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Topic Reading-Vol.629-12/31/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Bans of the year, China.
Striving to be more organized, disciplined or westernized, China has introduced numbers of bans in 2013. Ban political leaders from smoking in public and hosting a luxury banquet, restaurants serving shark fins or bird nests, or public from eating on the subway.
However, banning something in these vast scales require even greater effort for monitoring and enforcing, especially the ones that people have been naturally and traditionally enjoying such as smoking and dining, not to mention receiving something in return for a favor.
How much of these bans have been and will remain intact?
Enjoy reading and learning about the bans of the year in China.


Topic Reading-Vol.628-12/30/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Mind the gap: China's great education divide.
Shanghai, the wealthiest and busiest city in the country with the world second-largest economy, scored again at the top of the PISA global education assessment in reading, math and science. There, as many as 84% of high school grads go to college, while less than 5% of  poor students do in rural areas where high school attendance is just around 40%.
Clearly the crown attained by Shanghai in the world assessment is far from representing the whole country. There seem to be a lot challenges in the fast-growing country while the gap between the haves and don’t-haves is widening at an even faster pace. For example, China sends more students to U.S. colleges and universities far more than any other country in the world.
Will their recently announced education reform solve or ease these problems and challenges?
Enjoy reading and learning about inequality of education and wealth distribution in China.


Topic Reading-Vol.627-12/29/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
World's E-Waste to Grow 33% by 2017, Says Global Report.
The more electric or electrical products are produced, the more e-waste is generated as well. But no reliable and compatible data had been available to overlook the amount of e-waste comprehensively produced by each country until this new study was made by the Solving the E-Waste Problem (StEP) Initiative, a partnership of organizations and groups.
The data was gathered and compiled by country, so that each responsible government would be able to take actions to solve this mounting problem, which shows approximately 20 kilograms of e-waste per person were produced in 2012 on this planet with nearly a seven billion population. These e-wastes include TVs, refrigerators, cellphones, computers, monitors, tablets and so on.
The largest manufacturers of such products are also the largest contributors of such e-wastes, aren’t they?
Enjoy reading and leaning about the world e-waste map.


Topic Reading-Vol.626-12/28/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Planning ahead for adoption: Keep costs, time in check
While welcoming a new family member is an exciting and joyful event, the burden of adoption looks no different from making a new baby in terms of finance and administration, not to mention the mental readiness and stress. Also, it seems to take much longer time to get a chance to find a desired one especially for the places like UK where the demand for adoption is so high and also to get the adoption registered legitimately and appropriately.
Adding a family member is not like getting a new pet. Adopting family will not only enjoy raising a child but also share good time and difficult time with the new member. It is a huge commitment to make.
Enjoy reading and learning what adoption is like


Topic Reading-Vol.625-12/27/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Education reform to reduce reliance on gaokao scores.
Gaokao, China’s three-decade old national entrance examination for colleges, is going to have changes soon. Since it’s the only exam held annually and used to decide the fate of nearly 10 million applicants for higher education in the country, it’s easy to assume what their lives in high school, or even before, are like.
Now after the ruling party’s milestone meeting, Third Plenary Session, which decides what the country is going to aim and do for the next decade, a direction to reform the enrolling system for higher education was announced. Surprisingly, public hearings will be held before finalizing the reform plan. And the direction announced so fat looks similar to the one being proposed in Japan’s Center Exam, which has been playing a similar role for a little over half a million students in the country.
Along with the change in their one-child policy announced earlier, the world most populous country is going to have major changes in its social, demographical and educational structures in the coming decades.
Enjoy reading and learning how life-determining a single exam could be.


Topic Reading-Vol.624-12/26/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Men and women's brains are 'wired differently'
It is always challenging to generalize complicated differences in nature, such as why and how men and women learn, think, behave or act differently. Actually, are these differences between these two opposing genders any greater than the ones between individuals?
A new study that scanned a thousand men, women, boys and girls have found that there appear to be recognizable differences in how the hemispheres of the brain are wired. In other words, men and women seem to have different pathways in their brains.
Of course, there are a lot of arguments and criticisms when it comes to generalize the differences or interpret the research results. However, the explanation sounds easy enough for general public to understand or agree with.
Enjoy reading and learning about this new striking research result.


