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Topic Reading-Vol.841-7/31/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
New scare hits fast food chains
Another food safety problem has just been revealed in China. This time it was exposed by employees of the meat product company which supply beef and chicken products to KFC, McDonald’s and other restaurant chains.
According to the report by a TV channel in Shanghai, the meat supplier provided expired meat with fresh product. It also believed to have deliberately misled quality inspectors from McDonald’s.
This kind of malpractice seems not so unusual among local food suppliers in China as many consumers don’t trust domestic baby milk or daily products and opt to pay multiple times higher prices on foreign branded products. But this time, the meat supplier is a subsidiary of a US food company and has business with those giant restaurant chains throughout the world.
Enjoy reading and learning how effective and dependable global management and local operation could be.


Topic Reading-Vol.840 7/30/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Forbes Media sold to Chinese group Integrated Whale
The American publisher with 97-year history is famous for its lists of world richest companies and persons. They’ve been doing well in their own businesses but have decided to bring in external cash and control ship to grow in the global market. The owner family is going to sell a majority of the privately-held shares to Chinese investing company. It seems that numbers of American assets and business opportunities are targeted by cash-rich Chinese companies these days, which may remind you of the buying spree by Japanese companies in the late 1980s.
Within a decade, not only the majority of the stake of the listing company but also the lists might be occupied by Chinese companies.
Enjoy reading and learning about this latest sell off of the American iconic publisher.


Topic Reading-Vol.839 7/29/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Wartime confessions reignite China and Japan's 'war of words'
Why China’s media is flooded with Japan’s war time crimes lately? Why the Chinese leader blasts Japan at the 77th, not significant year even in Chinese customs, anniversary of the start of the Sino-Japanese war in 1937 at a time when more than enough disputes and blames are exchanged?
China may be trying to inspire patriotism in an easiest way by creating a foreign enemy in an attempt to shift the eyes of the public from domestic problems such as widening income gap, slowing economy or rising racial conflicts and also to undermine the 1989 tragedy in Tienanmen Square. However, bringing a historical war crime card to the table, it could make it difficult to seek potential face-saving solution for both sides, especially when the issue is brought to education stage, which could also deteriorate future bilateral relationship of the neighboring countries.
Enjoy reading and learning how critical the situation and relation of the second and third largest countries in economy are.


Topic Reading-Vol.838 7/28/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Bolivia law allows 'self-employed children' aged 10 to work
A new law has just been passed and signed to allow child labor in Bolivia. It is one of the poorest countries in South America with a population of a little over 10 million.
This new law clearly breaches the international regulation of minimum working age which is set by The International Labor Organization. But the president of the country wants to have a balance between the reality and the international treaties. The law requires children to attend school and to be self-employed. It is clear now that having such a law, anyone who violates it could be punished harshly, which in turn might reduce the number of illegal child labors.
Enjoy reading and thinking if such a law would protect children or not.


Topic Reading-Vol.837 7/27/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
You can't see it, or figure out its shape: Is this the real new black?
How black your pencil, ballpoint pen or tonner ink? While conventional black, such as black paint or fabric is said to absorb light by between 95% and 98%, this newly created material sucks up 99.96% of all light that hits it. It is so dark that looks like a whole.
Vandablack was the darkest material ever tested in the prominent laboratories in the UK and the US. It is basically made out of carbon nanotubes and is designed to help cameras, telescopes and infrared scanning systems work more accurately by reducing straying light.
Enjoy reading about and seeing the darkest thing that you've ever observed.


Topic Reading-Vol.836 7/26/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
BRICS nations to create $100bn development bank
Is this attempt a complement to or competition against developed countries by developing powers?
There are numbers of world or regional institutions that deal with financial problems and promote economic and social progress such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund or Asian Development Bank. They are mostly initiated, funded and run by developed western countries.
Now developing giants such as China, Russia, Brazil and South Africa have formed a new institution that aims to function as emergency reserve fund and development bank for developing countries. It seems that these five countries want to have more influence and say to the world through such fund by sifting the dependency on western countries to theirs.
Enjoy reading and learning about this new historical initiative by five most developing countries in the rest of the western world.


