Monday, June 21, 2010

Way too soon to bury Johan Santana

Johan Santana's velocity is down and he's not the pitcher he was a few years ago. But he's still pitched well this season, and the Post's Kevin Kernan has no business pointing to Santana's won-loss record to argue that he's no longer an ace:

[CC] Sabathia moved to 8-3. Florida's Josh Johnson upped his record to 8-2 with a 1.80 ERA. Those are ace numbers. If Santana (5-4) and the offense came through yesterday, the Mets would have produced an 8-1 road trip.

Santana has four games this year in which he has pitched at least seven innings and given up no earned runs - and only ended up with a no-decision. Think about that - four games, 29 innings (he went eight innings in one of the games) NO runs and NO wins. If Santana had won three of those games, he would have eight wins, just like Sabathia and Johnson.

Santana's 3.31 ERA and 1.22 WHIP are good numbers, but not quite ace material. But they compare favorably with the numbers so far for two-time defending Cy Young Tim Lincecum (3.11 ERA, 1.22 WHIP) and Braves phenom Tommy Hanson (3.38 ERA, 1.22 WHIP).

Santana's numbers are actually pretty good, with one big exception - strikeouts. Santana is striking out only 5.69 batters per nine innings, down from 7.9 in each of his first two seasons in New York, and way down from 9.7 in his last season in Minnesota. Lincecum's 2010 K/9 is 10.29, Hanson's is 9.36 and Sabathia's is 7.36.

In April, Santana struck out 28 in 30 1/3 innings - an ace pace. In May, he struck out 26 in 41 innings, a more mixed result. But in June, Santana has only struck out 8 in 26 2/3 innings, while also walking 12.

Santana had a great month in April but has been mediocre in June, for overall good results. It's way too early to dismiss him for the year, much less for his career.

Will Santana end up being worth his contract? Probably not. But most long-term pitching contracts work out a lot worse than Santana's has so far. In fact, you don't have to look any farther than the two other starting pitchers the Mets gave big contracts to in the last few years in the last few years - Pedro Martinez and Oliver Perez.

Something to think about when debating over whether to mortgage the farm system to rent Cliff Lee.

Opening up the GOP field

One of the things that's been most striking about this election cycle so far is the Republicans who've risen from obscurity to win their party's nominations for a whole host of Senate and Gubernatorial races. When we polled South Carolina, Nevada, and Maine around the start of the year we didn't even bother including Nikki Haley, Sharron Angle, and Paul LePage in our general election match up polling because they seemed like second tier contenders yet it appears they will all win their party nominations. And they're not the only surprising GOP winners of the cycle- you can certainly put Rand Paul and Marco Rubio on that list, and it's looking more and more like Ken Buck will join that club once the Colorado primary comes around.

When I look at how many little known Republicans are rising quickly to the top and when I look at how tightly jumbled our polling on the 2012 GOP Presidential field is right now, it really makes me think there's a very good chance- better than even- that the party will end up nominating someone for President in 2012 outside the current top quartet of Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, and Newt Gingrich. Those folks are all very well known to Republican voters and the fact that none of them really stands out in polling on the race leaves a lot of room for someone less prominent on the national level right now to catch fire and win the nomination in 2012.

I don't know who that person would be at this point but if I had to put my money on it I'd say Bobby Jindal if he got in the race. He has a very strong competence argument in the wake of the oil spill, can present himself as the sort of new face the GOP needs to move the party's base of support beyond white conservatives, and doesn't have any of the national baggage the more well known candidates do. And it's silly to think that his not ready for primetime debut on the national stage with the State of the Union response last year will really hurt him in the long term- just look at Bill Clinton's 1988 convention speech 4 years before he waltzed into the White House.

If I was one of the current Republican front runners what's happening in the primaries across the country so far this year would make me a little antsy about whether that status was worth much.

NASCAR pioneer Raymond Parks dead at 96

Raymond Parks, owner of NASCAR's first championship winning car and an integral part of the series' formation, has died. He was 96.

NASCAR said Parks passed away at his home Sunday morning in Atlanta. Parks, who was confined to a wheelchair, attended a reception May 20 for the induction of the inaugural Hall of Fame class and was warmly received throughout the industry that evening....

Click here for the full story.

Public Input Sought Online for Budget

A new website set up by House Democrats is trying to crowdsource budget ideas Pennsylvanians.
The website,, lets people post their own suggestions of saving or generating revenue.
Pennsylvania is facing a 1.2 billion dollar revenue gap this year, and legislative leaders are negotiating a mix of budget cuts and targeted tax increases.
Montgomery County Democrat Josh Shapiro helped launch the site, which has gotten more than 700 responses so far.

"We think there are a lot of people in Pennsylvania who are thoughtful about the budget. And this website clearly proves that. There are a lot of good ideas out there. Again, some I agree with, some I disagree with."

Governor Rendell endorses the website, saying he’s willing to take suggestions from anyone and everyone. Rendell says sometimes the suggestions are “wacky,” but sometimes they’re helpful, recalling a contest to pick a new slogan for Philadelphia during his tenure as mayor.

"And we got some very good ones that we eventually used, and they went up on the signs. But we got some signs like – suggestions like, “welcome to Philadelphia. Watch your wallet.” Or, “welcome to Philadelphia. Lock and load.” Or, “Welcome to Philadelphia. We’re better than Camden.”

Suggestions are pre-screened, but Shapiro says that’s to avoid vulgar language, rather than conservative suggestions.
A similar effort launched by Republicans in Washington was marred by racist and crude suggestions.

PHOTOS: Brockville Ontario Speedway - June 19, 2010 - by Rick Young

Photos of June 19, 2010 racing action at Brockville Ontario Speedway courtesy of Rick Young -

WoO LMs: Francis stays ahead of the fray in Tim Logan's car to emerge triumphant at Cornwall

CORNWALL, ONT - June 20, 2010 - Steve Francis got his groove back on the World of Outlaws Late Model Series with a dominant performance in Sunday night’s 50-lap A-Main at Cornwall Motor Speedway.

Making his first WoO LMS start of the season in a Rocket car owned by his crew chief Tim Logan, Francis took advantage of a pole position start to lead every lap of the national tour’s third annual visit to Ron Morin’s finely-manicured Canadian quarter-mile oval.

Francis, 42, of Ashland, Ky., rolled to his second series victory of 2010, staying safely ahead of the sometimes wild position-swapping that went on behind him. In fact, second place changed hands five times among three drivers during the event, but no one was able to seriously challenge the 2007 WoO LMS champion.

“As the racetrack slicked off (the car) just got better and better and better,” said Francis, who earned $10,600 for becoming the fourth repeat winner of the 2010 WoO LMS campaign. “In the feature the thing was basically on a rail. You could drive it about anywhere. We ran the top of (turns) one and two and the top of three and four at points, which shows how good it was.”

Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., futilely chased Francis under the checkered flag, finishing 1.338 seconds behind the winner in his Rocket car. The 2008 WoO LMS titlist overtook Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y., coming down for the white flag to secure the runner-up spot.

Fuller, who had passed Lanigan for second just before a caution flag flew on lap 32 and briefly peeked underneath Francis following the restart, settled for a third-place finish in the Gypsum Express Rocket car. The run ended Fuller’s two-race winning streak on the WoO LMS ‘Great Northern Tour.’

Fuller’s Gypsum Express Racing teammate, DIRTcar big-block Modified star Billy Decker of Unadilla, N.Y., advanced from the ninth starting spot to finish fourth in his first WoO LMS start of 2010. A former Super DIRTcar Series event winner at Cornwall, Decker earned the $500 WoO LMS ‘Bonus Bucks’ cash for being the highest-finishing driver who hasn’t won a tour A-Main and wasn’t ranked among the top 12 in the points standings.

Tour rookie Austin Hubbard of Seaford, Del., placed fifth at Cornwall for the second straight year, nipping Dan Stone of Thompson, Pa., by inches at the finish line in Dale Beitler’s Rocket car. The 18-year-old sensation, who started 10th, cracked the top five despite running virtually the entire distance with his car’s steering hampered by a broken rack.

Stone finished sixth – the same position he started the race – after climbing as high as fourth. He was bidding to pass Lanigan for third on lap 21 when he slid off the backstretch, dropping him to seventh and forcing him to spend the remainder of the distance working his way back into contention.

Francis had no problems in Logan’s machine, which he finally decided to press into service on this year’s Outlaw trail. He kicked off the Great Northern Tour driving his own Valvoline-sponsored car to finishes of 13th on June 15 at Can-Am Motorsports in Lafargeville, N.Y., and fifth on June 17 at Merrittville Speedway in Thorold, Ont., before Saturday’s event at Quebec’s Autodrome Drummond was rained out. “

“Tim’s put a lot of time and effort into my whole program this year,” said Francis, who had planned to run Logan’s car at Drummond. “Part of our deal this year was I was gonna run his car in some races, but it seems like every time we unloaded his car (this year), it rained out.

“I’m real happy that we finally got to run this thing. It really helps Tim a lot, and it helps (engine builder) Russell Baker too – we ran a brand-new 11-degree motor, something a little bit different. We’ve run this motor twice – we sat on the outside pole at West Virginia Motor Speedway and won here tonight. Obviously, it’s a pretty good car and engine combination.”

Good enough for Francis to cool down the sizzling Fuller and record his 28th career WoO LMS triumph – more than any other driver on the tour since 2004.

“I kept watching where Fuller was because he’s on a hot streak,” said Francis, whose previous WoO LMS victory this season came on March 27 at Lone Star Speedway in Kilgore, Texas. “When I looked and seen he got by Darrell and Clint (Smith) for second, I thought, ‘Well, here he comes again.’

“I saw Fuller shoot in there under me on that one restart (lap 32), but I just said, ‘Hit your marks and you’ll be fine.’ I don’t want to say I was that confident, but I knew my car was so good that if I hit my marks, I’d be OK.”

The 42-year-old Fuller, who started fifth, tipped his helmet to Francis after falling short at a track where he has experience in DIRTcar big-block and 358-Modified competition.

“He was more consistent getting through the ruts and the bumps,” Fuller said of Francis. “I could stay with him for one lap and then he’d start checking out. He was really good.”

Lanigan, who turned 40 on June 3, also failed to keep pace with Francis.

“We were set up for the bottom,” said Lanigan. “If we could hit it just right we’d have something for him, but if we missed it we’d just hang there. Francis could just move all around better.”

Lanigan’s second-place finish gave him a big boost in the WoO LMS points standings, moving him from second to third and leaving him just 14 points behind leader Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., who finished 15th with a car that was plagued by handling problems from damage to the left side of its nosepiece. Richards bent his car’s nose when he caught the berm on the inside of turn one just three laps into the race and further damaged it on lap 11 when he swerved into the turn-two hill to avoid Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., who lurched into Richards’s path when he restarted his car after sliding off the track between turns one and two to bring out a caution flag.

McCreadie, who entered the event ranked second in the points standings, restarted at the rear of the field after his off-track excursion and charged back to salvage a seventh-place finish – right where he had been running on lap 11. He fell to third in the points standings but sliced his deficit to Richards from 36 to 20 points.

Shane Clanton of Locust Grove, Ga., faded to an eighth-place finish after starting fourth. Coleby Frye of Dover, Pa., who took a break from his regular job as car chief of Hubbard’s Beitler Motorsports mount to drive Clint Smith’s backup car, placed ninth and eighth-starter Rick Eckert of York, Pa., was 10th after rallying from an early-race scramble that caused him to fall all the way back to 19th.

Four caution flags slowed the race. After McCreadie triggered the first yellow on lap 11, subsequent cautions were brought out on lap 31 by Richards (stopped and then pitted); lap 32 by Russell King of Bristolville, Ohio (stopped on backstretch); and lap 44 by Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa. (spun in turn four from left-front bodywork damage sustained in a scrape while battling Clanton for seventh).

The upset of the evening was pulled off in Ohlins Shocks Time Trials by Frye, who recorded the show’s fastest qualifying circuit after getting a last-minute opportunity to drive Smith’s backup car. The 25-year-old Keystone State dirt Late Model racer ripped off a lap of 12.467 seconds – just a tick off the track record – to earn his first-ever quick-time honor on the WoO LMS.

Heat winners were Francis, Clint Smith and Stone. With the field numbering exactly 24 cars, no B-Main was run.

Smith went on to finish 12th in the A-Main after running second for much of the race’s first half. He was hampered by a broken engine valve throughout the distance, causing a loss of power that cost him ground on each restart.

The WoO LMS ‘Great Northern Tour’ continues on Tues., June 22, at Brewerton (N.Y.) Speedway before concluding on June 24-26 with the Firecracker 100 presented by at Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pa.

For more information on the WoO LMS, visit

From World Racing Group // Photo by Rick Young

Women and Girls Foundation To Go To White House

Eight Southwestern Pennsylvania high school aged girls will be traveling to The White House for an event on mentoring on Monday, June 21st. Their chaperon will be Heather Arnet, CEO of the Women and Girls Foundation.

They will partake in a mentoring, responsible fatherhood-themed Bar-B-Q with President Obama on the White House Lawn. 142 other teenagers, mostly from the DC area have been invited as well. There will also be workshops for the girls in the fields of business, entertainment and public service.

The foundation has been invited because of the work they do in developing self-esteem and leadership capacities in young women and working with young men to be advocates for gender equity.

Energy Co. Wants to Develop in Southwest Pa.

A new power plant slated for Westmoreland County is in the works.

Tenaska Energy of Nebraska is pursuing clearance to build a natural gas-powered facility that would provide electricity for about 900,000 homes along the East Coast.

