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Topic Reading-Vol.598-11/30/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
A solar panel on every home?
Solar panel owners get cheaper electricity bills at the cost of added charges on the bills of others’ who don’t have ones and the taxpayers’ expense, government budget.
That is what government subsidized and promoted renewable energy program is about. And make such attempts more expensive, those programs initially had been incentivized highly when solar panel costs were ten times or more expensive than today.
Now the prices of those power generating panels and the cost of installation have become much more affordable, those subsidized incentive programs are to be blamed as they entice the richer rather than those who aren’t.
Enjoy reading and learning about the once-lucrative solar power programs.


Topic Reading-Vol.597-11/29/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
How Pisa became the world's most important exam?
First, now famous and influential, often bringing shocking impacts to some educational organizations and politicians, “Pisa tests” stands for Program for International Student Assessment. It is developed and offered by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, or OECD.
How much and well students gain from the effort and investment on education in one region may not be measured relatively without a comparative standard test. There seems to be good rationale to conduct this controversial test and reveal the results as economy is becoming more globalized and the job market is more converged accordingly.  
"Your education today is your economy tomorrow," says the organizer of the test system.
Enjoy reading and learning what the Pisa tests is about.


Topic Reading-Vol.596-11/28/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
In photos: 3,000 Korean housewives, 250 tons of kimchi.
When you think of Korean food, what comes after popular main dish Korean barbecue? Most likely, kimuchi, traditional salted, heavily spiced and fermented cabbage always served with any Korean meal. It looks and smells awful but tastes awesome for spicy food lovers. For many Korean people, it is “absolutely necessary” side dish for every meal, which used be for most of them a decade ago.
Despite the complicated and labor intensive work, as many as two-thirds of the country’s households still make then own kimuchi at home, which used be nearly all households two decades ago. They still seem to enjoy making this traditional delicacy a lot even for others who are in need of food aid.
Enjoy reading the article and seeing the photos of soon-to-be Guinness certified kimuhi making event.


Topic Reading-Vol.595-11/27/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Dogs first domesticated in Europe, study says.
Were dogs and wolves from the same origins? Did humans domesticate wild wolves? When and where did the four-legged animal become our one of the closest friend?
Scientists have been digging holes and analyzing DNAs of the fossils of this popular pet to answer these questions. It had been widely thought that they were first domesticated in the Middle East or China at the time those ancient people started farming. Now this new study says dogs seem to have become friends with hunter-gatherers in Europe long before they did in other places.
Enjoy reading and learning how our relationships with dogs have been developed and evolved.


Topic Reading-Vol.594-11/26/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
US: China claim of air rights over disputed islands 'creates risk of incident'
An “Air Defense Identification Zone" was unilaterally created and announced by China over the disputed islands with Japan. The zone has been identified by Japan for some time and that claim and defense activities have been endorsed by the U.S. So, if two claiming nations dispatch their military aircraft into the zone and tried to get the other away, what could happen then?
Also to make the matter more critical, the disputed islands were returned to Japan by the U.S. as part of it withdrawal from Okinawa back in 1972. So if Chinese military aircraft intrude into the zone, that could mean the same situation for the U.S. as being intruded into Okinawa’s defense zone where their military forces reside.
Could the claim by China create present and clear danger to the region and the two super giants?
Enjoy reading and learning about the self-claimed air defense identification zone.


Topic Reading-Vol.593-11/25/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
How did Kennedy's assassination change the world?
Half a century has passed since the tragedy took place in Dallas, Texas. Not only Americans but also many in the world were saddened by the assassination of the popular leader of the U.S.
Had the weather been unfavorable for the parade, he might have opted to have a roof on the limousine. Had there been a roof on the limo, the assassin might have failed to hit the target.
But even if he had survived the day, haven’t there been other attempts to eliminate him?
And what if he had survived from all those attempts and served another term as President of the most powerful and influential nation, how different the world today would be?
Enjoy reading the article, seeing the photos and asking yourself such “what if” questions.