Topic Reading-Vol.835 7/25/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Mother in toddler's hot car death wants privacy to grieve
Another heartbreaking story in summer. Parents leave their baby, infant or toddler in a car for hours while the temperature goes over 30 degrees outside and plus 10 or higher degrees in the car.
Why such gloss negligence happens everywhere every year? No one can stand for sitting in a sizzling car windows closed for hours without air conditioning running on a summer day.
In the future, there may be an alert system that could prevent such tragedies. It probably won’t require rocket science when auto-drive cars are in already near-practical stage.
Enjoy reading and learning what could have saved the toddler in the car.


Topic Reading-Vol.834 7/24/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
25 totally unnecessary but desirable travel gadgets
Are you a big fun of high or low tech gadgets, gizmos or accessories that could make your travel more enjoyable and comfortable? No matter which side you belong to, it’s worth checking what sorts of travel gadgets are created by engineers, innovators and entrepreneurs. Some of the items such as SleepPhone, BioLight CampStove or Narrative clip-on camera might draw your attention.
Some of such concepts look so unique that you may think it a brilliant idea or so useless that no one would ever think of using it.
Enjoy reading and learning about the gadgets that haven’t become popular yet or will never be.


Topic Reading-Vol.833 7/23/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Coming soon? Standing instead of sitting on planes
It just seems to be a matter of how passengers think or expect how they are transported from point A to B. Think of a bus or train ride which often keeps you standing for some time, do you think it’s fair to pay the same amount of fare as the other lucky passengers sitting on the seat? Should there be a cheaper fare if you bear standing, which would you choose to pay, a higher or lower fair? It may depend on how long the travel time is, how crowded the train/bus is and how much saving you may get.
Think of a similar choice on a short flight, say an hour or less. Which seat would you prefer if a vertical seat offers you 30% lower fare than an ordinary sitting seat with tight leg room? As more demand for lower fare increases for air traveling, vertical seat may be one of practical solutions for a bus with wings.
Enjoy reading and learning about a new idea for a lower air fare.


Topic Reading-Vol.832 7/22/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Same sex dance ban plan sparks row
One thing needs to be clarified above all. Dancing pairs, either the same or different gender, aren’t necessarily “couples”. This proposed ban by the British Dance Council (BDC) is to have separate competitions for the same sex pairs in order to keep the traditional mixed couple dancing competed fairly. It sounds reasonable as most physical competitions are competed by either or mixed-only pairs or teams like mixed-doubles tennis matches.
You can hardly imagine a same-sex couple competing in a figure skating competition. So why some people feel excluded from dancing competitions?
Enjoy reading and learning what same-sex dance couples think of competing with mixed couples.


Topic Reading-Vol.831 7/21/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
China's incredible high-speed rail system
Just in six years, China has already built the world largest high speed train network. Over 10,000 kilometers dedicated lines connect most of the major cities in the eastern regions. Most notably, it runs between its political capital, Beijing, and business capital, Shanghai only in five hours.
Though they’ve created massive financial debts and major corruption charges, over 220 million passengers have used the train system. There was an accident that killed 40 passengers once but it didn’t seem to worry the increasing demand. Some airliners even had to cut their short routes because passengers chose convenience and punctuality that trains offer.
And more to come within the next few years to connect undeveloped western regions to the east.
Enjoy reading and learning this fastest ever development of fast train network.  


Topic Reading-Vol.830-7/20/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
New UN force on climate impacts on health
There will be a new unit to cope with climate impacts on health issues under the UN. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and World Health Organization (WHO) are jointly setting up a pool of scientists to give advice on health issues caused or can be caused by climate change, such as extremely heavy rainfalls, floods or droughts.
That sounds especially helpful for the regions whose land is near sea level, namely around the Indian Ocean and western Africa. Even if people could survive floods or cyclone, their lives might face danger of diseases malaria or diarrhea.
It might sound like a good move but where the actions are to stop or slow the global warming?
Enjoy reading and learning about a new move by the U.N.


