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Topic Reading-Vol.1359-12/31/2015

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Saudi Arabia hikes petrol prices by 40% at the pump
A 40% price increase in a day. And it’s a petrol price, one of the most essential and impactful costs for living and businesses. Sound like an announcement of a country that suffers hyperinflation or an autocratic ruler, or a decisive move to reduce the use of fossil fuel, doesn’t it? Not really.
Saudi Arabia, which just had its first municipal elections that women took part in, made this radical announcement in order to cope with the declining oil revenues due to falling oil prices. Depending over 80% of the revenues on oil, Saudi’s 2016 financial deficit is projected to reach nearly $100 billion with an estimated $162 billion revenue. That’s a huge deficit even for this deep pocketed kingdom.
How impactful is this move for ordinary citizens? Though the increase is steep, the gasoline price is still at $0.24 per liter, well below the one of most other countries in the world.
Enjoy reading and thinking of the impact of this price increase in a day of a country where oil has been more abundant and affordable than water.


Topic Reading-Vol.1358-12/30/2015

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
'Sharia-compliant' airline takes off in Malaysia
What is Sharia? It is law for Muslims based on the teachings of the Koran. It institutes numbers of everyday practices its observers should follow, which includes when and how to pray, what to eat or wear and what not to do. One typical example is hajib that Muslim women wear. Another is halal food, which must come from a supplier that uses special practices that the law specifies. Complying Sharia is compulsory for observant Muslims.
However many of those rules and practices aren’t common among non-Muslims. Such differences in daily practices make Muslim travelers uncomfortable especially during the flight. In many cases, they have to bear with the practices that they hate to or can’t accept such as women’s exposing dresses or pork meat.
Now, a new airline is born to offer alternative flights for observant Muslims. It provides strictly Sharia compliant environment and services to its passengers. As business, they are also open to passengers of any race or religion, of course.
Enjoy reading and learning this new airline that is dedicated to the followers of Islam.


Topic Reading-Vol.1357-12/29/2015

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Italy: Town bans pizza-making over soaring pollution
Pizza and air pollution? Sounds like an unlikely match, doesn’t it? Actually, if pizza is baked in a wood-fired stove, the most traditional and common method in Italy, it surely pollutes the air around while stimulating the appetite of the diners. That’s not new. It has been that way for long. But all of a sudden, the mayor of an Italian city, San Vitaliano near Napoli, issued an order to the bakeries and pizzerias in town to stop using such ovens unless special filters are installed to reduce air pollution.
Is air in the town so bad? It seems so. According to local newspaper the quality of air in the town is even worse than the one of Beijing.
Is the cause of the pollution really pizza baking? Bakers are upset and protested against this order which could fine them as much as 1,000 euros.
The police will be busier checking bakeries and pizzerias. (They may also taste the pizza as well. Why not?)
Diners may lose temptation to eat freshly baked pizza if it fumes less in the pizzeria.
Makers, sellers and installers of the special air filters must be delighted to see this order is strictly and widely enfored.
Enjoy reading and thinking how this order affect the tradition and pollution in the town.


Topic Reading-Vol.1356-12/28/2015

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Top U.N. official calls for North Korea to face International Criminal Court
How much longer will it take for the global community to act? Though it has been clear and evident what and how the incumbent regime runs the country, violates human rights and neglects international laws, the atrocities of this brutal country remain untouched.
The UN Security Council was called for by a UN senior official to bring DPRK, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, to justice. However, such attempt would have been vetoed by its close ally, China, one of the permanent five members of the Security Council that are entitled to veto anything with no reason.
However recently, the relationship between Pyongyang and Beijing seems to have been a little shaky. In December, North Korea's girl band was sent to Beijing to show off their performance before high ranking officials of China, the band abruptly cancelled the shows and returned without explanation.
Will that mean China may change its diplomatic stance against North Korea?
Enjoy reading and thinking if North Korean prisoners will ever complain any palatable food?


