Technology: Google Reveals Top Searches for 2018

Google’s top searches for 2018 have been announced, with the World Cup as the year’s most searched term.

The football league emerged as the list-topper for global search on the search engine, while Swedish DJ Avicii and American rapper Mac Miller took the second and third spots. Meghan Markle came in at number six after marrying Britain’s Prince Harry in May.

Marvel’s superhero flick Black Panther was the year’s most searched movie, followed by Deadpool 2 and Venom.

Barnaby Joyce became Australia’s most searched person following his office affair and his subsequent resignation as the leader of the National Party. Joyce’s partner, Vikki Campion also made the top 10 list at number six. Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton completed the top three most searched persons’ list at number two and three respectively.

In the news category, the Royal wedding topped the search trends, ahead of the Thai cave rescue and the Wentworth by-election.

Most Searched Persons, Australia

  1. Barnaby Joyce
  2. Scott Morrison
  3. Peter Dutton
  4. Billy Slater
  5. Craig McLachlan
  6. Vikki Campion
  7. David Warner
  8. Chopper Read
  9. Nick Cummins
  10. Andrew Gaff

 

Most Searched News Items, Australia

  1. Royal Wedding
  2. Thai cave rescue
  3. Wentworth by-election
  4. My Health Record
  5. Beaumont children
  6. Hawaii volcano
  7. California fires
  8. Listeria
  9. US midterm elections
  10. Blood moon

 

Most Searched Movies, Global

  1. Black Panther
  2. Deadpool 2
  3. Venom
  4. Avengers: Infinity War
  5. Bohemian Rhapsody
  6. A Star Is Born
  7. Incredibles 2
  8. The Nun
  9. A Quiet Place
  10. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

 

Top Search Terms, Global

  1. World Cup
  2. Avicii
  3. Mac Miller
  4. Stan Lee
  5. Black Panther
  6. Meghan Markle
  7. Anthony Bourdain
  8. XXXTentacion
  9. Stephen Hawking
  10. Kate Spade

International: Khmer Rouge Leaders Found Guilty of Genocide

Two Khmer Rouge leaders have been found guilty of genocide, around 40 years after millions of people died under Pol Pot’s regime.

Pol Pot’s deputy Nuon Chea, 92, and former head of state Khieu Samphan, 87, were sentenced to life imprisonment in the UN-backed tribunal for the genocide committed between 1977 and 1979.

It was estimated that two million people from Cham Muslim and ethnic Vietnamese backgrounds died from overwork, starvation and mass executions under Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge reign.

“I think this verdict is a very timely and very necessary,” said prosecutor Nicholas Koumjian. “The fact that these crimes happened 40 years ago in no way diminishes the impact of this verdict for those who were affected by the crimes, people whose parents were tortured and killed.”

The tribunal, officially called the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, was established in 2006 with Cambodian and international judges. It has so far convicted three high-ranking Khmer Rouge members and started investigations on four other cadres, all at the cost of US$300 million.

Koumjian said “he wished things had gone faster and that more people had been prosecuted”, while Nuon Chea’s lawyer Victor Koppe questioned the necessity of the courts at all. “In 10 or 20 years from now, when the dust has settled, people will look back on this as a complete waste of time and energy and resources,” said Koppe.

But David Scheffer, the UN secretary general’s special expert to the Khmer Rouge trials said the significance of the verdict could not be minimised. “This is comparable, in Cambodia, to the Nuremberg judgment after world war two,” Scheffer told the Guardian. “That is worth the money and effort.”

Youk Chhang, head of the Documentation Center of Cambodia which has helped the tribunal with evidence said the sentence will “provide a sense of closure to a horrible chapter in Cambodian history”, “affirm the collective humanity of the victims and give recognition to the horrible suffering”.

Finance: Tesla Appoints Robyn Denholm as Elon Musk’s Replacement in Chair Role

Tesla has named Robyn Denholm as its new board chair, replacing Elon Musk.

Denholm, who has been a Tesla board member since 2014, will leave her post as chief financial officer and head of strategy at Telstra.

Denholm has held leadership roles across multiple Silicon Valley technology companies, such as Juniper Networks and Sun Microsystems, as well as a number of finance roles at automotive giant Toyota.

“Robyn … has made significant contributions as a Tesla Board member over the past four years in helping us become a profitable company,” said Musk. “I look forward to working even more closely with Robyn as we continue accelerating the advent of sustainable energy.”

In September, the US Securities and Exchange Commission sued Tesla and Musk for fraud after the latter announced on Twitter that he had “funding secured” to take Tesla private at $420 per share. The case was settled with a US$40 million payment and an agreement for Musk to leave his chairman role for at least three years.

Musk stays in the company after the settlement, keeping his position as the chief executive officer.

