Monthly Archives: August 2017

Hurricane Harvey is keeping over 200,000 kids out of school, and that could have long-term consequences

    Some 230,000 students in Houston were supposed to go back to school this week, but face delays due to Hurricane Harvey. Academic research suggests kids may face psychological and academic challenges as the storm keeps them out of the classroom. Schools may need to take on more of a caregiving role to help students regain a sense of normalcy.

Harvey’s widespread flooding continues to cause devastation in Texas, and has prevented approximately 230,000 students from going back to school this week.

Richard Carranza, superintendent of the Houston Independent School District, told NPR that he wants to open schools as soon as possible. But academic research suggests the delays may have long-term consequences for students.

One effect is an extension of the “summer slide,” a term sociologists use to refer to the knowledge loss kids experience over the summer as they forget some of what they learned in the prior school year. Kids from low-income families are more likely to suffer magnified effects from the summer slide, researchers have found. The longer schools stay closed, the more that gap between students could grow.

Absenteeism is also one of the most pernicious factors that limit student achievement. A study of Chicago Public Schools published in 2007 found that absentee rates in eighth grade were eight times more likely to predict which students failed their freshman year of high school than eighth-grade test scores.

Even though all Houston students will be delayed, schools will have to play catch-up or abandon certain material to make sure kids are on track for the following year. Students who are unaccustomed to an accelerated curriculum may risk falling behind.


Psychological research has shown natural disasters and switching schools can both create intense feelings of stress in children.
Getty Images

What’s worse, one documented reason kids don’t come to school is that they lack clean clothes. At its peak, Harvey’s floods knocked out power for approximately 300,000 people – and outages could linger in some areas for weeks. So families run the risk of not being able to send their kids to school with fresh shirts, pants, or underwear.

In recent years, Houston has made serious inroads to reduce chronic absenteeism. The school district has created a warning system when kids start accruing missed days, and has worked to help teachers build relationships with kids in order to support them when personal problems arise. In the 2014-2015 school year, fewer than 10% of the district’s 230,000 students missed 18 or more days of school.

Additionally, kids whose local public schools are too damaged to open may have to switch to nearby schools. Some past research has indicated this can cause students intense feelings of stress, negative emotions, and in the most extreme cases, psychosis-like symptoms of hallucinations and delusions.

Superintendent Carranza has dispatched boats to each of Houston’s 280 public schools to check for damage. But the physical state of those schools isn’t the only factor that could delay their reopening, he told NPR, since many teachers have also fled the city and are struggling to recover from damage.

Carranza is making an effort to reduce the psychological and physical damage exacted by Harvey, however. He announced on Wednesday all students would receive three free meals per day for the entirety of the upcoming school year. He’s soliciting further advice from school leaders in other states, particularly Louisiana, whose schools faced similar obstacles in 2005 from Hurricane Katrina.

“Number one, you just have to accept the fact that post the tragedy, that things will be in disarray and it may be in disarray for months,” he told NPR.

Once schools do resume, teachers and staff may have to shoulder the added responsibility of making sure kids regain a sense of routine. Many of their families were likely displaced by Harvey; some may have been killed. More than just places to learn, the prevailing evidence shows kids will be better off in the long run if schools can also become places for them to heal.

Buying a black iPhone 8 may be the only way to hide its rumored ugly notch

Apple finally sent out invites to its September 12 event on Thursday, and all signs are pointing to a completely redesigned iPhone that many are calling the “iPhone 8.”

The phone is expected to look something like the phone on the right below:

iphone 8 dummy mkbhd

The iPhone 7 on the left, next to the iPhone 8 mock-up

Mind you, that phone isn’t the real deal. Instead, it’s a mock-up based on the iPhone 8’s rumored design, which is supposed to include an edge-to-edge OLED display, a redesigned camera system on its front, and other features. It’s also supposed to have an awkward-looking “notch” on its top that will house the phone’s front cameras and sensors.

If that mock-up is anything like what Apple will unveil on September 12, you’ll have to buy one that’s colored black to hide that goofy notch.

