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Topic Reading-Vol.4240-12/3/2023

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
New Zealand smoking ban: Health experts criticise new government's shock reversal
In December 2022 under then-PM Jacinda Arden of the Labor Party, New Zealand passed a bill that prohibits the sale of cigarettes to anyone born on or after 1 January 2009 as part of an effort to become smoke-free by 2025. The bill was also supposed to impose major restrictions on availability and nicotine content. It aimed to reduce the leading cause of preventable deaths in the country where around 8% of the adult population smokes. The law has been praised as one of the most progressive moves to reduce smoking. However, the newly formed coalition government abruptly announced that it would scrap the smoking ban to fund tax cuts. Indeed, taxes on cigarettes and tobacco sellers' revenues would be saved if the smoking ban were to be scrapped. But how could a national health policy be revised only after one election? In the meantime, as many as 84,000 people quit smoking in 12 months after the smoking ban was approved. Should a government sacrifice people’s health for money?
Read the article and learn about how democracy works on public health matters in New Zealand.


Topic Reading-Vol.4239-12/2/2023

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Indo-Chinese cuisine makes a splash in US dining
Indo-Chinese cuisine is a fusion of Indian and Chinese culinary traditions. It emerged when Chinese immigrants, mainly Cantonese, to Kolkata, then Calcutta, India in the 19th century adapted their cooking to suit Indian tastes, incorporating Indian spices and flavors into Chinese-style dishes. Soon, it became popular in India and among people who enjoy the blend of these two rich culinary heritages. When the war between India and China broke out in 1961, those Chinese immigrants and their descendants moved out to the US, UK, or Canada. There, some of them opened Indo-Chinese fusion restaurants. Gradually, their menus like Gobi Manchurian, Chili Chicken, and Hakka Noodles became popular with immigrants and visiting students from India and beyond, and they are now part of popular menus in many specialty or ordinary restaurants across the US. If you haven’t tried any Indo-Chinese dishes and like spicy food, you may want to try one.
Enjoy reading the article and learning about Indo-Chinese fusion food.


Topic Reading-Vol.4238-12/1/2023

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
In a remote corner of Asia, one of the world’s oldest cities continues to awe visitors
Samarkand is one of the world’s oldest inhabited cities in Uzbekistan, a landlocked central Asian country. It sits about 300 kilometers southwest of and is a two-hour fast train ride from Tashkent, the capital. Samarkand has been at the crossroads of world cultures for over two and a half millennia and is one of the most important sites on the Silk Road traversing Central Asia. It boasts renowned structures like the Registan Square’s three iconic colorful old Islamic schools and Shah-i-Zinda, a necropolis with a collection of beautiful and mysterious mausoleums. As part of the central Asian cultures, Plov, a rice dish like pilaf made with a variety of ingredients, and Obi Non, bread made in a clay oven, are most popular in Samarkand. Visiting bazaars and tea houses, you’ll experience the taste and atmosphere of Silk Road cultures. Along with Bukhara and Khiva, Samarkand is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Enjoy reading the article and seeing the photos of Samarkand, a crossroads of cultures, trading, and learning.


Topic Reading-Vol.4237-11/30/2023

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
You can get Covid-19 and flu vaccines at the same time, but should you?
As winter approaches in the northern hemisphere, people live and work in a more closed environment. Then the air is dryer inside and even outdoors. Yes, the flu season is coming. Also, COVID-19 is still out there with new variants like HV.1 and EG.5. So, if you’re getting those vaccines, should you get them on different days or on the same day? Studies have found there seems to be no significant difference in antibody levels between different-day shots and same-day shots. Also, after-shot temporary reactions, such as fatigue, headache, fever, and muscle pain are nearly the same. It rather depends on the person. Then the question is whether you go to the clinic once or twice. Would you risk exposing yourself to an environment where there could be other patients with cold, the flu, or COVID-19 twice? Would you experience after-shot reactions twice? Furthermore, would you like to make just one visit or two visits?
Read the article and learn about how two vaccines could be taken before the flu season.


Topic Reading-Vol.4236-11/29/2023

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
American consumers are experiencing sticker shock for domestic wines. How did US bottles get so expensive?
Wines in the US have become more expensive, but not just because of rising demands. During the Covid pandemic, alcohol sales spiked as many people were forced to stay home and needed comfort. They had an extra budget allowance to buy more expensive wines than they used to buy as they could not dine out or travel. This allowed winemakers to raise prices to offset the rising production costs, including bottles, labels, corks, capsules, and labor. None of these improved the quality, flavor, or taste of the wine, though. After the pandemic, the demand declined but the prices stayed high. Winemakers are afraid that consumers might perceive lower prices as having lower quality. Also, the cost to bottle wine is nearly the same for almost any wine. That’s why prices of wines in the US are staying high. But if there are no good affordable wines, consumers are likely to pick alternative drinks, such as craft beers or sparkling alcohol drinks. Winemakers seem to need sound strategies to manage today’s and future business.
Enjoy reading the article and learning about the pricing mechanism of US wines.


Topic Reading-Vol.4235-11/28/2023

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
From Sin City to Sports Central: How Las Vegas is betting big on a lucrative industry
Located in the Mojave Desert, Nevada, Las Vegas is a city famous for gambling, shopping, and entertainment. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the US, welcoming around 40 million visitors a year. It originally grew as a gambling city with casinos and hotels like Caesars Palac, earning the nickname “Sin City.” Then it added family attractions, including museums, theaters, halls, and amusement parks, and also developed business facilities for conventions, and became known as the Entertainment Capital of the World. Recently, the entertainment city has broadened its business scope to sports events, constructed stadiums and arenas, and hosted Formula 1 racing events, major league sports games, and national title events like the Super Bowl. Now, Las Vegas claims itself as the Sports and Entertainment Capital of the World. It seems that the city is also home to the construction, maintenance, and hospitality industries. What will happen to this desert city in the middle of nowhere in the future? Is this resource and energy-consuming city sustainable?
Enjoy reading and learning about what is going on in the Capital of Gambling, Entertainment, and Sports events.


Topic Reading-Vol.4234-11/27/2023

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Newborn cloned cat is all Chinese
Animal cloning is the process of creating a genetically identical copy of an animal. The most popular technique of animal cloning is somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), which involves removing the nucleus from a donor cell and placing it into an enucleated egg cell. The egg cell is then stimulated to develop into an embryo, which is then implanted into a surrogate mother. The first cloned animal was Dolly the sheep, which was born in 1996. Catarina the cat was the first cloned cat from a somatic cell in 2001. Research institutions in China have been working on cloning animals with all-Chinese technologies and machines and recently created its first cat cloned from somatic cells using domestically developed equipment and reagents. They’ve also cloned 20 pigs only with homegrown equipment and reagents this month. These are a few examples of all-Chinese scientific research like the Tiangong Space Station. As the number of newborn children has been declining drastically in China (Vol.4232), the news might remind you of the clone troopers in Star Wars movies.
Read the article and learn about China’s all-domestically cloned cat.