Topic Reading-Vol.623-12/25/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Mid-East governments sign Red Sea-to-Dead Sea water deal.
The Red Sea lies between Asia, Saudi Arabia, and Africa, Egypt, and is a seawater inlet of the Indian Ocean. Therefore, is has a plenty of water.
The Dead Sea is a salt lake that lies 400 meters below sea level, the lowest elevation on land. It is known as the world's saltiest bodies of water, nearly 10 times as salty as the ocean. You might have seen a man reading the newspaper floating on the water in a photo.
This salty lake is losing water because less water is flowing in than evaporating into the air. Are there any solutions to this unique lake, which is surrounded by Jordan, Israel and Palestine, states that rarely do something together other than exchanging fires?
Enjoy reading and learning what human ingenuity and unity could create.


Topic Reading-Vol.622-12/24/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Japan's active seniors show younger generation how it's done.
Aren’t you one of those who are used with the stereotyped image of the elderly? Sitting in the chair and watching TV most of the day, sleeping in the bed doing nothing all day long, or walking slowly with a cane and sitting on a bench in the park just seeing the passersby?
With a quarter of the population are 65 or older, the highest among the developed countries, and also with the longest life expectancies at 84, Japan is surely aging and even faster in the coming years. The big question is how they should enjoy their last decades, not just a few years, after retiring from work or relieved from caring for children?
Enjoy reading the article and watching the video of active seniors in the fast-aging country.


Topic Reading-Vol.621-12/23/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Presidential term limits: necessary and right, or bad for democracy?
It is a highly controversial political topic whether to limit the length and terms of a nation’s leader.
In the United States of America, the President is elected by the electors chosen by public voters in the presidential election only once or twice. This rule was set in the 22nd Amendment of the Constitution after the Franklin Delano Roosevelt, known as FDR, 32nd President of the United States, served four terms from 1933 until his death in 1945.
After being served and lead by one leader so long, people may support an idea to limit how long the next leader should serve or how many time one could be elected.
Which term would you support, once, twice, three or as many times voters want? Why?
Enjoy reading and thinking about how long one should lead a nation.


Topic Reading-Vol.620-12/22/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
'Memories' pass between generations
Sounds pretty amazing or just rational? So if parents learn a lot, their offspring doesn't have to learn it again? The answer is no. It isn't about intelligence like math equations or vocabulary one have learned at school but about instinct to avoid something unfavorable or dangerous to the species. Then it sounds quite understandable as cats behave like cats and so do dogs and elephants. They all get their behaviors like their parents and grandparents, or just others in the same species. The question is how the trans-generational inheritance occurs and how that mechanism can be used.
Enjoy reading and learning what could affect DNA and subsequent generations.


Topic Reading-Vol.619-12/21/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Critical thinking hallmark of Common Core class
Whenever a new education or teaching standards are introduced, there are a lot of criticism from politicians, parents and teachers. That is probably because most people view and judge things based on their passed experience of their own. But students, who will be affected and influenced the most, simply adopt and try to do their best to the tasks assigned by their teacher, provided that they are encouraged and interested in the class.
The Common Core State Standards are highly controversial new teaching standards that require more critical thinking than facts memorizing. Students are expected to come up with their thoughts and strategies and explain them. But how do teachers and administrators of education measure the outcome of the learning performance of the teaching?
Enjoy reading and learning about this new approach to elementary and secondary education introduced and implemented in one of the most advanced and progressive countries in higher education.


Topic Reading-Vol.618-12/20/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
How we can tell an accident from purposeful actions.
Judging whether a someone else’s action is intentional or accidental seems to determine or at least influence what to do, the editor of this article says. After reading the experiments and conclusions, it sounds fairly reasonable. But what is surprising is the experiments were conducted not only human infants but also some animals and even birds. Can they really read another’s behavior is intentional or accidental?
Enjoy reading and learning how humans or some animals infer other’s action and act or react accordingly.


