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 Tuesday April 17, 2012

    Research by Search editor Liz Streng

    Mother Nature blows some volcanic steam in Mexico. Meanwhile, a celebrity and her mother team up for a tell-all book that reveals some terrible secrets. And the mother of all geek conventions is set, thanks to an unprecedented intergalactic reunion. Here now, the mother lode in online buzz.


    • Popocatepetl Volcano: Mexican authorities raised the alert level Tuesday morning after the volcano coughed up some burning hot rocks. Nearby residents have Tweeted messages of the eruption and posted images of the ash cloud. The real concern: Will this be harder to pronounce than Eyjafjallajökull?

    Read More »from Popocatepetl Volcano, Vanessa Williams, Star Trek Captains: What’s Spiking (Tuesday)
  • Y! Big Story: Tax day rallies, tea party and Occupy style

    An extra two days for filing taxes? Why, more time to protest.

    In 2009, the Tax Day rallies crystallized a tea party moment. Three years later, the rallies continue, if not quite with the riled-up, pent-up outrage from the Bush-era bailouts and the Obama-sponsored health-care reform bill. If a Tax Day rally isn't your cup of tea, other movements -- Occupy Wall Street and the Global Day of Action on Military Spending -- have co-opted April 17 to protest Uncle Sam's perceived subsidies for billionaires, corporations, and the military.

    That won't be the end of the protests: The occupy movement is calling for a second general strike on May Day, to launch the 99% Spring. And if you prefer to protest with your vote, there are plenty of elections left in which these movements loom if not large, then persistent, behind the scenes.

    Wisconsin tax day tea party rallyTax Day rallies, tea party-style: Many tea partyers, from Bend, Ore., to Duluth, Minn., to Orlando, Fla., took the weekend to protest. Conservative breakout star

    Read More »from Y! Big Story: Tax day rallies, tea party and Occupy style
  • Trayvon Martin George ZimmermanThe fatal encounter between a 17-year-old black teenager and a mixed-race neighborhood watch volunteer has created a furor over "stand your ground" laws, which have been enacted in more than 20 states; legislation is pending in others. That Florida, the epicenter of the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman case, was the first to pass the law in 2005 adds to the debate. But for George Zimmerman, this defense might not even apply, according to some legal experts.

    Regardless, the case has led to legislators second-guessing the law—including the men who sponsored and signed the Florida bill, and major businesses are backpedaling from a lobby group that has helped promote the defense.

    Murder vs. manslaughter: Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder, "an act imminently dangerous to another, and evincing a depraved mind regardless of human life." The case goes before a judge in an evidentiary hearing, in which the judge, not a jury, has the power to dismiss the case. "It is less of a burden

    Read More »from Y! Big Story: After Zimmerman arrest, questions about ‘stand your ground’
  • Y! Big Story: Contraception controversies

    041112_birth_control_pillsThe report that teen pregnancy is an all-time low in America comes out at a time when birth control has re-emerged as a political issue. Since January alone, the Susan G. Komen flap, Rush Limbaugh's "slut" controversy, a birth control pill recall, and health care reform have all kept contraception in the headlines. The past week alone saw religious leaders speak out against the health-care coverage of contraception and the exit of Rick Santorum, whose "presence in the race pushed to the fore polarizing social issues, such as abortion, access to birth control and gays in the military" (AP).

    [Related: Birth-control pioneer says fight had personal costs]

    With the GOP presidential hopeful out, the focus on contraception might shift during the rest of the election campaign season, although arguments over contraceptive policies in healthcare reform will still keep it in the mix. Below, a look at the teen pregnancy report and contraception controversies.

    The numbers on teen pregnancy:

    Read More »from Y! Big Story: Contraception controversies
  • The weekday report for the topics and people that are trending on
    Yahoo! and across the Web for Tuesday, April 10, 2012

    Research by Search editor Mahlon Chute

    A presidential hopeful dropped out of the race, narrowing the GOP field to just three. Teen pregnancy rates drop, according to the latest reports. In a curious mix of fashion and politics, one drops a not-so-subtle jab about the state of the Americas. Check out what else is dropping on the Web.


    • Rick Santorum: The former Pennsylvania senator has suspended his campaign. His daughter Bella, hospitalized Friday for complications due to Trisomy 18, was released Monday.
    • Teen Pregnancy: On average, rates are at an all-time low in the United States, but the U.S. rate of teen pregnancies is nine times higher than many other developed countries.
    • Guayabera: Cuban leader and fashionista Fidel Castro mocked President Obama's wardrobe choices for the upcoming Summit of the Americas in Colombia. "The curious thing, dear
    Read More »from Rick Santorum Quits, Teen Pregnancy, Guayabera: What’s Spiking (Tuesday)
  • Y! Big Story: Titanic 100th anniversary

    040912 Titanic

    The 100th anniversary of the Titanic expedition is under way. You can choose which moment you want to commemorate: The luxury liner left Belfast on April 2, 1912, sailed on its maiden -- and final -- voyage April 10, and hit the iceberg on April 15. The centenarian observation has spanned the globe, from memorial cruises to movie rereleases.