The iPhone 7 provides a pretty good idea of what to expect from the new phone. When the current iPhone is turned off and sitting on a flat surface, it just looks like one seamless slab of glass. That’s what many say the iPhone 8 will look like as well.

iPhone 7

The iPhone 7.
Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

Assuming Apple sells the iPhone 8 in the current iPhone colors – matte black, jet black, silver, gold, and rose gold – I would recommend the two former colors as opposed to the three latter ones, all of which normally come with white faceplates. Personally, I always prefer the darker metal colors, as they make the phone look sleeker. But more importantly, they come with a black faceplate that blends in with the glass display, which makes for a better cinematic experience.

In the case of the iPhone 8 – especially with this “notch” at the top of the phone – the darker metal colors with their black faceplates are likely to be the only ones that help disguise that silly looking notch.

Of course, this is all conjecture since we’re dealing with rumors and concepts. If Apple unveils an iPhone 8 that’s completely unlike what’s been rumored, you can ignore this advice.

But at this point, I’m inclined to trust the rumors, considering how many of the biggest leaks have come from within Apple (including the iPhone 8’s design, notch included, leaking via Apple’s HomePod code). So let’s hope Apple makes an iPhone color dark enough to hide that notch.

Mattis was asked why he agreed to serve under Trump — here’s what he said

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis.
Thomson Reuters

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis had an interesting answer when asked why he agreed to serve under President Donald Trump, who has at times made major policy changes without even talking to him about it.

Trump’s behavior has led some to quit advising his administration, like the various business leaders who left after the president’s comments on the violence earlier this month in Charlottesville, Virginia. But that’s not Mattis.

Kevin Baron, the executive editor of Defense One, asked Mattis on Thursday why he didn’t quit and why he serves. Here’s what he told him:

“You know, when a president of the United States asks you to do something – I don’t think it’s an old-fashioned school, I don’t think it’s old fashioned or anything. I don’t care if it’s a Republican or Democrat, we all have an obligation to serve. That’s all there is to it. And so you serve.”

The defense secretary knows plenty about service: He served as a Marine Corps officer for 41 years, ending his career in 2013 as a four-star general leading US Central Command. He retired and took on teaching roles at Stanford and Dartmouth until he was asked to serve once again by Trump earlier this year.

“First time I met with President Trump, we disagreed on three things in my first 40 minutes with him: on NATO, no torture, and on something else. And he hired me,” Mattis said. “This is not a man who is immune to being persuaded if he thinks you’ve got an argument. Anyway, press on.”

Throughout the 2016 campaign, Trump advocated reinstituting torture tactics against enemy combatants. But in his first meeting with Trump in November, the general was able to change his mind in under an hour.

“He said, ‘I’ve never found it to be useful,'” Trump told The New York Times, describing Mattis’ view of torturing terrorism suspects. Instead, Trump said, Mattis argued that it was better to build rapport and reward cooperation during interrogations, and added a quip: ‘”Give me a pack of cigarettes and a couple of beers, and I’ll do better.”‘

‘No paid fast lanes:’ Read Apple’s full comment on the net neutrality debate


In July, when dozens of internet companies including Netflix and Google protested the FCC’s proposal to change Obama-era net-neutrality rules, Apple was silent.

Now, the company has weighed in on FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s proposal to remove the rules. After President Donald Trump appointed Pai chairman, he’s been moving to throw out existing net-neutrality rules.

In a comment submitted to the FCC and signed by Cynthia Hogan, Apple’s VP of Public Policy for the Americas, Apple urged the FCC not to roll back a ban against “fast lanes,” a concept that describes a regulatory environment broadband providers charge to deliver internet connections more quickly.

But on other net-neutrality issues, such as whether to reverse the Title II classification that gives the FCC authority over service providers, Apple is less specific. “We work hard to build great products, and what consumers do with those tools is up to them – not Apple, and not broadband providers,” Apple said in its comment.

“Apple remains open to alternative sources of legal authority, but only if they provide for strong, enforceable, and legally sustainable protections, like those in place today,” it continued.

An Apple representative declined to comment further on the filing.

Read Apple’s entire comment below:

NN Reply Comments (Final)by Kif Leswing on Scribd

NN Reply Comments (Final)Kif Leswing

LG’s latest smartphone is shaping up to be a well-rounded alternative to the Galaxy S8

LG’s new V30 phone ticks many of the right boxes.
Business Insider/Jeff Dunn

LG on Thursday announced its latest high-end smartphone, the LG V30.

