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Topic Reading-Vol.994-12/31/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Missing planes and air disasters: How bad was 2014?
There was another disaster in aviation record just before the end of the year, Air Asia’s flight QZ8501. Because of the mysterious causes, such as two Malaysian Airlines 777 aircraft, one which disappeared in the Indian Ocean, presumably, and the other Malaysia Airline’s that was shot down over Ukraine by a missile, many might feel uneasy to travel by air. But is it true that 2014 was a year of aviation disasters?
It depends on how you look at the numbers of such incidents, number of casualties and also versus the number of total flights around the world, which significantly have increased of the last decade, particularly in Asia where there hadn’t been so many air accidents until recently.
Enjoy reading and learning how safe or unsafe air traveling is.


Topic Reading-Vol.993-12/30/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
How many penguins can you count today?
There are as many as 50 surveillance cameras in Antarctica to monitor the lives of penguins in Antarctica. And the scientists want you to help count number of penguins in the photos taken by those cameras. Why is it so important to count penguins?
As ice melting on and around Antarctica, the lives and future of penguins are threatened. It is getting more important to monitor and learn how those walking and swimming birds live more precisely to protect them from being endangered. In order to automate the process of counting how many penguins live or move in the monitor, there don’t seem to be any other viable options but to count them by human eyes first.
Enjoy reading and learning how important to count penguins in the photos to save them.


Topic Reading-Vol.992-12/29/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
China on track for world's largest subway
Which subway system is the largest in the world? The answer depends on which measurement you look at, such as the total length, number of passengers, or number of stations. Here is the list of subway systems in the world.
Subway, or metro, system is essential for metropolitan cities to transport people to one place to another and also to smooth the traffic congestion on the ground while not emitting as much carbon emissions as other means of transportation such as cars and motorcycles.
When you look at China where both traffic congestion and air pollution are the major problems, the speed of expanding its metro systems is much faster than any other part or history in the world. The total length of the subway systems there will reach over 8,500 kilometers by the end of 2014. In order to operate such huge public transportation systems, safety and security must be the top priorities.
Enjoy reading and learning about how China is trying to manage its growing transportation systems.


Topic Reading-Vol.991-12/28/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
North Korean defectors share their ordeals as pressure mounts
The world knows how cruel North Korean ruler is in indirect ways. But when the firsthand stories and experiences are told by the defectors, such blur image becomes real picture.
The UN, the International Criminal Court, and even a comedy movie The Interview whose characters are tasked by the CIA to assassinate the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, all accuse the world most closed and dictated country but no action has ever been taken or unlikely to be taken in the foreseeable future. Of course, the world and neighboring countries don’t wish to see another devastating war in the peninsula.
Read the article and see the video of the firsthand stories by the defectors.


Topic Reading-Vol.990-12/27/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Birds 'heard tornadoes coming' and fled the day before
How could birds sense extreme weather conditions? It has been said in Japan that catfish can sense an earthquake coming. Sometimes birds fly away to somewhere when nothing seems unusual to human’s eyes. Then, how come these little golden-winged warblers that weigh only less than nine grams flew hundreds of kilometers just in time to avoid the tornadoes that devastated their nesting area?
The researchers think that the deep rumble that tornadoes produce, infrasound whose frequency is well below what humans can hear, might have been sensed by the birds to take an such evasive action. If that is the case, humans may be able to develop something that hears or detects such infrasound, just like infrared, to warn occurrence of extreme weather conditions like tornados or thunderstorms or even an earthquake in the future.
Enjoy reading and learning about the latest finding of Mother Nature.


Topic Reading-Vol.989-12/26/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Spectacular Real Virgin Births
This might be a good topic to look at on the day after Christmas, or Virgin Maria’s giving birth to Christ. It seems real in some species such as snakes, reptiles, birds and even sharks. Though scientists still aren’t sure what causes or triggers the female to lay fertilized eggs fully capable of produce offspring, numbers of such cases have been observed and identified.
Does such self-reproduction process occur only under extreme situations where no other options available for the female? Are those cases are so rare?
Enjoy reading and learning what virgin birth is about and how much people know about it.


Topic Reading-Vol.988-12/25/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Pope Francis attacks 'diseases' of Vatican in Curia address
Bureaucracy in the highest office in Catholic? It seems that way according to the Pope’s remark in his annual Christmas address.
Ever since the return of the Popes from Avignon, France in 1377, Vatican has been the center of now 1.2 billion Roman Catholics in the world. That is nearly the same size as China’s population as well as India’s. So long and so huge the history and the size of the church to be run by humans that cannot be fair and faithful all the time. Thus, there is no wonder bureaucracy, favoritism, corruption or vainglory could be seen within the organization and among the priests who are working in the office.
Enjoy reading and learning about this harsh criticism to its own organization and people by the Pope in holly Christmas.


Topic Reading-Vol.987-12/24/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Orangutan in the Rain
Just enjoy seeing this once-in-a-lifetime shot. The photographer was taking photos of orangutans in Bali, Indonesia. Just about to leave the place, he spotted this little orangutan protecting itself from the rain. Actually, if you search “orangutan” and “in the rain”, you’ll find numerous photos like this. However, this one is just incredibly adorable.
Enjoy seeing the best photo of the year in the Sony World Photography Awards.