Observers have expressed their scepticism over Denholm’s ability to keep the CEO in rein. “With all the crazy stuff going on, she was there,” said Rohan Williamson, a finance professor at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. “She couldn’t control him before. Is anything going to change?”

International: Trump Asks for Khashoggi’s Murder Evidence

US president Donald Trump has asked Turkey for any audio or video evidence it had related to the disappearance and alleged murder of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi “if it exists”.

Khashoggi was last seen entering Istanbul’s Saudi consulate on October 2. Turkish officials said they believed Khashoggi was murdered in the building. Saudi Arabia has denied killing the Washington Post journalist.

Trump told reporters on Wednesday that he had requested evidence of the murder from Turkey. “We have asked for it, if it exists,” said Trump. “I’m not sure yet that it exists, probably does, possibly does.”

Trump denied giving cover for Saudi Arabia, which is one of Washington’s closest allies. Only a day before, Trump compared the murder allegations to sexual assault accusations against Brett Kavanaugh. “Here we go again with, you know, you’re guilty until proven innocent. I don’t like that. We just went through that with Justice Kavanaugh and he was innocent all the way as far as I’m concerned.”

Turkish government leaks and press reports have raised claims that Khashoggi was tortured and killed in the consulate building, where he expected to arrange paperwork for his marriage. Sources told CNN that the death was a result of an interrogation that went wrong, with the original plan being to abduct Khashoggi from Turkey.

Reports also said that 15 Saudi Arabians arrived at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul on diplomatic passports only a few hours before Khashoggi went to the consulate. These 15 people left the same night.

In response to the news, more figures from high-profile organisations have withdrawn from an investment conference in Riyadh, including the International Monetary Fund’s Christine Lagarde, Google’s Diane Greene, CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin, Credit Suisse’s Tidjane Thiam, JP Morgan’s Jamie Dimon and Uber’s Dara Khosrowshahi.

Technology: Amazon Promotes Own Brands on Competitors’ Listings

Amazon appears to be testing a new feature to promote its own products under the listings of competing brands.

CNBC reported that users could find the link “Similar item from Our Brands” under search results for a variety of products, which connects to the product page of Amazon’s private brands. For example, users looking to buy body wash from Dove could find under the listing a link directing them to a product page of P.O.V., an Amazon-owned personal care brand. Similarly, the link underneath the listings for Bounty paper towels connects to Amazon’s household brand Presto.

Vendors voiced out their complaints on Amazon’s seller forum, raising questions over the fairness of competition on the platform.

“If you’ve got Amazon brands competing against you, it’s just become that much more difficult to be competitive in the marketplace,” said Jeff Cohen, chief marketing officer at Seller Labs, an agency that helps sellers advertise their business on the online marketplace.

Amazon has not announced any new features on the platform, nor has the company responded to media enquiries on the matter.

A report by TJI Research released last week expected Amazon’s private labels to contribute $7.5 billion in sales this year. “Private label is one of the highly under-appreciated trends within Amazon, in our view, which over time should give the company a strong ‘unfair’ competitive advantage,” the report said.

Technology: Singapore to Embrace Cloud for Government IT Systems

The Singaporean government will move most of its IT systems to commercial cloud services over the next few years, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has announced.

In the Stack 2018 Developer Conference on Tuesday, Lee said the government would need to “re-engineer” its systems and processes to provide better public service.

“With technology, we can … reduce bureaucracy and simplify our processes significantly,” said Lee. “We have done a preliminary study, and concluded that many government systems can in principle exist in the commercial cloud.”

Lee said some systems will be migrated to the commercial cloud infrastructure over the next few years, with plans to create “our own government cloud” for systems that cannot be transferred.

He also emphasised the government’s concern for security and data protection, mentioning the recent SingHealth cyber-attack that saw hackers steal 160,000 medical records and 1.5 million patients’ personal information. “The latest SingHealth incident only drives us to redouble our efforts,” said Lee.

Singapore isn’t the first government to introduce commercial cloud solution. In February, the Australian government unveiled Secure Cloud Strategy to allow agencies to use cloud services more easily.

International: Brett Kavanaugh Lies under Oath about Drinking, Former Classmates Say

A former classmate of Brett Kavanaugh has accused the US Supreme Court nominee of lying under oath about his drinking behaviour during his university years.

In a testimony to the judiciary committee on Thursday, Kavanaugh denied ever blacking out from drinking. The statement was part of Kavanaugh’s response to the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford, who accused the judge of sexually assaulting her while drunk in 1982.

However, Charles Ludington, who had been a friend of Kavanaugh’s at Yale called this claim into question. In a statement, Ludington said he was “deeply troubled by what has been a blatant mischaracterisation by Brett himself of his drinking at Yale.”