Topic Reading-Vol.592-11/24/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
The girl with no identity: Being a second child in China.
Here is a girl in China who lives in a house with her parents and a sister but doesn’t have any legal proof to exist to enjoy any social benefits.
She has neither attended any school nor been seen by any doctor in her life. She was born as a second child. In short, she has never existed on record. She was born to look after her disabled mother when she becomes old.
Though the current administration is expected to change, the China’s long-criticized one child policy has created such miserable situation to its own people (can’t say “citizen” as they aren’t supposedly exist). And even if the policy is loosened or amended, will it apply to this poor girl?
Enjoy reading and learning about one of the poor victims of the one child policy and/or her parent’s decision.


Topic Reading-Vol.591-11/23/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
The cars we’ll be driving in the world of 2050.
While cars provide mobility to people, they emit substantial amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and kill over a million people every year in traffic accidents on the ground.
Will people still be using such means of transportation in the future?
What will those cars look, how will they be built or driven in a few decades later? Will people still have to drive? What will the environment will be like when the world population reaches 9 billion, adding another two billion from today, and how many automobiles will be on the planet?
Enjoy reading and finding possible answers to these foreseeing questions.


Topic Reading-Vol.590-11/22/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Hurricane? Cyclone? Typhoon? Here's the difference.
All of these are tropical cyclones, developed tropical storms with winds over 119 kilometers per hour. These storms are called differently depending on where they occurred and developed.
How many of such tropical storms occur in each region a year on average? That varies by region and season.
How are they named? How are they categorized? There must be more questions as you learn.
Enjoy reading and learning about tropical cyclones.


Topic Reading-Vol.589-11/21/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
FDA to ban artery-clogging trans fats.
What are trans fats? They’re also called partially hydrogenated oils that are created when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil to make it more solid. They’re used to help give a more solid texture and richness to certain foods, like baked goods, biscuits, and ready-to-eat frostings, or to fry food.
Why is the FDA banning the use of trans fats? They raise bad cholesterol while lowering the good one, and therefore they could contribute to clog artery and cause heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the United States. They are considered even less healthy than saturated fats like cheese or meat fats.
What about the rest of the world? No such strict ban has been applied yet but requirements to label the amount of usage of trans fats have been seen in some countries like saturated fat.
Enjoy reading and thinking how much trans fats you might be taking in each meal or snack.


Topic Reading-Vol.588-11/20/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Pope Francis lives with mind in heaven and feet on earth, says Rabbi friend.
A Catholic Cardinal and a Jewish Rabbi became close friends in Buenos Aires, Argentina for some time ago. And then Cardinal is the current head of Vatican. Sounds heartwarming, doesn't it?
While neighboring countries are disputing repeatedly on territorial or historical issues, a border-less friendship could help and save a lot of people, physically and/or mentally. If the leaders of different beliefs can form a heart-warming and long-lasting friendship, why can’t people solve long-standing hostility against their neighbors?
Enjoy reading and learning a rare but inspiring friendship between two religious leaders.


Topic Reading-Vol.587-11/19/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Off the scales -- Formula One's appetite for dieting drivers.
A simple formula to win an F1 car racing. The lighter and more powerful the car is the faster it drives. The weight of the car consists of the machine and the driver before fuel. And there is a minimum weight limit in F1 racing to level the competition. Therefore, all competing teams try to make each weight component as light as they can, including the driver.
Here is another dilemma. The taller the driver is the heavier he tends to be. So, taller drivers could have handicap over shorter racers.
Practicing to drive faster, training to be fitter and dieting to be lighter. Formula 1 racing seems to be extremely demanding, both to the engineers and drivers.
Enjoy reading and learning how the F1 racers are racing behind the scene.