Topic Reading-Vol.1355-12/27/2015

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Is it fair to punish prisoners with horrible food? Is it fair to punish prisoners with horrible food?
What do you expect in prison? Unlike old days, most prisons in developed or disciplined countries provide decent living environment to prisoners but privacies. One of the most essential daily routines for inmates is meals. Nowadays, most prisons are operated under the guidelines set by their government bodies. But in some cases, meals are still used as part of punishment for prisoners whose attitude or behaviors need to be corrected, more simply as a disciplinary measure. Though such disciplinary meals contain sufficient nutrition, they don’t taste like normal dish or in some cases, served repeatedly or daily.
Is food punishment more effective than other measures? Is it appropriate to use food for disciplinary measure or reminder to inmates?
Enjoy reading and thinking what could meals mean to inmates.


Topic Reading-Vol.1354-12/26/2015

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Canadian start-up sells bottled air to China, says sales booming
It’s quite common to trade and use bottled mineral or spring water either for safety or amusement. But what about air?
For smog clogged Beijing, fresh and clean air seems to be more valuable than one might think and it has created export business to Canada. Especially in winter when tons of coal is burned for heating, the nation’s capital is often covered by thick smog. In fact, the city issued smog alerts, restricted cars on the roads and factories from operation, and even closed schools in December. People wear masks for protection but that won’t give so much relief. So it sounds quite natural to buy clean and fresh air from somewhere they could enjoy breathing in like Canada. Though it doesn’t solve their air pollution problem, a can of fresh air seems to be appreciated by Beijingners.
Enjoy reading this newly created relief effort business.


Topic Reading-Vol.1353-12/25/2015

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Why George Lucas is more than just a creative genius?
It’s not just creative talent that produced this legendary movie franchise, Star Wars. Each episode has sensational new appeal to the audience for over three decades. The movie’s visual and sound effects are both incomparable and unparalleled, not to mention the iconic opening fanfare.
How has such excitement been produced?
Just like bringing a new theory into practice, creating movies requires the same management leadership and team efforts. Especially for film production, collaborative efforts of all team members seems essential because the audience are all watching the screen and hearing the sounds that match the visual. It has to be one whole collaborative product.
How the creator and producer of Star Wars, George Lucas did such an outstanding job?
Enjoy reading and learning how Lucas inspired and managed the team of creators to collaborate with others.


Topic Reading-Vol.1352-12/24/2015

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Extinguishing the flames of the Arab Spring
In December in 2010, a young street vendor set himself on fire in Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia to protest against police corruption. This one incident triggered the widespread uprisings in Arab nations in the following year, called Arab Spring. As a result, the incumbent regime was overthrown and new constitution was passed in 2014 in Tunisia.
Have the lives of people improved or changed since then? What people need the most and first is food. To bring food home, people need a job to earn money. Have the new democratically established government created more jobs?
People who marched on the streets might have hoped that their protest and the change would solve their problems and make their lives better. But neither the elections nor the constitution seems to have changed the situations much, at least for the young in this small town.
Enjoy reading and thinking what could democracy brings about.


Topic Reading-Vol.1351-12/23/2015

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
US rate rise: Why it matters
No longer free! Money is now more expensive. If you borrow money, it’ll cost you interest. How does it matter to the people and businesses in America and the world?
US dollar is the world's most dominant reserve currency as well as the most used currency in international transactions. So if the US interest rates rise, not only borrowing costs for money but also payment costs will increase.
Why the key interest rate was raised in America? It has been artificially and intentionally kept near-zero level in order to cope with the financial crisis in 2008 and its aftermath. The US Fed bankers have been observing the financial and job market closely for the last few years looking for a timing to bring the key interest rate back to the track.
What are the impact to your day-to-day life?
Enjoy reading and learning what interest cost means to you.


Topic Reading-Vol.1350-12/22/2015

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Japan surname row: What do other countries do?
In general, surname is the name that a person has in common with other family members. In many English speaking cultures, the surname follows the person’s given or first name, thus it is called the last name or family name as well. On the contrary in China, Vietnam and Japan, the surname is placed before a person’s given name. In most Spanish or Portuguese-speaking countries, two or more surnames may be used. Surname is far from universal.
Then who decides the surname? Do all members of a family have to have the same surname? While it is natural to have different surnames in family members in some cultures, it is normal to have just one family name for the entire family.
In Japan, a husband and his wife are required to have the same family name, so that their children will have the same family name. There, marriage is registered to form a new family unit apart from the couple’s former families. One problem is that either of the couple has to change the surname he or she has been using since they were born. Some women think it’s disadvantageous to change their identity because it is overwhelmingly common to use the husband’s family name after marriage in Japan. Some women keep using their maiden names to keep their personal and professional identities. In case of a divorce, she most likely resumes using their median names. Is this a legal or social issue?
Enjoy reading and thinking what it’s like to change the surname.
If you’re interested in the legal side of this issue, please check the below.


