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Topic Reading-Vol.902-9/30/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
New rules draw blood in China
Is blood donation supposed to be voluntary or mandatory? It seems to be a question or definition of what voluntary is. When ordinary citizens try to get a driving license, enroll in university, or marry, it sounds socially acceptable or even reasonable to ask or encourage them to donate their blood. However, they aren’t supposed to be required to donate it, are they?
That is what happened in some provinces in China which caused fierce criticism on social median platforms. It is also unclear why those local health authorities need to boost blood stock to the level that mandate donation?
Enjoy reading and learning how people react to mandatory donation.


Topic Reading-Vol.901-9/29/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Photoshopping Federer
Roger Federer, born 8 August 1981, is a Swiss professional tennis player who is ranked world no. 3 by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) in 2014. He has been ranked within the top 10 since 2002. He is considered one of the greatest tennis players by many.
Prior to his short visit to compete two matches in Delhi, India, he asked his local fans online to help him photo-experience what he will be missing during his short stay in the great country.
Enjoy seeing funniest photos clipped by helpful tennis fans in India.


Topic Reading-Vol.900-9/28/2014

 Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
India beats Asia to Mars as spacecraft enters orbit
India is welcomed by NASA and The European Space Agency to the club of Mars exploration. The first success mission to send a spacecraft to the fourth planet among Asian countries, and by the first attempt. It is also the lowest budget project, costing less than making the space mission movie “Gravity.”
But why did India initiate such a mission where half of its population still doesn’t have toilets? Is national pride that important for a developing multi-racial, multi-lingual and multi-layered country?
Enjoy reading and learning about how the soon-to-be the most populous country is excited about.


Topic Reading-Vol.899-9/27/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
10 Colleges That Award International Students the Most Financial Aid
If you are thinking of attending college in the U.S., here is something you wouldn’t want to miss. A shortlist of colleges that provide foreign students with financial aid. As it is ranked based on 2013-14 school year average, it shows which school is more generous and accommodating to foreign students. The good news is that these colleges and universities are highly regarded and ranked among over 1,700 colleges and universities across the country. The drawback is they are highly selective as to which students to take, with an acceptance rate of 10 percent or even lower.
Enjoy reading and checking the list, and think why they are so generous.


Topic Reading-Vol.898-9/26/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Healthy eating: The mind games of supermarkets
Here are some tips for healthier grocery shopping. Divide your shopping cart or bag in two, one for healthier produce such as vegetables, fruits, dairy and meat and the other for others. Then you are likely to buy more vegetables and fruits than usual. The same seems to be true when you are reminded healthier food options before shopping. But once you get into the supermarket, you’ll find more unhealthier but attracting food products than healthier options in the sweet spot, usually at eye levels of the target demography, such as snacks for kids and premier chocolates for adults.
So, if the supermarket decides to promote better food options to the shoppers, there are many tricks they can make, instead of the products they can easily attract their shoppers at all income levels.
Enjoy reading and learning about psychological tricks of food merchandising.


Topic Reading-Vol.897-9/25/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Climate change summit: Thousands join global protests
The weekend before the climate summit at UN, there were demonstrations at over 2,000 locations in the world calling for more decisive actions to deal with climate change. 125 chiefs of state and government are gathering at the conference trying to share and work with the global problem.
As the UN Secretary of General Ban Ki Moon said in the rally, there is no ‘Plan B’ for environment because there is no ‘Planet B.’ However, climate talks have been ending up with neighbor-claiming midnight-to-overnight concessions, at least so far. One of the reasons is some big players have been playing climate poker games, holding back their offers until everyone else shows their cards on the table.
When will the world see a more productive conference and binding agreements to work with this clear and present everybody’s issue?
Enjoy reading and learning about what people in the world are expecting their leaders to do.


Topic Reading-Vol.896-9/24/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Tomorrow's cities - future of shopping
What will the future shopping be like? It might be as unpredictable as weather conditions of the next weekend. Facial recognition, contactless payment, digital changing room, virtual stores, robotic assistance and on-demand delivery via drone. Technically, some of them are available and waiting for being commercialized and utilized. But how many of such high-tech shopping gears and convenience are going to be enjoyed by shoppers?
Enjoy reading and checking which one of the proposed ideas you’re interested in using.


