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Topic Reading-Vol.1025-1/31/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Keys to Academic Improvement as a U.S. College Student
Those who are intending to study abroad, here is a piece of advice by a sophomore from Vietnam studying in America. According to his experience, there seem to be a lot of things-to-be-avoided when international students begin their college life and work, which are quite different from the high school life in their homeland. Indeed. the level of freedom, entertainment, association, experience and excitement in American college is far beyond what a foreign student can imagine.
Then the question is how international students can and should manage themselves between academic performance and personal interests.
Enjoy reading and finding what is needed to spend a fruitful freshman year in college in the US.


Topic Reading-Vol.1024-1/30/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Parade will commemorate victory over Fascism
VJ-Day is September 2, 1945. It was the day a formal surrender ceremony was performed in Tokyo Bay, Japan, aboard the battleship USS Missouri. However in China, they started to cerebrate September 3 as "Victory of War of Resistance against Japan Day" (抗日戰爭勝利紀念日) in 1946 and has been recognized as V-J Day ever since. There are still "September 3" streets (九三街) and primary schools (九三小学) in almost every major city in mainland China. But that doesn’t seem to be enough for today’s China even seventy years after the war.
They announced to have a large-scale military parade on the 70th anniversary of the Anti-Fascist War on Sep 3 intending to deter Japan by showing off China’s military might.
Enjoy reading and seeing the video of a show off by the Asian Dragon.


Topic Reading-Vol.1023-1/29/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Greek elections: What now for the euro?
When the pain becomes unbearable, the desperate patient may be left no choice but to seek whatever relief they could get. Imagine a situation where every one out of four is out of work, every one out of two young people has no job. It doesn’t sound so surprising to see the voters in Greece chose the extreme leftists to run the country, who openly committed to criticize the country’s debtors such as European Central Bank, European Commission and International Monetary Fund that had helped its financial crisis few years ago. They are demanding the creditors to simply write off the loans without showing any honor or plans to repay even part of it.
How its neighbors and lenders will react and deal with such disrespectful government?
Enjoy reading and thinking what will happen next in Greece, Euro and Europe.


Topic Reading-Vol.1022-1/28/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Global wage calculator: Compare your salary
Frist, you’ve got to know what country these two-letter codes represent.
- Easier ones; US, JP, AU, RU, IT, FR, CA,
- A little challenging ones; GB, TR, CN, BR, MX
- More challenging ones; ZA, DE, ID, SA
Then, if you want to compare your salary or income with a CEO in the US, a teacher in Ethiopia, a cleaner in Thailand, a driver in South Africa, a health professional in Greece and an administrative manager in Finland, click the below.
Enjoy finding how much you’re earning compared to the national average and other jobs in other countries.


Topic Reading-Vol.1021-1/27/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Chinese court puts up 'wall of shame' for overdue fines
What is “Wall of Shame?” Is it for poorly performed professional sport athletes?
Unlike the Wall of Fame, this isn’t honor anyone but to push those who haven’t paid their fines or responded to the court order. It seems overwhelmingly embarrassing to such individuals or companies to be displayed their photos and profiles to the public, especially on a large screen at the busiest train station of the region.
The officials seem to be quite committed to enhance their policy implementation measures this year. If this ad campaign works, other courts, municipal or tax offices may consider introducing the idea. And if they do it online, it won’t cost a penny!
Enjoy reading this possibly-breakthrough idea to collect fines by the court.


Topic Reading-Vol.1020-1/26/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
$7.54 for a Big Mac? Only in Switzerland
Comparing the prices of a sandwich to measure economy? It may not reflect every part of the economy but it still shows how the currency is valued in some extent.
Big Mac, the premium menu of the world largest restaurant chain with over 35,000 outlets in 119 countries, has been used to compare the actual street-level value of currencies because it is sold almost in the same way in all those markets and eaten by ordinary people. In short, eating the same thing in different places, you can find the fair market value of the currency as well as the costs to run the same business, including the rent, food and labor costs.
Enjoy reading and comparing the prices of the world most famous, may not be the popular, sandwich!
If you’re interested in eating a Big Mac in another marketplace, or just wanting to know its relative prices, Check The Big Mac index by The Economist at;


Topic Reading-Vol.1019-1/25/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
The 'Wind Tree' that could heat your home
You’ve got to see this first, to decide if this article is worth reading.
The inventor came up with this idea while he was walking in a breeze. As he saw leaves moving on a tree in the wind and stated thinking if the movement could generate energy. Well, making use of something already available is most ecological way to generate power. The question then is whether the idea is realized in an economically and emotionally acceptable way. That could be depending on the price and design.
Enjoy reading and learning this new concept.


