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Topic Reading-Vol.1175-6/30/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Supreme Court rules in favor of same-sex marriage nationwide
Historic judgement has just been made in the U.S.A. It has just become the 21st country to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide. Until this ruling, 37 out of 50 states had already allowed gay marriage, hence the remaining 13 states are the ones actually affected. It is also historical because the ruling was made by five judges in favor and four against.
Now all married same-sex couples can enjoy the same legal rights and benefits as married heterosexual couples anywhere in the country and are recognized on official documents such as birth and death certificates. For example, a gay couple can adopt a child in some of the states.
It took about a half century to recognize gay couples’ right after banning racial discrimination in America. It is indeed historical, isn’t it?
Enjoy reading and learning how significant this new ruling is for Americans.


Topic Reading-Vol.1174-6/29/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Are you damaging your hearing without realizing it?
Too loud? Maybe. If you use earphones to listen to music for long time every day, your ears may suffer serious hearing problem later in your life.
Noise Induced Hearing Loss, or NIHL, is seen when your ears are exposed to loud noises, such as machineries, traffic and music. As it develops gradually, those who suffer this problem don’t notice it until it’s too late. Make the matter even worse, once your hearing ability is lost, it won’t recover. This problem is already seen mainly among young people who continuously listen to music on earphones. And this practice is expected to become even more common and continuous throughout the day as 24-hour streaming services, either free or subscription, become the main source of individual music entertainment.
Enjoy reading and learning this on-going health and could be a social problem in the future.


Topic Reading-Vol.1173-6/28/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Irony alert: Password-storing company is hacked
No password is unbreakable. No security system or service provider is perfect. No one seems to be safe in today’s digital world. Someone said there are only two companies, ones who know if they’ve been hacked and the others who aren’t aware of having been hacked. What is essential to live in an online world and deal with the problems is to detect and react as soon as a security breach occurs.
Remember. There is no bullet-proof jacket to protect any computer system.
Enjoy reading and learning about security threats in the digital world.


Topic Reading-Vol.1172-6/27/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
UN warns of alarming level in global refugee numbers
Nearly 60 million last year. Why are so many innocent people forced to leave their homeland? In old days, there were numbers of people who were left no choice but to move to another place because of famine or natural disasters. Also there were people who had to evacuate from their land to escape from oppression by their rulers or intruders by others, as well as domestic violence or conflicts.
However, why the number of refugees has been increasing in the 21st century? There is United Nations to bring peace and order to the world which has been in place for nearly 70 years. Does human ingenuity and intelligence only function to bring benefits in IT, science or finance?
Enjoy reading and learning how the world still suffer from conflicts and unruliness.


Topic Reading-Vol.1171-6/26/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
10 ways to avoid tourist trouble in Japan
Each country or region has its own customs, practices and rules. Japan is no exception. As the number of visitors has risen over 40% in April over the same period in 2014 and is expected to grow for the coming years because of the weaker yen value and 2020 Olympic Games, more effort should be made to let foreign visitors know some of the dos and don’ts.
Of course not all the things foreigners think are common are considered so or practiced always by Japanese. But there still are things to be reminded such as no tip at restaurants or taxis or taking shoes off when entering someone’s house.
Enjoy reading and learning some of the useful tips to spend enjoyable time in Japan.


Topic Reading-Vol.1170-6/25/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Graduates seek dream in budget hotel
Is higher education do any good? Many may think it won’t or can’t do any harm to the young. However, when the job market seeks for more properly skilled or practically experienced quick-fit workers, academic education doesn’t seem to add any advantage to college graduates, or rather makes them unwilling to take a job that doesn’t sound reasonable for his or her educational background. This is especially a serious problem and makes the competition even fiercer when a record high seven-and-half million college graduates are entering the job market.
What are those job seekers doing? Are they giving up the academic achievement and pride and looking for a job that is no different from uneducated workers, or trying to earn practical skills to meet the demand of the job market?
Enjoy reading about the challenge and hardship Chinese college graduates are facing.