Topic Reading-Vol.895-9/23/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Opinion: Nationalists should not be ignored after Scottish poll
The Scottish referendum ended with a close result. 44.7 percent of the voters said “yes” for independence and the rest said “no.” These figures represent 31% and 38% of the Scotland population respectively. If you look at the numbers, almost 1.6 million out of 4.2 million eligible voters said “yes.”
If the referendum had asked a slightly modest way to get more autonomy, the result would have been quite different. Or if the last minute concession calls hadn’t been made by the British government, voters might have opted differently.
What should the world learn from this referendum?
Enjoy reading and learning how sensitive nationalism is.


Topic Reading-Vol.894-9/22/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Scotland votes for union at golf's ancient club as women win membership
 Another historic decision was made on the day a referendum took place in Scotland to decide whether the country to stay as part of the UK or go for independence after 300 years of union.
The Royal & Ancient Club of St. Andrews, one of the most famous and prestigious golf clubs in the world, finally abandoned its men-only membership policy to allow women to join. The club had been closed only to gentlemen for as long as 260 years, about the same length of time as the Tokugawa Shognate closed Japan to any foreign countries but Dutch.
It seems to take a lot of time to make any significant changes in Scotland, doesn’t it? Well, the question might be, “What is significant to them?”
Enjoy reading the article and seeing the short video of this historic move in Scotland.


Topic Reading-Vol.893-9/21/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Japan to file new research whaling plan 'this year'
How important whaling is to Japan or its people? How many of Japanese people regularly eat whale meat? How much of the rest of the body is actually needed or used these days?
Whales were hunted to use the every part of the body to produce many daily necessities, such as oil, supplement and medicines. In other words, nothing was wasted. However, more economical and ecologically friendly substitutes are available these days, including meat for protein. So, why Japan, Norway and Iceland still keep hunting whales despite the heavy criticism from the rest of the world?
If one of the main reasons for whale hunting is to keep the jobs for certain fishermen, how about sea farming or ranching? That could produce more highly-demanded sea food that could be exported as well.
Enjoy reading and learning about Japan’s whale hunting for scientific research.


Topic Reading-Vol.892-9/20/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Inside Man’s Best Friend, Study Says, May Lurk a Green-Eyed Monster
Do pet dogs become jealous? Some might have observed their pet dog trying to draw attention when their master is attentive to something else, like other pets. And sometimes they become a little aggressive to their competitor by interrupting the master, or barking or even biting the object. It sounds pretty much like humans, doesn’t it?
An American Phycologist, not on animals but on humans, who has been studying human jealousy put her eyes on pet dogs and ventured an interesting test. She used a stuffed dog, Jack-o’-lantern, and Children’s book and compared what reaction the tested dogs demonstrated on each object.
Enjoy reading and learning how dogs react to different objects that draw their masters’ attention.


Topic Reading-Vol.891-9/19/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Chongqing's 'mobile lane'
If you’re too addicted to your smartphone to keep your eyes off of it, here is a path you may want to walk on. In Chongqing, a major city in southwest of China, has introduced a dedicated lane on the pavement for mobile phone users and another for who aren't. The city seems to have congestion or traffic accidents having caused by tiny-screen lookers and other walkers to come up with such devoted solutions. It is so unique that many tourist and even residents stop by and take photos of the lanes and signs, which also caused unexpected traffic congestion.
Enjoy reading and seeing the photos of the newly introduced mobile phone traffic.


Topic Reading-Vol.890-9/18/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
First Formula E electric motor race held in Beijing
What’s Formula E car racing?
Most of you know Formula one racing. This car racing event takes place 19 cities in the world in 2014. This two-hour car racing with top speed exceeding 300 km/h is surely exciting without doubt. But there has been criticism fir burning massive gasoline and polluting already polluted air in major cities, especially having such an even in one of the most air-polluted cities, Beijing.
Here is a new car racing event to take that excitement but with greener energy, electricity. Although the racing drivers had to replace their cars during the race because the batteries didn’t last to complete the race, they competed fiercely at the top speed over 200 km/h. Furthermore, this green car racing is supported by celebrities such as Richard Branson and Leonardo DiCaprio. As for drivers, there are sons and nephews of ex-F1 drivers.
Enjoy reading and learning about this new formula of racing.


Topic Reading-Vol.889-9/17/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Let’s learn about Scotland before referendum
A historic referendum is taking place, tomorrow, 18th of September 2014. A little over 300 years of unity, the northern part of the Britain is to decide its fate whether to stay part of the nation or go for independence. But how much do you know about the country?

Enjoy reading and learning about this proud and independent country.

Scotland  is a country that covers the northern third of the island of Great Britain. It shares a border with England to the south, and is otherwise surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east and has over 790 islands, including the Northern Isles and Hebrides.

