Sunday, February 28, 2010

Movies... For Free! Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959)

Showcasing classic movies that have fallen out of copyright and are available freely from the public domain (with streaming video!)...

Plan 9 From Outer Space, 1959.

Directed by Edward D. Wood, Jr.
Starring Gregory Walcott, Mona McKinnon, Tor Johnson, Dudley Manlove, Vampira and Bela Lugosi.

Ed Wood's farcical sci-fi horror Plan 9 From Outer Space is routinely cited as the worst film ever to grace the screen, although its multitude of goofs, continuity problems, cheesey effects, absurd dialogue and no-budget set design have seen it gain cult status as one of the best unintentional comedies around.

Originally conceived as a vehicle to promote as Bela Lugosi's final film (the actor had died in 1956 after shooting a few minutes of footage with Woods for a horror entitled Tomb of the Vampire), the plot surrounds an alien plan (number nine, naturally) to resurrect Earth's dead as zombies. Lugosi makes only a fleeting appearance (with the remainder of his role filled out by 'lookalike' Tom Mason a.k.a. Ghoul Man with Cape Over Face) - while the cast also features Woods' regulars The Amazing Criswell and Tor Johnson alongside 50s TV horror personality Vampira.

Since being popularised in the 1980s Plan 9 has been used as the basis for an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and featured prominently in Tim Burton's biopic Ed Wood (1994), while a couple of remakes - Plan 9 and Grave Robbers From Outer Space (the film's original title) - are also in the works.

Embed courtesy of Internet Archive.

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

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Girls Basketball: Freedom's Buchanan Named Region II D4 Player of the Year

(Feb. 28, 2010) - Freedom High School senior Kelsey Buchanan was named the 2010 Region II Division 4 Player of the Year Sunday in a vote of the region coaches.

Joining Buchanan on the first team are Loudoun County's Kendra Holmes and Brittany Batts, Millbrook's Courtni Green and Fluvanna's Mia Loyd. Green was the Division 3 Player of the Year.

Freedom's Dionna Scott was named to the second team

Boys Basketball: Broad Run's McGaughey Region II D4 Player of the Year, PF's Hawes is D4 Coach of the Year

(Feb. 28, 2010) - Broad Run High School senior Kevin McGaughey was selected as the Region II Division 4 Player of the Year and Potomac Falls' Jeff Hawes, who led the Panthers to the school's first regional basketball title on Saturday night, was named the Division 4 Coach of the Year in a vote of coaches on Sunday.

Panther junior Lukas Mihailovich was named to the first team. Park View sophomore

Girls Basketball: Freedom's VHSL D4 State Quarterfinal Set for Friday at Robinson

(Feb. 28, 2010) - Freedom High School announced Sunday that the Eagles girls basketball team, a 62-33 winner over Liberty Saturday in the Region II finals, will face Courtland this Friday at 6 p.m. at Robinson High School in Fairfax in the VHSL Division 4 state quarterfinals.

While we haven't had official word on the Potomac Falls boys yet we assume that the Division 4 games will be paired which

Basketball: Complete VHSL Regional Final Scoreboard

Boys Basketball
AAA - games 3.1.10
Central Region
Petersburg vs. Thomas Dale
Eastern Region
Norcom vs. Maury
Northern Region
Langley vs. Chantilly
Northwestern Region
Patrick Henry-Roanoke vs. Gar-Field

AA Division 4
Region I
Courtland 67, Tabb 58
Region II
Potomac Falls 85, Liberty 62
Region III
Broadway 49, Spotswood 44
Region IV
Salem 63, Bassett 53

AA Division 3
Region I
Brunswick 49, New

Basketball: VHSL Division 4 Regional Finals Scoreboard

VHSL Division 4 Regional Finals
Boys Basketball
Region I
Courtland 67, Tabb 58
Region II
Potomac Falls 85, Liberty 62
Region III
Broadway 49, Spotswood 44
Region IV
Salem 63, Bassett 53

Girls Basketball
Region I
York 61, Courtland 50
Region II
Freedom-South Riding 62, Liberty 33
Region III
Spotswood 45, Turner Ashby 42
Region IV
Bassett 53, Carroll County 44

Quarterfinal Pairing, Mar. 5 or 6,

News: Weeks After Snowstorm ... Still Some Modified Bus Stops in County

Modified Bus Stops for Monday, March 1, 2010
sourcs: Loudoun County Public Schools

We greatly appreciate your patience as we enter into our third week of modified bus stops. The continued condition with the roads is not just the remaining piles if snow, but in some cases deep mud pits which are in need of large volumes of gravel. We continue to recruit the assistance of VDOT for this task.

News: 107 Students to Compete in 28th Loudoun County Spelling Bee March 4th

The 28th Annual Loudoun Regional Spelling Bee will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 4th, at Stone Bridge High School.

This event is sponsored by the Loudoun Times-Mirror.

The winner will participate in the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee to be held June 2nd through June 4th in Washington, D.C.

The 107 Spelling Bee contestants and their schools are:

All Faith Academy
Zainab Aziz

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Twin Titles! Freedom Girls and Potomac Falls Boys Crush Liberty for Region II D4 Titles

Charlottesville (Feb. 28, 2010) - It wasn't even close as both the Freedom High School girls and the Potomac Falls High School boys crushed Liberty Saturday at Monticello High School to take home to Loudoun Region II Division 4 titles.

For defending Division 3 state champion Freedom it was a second straight regional title and for Potomac Falls it was the school's first regional title since

Basketball: Freedom Girls, PFalls Boys Face Liberty Tonight in Charlottesville for Region II D4 Titles

(Feb. 27, 2010) - The Freedom High School girls and Potomac Falls High School boys basketball teams will take to the road tonight and try to bring home a pair of AA Region II Division 4 titles.

Both teams face Liberty High School in a doubleheader at neutral Monticello High School in Charlottesville (directions here). The girls tip off at 6 p.m. followed by the boys at apx. 7:45 p.m.

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Oscar Predictions!

The folks over at have kindly invited me to take part in their Oscars competition where a host of bloggers go head-to-head with the film critics to predict the winners at the 82nd Academy Awards. The rules are straightforward... one point for a correct guess, minus one point for an incorrect guess.

So, without further ado, here are my predictions...

Best Picture - Avatar

Best Director - Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker)

Best Actor - Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart)

Best Actress - Carey Mulligan (An Education)

Best Supporting Actor - Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds)

Best Supporting Actress - Mo’Nique (Precious)

Animated Feature - Up

Foreign Language Film - A Prophet

Best Original Screenplay - Inglourious Basterds

Best Adapted Screenplay - Up in the Air

Best Visual Effects - Avatar

Thanks to VoucherCodes for hosting the competition, and be sure to check out their great deals including fantastic discounts for LoveFilm, Amazon and Sky.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Responding to Lewis

The Kenneth Lewis campaign for Senate sent out a press release today accusing of us writing biased commentary against his campaign because we did a poll for Elaine Marshall more than three months ago and because my boss made a contribution to Cal Cunningham. This is about the millionth time we've been accused of bias for something or other in our history, it's just as baseless as all the other accusations, and I think our track record backs that up.