Topic Reading-Vol.1349-12/21/2015

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
How much do you know about life as a woman in Saudi Arabia?
For the first time in history, 17 women won seats in the municipal elections held in December 2015. It took over eight decades for women to vote and run in an election since the kingdom was established back in 1932.
But if suffrage, though limited, is still an issue, what are women’s life and opportunities like? In fact there are numbers of restrictions and limitations for driving, outing, traveling, shopping and higher education by law and in practice.
Enjoy guessing the answers to these seven questions, and imagine the life in the Muslim kingdom both from men’s and women’s points of view.


Topic Reading-Vol.1348-12/20/2015

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
World's first figure-8 ferris wheel opens in Macau
Gambling used to be the image most people have of Macau. But like the benchmark town in America, Las Vegas, it is transforming from the capital of gamble to the capital of entertainment in Eastern Asia. The city and the hotel/resort operators are trying to deal with declining number of gamblers and attempting to invite more family visitors.
One of the ideas is to build new icons. There, an astonishing modern Ferris wheel has just been created right between the two towers of a luxurious resort called Studio City. Though the combined gigantic wheels look like figure eight, Chinese lucky number, the design concept is to show a pair of asteroids crashed through the building. Passengers can enjoy this 15-minute ride that goes as high as 130 meters above ground to overlook magnificent view of the capital of entertainment.
Enjoy reading the article and seeing the photos of this transforming city.


Topic Reading-Vol.1347-12/19/2015

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
11 of the world's most luxurious train journeys
Like traveling on the train? If you aren’t in rush, train journey offers very different time from usual, like cruise. No hands on wheel or eyes on the road. You’re somehow contained in a room where you just enjoy seeing the scenery, reading a book or just doing nothing. Constant noise from the rails and wheels might make you doze but that’s one of the luxuries that you can enjoy on the train. In the dining car, you may be served gourmet meals day and night. Some of the train services offers free drinks including alcohol. All you need is time and money!
Enjoy reading and seeing these extraordinary luxurious train journeys in the world.


Topic Reading-Vol.1346-12/18/2015

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Reindeers are more amazing than you think
Rudolph the Reindeer had a very shiny nose. On one foggy Christmas Eve, Santa came and asked to him to guide his sleigh that night. Since then on, Rudolph became popular Rudolph the red-nose Reindeer. Is reindeer’s nose really read and shiny?
Not really. But one thing for sure is that they are well registrant to cold climate and environment. They have remarkable features to live in arctic region without feeling so cold unless temperature goes down below -40 C.
How? They change their body features by season including their highly insulated coat, sophisticated heat exchange mechanism inside the nuzzle and seasonally adjusted eye color.
Reindeers are actually adapted for a life in such cold places more comfortably and suitably than we thought.
Enjoy reading and learning how they can manage to live in extreme.


Topic Reading-Vol.1345-12/17/2015

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Saudi Arabia carrying out 'unprecedented wave' of executions
Over 150 people were executed this year, and many of whom were beheaded with a sword in public. Sounds like ISIS/ISIL but it’s not. It’s a kingdom that is recognized as the region’s leader by the international community. Saudi Arabia.
While liberalizing the municipal elections for both women and men candidates and voters for the first time in history, the country doesn’t seem to hesitate to sentence and implement capital punishment to serious convicts under the traditional way. And the number of convicts being executed have been rising. Convicts of murder, adultery, treason, gay sex, drug offences, sorcery and witchcraft, and apostasy could be sentenced to death penalty regardless of age or gender.
Law is law as long as it is practiced and enforced properly and fairly.
Read and think what might bring someone to justice in the kingdom.


