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Topic Reading-Vol.537-9/30/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
What could have prevented Navy Yard carnage?
There was another shooting rampage in the capital of the U.S., where people are legally allowed to purchase and own almost any type of firearms such as pistols, rifles, shotguns and even military grade assault rifles, not to mention cartons of ammunition that can be used for any purpose.
Accordingly, the police have to be armed to match or overpower such privately held weapons, and security measures for buildings and facilities need be tightened to prevent anyone from bringing in weapons. Sounds like an endless battle, doesn’t it? And it’s very costly, too.
However, no matter how tight the security measures are, once an ill-minded such guns(s) owner has decided to kill or harm others with his or her weapon, it seems extremely challenging to prevent a shooting incident from occurring.
Enjoy reading and learning the challenges to balance between privacy and security in a country where people can posses and use firearms.


Topic Reading-Vol.536-9/29/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Costa Concordia: How ill-fated cruise liner will be raised from Italian seabed.
How to raise a wrecked over-100,000-ton luxury cruise ship in a beautiful conserved sea?
The salvage project of The Concordia, which capsized and sank with 4,000 passengers on board in January 2012, is estimated to be the most expensive maritime wreck recovery in history, costing $800 million to raise the mega ship in the sea only to be towed away and scrapped.
Enjoy reading the article and seeing the graphic explanation of this historic recovery project.


Topic Reading-Vol.535-9/28/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
A new Utah polygamous family on reality TV
Although polygamy, a state having more than one mate at one time according to Webster, isn’t popularly practiced, publically accepted or legally allowed among Christians and Buddhists and in most countries in the world except some countries in Northern Africa and the Middle East, it is estimated that there are over 35,000 fundamentalists who believe or practice polygamy in the Western US, mostly in Utah.
This 43-year-old man in Utah is one of those independent polygamists with five wives and two dozen children aged between two and 20. The family looks pretty happy in the photos, who all live in a huge multiplex overseeing the Rockies sharing household duties and eating meals all together. However, “the parents” seem to be under some mental pressure because polygamy is not a legally allowed status in Utah and also their independent status is not welcomed by the fundamentalist community.
Enjoy reading and learning about an American plural family.


Topic Reading-Vol.534-9/27/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Panda cubs make debut during National holiday
Most people want to see a live panda. Then, how grateful you could be if you had chance to see a display of 14 newly born panda cubs in a close distance! Isn’t that a once-in-a-lifetime experience?
When China is celebrating its National Day holidays in October, the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, which keeps 128 live pandas in its facility, displays newly born panda cubs to the visitors. Would you be interested in traveling there? Sorry for a short notice.
Enjoy reading and learning about this amusing panda event.


Topic Reading-Vol.533-9/26/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
World's happiest nations are...
Very curious to know where people feel happier than others, isn’t it?
Surprisingly, the counties ranked at the top of the list aren’t necessarily economically, geographically or populously substantial ones. They are Scandinavian countries such Norway, Finland, Sweden and their neighbor Denmark, and other island or mountainous ones like Iceland or Switzerland.
So what makes people feel happier than others?
Enjoy reading and learning what could be contributing factors to happiness.


Topic Reading-Vol.532-9/25/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Healthy Italian diet suffers as economic crisis bites.
Back to the traditions. Bake bread and pizzas yourself rather than buying at a bakery or pizzeria, like their parents and their parents used to do to save money or just to live on.
Many of modern Italian families have been facing the effects of the financial crisis that has cut pays and job opportunities of many while witnessing soaring prices of daily necessities including vegetables, meat and even their beloved wheat. For ordinary Italian families, dining out is no longer an option with their limited budget, cooking meat or fish seems too luxurious for daily meals and even buying baked bread now sounds like a extraordinary treatment.
Enjoy reading and learning how people are trying to manage a difficult time in Italy.


Topic Reading-Vol.531-9/24/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
After 40 years in North Korea, escapee returns to Seoul.
What would you feel about your life if you had been in captive for 40 years in a neighboring but hostile country where food, energy and medical services are rarely provided enough to anyone but a handful of government and military officials?
Seoul claims that 3,500 of their citizens have been abducted by North Korea since the armistice of the Korean War, which still has not officially ended because no peace treaty has ever been signed between the two. Tokyo also claims 17 such cases.
Enjoy reading and learning about a story of a man who have recently escaped from 40 years of captivity.


Topic Reading-Vol.530-9/23/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Tom Hanks on jury leads to reduced charge in case.
What if a big name celebrity is sitting with 11 others in the jury box in your trial? Wouldn’t it be just an unexpected honor or cause an uncontrollable confusion?
Tom Hanks was sitting in the jury box in a domestic trial until he was thanked for his duty by a lawyer who worked for the district attorney’s office, which ended up as a mistrial because none of either side of the trial is allowed to speak to any of the jurors.
It must have cost Hanks a lot to sit in the court and listen to the trial, considering the amount of money he could have earned if he had been in his own business during the time, either acting or speaking.
Enjoy reading and learning about a trial that caught a unimaginable attendance and attention because of one of the jurors.


