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Topic Reading-Vol.568-10/31/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Apes comfort each other 'like humans'
This most-human-like ape has been known to be very social and emotional. And a new study has revealed an even more empathic act like humans than previously thought. Comfort.
If you see this short video clip showing a distressed chimp being hugged and comforted by another, you’ll feel the act is no different from one of ours.
Another research suggests that young bonobos that have been separated from their mothers seem to be less tolerant to stress. That also sounds similar to humans, doesn’t it?
Enjoy reading and learning about the behaviors of one of our closest relatives.


Topic Reading-Vol.567-10/30/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Are we on the brink of the first mile-high building?
How high would you like to live, work or shop in? How low would you like to look down the streets from your residence? Or how close would you like to be to the sky?
Tall buildings or sky scrapers don’t seem to be enough to describe how tall a building is, like a millionaire doesn’t seem to be rich enough these days ever since numbers of billionaires emerged. So, new up-scaled terms have been created like super-tall skyscraper for towers over 300 meters or higher and mega-talls for ones 600 meters or higher. What’s next? A mile-high?
And you might think how you would go up and down within such a tall building? How long it would take to get down to the street for work or to get up to the office a few hundred meters above?
Enjoy reading and learning about present and future landmark skyscrapers.


Topic Reading-Vol.566-10/29/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
World's most dramatic runways!
Breathtaking view before or during landing, military-aircraft-like dive or turn, thrilling experience to land on or take off a short runway. There are numbers of runways that are uniquely built or situated in the world.
Today, enjoy seeing the photos and reading brief descriptions of those remarkable runways without buying a ticket or boarding on an aircraft. Please make sure to see the photo gallery placed on top of the article as the ones shown on the left of the article are just examples.


Topic Reading-Vol.565-10/28/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Meerkats 'pay rent' to dominant female to stay in group.
It’s quite amazing to learn that the meerkat, a small mammal of the mongoose family that lives in the deserts in Southern Africa, has very aggressive suppression by its dominant female within a group. It was found that subordinate females wet nurse or babysit the dominant female’s offspring in order not be evicted by the boss meerkat.
It looks that the dominant female doesn’t want to have competing offspring against hers. So she kicks other pregnant female subordinates out of her group, unless they are cooperative to her and her offspring. And it seems vital for their survival whether to be allowed to stay in the group or evicted because being alone has higher risk to be attacked by its predators.
Enjoy reading and learning about this amazing behavior of this little mammal in the desert.


Topic Reading-Vol.564-10/27/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Climate change to drive annual temps to new highs within a generation, study says.
Another study on the impacts of warning global warming has been released. No new news. People seem to have gotten used to hearing such news about this most serious problem for the future even though the data, facts and predictions look more evident and convincing. And such disastrous future is getting nearer unless more decisive and effective measures and actions are taken as soon as possible.
The study points out that countries first affected by severe climates are in tropical regions, which are the least responsible for climate change in the first place. Very ironical, isn’t it?
Enjoy reading and learning how soon and where global warming impacts more severely first.


Topic Reading-Vol.563-10/26/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Nations adopt landmark mercury pollution convention
Not the planet but chemical element. It is also called “quicksilver” or “hydrargyrum.” It’s not hard metal but is liquid at standard temperature and pressure and used in thermometers, barometers, mercury switches and fluorescent lamps. It is inexpensive and useful but is highly toxic. One of the world’s worst cases of its poisoning occurred in Minamata in Japan in the 1950’s. Many people still suffer from the effect of the toxicity.
The Minamata Convention finally adopted legally binding treaty to reduce the supply, trade, use and emissions of mercury around the world to curb the pollution.
Enjoy reading and learning about this conventional yet toxic metal.


Topic Reading-Vol.562-10/25/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Discovery 'could hold key to Alzheimer's treatment'
A historic research finding in neuroscience has just been released that could stop brain death, which could treat brain diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. It’s just a finding from focused experiments to mice but the chemical the researchers used stopped spreading brain cell deaths. It seems similar to preventing cancer cells from spreading. Sounds astonishing, doesn’t it?
As those diseases are almost incurable now, hopes are high among scientists, medical doctors and pharmaceutical companies, not to mention the patients and their family members.
Enjoy reading and learning about the cause and mechanisms of these now incurable brain diseases and a new potential treatment.


Topic Reading-Vol.561-10/24/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Six beautiful and bizarre bridges
How often do you admire the shape of, view from and scenery surrounding a bridge?
Most of the bridges are built to serve their main purpose, to bridge point A to B for people and vehicles to cross. But there are some very unique ways to build one.
Six of such cases from Europe and Asia are shown in this article, and they all look unquestionably unusual from ordinary built-to-function bridges.
Enjoy seeing the selected bridges of beauty nominated by people around the world.


