrors; message centre; MyKey™ programmable vehicle key; and Universal Garage Door Opener

The 2011 Ford Mustang puts 305 high-performance horses in the hands of V-6 coupe buyers with a new all-aluminum dual-overhead cam (DOHC) engine that delivers a projected 30 mpg on the highway with a six-speed automatic transmission and fun for drivers on nearly every road.
For 2011, Mustang’s new 3.7-litre Duratec 24-valve V-6 uses advanced engineering to deliver its power and economy: Twin Independent Variable Camshaft Timing (Ti-VCT) adjusts the valvetrain in microseconds. Aluminum construction means light weight. It’s an engine designed to crank out torque down low, rev to 7,000 rpm and deliver the mechanical music sports coupe lovers crave everywhere in between.

“Mustang is completely transformed with this new engine,” said Derrick Kuzak, group vice president, Global Product Development. “Everything people love about the car is still there and now under the hood is a V-6 engine that uses premium technology to deliver the power, the feel, the fuel efficiency, even the sound of the best sports coupes in the world.”

New 3.7-litre V-6 engine With Ti-VCT operating its four valves per cylinder, the new Mustang V-6 powerplant sends significantly more horsepower and torque (305 hp and 280 ft.-lb.) to the rear wheels than its predecessor – despite its smaller displacement. The behind-the-wheel feel is unlike any Mustang ever produced.

“This new V-6 engine really speaks to what Mustang is all about,” said Barb Samardzich, Ford vice president of global powertrain engineering. “It produces power everywhere in the rev range and loves to be pushed hard. The Duratec 3.7-litre builds on our promise to use advanced technology to deliver both power and fuel economy.”

The high output is due largely to Ti-VCT which allows variable control of valve operation across the rev range. The variable cams operate on a Direct Acting Mechanical Bucket (DAMB) valvetrain using polished buckets and roller finger followers to reduce friction. The end result is as much as a 3 percent improvement in fuel economy and a 10 percent improvement in power output versus traditional engines without these advanced features.

Ti-VCT is complemented by special-tuned composite upper and lower intake manifolds for efficient air delivery and lighter weight. Ignition power is delivered by a high-energy coil-on-plug design, while piston-cooling jets and a lightweight die-cast aluminum cylinder block improve the durability and efficiency of the 3.7-litre V-6 design.

Performance was the mantra for every aspect of engine design. A cold air induction system and dual exhaust give the 3.7 its free-breathing style with a 7,000 rpm redline and near-instantaneous response to throttle inputs.

A die-cast aluminum deep-sump oil pan provides 16,000-km oil change intervals, saving drivers money on maintenance and resulting in less waste in oil disposal.

Engineers also worked to ensure aggressive, high-performance sounds come from the new engine, from intake to exhaust. Not only does the retuned air intake system minimize losses, it also provides the driver with a satisfying intake rush on hard acceleration. The all-new dual exhaust system is mellow at idle but opens up with a howl at full-tilt, letting Mustang drivers know they’re behind the wheel of a world-class sports coupe.

“This car marks a new type of Mustang,” said David Pericak, Mustang chief nameplate engineer. “We’re using a high-performance quad-cam V-6 with all the bells and whistles in a car that’s become legendary for its handling and roadholding; it’s really going to get a lot of new sports coupe fans excited about Mustang, some for the first time ever.”

Powertrain improvements Drivers can get the most out of the new V-6 engine’s output using either an all-new six-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed automatic transmission. Both come with the flexibility and fuel economy benefits of six forward ratios regardless of whether buyers want to shift for themselves or not.

Drivers who prefer a manual gearbox will enjoy the short throws and direct feel of the shifter along with the relaxed cruising permitted by the extra top gear ratio. Customers choosing the automatic will be pleasantly surprised to find the advanced six-speed 6R60 transmission does not sacrifice fuel economy – or performance – for convenience, delivering an expected 30 mpg highway with crisp, quick shifts that maximize torque and horsepower.

The automatic transmission also features a grade-assist or “hill mode” to improve drivability on hilly terrain. This technical innovation uses vehicle input – acceleration, pedal position, vehicle speed and brake status – to automatically determine the correct gear ratio while on an incline or decline. Hill mode eliminates sixth gear, extends lower gear operation on uphill climbs, and provides additional grade or engine braking for coast downs.

The standard 3.31 rear axle provides performance enthusiasts an ideal blend of cruising fuel economy. acceleration and better off-the-line launch characteristics, aided by the wide ratio spread permitted through the use of six forward speeds in the gearboxes.
Fuel economy improvements Extra horsepower and refined engine operation will be the most noticeable features to new 2011 Mustang 3.7-litre V-6 buyers while projected class-leading fuel economy, also a standard feature, offers an additional bonus.

The numbers speak for themselves:
19 mpg city/30 highway with six-speed automatic transmission, up from 16 mpg city/24 highway on the 2010 model with automatic – a 25 percent improvement over 2010
18 mpg city/29 highway with six-speed manual transmission, up from 18 mpg city/26 highway on the 2010 model with manual

Refinements throughout Mustang’s body, powertrain and chassis design contribute to the improved fuel economy numbers.

Examples include:
The new Electric Power Assist Steering (EPAS) system which eliminates the drag of an engine-operated hydraulic power steering pump, Six-speed transmissions that allow lower cruising revs without sacrificing off-the-line performance, Aerodynamic improvements such as a new front fascia, tire spats on the rear wheels, modified underbody shields, a taller air dam and an added rear decklid seal

Handling and driving dynamics With so much additional horsepower standard, the 2011 Mustang received enhancements to its chassis to maintain the outstanding balance and driving behavior Mustang owners expect. Damper tuning and spring rates were revised to provide a smooth highway ride while a new rear lower control arm and stiffened stabilizer bar bushings improve stiffness and handling for better cornering response.

While Mustang’s aerodynamic improvements were designed mainly to improve fuel economy, engineers also adjusted the vehicle’s front/rear lift balance. The result is a car that tracks more securely and feels more “planted” to the road surface at higher speeds, helping to keep the tires in better contact with the pavement.

The addition of EPAS marks a new era in driving dynamics for Mustang owners. Steering effort at parking lot speeds is reduced, while high-speed and highway feel is improved for more precise steering and handling. Because the belt-driven power steering pump is eliminated, EPAS provides a quieter vehicle with fewer components drawing engine power.

EPAS also enables new technologies that adjust for minor driving annoyances. Pull-Drift Compensation adjusts the steering to correct for crosswinds and minor road crowning, while Active Nibble Control helps eliminate the “shimmy” felt at high speeds when a wheel is out of balance or a brake rotor is warped. Both conditions are alleviated by EPAS independent of driver input, helping ensure Mustang delivers a smooth, comfortable driving experience in all conditions.

Mustang buyers choosing the new V-6 will also get a standard limited-slip differential that provides better handling and more sure-footed grip in poor weather conditions by directing engine torque to the rear wheel with the most traction. When the time comes to slow things down, the 2011 Mustang is also equipped with larger four-wheel ABS disc brakes, with 11.5 inch front and 11.8 inch rear rotors.

Refinements complement advanced features To reinforce the sporty nature of the 2011 Mustang, all V-6 models will come standard with new instrument cluster graphics, including a speedometer that reads up to 160 mph and a tachometer that reads to 8,000 rpm, reflecting the free-revving style of the new engine.

