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Topic Reading-Vol.749-4/30/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
World's best pizza not in Italy
If you are you a serious pizza lover, go to Parma, Italy in April. There, you could enjoy seeing, not eating, the world best pizzas at Campionato Mondiale della Pizza (Pizza World Championship).
The competition is to make the best Pizza Margherita, the simplest and most beloved pizza. It doesn’t look so difficult to make because it is made only with a few ingredients on top of the dough; peeled tomatoes, mozzarella, garlic, olive oil and basil leaves. However, the fewer the toppings are, the harder to make a difference. Then, how do they judge the best one out of as many as 600 pizzas made by the best of the best pizza chefs from 35 countries?
Enjoy reading the video how the contest is conducted and enjoyed. After all, it’s for food. People have got to enjoy such festival, right?


Topic Reading-Vol.748-4/29/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
India court recognises transgender people as third gender
“Hijra” is an Indian term for transgender people, transsexual or cross-dressers. They had been discriminated and criminalized by British colonial law set in 1871 until 1949 when India became independent and repealed the discriminating law. However, those who choose not to belong to either more-commonly-accepted-and-recognized gender, have been discriminated and forced to live in poverty.
Now, India’s Supreme Court ruled that the government is required to give the same status, recognition and benefits to them like other minorities.
Will this ruling change their lives and future?
Enjoy reading and learning about this historical ruling on a hot issue in one of the hottest country.


Topic Reading-Vol.747-4/28/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Most photographed places in the world are ...
The most something seems to depend on how you pick or measure the something. Many of you may think the Eiffel Tower is most photographed in Paris. It probably still the most visited or seen place there but the most photographed place is actually Moulin Rouge, a popular cabaret famous for the romantic musical film.
Based on the data collected by Panomario, a photo-sharing website, the top 10 most photographed sites are somehow different from the traditionally popular ones like the Empire State Building in NY or The Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge) in Florence, Italy but Guggenheim Museum and Pizzale Michalangelo respectively. Why so?
Enjoy seeing the photos and guessing why what people think the most popular places for photo taking is different from what people actually shot and shared on the web with their smartphones.


Topic Reading-Vol.746-4/27/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
World must end 'dirty' fuel use - UN
It took a week of heated debate between government officials and scientists in Berlin to finalize a 33-page UN report that warns and urges the world to act swiftly to stop or mitigate the pain of global warming. Heated disputes were held between developed that have already enjoyed the benefits of fossil fuels so far and developing that are running the economical race behind the track to decide who will pay the price or endure the pain.
Scientists can prepare and present detailed and accurate maps that shows what conditions lie ahead but it is the government leaders and officials that make decisions where and how to get to the destination and it is the people and companies in the world follow the directions and actually walk. There is no silver bullet or free lunch. The world needs to make a swift shift to renewable energy from carbon-dioxide generating fossil fuels.
However, there is a little relief, the report suggests. Natural gas is mentioned as bridge resource from other fossil fuels like coal and oil to more economically expensive renewable energies.
Enjoy reading and learning how the world is struggling to decide and act on this clear and present danger.


Topic Reading-Vol.745-4/26/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Roasted plantain, fried pastries and sheep's head: African street food
Organic, fresh and healthy food within reach. People in undeveloped or under-developed areas, in western standards, in Africa usually eat healthy local foods that are grown, harvested, transported and sold locally as there usually is a little to no refrigeration available. Fruits and vegetables picked in the morning, fresh meat of goat that was alive until moment ago or still-moving fish caught in a local river or lake.
It may require some courage or immediate appetite to try some of the local street foods in Africa but some of them seem to be worth trying. Street foods usually are most common and popular foods because they are usually made and sold in places where people go by regularly. You can’t cheat or sell something that doesn’t satisfy those regulars.
Enjoy seeing the photos of local African foods that were taken by western visitors.


Topic Reading-Vol.744-4/25/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Threat from global warming heightened in latest U.N. report
Another alert on global warming, this time by the UN commissioned study. It urges governments to take more immediate actions than ever before, saying the ecosystems and water supply to sustain human lives is at great risk.
The report says the risk is going to affect the poor the most especially in low-lying coastal zones and islands by storms, flooding, and sea-level rise. It also says, again, that the cause of droughts, colder weather and rising sea levels is greenhouse gas emissions by humans.
Although the cause of global warming seems undeniable and the situation is becoming irreversible and immediate and decisive actions are inevitable, humans seem to be still reluctant to give up things and life styles they are enjoying now. That might be OK if today was the last day of the world.
Enjoy reading and learning about the latest UN commissioned report.