Topic Reading-Vol.1018-1/24/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
How to say: Xiaomi
Different pronunciations for the same brand or company name? Shouldn’t there be Corporate Identity issue especially for global brands?
Xiaomi, a Chinese smartphone giant, doesn’t seem to be the only one that is pronounced differently by their customers, general public or even the executives of the company. Surprisingly, established global brands such as Nike, TESLA and Chrysler are pronounced differently by person or region.
So, when it comes to Chinese words, no wonder why “Xiaomi” is pronounced differently within the home market where there is variation of pronunciations exists, and even by the executives of the company.
Enjoy reading and learning about this conflict of corporate identity and pronunciation.


Topic Reading-Vol.1017-1/23/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Amazon is going to make movies
Is it just a matter of excitement or convenience? Imagine the same movie is going to become available online shortly after its theatrical debut, unlike typical a-year-or-so grace period. Which would be your choice, watching it on your own screen at home or a big screen and sound at a theater?
That may be depending not only on your situation or schedule but also the promotion and attractiveness of the movie itself. Many of the movie watchers are also used to buying things online, namely Amazon, which is expected to provide one of the best services and convenience for shopping. Now, what about movies produced by Amazon? Will they be as competitive as the ones produced by either established or emerging movie producers?
Enjoy reading and thinking how you’ll enjoy new movies in the near future.


Topic Reading-Vol.1016-1/22/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
2014 was Earth's hottest year on record
Another evidence of global warming? The average temperatures over land and seas last year were higher than before, surpassing the previous records of 2005 and 2010. Though it was a historic record, only a few might renew their attention to the problem any longer as such news for warming seems to have been released so frequently these days.
Have humans gotten used to a practice of knowing but not doing anything with the problem?
Enjoy reading the article and checking the photos of another sign of global warming.

Also, please enjoy this animation that visually shows how the global temperatures have been rising for the last century.


Topic Reading-Vol.1015-1/21/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Pope Francis in Manila: Six million attend outdoor Mass
No match for any politicians. The last time in 1995, there were five million, and this time six million, out of the total of 80 million Catholics, or 80% of the entire population of the country, in the Philippines gathered to pray with, see or come close to Pope in the capital city, Manila.
Don’t worry about businesses or schools. A national holiday had been declared in the capital for the duration of the Popes visit.
Enjoy reading the article and seeing the photos of joy and eagerness of the Filipinos.


Topic Reading-Vol.1014-1/20/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Show goes on: Defiant Paris opens glitzy new Philharmonic
There seems to be another reason to visit Paris. Even after the heartbreaking terrorists’ attacks on the sacrificial weekly paper and a kosher store that left 17 deaths, the opening event of this disputed new music hall must be carried out. It took eight years and cost three times of the original budget. It seems that historical architectures cost much more than what commoners can think of or bear with. But once such remarkable momentum is built and used, such criticisms tend to wind down or be taken over by appreciation.
At least, the music director of the Paris Orchestra, Paavo Jarvi, is excited about conducting the grand opening concert of the new hall.
Enjoy reading the introductory article and seeing the photos of this state of the art music hall.


Topic Reading-Vol.1013-1/19/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
More than 100 bodies recovered from India's Ganges
The river is so holly and sacred that the faithful Hindus keep blessing the water no matter how polluted it is. But when there were over a hundred of dead and rotten bodies floating in one place, it goes beyond their belief and becomes a serious health hazard.
As the population increases, so does the number of the poor and the dead. Those who cannot afford to cremate the dead might simply throw the bodies into the river. Also, the bank of the holly river is a popular site for burying the dead, which could make a flooding or rise of water level wash away the buried at any time.
Will they see more such washed away bodies floating in the sacred river in the future?
Enjoy reading and learning about this recent mystery in the river.