They specifically cited this post I wrote yesterday where I said I thought Cunningham and Marshall would break away from the Democratic primary field.

I do think that and I'm happy to say why. So far Marshall has raised $304,864 and spent 31% of it, leaving $211,113 on hand. Cunningham has raised $320,058 and spent only 5% of it, leaving $303,175 on hand. The Lewis campaign has actually raised the most at $327,047 but has already spent 66% of it, leaving only $116,456 on hand.

Spending two thirds of your money, without any of it having gone toward media or anything that would boost your name recognition on a broad basis, is the sign of an undisciplined campaign. It's the sign of a campaign that's spending way too much money on consultants and staff. If you've spent 2/3rds of your money by the end of January and are only polling at 5%, seven points behind a candidate who started out with similarly nonexistent name recognition and has spent no money, that's a very bad sign for your campaign.

Maybe all the money Lewis has blown through will have some positive impact that remains to be seen. Maybe he'll be able to recoup all the money he's already spent and remain financially competitive with the other candidates. But what I see is someone who's spent most of his money and is 24 points behind, and that's why I think he's unlikely to win, not because I'm biased.

Lewis makes the fourth statewide candidate in the last two cycles in North Carolina to blast us and accuse us of bias, joining Richard Moore, Bob Orr, and Elizabeth Dole. Moore, Orr, and Dole all lost badly. Blasting pollsters is the sign of a campaign in bad shape. Maybe Lewis will end up being a major factor in this race, and if he is we'll be writing about it. But for now I'm just calling it the way I see it with my goal being what it always is- to deliver accurate analysis of North Carolina politics.

NBA Betting – Any chance of an upset in Boston on Saturday?

Nets vs Celtics oddsSports betting players have been wagering on whether New Jersey will get to 10 wins this year, and right now, it’s looking like it will be close for the sad-sack Nets, who will face an uphill climb when they head to Boston on Saturday afternoon for a meeting with the Celtics.

Nets vs Celtics odds – Saturday, February 27, 1:00 PM ET

The Nets have lost four in a row since a rare win, at Charlotte of all places, and the Bobcats are one of the best home teams in the league, so anything is possible, to quote Kevin Garnett. The Nets fought hard to make it interesting in a 102-93 loss at home to Portland on Tuesday, and that’s one thing that you have to give New Jersey, is that they aren’t just rolling over and letting teams rout them. They are out there trying in what has been a very tough season. Courtney Lee and Devin Harris had 28 points for the Nets, and they also got 17 points and 10 boards from Brook Lopez, but no one else scored more than six points, and New Jersey allowed Portland to shoot 54.1% from the field.

The Celtics will first face Cleveland at home on Thursday, and they could be without Paul Pierce for that game as “The Truth” hurt his thumb last week against the Lakers. They didn’t need him in a 110-106 win over New York on Tuesday in the debut of Nate Robinson, suiting up against his former team after missing three games with the flu. Robinson scored four points in 16 minutes of action for the Celtics, who were led by Ray Allen’s 24 points and a big block late in the game. Allen had been averaging 21.8 points in his last five games ahead of the Cleveland game, and he looks more relaxed now that all of the trade talk that surrounded him is over. Allen is out to prove that he can still be productive on a playoff team, and he’ll get more shots with Pierce out.

You’d probably get better odds in a super casino than you would get for the Nets to win in Boston, where they’ve lost five in a row. Overall, the Celtics have won a whopping 12 straight over the Nets, including three games this year. Allen has averaged 17.7 points against the Nets this year, while Lopez has put up 20.0 points, and the Nets actually played the Celtics tough in a 96-87 loss in Boston on February 5th, powered by 26 points from Allen. The Nets just have no idea how to win this year, and the Celtics will have enough in the tank, even without Pierce.

NBA betting pick: Boston

NBA Odds – Saturday Triple-Play

NBA Betting – Saturday Triple-PlayHouston Rockets @ Utah Jazz

The Houston Rockets made a bold move to acquire Kevin Martin at the NBA trade deadline but the move has not worked out as first viewed.

The Rockets are mired in a big slump that has landed them in last place in the Southwest Division. Houston has lost three straight and seven of their last 10 games, which is not what they had in mind when they bolstered their roster with Martin.

Meanwhile, the Jazz have been heading in the opposite direction. They had a bad start to the season but have won 34 of their last 49 games and are one of the hottest teams in the league. During that time, they have climbed to third in the West and are just one game out of second.

This is a mismatch and the Jazz should take advantage.

NBA Odds Pick: Jazz

Portland Trail Blazers @ Minnesota Timberwolves

The Portland Trail Blazers have been snake-bitten by injuries this year but they still don’t give up. No matter who goes down, they still scrap and fight.

The Blazers have won two straight games and are sitting in eighth in the Western Conference playoff standings. They get an easy matchup on Saturday but playing on the road is never easy in the NBA.

Portland will face Minnesota, who is dead last in the Western Conference. The Timberwolves have just 14 wins on the year and are just 9-20 at home.

It’s tough to bet against Portland in this matchup given the difference in caliber and given the difference in motivation. Minnesota is already playing for a high draft pick while the Blazers are aiming for the playoffs.

Sportsbook Reviews Pick: Trail Blazers

Detroit Pistons @ Golden State Warriors

The Golden State Warriors and Detroit Pistons are two of the more disappointing teams in the NBA this season as both have combined for just 36 wins and 77 losses.

While most people remember the Pistons as a proud franchise, the reality is that they have been an embarrassment this year considering their talent and they can’t be trusted in any betting scenario.

They have just seven road wins this year while the Warriors are somewhat decent at 12-18 at home. The Warriors like to run and gun at home and they should be able to outrun the Pistons as they venture out to the West Coast.

NBA Betting Pick: Warriors

Deals of the Week is Not Optional

Early in 2009, Cephalon purchased for $100 million an option to buy a smaller biotech, Ception Therapeutics, for $250 million. This week, Ception investors had their big pay day.

Cephalon's decision was dependent upon successful results from Ception's lead project for eosinophilic asthma, the anti-IL-5 antibody Cinquil (reslizumab). An earlier opportunity to exercise its right to buy was thwarted when the same drug didn't pass the muster in a related condition, eosinophilic esophagitis.

The news should cheer private biotech investors, who are largely resigned to accepting downpayments of one type or another to get their exits-by-acquisition deals sealed. In 2009 nearly every acquisition of a private biotech comprised a downpayment plus contingent value rights based on development, regulatory, reimbursement or commercial milestones.

These option-to-acquire deals are designed to similarly share risk and potential upside. And we argued at this week's Pharmaceutical Strategic Outlook meeting that these structures are only becoming further entrenched as biotech investors continue to struggle and the IPO climate remains chilly at best. Outcomes like Ception's help demonstrate that option-structures aren't necessarily low-value deals, which may momentarily stop the handwringing of some venture capitalists.

