These North Philly Kids Did the Tango for the Pope

Photo | Rob DiRienzo

Just after taking the stage at the Festival of Families, Jafar Thomas couldn’t lose his smile.

“I knew I had to give a good performance to everyone who came here,” he said.

He is one of 40 eighth graders from the Jesuit elementary school Gesu School in North Philadelphia who had been preparing for weeks to dance on the festival stage in Logan Square—broadcast for thousands on the 40 Jumbotrons set up along the Parkway and other places throughout the city.

Continue reading “These North Philly Kids Did the Tango for the Pope”

AOL Founder Gives Drexel Grad $100,000

This article originally appeared on

Left: Steve Case talking to a group of entrepreneurs in Detroit during a previous Rise of the Rest tour. (Photo courtesy of Revolution.) Right, Christopher Gray, via LinkedIn
Left: Steve Case talking to a group of entrepreneurs in Detroit during a previous Rise of the Rest tour (photo courtesy of Revolution). | Right, Christopher Gray, via LinkedIn

During AOL founder Steve Case‘s visit to Philadelphia, he gave Drexel University alumnus Christopher Gray $100,000, Philly reports.

As part of his ‘Rise of the Rest’ tour, Case has been hearing pitches from entrepreneurs from across the East Coast.  Gray’s pitch: an app he has been working on that aggregates scholarship applications called Scholly. Continue reading “AOL Founder Gives Drexel Grad $100,000”

Pope-a-Potties Are Going In. 3,000 of Them.

Photo | Rob DiRienzo

In preparation for Popestock, crews have begun unloading and staging some 3,000 port-a-potties and 350 urinal stalls on and around the Ben Franklin Parkway. Some worry that won’t be enough.

That will be one stall for every 250 people, organizers said back in July. However, if the events draw around 1.5 million people as projected by the city, to meet that ratio they would need to have closer to 6,000 plastic boxes for people to do their business.

“It’s a weird topic, but it’s one that needs to be talked about,” Bianca Bethel, ESM Productions’ event manager told the Associated Press. “We don’t want to be that city where people leave saying, ‘I had no place to go to the restroom.'” Continue reading “Pope-a-Potties Are Going In. 3,000 of Them.”

Professor Cleared On Spying Charges

This article originally appeared on


Charges against Temple University Physics Department Chair Professor Xiaoxing Xi have been dropped in light of “new information,” the U.S. Justice Department said.

He was indicted for sharing “sensitive” information with colleagues in China about a piece of laboratory equipment used in his superconductivity research.

Prof. Xi has maintained his innocence since the charges were filed in May.

The charges were dropped after several sworn affidavits from scientists that confirmed that schematics Xi sent to Chinese scientists had nothing to do with the proprietary device.

“I don’t expect them to understand everything I do,” Xi told the New York Times. “But the fact that they don’t consult with experts and then charge me? Put my family through all of this? Damage my reputation? They shouldn’t do this. This is not a joke. This is not a game.”

Federal prosecutors filed a motion Friday to dismiss the case.

“The leadership of the American Physical Society is immensely relieved to learn of the government’s dismissal of the charges against Professor Xiaoxing Xi,” said American Physical Society Pres. Sam Aronson. “We are deeply concerned for Professor Xi and his family regarding the ordeal that they have recently endured. We hope that Professor Xi will rapidly be able to resume his research and teaching career in physics.”

“I am relieved and really hope that this will [be] the end of a nightmare,” Xi told APS News. “Of course, the damage has been done. I don’t know how long [it] would take for me to repair it.”

Prof. Xi told Temple Update that he has been advised by his lawyer to maintain discretion until otherwise notified. He forwarded a statement on September 12th which detailed the hardships he and his family have endured over the past several months, and thanked many, including the Temple University, for “treating (him) in the true spirit of ‘presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.'”

Xi closed his statement, saying:

At the right time, I will tell my side of the story. Not just to clear my name and repair my reputation, but to do my part in making sure that no American citizen, regardless of where he or she was born, should have to be put through the ordeal that I have gone through.

Here’s a Temple-produced video in which Xi explains his work:

[h/t Gizmodo,]