Additional lightweight soundproofing measures help filter unpleasant, high-frequency noises while tuned intake and dual exhaust add the sounds Mustang buyers relish.

Occupants also benefit from new door seals and a rear wheel arch liner that reduce road noise for a quieter, more enjoyable drive, all with minimal weight gain compared to the 2010 model.
For 2011, Mustang also ups the ante on technology and convenience features, including a standard driver’s message centre in the instrument cluster and integrated blind-spot mirrors in the side-view mirror housings.

Ford’s MyKey™ system, designed to encourage safer teen driving and safety belt use, also is newly available on Mustang. MyKey allows owners to program the vehicle key using the driver’s message centre to incorporate features such as limited top vehicle speed and audio volume, a traction control system that cannot be deactivated, a persistent Belt-Minder® safety belt reminder and various speed alert chimes.

Top safety marks expected Mustang’s technological advances are also incorporated in the structure of the vehicle to improve safety. The 2010 Mustang coupe earned the U.S. government’s top five-star crash-test rating, a designation the 2011 model is expected to achieve.

The Mustang’s considerable body stiffness contributes to the coupe and convertible’s driving performance and has a parallel benefit in accident protection. While the coupe’s body structure is approximately 31 percent stiffer than the previous Mustang platform, the convertible’s is more than twice as stiff – creating a structure that helps protect the cabin from deformation and intrusion in an impact.

Mustang also uses high-strength steel in its body structure and ultra-high-strength steel in the door intrusion beams for additional side-impact protection.

The front structure’s crush zones are computer-designed to absorb energy in a controlled manner and help dissipate it before it can reach the passenger compartment. Ford engineers have run thousands of design iterations of the Mustang’s front rails to arrive at an octagonal shape that helps spread crash forces evenly to aid in protecting occupants.

State-of-the-art technology adds to the convenience and safety of the 2011 Mustang, from the availability of the latest version of Ford SYNC® with 911 Assist™ , to standard AdvanceTrac® Electronic Stability Control, which complements the all-speed traction control and standard Anti-lock Braking System (ABS).

Additional standard safety equipment includes the Personal Safety System™ which features dual-stage driver and front passenger air bags, safety belt pretensioners and Belt-Minder.
The 2011 Mustang will be built at the Auto Alliance International Plant in Flat Rock, Mich.

The new 3.7-litre V-6 will be built at Ford’s recently retooled Cleveland Engine Plant No. 1.

F1: Montreal-based Octane Group to Promote the F1 GP of Canada

Octane Racing Group Incorporated (Octane), of Montréal, is proud to announce that it has reached an agreement with Formula One Administration Limited and Formula One World Championship Limited (together the F1 Commercial Rights Holder) to act as promoter of the FORMULA 1 GRAND PRIX DU CANADA as a round of the FIA Formula One World Championship in each of the years 2010 to 2014. The 2010 FORMULA 1 GRAND PRIX DU CANADA will take place on June 11-13 at Montréal's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

"We are extremely proud and satisfied with the agreement reached last week with the F1 Commercial Rights Holder. I feel that both parties share an equal amount of trust and confidence that we will succeed with the return of Formula One to Montréal's summer events calendar", stated today Mr. François Dumontier, President of Octane. "Our intention is to maintain and enhance the tradition established in Montréal since 1978 by the previous promoters of the event. The FORMULA 1 GRAND PRIX DU CANADA has always been a world-class event and extremely popular among racing fans from Québec, Canada and abroad. The fact that Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is quite challenging to the teams and the drivers tends to produce a very exciting if not historically memorable event."

Mr. Bernie Ecclestone, CEO of the Formula One group stated today on behalf of FOA: "I am very satisfied with the agreement reached with Octane Racing Group to act as promoter of the FORMULA 1 GRAND PRIX DU CANADA. François Dumontier and his team have all the necessary knowledge to deliver a great event to the North American fans and make a success of the return to Montréal of the FIA Formula One World Championship."

In recent months, Octane has established itself as the most experienced team in Canada in motorsport event promotions. François Dumontier, President of Octane, has been involved at the highest level of the FORMULA 1 GRAND PRIX DU CANADA for much of the past 15 years and has gathered a team with a unique expertise to promote and organize such events.

Octane wishes to acknowledge the efforts of the Governments of Canada and Québec, the City of Montréal and Tourisme-Montréal and thank Mr. Ecclestone and the F1 Commercial Rights Holder for their confidence. "We especially see our agreement with the F1 Commercial Rights Holder as a great opportunity to demonstrate our capacity to be up to a great challenge, but also to help confirm the status of Montréal as one of the great venues for Formula 1 racing", also added François Dumontier.

Spectators who have attended the FORMULA 1 GRAND PRIX DU CANADA since 1978 have witnessed an impressive record of five first career wins by Formula 1 drivers starting with the inaugural race in 1978 with Gilles Villeneuve, then in 1989 with Thierry Boutsen, 1995 with Jean Alesi, 2007 with Lewis Hamilton and finally in 2008 with Robert Kubica.

Media information: For Octane Racing Group // Normand Prieur // 450 492-6963 / 514 836-6963 //

IZOD INDYCAR Series News & Notes... Danica re-signs with Andretti

1.      Patrick re-signs with Andretti Autosport

2.      Franchitti, Hildebrand named to All-America Team

3.      Tickets for St. Petersburg event on sale Dec. 4

1. Patrick re-signs with Andretti Autosport: With the backdrop of New York's Times Square, Danica Patrick unveiled the car she will race in the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series on ABC's "Good Morning America."

"We've got the new IndyCar Go Daddy car for Andretti Autosport here," Patrick said. "Go Daddy has been part of our car for the last three years, but now we've got them as the primary sponsor. With these bright colors, you can't miss me."

Andretti Autosport announced Nov. 30 that Go Daddy, the world's largest domain name registrar and Web hosting provider, had signed a multi-year primary sponsorship agreement with the team and Patrick had signed a new multi-year deal to be the driver of the team's #7 Go Daddy IZOD IndyCar Series entry.

"All of us at Andretti Autosport are looking forward to having Danica back with the team and are excited about working with (Go Daddy CEO and Founder) Bob Parsons and everyone at Go Daddy as the primary sponsor on Danica's car," said team owner Michael Andretti, who helped Patrick unveil the black and neon green-liveried car. "Go Daddy brings a lot of energy to our team and to the IZOD IndyCar Series. We're very excited about the opportunity to work with them in 2010 and beyond."

Patrick joined Andretti Autosport before the start of the 2007 season and became the first woman to win an IZOD IndyCar Series event at the Indy Japan 300 in 2008. She finished third in the 2009 Indianapolis 500 -- bettering the fourth-place mark she established during her breakout 2005 season. Patrick also drove to a career-best fifth-place finish in this year's IZOD IndyCar Series championship.

"Michael Andretti has helped me become a better driver, and we hope to accomplish a great deal during the next few years together, "Patrick said. "Bob Parsons and Go Daddy have believed in me from the start. You know, my lifelong goal is to win the Indy 500, and I'd love to do that in the car."

Go Daddy is a leading provider of services that enable individuals and businesses to establish, maintain and evolve an online presence. Go Daddy provides a variety of domain name registrar plans and Web site design and Web hosting packages, as well as a broad array of on-demand services. Go Daddy is also well-known for its Super Bowl commercials, in which Patrick has been featured three straight years.