Topic Reading-Vol.586-11/18/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Mahatma Gandhi's spinning wheel sold for £110,000.
Why is a spinning wheel priced this much? Well, this famous wooden device was used by the famous leader to spin thread and make his own clothes when he was imprisoned about 80 years ago. It isn’t the larger fixed one that you might have seen in the movie or video as he used it in jail.
Such famous or great persons’ belongings, used or produced items are highly valued by collectors around the world. Once they are sold, they are usually added to their collections but in some cases, shown to the public eyes in the museums.
How much would you value for this particular portable spinning wheel?
Enjoy reading and learning about this highly valued wooden device.
You may also be interested in seeing this video, though the guy spinning a portable wheel is another Gandhi, not Mahatma, which shows you what and how a man could kill time during imprisonment.


Topic Reading-Vol.585-11/17/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Chinese officials 'set 1,000 cats loose in forest'
If just a single truck can fill itself with 1,000 cats to transport to a food market, how many cats are served and dined in restaurants in China?
A truck carrying those cats was stopped by animal activists and the local police because the driver did not have a correct document. So what if the driver had possessed a correct document? They might have released the truck because there are no laws or regulations to protect non-endangered animals in China. As a matter of fact, those rescued cats were inconsiderately released in a nearby mountain by the police, and the animal activists tried to retrieve them!
Dogs, cats and shark fins. Are these all needed to fill their stomachs?
Enjoy reading and learning how cats could be treated in China.


Topic Reading-Vol.584-11/16/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Test your shark knowledge!
How much do you know about sharks? Most of you probably are afraid of sharks but in the mean time seem to be interested in them, just like snakes. As a matter of fact, they are diversified into over 470 species and range in size from 17 centimeters to 12 meters long. They don’t have natural predators but are hunted by fishermen who want to sell their meat or just their teeth or fins.
Some of them walk on the seabed or travel over 20,000km. How much you know about them?
Enjoy testing your knowledge, or rather your instinct about this great marine creature!


Topic Reading-Vol.583-11/15/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Twins study shows smoking ages your face faster!!!
How can facial effects by smoking be proven? You could compare those who have smoked for a long time and those who haven’t or have but for a shorter time. But it isn’t an apple-to-apple comparison as their original faces, skins and DNA are different, not to mention their diet, stress and living environment. Here is an answer. Compare identical twins!
A recent study shows significant physical differences in the faces of 79 identical twins. Those differences are apparently seen around their eyes and months. This accelerated aging is said to be caused by reduced collagen formation, skin circulation and skin thickness.

Enjoy reading the article and seeing the photos of identical twins who have smoked longer than the others. 


Topic Reading-Vol.582-11/14/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Nation's largest landfill closing in California.
Have you seen any landfills before? It’s a site where trash and garbage are thrown out. It is also a place where numerous birds are flying over looking for food. It also produces methane gas that could be converted into energy for the neighboring communities. It grows especially after disastrous events occur such as an earthquake, hurricane or tear-down of a building or house.
The one which has just been closed near Los Angeles after over half a century of service reached as high as 40-story building. It’s going to be converted to a park where people will be able to enjoy green and clean environment.

Enjoy reading and learning about America’s largest dump site.


Topic Reading-Vol.581-11/13/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
How do illegal immigrants get into the European Union?
People who suffer from disasters, either naturally or man-made such as wars and violence, are forced to move to safer places. Also, those who are looking for a job move to a new land of opportunities. These sound quite reasonable, don’t they? Well, it depends whether they legally enter and stay in other countries or not.
According to Frontex, the European Union border agency, the majority of the illegal immigrants in the EU arrived by plane with a valid visa and didn’t leave after their visa expired. The agency also estimates that no fewer than 72,000 people illegally entered the EU countries via land and sea routes in 2012. Why such many people are moving leaving their homeland and risking their lives?
You’ll learn the reasons where those people come from.
Enjoy reading and learning about immigration problems in the EU.