Topic Reading-Vol.743-4/24/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Tackle These 3 Challenges before Applying to Study in the U.S
Studying in the US sound like a privilege, especially for students in developing countries and ones who like the dynamic culture that offers the fairest opportunities for education and professional career. However, as you know, privilege isn’t something easily obtained or enjoyed. Though they offer superb educational opportunities, US colleges are highly demanding and competitive when you want to study at a popular, prestigious or highly regarded university.
In addition to the challenges one may overcome to start a college life in the US , there are other challenges to deal with and endure to study and stay in the country whose culture, standards, practices and value are so different from his or her home country.
Enjoy reading and learning about the challenges a Kenyan student has been dealing with in America.


Topic Reading-Vol.742-4/23/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
China warns it cannot be contained as US defense secretary visits
The chiefs of the world two largest and strongest military forces exchanged fires, but not by arms on the ground, in the sea or air, but just by months on the table, fortunately.
The harder and more provocative actions China takes to east and south China sea regions, namely Japan and Philippines, the more support and commitment seem to be provided by the U.S.
Should these two world most powerful and influential countries, which happen to lie on the edges of the Pacific Ocean, what kind of and how much cooperative and cohesive development, stability and prosperity around the ocean could be realized?
Enjoy reading and learning the recent hot and chilly talks between them.


Topic Reading-Vol.741-4/22/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Copenhagen Zoo kills 4 lions, weeks after shooting giraffe
A highly disputed and controversial culling of a young giraffe, Marius, was reported in MEL School’s Topic Reading Vol.684 on February 24th.
This time, four lions were euthanized in the same zoo for the same purpose of maintaining its sound and healthy population.
According to the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria, which manages 345 zoos and aquariums across Europe, such intended killings are quite popular and routine practices among their institutions.
If that is the case, which is the victim, the euthanized lions or the zoo that keeps its operation transparent?
Enjoy reading and thinking if a culling, whether it’s a euthanasia or not, is a good way or the only option to maintain sound and healthy population of zoo animals.
By the way, are those the lions that ate poor Marius?


Topic Reading-Vol.740-4/21/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Studies show big promise for HIV prevention drug
Which is more needed or appropriate to reduce the number of people who suffer from AIDS, prevention or treatment? A series of new studies show that a new preventive measure has shown effective and promising results to prevent monkeys from being infected by HIV virus.
It seems less demanding and more practical to get a shot every three month than taking a drug every day to protect one from the deadly virus. It sounds like commonly used preventive shots for allergies or the flu before their respective seasons. But such symptoms or diseases may occur when a person is exposed to open air or the person who are infected while HIV virus could be transmitted only by a direct physical contact with a holder of the virus. Who will benefit this new medical innovation?
Enjoy reading and learning about this promising prevention method for the deadly disease.


Topic Reading-Vol.739-4/20/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Couple who claimed they caught a live chupacabra, chooses to have the animal euthanized
Can anyone pronounce “chupacabra”? What is it? According Wikipedia, it is a legendary creature that has been rumored to inhabit parts of the Americas but never been discovered.
This mysteriously looking animal was caught in a suburb of Huston, Texas while it was dining corn in the yard of a local resident. It actually looks like some sort of raccoon whose hair is missing.
Animal scientists, zoologists, animal activists or even commercially motivated investors must be interested to examine the animal but the local authority decided that it was a wild raccoon and gave an order to release or euthanize it within 48 hours. The man who captured the animal reported that it was euthanized.
Enjoy seeing the video of the mysterious animal and guess if it was actually euthanized like the poor giraffe and lions in Copenhagen zoo (but for different reasons) or it is kept alive somewhere.


Topic Reading-Vol.738-4/19/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
U.S. warns China not to attempt Crimea-style action in Asia.
Is that a new model to resolve a territorial dispute?
It is still uncertain if the recent annexation of Crimea to Russia will be as beneficial as, or more costly than people in those states predicted. Economic sanctions and other punitive actions taken by the U.S. and E.U. countries are expected to affect and suffer Russian economy in a long run.
Then Russian government and its leaders need to come up with a cure before the pain becomes intolerable.
One way to decide whether a region to become independent, autonomous, separated or merged is to honor the “will” of people by referendum. Scotland is a recent example of such move. It sounds reasonable provided that the process is made in accordance with their own constitutions and international law. However, such referendum or elections could be often affected by force or influence by others, especially powerful ones.
Enjoy reading and thinking what the warning by the U.S. to China could mean and work.