The week's nearly over. We advise you opt in to another edition of...
Pfizer/Merck/Lilly: Recognizing the merits of pre-competitive collaboration, the three pharmacos announced Feb. 23 the launch of the not-for-profit Asian Cancer Research Group, which will gather pharmacogenomic data on Asia's most prevalent cancers. Initially, ACRG will focus on identifying biomarkers for lung and gastric cancers in Asia. Unlike another pre-competitive venture Pfizer, Merck and Lilly have stakes in--Enlight Bioscience--the ACRG is not-for-profit. The companies hope to gather 2,000 tissue samples from lung and gastric cancer patients in the next two years, at which point the data will be made publicly available to researchers through non-exclusive licenses. Within five years, the database will be updated with clinical data, including quality of life and survival data. "The beauty is that we'll be collecting all the clinical outcome data associated with patients that will really give us an extensive understanding of whether a genetic signature will be linked to either a good or poor prognosis," Pfizer oncology CSO Neil Gibson told PharmAsia News. Lilly will be responsible for managing the open-source data from its Singapore Center for Drug Development site, which it established in 2002 in partnership with Genzyme for research in diabetes and biomarker discovery in cancer.--Daniel Poppy

GSK/Regulus: Call this the collaboration so nice, they did it twice. GlaxoSmithKline and Regulus Therapeutics, a pioneer in the microRNA field, announced a new collaboration Feb. 25, through which they will co-develop and commercialize therapeutics targeting microRNA-122 in hepatitis C and other indications. The deal occurs less than two years after the Carlsbad, Calif., biotech and GSK signed a strategic alliance to discover, develop and bring to market novel microRNA therapies for inflammatory and immunological indications (See our coverage of that deal from “The Pink Sheet” DAILY). Regulus, a joint venture between two pioneers in oligonucleotide technology, Alnylam and Isis, has access to plenty of IP and scientific skills in this fast-moving field. GSK was drawn to additional collaboration with Regulus because it has gotten an inside view on the potential microRNA therapeutics and how they work and because Regulus has done significant preclinical work with “the dominant IP” in the space, Regulus president/CEO Kleanthis Xanthopoulos told us. Regulus could earn more than $150 million in upfront and milestone payments over the course of the partnership, the companies said, although they did not disclose most of the deal terms. Like the previous transaction, this deal breaks the upfront payment into two components – cash and a convertible note that can be transformed into Regulus equity at a time of the company’s choosing. In the first deal, Regulus got $15 million in cash plus a $5 million convertible note. The upfront “essentially covers all of our R&D costs so far to bring the compound to the preclinical stage,” Xanthopoulos said. He said the remainder of the $150 million will be spread out “evenly and at frequent intervals.”--Joseph Haas

Astellas/Basilea: Just a few days after losing one partner, Swiss biotech Basilea on Feb. 24 pulled in another. When Johnson & Johnson exited a five-year partnership on antibiotic ceftobiprole on Feb. 19, most analysts saw this as good news for the biotech, given that the partners were in arbitration over J&J’s allegedly shoddy trial data management and subsequent regulatory delays. Basilea’s fortunes then continued to shine when Astellas stepped in with CHF 75 million ($69.4 million) up front and up to CHF 478 million in milestones for rights to the biotech’s other Phase III candidate, anti-fungal isavuconazole—widely perceived as now more valuable than ceftobiprole anyway. Astellas will lead (and thus fund most of) development and commercialization of the drug, but, significantly, Basilea will participate—paying a minority of development costs and retaining a option to co-promote isavuconazole, which is in development for invasive fungal infections, in the US, Canada, major European countries and China. In fact such participation was a pre-condition of the deal, according to Basilea’s management; not surprising, perhaps, given the extent to which the biotech was apparently left out in the cold in the J&J deal. Astellas’ funding provides a welcome cushion for Basilea given the uncertainties created by a contractual year-long transition period with J&J, and the biotech’s commitment to the European rollout of its severe hand excema drug Toctino. As importantly perhaps, it provides validation of both Basilea’s pipeline, and its attractiveness as a partner despite the unusually acrimonious J&J relationship. --Melanie Senior

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

Gymnastics: Video Interviews from Dulles District Meet with Freedom Coach Barb Oliphant

Freedom High School had a banner winter including Dulles District titles in girls basketball, gymnastics and wrestling. After the district gymnastics meet, VivaLoudoun editor Dan Sousa interview Eagle coach Barb Oliphant about her team's exciting win as they edged Broad Run for the team title
Barb Oliphant - Part 1

Barb Oliphant - Part 2

Kawartha Speedway's 2010 Late Model Champ Earns a Piece of the ACTion

In September of 2009, the Vermont based American-Canadian Tour made history by showcasing its drivers at New Hampshire Motor Speedway during the inaugural ACT Invitational.  Staged during the opening weekend of the Chase for the Sprint Cup, the 50 lap exhibition was won by Eddie MacDonald of Rowley, Massachusetts.

To earn an invitation to the first running of the show, drivers could win an event on the ACT Tour or Quebec’s ACT Castrol Series.  Another way to secure a guaranteed starting spot was to earn a track championship at an American-Canadian Tour sanctioned track – as Cavan, Ontario’s Dan McHattie did and represented Kawartha Speedway.

When the popular Fraserville, Ontario oval released their 10th Anniversary schedule, the ACT Tour event was not part of the campaign.  That doesn’t mean a driver in Kawartha’s headline division won’t get their chance to dance on the big stage.  The track will still award a guaranteed starting spot in the 2010 edition of the ACT Invitational to the overall champion in the NAPA Auto Parts Late Model division.  Promoter Derek Lynch says even with the tour race taking a break, he’s happy to give one of their drivers an opportunity to shine.

“This is a once in a lifetime experience,” said Lynch.  “Every driver who ever strapped into a racecar has dreams of competing with the best talent there is.  With the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers, crews and possibly even car owners, this could be their chance to be discovered.”

Lynch continued by saying the track has heard from a number of drivers interested in chasing the ticket to NHMS and figure the 10 event schedule Kawartha has on this year’s agenda is the perfect way to showcase their talents.

The 2010 edition of the ACT Invitational is scheduled for Saturday, September 18th, part of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Sylvania 300 weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.  For details, see or  Kawartha Speedway’s 10th Anniversary season schedule is available at

Photo attachment:  Jim Clarke – Clarke Motorsports Communications

Dan McHattie won Kawartha Speedway’s 2009 NAPA Auto Parts Late Model track championship and earned a guaranteed starting spot in the Inaugural ACT Invitational.

Prepared by:  Jim Clarke – Clarke Motorsports Communications

News: Park View Grad, Now Harlem GlobeTrotter on ESPN2 Tonight

(Feb. 26, 2010) - Former Park View High School basketball player Roscoe Johnson, now a Harlem Globetrotter can be seen tonight on ESPN2 at 7 p.m. Look for No. 30 and Johnson now goes by Sarge Johnson!

