Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Google is making its educational tools more powerful



Google is making its educational tools more powerful

From The Verge on Flipboard

It's no secret that Google's Chromebooks have seen the most success in the classroom, and have quickly become the de facto education computer in…

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Monday, June 27, 2016

Singapore Airlines plane catches fire on Changi Airport runway; no injuries reported, Singapore News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

Singapore Airlines plane catches fire on Changi Airport runway; no injuries reported, Singapore News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

Singapore Airlines plane catches fire on Changi Airport runway; no injuries reported

SINGAPORE - A Singapore Airlines (SIA) plane that was forced to return to Singapore due to an engine fault, caught fire shortly after it landed at Changi Airport on Monday (June 27) morning. 

There were no injuries but travellers booked on other early morning flights faced some delays, as Runway 2 where the plane landed was closed for about five hours following the incident. 

Landings and take-offs continued on the other runway, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) said in the statement. Whilst some flights were impacted, all flights were able to take off within one hour of their scheduled departure times, added the spokesman.

Flight SQ368 with 222 passengers and 19 crew on board, departed Changi Airport Terminal 3 for Milan, Italy, at around 2.05am on Monday.

About three hours into the flight, the Boeing 777-300ER aircraft was forced to turn back after the pilot received an engine oil warning message.

One of the plane's passengers, Ms Lee Bee Yee, 43, said she detected a faint whiff of what smelled like gasoline about two or three hours into the flight.

"We were informed by the pilot that there was a leak, and that the plane would have to return to Changi Airport as it did not have enough fuel for the journey," said Ms Lee, who runs an e-commerce company.

According to Ms Lee, the plane touched down safely at Changi Airport at around 6.45am to cheers and clapping from the passengers. Shortly after the landing, however, the plane's right wing caught fire.

"The blaze was quite fierce and we waited for around two to three minutes before the fire engines arrived," she said.

"Surprisingly, all the passengers were quite calm. The SQ crew was very professional in calming everyone down."

Passengers on flight SQ368 were calm despite the plane having caught fire on the runway at Changi Airport on Monday (June 27) morning. PHOTO: LEE BEE YEE

SIA said the right engine of the plane caught fire after the plane landed at Changi airport at 6.50am, with airport emergency services responding quickly to the fire. 

The fire was extinguished in five minutes, said a CAAS spokesman. 

Passengers then disembarked through stairs and were transported to the terminal building by bus.

Passengers disembarking from flight SQ368 that caught fire on the runway at Changi Airport on Monday (June 27) morning. PHOTO: LEE BEE YEE

The Straits Times understands that SIA made arrangements for a new aircraft and set of crew. The new flight to Milan departed at about 11am on Monday, while some passengers opted to catch a later flight. 

In a notice handed out to all passengers, SIA apologised for the incident and said arrangements had been made for light refreshments while passengers wait for their flight.

The aircraft was seen being towed from the runway at around 10.30am. Its right wing was blackened and appeared to be mangled badly. 

CAAS will be investigating to determine the causes of the incident. The Ministry of Transport's Air Accident Investigation Bureau will also be conducting an independent investigation. An SIA spokesman said the airline will be cooperating fully with the authorities in their investigations.

In a Facebook post on Monday afternoon, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he expressed relief that all onboard were safely disembarked. 

He added that SIA and CAAS are investigating the cause and will "get to the bottom of the matter". 

Other ministers also commented on the incident on their respective Facebook pages, with Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing praising the pilot and crew of SQ386 for their "calm  and collected response". 

He wrote: "Well done also to the ground crew and control staff for responding in a clockwork manner to deal with the situation. 

"All these would not have been possible without years of hard work and training behind the scene."

Tanjong Pagar MP Melvin Yong also lauded the plane's crew who managed to execute a safe emergency landing.  



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Saturday, June 25, 2016

Minister Heng Swee Keat's 'miraculous, quick recovery', Singapore News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

Minister Heng Swee Keat's 'miraculous, quick recovery', Singapore News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

Minister Heng Swee Keat's 'miraculous, quick recovery'

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat was discharged from hospital yesterday, six weeks after collapsing from a stroke that saw him placed in intensive care, in what was described as a remarkable recovery.

In his first public statement since then, he said: "Home! The last few weeks were the toughest of my life." He acknowledged the outpouring of concern from the public, the work of doctors and nurses, as well as the help of the paramedics who had rushed him to hospital.