Topic Reading-Vol.737-4/18/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
America Tosses Nearly 20 Percent of all the Fish We Catch.
Imagine that the prawn, tuna or salmon you’re about to eat comes with as much as half of its size of side dish of shark or seal meat that wasn’t ordered. Would you be willing to finish your plate or throw the unwanted side dish away into a garbage bin? That what’s happening in the waters around the U.S., though not always as much as 50% but about 20% of the catch by fishing boats is unintended bycatch that is thrown away into the water. That bycatch includes all kinds of unpopular fish that aren’t marketed as well as mammals like sharks and dolphins and even sea turtles.
Are there measures or regulations to reduce such waste that could deplete or threaten the balance of marine resource and ecology? According to the researchers, there are regulations that only need to be enforced. Also, fishermen have knowledge that could reduce bycatch that needs to be practiced. Then why not?
Enjoy reading and finding what’s behind the seafood you’re eating in the sea and on the boats.


Topic Reading-Vol.736-4/17/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Top 10 most well-known Chinese brands.
Chinese brands are more popular in developing countries. Sounds natural, doesn’t it? But the “developing countries” are the markets where businesses are growing the fastest and most in the world.
The impact of such popularity may be better recognized if the sizes of the population of those markets now and in the future are shown, especially in product categories such as smartphones, tablets, home appliances and cars that are more popular and demanded by the emerging and growing middle class population. Also, those top most recognized Chinese brands already hold number one market share in the respective market, such as Lenovo (PC), Huawai (smartphone) and Haier (home appliances).
Enjoy reading and seeing some of the most popular brands and market share holders in global market.


Topic Reading-Vol.735-4/16/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Groups push for more humane slaughter of chickens.
When it comes to producing meat such as beef, pork or chicken, they need to be alive until the time they are slaughtered. When they are slaughtered, they shouldn’t die without suffering fear or pain. Therefore, there are guidelines and procedures that meat producers need to follow to ensure food safety to humans and humane treatment to the animals. Also, there are some prescribed methods to kill live animals in some religions like Islam. In any case, such traditions, regulations and procedures are designed to slaughter the animal as swiftly and painlessly as possible. Humans seem to be a little thoughtful and ethical, rather than just being economical when they take the lives of livestock.
Enjoy reading and learning how chickens, the beloved meat especially by health conscious people, are slaughtered.


Topic Reading-Vol.734-4/15/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Ten events not to miss in April
If you’re a festival goer, check these events out. There are all kinds of religious or traditional events and festivals around the world introduced by BBC’s editors.
Although over a billion smartphone users seem spend more time to be enticed by the tiny screen rather than sharing their free time with others nowadays, most people still find themselves more excited and entertained when they see, attend or become part of an event or festival.
If your calendar or budget is tied up already for this year, you can plan ahead for next year.
Enjoy reading and finding events that may make you book your calendar for April this or the next year.


Topic Reading-Vol.733-4/14/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Wrinkled Mercury's shrinking history
How much do you know about Mars? The innermost planet of our solar system is relatively small with only a little under 5,000km diameter, which is just about one-third of Earth’s. Since it’s very close to the sun and doesn’t rotate, the temperature of the permanently-baked-hemisphere is as high as 420 degrees Celsius but the shaded part goes as cold as 180 degrees below zero. That’s a staggering 600 degrees difference!
What Scientists have been interested in finding isn’t the temp but the size of the tiny planet because they believe its radius has shrunk by 7km since it was born four billions years ago. Is that a big deal? It may not be so for Earth which diameter is three times as large as the one of Mercury. But for Mercury, that shrinkage is almost equivalent of 21km for our planet. That sounds a little substantial, doesn’t it?
Enjoy reading and learning about the planet that was named after a fast-traveling Greek god.


Topic Reading-Vol.732-4/13/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Yes, there really are stupid questions
Have you ever become speechless by a silly question like “What time does the 3pm show start?”
People sometimes, or in some cases often, don’t seem to listen to, see or understand what they are presented. And some of them are frank enough to ask questions that stun others.
But for those who ask such silly questions, they are just simple questions need answers. Isn’t it better to be asked thoughtless questions rather than being bothered by unexpected acts?
Enjoy reading and learning how innocent people could be.