Topic Reading-Vol.529-9/22/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Action pledged for new type of Sino-US ties.
The two giants have committed themselves to working on bilateral, regional and global issues in a constructive and mutually beneficial way before the general assembly of the United Nations.
How influential China and the U.S. are? The new nations combined, they represent over 50% of the world military spending, 40% and greenhouse gas emissions, and 30 % of the total GDP of the world. Since no one wants another Cold War, everyone welcomes such diplomatic dialogues instead of escalating tensions and confrontations.
Enjoy reading and learning words and phrases for how generally and diplomatically describe sensitive topics and problems.


Topic Reading-Vol.528-9/21/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Europe plans to end mobile phone roaming charges.
Even though citizens of the member states aren’t required to go through immigration control and the goods are mostly traded without duties within the member states, there still are regulations that are not friendly to mobile phone users when they cross the border.
Currently, the telecommunication services are still provided on the basis of 28 national markets, rather than one unified market, so that mobile phone users are charged the prices and mobile phone operators are regulated by the rules of the state. Furthermore, there is another frustrating practice called “roaming charge”, a connectivity service fee charged in a location that is different from the location where the service was registered, which makes phone calls or internet connections in a different country much more expensive than the home location.
If or how soon the new proposals by the EU commission are approved?
Enjoy reading and learning about this new initiative to unify the E.U. telecom market.


Topic Reading-Vol.527-9/20/2013

Topic Reading-Vol.530-9/20/2013
Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Vegas mom gives birth to quintuplets in Arizona.
First, this headline is a bit confusing unless you’re familiar with the names of the cities in the U.S. and also the terms used for multiple birth. “Vegas” is Las Vegas, Nevada, and “quintuplets” means five offspring, so it reads like, “A mother who lives in Las Vegas, Nevada gives a birth to five babies in the state of Arizona.”
Second, how rare is it to have quintuplets? The frequency of multiple births from natural pregnancies in the U.S. has been about 1:80N-1 (1:80 means 1 time in 80), or 0.00092% traditionally. So, having quintuplets sounds quite rare, doesn’t it?
Lastly, what are the terms for multiple birth? They are:
Two offspring – twins
Three offspring – triplets
Four offspring – quadruplets
Five offspring – quintuplets
Six offspring – sextuplets
Seven offspring – septuplets
Eight offspring – octuplets
Nine offspring – nonuplets
Ten offspring – decaplets
Eleven offspring – undecaplets
Twelve offspring – duodecaplets
Enjoy reading and learning the challenges of the already-big-family and the terms for multi-birth.


Topic Reading-Vol.526-9/19/2013

Topic Reading-Vol.529-9/19/2013
Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
New Vincent Van Gogh painting identified.
The director of Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam was so excited and delighted to introduce a new artwork that has recently been authenticated as the famous painter’s work, which the museum once had declined to do so. And the previous owner of the artwork put it in his attic and never showed it anyone for over a half century once he had been said it wasn’t Gogh’s work.
An authenticated work, drawing, painting, music, or book, by a popular artist is valued and appreciated so highly. Authentication seems to make such a day-and-night difference to the same artwork. It raises a question; what are people appreciating, the value and quality of the artwork or the name and fame of the artist?
Enjoy reading and learning about once-in-a-lifetime excitement of authentication by the renowned museum.


Topic Reading-Vol.525-9/18/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Yahoo rolls out its new logo!
How many of the teenagers know of the significance, dominance or influence of this once-renowned portal had provided in the early era of Internet? How many viewers of the portal have recognized the change of its once regarded as a cool logo? And how many of you even care so much about the design change on the Internet? If you think of Google logo design, which changes time to time to reflect the season’s atmosphere or calendar’s event, changing a logo design doesn’t seem to be as big a deal as most of the industry watchers or critics think.
Enjoy reading and learning about a recent change of the struggling Internet giant has made. 



Topic Reading-Vol.524-9/17/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Snowden leaks: US and UK 'crack online encryption'
It seems to be a very controversial issue as to how much or deeply the national security is allowed to reveal and analyze personal information or communication.
If there were no specific regulations or guidelines how much the government can hack the Internet traffic, they may have to depend on their own discipline and individual conscience.
Then does conscience always make good judgments or conscience is even justified to allow such hacking?
Enjoy reading and learning the extent of online decryption by the government agencies. 