"I could get through this time because of the strong support from my family, great medical care, and the kindness from all of you," he said yesterday in a Facebook post.

A minute-long video accompanying the post shows a slimmer Mr Heng looking cheerful as he walks around thanking his medical team.

In announcing his discharge, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said that Mr Heng "has made an excellent recovery".

Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan echoed this, writing in a Facebook post: "I would not have dared to hope for such a miraculous quick recovery on that fateful evening as we discussed the emergency treatment options."

He had, together with Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen and Minister of State Janil Puthucheary - all doctors - attended to Mr Heng when he collapsed during a Cabinet meeting on May 12 from a stroke due to an aneurysm, a localised weakening of a blood vessel.

In a text message to his fellow Tampines GRC MPs, Mr Heng said that he has "recovered most of his functions".

But he is still on medical leave as he continues his rehabilitation, and Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam will continue to cover his duties in the Finance Ministry, said the PMO.

Doctors who spoke to The Sunday Times said it would typically take three to six months for a stroke patient to recover fully.

Mr Heng underwent successful endovascular coil embolisation - surgery to seal off the aneurysm on the same day of the stroke - said the PMO. He was also treated with antibiotics for a lung infection.

In his Facebook post, he said he was grateful for all the help he had received. "If not for the critical help of many people, including my colleagues in Cabinet on the day of my stroke, I wouldn't be here now."

He also singled out the staff of Tan Tock Seng Hospital, the National Neuroscience Institute and the Singapore Civil Defence Force.

He added that he was touched by the various religious groups that organised prayer sessions for him and the people who sent him messages, cards and flowers.

"It was not just about medical care. One more thing made a difference... all your prayers and good wishes," he said adding that he had received their wishes and gifts.

To his Tampines GRC MPs and colleagues, who pitched in to make sure that residents in his ward were cared for, he said: "This is true team spirit, thank you."

News of his discharge was welcomed by colleagues and Singaporeans, who took to social media to ask him to focus on his recovery.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who had provided updates on Mr Heng's condition over the weeks, said in a Facebook post: "I know from personal experience that recovering from serious illnesses takes time. I have advised Swee Keat to take things step by step. No constant checking of his e-mail or his phone!"

Mr Lee recovered from prostate cancer last year, and lymphoma in 1993.

President Tony Tan Keng Yam said he had heard from Mr Heng in a personal letter and was glad he was doing better.

Mr Heng said: "I look forward to when I can see everyone again."



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Friday, June 24, 2016

Brexit, explained in one chart - Vox

Brexit, explained in one chart - Vox

Brexit, explained in one chart

The Brexit vote is over — and Britain has decided to leave the EU, shocking the world and throwing global politics and financial markets into turmoil.

How could this have happened? Why did Britain, an EU member for decades, all of a sudden decide to quit?

The core of the answer is deceptively simple: British voters are pushing back against a huge surge in immigration that's taken place over the past decade. This, more than anything else, drove Britons to support Brexit.

To understand why, take a look at this chart from the British Office for National Statistics. It shows the level of long-term immigration (people moving to the UK and staying for at least 12 months, in orange), long-term emigration (people moving out of the UK and staying away for at least 12 months, in red), and long-term net migration (immigration minus emigration, in blue).

It shows a clear trend: Britain hadn't experienced high levels of immigration for decades, but over the past 20 years the number of people moving there has spiked dramatically:

 (Office of National Statistics)

"Between 1993 and 2014 the foreign-born population in the UK more than doubled from 3.8 million to around 8.3 million," Oxford researchers Cinzia Rienzo and Carlos Vargas-Silva write. "During the same period, the number of foreign citizens increased from nearly 2 million to more than 5 million."

Crucially, the chart also explains a key reason why this spike happened. The chart shows when new countries joined ("gained accession") to the EU, which gives people from those countries new rights to move to the UK.

Most of these countries — the so-called EU8 and EU2, because that's the number of countries that joined in two separate waves — had previously been part of the Eastern Bloc, and thus were considerably poorer than the UK. So when they joined the EU, then, a lot of their citizens went to other, more prosperous EU countries looking for work. And many of them settled on Britain as a destination.