Topic Reading-Vol.1012-1/18/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Japan approves record 4.98 trillion yen defense budget
Though it is just under three percentage points increase, a boost in defense spending seems to have brought attention from its neighboring countries, particularly China. Japan’s new defense budget amounts 4.98 trillion yen out of the total of 96 trillion yen 2015 budget. The amount represents a little over five per cent of the total budget or 10% of the projected tax revenue. It is also within the unofficial defense budget guideline, which is less than 1% of the GDP. However, some still worry that Japan is moving toward militarism from the long-held pacifist discipline.
Enjoy reading and learning the latest move in Far-east Asia.


Topic Reading-Vol.1011-1/17/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
China-Japan meetings are more than just talks
It seems that Chinese administration is sending a clear message to Japan and the world. The tension between the two neighboring countries has been historically high because of the disputes over the Senkaku or Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea. There have been countless numbers of air scrambling and maritime engagement. Any such military and maritime activities could go out of control if no communication hot line is established. However, neither party seems to be willing to overcome the reluctance, waiting for the other’s move or reaction.
Enjoy reading and learning how China wants to avoid clear and present danger.


Topic Reading-Vol.1010-1/16/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Why does food taste different on planes?
How different do foods and drinks taste on the plane from on the ground? There seem to be various factors that affect how you taste, or more importantly smell, meals served on board. These factors are humidity, air pressure, vibration and noise. For instance, humidity in the cabin goes even drier than in the desert. And imagine the continuous vibration and noise that you normally aren’t bothered in a dining room on the ground. These factors affect your sense of taste greatly. And more complicatedly, the sensation of tastes, such as salty, sweet, sour, bitter and umami, are affected differently. For example, you may feel much less sweet or salty in the air while bitterness or sourness is less affected. As a result, airline chefs have to come up with menus that can be enjoyed in such a harsh environment as well as sommeliers who are required to select wines that balance passengers’ satisfaction and carrier’s budget.
Enjoy reading and learning why foods and drinks taste different in an air cabin.


Topic Reading-Vol.1009-1/15/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Transatlantic flight nears supersonic speeds
Any idea what and how much tailwinds do to an airplane? While average passenger flights cruise around 900 plus kilometers per hour, this BA flight from New York to London reached its top speed up to 1,200 km per hour, being pushed by strong jet stream that reached as fast as 322 km per hour. As the speed of sound is 1,234 km per hour, the passenger flight flew like sound or a jet fighter. The passengers seemed to be the ones most benefited but crew members must have been busy completing their duties within shorted time.
However, those flying toward the other direction, east to west, got the same level of headwinds, which added extra time on the scheduled flight times.
Enjoy reading about this record breaking force of tailwinds over the Atlantic!


Topic Reading-Vol.1008-1/14/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
The upside down tortoise enigma
Is the larger the better? Yes, when animals try to compete for a mate. The larger a male tortoise is, the better the chance to win a fight against his competitor. Actually, male tortoises actively attempt to flip rivals onto their backs, which is a vulnerable to exposure, starvation and predation. So, how tortoises right its position once it is flipped over? Any advantages or disadvantages by the gender, size or shape of the shell?
Enjoy reading what some researchers learned tortoises’ righting ability from a flip-over position.


Topic Reading-Vol.1007-1/13/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
The most popular 2015 travel destination among Asians: Japan
What makes Asian-pacific travelers interested in visiting Japan? For Hongkongers, Taiwanese and even for Chinese travelers, Japan seems to be more popular travel destination than others, according to a survey conducted by a travel website Travelzoo.
The poll was made to its members in Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan and Taiwan, which suggests the survey results reflect the desired or planned travel destinations of frequent travelers as the respondents plan to travel several times in 2015.
Enjoy reading and learning who are interested in visiting where.