Topic Reading-Vol.986-12/23/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Obesity 'could be a disability' - EU courts rule
It’s a binding ruling by the European Court of Justice to all EU countries. Now, if someone is too fat to do a job properly, he or she can be regarded as disabled. It sounds fair to protect a person with excessive weight being discriminated or harassed by the employer, boss or coworkers. However, it could be a big hassle for businesses. If they are required to accommodate furniture and other settings only for certain people who aren’t cautious about their weight, it’ll not only cost a lot but could create unfairness with those who are trying to be fit and healthy.
Furthermore, do those who are obese want to be labeled “too fat”?
Enjoy reading and learning what could this ruling indicate.


Topic Reading-Vol.985-12/22/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Dalai Lama concedes he may be the last
Who is Dalai Lama? He is the head monk of the "Yellow Hat" school of Tibetan Buddhism. The first Dalai Lama was enthroned in the 15th century and the 14th and current one was named in 1950. He was forced to exile to India in 1959 when Chinese troops crushed an attempted uprising in Tibet. He has lived abroad ever since but still held the title and passion as the spiritual leader of Tibetan people.
He turns eighty in 2015 and now thinks it may be the time to decide whether or not to continue the centuries-old tradition because of the current Tibetan situation.
Enjoy reading and learning what the 14th or the last Dalai Lama think about Tibet and China.


Topic Reading-Vol.984-12/21/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Hollywood's complete moral surrender
It is just an action-comedy movie yet has become a national security matter. Here is a brief storyline. When an actor and producer run the popular celebrity tabloid TV show, they discover that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is a fan of the show. So they land an interview with him in an attempt to legitimize themselves as journalists. As they prepare to travel to Pyongyang, their plans change when the CIA recruits them to assassinate Kim Jong-un. 
But a hacking group threatened the production company for potential harm should they distribute the already produced film and leaked their sensitive information to the public. Then movie theaters pulled back and the production company gave up the release.
Is that film so different from Charlie Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator” which was released in prior to Hitler’s aggression?
Enjoy reading and learning about this latest threat to the entertainment industry.


Topic Reading-Vol.983-12/20/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
'New chapter' in US-Cuba ties
Is this part of detent, which is a word has seldom mentioned since 1989 when the Berlin Wall came down. For the last half century, the two neighboring countries that lay only 300 kilometers apart have never had official diplomatic or economic exchanges. Suddenly on December 17th, 2014, both of them released their long-term captives to back their respected homeland as a sign of normalizing the relationship.
It is also interesting to know that they’ve been unofficially meeting in Canada and Vatican before the announcement. It sounds like an undercover dating arrangement, doesn’t it? It is also said that Pope Francis acted as an angel for the two.
Enjoy reading and learning how significant and historical this new move is.


Topic Reading-Vol.982-12/19/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
No weddings, no funerals: China decrees new rules when singing national anthem
"March of the Volunteers" is China’s national anthem. It starts with “Arise! All those who refuse to be slaves!” Naturally, it doesn’t sound appropriate to be sung at funerals because no one wants the dead to open the casket to arise. Does it sound inappropriate for wedding or commercial events?
Chinese government, or the ruling party, seems to want the march sung more appropriately. No alteration to the melody, lyrics or musical arrangement is allowed. No interruptions should be made while it’s being sung. Singers should dress appropriately, stand still and be full of energy, according to the government. This could mean people who are sick in bed or on a wheelchair shouldn’t sing their anthem.
What is their intention? Enjoy reading and learning about this latest decree by Chinese government.


Topic Reading-Vol.981-12/18/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Pakistan's 9/11, Taliban attack Pakistani school
They seem to have been over allocating their troops and resources against an external enemy, India. Now it is clear that their main enemy is within their own territory and own people, Taliban, which have killed thousands of the soldiers, police and civilians over the past decade. Ironically, Pakistani military in the past supported them in the hope of establishing a regime in Afghanistan which would be favorable to them.
After several attempts had been made to establish a peace deal which never lasted long, Pakistani military initiated a campaign June 2014 to demolish this monster they had created and supported. Now the monster struck back and killed over a hundred school children.
What will be the next move? How will their allies and international community help their fight against one of the most dangerous and notorious extremists on the planet?
Enjoy reading and learning how Pakistan has been dealing with Taliban on their soil.


Topic Reading-Vol.980-12/17/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Embrace the luxurious slow life with Japan's answer to the Orient Express
It’s not five but seven. That is the number of stars this train offers to lucky travelers who have won the lottery to get tickets to board.
This Japanese version of the Orient Express is created and operated in the most southwesterly island of Japan where there are numbers of hot springs are volcanos are seen and local traditions are still in place. Those 30 passengers who won the lottery, 21 applications per berth, can enjoy luxurious cabin and services, magnificent scenery, slow local lives, relaxing hot springs and local delicacies for two or four day trip.
Enjoy reading the article and seeing some photos of this rare luxury in Japan.  