The Sterling native was introduced to the game of basketball by his father and sister while growing up. His Globetrotter bio also says he was "an outstanding football player – his solid frame and

Boys Basketball: Potomac Falls D4 Region II Semifinals Postgame

Interviews after Potomac Falls defeated Broad Run, 62-51, Thursday night to qualify for the school's first ever basketball state playoff spot

Coach Jeff Hawes and junior Lukas Mihailovich - Part 1

Coach Jeff Hawes and junior Lukas Mihailovich - Part 2

Coach Jeff Hawes - Part 1

Coach Jeff Hawes - Part 2

Representative Wants to Change PA School Pensions

A House Republican wants to change Pennsylvania law for public school workers’ pension funds.

Representative Glen Grell of Cumberland County says the pension fund of the Public School Employees’ Retirement System is under-funded and getting progressively worse.

Grell says employee benefits increased when investments were returning well in 2001, and employer contributions fell presumably to curb property taxes. Grell says the investment losses the fund experienced in 2008 and 2009 caused the balance to plummet.

Grell says his bill would remove the benefits multiplier for years of service. For example, someone who’d worked 30 years would get 30% of their final salary in benefits, not 75%.

The bill would also set up a 5% employee-employer contribution plan that would be similar to a 401k plan. The employee would still receive Social Security benefits as well.

Grell says its important to note that the Pennsylvania constitution mandates that all current school employees’ contracts not be changed.

Final NC Filing Wrap

Both Democrats and Republicans in the state can genuinely spin that they're happy with how candidate filing went. Democrats, particularly on the House side, can boast that they minimized retirements, recruited good candidates where there were retirements, and will be able to play offense even in this tough political climate with credible challengers for a number of Republican seats. Republican can take credit for significantly reducing the number of seats where Democrats are running unopposed and getting candidates who came close to winning in the strong Democratic year of 2008 to give it another shot in a better environment for the party.

Here's a full rundown-

On the House side:

-The good news for House Democrats is that they only had two incumbents in really tough districts retire- Ray Warren and Bob England. Given the political climate that's a small number of defections and much better than the party is seeing at the national level. House Democrats also did a good job on recruitment- Walter Church Jr. is running to reclaim the seat his dad lost to Hugh Blackwell, Ann Newman is running for the open seat created by Jim Gulley's retirement, and the party also drew serious challengers to Sarah Stevens, Nelson Dollar, David Lewis, Paul Stam, and Tim Moore who represent the top tier of vulnerable Republicans.

-The good news for House Republicans is that they got candidates in numerous districts where they didn't field anyone in 2008, including some that are not overwhelmingly Democratic. They have candidates running this time against Bill Owens, for Russell Tucker's open seat, against Arthur Williams, William Brisson, Douglas Yongue, Nelson Cole, and Ray Rapp. Those folks all went unopposed last time and they all represent districts that have shown a willingness to vote Republican at least at the Presidential level. Whether the GOP can covert those federal level Republican votes to state level Republican votes remains to be seen.

Republicans also set up rematches in 4 of the 6 closest races they lost in 2008. Norman Sanderson will again take on Alice Graham Underhill, Stephen LaRoque's back for another try against Van Braxton, Rayne Brown will take another shot at Hugh Holliman, and Tim Moffitt will again face Jane Whilden.

-For Senate Democrats the good news is that while they did see a number of retirements in competitive districts, they also got highly credible candidates to run as replacements. The toughest Democratic hold is likely to be David Hoyle's seat, where Gaston County School Board chair Annette Carter is running. The next tier is the seats of Julia Boseman and RC Soles- former UNCW Chancellor Jim Leutze and former House leader David Redwine are running in those districts. And in the third tier of districts where Democratic retirements could give Republicans a chance- the seats of Tony Rand and Charlie Albertson- former House member Margaret Dickson and District Attorney Dewey Hudson are running. Those last two would likely only go Republican if this year's election was a wave of much greater than 1994 proportions.

-On the Senate Republican side, they have the same candidate running this time in the five districts where they came closest to winning but came up short in 2008. Louis Pate and Rick Gunn have clear primary fields as they try to upend Don Davis and Tony Foriest respectively. Bettie Fennell will try against at RC Soles' seat but faces Bill Rabon in the primary, Michael Lee is giving Julia Boseman's seat another try but will first have to get by Thom Goolsby, and Kathy Harrington has another chance at David Hoyle's seat if she can escape from a crowded primary with four candidates. All of these districts have pretty significant black populations and turnout patterns could be better for GOP prospects without Barack Obama on the ballot.

In the other three best Republican pickup opportunities- the seats of Steve Goss, Joe Sam Queen, and John Snow- there are 2, 3, and 2 candidates respectively seeking the GOP nomination.

It is going to be an unusually spirited election for a midterm in North Carolina this year.

Financings of the Fortnight Needs a Haircut

The first time we used this awful image to the right was about three years ago, when seemingly well-positioned biotechs destined for snazzy IPOs were running into a wall of scissors and electric razors wielded by public investors.

It turns out that in most cases their arguments that biotech offerings were overpriced were pretty accurate, if you consider how those biotechs that went public during the 2005-2008 timeframe have performed in the market.

We presented the data below (click image to enlarge) at our Pharmaceutical Strategic Outlook meeting this week in New York. An investment in the collective IPOs from 2005-2008 would have returned only 6% as of this Tuesday. Keeping in mind the market value performance illustrated in this chart comes after the steep discounts demanded by public investors, it's an ugly picture indeed. The success stories (among which we'd include Pharmasset, the subject of that 2007 post) are few and far between. In addition to the companies represented by the bars below, eleven were acquired, but the vast majority of those deals were done at valuations well below where companies were when they IPO'd.

Which brings us around to this week's non-debut of Anthera, a closely watched pricing event that wasn't. Anthera was due to raise up to $64 million by selling shares to the public at $13-15 per. That offering was postponed on Wednesday, while investors chewed over a new $8-9 per share price tag that could raise $54 million for the company.

It didn't take long for Anthera to trim that price yet again. Today an amended filing says the biotech will raise up to $42 million by selling shares at $7 apiece. For those of you keeping score at home that's a 50% haircut from the midpoint of its initial range.

Anthera is being watched closely as a barometer for investor interest in biotech IPOs. It's not hard to see that interest isn't exactly rabid.

