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Topic Reading-Vol.1053-2/28/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Report: China building new islands in disputed waters
China’s speed and scale are unbelievable. They’ve built as long as 20,000km of high speed railway systems within eight years. Their highway systems have already surpassed that of the US’s only in a couple of decades. Now they’ve built artificial lands around the Spratly Islands in disputed waters in the South China Sea, where Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam are also claiming their sovereignty.
On top of territorial boundary, rich fishing grounds and potential undersea natural resources seem to encourage China to build such sea fortress, even though the international law doesn’t recognize such artificial structure as part of territory. However, if you look at what Russia is doing in Ukraine, the UN Security Council doesn’t seem to function effectively against such territorial invasion or outlaw by force.
Enjoy reading and thinking what the Permanent UN Security Council members are trying to do.


Topic Reading-Vol.1052-2/27/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Employees raid Afghan bank and flee with cash
Can you believe that a senior official at a branch of the central bank robbed his own branch? That’s what happened in a southern region of Afghanistan, near the border with Pakistan.
The senior official and his relatives are believed to have emptied the safe of the branch and crossed the border to Pakistan. The nation’s banking system has been warned by the international financial community of its fragility. This incident seems to prove the warning should have been heard and followed.
Also, if you think of the qualification, career path and future perspective of senior staff of the central bank, it is hardly believable that he abandoned everything and fled to another country. This could suggest how unhopeful the nation’s future looks to its citizens.
Enjoy reading and learning about the latest bombshell in the still struggling country.


Topic Reading-Vol.1051-2/26/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
The Dalai Lama: Tibet's spiritual leader
He holds one of the longest living enthronements. A Tibetan boy was enthroned as the Dalai Lama in 1940 only at the age of five. He assumed full responsibility of Tibet when he was only 15 and had been negotiating with China for its autonomy until he exiled to India in 1959 when China decided to take full control over the region by force. There, he established the headquarters of Tibetan government in exile. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for his long term dedication to the nonviolent liberalization of Tibet. He has been actively engaging in talks with world political and religious leaders including the presidents of the U.S., Nelson Mandela and the Roman Catholic Pope.
Enjoy seeing the photos of his 75-year tenure as the Dalai Lama.


Topic Reading-Vol.1050-2/25/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Japan Crown Prince urges WW2 past not be forgotten as memories fade
A word “correctly” can be taken very differently from one to another, especially when it comes to history. However, one thing common to all is the time when an incident occurred or ended. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the World War II. And Japan’s PM is going to make his interpretation and remarks on this occasion, which will be the key to future relationship with China and Korea as well as now its most important ally, the U.S.A.
In the meantime on February 23rd, Japan’s crown prince answered a question about the war anniversary. He said, “I think that it is important today, when memories of the war are fading, to look back humbly on the past and correctly pass on the tragic experiences and history Japan pursued from the generation which experienced the war to those without direct knowledge.”
How his word “correctly” will be taken is unknown but there will be heated debates among many.
Enjoy reading and thinking what the next emperor wishes to say.


Topic Reading-Vol.1049-2/24/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
A decade of anti-wall struggle
Bilin is located about four kilometers east of the Green Line, an artificial line between Israel’s forces and the neighbors after the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. There is a wall constructed by Israel that split the village in two. The International Court of Justice issued an advisory opinion stating, "the wall is contrary to international law" in 2004. Also, weekly protests against the wall have been organized and conducted by the villagers, international and even Israeli activists for over a decade. However, the wall still stands there.
Enjoy reading and learning what has been going on in a tiny village in Palestine.


Topic Reading-Vol.1048-2/23/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
North Korea: We don’t need ‘flashy lights’
Which is more convincing to show prosperity, dark night or flashy lights?
This night view photo taken from the International Space Station, or I.S.S. in short, undoubtedly shows how dark, or how not-lit, North Korea is compared to its neighbors, China and South Korea. It appears that only in, not around, its capital city where the government elites live is somehow lit. The rest of the country seems to be in deep asleep or uninhabited.
However, the nation’s propaganda media claims that the brightness at night doesn’t show happiness or prosperity of the state, pointing the flashily and brightly lit U.S. seems to have countless problems such as safety on the streets and economic gap between the super rich and the rest.
Enjoy reading and seeing the satellite image.


Topic Reading-Vol.1047-2/22/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Why the elephant has long trunk?
Many know that the elephant’s large ears help it body temperature cooler. When it’s very hot, elephants move their large ears like fans. But have you ever thought about why the elephant has such a long trunk?
New studies found that the longer the trunk is, the more the elephant can eat and grow. The same is true for the giraffe for its long tongue. Those gigantic body animals need to eat substantial amount of food to grow and sustain their weight. The volume of food required to live seem to have evolved their trunk and tongue longer to grab more food in wider, higher or lower perimeter.
Enjoy reading and learning how these animals have evolved to survive.