Topic Reading-Vol.1344-12/16/2015

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Pluto on the horizon
On July 14, 2015, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft became the first spacecraft to fly by Pluto, the farthest orbiting terrestrial object around the Sun along with its moon. It sent home numerous and valuable images and data and NASA has recently released some of the finely edited images. Mountains, water-ice crusts and craters of this mysterious dwarf planet look strikingly clear.
Though Pluto was downgraded from planet to dwarf planet in 2006 because of its size and location in space, this outermost object in our solar system has been attracting attentions of many astronomers. It is now surveyed by a spacecraft launched nearly 10 years ago. Isn’t that exotic and romantic?
Enjoy seeing the amazing images from 7.5 billion kilometers away.


Topic Reading-Vol.1343-12/15/2015

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Why millions of Chinese are becoming official
There are 13 million unregistered citizens in China. That represents approximately 1% of the total population of the country. Sounds quite significant as there are over 60 countries and dependent territories whose population is fewer. But what does registered citizen mean?
To be granted an official citizenship status and benefits, a household registration document, called huko, is needed in China. But those who were born after the first child were often not registered because of the decades-old one-child policy. They have not been able to get education, medical services, insurance and social security, buy a train ticket or stay in a hotel that require ID and registration numbers.
Now all of a sudden, the government (or the party) decided to grant all these unregistered citizens official status. Will that be an increase of population and boost to the economy?
One question still remains. Where will those unregistered people be registered? Will that be the place they live in and make their living now or another place where their parents are registered? That could make a day and night difference to them.
Enjoy reading and learning this sudden change in China’s social policy.


Topic Reading-Vol.1342-12/14/2015

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
World leaders make history with climate deal in Paris
Accord now, action later. It is still a good start to cope with global warming.
Though it is already a clear and present danger to all now and the future, no one wants to pay or sacrifice more than others. This egoism has been the biggest hurdle to reach an agreement for solutions. Who have created this problem since the Industrial Revolution? Which countries are now emitting more greenhouse gases per capita? How much economic impact will each country have to bear with? These are the arguments and sentiments behind the scene.
If this accord is ratified by all the member states, the world will look more united than ever.
And if actions are followed by major greenhouse gases emitters such as China and the U.S., more countries will follow the path. And if the world consumption of fossil fuels decline as agreed, mother earth could be saved.
Enjoy reading and learning this historic accord.


Topic Reading-Vol.1341-12/13/2015

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Killing whales: Let's 'agree to disagree', says Japan
While whale meat is no longer as popular or necessary as it used to be for daily diet, Japan still continues hunting the giant sea mammals under the name of scientific research.
The International Court of Justice said last year that Japan’s whaling in the Southern Ocean should stop. An International Whaling Committee (IWC) panel said Tokyo had yet to demonstrate a need for killing whales. There are also widespread criticism of whaling from all over the world.
Japan, Norway and Iceland are the countries that still hunt whales. Because of the pressure from international community and bans on commercial whaling trading by most countries, the number of whales being hunted has gotten down to approximately 2,000 a year between these countries.
Japan’s IWC commissioner said international community has to agree to disagree. That doesn’t sound decent for a country that is proud of pacifism and integrity. Will Japan withdraw from IWC like it did from the League of Nations back in 1933?
Enjoy reading and learning why Japan still continues whaling despite all these criticism and pressure.


Topic Reading-Vol.1340-12/12/2015

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Beyond 'he' and 'she': The rise of non-binary pronouns
Max is my classmate. They is smart but never brags about themself. I like them but I don’t like their hairstyle. Theirs looks too progressive to me.
What do you think of the above sentences? Grammatically confused? Pronouns like “they,” “their,” “them,” and “themself” can be used for people whose gender identity differs from the one they were born with.
Such non-binary pronouns have been offered for students in some of the universities in the U.S. for those who identify as neither gender, or both. In fact, of the 10,000 students registered in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard, a little higher than 1% of them chose pronouns other than "she" or "he".
If you have problem using they for a person or themself, there are “zie,” “zim,”“zir,” and “zirs” as alternatives.
Then, what about surname? For those who don’t want to specify their gender could be called “Mx.”
And such non-binary pronouns are already recognized by prominent language reference sites such as;
How to deal and live with growing diversity seem to be a new challenge to historical traditions and common practices.
Enjoy reading and thinking how things are changing these days.


