News In Focus:
A Look At This Week’s Most Interesting Stories

US: “I’m running for president,”: so announced former First Lady, US Senator, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of her decision to run for the presidency for a second time.

Ms. Clinton, now 67, holds strong support from Democrats.  President Obama gave her his blessing publicly last Saturday during a news conference following a gathering of leaders from the Americas.  No other Democratic candidates has emerged to contest her domination of the party’s nomination.

But the Guardian newspaper speculates Martin O’Malley, the former governor of Maryland, as well as the former Virginia senator, Jim Webb, may be potential challengers.

Competition for the Oval Office looks tough as Republican senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul have already geared up for the election race.

Ms. Clinton has proven credentials — such as her previous job as the Secretary of State, where she demonstrated her international diplomacy skills while supporting President Obama’s Middle East operations that eradicated Osama bin Laden.

But the recent controversies over her use of a private email address to transact State Department’s official business, and the queries about foreign donations to a Clinton philanthropic foundation, may lay bare an area for political backlashing from her opponents.

Readers may read about her own version of story in  Living History, as well as her experience as Secretary of State in Hard Choices.

Hillary’s official announcement is below:


Singapore: Detective fiction fans may enjoy an educational brain teaser if they hear this snippet of conversation among three friends in Singapore:

“Albert and Bernard just became friends with Cheryl, and they want to know when her birthday is.  Cheryl gives them a list of 10 possible dates: May 15, May 16,  May 19, June 17, June 18, July 14, July 16, August 14, August 15, August 17.

“Cheryl then tells Albert and Bernard separately the month and the day of her birthday, respectively.

“Albert said, ‘I don’t know when Cheryl’s birthday is, but I know that Bernard does not know too.’

“Bernard said, ‘At first I don’t know when Cheryl’s birthday is, but I know now.’

“Albert said, ‘Then I also know when Cheryl’s birthday is.’”

So, when is Cheryl’s birthday?

Welcome to “Cheryl’s birthday” problem, a baffling puzzle that went viral in the cyber world after being posted in Facebook by a Singaporean television host last week.

The brainteaser turns out to be one of the tougher questions that sifted out the brightest among 14 to 15 years old students during this month’s Singapore and Asian Schools Math Olympiad.

Still cannot figure out the answer? No worries.  Solutions, like the original problem, have flooded the Internet.

Our favorite explanation comes courtesy of the BBC:


Literary: Last Monday, the world lost another literary giant. German Nobel literature laureate Günter Grass died in hospital in Lübeck at the age of 87.

A pacifist, and widely regarded, at a time, as Germany’s greatest moral authorities and postwar conscience, Günter Grass dedicated many of his words in critique of his country’s war guilt and advocated for peace and the environment.

Besides his literary dexterity, Grass was also versatile in sculpture and poetry, as well as being an accomplished playwright and jazz drummer.

Grass’ literary fame was established, albeit delayed, with his debut novel in 1959, The Tin Drum, which tells the story of Germany through the eyes of a boy with an adult mind and an uncanny gift of choosing not to grow up.

The novel invited fierce criticism but managed to become a stunning bestseller.  Together with Cat and Mouse and Dog Years, Grass’ books capture much of the author’s youthful experiences.

His The Tin Drum was adapted into a film in 1979 directed by Volker Schlöndorff.  The film won the Palme d’Or at the 1979 Cannes Film Festival and the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

Günter Grass was born of Polish-German parents in Gdansk in 1927.  He joined the German army in 1944 at the age of 16, where, according to his own confession to the newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine in 2006 as well as in his memoir, Peeling the Onion, he served as a tank gunner in the Nazi Waffen SS.

Grass was wounded in Cottbus in April 1945 and was held captive by the U.S. army.   After the war, Grass settled in West Germany and trained initially as a stonemason and sculptor in Düsseldorf and Berlin.  He later switched to a literary career while venturing into politics in the 1960s.  During this period, Grass had campaigned for Willy Brandt, the former West German chancellor, and the Social Democrats.

Günter Grass won the 1999 Nobel Prize for Literature for his works “whose frolicsome black fables portray the forgotten face of history,” according to the Swedish Academy.

Grass also won the 1965 Georg Büchner Prize, the Carl von Ossietzky Medal in 1977, and was awarded foreign honorary membership of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

The Nobel laureate remained a controversial figure.  He was banned from entering Israel for having crafted the 2012 poem, “What Must Be Said,” in which he criticized the country.

Here’s Grass, in his own words, courtesy of Denmark’s Louisiana Museum of Modern Art:


Hong Kong: Tens of thousands of Hong Kong casual investors woke up to see their wealth swollen literally overnight last week as Hong Kong’s long sluggish stock market suddenly turned bullish.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng stock market index soared on 8 April above 27,000 for the first time since January 2008 , and set a record daily turnover of more than HK$252.4 billion (or US$32.6 billion).  The momentum continued the following day, and pushed the market up by 6.6 percent towards the end of last week, and and about 14 percent this year.  The Hang Seng Index pierced the psychologically important 28,000 threshold on 13 April.

The flamboyant market is mostly fueled by a buying spree of a cash-rich Mainland Chinese investors, who are part of the recently introduced Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect program, which allows investors in Hong Kong to buy A-shares on the Shanghai stock exchange without a license while permitting Chinese investors to tap the Hong Kong market, subject to limits.

These Mainland investors used up the entire 10.5 billion renminbi, or US$1.7 billion, daily quota for buying Hong Kong stocks on Wednesday.

The unexpected stimulus may have flipped the market mood, but analysts differ as to whether this flood of Mainland capital can be sustained.

A video by the New York Times tries to make sense of the situation:

We at NewsWhistle just want our MTV…


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“Cheryl” Art courtesy of Welf Aaaron /