I’ve spent a few days testing out an early version of the device, so I can’t give a full review just yet.

But based on what I’ve seen thus far, it seems safe to say two things about the V30:

It looks great. It probably won’t catapult LG ahead of its eternal rival, Samsung, and the Galaxy S8.

Here’s a quick rundown of what I’ve seen thus far:

    The V30 is effectively an enhanced version of the LG G6, the flagship phone the company launched earlier this year. Like that device, the V30 is made from a mix of glass and aluminum, which helps it feel smooth, cool, and solid all at once. There are few unnecessary design flourishes – just a simple rectangle with nicely rounded corners. You could call it pleasant or boring; I lean toward the former. The first thing you’ll notice is those tiny borders around its display. The bezels here are a bit slimmer than those of the G6, which has allowed LG to squeeze a big 6-inch display in a phone that’s slightly more compact than Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus, which has a 5.5-inch screen. This is the hot new thing for lots of smartphones in 2017, but nice is nice. Despite the giant screen, the V30 doesn’t feel particularly unwieldy. Those with small hands will have to be a little more careful, but it’s not out of the question for others to get around the phone with one hand. The whole thing is lighter than it looks, too, at 158 grams. The high-end materials don’t make it feel like a brick.

LG V30 4

Business Insider/Jeff Dunn
    I have long-standing issues with phones with glass backs: They’re more susceptible to cracking, they’re fingerprint magnets, and they tend to slide around if they’re not on a flat surface. The V30’s rear is coated in Gorilla Glass 5, but it hasn’t felt as slippery or offensive as it could be. Still, you will see some smudges in the right light. If you’ve never used an LG phone, you’ll probably need a few moments to get used to the placement of the power button. It’s about three-fourths of the way up the back of the phone. It also doubles as a fingerprint sensor, which has worked fast enough in my testing. This is much more logical and comfortable approach than what Samsung has done with the Galaxy S8, which, inanely, has it next to the camera module. There’s a headphone jack! What’s more, LG has equipped the device with a stronger-than-usual audio chip, which should let those with higher-end headphones hear a little more detail. That won’t matter for most people, but the fewer dongles, the better. And it’s not as if you’ll be forbidden from using Bluetooth headphones. The 6-inch display is excellent. It’s an OLED panel, which means its black tones are especially deep and dark. Colors are nice and vivid as a result, and everything can get sufficiently bright. It has the standard 1440p resolution, too, so it’s plenty sharp.

LG V30 2

Business Insider/Jeff Dunn
    It could stand to be a little more visible in direct sunlight. In general, I’d say the world-beating panel on the Galaxy S8 makes things pop a little bit more, but we’re talking fine margins for most people here – the screen will undeniably be one of the bigger selling points. Like recent Samsung phones, the V30’s screen has an 18:9 aspect ratio, which means it’s taller than usual. Since this kind of design is still new, not every app takes advantage of it (YouTube probably being the biggest). But it’s great for web browsing, and I’d expect people to adapt fairly soon. The V30 will come with a top-end Snapdragon 835 chip and 4 GB of RAM, and my demo unit felt plenty fast as a result. Performance is unlikely to be an issue here. There’s 64 GB of storage by default and the option to add more space through a microSD card. All good there. The speaker at the bottom of the phone is loud enough, but nothing stellar. The phone is water-resistant and supports wireless charging. There’s a 3,300-mAh battery, which could be bigger but will probably last the requisite full day with normal use. My demo unit did as much. But again, I can’t say for sure just yet whether the finished phone will have anything more or less than average battery life. It’s too soon to say if the V30’s camera is anything special. LG is certainly touting a few new features. There are dual rear lenses – one is 16 megapixels, the other is a 13-megapixel wide-angle lens – and one of those has a superwide f/1.6 aperture that will ostensibly help take better photos in darker settings. There are also several effects filters that you can apply over a video before recording. So far, most of what I’ve shot falls in that “good but not the best” category, but it’s pointless to make any judgments before the phone ships with finished image-processing software.

