Blog Posts by Vera H-C Chan

  • The weekday report for the topics and people that are trending on
    Yahoo! and across the Web for Thursday May 3, 2012

    Research by Search editor Liz Streng

    A politician long oppressed by the opposition now joins them in a country's historic chapter. A man who comes from a long line of daredevils decides on a honeymoon destination for his next trick. And even those who don't know the odds of Daddy Long Legs versus Rousing Sermon versus I'll Have Another will be sipping a southern tradition this weekend. Toast to what you readers have been searching.

    STANDOUT SPIKES (a deeper dig behind three trending terms)

    Aung San Suu Kyi: The politician's roots in Burma's evolution went deep. Her father founded the army and helped win the country's independence from the British in 1947, only to be assassinated that year. Her mother gradually rose in the political ranks, becoming an ambassador to India and Nepal. Kyi received her degrees in England, where she met her husband, and returned in 1998 to

    Read More »from Aung San Suu Kyi, Niagara Falls tightrope walk, mint juleps: What’s Spiking (Thursday)
  • China: Talk to the handAn escaped dissident (a blind one at that), running from house arrest and straight into the arms of Hillary Clinton—if he can get to her. A political rock star's downfall. A mysterious poisoning.

    Are these cases of power-mad provincials on the loose? The clash of national economic reform and upstart Maoist loyalists? Just nasty but juicy business? For a country the size and scale of China, scandal can assume mega proportions. When those scandals happen within months of a massive leadership transition, that sends out red flares about power struggles within the world's most populous country.

    This fall isn't just any transfer of power: Seven out of nine leaders are retiring, making for a momentous generational shift. That has happened only three times in modern China, according to the Brookings Institute. The first ended in the cultural revolution, and the second with the 1989 Tienanmen Square revolt. The third in 2002 proved the charm, with an orderly transition. Now, with

    Read More »from Y! Big Story: Blind dissident and political rock star scandals plague China’s leadership transition
  • The weekday report for the topics and people that are trending on
    Yahoo! and across the Web for Wednesday May 2, 2012

    Research by Search editor Liz Streng

    The reform-minded actions of a Middle East king triggers overseas interest. In domestic politics, both sides of the Massachusetts senate race are invoking the president. Down in Kentucky, where people are busy preparing for a Derby weekend, there will also be small but significant marker paying homage to one of America's greatest sports stars.  Give some respect to what you readers are interested in, as we dig into the searches and the stories behind them.

    STANDOUT SPIKES (a deeper dig behind three trending terms)

    King Abdullah II: In a post-Arab Spring landscape, the Jordan ruler swore in his new Cabinet on Wednesday to carry out a reform agenda, including his third prime minister in 18 months. New to the 30-person body is the position of minister to oversee women's affairs, occupied by journalist Nadia Hashim. Despite the

    Read More »from King Abdullah II, Elizabeth Warren, Muhammad Ali marker: What’s Spiking (Wednesday)
  • The weekday report for the topics and people that are trending on
    Yahoo! and across the Web for Tuesday May 1, 2012

    Research by Search editor Liz Streng

    On May Day, as some of the 99 percent took to the streets, others took to the Web to dig into other financial matters such as mortgage loans. On the science front, an impending celestial phenomenon has generated a lot of anticipation. And while celebrity babies get more than their fair share of coverage, one singer's heavyweight has been getting a double-take. Here now, some of the searches, and the stories behind them, that have been occupying people's minds today.


    Mortgage loans: Pointing to internal documents, Reps. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., and John Tierney, D-Mass., sent a letter questioning why Fannie Mae canceled a 2009 pilot program that would have reduced mortgage principals for homeowners and saved taxpayer money. A former Fannie Mae employee said the program had been stopped by people "philosophically

    Read More »from Mortgage Loans, Supermoon, Jessica Simpson Baby: What’s Spiking (Tuesday)
  • Y! Big Story: Occupy actions on May Day

    May DayMay Day, also known as International Workers' Day, is a holiday in 75 countries, but not in United States, the country where people may work the hardest of all.

    Occupy, though, has a notion to take the day for its Spring Reawakening. Its General Strike Facebook page sums up its mission: "NO WORK - NO SCHOOL - NO SHOPPING - NO BANKING - NO TRADING. THE PEOPLE OF THE PLANET WILL TAKE TO THE STREETS."

    Whether you're for, against or neutral on Occupy, the disruptions will affect business as usual — and that includes traffic. Nearly 60 general assemblies have "answered the call" to observe May Day.