Topic Reading-Vol.829-7/19/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Dramatic video shows 'near miss' at Barcelona airport
Have you ever experienced a “go around” in a landing airplane? It’s an emergency maneuver taken by the pilot most likely when there’s something ahead or on the runway, or something is wrong with the aircraft. No one wants this kind of serious danger. Fortunately, pilots are all trained to judge, respond and act to avoid an accident.
Here is a video happened to be shot the very close encounter of two jetliner in Barcelona, Spain. One was approaching the runway and the other was crossing it.
According to the statistics, there are over 40 such dangerous near miss incidents last year. Think about the aviation world in the coming years, air traffic is going to be more congested while pilots are likely to be less experienced because of the growing demand in developing countries, you may choose alternative transportation if available.
Enjoy seeing the close encounter video.


Topic Reading-Vol.828-7/18/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
This paper cup can be recycled -- unlike the 50 billion that end up in landfills
That’s an estimated number of disposed coffee cups in the U.S. alone a year. That sounds like a lot of un-recycled coffee cups, don’t they? In other words, it’s a good target to work on to make some effort for cleaner and greener world. But why paper cups aren’t recycled? That’s because those conventionally used cardboard cups are attached a layer of plastic to keep the coffee warm and the cup dry, which can’t be put into the paper recycling process.
So a British inventor came with a practical idea to make the cups recyclable that could save as many as 350 billion cups. He made the layer of plastic not attached to the cup but make it removable, so that the plastic part can be easily separated when they are recycled.
Sounds simple, doesn't it?
Enjoy reading and learning about a new way to save billions of coffee cups.


Topic Reading-Vol.827-7/17/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
With one eye on Washington, China plots its own Asia 'pivot'
While the U.S. is trying to sell and promote its “pivot to Asia” policy, its rival seems to be developing and deploying counter measures in the region.
China had been keeping its prominent leader Deng Xiaoping’s "hiding ones' strength and biding ones' time" discipline, or keeping a low profile policy until recently. But they’ve got GPS satellites that cover not only Asia but also the whole globe, the world fastest computer, stealth fighter jets, and cyber forces as well as now the most influential economy within the region and also to the world. Their deeper-than-any-other pocket allows the country to demonstrate its influence and threats to the region. Some of the economic initiatives they are taking are claimed to be peaceful and indeed look generous but its neighbors can see the glint of steel beneath the robe.
Enjoy reading and learning what the rising dragon is intending.


Topic Reading-Vol.826-7/16/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Truck of the future aims to drive itself
When cars drive themselves, the person sitting next the passenger’s seat in front of the vehicle may no longer be called a “driver.”
The German luxury automaker, Mercedes, is also one of the largest truck producers. They’ve test driven its first auto-driving 18 wheeler on autobahn where cars drive without speed limit. The test truck didn’t drive crazy though, only at 80 km per hour just to be fuel efficient. The eyes of the “operator” of the truck were completely off the road watching a cooking video. His hands were operating not the steering wheel but his tablet PC, and his feet are both off the pedals and never throttled the accelerator or put on the brake.
Some or most of the technologies applied on this future truck are already available, such as smart cruise control or guidance/mapping system. Even American IT giant Google has been test driving auto-drivable vehicles on the street. Future seems to be getting closer.
Enjoy reading and learning what your next or the next to the next vehicle may be like.


Topic Reading-Vol.825-7/15/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
The World’s Richest Countries: Casinos beat the banker-Macau leapfrogs Switzerland in wealth chart.
Macau, the world hub of gambling, ranked number four in 2013 in the world wealthiest territory list after Luxemburg, Norway and Qatar. According to the list released by the World Bank shows the former colony of Portuguese’s GDP, Gross Domestic Product, per capita leaped staggering 18% from the previous year, thanks to the booming casino business that created $45 billion in revenues, seven times as much as Las Vegas did in the same year.
Why did their gambling business soar so much for a territory only with just over half million population? It’s the same story as its cousin city, Hong Kong. Tourists from mainland China rushed to these two coastal cities the deep pockets. These days, wherever they go, they seem to be the most welcomed visitors for the local businesses and economy.
Enjoy reading and learning about where the wealthiest places in the world are.