Topic Reading-Vol.580-11/12/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Beijing, Shanghai divorces soar over property tax.
They seem to be very sensitive to saving money, aren’t they?
The richer people become, the more sensitive they are when it comes to saving taxes. The new riches in China love to invest their fortune on residential properties, pushing the prices in the market too high for ordinary workers especially in major cities. Yet it is highly speculative, they still keep buying and owning apartments that they have no plan to live in. And the both national and local governments are trying to slow down such trend by imposing higher tax rate on married couples who own three or more such properties.
How they reacted? Divorce tentatively to avoid such property tax and remarry.
Enjoy reading and learning about how responsive the rich could be to make and save money in China.


Topic Reading-Vol.579-11/11/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Golden chains: 20 best franchises for travelers.
How many of these chains do you know? The answers probably vary depending on where you live or how often you travel abroad.
When you’re traveling in an unfamiliar place by yourself, not knowing what to eat or buy, any place that offers something you are accustomed to or familiar with would make you feel assured and relieved. Chains and franchises offer such relief more than ever wherever you go, such as dumpling restaurants, coffee shops and convenience stores, not to mention popular chains for burgers and fried chickens, even though they aren't always your choice to stop or never in your home town.
Enjoy reading and learning what chains might save your life while traveling in the future.


Topic Reading-Vol.578-11/10/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Hacking our senses to boost learning power.
Does the smell of herb boost your creativity or memory? Is there any particular sound or music that helps you improve test score?
Some smells or kinds of sound affect brain performance either positively or negatively though the extent of such effects vary. For example, moderate level of pleasant sound such as Mozart’s music or even chatters at a coffee shop seems to bring about positive effect on exam scores or creativity. Another research shows that while the scent of rosemary helped students perform better in memory tasks, lavender gave negative effects.
Enjoy reading and learning what scent, music or sound might boost your brain performance.


Topic Reading-Vol. 577-11/9/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Texas hunters to auction permit to kill black rhino
To hunt one to save more. Sounds like a very ruthless act, doesn’t it?
This isn’t like abandoning treating a dying soldier to take care of the others in an overcrowded battle field hospital. This is to auction to permit a wealthy American hunter to kill a black rhino in the African wildlife in an effort to raise money to save the endangered species.
Is it any different from permits issued for wildlife hunting, like deer or geese?
Is this the best or at least a better option to conserve the endangered wildlife animal?
Enjoy reading and learning about this highly controversial move by the government of Namibia and hunting enthusiasts in America.


Topic Reading-Vol.576-11/8/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Greenhouse gas volumes reached new high in 2012: WMO
See these photos? Clear signs and evidences of global warming.
Although the causes and effects of the climate change have been deeply studied and widely known, actions to stop or slow this disastrous trend haven’t been taken enough.
The later and less actions are taken, the more the impact will be to the environment, and therefore the more difficult it will be to cope with.
Knowing enough but acting not enough. How and when the human being starts taking deliberate actions to control and manage their own problems?
Enjoy reading another warning of global warming and also seeing the photos of the evidence.


Topic Reading-Vol.575-11/7/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Resume or CV? A global guide.
As job opportunities become more borderless, your next or future job application may be sent to an employer abroad. In that case, should you send a resume or CV, Curriculum Vitae, describe your profile or use A4 or US letter size?
Be reminded that culture and practices vary by region or country, like language. And some companies or organization, or organisation, prefer American style vocabulary and others do British. Which style a resume is written by may be vital to the next step because it’ll be the first and possibly the last chance your application is read. Therefore, knowing how a resume is prepared is no less important than writing what your accomplishments and skills are.
Enjoy reading and learning different practices and preferences of job application.


Topic Reading-Vol.574-11/6/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Exoplanet tally soars above 1,000
Search for planets distant away seems very challenging because they neither shines nor explodes like a star. Then how are telescopes on or above Earth able to detect signs or trace of them that orbit stars light years away? And how humans on Earth can determine if one is habitable like ours?
The number of exoplanets, ones outside of our solar system, he Extrasolar Planets Encyclopedia has reached a landmark of 1,000. There are more reports of such discoveries posted on the Internet by astronomers around the world that are waiting to be confirmed.
Enjoy reading and learning about the search and hunt for our brother-like planets in the galaxy.