Eleven Biotherapeutics: This me-better biologics play raised $35 million in a Series A round led by Flagship Ventures and Third Rock Ventures on Feb. 17. Asked to describe whether this was the entirety of the Series A of if more was to come, CEO David St. Hubbins* replied* "Well, I don't really think that the end can be assessed as of itself as being the end because what does the end feel like? It's like saying when you try to extrapolate the end of the universe, you say, if the universe is indeed infinite, then how - what does that mean? How far is all the way, and then if it stops, what's stopping it, and what's behind what's stopping it? So, what's the end, you know, is my question to you." (*For a more accurate version of what Eleven's management actually said, check out this piece in "The Pink Sheet" DAILY.)--CM

Labopharm: Just two months after agreeing to a $25 million standby equity distribution agreement with Yorkville Advisors, this Laval, Quebec, firm took a more conventional route to fundraising, closing a follow-on public offering Feb. 18 that including the overallotment netted $21.6 million. Labopharm, which specializes controlled-release technologies will use the funds largely to prepare for launch of its second US product, Oleptro, a once-daily formulation of trazodone approved by FDA for major depressive disorder on Feb. 3. The company has said it is opening to licensing out the drug or doing some form of co-promotion, and that its FOPO cash would support those efforts as well as launch. Like many FOPOs of recent months, Labopharm’s deal is somewhat warrant-heavy. It sold 13.5 million shares at $1.70 per unit, with each unit comprising a full share and a warrant for half a share. During a 30-month period beginning six months from closing, warrant holders can redeem their warrants for up to 5.9 million additional shares in Labopharm, at $2.30 per share.--Joseph Haas

Tioga Pharmaceuticals: Just over four years after pulling in $24 million via its Series A financing, GI drug player Tioga Pharmaceuticals completed its Series B round on February 17, raising $18 million from new investor Genesys Capital Partners, which participated with previous backers Forward Ventures, New Leaf Ventures, and BB Biotech Ventures. Tioga is placing all bets on asimadoline, an oral selective kappa opioid agonist it obtained when it spun out of Merck KGAA in 2005. The European pharma had been developing the candidate for musculoskeletal pain, but it failed to show efficacy in early studies. Merck eventually saw more potential in treating the visceral pain and bowel motility associated with IBS and as part of a reorganization to focus on cancer and cardiometabolic diseases, sold the asset to Tioga (for more history on Tioga, see our START-UP profile). Since asimadoline had been extensively tested in the past, Tioga had an advantage that other start-ups typically don’t have, which is to almost immediately start a large-scale efficacy trial, and at a much lower cost. The Series B money will support a US Phase III trial--one of two registration trials needed to get the drug approved in the US—slated to begin in March in 600 patients with diarrhea-predominant IBS. Perhaps Tioga is following in the footsteps of Movetis, another GI-focused company that began operations with discarded large pharma GI assets; and that wouldn’t be such a bad thing–Movetis has managed to bring its chronic constipation drug Resolor to the market in Europe. It also pulled off a successful IPO this past December and is still trading above its IPO price.--Amanda Micklus

Boys Basketball: One for The Program - Panthers Earn First Ever State Playoff Bid

Potomac Falls sophomore Greg Graves and junior Brendon Chesson after Thursday's regional semifinal win. Check back for more video interviews from this game

By Dan Sousa Editor
Sterling (Feb. 26, 2010) – Adrian Tracy surely has some important things on his mind as the William and Mary All-American defensive end is at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis where an eye-popping workout

Good numbers for Romney

Mitt Romney is the early preference, by a small margin, among Republican voters in both Texas and New Mexico to be their 2012 nominee for President.

In Texas he gets 32% with Mike Huckabee right behind at 29%, and Sarah Palin further back at 23%. In New Mexico he receives 33% to 32% for Palin and 18% for Huckabee.

The internals of these polls suggests a path to the nomination for Romney: stay competitive among conservative voters while holding a large lead with moderates. In Texas the three are bunched up among conservatives with Huckabee leading at 32% to 30% for Romney and 27% for Palin. But Romney's blowing the other two out of the water with moderates, getting 40% to 22% for Huckabee and 13% for Palin.

It's a similar story in New Mexico. Palin leads Romney 34-31 with conservatives, but Romney has the overall advantage thanks to a 37-29 advantage with moderates.

In each state Romney is particularly strong with senior citizens, who tend to comprise a large portion of the Republican primary electorate. He has an 11 point lead over Huckabee with them in Texas and 13 point lead over Palin with them in New Mexico.

One of the more interesting things about Palin's numbers is that she performs worse with women than men in both states. In New Mexico she gets 33% from men and 31% from women, while in Texas she gets 26% from men and 21% from women. It doesn't appear she'd be able to count on a boost from Republican women in a hypothetical White House bid.

Obviously it's incredibly early and things will change a lot between now and 2012, but it's a good sign for Romney to have even this small early advantage in a couple of states that are a long way from home.

Full results here

Former Pgh. Auxiliary Bishop Dies

Retired Auxiliary Bishop John McDowell of Pittsburgh died Thursday at Passavant Hospital in Pittsburgh. Bishop McDowell was 88 years old. Bishop David Zubik said in a written statement that McDowell was "a national figure in Catholic education" and "a dear friend."

McDowell helped launch the 1972 document "To Teach as Jesus Did" before moving up the Catholic education ladder and becoming superintendent of Diocese of Pittsburgh schools. McDowell also wrote seven biographies of past Pittsburgh bishops before the 2007 publication of his final book, an autobiography.

Shannonville Drag Series 2009 - A Celebration of Straight Line Success

Most of what they’ll do on a race weekend can be decided in the blink of an eye.  More often than not, a fraction of a second will make the difference between going fast and going home.  It would be easy to excuse the drag series racers from Shannonville Motorsport Park for getting a little anxious at the thought of being forced to sit still for a long period of time, but when they gathered to accept the awards and point fund payouts from the 2009 season – Saturday, February 20th – at the Belleville Legion, that’s exactly what happened.

Like many other motorsports facilities and sanctioning bodies, Shannonville’s straight line standouts saw parts of their ’09 season affected by the weather.  Rain was a factor that forced delays or cancellation of events throughout the year.  Following a buffet meal and the distribution of door prizes, the final bit of housekeeping before the hardware was passed-out was to announce that the 2010 campaign would begin the weekend of April 17th and 18th.

‘Family atmosphere’ was a theme that was repeated many times during the evening as the top runners in each division were recognized for their efforts.  Brandon Barker – acknowledged at an earlier ceremony – was introduced to the capacity crowd as the track’s 3 time junior dragster champion.  The street racers were next on the agenda, with a top 5 of Jim Benvie, Nathan Mutch, Brad Parks, Gordon Raison and class champion William Barter earning their time in the spotlight.  For Barter, it was his 3rd championship in the last 4 years.

The sled/bike fast 5 for 2009 was comprised of Brad Mutch, Jason Chatwood, Merv Shannik, Jeff Wannamaker and John Chatwood who walked away with the back-to-back crown.  For the 3rd time in 4 years, Jess Tandy claimed the pro point’s title.  Ross Lemon, Glenn Tandy, Doug Irvine and Eric Sabourin completed the top 5 finishers.  Division awards concluded with the super pro drivers.  Rod Gagne, Al Ray, Mark Boyer, Kevin Morrow and champion Tony Armstrong collected the class honours.

To close out the evening, super pro runner Mark Boyer was named the winner of the Bruce Douglas rookie of the year award, while pro division point champion Jess Tandy continued the ‘family’ theme by having her name engraved on the Larry Tandy driver of the year trophy.