Topic Reading-Vol.824-7/14/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Scientist who discovered Ebola: ‘This is unprecedented’
There is an outbreak of a deadly disease in Western Africa, namely Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. Nearly 500 people have died this year mainly in the capitals of these countries. People who are infected by this disease show symptoms that look like the flu or a cold – headache, fever, maybe diarrhea in its early stage, so they may not recognize that they’ve gotten a serious and almost incurable disease until very fast and uncontrollable bleeding occur. That is one of the biggest problems of this disease. It could spread before an infection is suspected or identified.
Though it was discovered two scores ago, little is known about this lethal virus, Ebola, and there is no vaccine against its infection. The good news is that this virus is infected only with a close contact like touching. So it could be prevented from spreading if the government takes decisive moves like isolation and quarantine of the patients, as well as timely and effective informing of the public.
Enjoy reading and learning about an outbreak of a deadly disease before it becomes an epidemic or pandemic.


Topic Reading-Vol.823-7/13/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
How pickpockets trick your mind.
Have you ever been talked nicely by someone looked nice in a busy place like London or Tokyo? Didn’t the person try to draw your attention to something off your valuables without arousing alert by showing something nice or speaking in a friendly manner? That person might be a pickpocket who was trying to steal your valuable.
According to a neuroscientist, human mind isn’t used to multi-tasks to focus on the most immediate or important thing happening around him or her. Therefore, if a pickpocket wants a thing in your right pocket, he or she would attempt to draw your attention from it by showing something somewhere in a natural fashion, or the pickpocket uses his or her college(s) to cause a situation that your mind is occupied or confused.
How to avoid such danger? Don’t touch or show your valuable in a busy place. Don’t trust anyone speaking nicely to you. But probably the best way is to keep you away from busy places and not to bring your valuable with you.
Enjoy reading and learning about the tricks pickpockets deploy.


Topic Reading-Vol.822-7/12/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Why are white, working class children in Britain falling behind?
It’s not surprising that students of lower income families do poorly at school compared to the ones of upper income families. This kind of social problem appear more common among the minority group in African Americans in the U.S. or uneducated immigrants in European countries. However, children of the white working class in the U.K. are found to be underperforming compared to the students of other racial backgrounds of the same income level.
There seem to be several factors behind this social phenomenon such as school, income, neighborhood, tradition, social class and parents, and they seem relevant to each other.
Enjoy reading and learning about Britain’s deep and historical social problem still lasting since the Industrial Revolution.


Topic Reading-Vol.821-7/11/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Nepal's Organ Trail: How traffickers steal kidneys.
Where there is demand, there always are suppliers to provide goods or services to meet the demand, even for human organs. Some poor and uneducated people in Nepal seem to have been the victims of organ trafficking in the black market.
Those who are in desperate need for a kidney transplant pay to get compatible live kidney within the same blood type group. To meet such desperate demand, traffickers bring someone to suit the patient by cheating someone who is in need for money. Doctors who perform kidney transplants are of course educated and certified but they are also cheated by the traffickers. After such transplant is performed, the recipient gets a healthy kidney and the doctor and trafficker get handsome money while the poor donor is paid less than what the trafficker had promised and loses his or her health or even life.
Read and learn about this awful business practice and victims.


Topic Reading-Vol.820-7/10/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Minimum CO2 price of $32 needed to curb warming, study shows.
Price for CO2? This title might make you wonder who is selling or buying Carbon Dioxide, which doesn’t seem to have tangible value or benefit to anyone but harm to the environment.
The price of carbon is set as a tax on emissions or a cap-and-trade mechanism that business entities are allowed to sell their unused allotments by reducing the total amount of CO2 created by their business operations and activities. These could include not only direct gas emissions but also any carbon footprints in their entire business processes, such as storing, packaging and transportation.
Therefore, if such market price goes up, companies are more motivated to reduce their emissions. The harder and more efficiently they work, the more benefit they will enjoy economically and environmentally.
Enjoy reading and learning this economic stimulus plan to reduce the impact on global warming.