Topic Reading-Vol.1006-1/12/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Watch the National Zoo’s baby panda romp in snow for the first time
Though the cub was born in the other side of the globe, it still seems to enjoy things that are natural to the place of its origin. A baby giant panda in Washington DC has seen and played in snow for the first time. It is one of the three giant pandas that are adored by visitors at Smithsonian Zoo in the nation’s capital where efforts are being made by zoo keepers and zoologists to save this endangered species from extinct. There are only 1,600 or so giant pandas living today.
Enjoy seeing the video footage of this adorable creature playing in the snow.


Topic Reading-Vol.1005-1/11/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
California breaks ground on bullet train as climate solution
One thing that the US is way behind its rival, China, is high speed railway system. While China is already running nearly 20,000 km of high speed rail, or HSR, including the world's longest line the 2,298 km Beijing–Guangzhou High-Speed Railway, there is none in America.
Now, California, the nation’s eco-leading state, has just celebrated a groundbreaking ceremony for its ambitious high speed railway between San Francisco and Los Angeles that is projected to complete by 2029, if everything goes as planned.
If you look at China, its nationwide HSR network already extends to 28 of the country's 33 provinces and regions, which was first introduced in 2007 and carried over million passengers in 2013. It seems that China is much greener and faster in terms of public transportation, doesn’t it?
(However, most of the electricity in China is generated by coal power plants)
Enjoy reading and learning how challenging to overcome economic hurdles to make ecological investment.


Topic Reading-Vol.1004-1/10/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Religion in India bubbles over into politics
Of the population of 1.3 billion, a little over 80% is Hindu and 13% is Muslim. This proportion is just about the opposite of its eastern neighbor, Bangladesh whose population is slightly over 150 million. In its western neighbor, Pakistan, nearly the entire population of 200 million is Muslim.
The newly elected PM, Narendra Modi, is known as a strong believer and supporter of Hindu. As of 2014, The Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP (Indian People's Party), is the country's largest political party in the national parliament and state assemblies. The BJP is a right-wing party with close ideological and organizational links to the Hindu nationalist. For Modi to realize his political objectives, he can’t be away from this religiously motivated power in the parliament. And the party members don’t seem to hesitate to show off the power of the card. It is reported that they are trying to press Muslims and Christians to convert their faiths to Hindu.
Enjoy reading and learning about the religious challenge in this soon-to-be the most populous country.


Topic Reading-Vol.1003-1/9/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
10 exciting attractions opening in 2015
It seems like another Asian year when it comes to new large-scale attractions. Among the 10 new attractions scheduled to open in 2015, CNN picked five in Asian continent, two in China, one in Singapore, Indonesia and Abu Dhabi respectively. These attractions include art museum, video game arcade, amusement park and eco theme park. Also listed are not new but renovated attractions and monuments spread around the world.
The question seems to be which attraction or location interests more than the others.
Enjoy reading and glimpses of these attractions.


Topic Reading-Vol.1002-1/8/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Google: The reluctant censor of the Internet
Imagine trying to be legitimate in over 200 countries every day and night. The more information is sought and videos are posted on their web sites, the more profit is generated in the search engine giant. In the meantime, every time a search result or video is seen, the company could face risks of violating local laws and harming privacy or integrity of individuals. How is this business enterprise dealing with such continuous flow of challenges everyday throughout the world? How does this gigantic entrepreneur balance between local legitimacy, personal privacy and its own integrity?
Enjoy reading and learning the challenges, tasks and risks this search giant is managing on the Internet.


Topic Reading-Vol.1001-1/7/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Scientists find first frog that gives birth to tadpoles
How many species of frogs have been known?
How do they produce their offspring?
Do all tadpoles come out of eggs that are fertilized externally?
If you’re interested in these questions, you’ll find the answers in the article.
Enjoy reading and learning about reproduction process, normal and rare, of frogs..