Topic Reading-Vol.731-4/12/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Japan frees world's longest-held death row inmate
People sometimes seem to be so reluctant when it comes to admitting their mistakes, or possibility of having made a mistake. General Motors Corporation hadn’t admitted its defective ignition switch until the federal safety authority moved in, which resulted in recalling as many as 2.6 million cars. Japanese judicial system is no exception. It took 48 years for a death row inmate to get his retrial appeal for a murder case granted.
Whether the evidences used for the trial were valid and credible to convict the defendant, not accepting a retrial for such a long time sounds unjust and unbearable to even a judge. Why it took so long only to open a retrial? Are those who have been resisting or reluctant for the retrial so certain about the process and conducts took place nearly a half century ago?
Enjoy reading this critical article by China Daily as to how murder cases and death row are treated in Japan, indicating that their judicial system and practices are much more transparent and fair.
(Don’t miss the second page)


Topic Reading-Vol.730-4/11/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Dubai gets trippy with Festival of Lights.
What kind of event could be created by a group of artists, designers and architects get together in Lyon, France or in a desert city Dubai? Festival of Lights.
Lyon hosts a global benchmark in festive lighting every year. This year first time ever, the city cosponsored a new lighting event in Dubai to bring in people, attention and possibly money for investment from all over the world.
As the city is artificially made in the tip of the desert peninsula, modern artistic event seems a good fit. It is quite natural to witness most contemporary or progressive arts have been created and shown in places where money and power sit, such as and Vienna and Paris in the 18-19th and New York in the 20th century.
The modern fusion show of lights and music looks no less attracting or inviting than those then-progressive but now-classical painting or musical works.
Enjoy seeing the photos and video show of the lighting festival.


Topic Reading-Vol.729-4/10/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Kroger Vs. Walmart Vs. Aldi: Which is the Cheapest Grocery Store?
Do you always compare prices when you shop groceries? Are you a loyal customer of a certain grocery store or brand? Do you bring a calculator for grocery shopping to figure out the unit price?
Apple-to-apple comparison is getting more difficult these days when it comes to grocery stores because of their private brand items, customer loyalty programs and size and package variations. Each store examined by Cheapism, a team of journalists, editors, and internet industry professionals that analyzes prices for saving, seems to have certain competitive advantages or customer benefits. There doesn’t seem to be one supermarket that exceeds in every aspect. Continuous and constant study and evaluation may help you get the most economical grocery shopping.
Enjoy reading and learning how to compare prices of groceries.


Topic Reading-Vol.728-4/9/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
India begins giant general election
The largest scale democratic election in human history is being taken place.
543 seats are going to be elected at 930,000 polling stations, 100,000 more than the last election, by 814 million eligible voters, an increase of 100 million from 2009, of the total population of 1,237 million. That’s the magnitude of the India’s general election for its lower house of parliament.
The election is taking place by nine-phase over a five-week period, in order to save costs and secure safety and assure proper procedures. By using electronic voting machines, the count will be made in a day, on May 16, a week after the final voting is made. If no party wins a majority of the house, parties need to form a coalition government, which could take another week or weeks.
At this election, voters can choose to press None of the Above (Nota) button, meaning no listed candidate is chosen. Many voters waited in line even before the opening time in the first phase of the election, whose turnout has reached as high as 75%, very high interest. People in India seem to want a change or have someone or some party they dare to support.
Enjoy reading and guessing how many millions of the voters will have opted Nota.


Topic Reading-Vol.727-4/8/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Air pollution linked to seven million deaths globally
A recent study released by the World Health Organization, WHO, says over three million had died because of indoor air pollution and a quarter million by outdoor air pollution in 2012. The study also found that the vast majority of the deaths, six out of seven million, had been found in South East Asia, the fastest developing and modernizing region in the world.
Well, most of you know how serious the smog problem in Beijing where many of the residents and visitors are wearing all sorts of masks when they go out or stay outdoor. But why so many deaths had been caused indoor? Who are the ones suffer more than the others?
Enjoy reading and learning what diseases are caused air pollution and who suffer the most.


Topic Reading-Vol.726-4/7/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Python's homing trick stuns scientists
Pythons, native to South and Southeast Asia, are among the largest snakes. They eat, maybe better to say swallow, anything that has lived until it is killed by them, from a bird to deer, even a crocodile as shown in Vol.795.

Researchers found that they are not only a big eater but also somewhat intelligent to be able to find the way to their home even they are taken and released dozens of kilometers away. And surprisingly, they seem to be very much motivated to go home by taking as long as 100 to 300 days.
How do they do that? What sort of navigational features do they have?
Enjoy reading and learning about the mystery of the world largest and longest snake.