As you can see on the chart, immigration really picked up in 2004, when the EU8 joined the European Union, and remained high afterward. Poland, an EU8 country, is now the second-largest source of immigrants to the UK, only a hair's breadth behind first-place India.

Today, more than 3 million EU immigrants live in the EU. A large portion of them are from EU8 countries, along with many from EU countries such as Spain, Greece, and Portugal that were affected by the eurozone economic crisis who came to Britain (which isn't part of the eurozone common currency union) to look for work.

This influx of immigrants led to a major spike in anti-immigrant sentiment — today, 77 percent of Brits today believe that immigration levels should be reduced. This has translated into rising support for anti-immigrant parties and politicians, in particular the UK Independence Party (UKIP) and its leader, Nigel Farage. UKIP got 4 million votes in the 2015 national election, the third-largest national vote total in the country.

For Farage and like-minded politicians, reducing immigration is inextricably linked to leaving the EU. Because EU rules require Britain to let in significant numbers of EU immigrants, they argue that Britain can never curb immigration while it's in the EU.

This argument came to dominate the case for leaving in Britain.

"The topic of migration has been central to the referendum debate," Will Somerville, a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute, wrote before the vote. He continued:

For an astonishing nine consecutive months, voters have identified immigration as among the most important issues facing Britain (based on Ipsos MORI polling). In April, 47 percent rated immigration as the most pressing concern; just half that number identified the economy as the most important issue.

Those same Ipsos Mori polls find that a majority of "Leave" supporters — 52 percent — say immigration is "very important" to their decisions. Only 14 percent of "Remain" voters say the same, indicating that anti-immigrant sentiment is far more potent among supporters of Brexit.

The vote, then, was a large degree a referendum on immigration. British voters just told us, in no uncertain terms, that they were willing to risk a serious recession in order to keep foreigners out of their country.



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Tomorrow's Here Today is the 2016 NDP song: Do you remember other theme songs from the past?, Singapore News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

Tomorrow's Here Today is the 2016 NDP song: Do you remember other theme songs from the past?, Singapore News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

Tomorrow's Here Today is the 2016 NDP song: Do you remember other theme songs from the past?

Behind the scenes filming of the music video for the NDP 2016 theme song, Tomorrow's Here Today, in May 2016.

This story was first published on May 7, 2015, and updated on June 20, 2016. 

SINGAPORE - You either love it or hate it. National Day Parade (NDP) theme songs often draw strong reactions - and shrill debate in some cases.

Here's a look back at NDP songs through the years.

2016: Tomorrow's Here Today

The upbeat pop anthem hopes to rally Singaporeans to ponder about the country's futurein tune with this year's futuristic theme of Building Our Singapore of Tomorrow.

It is written by composer Don Richmond, 39, and performed by local band 53A.

It appears to have hit the right note with those who responded to a Straits Times online poll. Of the 240 responses garnered as of June 20, 68 per cent said they like it, with some singing praises about its indie and fun vibe. But some say it lacks a connection with older Singaporeans due to its pop background.

2015: Our Singapore

Composed by singer-songwriter Dick Lee, the theme song was one that looked into the future as the nation celebrated its 50th birthday, and at the same time paid tribute to its pioneers and to founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. 

2014: No NDP song

Breaking with NDP tradition, there was no theme song because the organisers wanted familiar tunes that resonate with Singaporeans, and decided that the classic NDP songs complemented that year's theme, Our People, Our Home.

2013: One Singapore

The theme song was sung by a choir of 68 ordinary Singaporeans. Netizens slammed it for sounding like a children's song or a nursery rhyme; others questioned the need to have a new song every year.

2012: Love At First Light

Written by Paul Tan and composed by late Iskandar Ismail, the song was performed by Singaporean artiste Olivia Ong and child actress, Natanya Tan. 

2011: In A Heartbeat

Performed by Singaporean artiste Sylvia Rotonel, the first female finalist in the history of reality singing TV show Singapore Idol. 

2010: Song For Singapore

The theme song was composed and sung by US-based Singaporean singer, Corrinne May. 

2009: What Do You See?

The rock tune What Do You See by local band Electrico had mixed reactions. Critics said it lacked broad appeal and failed to strike a chord with people.

2008: Shine For Singapore

The English version was performed by Hady Mirza, the winner of the second season of Singapore Idol. Pop singer Joi Chua sang the Mandarin version.