LG V30 3

Business Insider/Jeff Dunn
    The V30 will not ship with the newest Android 8.0 Oreo, which is mildly disappointing. Instead, it’ll come with Android 7.1.2 Nougat. That, per usual, comes overlaid with LG’s own software skin, which takes some liberties with the look of the operating system but generally behaves close enough to typical Android. There’s a handful of extra features you’ll most likely ignore, you have to go into settings to put in an app drawer, and I’m not much of a fan of whole skin’s aesthetic. If history is any indication, LG will take its time updating the software, too. But it’s not the worst thing ever. Thankfully, there’s no needless “second screen” like there was on the LG V20.

LG isn’t saying how much the V30 will cost or when exactly it’s coming out in North America. But assuming the price isn’t unusually high, the V30 seems likely to be a solid high-end Android phone. It has the right specs, the tiny bezels everyone is going crazy for these days, and a headphone jack.

Even if isn’t the kind of giant leap LG probably needs to beat Samsung’s marketing machine, the V30 is shaping up to be a perfectly fine alternative to the Galaxy S8, the Galaxy Note 8, and the inevitable Google Pixel 2. If the camera holds up, that’ll be hard to complain about.

Every year, firstborn kids dominate Harvard’s freshman class

Every year firstborn kids are the majority at Harvard — check out the stats.
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Birth order is said to be a predictor of success later in life, with a family’s oldest child traditionally performing best in school and holding more leadership positions.

A survey given to incoming Harvard freshmen bolsters such research.

More of the incoming class of 2021 are firstborn than any other position in birth order, according to the Harvard Crimson’s freshman survey.

    41% are oldest children 32% are youngest children 14.5% are middle children 12.4% are only children

The Crimson has conducted the survey for the past five years, and the breakdown pretty much holds up year after year. Firstborns always hover around 40% of the freshman class, and last-born students around 30%. The percentages of middle and only children are more varied and sometimes flip positioning.

However, birth order is just a theory, and one that is contentious even among psychologists. A 2015 study out of the University of Illinois found personality differences among siblings to be so minuscule that they were meaningless.

But other research shows oldest children are more likely to become CEOs and political leaders, a fact former first kid, Harvard freshman, and firstborn child Malia Obama is likely to note to her younger sister, Sasha.

Hurricane Harvey is the worst rainfall disaster in US history — this interactive map shows how bad it was

On Friday, August 25, Hurricane Harvey hit Corpus Christi, Texas, and then continued on to batter cities and towns along the Gulf of Mexico.

Since then, the tropical storm has killed at least 41 people, damaged or destroyed approximately 20,000 homes, and displaced tens of thousands. Winds have topped 130 mph and downpours reached up to four inches per hour.

On August 30, a rain gauge near Cedar Bayou, Texas, measured 51.88 inches of rainfall, breaking the record for the continental United States set in 1978.

Some climatologists are calling Harvey the worst rainfall event in the country’s history.

Business Insider produced an interactive map that shows where the storm struck hardest. Using data from the National Weather Service, the figures below represent the total rainfall from August 24 at 8 p.m. CDT (when it started raining) to August 31 at 10 a.m. CDT.

Hover over a location, and it will show you the rainfall total. We will continue to update the map as more data become available.

“The 3-to-4 day rainfall totals of greater than 40 inches (possible 50 inches in locations surrounding Santa Fe and Dickinson) are simply mind-blowing that has lead to the largest flood in Houston-Galveston history,” Houston’s National Weather Service office wrote.

A spokesperson from The National Weather Service in Washington, DC told Business Insider that the data was collected by automated gauges as well as reports from volunteers.

During the first 72 hours of the storm, Harvey covered over a 20,000-square-mile area, according to an analysis by Texas-based climatologist John Neilsen-Gammon.

On Wednesday morning, Harvey made second landfall near Cameron, Louisiana as a tropical storm with winds up to 40 mph. Forecasters expect an additional 3 to 6 inches of rain in eastern Texas, southwestern Louisiana, and parts of Kentucky by Friday, with some areas to get up to 10 inches.

Floodwater has overwhelmed many areas in Houston, due partially to the city’s flat geography, outdated (and in some areas, blocked) drainage systems, and a recent construction boom that has eliminated over 38,000 acres of wetlands.