Topic Reading-Vol.560-10/23/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Chinese artist's 'Last Supper' sets record for Asian contemporary art.
"The Last Supper" by Italian master Leonardo Da Vinci, is undoubtedly one of the most famous and admired paintwork in the world. Now there is a recreation work of the masterpiece done by a contemporary Chinese artist which was priced higher than any other Asian modern artwork at the most prestigious auction house, Sotheby's.
It is said that the bidding started at nine million dollars for the four-meter wide paintwork and shot up to $23.2 million only in 15 minutes.
Enjoy seeing a photo and article of this recreation work of the historic masterpiece.


Topic Reading-Vol.559-10/22/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Crocodiles disappearing as dinner in Jamaica.
Crocs are in danger! Like other endangered species, humans are the most vicious and threatening predator to them, despite the fact that most of those who hunt or eat crocs have other menus to enjoy at the table. In other words, it’s for leisure eating not for nutrition to live.
Why aren’t they protected? Yes, they are. But setting a law doesn’t necessarily mean that it is enforced or obeyed. Actually, poachers make money by hunting and selling protected animals to those value them, such as elephants’ tusks for ivory and sharks’ fins for Chinese delicacy.
Enjoy reading and learning about another endangered species in Indonesia and people who are trying to save them.

If you’re interested in learning the difference between the crocodile and alligator, visit this site.


Topic Reading-Vol.558-10/21/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
China's first tourism law comes into effect, tourists issued manners guides
The rising dragon has already outnumbered any other country in numbers of areas. The number cars sold, mobile phones users and tourists, not to mention the population. Chinese as a whole also produces more greenhouse gasses, consumes more pork, drinks more beer and spends more money abroad.
But there seem to be some worries. The tourism ministry had to issue guidelines to their outbound travelers to respect the local cultures and manners of other countries and present good image of Chinese travelers, including not picking noses, spitting and even urinating in public places.
Enjoy reading and learning what China’s ministry of tourism is concerned about.


Topic Reading-Vol.557-10/20/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
China employs two million microblog monitors state media say.
How is the government monitoring 600 million internet users 24 hours a day 365 days a year?
According to a state media’s report, two million people are on the payroll, either of the state agencies or private enterprises that work for them, to monitor the web traffic and report any suspicious or threatening messages to the state. And their target isn’t limited to its domestic traffic or posting.
Just to look at the sheer scale of the web traffic, there are 100 million messages posted daily by a half billion users on the most popular micro blog service, Weibo, in China.
It seems that people are paying tax to be monitored there.
Enjoy reading and learning about this rare officially-revealed government web monitoring.


Topic Reading-Vol.556-10/19/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
'Tobacco-free' plan for Republic of Ireland.
Health is undoubtedly one of the most conscious issues these days. You can see numbers of something-free signs on the shelves such as fat-free, sugar-free, sodium-free or caffeine-free. Smoking-free is another big trend throughout the world and Ireland is one of the leading societies to reduce smoking related diseases and deaths. It introduced a total ban on smoking not only in workplaces but also pubs and clubs in 2004.
Is it really reasonable to ban something that humans have long been enjoying?
Smokers argue that although they have higher risks to suffer smoking related diseases and eat health care costs, they contribute the society by paying torturously high tax on cigarettes and tobaccos.
Enjoy reading and learning how a small island country is trying to deal with a still-popular human habit.


Topic Reading-Vol.555-10/18/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Beijing-Tokyo ties 'unlikely to recover soon'
It looks way too simple and direct. This web news article by semi-state media reports what the prime minister of its neighboring country announced at the opening of the parliament's session, which seems translated mostly accurately, and what an expert commented on the announcement. Just one expert’s comment. And it includes a strongly opinionated prediction like, “The prime minister’s aggressive stance on security issues will do no good to ties with our country.”
This quotation sounds like a voice of the state’s government, doesn’t it?
Enjoy reading and learning this almost-official message from China to Japan’s administration.


Topic Reading-Vol.554-10/17/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Search for the world's ugliest animal.
Most people tend to appreciate and adore cute animals, such as giant pandas, kittens and cubs but some people search for ugly ones like the Komodo dragon, California condor and Elephant seal.
While there are numbers of beautiful popular species that naturally draw attention from people, there are also ones that look visually unattractive but deserve attention and protection from extinction.
Here are some photos of those that look uglier than you’ve ever seen or imagined.
Enjoy reading about the group of people who are interested in searching such ugly creatures and also seeing the photos that might lose your appetite.