The night’s festivities concluded with the local band Growing Pains providing the entertainment as the award winners, their families and friends gathered for photographs with the fruits of their labours.  With the 2010 season just a couple of months away, an air of optimism was felt all through the capacity crowd.  Hope for a boost in the economy, increased car counts in each class and a year that is rain free.

For more information on the 2010 drag racing series at Shannonville Motorsport Park, visit

Photo attachments:  Jim Clarke – Clarke Motorsports Communications

#1).  Tony Armstrong accepted the Super Pro Division championship award at Shannonville’s 2009 Drag Series banquet.

#2).  Mark Boyer accepts the Bruce Douglas rookie of the year award from Jim Parkhurst.

#3).  After earning her Pro division title in 4 years, Jess Tandy was also awarded with the Larry Tandy driver of the year award.

#4).  At the start of the night, drivers were given odd and even numbered envelopes containing puzzle pieces.  To close the evening, they were given markers and asked to sign the finished version.

Prepared by:  Jim Clarke – Clarke Motorsports Communications

Are Mets phasing out Carlos Beltran?

Last night on "Mets Hot Stove," Kevin Burkhardt interviewed the Mets' "starting outfield": Jason Bay, Angel Pagan and Jeff Francoeur. At one point, it was predicted that since Pagan had 11 triples in little over half a season in 2009, he could get 17 triples this year.

During the entire segment, nobody said a word about Carlos Beltran.

Last year, the Mets grossly underestimated injuries. Everyone was day-to-day, up to the point where they were being wheeled into the operating room. Maybe they are going in the other direction this year - assuming Beltran is out indefinitely and cannot be counted on for this year.

Or maybe Beltran is out indefinitely and cannot be counted on for this year, rather than coming back around early May, as has been previously speculated.

Unfortunately, the Mets have such little credibility when it comes to communicating on injuries that it is impossible to know what to believe.

Meanwhile, Jerry Manuel is planning dramatic changes to the lineup - batting Jose Reyes third - just until Beltran comes back. Or is it quietly planned to be a permanent change?

The worst-case scenario is that Beltran is more seriously hurt than the Mets are letting on. Pagan was a pleasant surprise last season, but he is no Beltran, either at the plate or in the field. Burkhardt asked Bay and Francoeur how long it would take for the new outfielders to get used to each other, and the corner outfielders joked that they would let Pagan go after all the flies. That joking around makes a lot more sense with the Gold Glove-winning Beltran still in center, instead of the guy that almost ran into Beltran last May and helped cost the Mets a game in L.A.

But the next-worst scenario is that there is still lingering resentment on the Mets' part over the Beltran surgery controversy and they would at the least not object to deemphasizing Beltran on "Hot Stove." (At least Bob Ojeda did mention Beltran later in the show.)

Beltran is entering the next-to-last year of his deal. He is battling injuries. The Mets have criticized him and his agent over the handling of his surgery. And his agent is Scott Boras.

Perhaps the Mets have already decided that they are not going to re-sign Beltran. Depending on how Beltran comes back from his surgery, it could be the right decision. But with two seasons to go, the Mets should be hoping that Beltran plays well enough to merit re-signing, not looking forward to life without him.

Football: Stone Bridge Grad Ed Wang Featured in NFL Combine Video

Check out this video from the NFL Combine where Stone Bridge High School grad and Virginia Tech OL standout Ed Wang is featured!

Elon Numbers on Burr

Richard Burr's campaign would like to have you believe that his bad poll numbers are just a construct of liberal biased PPP. They even went and got a story written about it in Politico last summer.

I guess they're going to have to bash the highly nonpartisan Elon Poll now too. It finds today that only 24% of North Carolinians think that Burr deserves reelection, while 51% think it's time to give someone else a chance. Those are pretty devastating numbers.

I still think it's possible that this is going to be not exclusively an anti-Democratic year so much as an anti-incumbent year. That will still make for a tough cycle for Democrats since they account for most of the incumbents, but it also means you could see someone like Burr lose for reelection even as his party gains overall.

Another Snowstorm, Another Complete Response Letter?

The snow is falling and that can mean only one thing – a Complete Response Letter for Amylin Pharmaceuticals’ Byetta LAR (long-acting exenatide). At least that’s what Jon LeCroy, an analyst at Hapoalim Securities, suggests after trying to decipher how the FDA reacts to inclement weather.

For those who weren’t aware, the agency yesterday extended the PDUFA date for the once-weekly diabetes drug from March 5 to March 12. Normally, a delay of a few days isn’t expected to amount to much, if anything. Besides, the agency had signaled PDUFA user fee dates could slip by up to five business days due to the blizzards that shut down the federal government earlier this month.

But LeCroy worries something ominous is under way. Given that PDUFA delays have become the norm, the March 5 date was always uncertain. Until now, in fact, LeCroy assumed the date would just slide by. But the fact that the agency assigned a new and specific date suggests to him that, not only will a decision actually come down on March 12, but the likelihood is it won’t a be positive for Amylin and its two partners, Eli Lilly and Alkermes.

As a result, he’s ballparking approval this way – the odds of a full approval on March 12 are just 20 percent; a Complete Response Letter is a 60 percent bet and there’s a 20 percent chance the FDA will simply miss the PDUFA date. In an investor note, he points out that Xenoport, after all, recently received a PDUFA extension, ostensibly due to bad weather, and wound up with a rejection letter.

In his note, LeCroy writes that he thinks “approval will likely be delayed” until the FDA reviews several studies – including data from ongoing animal trials for twice-daily Byettta – that were requested at the time the Byetta monotherapy indication was approved last October. The last required study on Byetta LAR is expected to be done mid-year and a final report submitted to the FDA next January. “This implies,” he wrote, “that the FDA will not approve (Byetta LAR) until mid-2011."

Unless it keeps snowing, in which case the drug may never get approved.

--Emily Hayes
photo thanks to LD Flickr creative commons

Other Cities Visit Pittsburgh Thanks to G20

The Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce says it is hosting an unprecedented number of visits from other Chambers of Commerce in 2010. Chamber President Barbara McNees says it can be traced back to the exposure the city received during the G20 summit. McNees says, “No fewer than seven Chambers of Commerce from across the United States have scheduled benchmarking visits to Pittsburgh this year.” Among the cities visiting is Cincinnati OH and Baton Rouge LA. Advance teams from both of those cities are in town this week laying the groundwork for later visits. Delegations from Korea and Toronto Canada have also made trips as they prepare to host G20 events later this year. McNees says groups have often visited Pittsburgh in the past but they usually were exploring one aspect of the city such as brownfield redevelopment or cooperation with universities but now they want to look at the entire revitalization package. McNees says the heads of the chambers that are coming this year specifically mentioned the G20 as one of their reasons why Pittsburgh was selected. The Executive Directors of several of the chambers coming later this year were in town last summer for a Chamber of Commerce conference where they got their first look at the city. McNees says the G20 just sealed the deal. Also visiting this year will be: Kansas City MO, Nashville TN, Lexington and Louisville KY, Dubuque IA and Mobile AL. McNees says the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber is looking for other ways to capitalize on the publicity and interest generated by the G20 Pittsburgh Summit.