Topic Reading-Vol.979-12/16/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Xi attends China's first memorial ceremony for Nanjing Massacre victims
In 1931, Japan invaded northeast China. Then in 1937, it started a full-scale invasion all over China and captured Nanjing, then China's capital. There, over 300,000 Chinese soldiers and residents were murdered by Japanese troops, according to the Chinese announcement,
77 years after the massacre, China’s top leaders suddenly decided to designate Dec. 13 as the National Memorial Day for Nanjing Massacre Victims to mourn those war crimes as well as to convey the Chinese people's stance for world peace.
There is something clearly shown in Xi Jinping’s speech at the ceremony. He mentioned that the intention of the commemoration is to remember the severe crimes committed by aggressors lies with a few militarists but not to blame on Japan or Japanese people.
Enjoy reading and learning how China is voicing criticism over the war crime and calling for world peace after all these years.


Topic Reading-Vol.978-12/15/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Kiribati: The world's next Atlantis?
Always the weak are the ones who suffer the most from any wrong doings or negligence. People in this tiny Pacific island haven’t emitted even the one tenth of the greenhouse gasses that have been emitted in developed countries that lie far away from them. But they are forced to pay for it.
The rising sea level by the climate change
Kiribati is one of the six Pacific Island countries most threatened by rising sea-levels, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The coastlines are eroded, infrastructures are sunk, and fresh water is contaminated. Many of the residents have had no choice but to move to other islands nearby, which made the capital city the most densely populated place on earth.
Now, they are not only calling for help but also fighting to stop the cause of the problem which they are not responsible for.
Enjoy reading and learning about this big problem in a small island.


Topic Reading-Vol.977-12/14/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Royal twins born in Monaco
What is Monaco? It is a city state surrounded by France and the Mediterranean Sea. Although it is one of the smallest states in the world with mere 36,000 or so residents, it is famous for the comfortable climate, wealth and F1 race. The official name is Principality of Monaco, which is reigned over by a prince. The incumbent prince is Albert II.
On the 10th of December 2014, the royal couple announced on their Facebook that they had twin babies, a girl and a boy who came out two minutes after his sister. The prince also has two children born out of wedlock in 1992 and 2003.
Who do you think is the first heir to the throne in this situation in Monaco?
Enjoy reading and finding who the next prince/princess in the little principality.


Topic Reading-Vol.976-12/13/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Malala and Kailash Satyarthi receive joint Nobel award
It seems that the Nobel Peace Prize award has two aspects, recognition and expectation.
Mr. Kailash Satyarthi, a 60-year old Indian children’s right campaigner, and Ms. Malala Yousafza, a 17-year old Pakistani education activist for children, were jointly awarded the prominent prize.
Mr. Satyarthi has rescued tens of thousands of children from hazardous industries despite death threats to him and loss of two of his colleagues.
The other recipient, more known by her given name Malala, was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen in 2012 in the bus for campaigning for girls' education. She has been campaigning even harder getting more support from the world since her recovery from the wound.
Their homes are two neighboring countries, India and Pakistan, which have been in fights and disputes continually since the middle of the last century. The Nobel Committee seems to have hoped this dual peace prize recognition could help dissolve or ease the tension between them.
Enjoy reading and learning about the latest recipients of the prominent awards.


Topic Reading-Vol.975-12/12/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Inequality 'significantly' curbs economic growth – OECD
Is it just income inequality? According to research by the organization of the developed countries reports the gap between the rich and poor has been widening for the last two decades. It also suggests that the income gap has been affecting economic growth.
Then what is causing such unfair distribution of wealth and what could be effective countermeasures to the problem? Education. A lack of investment in education seems to have been the key factor behind this rise in inequality. The fewer educational opportunities are, the lower job qualifications or social mobility is. It seems the earlier the better to start investing on education.
Enjoy reading and learning about this rising trend of income inequality.


Topic Reading-Vol.974-12/11/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Family planning policy dilemma unraveled
How much does it cost parents to have another baby? That seems to be still a question in China where the famous “one-child policy” is still in place despite the announcement made to loosen it in the near future. Parents who have violated the policy are imposed heavy fines. A famous movie director was fined as much as US$1.2 million, when he admitted that he has his second and third children. Does it sound rational in order to be fair to the couples who have been abiding by the policy?
The controversial policy has been implemented since the 1980s to curb the population growth at a time over-population was the main concern. Now, because of the effect and success (?) of the policy, the world most populous country is facing an imbalanced demography and aging at much faster pace than predicted.
Enjoy reading and learning about the dilemma China is facing in its own domain.


Topic Reading-Vol.973-12/10/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Hotter, weirder: How climate has changed Earth
Will future generations be angry at the today’s negligence or ill conducts to deal with the climate change? The numbers don’t lie. For the last two decades since the world leaders first met and identified the possibility of the climate change, humans have simply made the situation worse instead of tackling the potential problems. There are numbers that show, not just suggest, the change in the climate of the mother planet; global temperature has increased by six-tenths of a degree, population has been up 1.7 billion, sea level has risen 3 inches, and much more disastrous extreme weather s.
While the wise, world leaders, politicians and business leaders are all aware of the problem and potential consequences, a little has been done, and not so much is expected to be done in the foreseeable future. It seems too difficult for human beings to give up something convenient to their lives.
Enjoy reading and learning more sure facts of the climate change.