2007: There's no Place I'd Rather be, and Will You

Sung by Kit Chan, the song was one of the two theme music pieces to the 2007 National Day Parade. 

2006: My Island Home

2005: Reach Out For The Skies

The catchy song was performed by Taufik Batisah, winner of the first season of Singapore Idol, and actress Rui En. 

2004: Home (Remix)

2003: One United People

2002: We Will Get There

2001: Where I Belong

The rocky tune and smooth melody was released as an EP in 2001 by Singaporean singer and songwriter, Tanya Chua. 

2000: Shine On Me

1999: Together

1998: Home

The ballad, sung by Kit Chan, was not written as a National Day theme song. Singer-songwriter Dick Lee first composed it for Sing Singapore. Still, it has won the hearts of many. In an online poll in 2013, Straits Times readers picked it as their favourite National Day song.

1990: One People, One Nation, One Singapore

1987: We are Singapore

1986: Count on Me, Singapore

1984, 1985: Stand Up for Singapore



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Monday, June 20, 2016

Police arrest 63-year-old Toyota Camry driver filmed knocking down motorcycle on AYE, Singapore News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

Police arrest 63-year-old Toyota Camry driver filmed knocking down motorcycle on AYE, Singapore News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

Police arrest 63-year-old Toyota Camry driver filmed knocking down motorcycle on AYE

The Toyota Camry braking before it is seen slamming into the motorcycle.
The Toyota Camry braking before it is seen slamming into the motorcycle. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM FACEBOOK VIDEO

SINGAPORE - The Toyota Camry driver who was filmed knocking down a motorcycle on the Ayer Rajah Expressway (AYE) has been arrested.

Responding to queries from The Straits Times, a police spokesman confirmed on Monday (June 20) that the driver, a 63-year-old man, has been arrested for committing a rash act causing hurt.

The arrest was understood to have been made last Friday (June 17), following investigations by the Traffic Police into the June 15 incident.

A video of the incident, which was uploaded on Facebook last week, sparked outrage online. It showed the Camry changing lanes in a reckless manner before appearing to deliberately slam into a motorcycle.


The motorcyclist, 29-year-old Muhammad Fazly, hurt his right leg, while his pillion rider - dental assistant Siti Farina, 27 - suffered injuries on her right arm.

Ms Siti told The Straits Times on Monday (June 20) that Mr Fazly, a dispatch driver, was given a week's medical leave as he has difficulty walking.

His motorcycle was also badly damaged in the incident.

"This kind of driver should not be allowed on the road - he appears to have an attitude problem," she said, adding that four eyewitnesses had come forward with their accounts of the incident. 

"We had not done anything to aggravate him and yet he started behaving aggressively towards us."

Ms Siti also said she came to know about past incidents involving the Camry's driver, whom she described as "scary".

Online footage posted on YouTube in 2014 and last year showed a Camry bearing the same licence plate number changing lanes on the expressway in a dangerous manner.


Sunday, June 19, 2016

Zero tolerance for hate speech, says Shanmugam, Singapore News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

Zero tolerance for hate speech, says Shanmugam, Singapore News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

Zero tolerance for hate speech, says Shanmugam

Mr Shanmugam speaking to reporters before the iftar at the Chong Pang Community Club yesterday, where more than 400 residents broke fast together.
Mr Shanmugam speaking to reporters before the iftar at the Chong Pang Community Club yesterday, where more than 400 residents broke fast together.PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN FOR THE SUNDAY TIMES

Minister warns against making inflammatory remarks in S'pore, cites concern over Trump rhetoric

Inflammatory comments on race and religion have no place in Singapore, and the Government will continue to have zero tolerance against such divisive statements.

Describing Singapore's racial and religious harmony as "fragile, but precious", Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam said yesterday that the country needed to reject intolerant teachings, and continue to strengthen trust and understanding between its communities.

He was speaking to reporters before the iftar at the Chong Pang Community Club yesterday, where more than 400 residents broke fast together.

He explained that Muslim communities both here and abroad were concerned by the rhetoric from US presidential hopeful Donald Trump. Just last week, a senior Muslim cleric had asked him what he thought about the presumptive Republican nominee's comments.

"They are concerned as to what is happening," said Mr Shanmugam, who is an MP for Nee Soon GRC.

