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A chemical plant just northeast of Houston is at risk of explosion following the failure of refrigeration equipment that is needed to cool the volatile compounds produced there.

The CEO of Arkema Inc., Rich Rowe, said Wednesday that the Crosby, Texas, facility is flooded by 6 feet of water and that both primary and backup power have failed. Without cooling systems, the risk of fire and explosion grows ever more serious. "The high water and lack of power leave us with no way to prevent it," Rowe said.

Harvey approached the Texas coast as a monster Category 4 hurricane, almost as powerful as they come. But most of the damage has come after it calmed down to a mere tropical storm — from rain.

Scientists say the traditional measure of hurricane strength doesn't tell you much about how damaging it will be. Now they're proposing a new way to do that.

Hurricanes come in numbers — Categories 1 through 5 — as part of the Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane strength. It measures wind speed over short periods of time, and the faster the wind, the higher the category.

President Trump pitched a tax overhaul package on Wednesday in a speech that was heavy on politicking and light on the particulars.

Trump's tax policy ideas are still sketchy — when pitched in April, they amounted to one page of bullet points. In his Wednesday remarks, he didn't add much more detail beyond the broad strokes, saying he wants lower rates for the middle class, a simpler tax code, lower corporate rates and for companies to "bring back [their] money" from overseas to the U.S.

Six days after Hurricane Harvey first crossed the Texas coast, Houston is still in rescue mode with people stranded in houses and apartments.

With the authorities overwhelmed by the scope of the flooding, private citizens have been rushing to Houston and towing their own boats to conduct rescues.

Rene Galvan has come to a makeshift boat launch on flooded Highway 90, looking for rescuers. In a soaked, blue hoodie, he sits anxiously in the bow of an aluminum boat, wondering how they're going to get to 14 members of his extended family who have been stranded by rising water.

A Pentagon spokesperson said Wednesday that 11,000 U.S. troops are currently in Afghanistan, thousands more than the previously acknowledged 8,400.

The 8,400 number did not include troops on temporary assignment, according to the Pentagon. Acknowledging the higher number is a matter of "transparency," which Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is demanding as the U.S. prepares to deploy more forces to Afghanistan.

A friend sent a photo to Jaime Botello's phone Wednesday that confirmed his fears: The house where his family has lived for 30 years is completely flooded.

"All the way to the top," he says.

And like most people in the Houston area, Botello, a welder who was at a shelter with his wife on Wednesday, doesn't have flood insurance. He says he can't afford it.

The state of Washington is calling all fishermen to catch unlimited farmed Atlantic salmon with no size or weight limits after a net pen broke last week, allowing thousands of the non-native fish to escape into the open ocean.

The pen, in the state's northwestern San Juan Islands, contained about 305,000 Atlantic salmon, and is owned by Cooke Aquaculture.

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As floodwaters rose around Houston, a lot of people heard from their employers, do not come into work. One of the critical people who did have to brave the elements was Royce Renfrew. And what does he do?

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The rain has let up in Houston, but getting in and out of the city is still a difficult task. Houston's two main airports reopened Wednesday with limited service. But many roads are flooded, and some bridges have been damaged.

Since Saturday, when both the airports shut down, thousands of flights in and out the city have been canceled. Up to now, at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport, the runways were open only for limited operations and humanitarian flights.

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Why The Toxin Trouble With Tiny Turtles Continues

Aug 30, 2017

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series has been around for decades and has raked in millions of dollars in merchandise. Why? Because turtles are cool.

Warnings about real live turtles giving salmonella to the people who handle them have also been around for decades, but people keep getting sick, and that's not cool.

Hurricane Harvey is a devastating reminder of how helpless we are when facing nature's human-dwarfing powers.

We dig holes and barricades, build dams and create ingenious systems of canals and levees. We try to pull the brakes on natural forces, or at least tame them. These measures protect us, and we surely would be worse off without them. We have come a long way since our cave dwellings.

The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday announced what the agency calls a "historic action" — the first approval of a cell-based gene therapy in the United States.

The FDA approved Kymriah, which scientists refer to as a "living drug" because it involves using genetically modified immune cells from patients to attack their cancer.

Among the most pressing medical needs facing Houston at the moment: getting people to dialysis treatment.

At DaVita Med Center Dialysis on Tuesday afternoon, nurses tended to dozens of patients on dialysis machines while another 100 people waited their turn. Some were clearly uncomfortable, and a number said they hadn't been dialyzed in four days.

Those delays can be life-threatening.

There's nothing like the fair. Visitors can gorge on deep-fried Oreos, hot beef sundaes and heaps of cotton candy. There are rides, craft displays and, of course, barns full of animals that nonfarmers rarely get to see. Yet there's one day of the fair that's bittersweet and, for some, downright heart-wrenching.

Brandon McElveen's Ford F150 pickup is lifted up about six inches. He says that's just the style in the South, but this week, "it's come in handy" for driving through up to four feet of water.

McElveen's a counselor at the KIPP Explore Academy elementary school in Houston. Within hours of the flooding this week, he began getting calls and messages asking for help. One was from a family with two girls on the middle school softball team he also coaches.

With his truck and a borrowed kayak, he estimates he's helped more than 20 people to safety.

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Louisiana Prepares For Harvey

Aug 30, 2017

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Houston's Susceptibility To Flooding

Aug 30, 2017

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Houston Evacuees Fill Convention Center

Aug 30, 2017

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This viral video out of Hollywood raises an interesting question: What does racism look like from one Latino to another?

Child marriage isn't just a practice that victimizes girls in poor countries. As this blog has previously reported, it's also long been an issue in the United States, involving girls from a wide range of backgrounds. Based on state marriage license data and other sources, advocacy groups and experts estimate that between 2000 and 2015 alone, well over 200,000 children — nearly all of them girls — were married. In nearly all cases the husband was an adult.

Houston Police say 60-year-old Sgt. Steve Perez, trying to get to work despite Hurricane Harvey, drowned in his patrol car in floodwaters.

In a somber news conference Tuesday afternoon, Police Chief Art Acevedo said Perez's wife, Cheryl, had asked her husband not to report to work Sunday morning. But Perez, who had been on the police force for 34 years and was just a few days short of his 61st birthday, insisted on going in.

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