Topic Reading-Vol.972-12/9/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
New smartphone app promises easy eye testing worldwide
It seems that simple devices and smartphone app could create breakthroughs in various fields and practices. Credit card reading device and app is one of such corroborations. It made small business operators become capable of accepting credit cards much more economically and conveniently than ever before even without fixed communication line. Here is another eye-opening example to be looked at. It’s a simple and yet it is going to change the way eye-experts look at eyes of people having difficulty in eye-exams especially in remote locations. It’s a smartphone app and low-cost adaptor that enables professional eye examinations anywhere in the world. It doesn’t require any other heavy and clumsy equipment or battery power, which means neither extra labor nor facility is required to conduct a test. An expert says that 80 percent of the blind could be detected and avoided if proper eye examination is made.
Enjoy reading and learning about another breakthrough by smartphone!


Topic Reading-Vol.971-12/8/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
South Korea approves cigarette price hike
Forget about Christmas presents or New Year’s gift money. South Korean smokers are rushing to stock up their cigarette inventory before a huge price hike on New Year’s Day.
An 80% price increase was approved by the parliament with the aim of reducing the male smoking rate down to below 30% by 2020 from current 43%, which is the highest among the developed countries.
The price of a pack of cigarettes is going to rise from 2,500 won to 4,500, about the same price for two litters of gasoline, a Big Mac meal in McDonald's or a Twister meal from KFC.
The new comparable price doesn't seem so extreme compared to the ones in other developed countries but it’s a significant hike for Korean smokers.
Besides stoking up their favorite cigarettes, they have two options. Maintain the number of cigarettes to light a day by cutting the budget on other items or consumption, or quit or reduce smoking. Though the impact of the price hike looks substantial, the effect remains to be seen in the next few years.
Enjoy reading and learning about the challenges for 43% of male adults in Korea.


Topic Reading-Vol.970-12/7/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Five myths about Pearl Harbor
63 years ago today was the day of Pearl Harbor attack. While Japanese remember the eighth of December, 1941 was the day of the attack, it was the seventh for Americans and the international community because of the International Date Line which lies just in the west of Hawaii.
Though neither the US base nor the fleet seemed to have prepared for the attack, it has been popular myth, like the assassination of JFK, whether the US had predicted the attack or detected the move of the Japanese Imperial fleet.
Also, other significant surprise offensive moves were taken place on the day and on by Japanese army and navy in Southeast Asia, including the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand and other islands.
Enjoy reading and learning what happened on the historic day.


Topic Reading-Vol.969-12/6/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Stunning geometric shapes appear in snow on frozen, isolated lakes
Aborigines aren’t the only ones that enjoyed drawing on something won’t last so long. An Oxford educated former engineer seems to have been enjoying foot-crafting on snow-covered lakes and mountain sides. How a man makes foot crafting? He designs and makes snow drawing by his footsteps, which usually takes as long as 30 kilometers walk in half a day before taking phots of it. The photos are posted on Facebook and followed by hundreds of thousands.
Why does he do that? He seemed to have started it simply to pass the time but found it more challenging and enjoyable, and made it his primary winter exercising.
What kind of shapes on snow? Enjoy reading and seeing this beautiful art on snow!


Topic Reading-Vol.968-12/5/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Death and the goddess: The world's biggest ritual slaughter
Are gods really happy with animal sacrifices? An estimated up to 10,000 buffalos and 150,000 goats are offered to Gadhimai, the goddess of power, during this year’s Hindu ritual in Nepal. Those poor animals are slaughtered by special knives by 400 experts who are licensed hack those sacrificed animals during the two-day event. Some of these animals have been imported from India, on foot without food. By the time such scape-buffalos and scapegoats are gathered to the slaughter place, they are nearly dead. It was even worse in the last event in 2009 where more than 20,000 buffalos and 200,000 goats were sacrificed.
The government is afraid of stopping such practice as nearly 80 percent of the citizens are Hindus in the country. Animal rights activists have been advocating this massive animal killing event and successfully have reduced the number of the animals being killed this year. However, it seems like a long way to either abandon this practice or replace animals with farm produces.
Enjoy reading and learning about this unthinkable animal slaughter even for the goddess.


Topic Reading-Vol.967-12/4/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Secrets from a Japanese master: How to make sushi
Which type of sushi, do you like Nigiri-zusi, Makizushi, Chirashizushi, or Ohizushi? Whatever the type is, the key to make good sushi is how you prepare rice and ingredients, and how to make good harmony between them.
You may be surprised to know that seafood is very seasonal and regional. Even the same fish is sometimes called differently, depending on the size, fat containment, and texture of the meat. These factors vary depending on when and where you catch it.
But you needn’t to be afraid. As the sushi chef in the text says, everyone can make good maki-rolls at home. So, enjoy reading and go ahead and stuff it!