Tenaska Project Manager Dan Culver says the construction process of the South Huntington Township plant will take about five years. He says the plant would create 300 construction jobs and 25 to 30 permanent positions.

Culver says the facility would be “clean, modern, and quiet.” He says Tenaska has a reputation as an environmentally responsible company.

“The Natural Resources Defense Council, in 2008 in their benchmark studies, listed Tenaska as having the best record for controlling emissions of carbon dioxide and as one of the top performing companies for controlling nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide.”

Though the complex would only take up a space of about 50 acres, Tenaska has bought 400 acres of land just south of I-70 near West Newton. Culver says that would create a buffer to keep the plant out of sight of its neighbors.

Culver says the natural gas capacity of the Marcellus Shale bodes well for the Westmoreland plant.

More information on the plant can be found here.

While You Were Calling the Old Man

A belated happy fathers day to all you dads out there, and a happy solstice to the rest of you. The news this weekend was largely confined to spills of oil and sports, but we've dug out a few noteworthy tidbits from this morning to get you started this week.

While you were diving/collapsing/going Gaga ...
  • Biovail and Valeant are merging. The nearly 50/50 transaction is a bit complicated but suffice to say the two specialty pharma companies will combine operations under the Valeant banner but with Biovail's corporate structure and HQ'd in Canada. Valeant investors (who will hold 49.5% of the newco) get a one-time payout of $16.77 per share plus 1.7809 shares of Biovail for each share of Valeant. Valeant CEO J. Michael Pearson will become CEO of the newco while Biovail CEO Bill Wells will become chairman.
  • Affymax and Takeda released this morning their top-line Phase III results for Hematide -- all looks good except for the adjusted cardiovascular composite safety endpoint in non-dialysis patients in two of the four pivotal trials ...
  • Sosei is acquiring Japanese drug formulation company Activus for 500 million yen.
  • GSK has licensed rights to a topical lip-patch from Germany's Labtec GmbH for the treatment of cold sores.
  • And finally ... Exelixis has regained full development and commercialization rights to its Phase III MET/VEGFR2/RET inhibitor from partner Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. BMS entered a 50/50 dev-co arrangement for '184 as part of a deal signed in December 2008 that also included the Phase I cancer candidate XL281. Both drugs had been passed over by GSK when its broad option-alliance with Exelixis ended earlier that year. As part of this weekend's breakup BMS will pay Exelixis $17 million. There has been no major hiccup in '184's development, and the drug is in testing in more than a dozen tumor types. So what happened? As part of the 2008 agreement, goes Exelixis' statement, "BMS and Exelixis had originally agreed to certain clinical development plans, and Exelixis maintained key rights regarding timing and funding of current and future clinical trials. Given the recent progress of BMS’ wholly-owned oncology pipeline and positive data generated by XL184, Exelixis and BMS were not able to align on the scope, breadth and pace of the ongoing clinical development of XL184." The companies will continue to work together on other oncology candidates.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Forthcoming Attractions - Chronicles of Narnia and Guardians of Ga'Hoole

New trailers for two of the year's big fantasy releases...

As with any good fantasy, you need a colon in the title somewhere and that just happens to be the case with two of this year's upcoming movies, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'hoole, both of which have enjoyed new trailers this past week.

Chronicles of Narnia Voyage Dawn TreaderFirst up is The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the third in the Narnia series and the first to be released by 20th Century Fox after a dispute between production company Walden Media and previous distributors Walt Disney. Set for release worldwide on December 10th (along with a limited 3D release in the UK and US), the film sees younger Pevensies Lucy (Georgie Henley) and Edmond (Skandar Keynes) spending a dreary holiday with their cousin Eustace Clarence Scrub (Son of Rambow's Will Poulter). Drawn into Narnia when a painting of a ship on the wall of Lucy’s room comes to life, the three children fall into the ocean to be rescued be the Dawn Treader, where they are greeted by their friend Caspian (Ben Barnes) who has undertaken a quest to find the seven lost Lords of Narnia, as promised to Aslan (Liam Neeson).

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader trailer:

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'HooleHoping to launch a franchise of its own, Kathryn Lasky's Guardians of Ga'Hoole book series makes its way to the big screen courtesy of Watchmen director Zack Snyder, who makes his animated debut with Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole, set for a 3D release on September 24th in North America and October 15th here in the UK. Based on the first three books (The Capture, The Journey and The Rescue), The Owl's of Ga'Hoole follows Soren, a young owl enthralled by his father’s epic stories of the Guardians of Ga’ Hoole, a mythic band of winged warriors who had fought a great battle to save all of owlkind from the evil Pure Ones. While Soren dreams of someday joining his heroes, his older brother, Kludd, scoffs at the notion and yearns to hunt, fly and steal his father’s favor from his younger sibling. But Kludd’s jealousy has terrible consequences, causing both owlets to fall from their treetop home and right into the talons of the Pure Ones. Now it is up to Soren to make a daring escape with the help of other brave young owls and find the Great Tree, home of the legendary Guardians — Soren’s only hope of defeating the Pure Ones and saving the owl kingdoms.

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'hoole trailer:

More movie trailers here.

The big disappointments and suffering in the start of the World Cup Betting

World Cup BettingSpain choked with bitter Swiss chocolate. Brazil won with just enough against a team almost from the factory. Germany threatens to derail. For examples: the great suffering in this start of the 2010 World Cup Odds.

England left the court twice and both bored. They allow mediocre draws into question what brings Capello's team. But it is not the only candidates who looks lost.

Except Argentina, candidates to be crowned in the Soccer City began to stumble. Germany feasted against innocent Australia, competing in featherweight, and then went to the losing side when he threw a middleweight, Serbia.

Even when they win they are wrong. The triumphs of the Netherlands should be welcomed but generate more criticism for the lack of firepower orange team.

Combined the six major contenders for the crown (Argentina, Brazil, Italy, Spain and Holland), the balance is six victories in nine games. They tied one and lost two. Sounds ok. But on the court the balance is negative: they are the best in the world, not enough to win, they have to raise admiration. And so far heard tune.

If we add the host, the statistics are going down. When the giants no carbides and the host country lives shortages, the World Cup costs a lot of hot.

France is a special case: a computer is broken inside and out and is on its way to a cliff.

South Korea, Greece and Slovenia, among others, won some games, but people just found out. Fans ask the marker to write it down in the calendar of pocket. Nothing more. None of these choices will save the low-profile tournament, need to wake up the big ones.

Fatigue. Maybe the stars get tired after a fire season. Arjen Robben broke his back in the final of the Champions League with Bayern, ten days after he broke a muscle.

Lukas Podolski is staying her shirt large Germanic figure. Cristiano Ronaldo has to forget the bad years at Real Madrid and salvage the season with the Portuguese.