Topic Reading-Vol.573-11/5/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Kenya to microchip every rhino in anti-poaching drive
Planting a microchip to a rhino? This lofty plan is designed to protect the wild animal from being poached and also to trace poachers when they carry the animal’s horn. Although the microchips and scanning devices were contributed by the World Wildlife Fund, WWF, the task to catch and implant the chips to this wild animal is going be enormous.
Poachers kill rhinos and elephants just for their horns and ivory, which are highly valued in Asian countries for ornaments, chopsticks or medicine. Money drives such ruthless, heartless and careless killing of wildlife animals on the land and creatures in the sea, such as fins of the shark just for delicacy. Are those poachers punished hard enough for such a crucial deliberate act?
Enjoy reading and learning the effort being made to protect the wild life.


Topic Reading-Vol.572-11/4/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
'Constructive ideas' on thorny issues needed.
How would you read this article? It could be an inviting message from China to Japan since China Daily is a semi-government newspaper website published online in English.
In this article, it even quotes a remark by a retired Japanese general of the self defense force suggesting that even government officials can be more flexible than they are at meetings for ministers and political figures at the China-Japan Friendship Association to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the China-Japan Peace and Friendship Treaty in Beijing on October 22nd.
Sending patrolling ships to the disputed seas is surely one thing to demonstrate its position on the critical agenda but posting an article like this could suggest that they also wish to seek a way to resolve the issue.
Why doesn’t Japanese government send or suggest some sign to respond to a message like this?
Enjoy reading and learning how a bilateral issue is reported from one side to the other.


Topic Reading-Vol.571-11/3/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Sleep 'cleans' the brain of toxins.
How long do you usually sleep a night? Answering this question is easy.
How long do you need to sleep to be in good shape? Not difficult to answer this either.
But a question to why people or animals need to sleep hasn’t been answered clearly yet.
Recently, a team of neurosciences in the U.S. has found one of the fundamental reasons for sleep. That is to remove waste from the brain.
While you’re awake, you’re quite busy thinking and acting to whatever the tasks might be. This is like hosting a party at home. You will need to clean up your house sometime or other but you can’t do it while hosting your guests. So, you do when the guests are gone. Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?
Enjoy reading and learning about the latest discovery of humans’ and animals’ physical mechanism that affects the mental order.


Topic Reading-Vol.570-11/2/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Seoul launches 'Gangnam Style' tourist police force
Do they look uniformed police officers or gangsters?
If you’re one of the 1.8 billion viewers of the world most viewed YouTube music video, this is just like video-come-true police force.
As the number of complaints rising among foreign visitors overcharged by shops, restaurants and taxis in Korea, the government launched a tourist police force in Seoul, to start. They are tasked to protect tourists in popular destinations from any wrong doings by the local shops and service providers as well as to help them spend pleasant time in English, Japanese and Chinese.
You never know if they become popular tourist photo-objects like guard in front of the Buckingham Palace.
Enjoy reading the article and seeing the photo.
Also those who haven’t watched the most popular music video, try this;


Topic Reading-Vol.569-11/1/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Meteorologist vows never to fly again after seeing latest climate report.
Sounds like a fisherman saying he would never eat any fish he catches in his sea to conserve the natural resources, doesn’t it?
Researchers study something to learn from it. But only few of them seem to take actions from there even if they’ve found a significant fact, trend or possibility that might affect many. It may be because the finding is too large scale or too difficult to do anything about it for individuals, such as global warming or astronomical phenomena.
But here is a guy trying to do something about the fact that has been and will be impacting the globe now and the future, even by giving up his lifetime hobby and business convenience.
Enjoy reading and learning about a small move by a researcher trying to do something with his big finding.