Topic Reading-Vol.966-12/3/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Media workers support smoking ban on screen
Will China be the first smoking-free country on screen? If this legislation is implemented (no need to pass the parliament as it’s a one-party ruled country), China may become the first and most aggressive country to restrict smoking scenes on any type of screens in movie theaters, TV sets, and even smartphones. It does sound like a rational move towards modern, environmentally friendly and health conscious society.
But what are movie directors saying who might worry about losing their artistic appeal or touch especially when they shoot historical scenes? Surprisingly, some of the renowned directors are officially and publically supporting the idea on state-affiliated media.
Then what about the ones already in the market or videos that have smoking scenes in? That still remains to be seen until the legislation is finalized.
Will this move make Beijing’s air clearer?
Enjoy reading and thinking how soon such strict regulation will be implemented in other countries.


Topic Reading-Vol.965-12/2/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
'I couldn't move': Patients who wake up during surgery
It would be much worse than a most horrifying nightmare; to become conscious during a surgery. It is called anesthetic awareness. The unfortunate patient doesn’t feel pain physically but psychologically devastated as his or her mind becomes fully conscious on the operation flat but the body is fully in asleep. To make the situation even worse, the surgeon who is performing the operation can hardly recognize the patient’s awareness. As a result, some of the patients who had such an experience are badly affected psychologically and could suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, for a long time or even ever.
Though, there don’t seem to be a sure solution to this accidental awareness during surgeries, it seems to help patients avoid being paralyzed if they are warned or advised that such awareness could occur but there is no need to worry.
Enjoy reading and learning about this not-so-rare phenomena during surgeries.


Topic Reading-Vol.964-12/1/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
What makes space travel so dangerous?
Space travel or research doesn't seem to require just finance and technology. You need to be physically and mentally rigorous enough to conduct daily two-and-a-half hour exercise on top of routine tasks and months of rehabilitation after the mission. That is because human bodies aren’t made for zero or micro gravity environment.
Also, the farther the space one stays, the more radiation and cosmic rays he or she is exposed to because there is no or very little shield by earth’s gravity in space.
So if you could afford a stay in space or trip to Mars in the near future, would you be willing to take such a challenge?
Enjoy reading and learning how severe staying in space is and how comfortable living on earth is.


Topic Reading-Vol.963-11/30/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
The elusive Black Seadevil is finally ready for its closeup
This might be your first time to see this marine creature, unless you’ve watched “Finding Nemo.”
Yes, for the first time ever, a video of this odd-looking, or rather ugly, deep sea fish was captured. It is the anglefish, or known as Seadevil because of its aggressive look, that lives in the darkness below the sunlit surface waters. Only a little is known about this species, so this video seems to be a remarkable milestone for marine biologists.
Would you be interested in seeing this creature in the aquarium or dare tasting the sashimi of it?
Enjoy seeing the newest release of “Finding Seadevil.”


Topic Reading-Vol.962-11/29/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
How much sugar is hiding in your food?
Do you have any idea how sugary the food you’re eating daily or occasionally? Even if you don’t add any sugar to your coffee or tea, or seldom eat any sweet, you seem to be taking a lot of sugar hidden in the food, such as curry, pasta or non-fat yogurt.
How bad is sugar to your health? Excess amount of sugar could lead to weight gain and even obesity, an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and liver disease, not to mention tooth decay.
How much sugar is OK then? WHO suggests that less than 5% of their total daily calories should be consumed from sugars. This is about 25 grams of sugar -- or six teaspoons for an adult at a normal body mass index, or BMI, which is less than is a single can of regular soda, which contains about 40 grams of sugar.
Enjoy reading and learning this hidden sweet in your food.


Topic Reading-Vol.961-11/28/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Venice to ban wheeled suitcases
Going to Venice next year? You’d better leave your usual suitcases with plastic or hard rubber wheels, or you’ll risk yourself a 500 euro fine.
The residents of the world popular tourists’ destination have become too tired and annoyed by the rattling noises of such strollers day and night. They also claim that their historic architectural infrastructures such as marble steps, stone pathways and footbridges around the canals are being damaged. The new bill, if signed, is going to require quieter alternative like air-filled tires to be carried on the streets.
It seems that the claims by the residents have become louder than the rumbling sound of the wheelers by the visitors.
Enjoy reading and learning about the latest move in this ancient town.


Topic Reading-Vol.960-11/27/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
World's most impressive metro stations
Subway stations usually aren’t favorable places for most visitors or commuters. However, there are some breathtakingly enjoyable and artistically impressive stations in the world. Some people may admire such design and architecture while others may be just too busy walking for transit or to the destination. It seems that there are artistic attempts out there to please passersby such as stations, sidewalks, walls, pavements and ceilings.
So next time you walk around somewhere, try paying a little bit of your attention to the things around you.
Enjoy reading and learning about some of the most artistically remarkable subway stations in the world.


Topic Reading-Vol.959-11/26/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Indonesia's 'discriminatory, cruel and degrading' test for female police recruits
A married woman can’t be a policewoman in Indonesia. This sounds odd enough in most of the modern societies. But there is more. Even unmarried women who want to be police women are required to undergo a painful and degrading manual virginity test in addition to regular medical and physical tests. According to the police department, the purpose of such requirements are to make sure that the candidates’ health and physical condition will not harm them when admitted into police force, as well as to assure that the candidates don’t possess any communicable diseases. How does it sound? What are the qualifications to perform the police duties? Are they so different between men and women, married or unmarried or sexually experienced or not?
Enjoy reading and learning about this on-going harassing practice in Indonesia.