Only Argentina can go these days with their heads up, thanks to the oxygen of his four goals against South Korea. But beware, that in the World Cup betting just one stumbling block to go into the ravine. So he went to Germany: nobody talks about the beating to Australia, but the presentation loose against Serbia.

Brazil and Spain face their next commitments with many obligations. The measured Canarinha Ivory Coast today in order to secure your ticket and dispel the doubts. Beat North Korea 2-1 in the previous game was almost a moral defeat against players who earn a hundredth of the Brazilians.

Spain disappointed against Switzerland, if the matter falls back becomes tragedy. Les touches the easiest opponent in Group Theory, Honduras. If the Red Fury does not win, and it qualifies, will become the laughing stock of South Africa 2010.

Bet on Soccer at

Legend-ary day for Squawkers

Squawker Lisa and I went to the Subway Series Saturday, and in honor of the occasion and that fact that we were getting to sit in unbelievable seats, I decided to get a Mike Pelfrey shirt to wear in place of my usual Jose Reyes shirt. I'm hoping it was just a coincidence that Pelfrey lost only his second game of the year while Reyes hit two homers.

So after going 5-0 in my first five Met games this year, I finally saw a loss. Guess there's no sense in planning your games around who's pitching - the starters in the five wins I saw were John Maine twice, R.A. Dickey twice and Jon Niese. Pelfrey takes the mound at 9-1 and gives up five runs in the first four innings.

But I can't complain too much, not after my experience at last year's Bronx Subway Series visit (the Castillo debacle). And most of all, as Squawker Lisa detailed yesterday, the Squawkers were fortunate enough to sit in the Legends seats, six rows behind third base. Thanks again to the good folks at Blimpie for making it possible.

I'm generally content to sit in the upper regions of Citi Field, especially since the Promenade is the same height as Shea's mezzanine. And for me, field level down the line is a tradeoff from upper deck behind home plate. But six rows behind third base? I could sure get used to that!

The last time we went to a Subway Series game at Yankee Stadium, Lisa couldn't stop laughing after the Castillo play. Now it was my turn to laugh - she finally gets to sit in what she called the "A-Rod seats" and her favorite player is not playing third! And Derek Jeter is not playing short! At least, as the above photo shows, A-Rod made it to third as a runner.

Fortunately for me, David Wright and Jose Reyes were in the field, and Reyes, as already noted, had a great game.

Sitting in these seats included a pregame buffet, which was as spectactular as we had hoped it would be. Actually, the buffet continues into the seventh inning, but we got the bulk of our eating out of the way earlier so we could concentrate on the game. Besides, with options such as sushi, prime rib, omelets to order and much more, it's probably just as well that we needed to get to our seats!

The buffet features a celebrity chef, and on Saturday it was Frank Pellegrino of Rao's, the legendary Italian restaurant that is impossible to get into. The Rao's offerings were penne and meatballs and their special seafood salad. I had seconds.

So we truly had a once-in-a-lifetime day. If only the Mets had won!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Movies... For Free! Howl's Moving Castle (2004)

Howl's Moving Castle, 2004.

Directed by Hayao Miyazaki.
Featuring the voice talents of Jean Simmons, Christian Bale, Lauren Bacall, Billy Crystal, Emily Mortimer and Josh Hutcherson [English dub].

Howl's Moving Castle
Based on British author Diana Wynne Jones' 1986 childrens' fantasy novel and adapted by legendary Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki, Howl's Moving Castle is one of the most financially successful Japanese films of all-time (with worldwide receipts of $235m) and was nominated for Best Animated Feature at the 2006 Academy Awards.

It tells the story of teenager Sophie, who is turned into an old woman by the evil Witch of the Waste and finds refuge as a cleaner in the castle of a young wizard, Howl, who is reluctantly preparing for war with the neighbouring realm at the behest of the King. On board Howl's castle Sophie befriends Calcifer, a fire demon bound by a contract to the young wizard, and Howl's apprentice Markl, and together they set about to lift the Witch's curse and bring peace to the kingdom.

The English dub presented here was overseen by Pixar's Pete Doctor (director of Monsters, Inc. and Up), and received a theatrical release in North America courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures.

For more on the works of Hayao Miyazaki, be sure to check out Trevor Hogg's comprehensive five part profile Drawn to Anime.

Embed courtesy of Google Video.


Short Film Showcase - On Your Mark (1995)

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

Andrew Ranger wins NASCAR K&N West race at Infineon

Just got a note from NASCAR Canadian Tire series PR man Shon Sbarra saying that two-time NCATS champ Andrew Ranger won today's NASCAR K&N Series West race at Infineon Raceway. Thanks Shon and congratulations Andrew!

Race Results - Scotia Speedworld Weekly Racing Series, June 18th

Unofficial Race Results for the Scotia Speedworld Weekly Racing Series
For Immediate Release (Halifax, NS – June 18th)

Tirecraft Lightning Division (20 laps)
1st        #194   Jorden Smith
2nd       #145   Nick Hurshman
3rd        #144   Russell Smith Jr
4th        #119   Daniel Michaud Jr.
5th        #151   Cody Singer

Heat1 #199   Craig Cordeau
Heat2 #194   Jorden Smith

Tirecraft Thunder Division (25 laps)
1st        #99     Dave Matthews
2nd       #98     Kyle Gammon
3rd        #01     Tyler Hawes
4th        #67     Ross Harvie
5th        #1        Steve Lively

Heat1 #99     Dave Matthews
Heat2 #98      Kyle Gammon

Truck Division (20 laps)
1st        #4        JP Arsenault
2nd       #82     Wayne Ritchie         
3rd        #26     Gordon Ritchie
4th        #08     Curtis Lindsay
5th        #80     Vernon Brown

Heat1 #26     Gordon Ritchie

Legend Division (25 laps)
1st        #6        Steve Pye
2nd       #13     Paul Blenkhorn
3rd        #87     Greig Muir
4th        #3        Vance Hanes
5th        #29     Kyle Campbell

Heat1 #37     Cy Harvey
Heat2 #87      Greg Muir

Hydraulics Plus Bandolero Division (15 laps)
1st        #15     Emily Meehan
2nd       #8        DJ Casey
3rd        #5        Cole Butcher           
4th        #3        Jarrett Butcher
5th        #62     Luke Ettinger

Heat1 #8        DJ Casey

The next Weekly Racing Series event at Scotia Speedworld is June 25th for Kiddie Rides Night! Kids can realize a dream and go for a ride in a racecar! For complete details, check out

From Tara Foster / Scotia Speedworld

Giant Eagle Workers To Vote On Proposed Contract

After nearly six weeks of negotiations, Giant Eagle and Local 23 of the United Food and Commercial Workers have reached a tentative agreement on a new contract. The current contract for some 6,000 employees at 36 stores in the region is set to expire June 26.
The agreement comes just 2 days after each side filed charges against one another with the National Labor Relations Board.
Tony Helfer, President of Local 23, says details of the agreement will not be released until rank and file members are briefed, however the bargaining committee is unanimously recommending ratification...

