In Chicago, Apple unveils faster, cheaper iPad for students

By Ang Gao
Medill Reports

Apple is returning to school with a new iPad and enhanced educational resources.

The new iPad costs $299 for educators and students, but $329 for everyone else, the same price as that of the iPad released last year. Unveiled at Chicago’s Lane Tech College Prep High School on Tuesday, with Apple CEO Tim Cook on hand, the new iPad boasts increased online storage for students of 200 GB, up from 5 GB, on its A10 fusion chip, with a faster speed and 10-hour battery life.

Tim Cook spoke at the event about Apple's educational efforts.
Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke at the event about Apple’s educational efforts.(Ang Gao/MEDILL)

The new iPad works with Apple Pencil, which previously could be used only with the expensive iPad Pro. The new stylus, Logitech Canyon, costs $49 for students, and may also be applied to iWork, including Numbers, Pages and Keynote.

“We deeply care about education,” Cook said, linking technology to the liberal arts. Continue reading

How college friends built a $100 million blockchain business

By Ang Gao
Medill Reports

When China banned initial coin offerings, or ICOs, in September last year, a number of Chinese blockchain projects started looking for ICO opportunities abroad but encountered difficulties including foreign regulations, legal issues and language.

That was when Minhui Chen, who graduated from Columbia University in 2015 and was working as a consultant at Ernst & Young, sensed an opportunity.

“We saw a huge demand for consulting business at that time,” Chen said. “There were plenty of good Chinese projects with good technologies but lacked overseas experience.”

Global Blockchain Innovative Capital, or GBIC, founded by Chen and two friends from Columbia, started consulting for these projects and helping them connect with overseas cryptocurrency exchanges, investors and legal consultants. They also helped them in building token communities and expanding overseas.

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Daniel Biss’ grassroots bid for governor

By Holly Honderich
Medill Reports

Without fortune or a famous family, State Sen. Daniel Biss tried something different in the Democrat’s primary race for governor of Illinois.

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A neckwear business rooted in China prospers in Chicago

By Charlene Zhang
Medill Reports

“My daughter was given a Harvard logo shirt a decade ago by the school president, when Becky’s father Arnie mentioned me as the Harvard logo tie manufacturer in China,” said Michael Yin, the proud Chinese supplier of custom-made neckwear for Shop4Ties, a Chicago wholesaler and distributor.

Shop4Ties was founded in 1982 by Arnie Kapp, who quit his job at a tie shop on Michigan Avenue and started the business in a basement.

Becky Galvez, Kapp’s daughter, joined the company in 2011 after teaching Spanish at an international school, and took the reins as CEO with her mother Rhonda Kapp as chief financial officer in 2014 after Kapp passed away from colon cancer.

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Lincoln Park non-profit hopes to rebuild lives through restoring furniture

By Dena Khalafallah
Medill Reports

Every time a homeowner renovates their home — every time a company deconstructs a building — it leaves a massive footprint on the environment. And it doesn’t need to be that way, because most of the material can be brought back to life, according to the Rebuilding Exchange Warehouse.  The non-profit reconditions furniture and appliances rescued from the landfill.

And it also aims to help people restore their own lives by  employing them and teaching them new skills.

Photo at top: Stanley Branch rebuilt his life at a place that rebuilds furniture and recycles building materials. (Dena Khalafallah/MEDILL)

One priest’s journey from the Second City to the Eternal City

By Larry Flynn
Medill Reports

Fr. Tom McCarthy is in his element. He wears the Augustinian Black Robe. He fills the immediate space around him with gestures and a Chicago accent. He faces 32 students at All Saints School in Rossford, Ohio, and plants a seed.

“How many of you here have thought about being a priest or sister?”

The question matters to McCarthy because he once had to answer it. Sister Catherine Hanlin posed the same proposition to his sixth grade class at St. Adrian’s on the south side of Chicago – in room 205, he remembers. He recalls little else from Sister Hanlin’s speech other than the question itself.

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Chinatown “circle time” preps kids and parents for school days ahead

By Serena Yeh
Medill Reports

Around 20 young children, accompanied by their caregivers, sing and dance to both English and Mandarin nursery rhymes, listen to an English story translated to the Mandarin language, and learn from a bilingual teacher about cultivating good habits in the classroom.

It is a scene called “circle time” and it happens every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at the Chinese American Service League’s family and learning resource center, said CASL’s parent-child educator, Jasmine Wang. On Wednesdays and Fridays, the children participate in gym classes.

Through the program, the children – infants, toddlers and a bit older – are taught simple songs and dances, habits such as lining up to wash their hands before eating a meal and about different festivities ranging from Lunar New Year to Christmas and Thanksgiving.

The goal of the two-hour program, said CASL’s manager for children and youth development, Yuling Wu, is to educate both children and parents.

“For children, it is to provide a learning environment where they can get to know American culture, and kind of experiencing the school setting in the United States,” said Wu.

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Is Glen Ellyn’s Ethan Cepuran the future of Illinois speed skating?

By Chris Kwiecinski
Medill Reports

Ethan Cepuran was simply trying to make it through the 2018 Junior World Championships with at least one top-20 finish.

After two days of skating against some of the world’s best up-and-coming speed skaters, the Glen Ellyn native hadn’t finished better than 25th. He even described his performance as poor.

Then, came the mass-start event.

Cepuran, who originally didn’t have spot in the mass start – an event where all competing skaters race at the same time – won silver in the race to secure that elusive top-20 finish.

“I was skating, and then I was on the podium,” he said. “It was all kind of a blur.”

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FHFA House Price Index up 0.8 percent in January

By Charlene Zhang
Medill Reports

Single-family house prices rose in January 0.8 percent from December, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s seasonally adjusted House Price Index. The rise beat the forecast of a 0.4 percent increase.

From January 2017 to January 2018, house prices rose 7.3 percent, also beating the forecast, of 6.5 percent.

“Home prices have been on an uptrend for a number of years now. The main reason is there are not a lot of inventories available for sale,” said Tendayi Kapfidze, the chief economist at LendingTree, an online brokerage headquartered in North Carolina.

Historical data suggest demand has been normal, but the shortage of supply has played a bigger impact in both new home and existing home markets, according to Kapfidze. He explained, “Home builders haven’t ramped up the production to the level of they were prior to the crisis. There were also difficulties of finding land; cities have regulations on specific types of house one can build.”

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Wrigleyville memorabilia shop brings history to life

By Sarah Foster
Medill Reports

Tom Boyle can’t help but poke through his shelves. He’s in search of a movie poster that only he can visualize. It’s somewhere among the newspaper clippings, the vinyl records, the buttons and the books.

“Let me see,” he says, furrowing his brows and shuffling through his inventory.

After searching for a few minutes himself, he sends his colleague over to the other corner of the store, hoping he can help find it. Poking and prodding through the posters, the pair finally pull it out of the pile: “A Stratton Story.” Their eyes glance over the picture depicting the 1949 film about an injured baseball player. They notice the faded red-and-white hues and the way James Stewart embraces June Allyson.

“This is it,” Boyle says with a smile.

But they weren’t searching through their inventory for fun. They were hoping to retrieve the poster for a customer, who has the same last name as Stewart’s character.

“It’s like finding a home for abandoned children,” Boyle said. “When we can find a good home for these items, it makes us happy.”

Intimate customer service and an ability to provide rare items from the past are exactly how Boyle’s store, a memorabilia shop called Yesterday, has managed to stay open for 42 years.

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