"Danica is the quintessential Go Daddy Girl," Parsons said. "Danica is a beautiful woman competing in a male-dominated sport. She's passionate. She's focused. She's all about doing what it takes to win and we love that about her. Not to mention she's edgy, smokin' hot and as tough as any competitor anywhere. We are very good together."

As part of its continuing relationship with Andretti Autosport, Go Daddy provided the team with a redesigned company Web site, which was also launched Nov. 30 at

2. Franchitti, Hildebrand named to All-America Team: 2009 IZOD IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti and 2009 Firestone Indy Lights champion J.R. Hildebrand were among the seven drivers honored with first-team honors on the 2009 American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association's All-America team.

Franchitti, who won five races and the IndyCar Series championship in his return to the series after a year in NASCAR, earned his second first-team honor by earning the most votes in the open-wheel category. Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves earned the second-team honors in the voting of more than 300 members of the media.

Hildebrand, who won four races en route to the Firestone Indy Lights title, was the top vote-getter in the at-large category. It's the second time Hildebrand has been named to the All-America First team. He also was a selection in 2006 after winning the F2000 Championship.

Franchitti and Hildebrand, along with the rest of the first team - NASCAR Sprint Cup star Mark Martin, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Ron Hornaday Jr., NHRA Top Fuel Champ Tony Schumacher, Rolex Sports Car Series co-champs Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney and World of Outlaws titlist Donnie Schatz - will be honored at the 40th AARWBA banquet Jan. 16 in Brownsburg, Ind.

The winner of the Jerry Titus Award, which is awarded to the top vote-getter over the seven categories, also will be announced at the banquet.

3. Tickets for St. Petersburg event on sale Dec. 4: Tickets for the 2010 Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, featuring five racing series headlined by the IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights go on sale Dec. 4.

The three-day racing event, scheduled for March 26-28 on the streets of downtown St. Petersburg, features five unique racing. In addition to the featured classes, the SPEED World Challenge, including both GT and Touring classes also returns while the Star Mazda Championship and the U.S. F2000 National Championship will debut on the 1.8-mile temporary circuit that includes a combination of adjacent downtown streets circling Pioneer Park, the Bayfront Center and extending onto runways at Albert Whitted Airport that overlook the Bay and picturesque St. Petersburg Harbor and Marina.

 "The 2010 schedule at the Honda Grand Prix is packed with exciting racing," said Tim Ramsberger, vice president and general manager of the event. "We have kept our ticket prices at the same level for the past four years and we are looking forward to staging another great event in St. Petersburg this March."

Tickets for the event range in price from $25 for adult general admissions tickets to $110 for an adult three-day reserved seat pass. Three-day general admission passes are $45 and a general admission ticket for Sunday's featured races is $40. Reserved seat for Sunday range from $60 for seats in the lower rows to $80 for seats in the upper rows and three-day reserved seat passes start at $85. Reduced rate tickets are available for juniors, ages 12 and under, in certain ticket categories.

Race fans purchasing a three-day reserved seat ticket, purchased by December 31, 2009, will also receive an IZOD IndyCar paddock pass, valued at $55. To purchase tickets, visit

Media Contacts:
John Griffin, Indy Racing League, (317) 492-6579,
Amy Konrath, Indy Racing League, (317) 492-6453,
World Wide Web:

Tuesday is World AIDS Day

At a news conference tomorrow morning, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and AIDS activists in Pittsburgh will remind people there is still a problem right here in Allegheny County.

Kathi Boyle, Executive Director of the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force says 93 new cases were diagnosed last year, but 25% of people with HIV don't know they are positive. Those who don’t know they have HIV are responsible for 70% of new infections each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control, so it’s important for everyone to be tested.

Free, confidential testing is always available at the AIDS Task Force in East Liberty and other locations. Tomorrow, the Allegheny County Health Department mobile testing unit will be at 4th and Grant Steet from 10 to 5. Boyle says both UPMC and Allegheny General offer free treatment and medications that are either free or at a reduced rate.

With early treatment, Boyle says people with HIV can live long lives.

Taking suggestions on two things

We're going to run our monthly national poll this weekend, even though it's only been three weeks since the last one.

So I'm looking for your suggestions on two things:

-Outside the box questions. Last month we asked about whether people thought ACORN stole the election. In the past we've asked about things like whether the Government should stay out of Medicare and whether people think Obama is the anti-Christ. We like to get a few of that type of question on every survey.

-The 4th Republican. We'll continue to take a monthly look at Mike Huckabee (which should be very interesting this week), Sarah Palin, and Mitt Romney and we've been switching up the fourth Republican on a month to month basis. I'll take nominations for the next 24 hours and then let you vote on it- anyone but Ron Paul, since we did him on the last poll.

IN VIVO Blog's Deals of the Year 2009: The Race for the Roger

Oscar, Schmoscar. It's the Race for the Roger

Welcome to the beginning of the second annual IN VIVO Blog Deal of the Year competition. It's bigger and better than ever before! Not familiar with the 2008 DOTY competition? Read all about it here (start at the bottom and work your way up, if you like suspense).

Starting later this week we'll be nominating deals in multiple categories: one for financing related deals and two M&A/alliance-dominated categories. Once all the nominees have been posted for each category we'll open up the voting for you, our dear readership, to decide the winners. Voting will stay open for a couple weeks over the holiday season and we'll announce our winners (and provide them a forum for an acceptance speech, naturally) in early January.

Public Hearing Held On Proposed Student Fair Share Tax

Pittsburgh City Council today held a public hearing on the proposed 1% student fair share tax. Over 100 hundred students from Pittsburgh Colleges and Universities packed the Council Chambers and spoke out against the proposed tax. City Councilman Jim Motznik addressed the students before the hearing began and told them that Pittsburgh is only targeting them because the non-profits and universities in the city are not giving their fair share. Councilwoman Darlene Harris shared that sentiment saying that she doesn't want to have to tax students but has to find a way to fill the $15 million budget gap. Students who spoke at the hearing tried to paint a picture of a future Pittsburgh with less students attending college as a result of the tax. Many students spoke about how education is a right and not a privilege. University of Pittsburgh Student Government Association board member Charles Shull says it is obvious to him that Pittsburgh has mishandled its budget and is taking it out on students.

Council is set to take a preliminary vote on the measure December 9th and final vote on December 15th. The proposed student fair share tax is Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's attempt to fill a $15 million budget gap to fund the city's ailing pension fund. The proposed tax would apply to any student that attends a university or college in Pittsburgh and would vary student by student depending on the amount of their tuition. City Council is split on the legislation but currently has enough support to approve it by a 5-4 vote. Riefenstahl's budget, which included the proposed tax, was shot down by the state appointed Inter Governmental Cooperation Authority. The Mayor has urged members of Council to approve the tax even though questions on the tax's legality abound.

Why Harry Reid's position may not be quite as bad as it looks

There is no doubt Harry Reid is in a pretty precarious position for reelection next year, but his situation may not be quite as bad as recent polling suggests.

That's because Nevada was the most poorly polled swing state in 2008 and the error all skewed in a Republican direction. Only one pollster (congratulations AP!) ever showed Obama up by his 12 point margin of victory. Only two others (Zogby and Suffolk) even came within four points of getting Obama's margin right and most (including us) were off by 7-8 points.