“We had a lot of tough issues to work through, but both sides worked really hard, stuck to it and in the end I think we have an agreement that both sides can live with.”

Local 23 members will vote on the agreement Friday.

We're going to Saturday's Subway Series game - in style!

A few days ago, Squawker Jon and I were resigned to the fact that we wouldn't be going to the Subway Series at all this season, for the first time since we started writing Subway Squawkers.

Well, thanks to the good folks at Blimpie, not only are we going to Saturday's Subway Series game, but we're going to be sitting in the Legends Suite box seats!

We're so excited - and grateful - over this. I'm feeling like one of the women on "Oprah" who just found out that they're part of the "Oprah's Favorite Things" programs!

Here's the deal. Squawker Jon and I ran Blimpie's Subway Series giveaway contest for our readers, but we didn't expect anything out of it (we were just happy to give away a pair of tickets to one of our readers!) In fact, Jon and I joked to each other that this contest was the closest we were going to get to the Subway Series this year.

Then Thursday morning, I came home after running errands to find out literally the best news I've heard all year. There was a FedEx envelope from the YES Network (Blimpie is a sponsor for them) that my landlord had signed for me. Inside were the tickets.

To have something so cool - and so surprising - happen was amazing. But to have them for Saturday's Subway Series game is even more awesome. We can't wait for the game!

Message to Joe Girardi: Just say no to Chan Ho Park

Squawker Jon may be relieved that the Mets won, but I'm, of course, angry that the Yankees lost. And I'm also irate that Joe Girardi chose to use Chan Ho Park in a 1-0 game. Javier Vazquez - who pitched very well last night - may be the person with the L next to his name, but Park is the one who really deserves it.

Friday night's awful outing was just another in a season full of them for the South Korean righty. Park has allowed a run in eight of his 15 appearances this season and given up a glaring 25 hits in just 19 innings.

"He's just not making pitches," manager Joe Girardi said. "He just didn't locate well enough to get people out. When you get behind the leadoff hitter and walk him, you're asking for trouble."
You're also asking for trouble pitching him at all, Joe. And where was Joba, anyway? Off hiding with the Yankee bats these days?

Seeing Chan Ho Park in Friday's game was as inexplicable as seeing Roger Clemens at Fenway Park last night. At least Roger's appearance was funny, in a twisted way - he's trying to clear his name on using steroids, and he shows up to see...Manny Ramirez? Heh!

What do you think? Tell us about it!

Lady Gaga shows up at Yankees-Mets game, forgets pants

As I correctly guessed, singer Lady Gaga couldn't resist being at the Subway Series last night. But this time around, she remembered that she is really a Yankee fan, wearing a Bombers jersey. And she seemed to behave herself this time around. But Lady Gaga still forgot about a little invention called pants.

Gaga showed up in a slightly more appropriate outfit at Friday's Yankees-Mets game than the one she wore at Citi Field last week. Last night, the Madonna wannabe kept her Yankees jersey on, and wore what looked like a black bikini under it, with fishnet stockings on her legs. And a leopard beret on her head that reminded me of Matthew Broderick in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" for some reason. Ms. Gaga didn't flip anybody the bird this time. But still, no pants. What's up with that?

According to the New York Post, Lady Gaga met with Robinson Cano and Alex Rodriguez after the game. Wonder what those conversations were like!

What do you think? Tell us about it!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Ghost of Castillo play hangs over Met win

Last year's Bronx Subway Series opener ended in the ultimate nightmare for the Mets when Luis Castillo's drop turned victory into defeat. This year, two of Jerry Manuel's moves almost caused the same result.

Things could hardly be going better for the Mets right now, so I hate to harp on the few negatives. And Manuel did manage the bullpen well in the seventh and eighth. But when the Mets tacked on runs in both the eighth and ninth, this should have been a routine victory, not one in which future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter got to bat in the ninth as the tying run.

Manuel brought in Elmer Dessens to start the seventh, then pulled him after Dessens gave up a double to Francisco Cervelli. Pedro Feliciano entered, got all three outs in the seventh, then pitched the eighth as well. So far, so good. Manuel managed the bullpen aggressively, pulling Dessens quickly, then letting Feliciano go an extra inning. Thanks to the tack-on runs, the Mets led, 4-0, going into the bottom of the ninth.

With a four-run lead, it makes sense to at least start the ninth with someone besides Francisco Rodriguez. Granted, with Feliciano and Dessens already used, there was no clearly good option. But Raul Valdes, who had pitched only once since June 2? And there was a reason he has pitched so infrequently - his meltdown in San Diego when he allowed eight earned runs in two appearances while getting only one out.

Bringing in Valdes to start the ninth was a mistake. But leaving Valdes in after he gave up a single to Cervelli was a bigger mistake. You want to give him a chance with a four-run lead? Fine. But when Dessens, who is pitching a lot better than Valdes, gave up a hit to Cervelli in the seventh, Dessens was out. So why should Valdes get another chance?

Once Valdes gave up a hit to Curtis Granderson, Manuel finally brought in Rodriguez. After a 12-pitch at-bat, Brett Gardner walked. Suddenly, the bases were loaded with one out and the top of the Yankee order was coming up.

I was watching in a bar that was showing the YES broadcast, and they decided this was a good time to show the Castillo play. (I'm guessing SNY did not make the same decision.) But the Yankees were suddenly in a position to pull out what looked to be a hopelessly lost game. And once again, the culprit was Manuel's book.

In the postgame, Manuel admitted that he was not going to bring in K-Rod until it was a save situation. Manuel manages by the book way too often, without considering other factors. Here's a thought - a four-run lead against the Yankees, in their ballpark, is not as safe as most other four-run leads. Manuel didn't need to wait for the second baserunner to consider it a save situation.

I know the Yankee bats are slumping right now, but it's still a great lineup, and they bombed Roy Halladay just three days ago.

Fortunately, it all worked out. The Mets have won eight in a row, are 7-0 on the road trip, and have clinched at least a tie in this year's Subway Series.

The ghosts may have come out at the old Yankee Stadium, but the closest we came to the ghost of the Castillo play came when tonight's Met second baseman, Ruben Tejada, dropped a ball in the eighth, allowing Nick Swisher, who had tagged up, to slide safely into second. But Swisher didn't score.

I couldn't help but wince, though, when David Wright caught the game-ending popup with one hand.

Next Week

Things went a little haywire with the vote on where to poll this week, I'm thinking maybe because of the crush of traffic that resulted from getting Drudge linked on the poll that showed Louisiana voters thinking Bush did better with Katrina than Obama's done with oil spill. Texas and Pennsylvania were winning by a wide margin before that happened and that's where we'll poll this week.

In Texas we'll obviously look at the Governor's race. We're also going to investigate folks' thoughts about Kay Bailey Hutchison possibly running again and Joe Barton's comments. And we'll see if they think TCU and/or Houston should be added to the Big 12, and what conference they want Texas, Texas A&M, and Texas Tech playing in even if that decision's already been made for the time being.