Topic Reading-Vol.958-11/25/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
How McDonald's conquered India
Though the brand and signage are the same around the world, their menu and customers seem to be very much localized. That may be one of the reasons McDonald’s became the world top fast food restaurant chain, serving around 68 million customers daily in 119 countries across 35,000 outlets.
In most of the developed countries, the restaurant is positioned as unhealthy junk food restaurant while in developing countries it is regarded as trendy or even premium restaurant. But that’s not it. Their menu is pretty much diversified to meet the locals’ tastes in each market. Although most of their menus look similar, sandwiching grilled or deep-fried patty or something with buns, what’s inside are very different depending on the customs, religions and tastes of the market. Can you imagine a Big Mac without beef?
Enjoy reading and learning how the burger chain has successfully been localized in India.


Topic Reading-Vol.957-11/24/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
How interpreters at the UN get the message across
There are six official languages in the UN. And there are over 100 simultaneous interpreters to translate one language to those official languages. But that’s not enough to manage the UN General Assembly where delegates of 192 member states gather to speak and listen to the world most essential issues.  Additional 100 interpreters are called in to handle the substantial tasks. If every speaker respects the 15 minutes’ time allocation, their jobs go smoothly who can perform professionally accurately and faithfully as long as 30 minutes. But when a selfish leader continues to deliver his or her non-scripted emotional speech for over an hour, they are in trouble as they keep trying to be accurate and faithful to the speaker’s notion, emotion and passion.
Also, just be fluent in language isn't enough to be a professional interpreter. One of the UN’s interpreters says that the more varied the background, the richer the experience, the wider the vocabulary of an interpreter, the bigger the ability to interpret different subjects.
Sounds so true, doesn’t it?
Enjoy reading and learning what the interpretation at the UN is like.


Topic Reading-Vol.956-11/23/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
What is willpower? Is that the ability to control your thoughts and actions to achieve what you want to do or simply to resist temptations such as eating something unhealthy like sweets or fries or more than you’re supposed to?
There seem to be countless attractive temptations and natural attitudes that we need to control ranging from smoking or drinking to watching TV too long or speaking without care. Interestingly, neuroscientists came up with exercises that strengthen your willpower to resist temptations like building up your muscles. There are 10 exercises to choose from and you can start trying any of them but don’t have to do all of them at once.
But if you are able manage to keep doing any of such exercises for a period of time, you already have strong willpower, don’t you?
Enjoy reading and learning what sorts of exercises you might want try to beef up your willpower.


Topic Reading-Vol.955-11/22/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Tanzania ivory: China officials 'went on buying spree'
The price of illegally traded ivory soared during a Chinese delegation’s visit to Tanzania where wild elephants are often killed by poachers.
An environmental activist group claims that their undercover investigators found that the local market price of ivory doubled during the recent visit by Chinese government leader and officials, and business leaders. They say that prior to the visit, Chinese buyers bought large amount of ivory and sold to those visitors who took advantage of the uninspected presidential airplane. It doesn’t sound too unrealistic as ivory curving is valued extremely high in China as status symbol.
Enjoy reading the article and assessing the validity of the report and the complaints by the government officials.


Topic Reading-Vol.954-11/21/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Seals discovered having sex with penguins
A mammal tries to have sex with a bird? How can that be possible? Whatever the reason might be, such acts were witnessed and recorded several times by wildlife researchers.
Marion Island, a sub-Antarctic island, is home to fur seals and king penguin. Both species are in different biological class, mammals and birds. Therefore this seal’s act doesn’t seem to be an attempt to produce offspring. Then, is that for fun?
Enjoy reading the article and seeing this amazing video of the trans-class sexual practice.


Topic Reading-Vol.953-11/20/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
The vanishing world of the coral triangle’s sea nomads
The higher the appetite for healthy seafood in China, the faster the depletion of sea resources seems to occur in the Coral Triangle in south-east Asia. It lies between Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines and is the richest area for marine species in the world.
There are people who live in and depend on this rich marine resource, the Bajau. They spend more time in the sea than on the land catching pearls, sea cucumbers and fish, which are highly demanded in China, particularly Hong Kong. But there’s always imbalance between the demand and supply. Mother Nature doesn’t seem to be providing as much sea treasures as humans demand. And those sea nomads who depend on their traditional lifestyle are also affected by the climate change and over-fishing with modern tools such as dynamite.
Enjoy reading and learning what’s happening underwater in south-east Asia.


Topic Reading-Vol.952-11/19/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Thousands of high school students skip Colorado state tests
Most of the students in Asian countries don’t protest against mandated tests by the prefecture or ministry. Instead, they work hard to prepare for such tests either they are within or beyond the curriculum. However, some high school students in Colorado decided to boycott the newly introduced science and social study tests by the state saying those tests include things they’ve never learned before or at least recently.
It is quite an aggressive and decisive way to make their voices heard by high school students because skipping such exams could have negative impacts on their grades or academic record.
Weren’t there any opportunities to avoid such confusion between the department of education and teachers?
Enjoy reading and leaning about this recent dispute over a mandated test to high school students.


