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Selected Media Coverage: May 10, 2007

Making a major impact with microfinance
05/10/2007 - BizEd (cir. 15,000)

Materials chemistry: Soaked up then spat out
05/10/2007 - Nature (cir. 50,000)

Local news big for private equity
05/09/2007 - CNNMoney.com (cir. 336,667)

Pope's Latin American flock waning
05/08/2007 - Christian Science Monitor - Online (cir. )


Making a major impact with microfinance
05/10/2007 - BizEd (cir. 15,000)
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NOTE: Please click on the paperclip to the left to view a PDF copy of the six-page microfinance article, as well as a special sidebar that features the work of three undergraduate Computer Science & Business students.


Materials chemistry: Soaked up then spat out
05/10/2007 - Nature (cir. 50,000)
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NOTE: The following appeared in the magazine's Research Highlights.

A material that will adsorb organic contaminants from water and then spit them back out on command has been devised by Steven Regen of Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and his colleagues. This ability to self-clean means the adsorbent could be used many times over for pollution extraction, without requiring any separate flushing steps.

The material consists of a network of crosslinked polymer chains to which surfactants are bound. At room temperature, the material is a waxy, solid-like gel, but when warmed gently (to above 30 °C or so) the surfactants adopt a fluid liquid-crystalline state. Chlorinated hydrocarbons, mimicking common toxic pollutants, are soaked up by the surfactants in their fluid-like state, then ejected by compaction of the network on cooling.


Local news big for private equity
05/09/2007 - CNNMoney.com (cir. 336,667)
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NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Northeastern Pennsylvania's media situation is like a miniature snapshot of the industry's national mosaic.

Ten years ago, an array of small daily newspapers struggled to survive in the working-class region. Newspapers in towns such as Hazleton, Wilkes-Barre, Pottsville and Shamokin all faced sagging or stagnant circulation numbers and were the constant subject of rumors on whether they would die or survive.

Enter Times-Shamrock Communications.

The burgeoning Scranton, Pa.-based family-owned media chain, with a few dozen broadcast and print properties stretching south to Orlando and west to San Antonio, began gobbling up the smaller papers one by one, establishing something of a coal region news empire.

With the most recent acquisition, Hazleton's 19,000-circulation Standard-Speaker, Times-Shamrock, with its flagship Scranton Times-Tribune, is now the undeniable king of all Northeastern Pennsylvania media. The chain controls newspapers in a hundred-mile swath of territory running south along Interstate 81, making the company a player, albeit a smaller one, in a media merger mania taking place across the nation.

At a time when controversial media mogul Rupert Murdoch is vying to take over Wall Street Journal parent Dow Jones (Charts), Reuters news service from Thomson (Charts), and investor Sam Zell is taking Tribune Publishing private, Northeastern Pennsylvania's case stands as an interesting metaphor.

Media analyst Jack Lule at Lehigh University calls the Times-Shamrock Hazleton purchase 'absolutely a microcosm for the national and international trend toward these consolidations.' With the purchase, Times-Shamrock's control of the print market stretches from the far north of Pennsylvania nearly to the state capital in Harrisburg. Only Wilkes-Barre's Times Leader, itself taken over by a private equity interest recently after spending almost 30 years bouncing from Capital Cities to Disney (Charts, Fortune 500) to Knight Ridder to McClatchy (Charts), stands outside the Times-Shamrock grip.

Such potential for news homogenization worries local analysts such as Lule and Walter Brasch, a journalism professor at Bloomsburg University, some 30 miles west of Hazleton. Nevertheless, Brasch said, the alternative could be worse for papers like the Standard-Speaker and Wilkes-Barre's smaller daily, the Citizens' Voice, which Times-Shamrock bought seven years ago and restored to health after the paper looked ready to go under. 'I really don't like that independent newspapers are being bought out. It weakens the independent voice,' Brasch said. 'But sometimes a good chain is better than a weak independent.' A smaller company like Times-Shamrock can boast that it is on the cutting edge of the M&A trend in media, which is to say that when buyers are looking for hot properties they're turning their gaze away from big-city metros and looking toward community-based publications like the Hazleton paper.

