Google Trends used to be a place where you looked up trends for historical searches, over the span of several years. You can still do that, but they recently shifted to a focus on more current search activity. Get a list of "trending stories", maps of where the searches occur, and the familiar time series plots that show search over time. Select a trend, and you get a page with news story links along with charts.
Pretty nifty. I'm surprised we're only now just seeing this from Google.
Oh, and you can download data for some of the trends if you so please. Too bad it's not for all searches.