Topic Reading-Vol.1339-12/11/2015

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Jurassic Island
What could make you interested in the things or creatures in prehistoric times? Reading just plain texts, even with illustrations or photos, particularly in archeology, paleontology, meteorology or geology, might not be appealing to the young who have already spent considerable time using smartphones, There are more dynamic and modern attractions that draw their attention. But that could change if the way such studies are introduced to children is modernized without sacrificing the academic integrity.
Here, BBC has done a great job to invite novice readers to learn what the world was like hundred millions years ago.
Enjoy reading and being presented this subtle approach to Jurassic times.


Topic Reading-Vol.1338-12/10/2015

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Kimchi and Arabic coffee in latest UNESCO cultural list
There are unique practices in all over the world. UNESCO recognizes not only valuable sites but also such practices or food that are valuable to the culture.
Some of the new additions to the Intangible Cultural Heritage list include serving Arabian coffee, Vienna’s horse training, sculpting marble in a Greek island and Argentina’s paining ornaments.
Food is part of tradition, and some are essential to the local culture. One of the widely popular local food is Kimuchi in Korea. It is also added to the heritage list.
Kimuchi is inseparable to Korean people and is eaten in almost any meal in the peninsula, both north and south. When it comes to local traditions, there seems to be no political border.
Enjoy reading and thinking what practice or food in your culture could be the next on the list.


Topic Reading-Vol.1337-12/9/2015

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The terrifying reality of living under ISIS in Raqqa, Syria
The blast of Russian passenger flight and gun fires in Paris and San Bernardino, California. These are just recent examples of act of terrorism. But more vicious and cruel things are going on in a stronghold of ISIS/ISIL in Raqqa, Syria.
People in the town had enjoyed safety and freedom, though it was limited under the tyrant regime, and had ordinary life until ISIS took the power. Now it is regarded as the capital of the terrorist group. Accordingly, it is targeted for bombing by the US, Russia, France and newly joined UK. The residents had no choice but to stay in this nearly destroyed town because all the roads to outer world are closed. They are afraid of the bombs and missiles from the air but are more scared of the black-uniform militants on the street. They govern, control and suppress any activities that don’t meet their rules.
Knowing well enough as to who is ruling the town and how badly the residents are suffering, none of the states has tried to solve this problem but just to bomb, which is getting less effective as ISIS uses the civilians and their residents as shields.
Read and see the video to learn what the life is like in the capital of ISIS.


Topic Reading-Vol.1336-12/8/2015

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Mystery of China's levitating cars solved  
How could a thing like this happen? Three cars suddenly started dancing in the air in the middle of a street and collided on the ground.
No, it’s not a movie or trick video. The street traffic camera captured this incredible moment on a busy intersection in China.
No further explanation necessary. Just enjoy seeing the video and thinking what a single wire could do to moving objects.


Topic Reading-Vol.1335-12/7/2015

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Xi'an's Terra-cotta warriors: What to know before visiting
Have you been to Xi’an, China? It is located in the northwest of the country and the oldest of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China, Zhou, Qin, Han, Sui, and Tang, may be better known as Chang’an before the Ming dynasty. Xi'an was the starting point of the Silk Road and home to the Terracotta Army of Emperor Qin Shi Huang, who first unified China 2,200 years ago.
The first bodies of the army was discovered by chance by local farmers about four decades ago. Since then, China has put great effort to unearth over 8,000 life-size Terra-cotta figures, horses and chariots. All but a few bodies were intact, so they have been restored by experts.
The most amazing part of this Terracotta Army is the figures of the soldiers. Their faces and bodies, even their hairlines, are all unique. It took over 20 years by hundreds of thousands of craftsmen. Who were the models? They don’t look cheerful but sad.
But that’s not yet. There are still 400 more pits waiting to be unearthed. It’ll take years and decades to uncover the ancient mystery for the fastest growing country, modern China.
Enjoy reading and imagining how those craftsmen sculpted such unique soldiers and objects in that scale.