Topic Reading-Vol.523-9/16/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
On top of the podium: Meet Marin Alsop, the First Lady of the Proms.
There still seem to be numbers of “the first woman to …” things, events and records waiting to be broken in today’s world while now-progressive moves like gay marriages have been recognized or legalized in some states.
This is one of those examples whose over-a-century-old tradition of men-dominating role in England has just been broken by a dedicated female musical talent from America.
There are only a handful of females who are conducting or directing prominent orchestras in the world. Is that because most renowned classical music composers have been men?
Enjoy reading and learning about a tradition in the U.K. and an interview with an American conductor.


Topic Reading-Vol.522-9/15/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Diabetes in China may reach alert level.
It seems that the more cars being sold, the higher the chance to get diabetes in a country where bicycles used to be the most common vehicle of transport. Another reason for such increase in the modern disease could be the recent communication technologies and gadgets such as mobile phones, smartphones, blogs and social networking services that seem to relieve people from going to interact with others face to face, which could lessen the chance to exercise while reducing the carbon footprint created by the transport. And of course, eating more, richer and fattier food increases not only the weight but also the chance for diabetes and obesity, which eventually will cost medical costs to the country in the near future.
Enjoy reading and learning about the trend and scale of the modern disease in the most populous country. 


Topic Reading-Vol.521-9/14/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Washington out in the cold as China-Russia relations flourish.
There are several vital issues need to looked at when it comes to set diplomatic courses and actions between two countries, especially the ones that share the border, water or competitor (or potential enemy). The relationship between Russia and China is a typical example of such complex situations of shared interests and becoming more and more influential to the region and world as energy trade and pipe lines for gas and oil tie the two countries strongly. Furthermore, they seem to use the tie conveniently when they deal with the once-dominant superpower, the U.S. and possibly its key ally in the region, Japan.
Enjoy reading and learning about the historically not-so-friendly countries but are now enhancing their ties for their common interests


Topic Reading-Vol.520-9/13/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Diana Nyad's jellyfish-proof face mask.
Last year, the 64-year-old endurance swimmer’s attempt to swim from Cuba to Florida, approximately 160 kilometers in distance, was aborted almost half of the way because deadly box jellyfish repeatedly stung her in the mouth, only spot exposed to the deadly creatures. The venom of the box jellyfish, which is common to tropical waters, suffered the swimmer so badly that she later mentioned that she had felt being burned alive in the water.
However, thanks to the specially designed silicon mask that covers the swimmer’s entire face and neck and was worn through one night when box jellyfish was around her, she could manage to swim to Key West, Florida in her fifth attempt in 35 years.
Enjoy reading and learning one road to the dream.


Topic Reading-Vol.519-9/12/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Space archaeologist unlocks secrets of ancient civilizations
You might wonder what a space archaeologist does or is. Is that someone who uses satellites to look for alien settlements on other planets or in outer space? Nope. Unlike typical archaeologists who work on the ground digging soils to look for ancient monuments, space archaeologists use satellites to look at the earth’s surface.
How do they do that? Enjoy reading the article or watching the video to learn the modern way to search for ancient traces. 


Topic Reading-Vol.528-9/11/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Samsung unveils Galaxy Gear smartwatch accessory.
Is it something to explore a new era of wearable devices or just another charge-battery-everyday gadget?
Samsung, the world leader of smartphones and several key high tech devices and technologies, has unveiled a much expected new wearable gadget. However, to industry watchers surprise it works only with their smarphone or tablet PC, just like another accessory device but still needs to be recharged its battery nearly every day.
Such a wearable device might be needed because their smartphone is getting so big that users may have difficulty taking it out of their pocket or bag or even holding it, especially users with small hands.
Enjoy reading and learning about the newest wearable devices and ask yourself if you’re interested in adding any of them to your gadget collection.


Topic Reading-Vol.517-9/10/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Vietnam internet restrictions come into effect.
The world seems to be pretty much divided between freedom or restriction, generosity or control, democracy or one-party/dictatorship ruling especially when it comes to how people can use the Internet media such as Twitter, blogs or social network services like Facebook.
Will it be sustainably effective to limit or control interactions of these popular media? It seems to take substantial investment and effort to monitor the web traffic and consequently take “appropriate actions” like China, which is said to be deploying tens of thousands personnel for such incredibly demanding tasks for its 600 million Internet users 24 hours a day and seven days a week.
Even in a smaller population like Vietnam, which is ruled solely by Communist party, will it be really possible to limit the use of such popular media to exchange or share only personal information but not news or opinions?
Enjoy reading and learning what the economically prospective country is trying to do. 


Topic Reading-Vol.516-9/9/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Do Christians, Muslims and Jews worship the same God?
It seems that Faith, Submission and Repentance are the essential elements of these three religions respectively that are said to worship the same god. They all trace their faiths back to Abraham, whom they all claim was chosen by the Almighty.
Then why they don’t get along well? Furthermore, even within the same religion, some factions fight each other like Catholic and Protestant of Christians, and Sunni and Shia of Muslims. Why so?
Enjoy reading and learning about the differences of these religions that are said to have been derived from the same root. 