Topic Reading-Vol.951-11/18/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Separated at birth, reunited on Facebook
Can you imagine receiving a friend request in Facebook from a person whose face looks exactly like you? How about meeting an unknown person whose DNA is exactly the same as yours for the first time?
That what happens to these Korean born identical twin sisters who had been adopted and raised in other sides of the globe for 25 years. Thanks to the modern social network and video sharing space, namely Facebook and YouTube, they came to know each other only recently. If no one had ever found and told the French-side of the twins that she was on YouTube, they wouldn’t have known that they had a twin sister.
Although they still live separately in the US and France, they are constantly connected via the Internet and unseperable.
Enjoy reading and learning this amazing encounter.


Topic Reading-Vol.950-11/17/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Translation tech helps firms talk business round the world
As you know, large part of the Internet content is still written in English. However, as the number of smartphone users increases on the globe, languages used on the Internet are expected to diversify much faster than before. Then, how fast will such diversified content or messages be translated to other languages?
There are firms that translate languages to other languages employing as many as thousands of linguists. There are also software and applications to do the task though not as precisely as human specialists do. It seems that Machine Translation, or MT, helps human linguists do the job faster and more efficiently.
Enjoy reading and learning how translations are done in today’s busy world.


Topic Reading-Vol.949-11/16/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
World's tallest man meets world's shortest man
Any idea of the height of the tallest living person on earth? What about the shortest? Then, what about the gap between those two?
Here are the answers. 251cm for the tallest and 54.6 cm for the r. Thus, the gap between the two is nearly two meters! So what if they meet and shake hands? That’s what happened on the 10th annual Guinness World Records Day in London, which is intended to celebrate record-setting achievements around the world.
While many in the world try to be listed on the Guinness list, it seems that these honorably listed men have had uneasy lives because their unusual height.
Enjoy seeing the historical photos of these unusual men and think of what their lives have been like.


Topic Reading-Vol.948-11/15/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
China, US unveil ambitious climate change goals
Indeed a breakthrough to one of the most serious and critical global challenges. Combined, China and the U.S. contribute 45% of the greenhouse gas emissions, 29% and 16% respectively. But they had never agreed or joined to the efforts to set and work for reduction targets of greenhouse gasses that EU and other countries have been working on under The United Nations Climate Change Conference.
At least, the agreement by the two largest greenhouse gasses contributors is a positive move towards the COP21 that will be held in Paris, France in 2015. However, is such a bilateral agreement without coordinating or consulting with others in the world an appropriate process? Are more global agenda going to be decided by the two giants? Will they be as influential as or even more influential than the Permanent Members of the UN Security Council, or P5?
Enjoy reading and learning about this historic move by the two giants.


Topic Reading-Vol.947-11/14/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
North Korean defector: 'I was Kim Jong Il's bodyguard.
There seems to be a lot more requirements to be a bodyguard of the elite of the most closed country in the world than to be a secret service agent in the US or Swiss Guard in Vatican.
That’s because the dictator of the country seems to secure his position by fear. Everyone, even a senior official or an uncle could be sent to a political camp or into a coffin for anything. It all depends on his mood. In order to protect such a cruel leader, his bodyguards must be loyal from the head to toes, not to mention the physical strength to cope with attempts to attack the leader. Therefore, those who are chosen or willing to be the guard members are required to take vigorous physical training and rigorous brain washing.
Enjoy reading and learning what it takes to be a bodyguard in North Korea’s leader.


Topic Reading-Vol.946-11/13/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
In pictures: World leaders and awkward handshakes
While the Novel Peace Prize winner and the last Soviet secretary general urges the world leaders to talk more constructively with trust, they aren’t always so friendly or open-minded when they meet each other in person, even before cameras. Is that intentional or emotional?
Enjoy seeing these odd faces and handshakes that some of the world leaders present in public.


Topic Reading-Vol.945-11/12/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Gorbachev: World leaders must work together for common good
A quarter century after the fall of Berlin Wall, a sincere message is given by one of the key players of the move, who was later awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for his courage and determination during the most critical time in the late 20th century.
Michael Gorvachev, the last leader of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, or USSR, talks.
Despite having another prize winner in the chair of one of the most powerful and influential nations, the world seems to be in a most volatile situation since the end of the Cold War. Ukraine, ISIS and territorial disputes in South East Asia are casting shadows over regional and world peace now. Also, global warming requires immediate and decisive actions ASAP. Unfortunately, these agenda haven’t been tackled in a coordinated or cooperative way yet or aren’t expected to be in the foreseeable future.
Now Gorbachev urges the leaders and politicians talk more openly based on trust.
Enjoy reading and learning what the former leader of Soviet wants to warn today leaders of.


Topic Reading-Vol.944-11/11/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Record 'Singles Day' online sales expected on 11/11/11 in China
Can online shopping be therapy for singles? It seems so in China especially when annual deep cut promotions are offered by online retailers and market places.
The idea of Singles Day was originally brought in by Alibaba in 2008 to encourage people without partners to comfort themselves with shopping therapy. Now, many online shoppers tend to wait to buy thing online until the day and look for special offers eagerly with their extended budget. This in turn means that online retailers must be well prepared for the day that could make or break the future of their business. It sounds like a good day for shoppers but critical day for online retailers, doesn’t it?
Enjoy reading and learning about China’s Singles Day shopping spree.