Topic Reading-Vol.1334-12/6/2015

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg to give away 99% of shares
The power of love. One of the richest pairs in the world was just given another fortune. A baby girl. She will be cherished by her parents who are both taking paternity and maternity leaves at least for months. The powerful Internet social web site leader announced that he would take a two-month paternity leave from his CEO job.
Now, he is joined by his wife to pledge 99% of their fortune shares in Facebook to good causes. How much money are they talking? US$45bil, not million.
What are good causes? Personalized learning, curing disease, connecting people and building strong communities to advance human potential and promote equality for all children in the next generation. The couple seems to want to make the world better for their baby girls and others children. What a big picture, isn’t it?
Enjoy reading and thinking of the magnitude of goodwill by US billionaires, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and now Mark Zuckerberg.


Topic Reading-Vol.1333-12/5/2015

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Saudi Arabia to build world's tallest tower, reaching 1 kilometer into the sky
Introduced in Vol.752 on May 3, 2014, Saudi is building a tallest architecture in the world, but now under Jeddah City project. This sky piecing tower has been under construction and now is at 26th floor as of November 2015. As the financing plan has been finalized, the tower will reach one-kilometer mark when completed in 2020. Currently, the world tallest building title belongs to The Burj Khalifa in Dubai at 827 meters.
They still have to overcome several hurdles to build and sustain such a tall structure near salt water. The durability of concrete is the most challenging issue. Wind is another factor. Also, to lift massive materials such as concrete and steel to the upper floors is not an easy task.
However, when Romans built their colosseums and aqueducts and Chinese made the Great Walls and the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal, they managed such challenges.
Enjoy reading the update of this historic project and think what role this 1K tall tower is going to play in the kingdom, the peninsula and the region.


Topic Reading-Vol.1332-12/4/2015

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Beethoven: An unlikely hero in China
In early and the middle of 20th century, music wasn’t treated as pure art in some part of the world. The profile and life of the composer and musician were examined by political viewpoints whether they are suitable for or against the party disciplines. Rachmaninov and Shostakovich the Soviet Union to name a few.
Even Beethoven was no exception in communism China. Although his ninth symphony was performed before the party leaders in the 10th anniversary of their independence, his works weren’t excluded to be banned during the Cultural Revolution.
However, the music played and inspired the students in Tiananmen Square in 1989 was again the ninth symphony’s "Ode to Joy."
Nothing seems to stop people from enjoying the great composer’s works, doesn’t it?
Enjoy reading how Beethoven’s works were treated in China.


Topic Reading-Vol.1331-12/3/2015

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Is Africa getting a Dubai?
Dubai is an ultramodern city in the United Arab Emirates. It has become one of the fastest growing and prospering cities that had had nothing substantial in history until the 21st century. It now serves as the regional business center and has the world's busiest airport by international passenger traffic and the 3rd busiest airport in the world by passenger traffic.
Now, there is a tiny country in eastern Africa which seems to follow the path that Dubai took. Djibouti. Located on the Horn of Africa, Djibouti is a country of dry shrub lands, volcanic formations and Red Sea beaches. It also has one of the world saltiest lakes in its desert where nomads still live in tradition.
The country is inviting foreign investments and accommodate new businesses to become a regional business hub in Africa. It also plans to attract tourists with its unusual experiences.
Enjoy reading and seeing the photos of now under or pre developed African country.


Topic Reading-Vol.1330-12/2/2015

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
School bus withstands running through brick wall in safety test
Does a school bus driver need to do this? Isn’t that supposed to be tested by the manufacturer of the vehicle especially if it is designed for school students?
A school bus driver runs a brand new school bus into a brick wall to check if the bus is safe for him and the passengers. The news doesn’t report how fast the bus smashed into the wall but it seems to have been fast enough to destroy it.
Safety and quality of food have been long and widely concerned by Chinese. Many spend extra money on foreign named branded products especially for their children such as baby milk and diapers.
Yet the rigidity of a vehicle must be guaranteed, the reliability of vehicle operations and safety procedures such as overloading and reckless driving might have been causing more harmful and serious consequences there,
Enjoy reading and thinking what this sort of user-proven safety assurance test is for.


