Early Briefing: Preparing for Guests

*Since opening her European-style Chez Hareg bakery in the District's Shaw neighborhood last year, Haregewine Messert, an immigrant from Ethiopia, had neglected the backyard lot behind her shop, allowing it to become overrun with weeds.

But this week new gravel is on the ground. Patio tables have been arranged. And a fresh coat of paint covers a wooden fence that encloses the area. The reason for the renovation?

Twenty thousand soccer fans are expected in the Washington area this week to watch teams of Ethiopian immigrants from the United States and Canada compete. The annual tournament has become one of the largest gatherings of Ethiopians outside their homeland.

*Suddenly having Google as a competitor could quickly spell death for a smaller firm. When the search giant last week unveiled a tool that measures audiences for various Web sites, Reston-based ComScore saw its stock drop by 23 percent in one day.

Now the Web analytics company is working to convince shareholders and clients that its services trump those offered by Google and that its business will not be harmed.

"I don't think Google intends to compete in this space at all," ComScore chief executive Magid Abraham said in an interview Friday. "I don't think this will change what we do a whole lot."

*The Washington region's once-promising financial sector has taken some of the hardest hits among area stocks as the broader market has moved into bear territory. Shares of Friedman, Billings, Ramsey Group, Allied Capital, American Capital Strategies and J.E. Robert Trust were among those that took a beating.

*In Sprint's multibillion-dollar vision, Washingtonians will soon be able to sit in a moving car (passenger seat, please) and take part in a video chat while downloading a movie and writing e-mails.

That is courtesy of a fast new wireless technology called WiMax. But while Sprint has faced delays making WiMax a reality, a little-known Ashburn firm has been connecting residents in such unlikely places as Jackson, Wyo.; Appomattox, Va.; and Idaho Falls, Idaho, to the Internet.

What DigitalBridge Communications has done offers a preview of what the technology might mean for the rest of the country. DigitalBridge has brought broadband Web access to homes that had none, and now it's allowing people to access the Web on the road with their laptops at about the same speed they'd get at home or at work.

*Tomorrow, British life-sciences firm Xceleron will open the doors to a $7.5 million lab headquarters in Germantown and introduce the local biotech cluster to a technique called "microdosing." The company says microdosing, designed to let companies bypass less-precise animal tests and shorten the long, costly drug development process, will revolutionize the drug development process.

Before a new drug even enters full-scale clinical trials, Xceleron administers harmless, microscopic doses of the potential drug to human test patients. If the results show promise, drug companies can proceed with spending millions of dollars and time further developing the potential product. If not, they're saved that money and time.

By Terri Rupar  |  June 30, 2008; 5:00 AM ET  | Category:  Morning Brief
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