Republicans: Remove Still Unseen Fed Dollars From Budget

Pennsylvania House Republicans says the Rendell Administration is engaging in reckless budgeting by relying on $854 million in federal finds that have yet to be approved by Congress. The U.S. Senate was set to approve increased medical funding for states earlier this week, but the provision was removed from its jobs bill before the vote took place. Governor Rendell’s budget assumes the measure will be passed before July 1. State Representative Doug Reichley of Berks County Republican, says assuming Congress will approve the spending is a reckless approach to budgeting, “You need to engage in a budgeting process that looks at the revenue that you’re getting honestly from your state resources. And stop trying to project forward what you might get out of Washington and what you might get out of more stimulus funds. And deal with the budget we have based upon what the resources are here in Pennsylvania.”
Reichley wants to cut $854 million from the budge until the federal bill is passed. Rendell spokesman Gary Tuma says that would be a bad idea. “You would have services to the public cease. You would have workers laid off. And we’re not just talking state workers. It could be a lot of other entities around the state – library workers, childcare workers, healthcare providers – who would be laid off, who would lose their jobs. The public would lose those services provided, only to find out in the long run that we’re getting that money anyway,” says Tuma. He says he’s confident the increased federal funding will pass soon. Tuma notes that more than 40 governors recently sent a letter to President Obama explaining how they are banking on the extra financial support.

Opinion Shifting on Climate Change.

A new poll shows the number of Pennsylvanians skeptical of climate change has doubled over the past two years. In a Poll conducted by Muhlenberg College for the Allentown Morning Call finds 31% of Pennsylvania residents think global warming is a hoax. That’s about twice the number of people who were skeptical of climate change in a statewide 2008 survey. PennEnvironment CEO Jan Jarrett thinks that may be due to a PR blitz launched by special interests that would lose money if Congress enacts legislation aimed at curbing global warming. She says lawmakers in Washington are serious about trying to reduce the country’s CO2 emissions and increase the green energy sector, “However, those kinds of things do threaten the oil and gas industries, and the coal industries, which have launched an all-out attack on the science of climate change.” Jarrett says special interests are succeeding in casting doubt on what she calls overwhelming scientific evidence showing the earth is warming. Jarrett’s currently engaged in an ongoing email back-and-forth with Matt Brouillette of the conservative Commonwealth Foundation, who’s trying to set up a debate to argue the legitimacy of climate change. Brouillette says, “The reality is that everybody believes there is climate change. That we are constantly in a state of climate change. Things are warming, things are cooling. The question ultimately comes down to, what role does man contribute to this, and what policies could be implemented? And what are the costs and benefits of those policies?” He says he is convinced the scientific community is far from settled on whether or not human activity is changing the earth’s temperature.

Obama's decline in the battleground states

In our national polling Barack Obama is running six points behind his 2008 performance right now. He beat John McCain by seven points and his approval rating is a net +1.

Our state by state polling though is finding that in states with a competitive 2010 race- defined as one where we've polled a Senate or Gubernatorial race in single digits since November- there's been a much larger decline in Obama's popularity. Across those eight states his approval has dropped by an average of 12 points.

The biggest decline in Obama's approval has been in Nevada where he won by 12 points in 2008 but where we now find him at a -8 spread. Harry Reid's troubles may have as much to do with Obama as they do with him. The other two states where Obama's seen the biggest decline have significant Hispanic populations as well- New Mexico where he's dropped by 18 points and Texas where he's dropped by 17 points.

If Obama's popularity has fallen at a faster rate in the 2010 battleground states it's obviously going to be harder for Democrats to win in them this fall.

Here's the full data:


Obama 08 Margin

Obama Approval






New Mexico
























South Carolina




Thursday, February 25, 2010

World Cinema: The Hong Kong Film Industry

Santosh Sandhu discusses the Hong Kong Film Industry...

Hong Kong has a population of about 7 million people. Despite its small size, Hong Kong has been a major player in world cinema for many years. Up to the mid 1990s, Hong Kong was the world’s third largest film producer, making 300 films a year in the Cantonese language. Hong Kong only has a limited number of cinema screens and is therefore reliant on overseas revenue mainly from other parts of Asia.

Martial arts have existed for hundreds of years and form a strong part of Chinese culture and this is often reflected in Hong Kong films. Martial arts films thematically are the cinema of the underdog triumphing over corruption and oppression with the main emphasis being on action which can sometimes take up to half a film’s running time. The early martial arts films were based on traditional folk legends and featured known characters such as Fong Sai Yuk and Wong Fei Hung.

The early 1970s saw the rise of martial arts films as an international force. Up to this time they had largely been made by the Shaw Brothers studios at Clearwater Bay in Hong Kong. Shaw Brothers employed most of the local filmmaking talent and owned a chain of cinemas in South East Asia. Raymond Chow, an executive at Shaw Brothers eventually left to set up rival studio Golden Harvest. Golden Harvest’s first film was The Big Boss (1971) which starred Bruce Lee who would become the first internationally renowned martial arts star. Golden Harvest adopted the Hollywood business method of profit sharing to encourage Lee to work for them. After making three films in Hong Kong, Lee’s last completed film would be the most famous martial arts movie of all time the Golden Harvest/Warner Brothers co-production Enter the Dragon (1973).

In 1979 Golden Harvest signed Jackie Chan, a former stuntman who pioneered Kung fu comedy films. Heavily inspired by the early slapstick comedy of Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin, Chan was able to cross cultural boundaries with his willingness to do his own stunts and his well timed kung fu routines almost shot like dance sequences. After gaining prominence in period martial arts comedies such as Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow (1978) and Drunken Master (1978), Chan and his stunt team would perfect their craft in Project A (1983) and Police Story (1985) essentially bringing the genre up to date.

Conversely, Producer/Director Tsui Hark would stick to the period setting but combine the genre with supernatural elements for the visually astonishing Zu Warriors (1983). The film benefited greatly with special effects provided by a Hollywood team. Hark would build on this success by creating his own effects outfit and the supernatural genre would continue with Mr. Vampire (1985) and A Chinese Ghost Story(1987). Hark would also launch the career of Jet Li in Once Upon a Time in China (1991) where Li would reprise the role of Wong Fei Hung.

Apart from its martial arts films, Hong Kong is also famous for its crime thrillers most notably the work of John Woo. A Better Tomorrow (1986), would see the rise of the ‘Heroic Bloodshed’ series of films so called for their heavily choreographed shootouts which would continue to please action junkies with The Killer (1989) and Hard Boiled (1992). Much more concerned with plot and characterization, Infernal Affairs (2002) about a cop working undercover in the triads and a triad posing as a cop would inspire the Oscar winning The Departed (2006).

Hong Kong was a British Colony which was handed back to China in 1997. China has the largest population in the world with over 1 billion people. Most films made in mainland China are in Mandarin. Partly due to the language difference, China has not opened up as a major market for Hong Kong films. Hong Kong is still treated like a separate entity and so its films are still subjected to censorship and quotas. Also much of the Chinese market is dominated by Hollywood blockbusters or ‘dapian’ which make up to 70 percent of the domestic market. Only big name Chinese directors are able to compete with Hollywood.