In Pennsylvania we'll do both the Senate and Gubernatorial races, see what folks think about Rick Santorum these days, and take the pulse of Steelers fans on Ben Roethlisberger.

Stay tuned for that next week and have a great weekend!

Local Congress Aims to Cut Costs via Collaboration

Allegheny County leaders gathered in Oakland today to discuss issues common to Pittsburgh and the 35 municipalities that border the city.

The Congress of Neighboring Communities (CONNECT) wants the 36 urban governments to work together on issues like emergency medical services, LED street lights and funding for the Port Authority of Allegheny County.

Professor Dave Miller of the University of Pittsburgh created CONNECT. He says the measures taken by this 2nd Congress are meant to cut costs.

“I think in the area of, for instance, street lighting, which is a huge expense for all the municipalities, developing a common strategy around street lighting could not only yield financial savings but also could really improve the quality of life and quality of service in the core region of Allegheny County,” says Miller.

Mt. Lebanon 1st Ward Commissioner D. Raja says CONNECT helps him find ways to keep infrastructure costs down. He says so far, he hasn’t been opposed to any of the resolutions adopted by the Congress.

“The way this has been structured so far, it is looking to make it a win for all communities, so things like sharing costs and all that, that’s going to help every single one, and not just one municipality,” says Raja. “If you take it to the next level and say one municipality has to subsidize somebody else, that’s a different level, but we’re not there yet.”

Miller says 680,000 people live in CONNECT municipalities. He says that region is also home to the majority of the county’s jobs.

More information can be found at the CONNECT homepage.

Should Manny Ramirez be cheered - or booed - at Fenway?

I wrote a piece for The Faster Times about Manny Ramirez's return to Fenway Park tonight, saying that I thought most fans would cheer him in his first at-bat.

So I'm wondering what our Red Sox fan readers think. What say you, Boston fans?

As for myself, I do kind of miss seeing Manny 19 games a year - at least the personality part. I found "Manny being Manny" pretty darn entertaining over the years. Don't miss him killing the Yankees at every turn, though!

What do you think? Tell us about it!

Hagan seeing uptick in approval numbers

The North Carolina politician who's seen the best improvement in their approval numbers since the start of the year, albeit quietly, has been Kay Hagan. Her numbers still leave something to be desired with 34% of voters giving her good marks to 39% who disapprove. But that represents a significant improvement from where she was in January when just 29% of voters said they approved of her with 42% disapproving.

Her most dramatic improvement has come with independents, whose negative feelings seem to have softened a little bit with the health care issue in the rear view mirror. Earlier this year Hagan saw a -27 approval spread with them at 21/48 but she's improved 15 points on that front to -12 at 27/39. She's also seeing an increase in popularity with her base, from 49% approval with Democrats earlier this year to now 56%.

At the start of 2010 there was a 16 point gap in the approval spreads of Hagan and Richard Burr, with her at -13 and him at 3. Now there's just a 3 point gap with Hagan's at -5 and Burr's at -2.

The main reason Hagan's numbers continue to be in overall negative territory is that Republicans are more strong in their disapproval (72%) of her than Democrats are in their favor (56%). That's mostly because 29% of Democrats haven't yet formed an opinion of Hagan while only 19% of GOP voters reserve judgment.

Hagan has a way to go but unlike most politicians across the country her numbers are at least on an upward trajectory so far in 2010.

CPRB and City Spar Over Redacted Documents

The Pittsburgh Citizen Police Review Board (CPRB) and the city will be back in court in August to make oral arguments as to why the heavily redacted documents given to the CPRB by the city do or do not meet a judge’s order to hand over materials needed to investigate police officers' actions during the G20 summit in September. At a contempt of court hearing today, CPRB lawyer Ward McGough argued that so much information was lined through that the documents are unusable. Paul Krepps, the attorney for the city, says if the information was not redacted the city could be in violation of privacy laws. The city also argued that releasing the data could in some cases jeopardize future operations. Along with arrest, incident, summons, subject resistance, and investigative reports, the board asked for operational documents such as the manual given to visiting officers and the insurance policy taken out by the city to cover the time around the G20. CPRB Executive Director Elizabeth Pittinger says because the information in the documents has been "blacked out" the board is unable to do its job. Pittinger notes that in other cases being investigated by the CPRB the city has handed over the documents without any redaction. The judge has given the city and the CPRB until August 26th to prepare for oral arguments. Between now and then there are several deadlines including a date to submit written arguments.

It has also been learned that the Pittsburgh City Council and the Mayor are submitting new names to fill the Citizen Police Review Board. The council and the mayor choose the seven-member board. All of the current members of the board are serving under expired terms. Some of them have been serving in that capacity for two years according to Pittinger. When asked to react to the submission of seven new names Pittinger said, “I think you would have to look upon it as a retaliatory act.”

Pittsburgh Mayoral spokesperson Joanna Doven says the approval of the board nominees on the same day as the court hearing was coincidental and in no way a retaliation. Doven says the 4 names from the council were submitted to the mayor 58 days ago and he had 60 days to review them and sign off on the nominations. Doven was also quick to point out that of the three nominations made by the mayor two are current CPRB members.

Bail Denied, Veon Sent to Prison

Former Pennsylvania House Democratic Whip Mike Veon will spend six to fourteen years in state prison for conducting campaign work with public resources.
Judge Richard Lewis told Veon his “thirst for more power and prestige…caused him to ignore the very laws and regulations he had a hand in creating.”
Lewis said “Hard earned tax dollars were essentially prostituted for political ambition” in the tax-funded bonuses for campaign work scheme.
Veon did not testify during his winter trial, but he made a statement during the sentencing hearing.
He acknowledged making mistakes, and said he apologized.
Veon said he was proud of what he accomplished as a lawmaker, saying “I had an unusual, incredible work ethic.”
Prosecutor Marc Costanzo says even though Veon didn’t come up with the illegal bonus idea, he led the illegal effort.

"It was clearly, based on the testimony of (Michael) Manzo and (Scott) Brubaker – it was their idea. But their good idea would have gone nowhere without Veon being told about it, OKing it, and allowing them to effectuate it. And he monitored it all along."

Lewis denied bail for Veon while he appeals. The onetime legislative leader was handcuffed and led out of the courtroom at the end of the hearing.

Canadian Tire takes a grand stand in support of the Honda Indy Edmonton

EDMONTON, AB – The 2010 Honda Indy Edmonton has added yet another major sponsor for this year’s event. “Our newest Gold Sponsor is Canadian Tire, a company that’s been flourishing across our country for 88 years. One of the grandstands at the track will now be known as the Canadian Tire grandstand,” said Northlands President Ken Knowles. “Canadian Tire has, for many years, been involved in auto racing in Canada to varying degrees, and we’re very pleased to have them on board as a sponsor.”