Topic Reading-Vol.617-12/19/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Black students lagging in admissions to University of California
“Underrepresented group of students” may not sound so familiar for those who live in countries where most of the students at schools come from one ethical, religious, or regional group.
But in a racially diverged country like the United States of America, where the majority of its population, the whites excluding Latinos, represents only 63%, it seems to more important and critical to eye on racial diversity than PISA comparison with other countries.
An un-ignorable level of disparity among students’ races has been observed for enrollment for and completion of higher education in its most populous state, California, ever since the highly disputed affirmative action programs were opted to ban in 1996. And African-Americans are the one that have shown the largest drop in both enrollment for state colleges and universities among all the ethnic groups. Why so?
Enjoy reading and learning about the complexity and diversity of education outcomes.


Topic Reading-Vol.616-12/18/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Would raising teacher pay boost America's low test scores?
The latest release from PISA, Program for International Student Assessment, the U.S. was ranked 26th on the Math test, which is just mediocre among 60 countries and dozens of regional administrations in OECD, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The once-a-three-year tests on reading, math and science were taken by more than 500,000 15-year-olds in 2012. The top five of each subject are;
- Reading: 1. Shanghai 570, 2. Hong Kong 545, 3. Singapore 542, 4. Japan 538, 5. South Korea 536
- Math: 1. Shanghai 613, 2. Singapore 573, 3. Hong Kong 561, 4. Taiwan 560, 5. South Korea 554
- Science: 1. Shanghai 580, 2. Hong Kong 555, 3. Singapore 551, 4. Japan 547, 5. Finland 545
The U.S., despite spending more than most countries to its education system and per student, didn’t as much outcome as they had poured their money in. As usual, people start guessing and arguing what had caused such poor performance in the country where its higher education is regarded the best in the world and draw all the talents from the world. The class size, teachers’ compensation, or students’ diversity?
Enjoy reading and learning what experts in America think why they are so behind.
Those who are interested learning or reviewing about how Pisa works, please check Vol.597 at;


Topic Reading-Vol.615-12/17/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Peter O'Toole, 'one of the giants of film and theatre,' dies at 81
Sorry to miss another big star near the very end of the year.
How many of you know this legendary Irish/English actor, and if yes, how much besides his most famous acting in the half-century old movie “Lawrence of Arabia?”
There are several Oscar nominated movies and acts he performed but never earned the big award. However, he seemed to have enjoyed respectful reputation and respect along with beautiful friendship with many. Did he leave much of his life unlived?
Enjoy reading and learning about the life of this beloved actor.


Topic Reading-Vol.614-12/16/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
China's lunar probe soft-lands on moon.
A few scores ago, then two superpowers that divided the world, the USA and the USS, competed in the space race, sending men in space and even to moon in spacecraft that weren’t equipped with no less than the one-hundred of today’s smartphone’s microprocessor.
The emerging 21st century’s superpower, China, made a success in its first soft-landing mission on the moon with much more sophisticated equipment and procedure as well as the country's first moon rover onboard on 14th December, 2013.
For Chinese, the moon is not just a new extraterrestrial body but also a main source for inspiration and one of the most important themes in Chinese literature and ancient Chinese myths. The reason the mission was named Chang'e, a lady who took her Jade Rabbit to fly toward the moon, where she became a goddess.
Enjoy reading and learning about the newest exploration to create a new legend to China’s long history.


Topic Reading-Vol.613-12/15/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
'Containing China' a Japanese strategy
When Japanese government announced its new long-term defense plan that focusses on enhancing and reinforcing the surveillance and defense force against its neighbor, the counterpart took it very seriously, of course.
China even calls Japan’s current constitution “pacifist,” and warns that any change from the status quo could threaten the peace in the region and heighten the tension between the neighboring countries. They also consider that Japan is also siding with countries including the United States and Australia to step up pressure on them.
What is going to happen in the east Pacific when such tension is rising and China is getting armed with aircraft careers (there is one already and building another or more now)?
Enjoy reading and learning about a reaction to an action.


Topic Reading-Vol.612-12/14/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
General Motors names Mary Barra as new boss.
First, GM is no longer “Government Motors.” Its shares that had been bought by the government during the 2008 financial crisis were sold at a cost of almost ten billion dollars to the tax payers.
Second, GM is no longer “Gentlemen’s Motors.” Its board has named a woman new Chief Executive Officer, CEO, for the first time in the company’s over-a-century history and also in the US auto manufacturers’ history.
Ms Mary Barra, who has led the manufacturer’s most essential and critical product development division, is going to succeed the global motor company as of January 2014.
Will she steer the giant motor company’s wheels on the crowded but fast growing global market?
Enjoy reading and learning about GM’s new master.