Edinburgh, the country's capital and second-largest city, was the hub of the Scottish Enlightenment of the 18th century, which transformed Scotland into one of the commercial, intellectual, and industrial powerhouses of Europe. Glasgow, Scotland's largest city, was once one of the world's leading industrial cities. Scottish waters consist of a large sector of the North Atlantic and the North Sea, containing the largest oil reserves in the European Union.
Scotland was known to the Romans as Caledonia. The Midland Valley of Scotland represented the most northern extent of the Roman conquest of Britain after 79 A.D. In the 5th Century the "Scots" migrated from their home in Ireland and founded several Kingdoms on the western coast of Scotland. Under King Robert MacAlpin in 843, they finally rose to power and re-named the land Scotland.
From around 1120, Scotland began to divide into two cultural areas - the lowland Scots, mainly English-speaking, and Gaelic speaking Highlands where the clan system in Highland Scotland was strong. Many clans were powerful and semi-independent regions. The Lowlands adopted the feudal system after the Norman Conquest of England, 11th-century invasion and occupation of England by an army of Norman and French soldiers led by Duke William II of Normandy, William the Conqueror.
During the Wars of Scottish Independence (1290 -1363), when King Edward I tried to impose English rule on Scotland as he had successfully done in Wales, the people rose up against English rule, firstly, under the leadership of Sir William Wallace, who was captured by the English and brutally executed in London, and later, under that of Robert the Bruce who won a famous victory over the English at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. In 1603 King James VI inherited the throne of England from his Tudor cousin Elizabeth I, and became James I of England.
In 1707 the Scottish and English Parliaments signed a Treaty of Union, which effectively transferred all powers to London. Succeeding English monarchs were not as well disposed towards Scotland as James had been. Following the formal Act of Union in 1707, displeasure particularly amongst Highland Scots, supported the rebellions of 1715 and 1745. After the 1745 rebellion, which was effectively a Civil War, the Highland Clearances began, which devastated the cultural landscape of Scotland and destroyed much of the Gaelic culture, resulted in significant emigration of Highlanders to the sea coast, the Scottish Lowlands, and further afield to North America and Australasia.

Great Britain itself entered into a political union with Ireland in 1801 to create the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. In May 1999, almost 300 years after its dissolution, Scotland gained a new Scottish Parliament, which governs the country on domestic matters, the United Kingdom Parliament, retains responsibility for Scotland's defense, international relations and certain other areas. Modern Scotland comprises 32 unitary authority regions.


Topic Reading-Vol.888-9/16/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Meet Dreadnoughtus, perhaps the biggest creature to ever walk the planet
Sensational new discovery. Fossilized remains of giant Dreadnoughtus were unearthed recently in Argentina's southwestern Patagonia.
It’s thought to be the largest dinosaur ever discovered, of course not the creature itself but the remains. It measured 26 meters long with a neck of 11 meters long and a nine-meter long tail and weighted 65 tons, or as many as 14 elephants. Experts expect this giant creature lived approximately 77 million years ago, so no humans or near-humans must have witnessed it.
To grow and live like this size, this vegetarian dinosaurs must have spent all its available time on eating.
Enjoy reading and learning about this Big Discovery!


Topic Reading-Vol.887-9/15/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Would you live in a house clinging to a cliff?
If you are afraid of heights, you don’t have to bother seeing the photo.
If you’re looking for a holiday home with a spectacular ocean view, look at the photo.
While most of the people expect the house should be built on the ground, this distinctive seaside property is hung to the cliff, overlooking the water and coastal lines.
If you are interested in getting such an extraordinary residence to astonish your guests, enjoy reading this article.
One thing for sure is you’ve got to have strong stomach and deep pockets to get a house like this.


Topic Reading-Vol.886-9/14/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
When machines outsmart humans
Is any form of Artificial Intelligence, or A.I., coming soon? Scientists say 50/50 chance by the middle of the century. Currently, humans can design, produce and control machines that work as they are programmed or directed to do such as auto-drive, drones and robot-vacuum.
But when it comes to A.I., there seem to be various hurdles to clear. Among those are technological issues such as safety, performance and intellectuality as well as ethical issues. Several insightful movies indicated potential dangers of such intelligence like 2001 Space Odyssey or the Terminator series.
But even if such near-human A.I. machine or robot is created, will it be safe in the first place? That is because human ethics, beliefs and conducts don’t seem to be that intelligent when you see what ISIS fighters do to innocent civilians. So, what kind of disciplines or ethics A.I. should be embedded?
Enjoy reading and learning about what A.I. is about.