Topic Reading-Vol.1000-1/6/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Baby shortage imperils Japan's economy
In Japan, more people die than were born, by nearly 26 percent, or 269,000 in 2014. If this trend is to continue, the nation’s population could decline by a third in the next half century. This is apparently a serious problem for the third largest country in economy in the world as elderly people require financial and human support by younger generations.
Are there any viable solutions? Of course there are. First, make more babies. This requires not only encouragement but also incentives and support to allow women to become mothers. Another solution is to bring in more immigrants. This seems mentally difficult for Japanese as they are used to live only with Japanese in Japan. .
Will the central and local governments take more progressive approach to solve this clear and disastrous problem?
Enjoy reading and learning about this population problem and think of workable solutions in this 1,000th issue of Topic Reading.


Topic Reading-Vol.999-1/5/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Syria conflict: 76,000 die in deadliest year – activists
What made so many people dead in a year? There were uprisings against the regime a few years ago. Now there are more serious battles in the country against brutal and ruthless Islamic State, or IS, that kills anyone who doesn’t follow their beliefs and activities. More government soldiers, civilians and other militants were killed than IS soldiers, bringing the total deaths to slightly higher than the previous year to a little over 76,000.
There are other numbers that cast a shadow over the country where Bashar al-Assad still holds the presidency despite the criticism against his tyranny. Over half of the country’s population is under severe poverty and half of the children don’t attend school. Who should be the leader of such a devastated country?
Read and think what the situation of this country this year and the future of the people will be like.


Topic Reading-Vol.998-1/4/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
India to check on toilet use in 'real time'
A big problem in the second and soon-to-be the most populous country. Nearly a half of people there are estimated to defecate in the open, some of them have no choice but others choose to do so instead of using toilet. It became one of the most prioritized causes by the newly elected leader of India to install a toilet in every household within five years. So far, they distributed over a half million toilets and have started monitoring if they are actually used. It seems like a very long way to go for a country whose population and the number of households are both growing rapidly. But if cleanliness and sanitation aren’t improved, the growth of population and economy may not be sustained because it’s one of the most important health issues.
Enjoy reading and learning this India’s challenge to change everyone’s daily practice.


Topic Reading-Vol.997-1/3/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Effort to kill California's ban on plastic grocery bags moves forward
Will plastic bags be banned for grocery shopping? In some cities and counties in California, they already are. But the move to ban the use of plastic bags, which was already passed and signed, may have to clear a rigorous hurdle to be put into effect.
Who is opposing the ban? The plastic bag manufacturers. They put millions of dollars in a campaign against the ban and collected over a half million of signatures needed for an appeal.
They say plastic bags are easily recyclable. Environmentalists argue that such manufactures make money at a cost of California’s environment.
Enjoy reading and learning how economy and environment conflict in a certain situation.


Topic Reading-Vol.996-1/2/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
China's wealth finds home in Washington state
Isn’t mainland large enough for rich Chinese? While anti-corruption campaign is looking into people in mainland China, Chinese money is flooding into West coast in the US. They’ve been known for big real estate buyers for years creating China towns all over the places. Business money has been invested in prominent properties like Waldorf Astoria in New York so has been the private money in West coast for residential homes especially in the state of California and Washington where they can reach non-stop from major cities in China. The average purchase price is approximately a half million dollars, nearly twice as much as the state average in Washington.
Why are they buying houses in America? Some of them buy a house for their children to study there. It sounds like a bold and sound investment in education and real estate, doesn’t it?
Enjoy reading and learning about where and how wealthy Chinese are investing their money.


Topic Reading-Vol.995-1/1/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Doubts as giant China project's water reaches capital
There is already the longest canal in the world to Beijing. The 1,776km long Grand Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which links the Yellow River and Yangtze River. Its construction began in 5th century BC and completed in 7th century AD.
12 and a half centuries later in 1952, Mao Zedong, the country’s founding father said, “There's plenty of water in the south, not much water in the north. If at all possible; borrowing some water would be good.” Then this ambitious water canal construction began and completed in 2014 and started supplying massive water from the Yangtze River in south to thirsty industrialized northern China through three canal systems, The Eastern, Central and Western routes.
Though it is one of the most expensive engineering projects in the world, the effect and return of this investment is doubtful because of declining rainfall in the south, increasing water demand in the north and pollution of the water being carried.
Enjoy reading and learning about this historic and symbolic human project in great China on New Year’s Day.