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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.


Topic Reading-Vol.936-11/3/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Fewer couples want second child
Is that a surprise, underestimate or miscalculation? Of the 11 million who become eligible to have a second child in China, only 720,000 applied to have one.
China’s one-child policy was introduced in 1979 as part of their family planning policy. It has been implemented until recently when the administration decided to ease the rules by allowing couples to have a second child if one of the parents is an only child. They estimated two million couples would apply to have another child especially in urban area where the restriction has been strongly implanted.
However, parents responded not as enthusiastically as they were predicted. Part of the reason is high education cost. That is a common concern in developed counties in Asia such as Korea, Japan and Hong Kong.
Can they sustain demographic balance in the coming decades?
Enjoy reading and learning about China’s new challenge to balancing the largest population in the world.


Topic Reading-Vol.935-11/2/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
U.S. News Releases Inaugural Best Global Universities Rankings
As businesses and activities are getting more globalized, education is no exception. The number of students who studied abroad was around 800,000 four decades ago. That number reached 4.5 million in 2012, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, or OECD, and is expected to grow even faster for the coming years.
For those who are interested in studying abroad, here is a newly published global ranking list of top 500 colleges and universities in 49 countries. Not surprisingly, the U.S. has the most institutions in the list, 134, more than a quarter of the list followed by the U.K., and China.
Enjoy reading and learning which educational institutions do better than the others.


Topic Reading-Vol.934-11/1/2014

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
E-waste inferno burning brighter in China's recycling capital
Many people of the developed countries seem to think they are conscious of the environment and human health. But that consciousness seems to apply only within their sights.
Tons of tons of e-waste such as mobile phones, remote controls, computers and music players have been shipped to be recycled from other countries to this small town in the southern province of Guangdong for decades. The environment of the places where such e-waste is generated might have been improved at the cost of the local environment and health of the residents. Now as China’s economy and consumption grows, this place seems to be getting even more e-waste from the domestic market. Economically, this trend is going to benefit the local residents and emigrants from near and far towns. However, they seem to sacrifice their health and living environment.
Recycling seems to be a morally and environmentally complicated act, doesn’t it?
Enjoy reading and learning about the chain of e-waste recycling.