At least 33,000 people in Texas have fled to more than 230 shelters, with 11,000 people inside Houston’s largest sports stadium. Hundreds of thousands could seek some kind of disaster assistance, officials said.

Note: The National Weather Service is still reviewing Harvey rainfalls total.

‘This is what cracks me up about feminists’: Kellyanne Conway defends Melania Trump’s stilettos, decries feminist hypocrisy

Kellyanne Conway attacked “feminists” for the criticism First Lady Melania Trump received for wearing stilettos en route to Texas amid Hurricane Harvey.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Donald Trump, defended the first lady from the criticism she received after wearing stilettos en route to Texas this week for a briefing on Hurricane Harvey relief efforts with her husband.

After Melania Trump was photographed boarding Air Force One in what appeared to be Manolo Blahniks, Twitter critics and several media outlets issued swift condemnation.

“And here we have Melania Trump modeling what NOT to wear to a hurricane: 5-inch stilettos. How out of touch can you be?” tweeted progressive organizer Holly O’Reilly.

Conway responded to the controversy on “Fox & Friends” on Thursday morning.

“Woman to woman, what did you think of the mainstream media making such a big deal of Melania’s shoes instead of the flood victims and the president being there?” co-host Ainsley Earhardt asked.

“Look, we saw what was in the President’s and First Lady’s hearts that day, not what was on their feet,” Conway said, adding that Melania changed into sneakers before arriving in Corpus Christi. “By the way, she didn’t wear those shoes down in Texas, she wore them onto the plane and, by the way, she can wear whatever she wants.”

Conway, who often criticizes the media and the left for what she calls sexist treatment and has called herself an “anti-feminist,” argued that the reaction to Melania’s footwear exposes the hypocrisy of feminists.

“This is what cracks me up about the feminists – ‘I’m a free thinker, I’m an independent, nobody tells me what to do,'” Conway went on. “They get upset if someone says, ‘you’re wearing a pretty dress’ or calls you ‘honey,’ but they have judgment end on end.”

The first lady’s spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, told reporters on Tuesday that the controversy was “sad.”

“It’s sad that we have an active and ongoing natural disaster in Texas, and people are worried about her shoes,” she said.

But others say the first lady’s shoe choice – as all of her fashion choices – will, whether she likes it or not, be evaluated for meaning.

“It is precisely the superficial nature of clothing, the fact that garments are immediately accessible to all, that makes them the go-to stand-in for more nuanced, complicated emotions and issues,” wrote New York Times fashion critic Vanessa Friedman. “Mrs. Trump’s heels, after all … are redolent of a certain clichéd kind of femininity: decorative, impractical, expensive, elitist (all adjectives often associated with the brand ‘Trump’).”

What you need to know on Wall Street today

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Explosions were reported on Thursday morning at a chemical plant near Houston, Texas, which was hit by flooding in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Harvey.

The Arkema plant in Crosby, Texas (roughly 25 miles northeast of Houston) produces organic peroxides used to make plastic. The compounds are known to be explosive. Amid Harvey’s deluge, Arkema lost power, leaving the chemicals un-refrigerated and prone to becoming volatile as they warm. Because the chemicals remain un-refrigerated, authorities warned that further blasts were likely. Here’s the latest from Texas:

In other news, Wall Street’s on edge about Washington’s looming debt-ceiling debate. If Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling, it would be “more catastrophic to the economy than the 2008 failure of Lehman Brothers.”

In Wall Street news, Goldman Sachs is looking to hire senior dealmakers as part of “a shift towards growth.” And Wells Fargo found 1.4 million more fake accounts than originally discovered.

In trading news, the fastest traders on Wall Street are in trouble. An ETF is launching that tracks GOP interests – and its ticker is MAGA. And we sat down with the 35-year-old in charge of attracting companies to go public on the New York Stock Exchange.

In other news, hedge funds are cashing in on bitcoin mania – there are now 50 dedicated to cryptocurrencies. And a senator is calling on the FBI to investigate billionaire investor and former Trump adviser Carl Icahn.