Knowles went on to say that “Canadian Tire’s made it abundantly clear that they have every intention of returning to prominence with race fans across Canada. Automotive is the cornerstone of their business, and they strongly believe that anything less than great customer service is unacceptable. We couldn’t be happier having Canadian Tire aboard.”

Returning as the official vehicle rental supplier for the Honda Indy Edmonton is DRIVING FORCE.

"DRIVING FORCE is pleased to be involved in this event for the fifth year running.  We've been supporting Indy since the very first race was held in Edmonton in 2005, and we’re happy to continue supporting this world class event,” said Claudette Kirdeikis, marketing director for DRIVING FORCE Vehicle Rentals, Sales and Leasing.

Tickets for the 2010 Honda Indy Edmonton are on sale online at or at, or by calling Ticketmaster at 780-451-8000.

About the Honda Indy Edmonton: The Honda Indy Edmonton is the 11th round in the 17 race IZOD IndyCar Series. Auto Racing fans across North America get to see the best in open-wheel racing in Edmonton when the Honda Indy Edmonton takes to the track July 23-25.

About Northlands:  Northlands attracts and produces the biggest and best live entertainment and events Edmonton has ever seen. In fact, it’s what we do best. Nobody treats Edmonton to bigger sporting events, world-class entertainment and more spectacular celebrations. Our more than 2,500 events attract more than four million visitors to Edmonton every year while generating $1 billion in economic activity in Alberta. We reinvest our earnings back into the community and work hard to deliver the best in world-class entertainment that our guests have come to expect from us. We take great pride helping build our city and making Edmonton a great place to live and play. Visit to find out more.

From Honda Indy Edmonton

This week's GOP numbers

There's a lot more support from home state Republicans for a Bobby Jindal 2012 run in Louisiana than we found for Jim DeMint in South Carolina a couple weeks ago.

48% of Republican primary voters in Louisiana would like to see Jindal make a bid for the White House, while only 24% in South Carolina expressed the same sentiment when it came to their home state Senator the last time we surveyed there. When included in the field of possible GOP candidates along with Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, Ron Paul, and Mitt Romney Jindal pulls 44% in Louisiana compared to just a 21% showing for DeMint on a similar South Carolina poll. Having strong home state backing isn't a requirement for running for President but it certainly says something about your ability to resonate with voters and Jindal's doing pretty well on that front.

Taking Jindal out of the mix this week's round of GOP 2012 polling in Illinois and Louisiana is most positive for Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee. Huckabee is tied for the lead in both states, at 24% with Gingrich in Louisiana and at 25% with Romney in Illinois. In addition to tying for the lead in Louisiana Gingrich also finishes just 2 points out of first place in Illinois.

Romney fares well in Illinois but finishes a distant 4th in Louisiana. Palin finishes just a point ahead in Louisiana but finishes a distant 4th in Illinois. The bottom line, as we have found repeatedly, is that these candidates are closely bunched together and there's no favorite. And that could allow someone like Jindal to rise from the pack.

Full results here

Historical Commission Wants More Info on Arena Plans

The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission has sent a letter to the City-County Sports and Exhibition Authority questioning the speed of the razing of the Mellon Arena. The facility officially goes dark in August when the Penguins move their offices into the Consol Energy Center. At that time, using tax dollars, the SEA would be responsible for utilities, maintenance and insurance costs. A consultant told the SEA board that would be about $78,000 to $100,000 a month depending on whether the plan is to demolish the arena or keep it ready for possible re-use.
In her letter to the SEA, Historical Commission Director Jean Cutler said they want to make sure they've received all crucial information to fully understand the process and the effects on historic resources (the arena). The SEA sent a study it commissioned that supports the Penguins plans to demolish the arena and develop the 28 acre site. Two preservation groups have commissioned their own study on keeping the arena.

Veon Gets 6 to 14 Years in Prison

Former Pennsylvania House Democratic Whip Mike Veon was sentenced today for his March conviction on 14 counts of theft, conspiracy and conflict of interest in connection with the use of tax dollars for employees doing campaign work on state time. Dauphin County Judge Richard Lewis sentenced Veon to 6 to 14 years in prison, fined him $37,000 and ordered him to pay $100,000 in restitution. The prosecution had asked for a 12 to 17 year prison term.
Prior to his sentencing, Veon told the judge "I made mistakes, I apologize."
Judge Lewis denied his request to be free on bond while he appeals.

Earlier today, Judge Lewis sentenced Veon's former aide, Annamarie Perretta-Rosepink to 3 to 6 months in jail followed by 3 months house arrest and 45 months probation. Perretta-Rosepink, who ran the district office of former Beaver County State Representative Mike Veon, was fined $8,000 and ordered to pay $25,000 in restitution. The judge said she clearly broke the law , but he didn't believe she was a central figure in the scheme to use public resources for campaign work.

Deals of the Week Goes Hollywood

It's not every day that a biopharma company swaps dreams of developing a blockbuster for dreams of developing a different sort of blockbuster (GSK's documentary dreams notwithstanding) but today ImaRx Therapeutics is doing just that. The erstwhile vascular therapeutics play was trading about 99% off its IPO price last we checked in -- investors had seemingly given up on blockbusters of the first variety.

Well, say goodbye to ImaRx, now just a shell of a company anyway. Say hello to Sycamore Films.

Sadly it's unfortunately not very uncommon for a biotech to meet its demise, especially in today's environment. But it did get us thinking. If the biopharmaceutical industry were a movie, what would it be? (C'mon people, it's Friday.) The first one that springs to mind for this blogger is Risky Business. (Of course the medical devices world needs its own movie too: this bit of Medtronic news has us thinking about the end of Se7en ... "what's in the box??!?!")

Your suggestions in the comments, pls. Meanwhile, not so long ago in a conference room not so far away . . .

Gen-Probe/Pacific Biosciences: Molecular diagnostics provider Gen-Probe, one of the original developers of nucleic-acid-based diagnostic test platforms, is getting into the sequencing game, via a $50 million investment in privately held Pacific Biosciences, part of the sequencing company’s Series F. The companies will also co-develop systems based on PacBio’s single-molecule sequencing technology aimed at the clinical diagnostics market. They will work exclusively with each other for two-and-a-half years on the program. Several other companies including IBM, Illumina, Life Technologies, Oxford Nanopore Technologies, and newcomer Ion Torrent are developing real-time, single-molecule sequencing technologies, with some geared towards eventually being able to look at the entire human genome. The move by Gen-Probe appears to be part of a strategy gaining favor with life science tools providers to provide an integrated sequencing offering including sample prep, sequence measurement, assays, and perhaps even bioinformatics in one package. Expectations are that technical validation of these systems will come in the next five years, and with sequencing costs rapidly decreasing – one start-up recently suggested the capability for whole-genome sequencing at under $100 around year-end – the clinical diagnostics market appears to be within reach for these companies. --Mark Ratner