Topic Reading-Vol.885-9/13/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Islamic State: Can its savagery be explained?
How much do you know about Islamic State, or I.S., or ISIS, Islamic State of Iran and Syria? Is it really a state that has or will have constitutions and governance like others? What are they fighting for and who are they fighting against? Why are they so violent and cruel?
First, it isn’t a state but a getting-larger-and-larger extremists group of Shia Muslims.
Second, they aren’t fighting against America or Europe at the moment but are focusing their effort and resources to kill and demolish Sunni Muslims, or their brothers.
Third, they kill and show off blood shedding to have innocent and weak citizens obey their rules and also to recruit young insurgences.
At this moment, their hands are too full of fighting and killing in limited but expanding regions in Syria and Iran to plan and execute attacks in America or Western Countries. But who knows when they can.
Enjoy reading and learning about this extreme Shia militants.


Topic Reading-Vol.884-9/12/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Impact of islands dispute fades but cloud remains
Still difficult situation between the two economic giants in Asia. Although around two-thirds of the respondents endorsed to have better relationship in the future between the two countries, as high as 93 percent of the Japanese respondents to the survey dislike China while 87 percent of those in China have bad or relatively bad impression of Japan. Air pollution and food safety are two major concerns among Japanese while Diaoyu Islands dispute is still the main issue among Chinese.
Does this survey represent the general public view of both countries? Not really because the survey was conducted to socially high status and educated people including college students.
Enjoy reading and thinking if this survey results show bright future between the two neighboring countries or not.


Topic Reading-Vol.883-9/11/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
One in 10 girls sexually abused, says UN report
A shocking report by the Unicef, the children's agency of the UN. It seems much larger number of children is exposed to dangers such as bullying, physical punishment, cyber-victimization and even sexual violence. No such data has ever been collected from this many countries, as many as 190, compiled and disclosed before.
Another surprising aspect is that such harmful acts seem to take place where children are supposedly safe, like their homes, schools and communities, which could suggest their care givers, family members, teachers, neighbors, and other children are the offenders.
Read and learn about this shocking UN report about child abuse.


Topic Reading-Vol.882-9/10/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Lack of sleep may shrink your brain
Do you sleep enough to do the daily tasks or think things as well as you want? No matter how old you are, sleep is no less important than food nutrition to both health and mental health.
Recent study shows that the brains of the people who have sleep problems or deprivation seem to shrink faster than those who sleep well. That could explain why people have difficulty making decisions or remembering things when they have sleep problems. And the shrinkage seems to be faster for older people.
If you want to live healthily and do the things you have to or want to right, go to bed early.
Enjoy reading and learning what this recent neurology study result is about and means to you.


Topic Reading-Vol.881-9/9/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Dead Cobra Bites and Kills Chef
Is the decapitated head of a cobra still alive and functional? Apparently, it seems yes at least in the kitchen of a Chinese restaurant where the unfortunate Chinese chef was bitten by the head of an Indochinese cobra. He had died before emergency workers reached him with anti-venom.
What’s surprising is the fact that the head had been cut off 20 minutes before the incident happened. But experts weren’t surprised because unlike mammals, it is quite common for reptiles to survive and function even an hour after the part of the body is cut off. In other words, decapitation doesn't necessarily mean death to reptiles.
Enjoy reading and learning about how amazing nature is.
If you’re eager to see how the head of a decapitated cobra moves and reacts, see the shocking video clip below.


Topic Reading-Vol.880-9/8/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
How to be a better triathlete: Tips from champ Paula Newby-Fraser
Triathlon may be one of the most demanding and challenging competitions, both physically and mentally. Ironman Triathlon, one of a series of long-distance triathlon races, consists of a 3.86 km swim, a 180 km bicycle ride and a 42.2 km, or full marathon, run without a break. There is a super woman who has won 21 Ironman Triathlon titles, more than any other athlete, male or female. Her name is Paula Newby-Fraser, often called "the Queen of Kona."
Here, she gives some tips to who are interested in trying this challenging sport. One of her encouraging tips is, “doing events is a celebration of hard work.”
Enjoy reading and learning what Triathlon is like.


Topic Reading-Vol.879-9/7/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
'Smart' chopsticks unveiled in China
How many smart-something do you want? Smart phone, smart watch, smart vacuum cleaner, or smart cooker? Now there is a smart idea from China for a day-to-day or even meal-to-meal item. Chopsticks!
The smart chopsticks unveiled by the search giant Baidu detect unsanitary cooking oil, which is a major concern in the now food safety conscious country. They also measure the heat and the amount of salt in the food.
If such food safety gears become available, you may soon find smart knives, smart forks and smart spoons, so that you’ll learn or be warned how much salt, fat and even calorie you’re getting per bite.
Will that make you feel safe or frustrated?
Enjoy reading and learning about this new application of high technology.