The three polling companies that have been most active in Nevada this year, showing Reid's vulnerability, have been Research 2000 (underestimated Obama by 7 last year) and Mason Dixon and Rasmussen (underestimated Obama by 8 points.)

I don't know if any of them have changed anything about their Nevada polling after last year, but if not it's possible that Democratic performance in the state is still being shortchanged by the polls.

Nevada is the only closely contested state I can think of last year where the pollsters were not only pretty universally off, but also pretty universally all off in the same direction. When we went back after the election to see where we went wrong it seemed like the culprit was significantly under measuring Obama's share of the Hispanic vote. Nevada is also one of the fastest growing states in the country and that could trip up pollsters as well, especially ones like us who sample based on past voting history.

Just something to keep in mind on the Reid polling.

"Cyber Monday"

Today is “Cyber Monday”—a designation originating a few years ago when consumers returning after Thanksgiving to their speedy work computers caused a huge spike in online holiday sales.

Actually, according to Duquesne University Marketing Professor Audrey Guskey, online shopping will be pretty steady from now on, but the busiest days will be from December 5th through the 14th, when there's still plenty of time to receive delivery before Christmas. And "Black Friday" is not usually the biggest day for traditional retailers--instead, the Saturday and Sunday before Christmas see the highest sales volumes.

Guskey says more than half of online retailers expect their holiday numbers to be up at least 15% this year—the one bright spot in a landscape where brick and mortar sales are expected to be either flat or slightly down.

Even with the huge growth in e-commerce, Guskey says it’s only 8% of holiday sales—most shopping is still done in stores where decorations, music and crowds contribute to the holiday mood.

Canadian Roger Slack Returns to Short-Track Racing with World Racing Group

CONCORD, N.C. - The World Racing Group is pleased to announce that Roger Slack, the 2007 National Sprint Car Promoter of the Year and the 2007 World of Outlaws Late Model Series Promoter of the Year, has joined its management team as Executive Vice President of Events.

Slack, 35, grew up in the motorsports industry at his family owned and operated speedway in Ontario. He eventually worked with several legends of promotion, including H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler and Glenn Donnelly. Whether it was organizing his first race at only 6 years old, becoming a flagger for some of racing's biggest events by the time he was 14, or paying his way through college by promoting demolition derbies, Slack has been witness to some of the greatest motorsports promotion in history.

“We are excited to have Roger come on board at World Racing Group,” said CEO Brian Carter. “We have been working hard for the fans and competitors to create spectacular events like the World Finals, the DIRTcar Nationals, the All-Star Weekend, and so many others. Roger's experience will be instrumental in furthering our efforts.”

Most recently, Slack oversaw events at Lowe's Motor Speedway, from the Summer Shootout to Monster Truck shows to NASCAR events and pre-race extravaganzas. He organized and promoted every event at The Dirt Track @ Lowe's Motor Speedway from its inception in 2000 through August 2008, including the Colossal and World Finals.

“Through my experience with Glenn Donnelly and The Dirt Track @ Lowe's Motor Speedway, I've worked on many DIRTcar and World of Outlaws events in my career, from Super DIRT Week to the World Finals,” said Slack, a native of York, Ontario, who resides in Huntersville, N.C. “The World Racing Group's unique mix of marquis events, premier national tours and grassroots dirt track racing is exactly what I was looking for as I make my return to short-track promotion.”

About World Racing Group, Inc.: World Racing Group, Inc., a sports entertainment company, is a world leader in the sanctioning and promotion of dirt track auto racing. WRG, based in Concord, N.C., owns and operates the three highest profile national touring series for dirt track racing in the United States: The World of Outlaws® Sprint Car Series, The World of Outlaws Late Model Series(SM), The Super DIRTcar Series(TM). World Racing Group sanctions more than 4,900 local and regional dirt track racing events in the United States and Canada at 126 tracks each year under the DIRTcar(TM) Racing brand. In addition, World Racing Group owns and/or operates six premier dirt track speedways. WRG races can be heard online at

From World Racing Group | 7575-D Westwinds Blvd. | Concord | NC | 28027

Rendell Again Urges Lawmakers to Pass Table Games Bill

Governor Rendell says legislative leaders have all but agreed on a 16 percent tax on table games in Pennsylvania casinos. He’s urging the General Assembly to send a bill to his desk in the coming weeks. Rendell says the tax would include a share for counties and municipalities hosting casinos.
Spokesmen for House Democratic leaders say negotiations are “in the ballpark” of the sixteen percent rate, but that details might change as talks continue. Under one plan being discussed, municipalities would receive one percent of casino’s table games profits, and counties would also get a one percent levy.
Rendell says he’s talked to legislative leaders about whether or not the bill would increase the number of slot machines allowed at “resort casinos,” or whether the state would issue more category three licenses.

"I said if they wanted to expand, I would sign the bill. That’s not a deal breaker for me. That’s up to them, but they have to get this done. They have to get this done when they return on the seventh of December. They simply have to get this done."

However, a month ago the governor said he wanted the bill on his desk November 9th when the legislature returned from an election recess, and lawmakers ignored that date.

Rendell has refused to sign a bill authorizing funding to state-related universities until table games legislation passes. This year’s budget relies on 200 million dollars from the

Pitt Group Helps Vets With Facial Injuries

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of medicine have picked up $1.6 million to perfect a fat grafting technique that the team hopes will help wounded soldiers return to a more normal life. Associate professor of surgery J. Peter Rubin is the head of the team awarded the Department of Defense grant. The doctors will use new regenerative tissue technologies and new medical instruments to transfer fat from one part of the patient’s body to his or her face. Rubin says, “As many as 26 percent of wounded soldiers suffer some kind of facial injury, which can have a huge impact on quality of life. While we can reconstruct bony structures very well, it is the surrounding soft tissues that give people a recognizable face. This project will investigate how soft tissue grafting can more precisely restore facial form and improve the lives of our wounded soldiers.” Rubin says the wounds received in combat are often very destructive involving shrapnel and burns. Rubin says the underlying tissue is often very scared and the work is done in “tight spots.” That leads to the need for new techniques and interments. About 20 patients will be treated in Pittsburgh under this grant. Doctors at military hospitals will then be taught the techniques and eventually offer the reconstructive work to more veterans. The first surgeries will be performed in January. The team of doctors doing the work includes a psychiatrist to help the patients with the transition and measure the impact the injuries and the new surgeries have on returning vets.

A-Rod is No. 1 at something...

Alex Rodriguez may not have gotten MVP honors this postseason. And he didn't get Sportsman of the Year. But he did beat all his baseball cohorts at one big thing. According to, A-Rod is the "most-asked about baseball athlete" on their site this year. Here's the complete list:

1. Alex Rodriguez

2. Tim Lincecum

3. Manny Ramirez

4. Derek Jeter

5. Chase Utley

6. Roy Halladay

7. Cliff Lee

8. Albert Pujols

9. Jacoby Ellsbury

10. Hideki Matsui


I'm not the least bit surprised A-Rod is No. 1. What does surprise me is that Jacoby Ellsbury is on the list, and not, say David Ortiz. And that Joe Mauer didn't make the top 10 searched-for.

The Incredibles tops Your Favourite Pixar poll

Results of our latest poll...