Apple sent out invitations for its next iPhone event. The so-called iPhone 8 is expected to be announced on September 12 at the Steve Jobs Theater at Apple’s new headquarters, Apple Park, in Cupertino, California. A top Apple analyst has one big question for Tim Cook ahead of next month’s event – and it has nothing to do with iPhones.

Elsewhere in tech:

Lastly, a massive Hamptons estate that once belonged to the Ford family is on the market for a potentially record-breaking $175 million.

There’s a scientific reason why a chemical plant exploded after Harvey — and it means more blasts are coming

    The Arkema chemical plant near Houston, Texas, exploded after it was flooded by Tropical Storm Harvey and its compounds were left un-refrigerated. 15 police officers were taken to the hospital for inhaling fumes and a 1.5-mile evacuation perimeter is in place. Officials plan to allow the fire to burn out, so there is a risk of further blasts.

Explosions were reported on Thursday morning at a chemical plant near Houston, Texas, which was hit by flooding in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Harvey.

The blasts came less than 24 hours after the plant’s North America chief executive said that the company had no way of preventing chemicals from catching fire or exploding after heavy floods inundated the region and swamped the site with six feet of floodwater.


Arkema is on the outskirts of Houston.

The Arkema plant in Crosby, Texas (roughly 25 miles northeast of Houston) produces organic peroxides used to make plastic. The compounds are known to be explosive. Amid Harvey’s deluge, Arkema lost power, leaving the chemicals un-refrigerated and prone to becoming volatile as they warm.

Because the chemicals remain un-refrigerated, authorities warned that further blasts were likely.

“The concern is that when these things degrade they generate heat. When they generate heat, they can burn. When they burn, if they burn aggressively, you can have an explosion,” Richard Renner, an Arkema executive, told CBSN on Thursday morning in a video posted to Twitter.

The plant was fined nearly $110,000 in February by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration over 10 safety violations, The Associated Press reported.

Other chemical plants, including multiple oil refineries, have also faced chemical leaks in Harvey’s wake. According to filings reported with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, more than two million pounds of hazardous chemicals have been released into the air.

Arkema confirmed on Thursday morning that it was made aware of the explosions by the local emergency operation, Harris County Emergency Operations Center.

In a statement, the company said the explosions were reported at 2 a.m. local time (CDT) and an evacuation zone of 1.5 miles remains in place around the plant. Police and fire services have also imposed a no-fly zone around the area, which extends to drones.

Smoke streaming from the facility irritated the eyes and throats of more than a dozen law enforcement officers near the scene, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez told NBC.

“It’s basically like standing over a barbecue pit or something like that, where you get smoke in your eyes,” he said.

The National Weather Service Houston tweeted this warning:

This was what the plant looked like before the fire:

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office’s tweeted that 15 police officers were taken to the hospital after inhaling fumes from the chemical plant. Thirteen were released, while another two are still being assessed.

KPRC 2 Houston reported that some of the officers were complaining of “headaches, dizziness” after the explosions. But Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez told reporters that the fumes were not toxic and were similar to “standing over a burning campfire.”

There are currently no reports of other injuries.

The fire service downplayed the size of the explosions. Bob Royall, assistant chief of the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office, used the term “container ruptures” when addressing reporters on Thursday. “I don’t want the public thinking these are massive explosions,” he said, in a press update that was streamed on Periscope.

Video from local TV station KHOU showed an eerie glow from the fire. The media is being kept back 1.5 miles from the scene:

Arkema warned about the risk of further explosions.

“We want local residents to be aware that product is stored in multiple locations on the site, and a threat of additional explosion remains,” the company said. “Please do not return to the area within the evacuation zone until local emergency response authorities announce it is safe to do so.”

Earlier on Thursday morning, an Arkema spokeswoman said the fire will “resemble a gasoline fire” and will be “explosive and intense in nature.” The spokeswoman agreed with local officials that the “best course of action is to let the fire burn itself out.”

The news has wiped roughly $92 to $118 million from Arkema’s market value. Shares listed on Euronext are down 2.1% on Thursday afternoon.

The plant is not located in a heavily populated area.

Arkema map


It looks like one of hundreds of tank farms that dot the Texas landscape.

Arkema Texas

Google Maps

This is a view of the plant from near the front gate:

Arkema plant