Topic Reading-Vol.878-9/6/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Monkey leaders and followers have 'specialised brains'
The proportion of monkey brains was found to vary considerably depending on their social status within the hierarchy, according to the study by researchers in University of Oxford. This could suggest that monkeys need some specialty to be good at being in respective status of the hierarchy. That sounds quite reasonable when it comes to organizations and society of the human being. Also, it indicates it is not just physical strength or aggression that brings some monkey earns and plays the leader’s role, like humans.
The next question is whether such brain proportion is inherited or developed. At the moment, it hasn’t been clarified yet but the lead researcher of this project thinks it is combination of both.
Enjoy reading and learning about how brains of primates vary according to the role the society.


Topic Reading-Vol.877-9/5/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Action films most likely to make you fat, says study
Are TV or movie watchers more obese than those who aren’t? It seems so, according to US researchers. They had people watch movies and provided snacks to find which genres of movies they eat more than others. They found that those who watched action movies consumed more than other genres.
The link between TV/movie watching and obesity had been suggested. That may be because those who spend time on sitting and watching a screen are less likely to exercise. But this new research suggested that action movie watchers eat more. It probably because those watchers are so occupied by the actions and sound of the fast moving movie that they tend to forget how much they have been eating.
Enjoy reading and learning about the link between what to watch and how much to eat.


Topic Reading-Vol.876-9/4/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Syria's foreign jihadis: Where do they come from?
Following the previous volume, there is another interesting article about the extremists in Arabia.
The original meaning of “jihad” in Arabic is "struggle." And jihadist movement is guerilla warfare and Islamic terrorism by those who engage in jihad. In Syria, there seem to be a considerable number of foreign jihadis fighting and killing anyone who don’t belong to or obey them. To make the matter worse, there seem to be numbers of such ruthless fighters who come from other countries. Where are they from? How many are there?
Enjoy reading and learning the numbers of Muslims in the world and how much of them are taking part in the jihad and Islamic State, or IS.


Topic Reading-Vol.875-9/3/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Saudi king warns West will be jihadists' next target
Now the king of the oil-rich US ally in Arab is urging the west to act promptly and decisively against the extreme Islamic group, known as IS, Islamic State. Their aggressions now seem to go way beyond state borders and even religious boundaries. But isn’t that something the Security Council of the UN should be dealing with? Are there just too many conflicts that the UN can handle?
No one seems to be interested in Syria’s domestic uprising any more. The responsibility of the downed passenger plane over Crimea seems no longer a news topic. Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority don’t seem to have assured peace in the region yet. And now Russian troops are in Crimea, supporting the pro-Russian militants. As the Security Council isn’t functioning as it is supposedly, NATO and EU are taking the lead to deal with these crises.
Enjoy reading and learning how serious and threatening the IS problem is.


Topic Reading-Vol.874-9/2/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Cat-astrophic revelation purr-turbs Hello Kitty fans
In Vol. 864 of Topic Reading dated August 23rd, Kitty’s 40th birthday was introduced. Now, there is a shocking revelation about this popular character (or cat-acter). Sanrio, the producer of Hello Kitty, officially confirmed that Kitty is a character, not a cat, and actually has a pet cat of her own.
That might remind you of the way she walks. Have you ever seen her walking with her four legs? Well, she never does. Officially, she lives in London with her parents and her twin sister, Mimmy.
Then, which is more surprising to you, this revelation of the popular character or the downgrade of Pluto from planet to dwarf-planet?
Enjoy reading and learning about this beloved 40-year-old global character.


Topic Reading-Vol.873-9/1/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Many Indians turning to meat as their wallets grow fatter
Is adding chicken to vegetarian menu healthier diet than pure vegetarianism? As you know, fat-removed chicken is white meat that provides more protein than what the same amount of any vegetable does. And more Indians eat chicken as they become wealthier these days. But is it easy for vegetarians to add chicken to their menu? For young people who have more chance to encounter and interact with others with different customs, it seems natural to try tasting new food, and chicken is just one of them.
If you think of the population of India, which is estimated to be the top of the world list within a few years, chicken may be wise food menu because its less expensive to produce and less harmful to the environment.
Enjoy reading and learning how vegetarians are turning into vegetarians with chicken.