Topic Reading-Vol.943-11/10/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Marijuana's History: How One Plant Spread Through the World
Cannabis seemed to have been widely used in all over the world until recently, as medicine or pain and stress relief. Even prehistoric hunter-gatherers who rarely did farming planted cannabis for medical or psychoactive use. However, when it came to the United States recently, the negative effects drew more attention from the law makers, and only a century or so ago, it started being banned in some states. Now it is classified as a controlled substance like heroin and LSD in the U.S.
Is it more addictive or harmful to health than cigarettes or alcohol drinks, or more dangerous if a driver takes it before driving than drinking beer or whisky?
Enjoy reading and learning how this plant has been used, spread and treated in human history.


Topic Reading-Vol.942-11/9/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Baker: Take moment to celebrate fall of Berlin Wall
Precisely a quarter century ago, the concrete wall that had divided the eastern and western section of Berlin for 28 years fell to the ground. The wall was built by the force of Soviet Empire but grounded by the hands of German people. During the period of “Iron Wall”, not only the people of Germany but also those of Europe and even other part of the world are divided and confronted.
To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the fall of Berlin Wall, then the US Secretary of State who must have played a significant role behind the scene contributed a note.
Enjoy reading and looking back the brief history after the World War II.


Topic Reading-Vol.941-11/8/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Meet Denny, the bike for people who don’t ride bikes
What’s Denny? Isn’t that the name of a popular family restaurant chain?
Nope. It is the name of the bike that was developed to turn non-bikers to bikers. As greener transport is sought especially in urban areas, calorie-burning bikes are more preferred vehicle than fossil-fuel-burning automobiles. They require much less space to move or park, easier and cheaper to purchase and own, and healthier and greener to operate than cars. However, not everyone is convinced that a bike is as convenient alternative for a car.
So here is one concept that could encourage more drivers to become riders. Denny, a proto type bicycle that was designed by a transport design company, won the Bike Design Contest held by an independent creative catalyst in the US. This unique concept is now being worked by a Japanese bike manufacture to bring it on the road to achieve the original mission to turn non-bikers to bikers.
Enjoy reading and thinking if this new concept encourages you to be a new rider.


Topic Reading-Vol.940-11/7/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
What does a conductor actually do?
Have you ever seen an orchestra perform, whether in a concert hall or on screen? There is a person just standing on the podium moving his or her hands and body but doesn’t play any musical instruments, sings songs or makes sound. But the eyes of the entire audience are glued to his or her movements, not to mention the ones of the players on the stage.
So, what does a conductor actually do? He or she must be doing much more than keeping the right tempo of the music because that could be easily done by a metronome.
Enjoy reading and finding what conductors do on the podium and behind the stage.


Topic Reading-Vol.939-11/6/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Terminally ill Brittany Maynard takes her own life
Though it is legal, doctor-assisted suicide is still one of the most controversial issue, especially for the young. This would-have-been 30 on 11-14-2014 woman was diagnosed with brain cancer on New Year's Day of this year and was told she had only six months to live. She had been married only for 15 months then.
She moved to Oregon where such assisted suicide is legal. There have been over 750 people who took the advantage of the law, most of them were aged patients and only six of them were under 35.
She earned two degrees, taught orphans in South East Asian countries, climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and tried to live as much as she could. But increasingly frequent and severe pains and stroke-like symptoms made her choose to take the aid-in-dying medication she had received months ago.
Read and imagine how painful and regretful would have been for her to end her life at such an early stage of life.


Topic Reading-Vol.938-11/5/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Fossil fuels should be phased out by 2100 says IPCC
Another report on climate change. This time it states more specifically and strongly.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, reports that the world faces "severe, pervasive and irreversible" damage if no decisive and immediate actions are taken. The report clearly states that renewable energies must grow from their current 30% share to 80% of the power sector by 2050 and fossil fuel power generation technology needs to be phased out by the end of the century, otherwise, global temperatures are expected to increase by 5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. That increase is far beyond the 2 degrees target acknowledged in 2009 as the threshold of dangerous climate change.
However, there aren’t so many leaders or politicians who would dare to take a risk to bring in such unpopular and painful topic to discussion or election. Economic growth seems to increase their popularity and prosperity as well as global temperatures, doesn’t it?
Enjoy reading and learning about this new warning by the UN’s workgroup.


Topic Reading-Vol.937-11/4/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
China corruption: Record cash find in official's home
The house must be huge enough to hide cash worth for US$32 million, or 200 million yuan.
Since the largest banknote in China is 100 yuan, there must be at least two million banknotes hidden in the senior party official’s residence who was accused of one of the largest corruption cases since the anti-corruption campaign took place in 2013. The amount of cash was so huge that four counting machines broke during the measuring process.
The question is, who paid such a large amount of cash and how it was carried in the house.
Enjoy reading and thinking what kind of enterprises, institutions or organizations can pay out such a large amount of cash without valid bills and receipts as well as how the transaction or transportation could have been made.