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West Philly, represent

If you’ve been a long-time reader, you know that the West Philly High School Hybrid X team is near and dear to my heart (you can donate here if you like what you read):

Who says teenagers can’t change the world? In their free time after school, 15 teens from a low-income high school in Philadelphia built a car. And not just any car: their 160 mpg Factory Five GTM biodiesel hybrid kit car has outperformed other fuel-efficient cars built by professional engineers and graduate students from Ivy League universities.

Yesterday, this group of teenagers — the West Philly Hybrid X Team, a crew of 15 high school mechanics from West Philadelphia High School — were honored with the “Next Generation Award” at the Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Awards, which recognizes visionaries whose innovation in the fields of technology, medicine, space exploration, automotive design, and environmental engineering is changing the world we live in. Other winners include Steven Squyres and his Spirit & Opportunity team, who created robotic surrogates for humans on Mars, as well as director James Cameron, who was honored with the “Leadership Award” for innovations in filmmaking technology used for the film Avatar.

Under the guidance of faculty advisor Simon Hauger — a former electrical engineer who now teaches math and science — the West Philly team entered two vehicles into last year’s Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize, a $10 million prize for which 111 teams signed up. Out of the 111, West Philly was the only high school team. Their entries were a Factory Five GTM biodiesel hybrid kit car that achieved the equivalent of 160 mpg over 100 miles, and a converted Ford Focus gasoline plug-in hybrid. The team blew everyone’s expectations out of the water when they made it to the semifinals, beating out over 80 teams. Equally astounding is the fact that at a school where 85 percent of students are economically disadvantaged and in a region with a drop-out rate of over 50 percent, every single member of the X Prize team graduated.

The program at West Philly started in 1998 with an electric go-cart which won the science fair. And, as Hauger adds, “Kids from West Philly aren’t supposed to win the science fair.” Over the next few years the team developed a full-sized vehicle that got 180 mpg equivalent, and went on to beat MIT and 40 other teams in 2002 at the prestigious Tour de Sol competition.
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Harvest festival

I’ll be out of town this weekend (going out of state) but if you’re around Philly, fun doings at the Reading Terminal market.

Amazing. First Robert Pear rattles off the depressing income figures of a country in decline, then he casually notes that “the economy has been growing.” How is he defining economic growth? More here.

Occupy Lawrence KS

Look, over there!

A terror plot!

FBI and DEA agents have disrupted a plot to commit a “significant terrorist act in the United States” tied to Iran, federal officials told ABC News today.

The officials said the plot included the assassination of the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States, Adel Al-Jubeir, with a bomb and subsequent bomb attacks on the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Washington, D.C. Bombings of the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Buenos Aires, Argentina, were also discussed, according to the U.S. officials.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in an announcement today that the plan was “conceived, sponsored and was directed from Iran” and called it a “flagrant” violation of U.S. and international law.

“The U.S. is committed to holding Iran accountable for its actions,” Holder said. He said the White House will be meeting with federal agencies before announcing “further action” in regards to Iran.

‘Welcome’

Naomi Klein:

“Why are they protesting?” ask the baffled pundits on TV. Meanwhile, the rest of the world asks: “What took you so long?” “We’ve been wondering when you were going to show up.” And most of all: “Welcome.”

Life is a treadmill

And some days, you just want to get off!

Occupy Chicago

Oh, come on. When was the last time a congressman asked a question like that?

Police arrested 26 demonstrators, many wearing Chicago Teachers Union T-shirts, who linked arms and sat down in Monroe Street as they chanted “Save our schools, save our homes!” They were ticketed and released. Another demonstrator was arrested and faces a charge of battery on a police officer.

Nearby, a crowd chanted “Shame on you!” to members of the Futures Industry Association who peered out from a balcony of the Chicago Art Institute, where they attended a party.

Several protesters paid $2,245 per badge to gain admission to the Mortgage Bankers Association event, organizers said.

One protester, dressed in a suit, got to a microphone during a panel discussion and asked Michael Heid, president of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, a top national mortgage lender: “How do you sleep at night?”

The man asked Heid how could he even visit the Chicago area since so many been affected by foreclosures locally.

Heid answered that he felt like he was before a congressional panel with such a tough line of questioning.

We need a new system

It’s not up to us to design it, and we do get to tell them when it’s not working.

Why Eugene Robinson hearts OWS

Here.

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