    Tempting fate? The MS Balmoral's Titanic Memorial Cruise follows the same course, sans iceberg. The ship set sail with the same number of passengers (1,309) and planned to rendezvous with the wreckage site on April 15 before heading to New York. Winds up to 45 mph, though, prevented the luxury cruiser from docking in Ireland. Winds aside, the conditions seem promising: A supermoon won't be causing a hiccup this time ... although global warming has been unleashing more rogue icebergs.

    [Related: Titanic Re-enactment Sets Sail on Exact Route a Century Later]

    The ship is stocked with the descendants of survivors, including the grandson of the first

    Read More »from Y! Big Story: Titanic 100th anniversary
  • Y! Big Story: Pink slime and other food fights

    As if  dirty chicken coops, salmonella-tainted peanut butter and melamine in pet food weren't enough, along comes "pink slime."

    LFTB ground beefPink slime—as some call it, but known in the meat industry as lean finely textured beef—isn't illegal or even new. What the ruckus about it reveals is the distrust consumers have about food safety, even as they become more educated. Disagreements over the degree of government intervention aside,  more state and federal laws are coming into effect now to protect and improve our food supplies (among them the Food Safety Modernization Act and the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010).

    The latest rounds in the food fights—in the beef industry and beyond—have revived arguments over disclosure, and the trade-off between food safety and the use of chemical additives in food production. And these days, the fights are getting more heated.

    [Related: Arsenic and Other Chemicals Found in Chicken]

    The Upton Sinclair effect. America has kept a keen eye on the meat industry

    Read More »from Y! Big Story: Pink slime and other food fights
  • Y! Big Story: Election race budget-busters

    As Wisconsin marked a defining moment in Mitt Romney's quest for the Republican presidential nomination, the Badger State might well be noted for another hot-button issue: record campaign spending.

    Just two years ago, in a season that cost about $3.65 billion, the most expensive votes belonged to a California gubernatorial race and two Senate races (Connecticut and Nevada). This year, more dollars per vote may be spent in Wisconsin, not so much on a race, but a recall.

    Most expensive recall: Ironically, a contest to remove someone from office may be more costly than putting someone in the Oval Office. The recall effort over Gov. Scott Walker, which catapulted after he targeted collective bargaining power, has been pitched as a battle of workers' rights vs. political intimidation. The recall election has stolen the spotlight from this year's gubernatorial races.

    All told, the two sides spent some $44 million last year for or against the recall efforts there, according to the

    Read More »from Y! Big Story: Election race budget-busters
  • Y! Big Story: Oakland shootings

    The story has been updated with victims' names and latest reports.

    In recent months, Oakland, Calif., had been the center of national attention as a flash point in the Occupy Movement. Now, a horrific spree shooting at a religious vocational school has once more focused on the city's persistent homicide rate, among the highest in the nation.

    As families and community come together to mourn the victims, questions about gun control and why school shootings happen have surfaced, as well as the most troubling one of all: What makes a lone gunman pull the trigger.

    Nearly 1,000 people gathered at a  memorial service in Allen Temple Baptist Church, one of several vigils for the seven victims. The suspect, One L. Goh, will be charged with seven counts of murder.

    Timeline, according to press reports: Goh, a 43-year-old Korean-American, moved from Virginia, where he left more than $23,000 in debts, to California. He attended Oikos University, a Korean-founded vocation school. There, he was

    Read More »from Y! Big Story: Oakland shootings
  • Y! Big Story: ‘Fifty Shades’ frenzy

    Everything you need to know to get up to speed on the big story of the day

    Fifty Shades of GreyWhat started as "Twilight"-inspired fan-fiction bondage erotica became an underground reading obsession and erupted into two separate bidding wars. The story of the "Fifty Shades" trilogy might be the most reported phenomenon that nobodyoutside a certain age range and genderhas heard of. When the paperback version comes out Tuesday, April 3, though, expect long bookstore lines, a wave of sleep-deprived women, and a sudden demand for gray ties with strong tensile properties.

    This may not be a passing fad: In the coming months, a movie trilogy will make "Fifty Shades" as omnipresent as "Twilight" or "The Hunger Games." A sign of women's power in the marketplace? But first, an excerpt:

    Uncoiling from the floor, rising lazily, like a jungle cat, he points the end of the riding crop at my navel, leisurely circling it—tantalizing me. At the touch of the leather, I quiver and gasp.

    From London to Down Under to the

    Read More »from Y! Big Story: ‘Fifty Shades’ frenzy


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