We've been running a poll on the site lately to coincide with Trevor Hogg's comprehensive (and most excellent) profile on Pixar Animation Studios, asking for your favourite from their incredible back-catalogue of CG wonders. Well, the results are finally in and The Incredibles stands as the clear winner with 19% of the 398 responses opting for Brad Bird's 2004 superhero comedy ahead of WALL-E and Ratatouille in second and third.

Meanwhile merchandising bohemoth Cars (with estimated merchandising sales of $5 billion) was the only film not to break double-figures in terms of votes. Check out the full results below:

Pixar The IncrediblesYour Favourite Pixar...

The Incredibles (2004) - 19%
WALL-E (2008) - 17%
Ratatouille (2007) - 15%
Up (2009) - 10%
Monsters, Inc. (2001) - 10%
Finding Nemo (2003) - 10%
Toy Story (1995) - 8%
Toy Story 2 (1999) - 3%
A Bug's Life (1998) - 2%
Cars (2006) - 2%

Thanks to everyone for taking the time to vote.

Changing of the Guard in Health Care Fraud

Michael Loucks, the single most prominent figure in the wave of pharmaceutical industry health care fraud prosecutions over the past decade, has left the US Attorney’s office in Boston after almost 25 years.

As we report in “The Pink Sheet” DAILY, Nov. 25 was Loucks’ last day in the office; he is taking leave time until his official last day on the job, Dec. 19. For most of his career, Loucks has focused on health care fraud prosecutions, helping to establish Boston and its health care fraud unit as the center of industry investigations and settlement activity.

Loucks was most recently First Assistant US Attorney, and served as acting US Attorney upon the resignation of Michael Sullivan in April. Loucks’ departure follows the confirmation of Carmen Ortiz as the new US Attorney for Massachusetts.

It is hard to overstate the impact Loucks has had on the pharmaceutical industry. Consider the ramifications of the first blockbuster case Loucks brought: the prosecution of TAP Pharmaceuticals at the start of the decade. The case focused on the marketing of Lupron and inducements tied to the incentives built into the Medicare reimbursement system for physician administered drugs. The case was settled in 2001 for a then-record sum of $875 million—with evidence gathered from a top executive turned whistleblower, supplemented by tapes of sales pitches, recorded by physicians who had turned state’s evidence.

That certainly got the attention of lots of folks in industry.

The settlement demonstrated that pharmaceutical industry sponsors could be successfully prosecuted under the False Claims Act, introduced the industry to the realities of operating under formal compliance programs, and helped spur legislation to reform the payment system under Medicare Part B. In other words, it helped change the rules of commercial success in the biopharma business.

And it did more than that. The size of the settlement—and especially the nine-figure payment to the TAP whistleblower—helped ensure that industry investigations would become an almost self-sustaining exercise, setting up health care fraud prosecutions as a kind of parallel regulatory system for industry. It also led to the reality for industry today, where (as we put it in “The Pink Sheet”) if you aren’t under investigation, it is because you already settled.

The TAP case was followed by other landmark settlements, like the Neurontin case—which emphatically demonstrated that off-label promotion can be successfully prosecuted despite assertions that FDA’s rules infringe First Amendment rights. The policy response to that case remains very much a work in progress—but only because the implications are so far reaching. (We outlined the issues in The RPM Report, here.)

Loucks is leaving the US Attorney shortly after his office set yet another record for a settlement, recovering $2.3 billion from Pfizer for marketing practices related to Bextra and a handful of other products. As has been the pattern, the case did more than recover money. It drove important changes in Pfizer’s business practices—for instance, the company bowed out of funding continuing medical education activities as the investigation unfolded. And it dovetails with broader policy change by starting to define rules for disclosure of relationships with health care professionals that we suspect will soon be codified by legislation.

No Short Term Impact

Will Loucks’ departure mean any changes in the climate for prosecutions of pharmaceutical companies in the year to come?

In the short term, the answer is almost certainly, “no.” Loucks hasn’t been directly responsible for health care fraud cases in Boston for several years; a large and experienced team of prosecutors remains in place, and it will presumably be business as usual.

It also seems unlikely that the Obama Administration is going to rein in fraud prosecutions; quite the opposite, if the tough talk about fraud and abuse in Medicare is any guide.
And if you think Loucks was some kind of anti-industry zealot, think again. You should have seen the jaws drop when Loucks told The RPM Report’s FDA/CMS Summit in 2007 that he considers himself a conservative Republican and believes, generally speaking, that government intrusion in people’s lives is a bad thing that should be kept to a minimum. (Read more here.)

His successor, Ortiz, was recommended by Massachusetts’ two Democratic Senators (John Kerry and the late Ted Kennedy), so if anything you might expect a more interventionist tone at the top. And there is no reason to expect broad ranging disruptions at the AUSA level: Ortiz herself was an assistant US Attorney, having served in the Boston office since 1997.

But there may indeed be reasons to think the wave of health care fraud prosecutions from Boston is cresting. Ortiz’ focus has been on economic fraud; her list of the 10 most important cases in her career (submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee as part of the confirmation process) includes telemarketing scams and pyramid schemes—but nary a health care case.
Ortiz is certainly unlikely to slow down the pipeline of pending investigations of health care fraud. But given that she got the job in the midst of an economic crisis, it seems safe to speculate that the priorities at the top may start to shift towards financial cases in the years to come.

Full Impact TBD

But those changes won’t happen overnight, and in the meantime we expect Loucks’ legacy will continue to be defined.

In economic terms, health care fraud prosecutions are lagging indicators. National headlines about record-breaking settlements come only after years of investigation, and inevitably involve assertions by the settling firm that the conduct involved is in the distant past, and does not affect current practice. And that is always true (though sometimes the “distant” past is not so distant, as in the Pfizer case where the allegations included activities as recent as October 2008.)

The pipeline of pending cases in Boston will no doubt include a number of other important settlements with significant commercial and policy implications. There’s just no way to know yet what they are.

Indeed, the last settlement announced under Loucks’ name—involving the long term care pharmacy provider Omnicare and the generic drug manufacturer Ivax—was relatively small and focused on a narrow market segment, but sure seems to suggest some huge cases to come (as we pointed out here.)

So it is still several years too early to even try to quantify the full impact of Loucks’ tenure on the biopharma sector. But this much we know: it is a big impact, and we don’t think it will look any smaller in the years to come.

VP Racing Fuels Named Official Fuel Supplier of the PRI/CKI All-Star Karting Classic

PHOENIX, AZ (November 30, 2009) – Championship Karting International is pleased to announce that VP Racing Fuels has been named Official Fuel Supplier for the upcoming PRI/CKI All-Star Karting Classic, scheduled December 10th during the PRI show at the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) in Orlando, FL. This marks the fourth straight year VP has been the Fuel sponsor for the event, in which competitors will be powered by VP’s MS98L racing fuel. In addition, VP was the official fuel sponsor for CKI’s inaugural season this year.

“VP Racing Fuels has been a great partner for us all year, we’re glad to continue the relationship at the PRI/CKI All-Star Karting Classic and into the future,” states Kevin Williams, CKI’s Director of Operations. “VP is a leader in the world of Motorsports, a familiar face providing a top notch product. They’re another ‘piece of the puzzle’ that makes the PRI/CKI All-Star Karting Classic one of the most anticipated events each and every year.”