Topic Reading-Vol.1329-12/1/2015

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
What it costs to produce a barrel of oil
Familiar with oil prices? Not the price of gas that you pump into the gas tank of your car but the crude oil prices traded in the world market. The price of oil plunged to around US$40 per barrel, or 159 litters, in the latter half of 2015, which was traded over hundred dollars before and after the 2008 financial crises. Good news for users but bad news for producers.
Why the plunge? It was driven by the decision made by OPEC, Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, to keep the production level despite the decreasing demand.
Why is OPEC so influential? OPEC member countries produce about 40 percent of the world's crude oil, but more importantly, their oil exports represent about 60 percent of the world petroleum trade.
Why do they want lower oil prices? They seem to want non-member states such as the US, Canada and Russia, whose production costs are much higher than OPEC members, to be squeezed out to the market.
Enjoy reading and thinking if OPEC’s target is limited to non-member states or greener energy.


Topic Reading-Vol.1328-11/30/2015

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
China to spend $438b on rail network in the next five years
Double the already world longest high speed railway system. That what China is determined to do for the next five years.
High-speed rail (HSR) in China refers to railway train service at the speed of 200 km/h or higher. It already has 20,000km long such services and is going to add another 23,000 kilometers over the next five years.
The speed is not only limited to how fast the train travels but how fast the railways will have been constructed. While it took over 50 years for Japan to build 3,000 km Shinkansen railways, China has completed 20,000 km only in eight years and another five years to double it. It was 1978, China’s Den Xiaoping visited Japan and took a ride on Shinkansen. He seemed to have been strongly impressed by then the world only high speed railway and might have left a message to the future leaders to build one.
The country with the world largest economy and mightiest military, the U.S. has ten aircraft careers but no high speed railway systems.
Enjoy reading and thinking what China will be like when you get your next smartphone.


Topic Reading-Vol.1327-11/29/2015

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
How to never forget a name again
Are you good at remembering names? Which do you more clearly remember, the name or the profile of the person you’ve first met?
According to a phycologist, it’s more like a matter of how memories are stored in the brain, not because how forgetful a person is. The memories aren’t stored by the type or label such as the name, place or thing but by connection. That’s why you tend to remember more about what the person did in a certain occasion or how the person did something more than his or her name.
That seems to explain why people often remember vividly the story of a book or a character in a movie but have difficulty coming up with the title of the book or the name of the actor.
But how do elephants remember things so long? Are they so good associating one thing to another?
Enjoy reading and learning this interesting mechanism of human brain.


Topic Reading-Vol.1326-11/28/2015

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Elephants can blow to get food
Have a memory like an elephant? It sounds interesting to compare human memory to the one of an animal. But the biggest and heaviest land animal seems to be even more intelligent than others. Elephants can use their long trunk not only to fetch food but also to bring out-of-reach food to within its reach.
How do they do that? Blow it. But if the food is blown, it goes farther away, doesn’t it? That is why elephants are amazingly intelligent, at least the ones observed in a zoo in Japan. They were seen manipulating the blow to move the food closer to them. They seem to be able to figure out which direction, how strongly and how long they need to blow air. Sounds amazing, doesn’t it? It’s actually more than amazing.
Enjoy seeing the video and compare their intelligence and cognitive ability with apes.


Topic Reading-Vol.1325-11/27/2015

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The last word in green transport
How green do you want to be? Or, how green can you be when you drive? There are more energy efficient and cleaner cars on the road such as hybrid, plug-in-hybrid, electric and even fuel-cell cars. But are there any that make the air greener or cleaner?
How about wrapping the body with green plants? Actually, not entirely but mostly green plant covered vehicle was introduced by a creative team called Moovel Lab.
It is estimated that this green exterior can remove seven kilos of CO2 from the air annually, far less than what a matured tree can do but far better than emitting green-house gasses. It may not be fuel-efficient as ordinary vehicles of compatible size and capacity because it weighs heavier with the plants and sacrifices the aero-dynamics.
But it may be an ideal vehicle for someone who wants to show-off his/her support towards greener society,
Enjoy reading and learning about this unique and sleek looking car for the future.