Topic Reading-Vol.819-7/9/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Super-sizing Ramadan: The Middle East's glitziest tent feasts
What is Ramadan? It is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar when Muslims worldwide observe this as a month of fasting from dawn to sunset. Muslims refrain from eating, drinking and smoking during the fast. Food and drinks are only served before sunrise and after sunset.
After enduring fasting during the day, hungry Muslims enjoy feasting after sunset, to an extent that some health offices warn people not to eat too much.
It seems that this break-fasting meal is a great business opportunity for restaurants and hotels to serve extraordinary dishes that make those devout Muslims indulged in. Of course. If one eats only once or twice a day, restaurants can get customers only once or twice a day but their budget is twice or three times richer than a regular meal!
Enjoy reading and learning what Ramadan business is about in oil rich Arabian countries.


Topic Reading-Vol.818-7/8/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
7 terrible countries for Christians.
There are several forces, such as the dictator of North Korea, constitution in Saudi Arabia and Islam extremists in Nigeria that prohibit, discriminate, harass, arrest or even attack people who worship “other religions.” People whose faiths are different from the authorized or approved religions in such places seem to have to endure very difficult times and in some cases face life-threatening dangers.
The world is soon going to have more smartphones than the population. People can interact, communicate and share any information, thoughts or images almost instantly across the world. Can anyone or anything stop people believing or practicing their faith?
Spend some moments to read and learn about another world of discrimination.


Topic Reading-Vol.817-7/7/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Toyota names price for new fuel cell car
What’s Fuel Cell Vehicle (FCV) or Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV)? It is a type of automobile that uses a fuel cell to power its electric motor to drive instead of a conventional engine that burns fossil fuel burning to drive.
OK, what’s fuel cell then? A fuel cell is a device that generates electricity by a chemical reaction. They generate electricity with very little pollution because much of the hydrogen and oxygen used in generating electricity ultimately combine to form just water.
That sounds exciting but why it hasn’t been on the market? There are two main reasons. One is the price. Though the price tag announced by the world biggest auto manufacturer is lower than expected, it is still four times as expensive as the one of most popular hybrid vehicle before government subsidies or incentive. The other is the fuel station that provides hydrogen. Existing gas stations can’t simply put hydrogen into their tanks and it requires substantial investment to build a new station or convert an existing one. It’s like a chicken or egg kind of dilemma, which came first?
Enjoy reading and learning about what the fuel cell vehicle could mean or affect the future.


Topic Reading-Vol.816-7/6/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Sexist views dent Japan push for women's rights.
Does a deep bow really offer an apology?
The shamed and blamed Tokyo metropolitan assemblyman finally admitted that he had heckled a fellow assemblywoman with an unprecedentedly harassing comment like, “get married and have a child” during her presentation at the assembly several days ago. During the several days, public claims by men and women, media and political parties called for a hunt for the hecklers and the men-dominated assembly had moved to question several suspects. It took such enormous public and political pressure, including his party leader, the prime minister, and several days for the ill-minded politician to admit the wrong doing, which he initially denied. Furthermore, even though his name was removed from the member list of the party, he declined to surrender his seat at the assembly, while a man admitted that he had threw 20 raw eggs at the politician’s office.
Enjoy reading and learning how a politician admits his wrong doing and reacts to the public pressure.


Topic Reading-Vol.815-7/5/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Sneak peek: Harry Potter's Diagon Alley
Are you a (diehard) fan of Harry Potter movie or book, or both? If you are, you’ll be thrilled to see this preview of the newly created wizard world.
There is already a theme park in Orlando Florida, long known for Disney World until 2010 when The Wizarding World of Harry Potter-Hogsmeade opened. Since then, Orland seems to have been known as a world of witches & wizards rather than fantasy world of mice as the number of visitors to the town has increased by 27% for the first four years since the opening.
Now, Universal has added another thrilling attraction adjacent to the already successful theme park. Visitors will explore more variety of the wizards’ world in detail, such as the Hogwarts Express, Diagon Alley, the vaults of Gringotts, and Gringotts Bank with goblins.
Enjoy reading and seeing the snapshots of the new destination.