Topic Reading-Vol.611-12/13/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
China announces holiday dates for 2014
How democratic the country is!!! Asking its citizens how the national holidays should be arranged! And as many as over 31,000 netizens out of over a billion residents responded and the decision and announcement was made only less than two weeks after the poll was closed! Amazing!
But more surprisingly, the poll was conducted only a month before the first holiday of the new year and the final arrangement was announcement only two weeks before the new year!!!
To make this quick time table clear, people haven’t known when their holidays would be in 2014 until December 11th, 2013!!! How and when do people, schools and businesses in the one-party-ruled country plan their business and activities? Don’t they use any paper calendar? They must have gotten used to it!
Enjoy reading and learning about China’s last-minutes announcement for their national holidays.


Topic Reading-Vol.610-12/12/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
10 things South Korea does better than anywhere else.
The 109th country in size, South Korean people outrun others in various areas. They seem to be more digitally-minded, quick-moving and hard-working than any other national in the world.
The highest penetration of smartphones and Internet access made them the top in the game playing and blind dating rankings respectively. Also, attitude and eagerness to pursue higher and better make their investment highest on studying and working hours, cosmetic sales and plastic surgeries for both women and men.
Enjoy reading and learning about their hardworking culture.


Topic Reading-Vol.609-12/11/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Birth policy changes, light impact.
China’s birth policy, so-called one-child policy, to control its population growth within sustainable and feed-able level, has made success in achieving its main objectives while creating in balance in gender mix, numbers of over-cared, or spoiled children, and disregarded children as covered in Vol.592 on Nov.24th.
Now as long expected, the policy is going to be eased to allow couples to have a second child, provided that one of the couple is an only child. However, this policy change will not be implemented nationally at once but at local government’s discretion.
Enjoy reading and learning about this historic and bold attempt to control human population.


Topic Reading-Vol.608-12/10/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Oldest Buddhist shrine holds clues to Buddha's birth.
Unlike other prophets, when Siddhartha Gautama, or the Buddha, was born has never been so clear. It has only been thought to be some time around between 6th and 3rd BC in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent.
Since there is no remaining clear dependable document, archeologists and scientists have been assuming the time of his life sometime before the oldest temple they discovered and identified was built. And they have just found an even older than the one that had been considered as the oldest.
Enjoy reading and learning how modern science and archeology are trying to study ancient times.


Topic Reading-Vol.607-12/9/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Eating nuts 'may prolong life'
If that is the case, it sounds easy enough to add to your daily diet in order to live a healthy and longer life without giving up anything or forcing yourself to do exercises, unless you hate nuts.
A new 30-year-long study has found that those who regularly eat nuts appear to enjoy a longer life and healthy lifestyle and be less likely to suffer heart diseases.
Any type of nuts? Researchers suggest that the plainer the nuts are, the better for health will be. So, you may want to avoid salted, honeyed, chocho-covered, buttered or even dry-roasted ones but choose plain options, they say. How plain nuts without any coat taste like? Are there any plain nuts in the supermarket shelves?
Enjoy reading and learning about new secret of longevity.


Topic Reading-Vol.606-12/8/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day in United States.
It was the 7th morning of December 1941 when numerous numbers of Japanese navy aircraft attacked the US navy and army bases and navy ships in Perl Harbor, Hawaii in total surprise.
Though it isn’t a national holiday, the day has been observed by the government offices, schools and other services with the nation’s flag flown at half-mast to honor those who died in the attack. There are special services and events held to commemorate the attack that led the country into World War II.
Since the International Date Line, or IDL, lies between Hawaii and Japan, the event is dated on the 8th in Japan. There aren’t any notable events or services taken place in the country as the day led it into a devastating war and defeat.
Enjoy reading and learning about the historic day in the Pacific.


