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ST Explainers: Attacks, Trump, man v machine, and more

This is a fortnightly round-up of FAQs, pegged to news events, published on The Straits Times' website. Go to http://str.sg/Z9Zr for more.


A global ransomware attack which crippled the British public health service and affected a wide range of companies around the world grabbed the spotlight. Elsewhere, a fractious Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Hanoi nonetheless offered fresh hope that the Trans-Pacific Partnership could be saved.

Closer to home, ST Explainers tackled the topics of bottled water and eggs.


WannaCry virus wreaks cyber havoc
The WannaCry virus which surfaced on May 12 was a global ransomware attack which hit some countries hard. ST Explainers gave a detailed rundown of what the virus does (http://str.sg/4682) and tips on what to do if your computer is infected (http://str.sg/46uR).

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The hackers behind the virus demanded payment in the form of bitcoin, a cryptocurrency that is favoured because of its anonymity and value. Find out more about this digital currency at http://str.sg/46RA.


TPP to go ahead without US
On May 21, Asia-Pacific trade ministers agreed to try to revive the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) despite the exit of the United States. Find out what barriers the 11 other signatory nations will face in trying to revive this pact at http://str.sg/4uci.


Spotlight on bottled water, eggs
Singaporeans spent $134 million on bottled water in 2015 and there are now at least 12 brands of bottled water available in the market. ST Explainers looks at the beliefs that have powered the sale of bottled water and lists nine things to know about it. http://str.sg/46RD

Besides water, eggs also came under scrutiny this week. Figures from the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority show that the yearly per capita consumption of hen eggs rose from 291 eggs in 2006 to 338 eggs last year. Go to http://str.sg/4uQf for the answers to frequently asked questions about eggs, from the types of eggs available here to the health benefits of the food. http://str.sg/4uQf


Japan's royal grandchild to marry commoner
News that Princess Mako, the eldest grandchild of Japan's Emperor Akihito, 83, and Empress Michiko, 82, will marry a commoner early next year has re-ignited an old debate about the shrinking Japanese royal family and the male-only succession rule. Princess Mako will lose her royal status once she marries. Find out more about the four royal grandchildren, only one of whom is male, at http://str.sg/4u3P


South Korea's Moon assembles his team
Elsewhere in Asia, it was South Korean President Moon Jae In's new team that came under scrutiny as North Korea's ballistic missile tests cranked up the pressure. We take a closer look at President Moon's team of doves and their policy positions.


Could Trump possibly be impeached?
More turmoil greeted US President Donald Trump in the wake of the firing of Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey. The I-word - impeachment - has been mentioned by some Democrats. ST Explainers looks at how the impeachment process works in the American system. http://str.sg/46Fd


Deadly attack in NYC's Times Square
A vehicle ploughed through New York City's crowded Times Square on May 18, killing an 18-year-old and injuring 22 people. The driver, a US Navy veteran, has been arrested and charged with murder. This is not the first time Times Square has been a target of an attack. For a short history of this iconic heart of Manhattan, go to http://str.sg/4uoF.


Machine beats man at Go
Google's AlphaGo game program beat the world's top-ranked player Ke Jie in the Chinese board game of Go on Tuesday, a landmark in the history of artificial intelligence (AI). Software programmers have been trying to build computers smart enough to beat human players in various games ranging from chess and checkers to poker and Jeopardy. We look at the historic showdowns between AI and humans at http://str.sg/4udf.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 27, 2017, with the headline 'ST Explainers: Attacks, Trump, man v machine, and more'. Print Edition | Subscribe