Topic Reading-Vol.1046-2/21/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Cybercrime robbers steal up to $1bn from global banks
Compare a burglary and bank robbery. Which is more risky but rewarding? The answer is so simple. However, when it comes to online hacking, the risk of attacking financial institutions doesn’t seem any higher than phishing individuals’ PCs, even though the firewalls of such institutional systems are much taller and well-protected than the ones of individuals.
There aren’t any walls that could perfectly and permanently protect any system from attackers because they are designed and programmed by humans. And there are other humans that spend their most efforts to break through the walls and manipulate the system trying to steal big money.
The higher the incentives are, the more motivated the intelligent hackers will be.
Enjoy reading and learning what’s going on in the cyber space.


Topic Reading-Vol.1045-2/20/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
The Best Technology for Fighting Climate Change? Trees
Planting trees, maintaining forests and improving the soil. That sounds reasonable and agreeable to most of humans, enterprises and governments. These techniques, called Negative Emission Technologies or NETs in short, had been long and widely practiced in human history until recently.
They are the most proven and affordable methods to protect the environment yet have the least ecological risk, a newly released science report says.
However, it warns that there is one thing humans need to do before counting on NETs. Reduce CO2 emissions. That sounds like practicing healthy diet and daily exercise to avoid becoming obese, doesn’t it? Indeed, this “Earth” seems already overweight and needs immediate actions.
Enjoy reading and learning about this latest proposal of the oldest technologies.


Topic Reading-Vol.1044-2/19/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Simply breathtaking: Freediving couple's stunning underwater photo shoot.
How long can you stop breathing, 60, 90 or 120 seconds?
And how deep can you dive, a meter or two?
This freediving couple can hold their breaths as long as six and eight minutes respectively and dive as deep as 100 meters. They take beautiful underwater photos, some with sharks, to show people how wonderful underwater world is and marine creatures are. In order to keep challenging such adventurous and risky endeavor, they keep themselves really in good shape by training both physically and mentally, not to mention healthy diet.
Enjoy seeing the stunning and even jaw dropping photos and reading the fascinating story.


Topic Reading-Vol.1043-2/18/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Record-breaking glass-bridge to open in Chongqing
Another world record by China. This time, it’s a bridge that extends well beyond its vertical support above 718 above the ground, and is also transparent. China claims the glass bridge is longer than the Grand Canyon Skywalk.
They are fast at constructing infrastructures such as high speed railway system, auto highways, and cross-sea and cross-river bridges, which are all longer than the ones of any other country. It took only a year to project and construct this 35-million-yuan, or $5.6-million, bridge for tourists.
Are you ready to take a walk (or risk as well) on this thrilling bridge?
Enjoy seeing the breathtaking views of and from the bridge.


Topic Reading-Vol.1042-2/17/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Facebook now lets you post when you're dead
Nowadays, there are more than enough social network or cloud services on the Internet. Since most of them don’t charge you a penny for their basic features, it is quite easy and simple to start using such services. You may use them often, continually, rarely or never. As long as you’re an active Internet user, that won’t be a problem. However, when you become unable to use the Internet forever, what will happen to those services that are only accessed, updated or deleted by you?
Now those social network and cloud service operators have started to offer “termination” or “take-over” options in case you’re no longer able to use or access to them.
Enjoy reading and thinking if you might use such options as well as to whom you may ask to take over your account.


Topic Reading-Vol.1041-2/16/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
No smoking if the kids are in the car, says England
Why not or hasn’t it yet might be the questions you may ask. How much kids are affected in such a concealed environment doesn’t require rocket science. Children are so vulnerable to secondhand smoke because their lungs are smaller, immune systems are less developed and they breathe faster. And imagine how concentrated the air in a car is even if the windows are open. Even though some countries even ban smoking in a car when there are any other passengers, there are many thoughtless smokers who don’t care about their passengers, including their family members.
Enjoy reading and learning about this new ban on in-car smoking.


Topic Reading-Vol.1040-2/15/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
African migrants risk all in the Mediterranean Sea
For them, it seems still safer or more hopeful than staying in their homelands. Though it costs a lot for a tiny space onboard without safety equipment, hundreds of thousand people try to sail across the sea to Europe from Africa and the Middle East. Over thousands for such people including great number of minors are estimated to have lost their lives before they reached the land or were rescued by the coast guard’s or volunteers’ vessels. Even though they are fortunate enough to reach their new lands, they don’t have any ID, money or belonging. They know nobody to ask for help and have nowhere to live. And the number of such refugees has been increasing and shows no sign to decrease in the foreseeable future.
Read the article and see the photo to find what’s going on around and in the Mediterranean Sea.