Topic Reading-Vol.553-10/16/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Mystery AD1257 eruption traced to Lombok, Indonesia.
Just like a criminal investigation, a scientist says. Without suspecting or assuming who or what caused an incident, those investigators or scientists collect as much data and evidence as they can, and deduce a possible suspect or cause of the incident, if they can.
In geochemistry, it is the ice cores that made them track which volcano was responsible for the sudden cooling of the climate in global-scale, which caused huge drop in harvest and starvation in the following year. In this case, sulfur and dust from this Indonesian volcano that was found in ice in Arctic and Antarctica provided such traces.
Enjoy reading and learning how scientists figure out the cause of climate change in the past.


Topic Reading-Vol.552-10/15/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Chinese doctor builds new nose on man's forehead.
Is seeing really believing? You’d better look at this striking photo first should you have any questions or suspicions.
A group of Chinese doctors developed a new nose to a young man who had lost his nose because of an accident and later infection in a very unusual place, forehead. It was because they had found that the original spot, where his nose was, was so damaged and unable to graft and build a new one.
But can he breathe or smell with his new nose?
Enjoy reading and learning about a very unusual rebuilding of a human part.


Topic Reading-Vol.551-10/14/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
The death of the home stereo system.
What matters isn’t quality but convenience when it comes to how people enjoy recorded audio or music. Once fashionable and admired hi-fi audio systems that consisted of record, tape or CD player, FM tuner, amplifier, and speaker don’t seem to attract anyone’s attention or interest nowadays save only a few when all kinds of music you own or just listen to can be enjoyed anywhere, anytime with any portable device.
However, this isn’t new. If you look at the history of recorded auido and music, convenience has always been the driving factor for audio entertainment market.
Enjoy reading and learning the history of audio recording technologies, equipment and styles.


Topic Reading-Vol.550-10/13/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Cameras capture eagle killing deer in Russia.
Very rare shots in the wild. Yes, the Golden Eagle is known to attack relatively large wild animals like deer but such a live scene is rarely captured either by our eyes or cameras.
These staggering three shots show us how the poor deer is desperately trying to escape from the fetal attack.
Unfortunately its eyes are telling that such survival is unlikely as the talons of the massive predator dug deep into its back.
Mother Nature is ruthless, isn't it?
Enjoy seeing the amazing photos and reading the explanation how such photos were taken.


Topic Reading-Vol.549-10/12/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Stagnant 2013 SAT® Results are Call to Action for the College Board.
After reading about the disparity in SAT test scores among races in last Topic Reading, aren’t you interested in learning more about the test and its organizer?
The SAT is a college entrance exam. It is used in the admission process to most of the colleges and universities in the USA. Its data shows how well the test takers might do in higher education. It is conducted by College Board, a not-for-profit organization, whose aim is to expand access to higher education for students. The board thinks 2013 SAT results stagnant and is calling for actions to improve academic performance in high school education and readiness for higher education.
Enjoy reading and learning about what the test is about, how well today’s American students are performing in the test, and what the organizer is concerned about the test results.


Topic Reading-Vol.548-10/11/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
SAT scores remain mostly stagnant.
There is no surprise that boys do better in math and girls does so in writing, according to the SAT college entrance exam scores in 2012. But what about the disparity among the races?
There are 50 points variances in 800 top possible score in reading, math and writing respectively on average. But when you look at the average scores in math, Asians achieved 597 points on average while African Americans marked only 429.
Enjoy reading and learning about the racial disparity in readiness for higher education in America.


Topic Reading-Vol.547-10/10/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
New Kindle Fires get faster, add personal support.
As the sales of tablet PCs are expected to pass that of PCs during this quarter for the first time ever, some new models and services are being introduced for the holiday season.
One of them is a live customer/user support who not only answers your questions or gives you information you need but also helps or guides you to do what you want.
Another feature that might enhance your pleasure is to get you related information you might be interested to know while watching a movie or TV show, such as the list of actors of the program you are seeing, lyrics of the song you’re listening to. You no longer need to look up the information you want to find. It’ll be on the display just by a tap!
Enjoy reading and learning about new features and services that the world largest online retailer offers.


Topic Reading-Vol.546-10/9/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Crazy, gaudy, clever airplane paint jobs.
Hello Kitty instead of welcome on board? Do hobbits or kangaroos make your flight more enjoyable?
If you are interested in getting onboard an unusually painted plane, here are some examples.
Airlines offer such specially painted aircraft to promote their destinations or special events time to time. Such a treat or arrangement might inspire your travel spirit before boarding the plane but unlikely during the flight.
Enjoy seeing some photos of the paintwork done by airlines.