Ludington said Kavanaugh often became “belligerent and aggressive” when drinking, and at one point threw a beer in a man’s face, “starting a fight that ended with one of our mutual friends in jail.”

“I can unequivocally say that in denying the possibility that he ever blacked out from drinking, and in downplaying the degree and frequency of his drinking, Brett has not told the truth,” said Ludington.

The North Carolina State University professor said the problem was with lying rather than the “heavy drinking” during the judge’s youth. “If he lied about his past actions on national television, and more especially while speaking under oath in front of the United States Senate, I believe those lies should have consequences.”

Ludington was not the first classmate to challenge Kavanaugh’s statements on his drinking habit. Liz Swisher said Kavanaugh was “a partier” who “drank heavily.” She said, “There’s no problem with drinking beer in college. The problem is lying about it.”

Kavanaugh’s former roommate at Yale, James Roche also said the judge was “a notably heavy drinker, even by the standards of the time” who “became aggressive and belligerent when he was very drunk.”

Lying under oath counts as a perjury and will end Kavanaugh’s candidacy for the Supreme Court.

International: British Pupils Spend Less Time on Music, Art and Drama

English secondary school students are spending less time on music, art and drama courses than in 2011, new government data has found.

An analysis by Tes of the Department for Education showed that as pupils reach year 10 and 11, time being spent on teaching art, music and drama falls significantly. Art is down 20 percent while music and drama dip 12 percent and 26 percent respectively.

More time is now devoted to English, maths and science, which collectively account for 51 percent of teaching time to GCSE candidates. This represents a growth from 44.5 percent in 2011.

“We believe schools should be making their own curriculum decisions that are in the best interests of the young people in their school,” said Malcolm Trobe, deputy general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders.

“However, the reality is that performance measures are what schools are judged on, so this puts an undue amount of pressure on leaders, governors and trusts.”

Co-director of the Cultural Learning Alliance Sam Cairns said the decline in art lessons at schools is a “social justice issue” that affects poorer students negatively. “The middle classes continue to provide their children with access to arts, if they are no longer provided in school,” said Cairns. “So they continue to enjoy the benefits while the kids whose parents can’t pay don’t get the same boost.”

A spokesperson for the Department said £500 million was to be invested in music and arts education programs between 2016 and 2020 to boost music education and help “talented pupils from all backgrounds attend prestigious arts institutions, such as the Royal Ballet School in London and Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester.”

International: Samoa Recalls MMR Vaccine after Death of Two Infants

The Samoan government has issued a recall for a vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) following the deaths of two infants.

Two children, both aged 12 months, reportedly passed away only hours after receiving the vaccine shot.

Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi described the deaths as “devastating” and called for an inquiry. “There are already processes that will determine if negligence is a factor,” Malielegaoi said in a statement.

“And if so, rest assured those processes will be implemented to the letter to ensure that such a tragedy will not be repeated and those responsible will be made to answer.”

Samoan health authorities have also stopped all children’s vaccination in the island nation.

Rasul Baghirov, the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Samoa representative said there have been no other reported cases of deaths related to the vaccination batch supplied to Samoa. The batch, which was sent from India by the UNICEF, had been safety checked by the WHO.

“The severe reaction following the administration of MMR vaccine is very, very rare — that’s why we want to really investigate and find out what caused the deaths here in Samoa,” said Baghirov.

International: Bill Clinton Said He Didn’t Owe An Apology to Monica Lewinsky

Former US President Bill Clinton said he didn’t owe an apology to Monica Lewinsky after the 1998 scandal.

In an interview with NBC’s Today show, Clinton told Craig Melvin that he had never privately apologised to Lewinsky and did not feel any need to. Clinton was interviewed alongside his co-author James Patterson to promote their new novel, The President is Missing.

“I have never talked to her,” Clinton said. “But I did say publicly on more than one occasion that I was sorry. That’s very different. The apology was public.”

Public attention to Clinton’s scandal, along with the allegations of sexual harassment and assault from several women, has been renewed after the rise of the #MeToo movement.

Clinton praised the movement but admitted to having some reservations about some of its outcomes. “I like the #MeToo movement,” Clinton said. “It’s way overdue. It doesn’t mean I agree with everything. I still have some questions about some of the decisions that have been made.”

Considering the movement, Clinton said he would still approach the accusations made against him in the same way. “If the facts were the same today, I wouldn’t [handle it any differently],” said Clinton. “I don’t think it would be an issue because people would be using the facts instead of the imagined facts.”

In a Vanity Fair essay earlier this year, Lewinsky wrote that she had started to view the affair with Clinton, which she previously characterised as consensual, in a different light. “Now, at 44, I’m beginning (just beginning) to consider the implications of the power differentials that were so vast between a president and a White House intern,” she wrote.