Like Hollywood, China also has a studio system which was established in 1949. These studios were state funded for many years. Due to state cut backs in 1996, studios have looked to international productions for finance ever since. Today, foreign films shot in China have to be co-produced with a studio and the state owned China Film Co-production Corporation (CFCC). For international filmmakers, the CFCC offers good locations, cheap labour, equipment hire and transportation. Quentin Tarantino’s kung fu inspired Kill Bill (2003) was shot in Shanghai for these reasons.

Certain Hollywood films now have a Chinese martial arts influence such as The Matrix (1999), which employed a Hong Kong stunt crew for its fight scenes. The Oscar winning Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) was a Chinese/American co-production utilizing an international cast and crew.

American studios such as Fox have also been involved in the distribution of Chinese films in Asia, including Hero (2002), which was marketed like a Hollywood blockbuster. Miramax handled the distribution of Hero in most western territories as it was responsible for much of the film’s 31 million dollar budget. Miramax also bought the rights to certain titles from the Shaw Brother’s film library and Golden Harvest sold many of its titles to Warner Brothers.

Sadly the Hong Kong film industry has suffered a decline in recent years with less than 100 films being produced per year. Domestic audiences now prefer Hollywood and rampant piracy has proved a deterrent for getting people into cinemas. Jackie Chan, Jet Li and John Woo are consistently working in Hollywood and filmmakers are now more likely to be looking to work with mainland China.


The Indian Film Industry
The French New Wave
The Rise and Fall of Italian Neo-realism

Santosh Sandhu graduated with a Masters degree in film from the University of Bedfordshire and wrote the short film 'The Volunteers'.

Girls Basketball: Freedom 49, Loudoun County 40

Complete box
South Riding (Feb. 25, 2010) - It was the fifth and final meeting between what many consider the best two VHSL Division 4 girls basketball teams in the state, Freedom and Loudoun County. One would move on and have a chance to defend its state title and the other would have its season finished.

As an indication of what kind of struggle the game was, it was just 6-4 after the first

Girls Basketball: Cold Start Ends Panthers First Ever Playoff Run

LIBERTY 22 6 17 13 - 58
POTOMAC FALLS 12 11 22 5 - 50
P (13-7) — Berry 18, Short 18, Jefferies 10, Fauteux 3, Stanley 1.
Totals 14 17-24 50.
L (15-3) — Wood 17, Lindsey 13, Claybrooks 8, Gwathmey 8, Croushorn 6, Reeves 6. Totals 23 11-24 58.
Halftime: Liberty, 28-23.
Three-point goals: P 5 (Short 2, Jefferies 2, Fauteux); L 1 (Reeves).
Rebounds: P 27 (Berry 6, Short 4, Jefferies 9,

Basketball: The Skinny of Thursday's Regional Semifinals

Region II Basketball
Division 4 Boys Semifinals
Potomac Falls 62, Broad Run 51
The Skinny: Lukas Mihailovich scores 24 to lead the Panthers to the school's first ever state basketball playoff appearance since the school opened in 1997. Broad Run, which fell behind 7-0 to start and never led in the contest, has been waiting 41 years for a trip to States -- since the school opened in 1969! Kevin

Basketball: Regional Playoff Scoreboard

Region II Basketball
Division 4 Boys Semifinals
Potomac Falls 62, Broad Run 51

Division 4 Girls Semifinals
Freedom 49, Loudoun County 40
Liberty 58, Potomac Falls 50

Check back for The Skinny and then boxes and also a full game story from PF-BR boys by Dan Sousa and game reports from the girls contests plus photos and video interviews from the boys game

New Mexico/Texas GOP Preview

Tomorrow we're going to have 2012 Republican primary numbers for Texas and New Mexico.

Here are some clues:

-The same candidate leads (by a small margin) in both states.

-In each state there is someone who comes in a close second and someone who comes in a more distant third. But it's a different candidate in each state.

Have fun guessing and we'll have the numbers tomorrow!

Merck Puts Up Its Asset-Sale Shingle

Big Pharma has been slow to adopt out-licensing strategies for a plethora of reasons: fear it will regret giving up something that could turn out to be a hit, the perception that out-licensed compounds are tainted, and an ingrained mentality that it could afford to develop everything worthwhile on its own.

Merck is the latest company to change its tune in the face of a resource-constrained reality however; Lilly, Pfizer and others started earlier, by far, as IN VIVO has long tracked. At Elsevier's Pharmaceutical Strategic Outlook conference Thursday morning in NY, David Nicholson, the company's new SVP and head of Worldwide Licensing and Knowledge Management, gave the largely biotech and Big Pharma audience a message loud and clear: Merck's new out-licensing department is open for business-or will be shortly. "We have set up an out-licensing group, headed by Meeta Chatterjee," and are now looking at "what we want to out-license" and "how," he said in a talk with Elsevier's Roger Longman.

"In the past, Merck didn't out-license because out-licensing was traditionally used to jettison "rubbish," but that is not the case anymore," noted Nicholson, who previously headed worldwide licensing at Schering-Plough. The company has some very attractive assets, but there is "no way Merck can afford to develop everything" in its R&D program. "Our R&D model is to generate a lot of output—more than we can deal with. So we have to make some tough choices and it poses the question: What do we do with these other assets?" And who might be potential in-licensors? Take note: Merck's not only interested in talking to biotechs and small pharma—its Big Pharma competitors could take a look too.

Details have yet to be worked out – Merck's looking at the best business models and deal structures for outlicensing and "brainstorming" ideas. And the company is generating a list of out-licensing assets.

Meanwhile, its in-licensing program is also moving forward. Now that its merger with Schering is completed, it's finalizing a list of its revamped pipeline, which it will announce in the next few weeks, and shortly after that it will "be able to talk to the world," Nicholson said.

Nicholson also spoke –albeit generally-- about Merck's partnership strategy going forward, i.e. biotechs will remain an incredibly important to Merck, because "the vast majority of new science is done outside Merck's walls," he said. "There are more opportunities outside than inside," and Merck wants to partner with all kinds of technologies, companies, and at all stages of development."

That includes externalizing discovery- a hot topic within Big Pharma at the moment, especially in light of a recent Morgan Stanley report, which argued that Big Pharma isn't doing worthwhile research and should evolve its "R&D" model to an "S&D" or search and develop model. Nicholson quarreled with the report's conclusions, but noted it did raise "interesting questions" about how much discovery research pharma should be doing internally versus externally.

Nicholson's message –a willingness to work with new kinds of partners in new ways--wasn't new for Merck – but it honed in on a trend that's been ongoing in Big Pharma for several years now, and practiced with more urgency as patent cliffs loom: In a growth constrained reality, companies need to evaluate what they can and can't afford to do internally and work with partners in new ways as they become more cost efficient and upgrade pipelines.

--Wendy Diller