Private equity's takeover of the newspaper industry was the leading trend in the $9.96 billion worth of newspaper M&A transactions in 2006, many of which involved local papers. Publicly held McClatchy led the way with its $6.5 billion buyout of Knight-Ridder, which it followed by selling $2.1 billion worth almost exclusively to private buyers. 'Privately held companies continue to see value in community newspapers,' Owen Van Essen, president of newspaper M&A firm Dirks, Van Essen & Murray, said in a statement. 'Prices in the private marketplace remain strong despite lower valuations for the public companies.' Other leading privately held players in the field include Community Newspaper Holdings Inc., which bought seven Dow Jones dailies, and Dean Singleton's MediaNews Group. Avista Capital, meanwhile, bought the Minneapolis Star-Tribune in a deal valued at $530 million.

Many of the papers, like the Philadelphia Inquirer, acquired by a local private equity interest last year, are helping their bottom lines by shifting their focus away from ambitious foreign bureaus and inside-the-Beltway coverage and toward what the industry is calling 'hyperlocal journalism.' Lule recalled a statement by new Inquirer owner Brian Tierney, who told the Washington Post after the paper's acquisition that, 'We don't need a Jerusalem bureau. What we need are more people in the South Jersey bureau.' 'As a journalist and former Philadelphia Inquirer writer, I found those words to be somewhat troubling, and yet there's a kernel of truth in that,' Lule said. 'If choices are going to have to be made for lhe country on Thursday to send the pope a message.

"This pope is worried about the advances we've made as a society," she says.

Ms. Vasconcelos is part of Latin America's liberation theology movement, which rose to prominence in the 1980s as church leaders advocated a more direct role in addressing the needs of the poor. The movement was particularly strong in Brazil, and one of its harshest critics was then Cardinal Ratzinger, the current pope. To the backdrop of the rise of left-leaning governments throughout Latin America today, some wonder how the movement, while not as publicly active as before, will fare.

"It is commonplace to say liberation theology is dead, but it's not true," says Ms. Stewart-Gambino, of LeHigh. "And this is a pope who was the hatchet man for liberation theology."


Obstacles for pope's visit

Even for those who agree with the Church on its moral stances, the pope faces other obstacles. Fabricio Vicente dos Santos is a young pharmacist in São Paulo who agrees with the Catholic Church's stances on homosexuality and abortion but converted to Pentecostalism two years ago. "He is coming here because they are losing so many people," he says, "but it is not going to work."

Even strict Catholic adherents were devastated that the new pope did not hail from their region – since Latin Americans make up half the world's church membership.

And while Pope Benedict XVI shares conservative moorings with his predecessor, he lacks his easy charm, many say. Where Pope John Paul II would go to the smallest towns to hold the smallest babies in countries he visited, Pope Benedict XVI will not veer from the wealthy state of São Paulo.

He is a theologian, an academic, a believer in hierarchy, analysts say. In composure, he could not differ more from the Latin America he will visit. Cecilia Mariz, a religious scholar at the State University of Rio de Janeiro, says she remembers the first visit of Pope John Paul II in 1980. Everyone was talking about it, she says. "This time the pope is not traveling through the country, he doesn't have the charisma of the previous pope, and the country is less Catholic, too. It just doesn't have the same appeal," Ms. Mariz says.

But it is still a historic moment for the country. Tanus Saab, whose family owns Keka Flowers and is decorating São Bento for the pope's visit, holds a bright pink Heliconia in his arm. They are using more than 3,000 tropical flowers including 150 orchids to adorn entranceways, the pope's room in the São Bento monastery, and the church. A young 20-something, he doesn't believe in all of Rome's views – his own father was a priest who left the church to marry his mother – but he says it's still a once-in-a-lifetime event. "This is important," he says, "and is bringing energy to Brazil."

The pope's Brazil schedule


May 9: Arrives; evening appearance at São Bento monastery in São Paulo.

May 10: Meets President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva; addresses the Brazilian bishops in the cathedral of São Paulo.

May 11: Canonizes the country's first saint, Antonio de Sant'Anna Galvao.

May 12: Visits facility for recovering drug addicts at Aparecida, the site of Brazills most famous shrine.

May 13: Presides over Mass opening the fifth general meeting of regional bishops. Heads back to Rome.

Source: Catholic World News

Posted on Thursday, May 10, 2007

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