Mr Trump renewed his anti-Muslim campaign in the wake of last Sunday's shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in which 49 people were killed and 53 injured. The gunman, Omar Mateen, a US citizen, allegedly pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria during the massacre.

Last Monday, Mr Trump responded to the attack by repeating his call for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the country and for certain mosques to be put under surveillance. "This is a major figure, a presidential candidate, who is saying these things," said Mr Shanmugam, who also pointed to the rise in the use of anti-Islamic rhetoric by extremist parties in Europe. "Why was it said? For political benefit, pure and simple. If there are votes in it, people will do it."

But playing on race and religion for political profit and stoking fears is "really unacceptable and I think morally reprehensible", he added. "Muslims as a group were characterised negatively. Islam was equated with terror... People aspiring to leadership positions should not do this - dividing their societies and alienating their Muslim communities."

Last month, US President Barack Obama also criticised Mr Trump at the Group of Seven summit in Japan, pointing out how world leaders had been rattled by him. "A lot of the proposals he has made display either ignorance of world affairs, or a cavalier attitude, or an interest in getting tweets and headlines, instead of actually thinking through what is required to keep America safe and secure and prosperous, and what's required to keep the world on an even keel," he said.

What is happening in the US and Europe shows how quickly political debate can go along racial and religious lines, said Mr Shanmugam.

"In the US, their idea of free speech means you can burn the Quran, attack Muslims, attack others. Here we have zero tolerance for people who make bigoted, divisive statements," he added. "If a person makes such statements, the ISD (Internal Security Department) will talk to him, and where necessary take further action. You burn the Quran, or any other holy book, you go to jail - no two ways about it...

"We have built something precious, fragile but precious. And we try hard to strengthen trust, deepen understanding between the races, religions, and reject religiously intolerant teachings."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 19, 2016, with the headline 'Zero tolerance for hate speech, says Shanmugam'. Print Edition | Subscribe


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Friday, June 17, 2016

Thursday, June 16, 2016

SIA to introduce longest non-stop flights to San Francisco, will stop services to Sao Paulo, Transport News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

SIA to introduce longest non-stop flights to San Francisco, will stop services to Sao Paulo, Transport News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

SIA to introduce longest non-stop flights to San Francisco, will stop services to Sao Paulo

SINGAPORE - Announcing the longest flights in its network, Singapore Airlines (SIA) is launching non-stop services between Singapore and San Francisco, starting Oct 23.

They will be its longest flights until 2018, when a new variant of the A350-900 aircraft will enter service, enabling even longer flights between Singapore and both Los Angeles and New York.

This comes around two weeks after United Airlines started the only non-stop flight between Singapore and San Francisco.

SIA's Singapore-San Francisco flights will run daily on the Airbus A350-900 aircraft. Flying time will be between 14 hours and 35 minutes, and 17 hours and 45 minutes, depending on direction and time of the year.

Flights will depart Singapore in the morning, also arriving in San Francisco in the morning to enable onward connections to other destinations. Return flights from San Francisco will depart in the morning as well and arrive in Singapore in the early evening.

SIA will also add a second daily service to Los Angeles, in an expansion of its United States operations, and suspend services to Sao Paulo in Brazil.

The suspension of its three weekly flights to Sao Paulo via Barcelona were "a result of the sustained weak performance of the route", SIA said.

The last flight will be on Oct 20. Services between Singapore and Barcelona will continue.

Currently, SIA flies to San Francisco twice daily, with one flight operating via Hong Kong and another via Seoul.

The new non-stop service will see its Seoul route re-routed to operate as a Singapore-Seoul-Los Angeles service, also from Oct 23. This will result in a second daily service to Los Angeles, complementing an existing service that operates through Narita airport in Tokyo.

"Our customers have been asking us to offer more US services and we are pleased to be able to do so," said SIA's senior vice-president for marketing planning, Ms Lee Wen Fen.

"With new non-stop San Francisco flights and the increase in frequency to Los Angeles, customers will have two flights to choose from each day to both of these popular US West Coast destinations."

Senior vice-president of market development for Changi Airport Group, Mr Lim Ching Kiat, said SIA's moves "augment Changi Airport's position as the preferred gateway between South-east Asia and the US".

He added that Singapore has the "strongest connectivity to the US in terms of flight frequencies and city links" in South-east Asia, and that SIA's expanded operations will see the country connected to six cities in the US via 61 weekly services.



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