Topic Reading-Vol.545-10/8/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Camp with penguins in Antarctica
Any interest to visit and see the most popular animals living in their homelands, such as polar bears in Alaska, pandas in Sichuan, China, or penguins in Antarctica?
You’ve got a chance. An Antarctica specialized tour operator offers a tour to stay in a tiny but warm fiberglass pod during the summer of the freezing continent. But you need to be fortunate enough to book the tour as it is limited only to 12 travelers at a time, not to mention the fortune required to pay the fee to enjoy such specially arranged accommodation and transportation.
Enjoy reading the introduction and seeing some photos of the extreme tour.


Topic Reading-Vol.544-10/7/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
China's Guangzhou moves to end 'Re-education Through Labor' camps.
The country has long been criticized for not abandoning the abusive practice to detain “minor offenders” to the labor camps where detainees are forced to work and live in a harsh condition to be mentally rehabilitated up to four years, or even longer.
Those offenders are said to include drag abusers, petty thieves and prostitutes, as well as those who threatened the social order by gathering petitions or posting unfavorable claims on the Internet.
Some critics say that the announcement to reform the 'Re-education Through Labor', or just simply labor camp, by the progressive local government could be just a rebranding of their practice and facility to a ‘detoxification center’ of the public security organs.
Enjoy reading and learning about one of the behind the scenes in a one-party-ruling country.


Topic Reading-Vol.543-10/6/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
A fatal flaw when choosing the right leader.
When it comes to choosing a leader of an organization, team or school, people tend to think from the past and present rather than the future that the candidate is going to face.
But things seem happen not the way they are predicted in advance. For example, accidents, incidents, crises, errors and mistakes, competition, and weathers and such can easily and greatly change the environment and situations in which the organization is engaged.
So what is the success formula to select a great leader?
Enjoy reading and learning about how challenging for people to select a right leader and also for a leader to do his or her job right.


Topic Reading-Vol.542-10/5/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
US plane in 1961 'nuclear bomb near-miss’
Nothing is perfect, no matter how intelligent people are and how advanced technologies are.
The US nearly could have bombed another nuclear bomb only six years after it did to Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the midst of Cold War. But that time wasn’t to its enemy but to its own soil.
It was an accident but all the six fail-safe mechanisms save one, which saved hundreds of thousands of lives in Carolina from a disaster.
Enjoy reading and learning about a scary near-miss incident that was revealed from the recently declassified US government document.


Topic Reading-Vol.541-10/4/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Harvard asks donors for $6.5 billion.
Good teachers seem to be good at collecting money and the highest tuition doesn't seem to be enough to be competitive in higher education market.Why does the richest university in the U.S. keep asking another large amount of donations to its graduates, their families and other supporters?
It’s mainly to further strengthen its educational initiatives and partly for its thick-pocket investment portfolio, nearly the size of GDP of a Baltic state of Latvia.
Enjoy reading and learning why so many people wish to keep paying so much money to the already rich university.


Topic Reading-Vol.540-10/3/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Japanese government to go ahead with sales tax rise.
Not so often a tax rise is welcomed so positively.
Japanese government finally announced a “Go” for the already agreed, registered and scheduled sales tax increase six months later to eight percent from current five per cent. The finally-made announcement, which has been waited for the past few months, has made politicians, bureaucrats, businesses and even retailers and consumers relieved from the concerns and uncertainty for the near and long-term future. The tax is also scheduled to be raised to 10% 18 months after this increase.
Why such a steep tax increase? Japan has a rapidly aging population which is pushing its social welfare costs up to an unsustainable level. also, there are mounting government debts that have already surpassed 200% of its gross domestic product (GDP).
Enjoy reading and learning about this widely awaited sales tax increase announcement.


Topic Reading-Vol.539-10/2/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Bumblebee flight inspires 'bad weather robot' design.
An insect is going to teach humans how to fly? But if you think of the size of a worker bumblebee, which weighs only about a half of one tenth of a gram and whose wingspan ranges mere 22-34 mm, it seems worth studying how such a tiny creature flies even in extreme weather conditions.
Actually, other researchers are trying to learn how other creatures react, move or use their bodies to advance sensor and motion technologies for vehicles and robots.
Enjoy reading and learning what the researchers are trying to learn from the bumblebee.


Topic Reading-Vol.538-10/1/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Taiwan’s struggle to become an innovation leader.
It’s surprising to learn that nine out of 10 laptops are produced in this tiny island, just a strait across the mainland China with a landmass only about one fiftieth the size of Mexico.
Though Taiwan is known for its high tech industry that manufactures laptops, smartphones, tablets, and microchips, their corporate cultures and government handling seem to be neither advanced nor innovative to compete against their rapidly and hungrily growing neighbors like Korea or China.
Why not? Considering the size of their domestic market, aren’t they supposed to be aggressive and innovative to compete in the global market?
Enjoy reading and learning why and how the island country is struggling to be innovative.