Tranzyme/Norgine: In seeking a European development and commercialization partner for ulimorelin, a ghrelin agonist about to enter Phase III in gastrointestinal dysmotility disorders such as post-operative ileus, Tranzyme Pharma thinks it found the perfect fit. Tranzyme’s June 16 tie-up with Netherlands-based Norgine BV includes only $8 million up-front. But more importantly to the North Carolina biotech, the deal leaves it with North American rights to its lead program, while Norgine obtains rights in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, the Middle East and Africa. In addition to Norgine’s focus on gastrointestinal disorders, CEO Vipin Garg said one of the factors he likes best about the partnership is the regional nature of the deal and in particular that Norgine is “pan-European” rather than specializing in its home market or just a few countries. “A lot of companies want worldwide rights nowadays for products [or] just US or North American rights," told “The Pink Sheet” DAILY. “In our case, we wanted to retain those rights for ourselves and perhaps partner them later or even have the ability to build a small sales force” to sell the drug to hospital-based docs. Beyond the upfront payment, Tranzyme also is eligible to earn up to $150 million in development, approval and commercial milestones; Garg would not break down the biobucks specifically other than to say that the first milestone would be realized upon completion of the first Phase III trial.—Joseph Haas

Bayer/OncoMed: OncoMed Pharmaceuticals pulled in an eyebrow-raising $154 million Series B round in 2008, but investors apparently aren't the only ones that think the company is on to something. The cancer stem cell-focused biotech has signed its second major pharmaceutical collaboration – the only two significant deals in the space to date. The Redwood City, Calif., firm received $40 million upfront June 17 from Bayer Schering Pharma to co-discover and co-develop five agents that target the Wnt cancer stem cell pathway. The new partnership follows a 2007 deal with GlaxoSmithKline in which privately held OncoMed received an undisclosed upfront payment and equity investment in exchange for option rights to four monoclonal antibodies targeting the Notch cancer stem cell pathway. With potential discovery, development, regulatory and sales milestones, the deal with GSK was valued at up to $1.4 billion. The Bayer/OncoMed tie-up is similarly risk-adjusted: for starters, the German pharma gets an option to license development and commercial rights to antibody and protein therapeutics developed under the collaboration up through completion of Phase I. OncoMed can receive up to $397.5 million in milestones for each antibody or protein therapeutic developed and commercialized successfully, along with double-digit sales royalties. OncoMed will also assist Bayer in developing small molecule cancer therapies that target the Wnt pathway, which could earn it up to $112 million per successful candidate.--JAH

Neurocrine/Abbott: Less than a month after Neurocrine Biosciences said it was seeking a partner to advance into Phase III its novel gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) antagonist, elagolix, it sealed a deal with Abbott. Abbott agreed to pay $75 million upfront to develop and globally commercialize elagolix for the treatment of endometriosis-related pain, and undertake Phase II studies for the treatment of uterine fibroids. Neurocrine, a bit of a comeback tale since losing lead asset indiplon a few years ago, also could earn up to $500 million in milestones, mainly tied to pre-commercial achievements, and will receive undisclosed sales royalties. In addition to endometriosis and uterine fibroids, Neurocrine believes elagolix could be used to treat prostate cancer and benign prostatic hyperplasia, since the drug lowers testosterone levels in men. Though Neurocrine had been in talks with several potential partners, Abbott's experience with the GnRH mechanism made it an ideal fit, President and Chief Executive Kevin Gorman told “The Pink Sheet” DAILY. Abbott sells Lupron (leuprolide), an injectable GnRH agonist, which is one of two approved therapies for endometriosis. Leuprolide also is indicated to treat prostate cancer, which Gorman said adds value to the deal since elagolix is in preclinical studies for this use.--Carlene Olsen

Neurocrine/Boehringer Ingelheim: Sequels aren't usually as good as the original and this is frankly no exception. But Neurocrine's second deal this week, announced less than a day after its deal with Abbott, is nothing to sniff at either. Neurocrine on Thursday inked a pact with Boehringer Ingelheim to discover and develop small molecule GPR119 agonists to treat type-2 diabetes and other indications. Neurocrine gets $10 million up-front plus research funding and is elgible for development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments and royalties on any products BI develops from the collaboration. GPR119 is a GPCR thought to play a variety of roles in inducing insulin secretion; BI has made no secret of its desire to become a player in diabetes, though it hasn't done many deals. --CM

Covidien/Somanetics: Call it the Covidien Creep. Just as the medical device company moved slowly into the vascular and neurovascular business with the successive acquisitions of Bacchus Vascular, VNUS Technologies and this month's $2.6 billion acquisition of ev3 Inc., Covidien now is building its oximetry and monitoring products with its second sizable acquisition in less than a year with the purchase of publicly traded Somanetics Inc. Covidien agreed to pay $250 million, or $25 per share, for the company, seller of the INVOS System, which measures blood oxygen levels in the brain of surgical patients so clinicians can detect and correct a variety of threatening complications. The technology pairs nicely with the Bispectral Index, the only system capable of measuring the effects of anesthesia and sedatives on the brain. Covidien added the Bispectral to its oximetry and monitoring group last year by acquiring Aspect Medical Systems Inc. for $210 million. The combined revenues from Aspect and Somanetics will add $150 million in annual revenue to the Oximetry and Monitoring group, which reported $636 million in revenue in each of the last two fiscal years. Even with the additional revenue, oximetry and monitoring will likely be the fourth largest in Covidien’s medical device unit but that could change with future acquisitions.--Tom Salemi

Basilea/Almirall: Switzerland's Basilea Pharmaceutia has signed on Spain's Almirall to be the exclusive distributor of Basilea's eczema treatment Toctino (alitretinoin) in 10 European markets and Mexico. Now Basilea can benefit from broader sales of Toctino without making costly investments to build its own commercial infrastructure in Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Italy, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia and Spain. At the same time, Almirall, a top 10 dermatology country in Europe, gains a novel therapy for its portfolio – Toctino is the only therapy approved for adults with severe chronic hand eczema unresponsive to potent topical corticosteroids. Almirall will make an upfront payment of €5 million, and Basilea also could receive milestone payments related to the launch of Toctino in two key markets of up to €11 million, plus €11 million more in pre-specified sales milestones. Basilea also retains the right to co-promote Toctino in selected markets. Though Basilea would not disclose its transfer price for Toctino, Merrill Lynch analysts estimate that the biotech will receive 44 percent to 55 percent of the product's revenues generated in Almirall's distribution markets. Toctino's fortunes are especially important for Basilea given the high-profile failure and break-up with Johnson & Johnson over its next likely commercial candidate, the anti-infective drug ceftobiprole. Since then, the biotech has made aggressive moves to regain its footing, including a licensing deal with Astellas Pharma earlier this year. --CO

image from flickr user emma.kate used under a creative commons license