Topic Reading-Vol.725-4/6/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Australia: Drone 'used to carry drugs near prison'
What’s a drone? It’s an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, or UAV in short. It has been used in military for missions like reconnaissance or bombing, quite routinely in Afghanistan and Pakistan by the U.S.
It reduces the cost and risk of the mission significantly compared to a manned operation while providing nearly the same accomplishment.
Because of its simple structure, the cost of making or getting drones is so low that even for carrier services like UPS or retailers like Amazon are planning to use them for delivery. Sounds convenient and efficient, doesn’t it?
The problem is that such benefits can also be enjoyed by those who try to avoid the risk of being captured for their criminal or illegal conducts. Smuggling is one of such examples. One could fly a drone to drop off something valuable to a prisoner, such as drugs, cigarettes, tools to escape or even a knife or gun. It also could be used to cross the border to smuggle things valuable to the other side. Border control agents may need to be trained to shoot down a drone some day.
Enjoy reading and learning how a drone was used in Australia and how drones could be used.


Topic Reading-Vol.724-4/5/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Thousands of preschool kids face suspension
How tough schools should be when it comes to enforcing disciplinary policies? And how old is old enough to understand why a young student is disciplined, 4th grade, 2nd grade or at preschool?
A newly released study shows significant racial disparities among preschoolers in the U.S., the number of African American being disciplined outnumbering the others in a much larger scale than ever been thought, both boys and girls. Why so? Although the data doesn’t show why they were disciplined or what social or financial backgrounds those disciplined children are from, it draws attention and is expected to bring further research, discussions and actions to seek better ways to educate children especially at their young age.
Enjoy reading and learning about America’s social and racial problem.


Topic Reading-Vol.723-4/4/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Dog 'sold for $2 million' in China
How much are you willing to pay to become a pride owner of a rare animal, say a giant panda? Well, you could do quick math to figure out how much return on investment you could earn for the cutest popular animal because so many people will pay just to see it. But what about a dog?
There was a deal made to a Chinese breeder a staggering sum of two million US dollars for a rare dog called Tibetan mastiff puppy which weighed 90 kilograms. The lion-look dog is admired and symbolized by the rich in China and the trading prices are skyrocketing.
However, some of such high price trades are said to be nominal insider trades between breeders, meaning that some breeders bid and close deals at extremely high prices and publicize them in an attempt to raise the market price.
Enjoy reading and trying to figure out if you could make a good return on investment by breeding such admired and appreciated pet dog.


Topic Reading-Vol.722-4/3/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Cosmic inflation: 'Spectacular' discovery hailed
Was there inflation 14 billion years ago? If there was, where was it?
A team of scientists in the U.S. announced that they have new evidence to support Big Bang Theory for the origin of the Universe.
What and how? They caught the signal left in space by cosmic inflation, the super-rapid expansion of space that is believed to have occurred right after everything came into being, before Big Bang. That signal was detected at a Telescope facility in South Pole.
It doesn’t sound so convincing but scientists believe that things exist today, the galaxies, the stars, the planets - were imprinted at this inflation moment which took less than a trillionth of a second. This finding is so significant that Nobel Prize is going to be their hands.
Enjoy reading and imagining what took place right after the born of universe 14 billion years ago.


Topic Reading-Vol.721-4/2/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Japan accepts court ban on Antarctic whaling
While needing help from the global community on its territorial disputes and national security, why Japan has been conducting fiercely criticized whale hunting so long until it is judged unlawful by international court? Are Japanese people so fond of whale meat or in need of any part of the sea mammal?
It took nearly three decades to actually stop whale hunting since the country had signed up to a moratorium on whaling back in 1986, claiming it as scientific research provision. The country has caught 3,600 whales since 2005 for that purpose and been selling the meat commercially in the market. As a matter of fact, along with another widely accused hunting of dolphins, the meat of those sea mammals don’t seem to be vital for Japanese cuisines these days.
So why is the country keeping such “traditions” that are criticized by other countries?
Enjoy reading and learning about the decision by the International Court of Justice.
Please also enjoy reading another related article before the court ruling.


Topic Reading-Vol.720-4/1/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
China baby hatch suspended after hundreds abandoned
In just a month and a half, 262 babies have lost their parents. That’s nearly six babies a day. And all of those babies have some form of illnesses, such as Down’s syndrome and heart disease.
One of the 25 newly opened one baby shelters in China, or baby hatch they say, was temporarily closed to new babies because of the overwhelming number of babies have been left to their hands. But they had no choice but to suspend accepting new babies to care the ones already in their hands.
Baby shelter is a highly controversial issue. Supporters say it’ll help number of unfortunate babies from being left on the streets. Critics argue that it’ll encourage parents abandon their babies too easily. But when they found that all the 262 abandoned babies have some illness, what their argument will be? Is that because of the one-child policy or availability affordable medical care? How many of the 262 babies could have been left on the street or still kept in their parents hands?
Enjoy reading and thinking what the effects of the baby shelter are.

Also, enjoy reading the original news of this baby shelter, "China expands abandoned baby hatch scheme."