"We're proud to be the Official Racing Fuel of both CKI and the All-Star Karting Classic," said Bruce Hendel, VP’s Western Regional Manager. "VP’s fuels are among the most sought after in kart racing--a critically important segment of the industry which provides the foundation from which many young racers advance their racing careers. The PRI Show and All-Star Karting Classic together provide a great opportunity to remind those in the motorsports community of VP's involvement not only in karting, but across all segments of the racing industry. With nearly 70 blends of fuel for every conceivable racing application, VP's passion for racing and dedication to research and development is clearly unsurpassed."

Now in its fourth year, the PRI/CKI All-Star Karting Classic has become a highlight of the PRI show, attracting top Drivers from NASCAR, IndyCar, NHRA, ALMS, Grand-Am, and motorcycle racing who return to their karting roots to the delight of up to 5,000 fans and motorsports industry insiders outside the OCCC. The Event also provides the perfect showcase for a strong contingent of the rising stars from kart racing to share the spotlight with their heroes and role models. Rising young talents Matt Jaskol (2006 Karter Division Winner), Gary Carlton (2007 Karter Division winner) and Joel Miller (2008 Karter Division winner) are just a few of the sports young superstars in the wings to have used the event as a sneak preview to future Motorsports success.

After PRI, CKI will gear up for the 2010 season. It will be offering two series in 2010: a three-event 2010 WSK North American Series Florida Cup in January, February, and March and a six-event 2010 WSK North American Series National Championship with events beginning in April and running through October. CKI is associated with the European-based WSK international series. The debut of WSK North America in 2010 marks WSK’s expansion, in conjunction with CKI, into the North American karting community. The Series is sanctioned by the World Karting Association, under the WSK banner. For more information, visit

In addition to its official fuel sponsorship of CKI, VP Racing Fuels is the Official Racing Fuel of NHRA Championship Drag Racing, IHRA, American Drag Racing League (ADRL), American LeMans, Atlantic Championship, Star Mazda and The Off Road Championship (TORC) series, among many others.

In addition to fuels, VP’s product line includes performance chemicals, specialty lubricants and traction compounds–each designed to produce the most power and best performance in their respective racing applications. More information can be obtained from VP’s website –

GOP keeping up advantage with independents

Earlier this month Republicans won the contests for Governor of New Jersey and Virginia, thanks in large part to overwhelming margins of victory among independents.

There's no indication from the polling we've done in the four weeks since the election that the trend will change in 2010. In five out of six races we've looked at in Arkansas, Missouri, North Carolina, and Wisconsin the likely Republican nominee continues to hold a double digit lead with independents:


Republican Margin w/Independents

Wisconsin Governor

Scott Walker up 43-28 vs. Tom Barrett

North Carolina Senate

Richard Burr up 51-30 vs. Generic Dem


Tim Griffin up 49-34 vs. Vic Snyder

Missouri Senate

Roy Blunt up 44-32 vs. Robin Carnahan

Arkansas Senate

Gilbert Baker up 47-25 vs. Blanche Lincoln

The one exception is the Wisconsin Senate race where Russ Feingold leads with independents against all three of the Republicans we tested against him.

Of course it's always worth keeping in mind with independents that they have a structural lean toward the GOP, particularly with Republican id levels hitting new lows in some polls, because far more of them are conservatives than liberals:













North Carolina








That said, there's no doubt it will be a brutal year for Democrats if they can't perform better with independent voters, and in the month following losses in New Jersey and Virginia there's no indication they're getting it turned around.

Basketball: County and Valley in a Doubleheader with a Twist as Vikes and Raiders to Play at Verizon

(Nov. 30, 2009) - The county's two oldest basketball rivals -- Loudoun County which opened in 1954 and Loudoun Valley which opened in 1962 -- will face each other in a boys/girls doubleheader on Dec. 22 with a twist as the Raiders and Vikings will play at the Verizon Center prior to a Wizards home game.

In cooperation with Home Care for the Cure, an organization which works to eliminate deaths

One columnist (not me!) thinks A-Rod, not Jeter, should be Sportsman of the Year

As had been rumored, Sports Illustrated named Derek Jeter today as their Sportsman of the Year. I think it was a great choice. Funny thing is, though - New York Post columnist Joel Sherman doesn't. He thinks the award should have gone to Alex Rodriguez.

Sherman wrote this in his blog entry about the Jeter rumors:
Alex Rodriguez should be the Sportsman of the Year. Before you hit me with how that title should go to someone who embodies the best in sports let’s remember that both Pete Rose and Mark McGwire have won the award, and before long we might remember that Tiger Woods has won twice.

Jeter has a brilliant year in which he became the all-time Yankees’ hit leader while remaining a high-level star who wears his pinstripes well on and off the field.

But sports are publicly messier these days, and we should not run away from that.
Heck, the initial broken story on Rodriguez’s steroid use was published by Sports Illustrated. He also touches on the advancement of sports medicine as he came back successfully from significant hip surgery months after undergoing the operation. And he was again a great player, this time finally in the postseason, as well.

In the end, A-Rod offers a story of second chances and redemption. He was a better teammate and was rewarded with the most positive feedback yet as a person while scoring that elusive championship.
Go here to read more of his reasoning, and how he wonders why Jeter is any more of a Sportsman of the Year than Mariano Rivera is.

I didn't even think there was any chance SI would pick A-Rod - the player they outed as a steroids user - as Sportsman of the Year. It seemed incongruous to me with what SI says the award is supposed to be about. So I think the Jeter selection is fine. As SI explains it:
It was that combination of on- and off-field achievement that helped make Jeter this year's Sportsman. Said Sports Illustrated Group Editor Terry McDonell, "Derek Jeter has always presented himself with class; he does numerous good works for the community with his Turn 2 Foundation, which is one of the most efficient, effective foundations of its kind; and he's extremely generous with not just his money but with his time, which in many cases is more valuable. He also had another signature year on the field."

That being said, I see Sherman's point about how "sports in 2009 are no longer just about the games, and Rodriguez touches on so many of those other important elements while remaining a unique athlete." There is something to be said for the flawed hero being a role model in his own way.

A-Rod has gotten more grief than any other active baseball player I can think of. Yes, more than Barry Bonds when he was playing - at least Giants fans didn't boo their own player. Yet Rodriguez, after hitting rock bottom, thoroughly redeemed himself, and had one of the greatest postseasons ever. One of the more moving things in the World Series film is when, after the Yankees won the series, A-Rod hugs Joe Girardi and literally weeps in his arms. Rodriguez may not be Sportsman of the Year material, but his story is inspirational in its own way.

It's why I'm so happy to see Vince Young getting his chance to shine this year with the Titans. He, too, hit rock bottom - getting benched in favor of Kerry Collins must have been hard to swallow, especially when the Collins-led Titans went 0-6 this year. Yet VY, after Tennessee owner Bud Adams finally demanded he get to play, has made the most of his opportunity, going 5-0, capped with a thrilling last-second victory against Rose Bowl nemesis Matt Leinart and the Cardinals yesterday. VY hasn't done everything right over the years, but the fact that he's flawed makes him more accessible. 

In today's sports world, there's room for both the Jeters and the A-Rods, the Bradys and the Youngs.  And that's a good thing.

What do you think? Tell us about it!