Topic Reading-Vol.515-9/8/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Four most useless rules in China.
There must be numbers of rules and regulations set by law makers or municipal offices that have rarely been enforced by the relevant offices or officers or even recognized by the public but not many of them have been admitted so, especially in a one-party ruled society, China.
So it is quite interesting to find this web article in the semi-state media about some of the rules in China that have not been in effect.
Enjoy reading and learning what kind of rules aren’t working.


Topic Reading-Vol.514-9/7/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Bright sun, bright future: Can Africa unlock its solar potential?
To make use of what there is and use it well seem to be the most efficient and economical way to generate and provide enough power to meet the growing needs especially in the continent where huge increase in population is expected for the next few decades. And more importantly, the source of energy has to be something that is not creating environmentally harmful emissions like fossil fuels but renewable.
In Africa, they’ve got a lot of sunshine and huge land space to set solar panels to generate enough power for the growing needs, which accounts only a few percentage points or less of their total power supply now.
Enjoy reading and learning how and where new initiatives are being taken place in the hottest continent.



Topic Reading-Vol.513-9/6/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Seeing by ear.
You might have read about a terrible incident that happened to a six-year boy whose eyeballs had been gouged out presumably for organ trafficking in yesterdays’ Topic Reading, Vol. 512.
There are approximately 17 million people with limited sight in China whose daily lives and activities are quite limited.
But there is a non-profit organization that tries to bring some light to them by giving lively narration of movies. And those who attend such events seem to enjoy not only the movies they listen to but also the opportunity to socialize with others.
Enjoy reading and learning about a small cause that brighten the lives of the visually impaired.


Topic Reading-Vol.512-9/5/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
'Why is it dark?' asks blinded Chinese boy.
A six-year old boy was just playing outside under the bright sunshine, never expecting to lose the light forever from his life.
As reported in Vol.505, human organs seem to be valued and traded quite substantially in China, and it could have stimulated trafficking live organs including eyeballs of a live child. Now the boy doesn’t know what happened to his eye sight, just asking why it’s always dark.
Read and learn about this horrifying crime that has darkened the bright future and hope from an innocent boy.


Topic Reading-Vol.511-9/4/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Some school districts quit healthier lunch program.
Do school children prefer having healthy simple-taste lunch at school such as vegetable dishes and fruits rather than greasy and stuffy popular meals like hamburgers or pizza?
If they eat simple and healthy breakfast like cereal and fruits, which seems to be more popular these days than full American breakfast with eggs, bacons and potato, they may be pretty hungry for juicy and rich food for lunch especially those who are busy with after school activities.
Hunger is said to be the best sauce, but choices don’t seem to be.
Enjoy reading and learning how difficult it is to have kids eat healthily and happily. 


Topic Reading-Vol.510-9/3/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Is Coke the same as it was 127 years ago? Maybe
How important it is to have the same recipe for a soft drink like soda, tea or coffee drinks? What about a fried chicken, donut, hamburger, beef bowl, or ramen noodle that you often eat at the same restaurant chain? Do you care so much about the recipe and ingredient to stay the same or would you rather be enticed with upgraded or enhanced taste time to time?
Some large food companies seem to believe that their loyal customers choose or prefer their food or drinks because of their original and unchanged ingredients, recipe and taste that were invented over decades or a century ago when none or most of you were even born.
Do you enjoy eating or drinking something every day that tastes the same as 100 years ago?
Enjoy reading and learning the value of “original” in food business.


Topic Reading-Vol.509-9/2/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
On a mission: Maryam Alkhawaja wants to tell you about oppression in Bahrain.
The Kingdom of Bahrain is a small island country near the western shores of the Persian Gulf with a population of 1.2 million, split almost evenly between its nationals and non-nationals.
It’s an oil rich country but has experienced continuing protests and unrest since early 2011 inspired by the regional Arab Spring, particularly by the majority Shia population.
Both her father and sister being activists and been imprisoned, Maryam has been actively addressing the oppressed situations of her country to the world, either online or on her phone, no matter where she goes by reviewing claims, making cases, tweeting updates.
Enjoy reading and learning about one of the most active activists of human rights. 


Topic Reading-Vol.508-9/1/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Mongol Derby: 'Like the Tour de France crossed with Snakes and Ladders'.
It wasn’t unusual to travel as long as 1,000 kilometers by horse to convey messages centuries ago before the telegram took the place. Numbers of horses and stations were needed to operate such communication network for huge territories such as Mongolian Empire in the 13th century.
Now, the long-distance enduring horseback riding has become a racing event which was recognized by the Guinness Book of Records in 2011 as the world's lengthiest.
Enjoy reading and learning about the longest racing event is like.