Topic Reading-Vol.814-7/4/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Harley-Davidson invites public to test electric motorbike.
How does a silent Harley-Davidson on Route 66 sound like to you?
First, Harley-Davidson is a century-old motorcycle manufacturer that makes America’s iconic and symbolic Harley-Davidson motorcycles. The exhaust sound of their motorcycles sounds so unstable that some may think it’s going to stop anytime but actually it is the heart and soul of the brand. In fact, the sound itself is patented. There are lots of loyal Harley riders and fan clubs in the world.
Second, Rout 66, also known as is Will Rogers Highway, is another America’s icon. It was one of the original highways within the U.S. built back in 1926. It runs nearly 4,000 kilometers between Santa Monica, California and Chicago, Illinoi.
Therefore, riding on a Harley-Davidson in a black leather jacket or a vest with dark sunglasses on, seeing rocks, open fields and abandoned signs and remains along the road, feeling the air and hearing its exhaust noise has been one of the most fashionable American lifestyles.
So, when the iconic manufacture revealed the prototype of their first electric motorcycle, the fans had mixed reactions. A quiet Harley?
Enjoy reading and learning what this quite green motorcycle is about on America’s birthday.
Also, you may want to enjoy the introduction video by the manufacturer’s website.


Topic Reading-Vol.813-7/3/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
What a wonderful world: 13 fabulous gardens
Another world top 10 something? Well, this time, not 10 but 13, and not “top something” but just fabulous probably because there are many gardens that are no less impressive than these.
These selected gardens aren’t just visibly beautiful but historically remarkable. Come to think of how such costly artificial beauty was funded, created and has been maintained, wealth, pride, generosity and support seem to have been the core factors.
How many of them have you seen or are planning to see? Enjoy seeing beautiful photos and reading the captions.


Topic Reading-Vol.812-7/2/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Gaokao ghostwriters to face punishment
China is long, and well known for its national entrance exam called Gaokao, that is taken by over nine million students nationwide in June every year. The test is decisive for Chinese high school students because this is almost the only score to be used which university the applicant can be enrolled.
Judging students’ present academic qualifications and future potential solely by paper exams doesn’t sound so motivating or open minded compared to western admission practices. However, it is actually fair to everyone at least in theory, especially for the country where connections and bribes have been common practices to get opportunities and favors. The problem is where there is a test, there are always cheats. Since the stake is so high that some parents seem to be willing to pay enough money to have a surrogate take the exam, which would require them to buy out not only a few but also at least several officials and administrators for the testing place and the room, not to mention the surrogate test taker. Such ghostwriters are given down payment before the exam and be paid lucrative bonus depending on their test scores.
Enjoy reading and learning about this organized test cheating scandal in China.


Topic Reading-Vol.811-7/1/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Machu Picchu named 'world's top landmark' by TripAdvisor
There appear to be numbers of “the World top 10 something lists” shown on the web these days. You may wonder who choose and rank such things and places to make a list. In the past, many of such lists were created based of the poll by limited number of experts of the category, often biased or opinionated. But today, many of such lists are compiled from much larger number of both intentional voters and non-intentional data dedicators, meaning web traffic. Instead of counting the tally, computer algorism makes quantitative and qualitative analysis on certain criteria. Such results seem to show quite remarkable differences from the simple voting tally.
Tripadvisor is one of such sites that issues a world’s top list. It claims the world's largest travel site with over 150 million candid reviews, opinions, and photos of hotels, restaurants, attractions, and more - all by travelers like you. And they have just released the world top landmarks and parks.
Enjoy reading and finding how many of them you’ve been to, are going to or attracted to visit.