Kennesaw, Ga. -- November 30, 2009 -- KRC has extended its line of pulley systems for the all new CT525. They now have two new kits available, a water pump only drive kit and a front mounted power steering pump kit. The water pump that comes on the CT525 has no provision for a mechanical fan to attach.
KRC's kit replaces the water pump with a clockwise rotation Stewart Pro Series water pump. Also included is a KRC idler-tensioner to keep proper belt tension and prevent belt slippage when using a mechanical fan. In addition, a R-LOK crank adapter and pulley, Pro Series water pump pulley, water bypass fittings and hose kit, water pump fittings, water pump spacers, belt, hardware and spacers and installation instructions are all included. Front mounted pump kit includes an aluminum KRC pump with 45° bolt-on tank and head mounting bracket. Alternator Add-On Kit available separately and fit either kit. KRC also has engine mounts and a breather system just for the CT525.
Visit for more information.

Johnstown Artwork to Close for Winter

The Art Works in Johnstown center is temporarily closing on Dec. 1 to furnish the building green features and other much needed amenities. The Art Works center’s goals are to provide an affordable studio place for artists to create and sell art. Also, it strives to bring more culture to the Johnstown region.
Over the winter, Johnstown Art Works Director Theresa Gay Rohall says they will complete a $1 million construction phase to the 19th century building. Phase 3a will focus on interior needs. This includes preparing for and building a living roof, framing the shell of the second story, which will hold offices, a kitchen and a classroom. Also, plumbing and a bathroom will be installed during this phase. Rohall says they currently use running water and a bathroom at the neighboring building. The welcoming gallery and entrance will also be finished.
Rohall says the exterior was redesigned in a previous phase. She expects the Art Works to reopen in the spring, either in April or May. There will be one more phase after phase 3a is completed. She says they will seek a Gold LEED certification when construction is done. It will be the first building in Cambria County to have a living roof, and the first green building in the city of Johnstown.

While You Were Eating Leftovers ...

As you shake off your turkey-induced coma and try to forget about your miserable fantasy football performance and another burgeoning financial crisis, we welcome you back to the working world.

Aaand unless you're really affected by tryptophan or were hanging out in Tiger Woods' SUV, you probably know that not a whole lot happened in our neck of the woods.

While you were putting up with your in-laws ...

image from flickr user sniffette used under a creative commons license.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

College Corner: Area Football Players Make Their Marks with Brown and Tracy Leading the Way

(Nov. 29, 2009) - Stone Bridge High School grad Devon "Y'Lou" Brown wrapped up an impressive redshirt sophomore campaign at Wake Forest with eight receptions for 82 yards and two touchdowns in the Demon Deacons season-ending 45-34 win over Duke on Saturday.

Wake Forests ends with a 5-7 record that easily could have been 10-2 as the team lost two overtime games (Boston College, Georgia Tech) and

I Sat Through That? #21 - The Transporter (2002)

In which Gerry Hayes considers Rule One: Anything where Statham’s driving...

The Transporter, 2002.

The TransporterDirected by Corey Yuen.
Starring Jason Statham, Qi Shu, Matt Schulze.
Written by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen.

You know, I almost don’t want to include The Transporter in this series. Oh there’s no doubt that it’s drivel but the thing is, it doesn’t really pretend to be anything else. It’s brainless entertainment with no other purpose or pretences. It’s essentially just a bunch of coloured lights and noises designed to keep people gawping for an hour and a half instead of going out, getting pissed and picking a fight with someone smaller. The Transporter isn’t trying to be high-brow or to ‘say something’. It’s not trying to ‘work on a number of levels’ (it barely has one) and, for all of these reasons, I’m a little reluctant to include it here.

That said, I saw it recently and, my god, it’s rubbish.

Jason Statham (now pretty much typecast as ‘that bloke who drives stuff’) plays Frank Martin, an ex-special forces hard man, retired to the south of France. There, he makes ends meet by driving stuff about. He’s essentially a sort of taxi cum courier service but with added hardness.

He has a BMW of which he’s geekily proud. He’s even installed a fake looking keypad to immobilise the car and make sure fares can’t shoot him and drive off. He’s no-muss-no-fuss and he’s the coolest guy ever to don a pair of driving gloves.

Everything’s going swimmingly until Frank gets hired by a bad guy called Wall Street (Schulze). You can tell immediately he’s a bad guy as he’s all cocky and mental. If you met him in real life, you’d say “well, this bloke has a job for me but he looks a bit like the sort who would double-cross me and probably try to kill me in some cruel, inventive manner - I might pass”.

Mr. Street gives Frank a ‘package’ to deliver. Frank pops off happily with the package in the boot/trunk (I’m catering to audiences on both sides of the Atlantic there - did you notice?).

Frank’s curiosity, however, gets the better of him and he breaks his own, self-imposed rule about not looking in the package and he looks in the package. Inside he finds a girl, Lai (Qi Shu). It’s about here that the stupidest thing you have ever seen happens. Not just the stupidest thing you’ve ever seen in a film but the stupidest thing you’ve seen anywhere, ever:

Lai tells Frank she needs to visit the little girl’s room. Frank, who earlier in the film, didn’t mind bank-robber brains all over his car, gets all squeamish at the thought of a bit of girl-pee in it and lets her wander off into the woods, far out of sight, to do her filthy business. A lesser man might worry that she would take the opportunity to run off. Frank, however, has the benefit of his Special Forces training which has thought him that draping the end of a long rope, loosely, about his prisoner’s shoulders will allow her to wander two hundred feet into the woods, out of sight, with little or no hope of escape.

I won’t spoil things by telling how this - seemingly flawless - plan worked out.

The film goes on in a pretty similar vein. Something ridiculous happens and then there’s a big fight. Something moronic happens and then there’s lots of shooting and rockets. Something imbecilic happens and then there’s...

...An intensely homo-erotic, oil-fight between loads of bad-guys and a bare-chested, greased-up Jason Statham. Yep, Statham - with the big guns out - gets himself all lubed-up and squelches and squirms about the floor of a bus garage with a dozen other men.

As you might expect, once he's despatched the oiled men, Statham saves the day in a manly, big-bicepsed sort of way and sits back and waits for the call about the sequel.

Personally, I’m quite looking forward to Italian Death Transporter Job IV.

Read more I Sat Through That? right here.

Gerry Hayes is a garret-dwelling writer subsisting on tea, beer and Flame-Grilled Steak flavour McCoy’s crisps. You can read about other stuff he doesn't like on his blog at or you can have easy, bite-sized bits of him at

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Football: VHSL Regional Final Scoreboard

Division 6Central: Thomas Dale 7, Hermitage 0Eastern: Oscar Smith 27 Woodside 14Northern: Lake Braddock 27, Woodson 20Northwest: Battlefield 32, Osbourn Park 27
Division 5Central: Hanover 42, Petersburg 8Eastern: Phoebus 20, Lake Taylor 19 (OT)
Northern: Stone Bridge 21, R.E. Lee 10Northwest: Massaponax 26, Osbourn 10
AADivision 4I: Powhatan 34, Chancellor 18II: Broad Run 33, Sherando 13III:

Photo Gallery by Dan "Shooter" Sousa: Football - Park View vs. Handley - Region II D3 Title Game

Click on any photo to view the gallery with 350 total photos (hey, we had sun today so I shot a lot of photos!) ... and if you purchase any photos ... the VivaLoudoun Fox will personally thank you!