Topic Reading-Vol.605-12/7/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
5 ways to lower cholesterol.
Raise HDL and reduce LDL to live longer. Sounds simple, doesn’t it?
There are two different, or rather contrary cholesterols. One is High Density Lipoprotein and the other is Low Density Lipoprotein. The HDL is the good one that you want to keep its level high in your blood while the other could increase the chance of heart attack or diabetes.
A new study suggests that you should be able to manage your both cholesterol levels if your LDL level isn’t too high and your biological family members don’t have a history of high cholesterol.
What do you need to do? Some are relatively easier than the others.
Enjoy reading and finding the ways to stay healthy.


Topic Reading-Vol.604-12/6/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Potato power: the spuds that could light the world.
What is the most practical and economical way to light a LED bulb or charge your mobile phone in a place where no electricity is available? One of the answers is the potato.
Scientists have been studying the most effective way to generate organic power from various kinds of potatoes in various ways of processing. They've found that a single potato can power enough LED lamps for a room for 40 days. That sounds more economical than using dry batteries, doesn't it?
However, there are other aspects to look at this issue. Which should be more prioritized, food or energy? In some places of the world, potatoes are the major source of diet. So, feed people first then light bulbs afterwards. Another aspect to look at is emotion. Do you want to light your house with leftover potatoes or by solar panels?
Enjoy reading and learning about this new way of using this ordinary food for energy.


Topic Reading-Vol.603-12/5/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
People unswayed by calorie counts in fast food restaurants: study
How much do people care or worry about calories of the food they’re going to eat? Maybe more before they’ve decided what to eat but not after, a study found, even though the calorie counts are clearly indicated on the menu.
Some states of the U.S. mandated fast food restaurants, high calorie and cholesterol providers, to indicate the calorie counts on the menu hoping that their customers think again before they order.
However, those who’ve already lined up to order the food seem to be more attracted by the taste rather than the health risk.
Do the warning messages on tobacco make people stop or quit smoking?
Enjoy reading and learning how people react to health warning.


Topic Reading-Vol.602-12/4/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Toxic waste 'major global threat'
When you buy a new PC or smartpone, where the old one will go? You can’t simply dump such used electronic waste with household garbage or cardboard. They need to be collected to a designated location or by a recycling vendor. But where will the rest of the e-waste go after they are collected and removed valuable parts?
Electronic disposals are harmful to the environment, releasing toxic chemicals into air, water and soil. Once the soil is contaminated by heavy metals like lead, it can release toxic substances for years and create serious environmental and health risks, especially to women and children.
Enjoy reading and learning about the places at risk of toxic contamination.


Topic Reading-Vol.601-12/3/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
4 College Admissions Strategies for Students with Bad Grades
One way to be admitted to a desired college is to show descent grades as proof of your academic achievement during the high school days. They could show your consistency, diligence and competitiveness in a certain school environment.
There seems to be another way to show your potential capability to do well at college even though your grades in the early period of high school were not so appealing or even embarrassing ones. That is to show how well and how much you could improve your academic performance when you are determined and committed.
Enjoy reading and learning how college admissions work.


Topic Reading-Vol.600-12/2/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Sleeping with the fish: Underwater hotel room opens on remote African island.
First of all, many thanks for reading MEL School’s Topic Reading. Commemorating the 600th issue on a winter morning, for those who live or happen to be in northern hemisphere, a warming and charming topic is brought to you from a tropical island off the coast of Tanzania, Africa.
You could sleep in an ice cave in Scandinavia or in a tent on Antarctica as introduced in a previous issue. But have you thought of sleeping underwater water without being a submarine crew?
Staying in a three-story suit, roof-top balcony to enjoy the view and sunlight during the day and starts at night, sitting, relaxing or eating in the water-level living room, and seeing and sleeping with fish and other marine creatures underwater. This could be a good reward for traveling all the way to this African resort.
Enjoy reading the introduction and seeing the photos of luxury.


Topic Reading-Vol.599-12/1/2013

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Futuristic airport proposed for island in middle of Thames.
As the world population increases at a historic pace, so does the number of travelers flying across countries and continents. Airlines are adding more aircraft to their fleets. New hotels with any number of stars or category are being built all over the places.
So, a simple question arises. Do already congested airports like London Heathrow have enough capacity to handle the increasing number of flights and passengers?
Here is a very futuristic plan proposed by the city. It looks not only futuristic but very unusual because it’s on the Themes to reduce noise pollution.
Enjoy reading the article and seeing the images of the old city’s futuristic plan.