Topic Reading-Vol.1039-2/14/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Same-sex marriage: Where in the world is it legal?
Today’s the lovers’ day. And lovers aren’t limited only to opposite gender couples, for not only humans but also some animal species as introduced yesterday in Vol.1038-2/13/2015. One of the big differences between humans and animals is law. Humans are much more ruled and organized by the law. And same-sex marriage is one of the most recent trends yet still is not legalized in most of the countries or states. Many still don’t grant the same social or financial benefits to such couples.
There are only 20 countries that have legalized or about to legalize the same-sex marriage, mostly in northern European and major Latin American countries as well as many of the states in America.
Enjoy reading and learning which countries or states are open-minded to treat gay couples equally.


Topic Reading-Vol.1038-2/13/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Are there any homosexual animals?
Certain animals, birds or even insects don’t limit themselves within heterosexual engagement. They often not really alternatively but progressively engage or even enjoy homosexual practices. Some female apes are seen being enjoying such unproductive acts in front of their males. So there isn’t any shortage of opposite-sex partners. And to make this finding even more surprising, some of them seem to be pair up for as long as a week.
It sounds like a romance, doesn’t it? But there seem to be other reasons and motives behind it.
Enjoy reading and learning about this astonishing animal sexual behaviors.


Topic Reading-Vol.1037-2/12/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Bleep blorp: New Japanese hotel to be staffed by robots
Experience seems to be another hook for this new low-cost hotel. First, the name of the theme park the hotel is situated in isn’t easy to pronounce. Huis Ten Bosch. It’s modeled after the Netherlands in Nagasaki, Japan. Second, the name of the hotel is very unusual. It is “Henn-na Hotel,” which means “Strange Hotel.” Also, gests will be welcomed and even serviced by "actroids," which are robots act like a human.
These days, more and more things are being taken place by kiosks or tablets in various services such as fast food restaurants and airport check-ins. So, you may no longer be surprised by being welcomed and serviced by robots.
Enjoy reading and learning what the future hotel services might be like.


Topic Reading-Vol.1036-2/11/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Canada to allow doctor-assisted suicide
Will it end tragic tours to Oregon or Switzerland? It is so pathetic and pitiful to move to another place only to end one’s life. But it has been the case for those who suffer intolerable pain from an incurable disease. There are still only limited states that legalize doctor assisted suicide for such patients who are unable to bear severe pains any longer. And those who are desperate to be freed from such pains have no choice but make a final decision.
Read and think what this highly controversial topic means to you.


Topic Reading-Vol.1035-2/10/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Argentina's Kirchner sparks row after China accent gibes
“Are they only there for the lice (rice) and petloleum (petroleum)?”
It is so disrespectful and inconsiderate to make a fool of others for their pronunciation of a foreign language, isn’t it? Can you imagine the president of a country made such a foolish tweet during a state visit in order to the most proud nation to strengthen the tie and ask for economic assistance?
Though both the state media and the ministry of foreign affairs remain quiet, one of the bloggers posted, “How about you say two sentences in Chinese so I can hear your pronunciation?”
Enjoy reading and imagining what sort of excuse or comment the Argentina president would tweet next.


Topic Reading-Vol.1034-2/9/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
'Missing Oil' from 2010 BP Spill Found on Gulf Seafloor
Remember the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill off the coasts of Florida and Texas? To refresh your memory, approximately 200 million gallons, or 757 million liters, of crude oil leaked into the Gulf of Mexico. And there has been substantial amount of oil missing even after the extensive search and cleanup effort. Now, researchers seem to have found where the missing oil is. It’s on the sea bottom of the gulf. Is that all right then? No. It is threatening wildlife and marine ecosystems in a long term because worms take the sediment of the oil and fish eat the contaminated worms. The cost of damaging environment seems very high, doesn’t it?
Enjoy reading and learning about this massive oil spill and its aftermath.


Topic Reading-Vol.1033-2/8/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
MPs say yes to three-person babies
In Vitro (in glass) Fertilization, IVF, is a process by which an egg is fertilized by sperm outside the mother’s body. The first such baby, also called test tube baby, was born in 1978. The process has since then widely practiced for those who have difficulty having babies despite its cost that is higher than most other options.
Now, the UK is proud to go for another step ahead of the rest of the world to allow parents and doctors to produce three-person babies.
Enjoy reading and find what a three-person baby is and also the arguments over this complex issue.


Topic Reading-Vol.1032-2/7/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
'Mass death sentences' for 183 in Egypt
On top of the 232 already convicted, another 183 people have just been added to the list of death sentence in Egypt. They were convicted of attacking a police station and killing of police officers and civilians during the uprising in August 2013.
Although a severe penalty for such violence is justifiable, convicting that many people at once raises concerns over the country’s judicial system and process. Was each defendant given a chance to defend themselves with the aide of dependable lawyers? Did the prosecutors provide enough evidence to prove the defendants’ responsibility and involvement in the case? Were proper procedures taken during the trial?
Enjoy reading and learning what’s going on in Egypt’s judicial practices.