Photo Gallery by Craig Sterbutzel: Football - Broad Run vs. Sherando - Region II D4 Title Game

Click on any photo to go to the gallery!

Photo Gallery by Craig Sterbutzel: Football - Stone Bridge vs. R.E. Lee - Northern Region D5 Title Game

Check out these great photos by Craig! Some perfect holiday gifts! (Hint. Hint). Go to the gallery by clicking any photo

Football: Undefeated Handley Halts Park View's Season, 33-7

By Dan Sousa Editor

Winchester (Nov. 28, 2009) - Park View High School football coach Andy Hill didn't want to make any excuses for his team's 33-7 loss to undefeated Handley Saturday in the AA Region II Division 3 title game but the Patriots, missing some of their big play weapons, simply weren't able to match the Judges firepower.

Park View (8-4) advanced to the finals on the

Should Derek Jeter be Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year? I say yes

I wrote a piece for The Faster Times pointing out that in the 55 years that Sports Illustrated has given out their Sportsman of the Year award, nobody from the New York Yankees has ever won it. Outrage! is reporting that a tipster has revealed that Derek Jeter will be getting the award this year. I think that's a great choice. Jeter is well-deserving of such an honor. And it's more than shocking that no Yankee - least of all him - has won it before.

Some Yankee fans thought Jeter deserved AL MVP this year. I thought Joe Mauer had a better season than him, so Mauer was the more worthy choice. That being said, Jeter - as captain of the Yankees, an exemplary role model, and the all-time Yankee hit king - would be a great Sportsman of the Year. The definition of the award says it should go to "the athlete or team whose performance that year most embodies the spirit of sportsmanship and achievement." As somebody who is arguably the most beloved figure in baseball, it makes sense for Jeter to get that award.

Longtime readers know I'm hardly somebody who gives Derek Jeter undeserved praise - I think he is all too often overhyped. That being said, when you think Sportsman of the Year, you think somebody who's not just a great player, but a role model. And who else fits that as well as Jeter does, with his Turn 2 Foundation and the way he conducts his life?

Mariano Rivera would also be a great choice for the award, for what he also means to baseball. And no, I don't think A-Rod should get the honor - as much as he was a huge reason the Yankees won it all this season, you can't give Sportsman of the Year to somebody who admitted earlier that year to using steroids.

But if Jeter and the Yankees are left out in the cold again this year, it will be pretty obvious that the SI anti-Yankee bias is insurmountable. Speaking of that bias, look who they featured as one of their Turkeys of the Year picks - A-Rod:

After his name was leaked from a confidental list of 104 Major Leaguers who failed tests for performance-enhancers in 2003, A-Rod made a painfully awkward confession, as his Yankee teammates looked on, to using Primobolan supplied by a "cousin." He copped to being "young, stupid and naïve" but said he didn't really know if the boli worked. He also made a bizarre claim that he had been stalked by SI writer Selena Roberts, who was working on a book about him.

Is A-Rod's steroid use fair game? Of course. But you would think the Turkey of the Year description might mention him finally shedding his postseason choker label. And while A-Rod isn't Sportsman of the Year caliber, making him "Turkey of the Year" along with Steve Phillips, Eric Mangini, Plaxico Burress, and the New York Mets is just silly.

Let's review - Phillips lost his job, Mangini has won one game and is about to lose his job, Burress is in the pokey, the Mets are in oblivion, and Rodriguez is on top of the world after getting his first World Series ring. Remember that little Sesame Street ditty, "One of These Things Is Not Like the Other Things"? Sing it, Cookie Monster!

Sport Car Club of BC: Pit Pass Newsletter (Dec. 2009)

Thanks to Peter Weedon of the Sports Car Club of BC for sending along the December 2009 edition of their Pit Pass Newsletter. Click on the cover at right to download the document.

Stolen Race Trailer... from race shop in Ancaster, Ontario

NASCAR Canadian Tire Series and Lucas Oil Sportsman Cup Equipment

To everyone,

Last night we had a 2008 Excursion Enclosed Race Trailer stolen from our shop in Ancaster Ontario. The Trailer is White in color with lettering on the trailer, Texon Tool Supply, Lucas Oil, Benson Auto Parts #24 Brennan Didero, Seals-it, Grisdale Racing Products and Mid America Motor Sports. The Trailer is a Tandem Trailer with Aluminum Wheels and a Spare Tire on the Nose with a Black Tire Cover.

Plate Number F54 00K Ontario Plates. The Trailer is full of our race parts.

If you see the Trailer please call Police right away. If you are approached over the next few weeks by anyone selling NEW or Used Race Parts, please notify me so we can see if it is on our list.

Your help is very much appreciated.

Thank you,
David A. Didero // Mid America Motorsports Inc. // Phone- 905-741-9244 //

Study Says PA's Tax Rate is Regressive

A new study says Pennsylvania's tax rate is one of the "most regressive" in the nation.
Sharon Ward of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, a liberal think tank, says that's because every commonwealth resident pays the same 3.07 percent personal income tax, no matter how much money he or she is bringing in.
Ward says that means lower earners end up paying out a much higher portion of their finances into income, sales and property taxes.
She wants lawmakers to consider charging a higher income tax rate to the wealthy, so that lower and middle-income taxpayers can catch a break. Ward says that's feasible.

"It's important to note that we're--our tax rate is much lower than the surrounding states. Our top income tax rate is much lower than New York, New Jersey, Delaware, even West Virginia. Very high income earners--people over 500,000 dollars--pay twice as much income taxes in West Virginia."

According to the data, families earning 19-thousand dollars or less are spending 11 percent of their income on taxes, compared to the 5 percent that families earning more than 1.3 million dollars are shelling out.

The national study was put together by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.

Movies... For Free! The Outlaw (1943)

"Movies... For Free!", showcasing classic movies that have fallen out of copyright and are available freely from the public domain (with streaming video!)...

The Outlaw Jane Russell Howard Hughes
The Outlaw, 1943.

Directed by Howard Hughes.
Starring Jane Russell, Jack Buetel and Thomas Mitchell.

Silver screen siren Jane Russell makes her debut in the controversial romantic western The Outlaw from legendary American industrialist and film producer Howard Hughes, who took over directing duties after an uncredited Howard Hawks left the project in favour of 1941 war biopic Sergeant York. The film centres on a fued between famed Old West gunslingers Doc Holliday (Walter Huston) and Billy the Kid (Jack Buetel) after the young outlaw seduces Holliday's girlfriend Rio (Russell), and also features Thomas Mitchell as newly appointed Lincoln, NM sheriff Pat Garrett.

Production originally wrapped in 1941, but Hughes - who had embarked on a nationwide search to find an actress with suitable 'talents' for the part of Rio - ran into major difficulties with the Motion Picture Production Code due to the film's highly sexualised content and emphasis on Russell's cleavage. After making a number of cuts the film was finally approved but Hughes decided to shelve the movie when local state censors demanded further revisions. The controversy surrounding The Outlaw (along with a provocative advertising campaign) resulted in the film becoming a box-office hit when it eventually received a general release in 1946.

Embed courtesy of Internet Archive.


His Girl Friday (1940)
Lady of Burlesque (1943)

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