    "V for Vendetta" co-opted for Occupy artThe Occupy demands: A group as large as the 99 percent is bound to have a lot of demands. The strike ostensibly will show the 1 percent that the 99 percent matter. The demands range from supporting immigrants and labor unions (preserving bargaining rights, for instance) to reducing outsourcing. Outrage still drives the movement, and its list of injustices include onerous college debt,

    Read More »from Y! Big Story: Occupy actions on May Day
  • April proved a political test for election-year candidates. In the GOP contest, one dropped out, and another trembles on the precipice. On the Democratic front, embarrassing agency scandals unearthed a party culture that resulted in a mass of congressional hearings and a game of musical chairs. In other news, the tragedy of missing children became a focus with developments in two cold cases. Here now, the stories that generated buzz across the Web.

    Mitt RomneyRomney's ascendancy
    For those who like their politics shaken and not stirred, the run for the GOP presidential nomination has more than obliged. The race downsized from a dozen candidates to four (including the little-known California political consultant Fred Karger, whose campaign slogan was "Fred Who?"). Although former Sen.Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia took some rounds, Romney finally lived up to his title as the "presumptive" nominee and decisively added to his delegate count. Santorum

    Read More »from Candidate Mitt Romney, government scandals, missing children: What’s spiking (April report)
  • Y! Big Story: What the brain tells us

    Laboratory for Affective NeuroscienceIn the past 20 years, neuroscience, buoyed by advances in imaging technology—namely, functional magnetic resonance imaging or fMRI—has been giving us a cranial roadmap into our behavior, extreme and otherwise. As the technology keeps improving at a dramatic pace, so can the development of treatments for diseases, some of which couldn't even be diagnosed until after death.

    This week yielded some amazing reports on brain research, from diagnosing injury before the symptoms manifest to tracking emotional behavior to specific little gray cells. Here are just a few:

    The serious consequences of a blow to the head, and a possible test. Most people know the insidious consequences of a knockout or a concussion, the worst case scenario being a blood clot that leads to a stroke. Less understood are consequences of blows to the head—direct or percussive, like from being too near an explosive device—that leave you reeling, but conscious. If you're not out cold, the layman reasoning goes, you're

    Read More »from Y! Big Story: What the brain tells us
  • Pygmies, Poe, Monkeypox: What’s Spiking (Friday)

    The weekday report for the topics and people that are trending on
    Yahoo! and across the Web for Friday April 27, 2012.

    Research by Search editor Liz Streng

    What makes a pygmy short? Why is Poe so pop-culture addictive? Why do mothers worry about monkeypox? These are just some of the stories getting attention on the Web. Below, a roundup of what people are searching for, before the weekend hits.


    Pygmies: Ever wonder why Western African pygmies are so short? It's in their genes. OK, so everything is in the genes, but their height is the stuff of academic debate. Now researchers at the University of Pennsylvania are not only signaling out a particular set of genes, but also thinking "hormonal pathways and immune system regulations" played an evolutionary role. What makes the study significant is that most genome studies have been conducted among European populations. For an abstract of the study, head to PLoS Genetics or Scientific American.

    Edgar Allan Poe: The John

    Read More »from Pygmies, Poe, Monkeypox: What’s Spiking (Friday)
  • The weekday report for the topics and people that are trending on
    Yahoo! and across the Web for Thursday April 26, 2012.

    Research by Search editor Liz Streng

    An anniversary of a nuclear plant meltdown brought countries together to help rebuild its shelter, but a coincident act of nature panicked citizens distrustful of the government that tried to hide the disaster. In animal news, a fast-food eatery may change the way we eat, or at least treat our food source, by pledging a more humane take-out. And a glimmer of hope is sparked by photos of a rare feline.

    Below, what readers have been tracking online.


    Chernobyl: Countries commemorated the 26th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear disaster. Ukraine at last began building a new shelter, which will weigh 20,000 tons and be finished in 2015, to replace the decaying "sarcophagus" that housed the nuclear power plant. President Viktor Yanukovych thanked countries who donated to the Chernobyl Shelter Fund.

    Read More »from Chernobyl, Cage-Free Fast Foods, Rare Leopard: What’s Spiking (Thursday)
  • Y! Big Story: Six things to know about U.S. immigration

    The U.S. Supreme Court's hearing on Arizona's SB1070 comes at a time when illegal immigration from Mexico has fallen. The argument over unauthorized entry has drowned out some intriguing developments in America's overall migrant population, including a rebound in international students in higher education and legal citizenship. Below, some facts and figures about who's coming, going, and staying:

    The United States has the world's largest immigrant population. No surprise, with its history of having open-door policies and welcoming newcomers with open arms. You would have to combine the migrant populations of Russia, Germany, Saudi Arabia, and Canada—which rank second through fifth in terms of their migrant populations—to equal the migrant population of the United States.

    Foreign-born in the U.S. 1850-2010

    Other numbers, according to the Migration Policy Institute:

    • About 40 million foreign-born residents live in the United States.
    • Immigrants make up 13% of the U.S. population. The record all-time low was 5% in 1970;
    Read More »from Y! Big Story: Six things to know about U.S. immigration


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