Topic Reading-Vol.1031-2/6/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
TOEFL exam scores in doubt after leak
It seems that China has a long way to catch up with its rival in education. Studying at a college in the US has been a big trend among Chinese students especially from affluent and influential families. Now, over 200,000 students attend colleges and universities in America, the largest group of foreign students. So the question is not if one to study in America or not but which college or university to attend. And many prominent colleges and universities have high requirements for English proficiency, and the most common score being used is the Test of English as a Foreign Language, TOEFL. It is an Internet based testing conducted at certified sites. So many would assume cheating during the test or leaking before the test is hardly possible. However, today’s sophisticated and skilled hackers seem to have found some ways to break the wall.
Enjoy reading and finding what could happen to this authentic online testing.


Topic Reading-Vol.1030-2/5/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
The secrets of the desert aircraft ‘boneyards’
Though this isn’t the latest news or anything, it is most likely new to many of you. A boneyard for aircraft. When a plane is retired from its active service, whether it is a military or civilian aircraft, it is sent to a place where it is stored for some use on the ground, reused on a later day in the air or simply dismantled. There are all kinds of aircraft in boneyards, such as gigantic B-52 bomber and 747 jumbo jet, and relatively small single-seat fighter jet. Upon arrival, all those planes are inspected, washed and sealed until their fate are decided in the desert in western America where the soil is hard enough to sustain the weight and air is dry to keep those aircraft in good shape.
Enjoy reading and learning about where retired airplanes go.


Topic Reading-Vol.1029-2/4/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Some of you might know when the Earth was formed, or even the Moon.
You may know the era of dinosaurs and ice ages.
And it is commonly known that our ancestors, Homo sapiens, appeared only 50,000 years ago.
But what happened between them?
Enjoy reading and learning the 25 significant events in the history of our planet.


Topic Reading-Vol.1028-2/3/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
China's gender imbalance concerns reborn
Gender preference seems to have gone too far to fetal gender determination. Traditionally, especially in rural area, boys have been preferred over girls in China. Ever since the government launched its one-child policy in the 1970s to curb soaring population growth, many couples have been choosing boys over girls hoping that males would better support the family, carry on the family line and inherit property like its feudal days. With modern affordable technologies and services, parents can easily find which gender their unborn baby is. Then considerable number of parents seems to have been taking a fatal action to their unborn baby girls, which resulted in serious gender imbalance. Two or three decades later when those preferred boys become adult and search for their mates, they’ll face difficulty in finding ones.
Enjoy reading and thinking what immediate and permanent solutions could be.


Topic Reading-Vol.1027-2/2/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
'No more room service' as Jeremy the koala returns to the wild
Have you seen this photo? If not, please enjoy seeing it and guessing what’s wrong with this lovely koala. He was named Jeremy by his rescuer from a bushfire in Australia's Adelaide Hills in January. Poor Jeremy was receiving treatment for his burnt paws at the Australian Marine Wildlife Research and Rescue Organization in Port Melbourne. Initially, he was afraid and unhappy. But as time went on, he got used to the hotel-like service, being fed and taken care. The koala is naturally a lazy animal, isn’t it?
Now, his paws are fully cured and he’s ready to go home where he has to do everything himself again. Will he be able to get back to his normal life? He’s got to.
Enjoy seeing the photo and reading the article.


Topic Reading-Vol.1026-2/1/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Aerial video of Auschwitz-Birkenau
Thanks to the robot-technology, you can see a site like a flying bird. Auschwitz, a concentration camp set by Nazi during World War II had its 70th anniversary since its liberation by the Soviet troops. But it was after over a million innocent people were killed.

For those who aren’t so familiar with what Auschwitz or holocaust is about, here is a brief summary from Wikipedia.

Auschwitz I was first constructed to hold Polish political prisoners, who began to arrive in May 1940. Auschwitz II–Birkenau went on to become a major site of the Nazi "Final Solution to the Jewish question". From early 1942 until late 1944, transport trains delivered Jews to the camp's gas chambers from all over German-occupied Europe, where they were killed with the pesticide Zyklon B. At least 1.1 million prisoners died at Auschwitz, around 90 percent of them Jewish. Others deported to Auschwitz included 150,000 Poles, 23,000 Romani and Sinti, 15,000 Soviet prisoners of war, 400 Jehovah's Witnesses, homosexuals, and tens of thousands of people of diverse nationalities. Many of those not killed in the gas chambers died of starvation, forced labor, infectious diseases, individual executions, and medical experiments. The prisoners remaining at the camp were liberated on January 27, 1945, a day now commemorated as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. In 1947, Poland founded a museum on the site of Auschwitz I and II, and in 1979, it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.