Topic Reading-Vol.1169-6/24/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
India yoga: Thousands attend Modi-inspired event
What’s yoga? It’s an Indian physical, mental, and spiritual practice or discipline. In short, it’s an Indian or Hindu version of meditation with physical exercise. Initiated by India’s PM Modi, June 21, 2015 was set as International Yoga Day and thousands people in 192 out of 193 UN states practice yoga throughout the world. What is the goal of this new event? Is it to promote Hinduism or enhance the presence of the soon-to-be the world most populous country?
Whatever the purpose is, it’s always good to do a daily physical exercise and mental meditation. Also, it seems harmless to promote and organize such healthy and low-or-no cost events.
Enjoy reading and learning about this new world event, whose organizer doesn’t seem to have been corrupted like the other world sport organization, yet.


Topic Reading-Vol.1168-6/23/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
This is what happened when Australia introduced tight gun controls
Another massacre in America. This time it took place in a historic church and took nine church goers lives. How many such tragic incidents are needed to take actions in a country where law and justice are usually respected and enforced?
The problem is that gun ownership is guaranteed in the constitution. Any change in constitution or its amendment requires the approval of three-fourths of the states, or 38 of the 50 states, not to mention the challenges in the congress and by the powerful five-million-membership National Rifle Association.
However, there is a success story they could learn in a country that shares the same roots as America.
Australia had had serious gun crimes until 1996 when it introduced decisive measures to reduce the number of firearms and ban imports of military-style rifles after a massacre of 39 people in Tasmania. After the measures took place including gun buybacks, voluntary surrenders and state gun amnesties, Australia collected and destroyed more than a million firearms.
The results? Enjoy reading and find what America could learn from the act Aussies took after just one massacre.


Topic Reading-Vol.1167-6/22/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Magna Carta at 800: We are still enjoying the freedoms won
It was 800 years ago when this historic charter was born in England. King John, who levied too much tax barons was forced to sign this document which is known as Magna Carta. From then on, citizens were recognized and protected, not by the arbitrary ruling but legal process and laws.
Three of the original 63 clauses are still intact, freedom and protection of the Church of England, City of London, and individuals from punishment without legal process.
Enjoy reading and learning about this historic charter that made foundation of democracy in the U.K.


Topic Reading-Vol.1166-6/21/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Mars simulation scientists emerge to feel the wind on their faces
For an eight-long-month of complete isolation from the world, would you prefer being alone or with five others? A tough choice, isn’t it? Either way, it would be extremely challenging physically and mentally. But that’s what future astronauts need to bear with when they make a long journey to and spend time in Mars. In order to learn what sort of direct and side effects could occur to humans, six scientists spent eight months in a solar-powered dome in Hawaii without any contacts to or from outside. They wore a heavy and clumsy spacesuit whenever they went out like they might do if they stationed in Mars.
What do you think is the hardest part? What did they miss the most?
Enjoy reading and learning this extraordinarily unusual experiment.


Topic Reading-Vol.1165-6/20/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
A Rohingya refugee's struggle in Thailand
Rohingya are Indo-Aryan Muslims from Myanmar, who speak the Rohingya language. The total population is estimated to be around two million and approximately 60% of them live in Myanmar. They have been persecuted since 1982 and many of them have chosen to flee to neighboring Bangladesh and Thailand where Buddhism is the major religion.
Recently a large number of Rohingya in Myanmar have taken dangerous boat journey to find new lands and some of them lost their lives in the seas. What makes their lives so insecure and miserable in the country?
Read and learn how difficult it is to leave a country and live in a different country.


Topic Reading-Vol.1164-6/19/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Watch daredevil goats defying gravity
The safest place on earth is where no predator can follow. Antarctica, for example, where temperatures go way below zero allows no animal or birds that hunt penguins. For that safety, poor penguins must endure severe and long winter standing to keep their eggs warm.
What about near-vertical wall or cliff where no other animals can walk or stand? That’s where Alpine ibex live. They were spotted on the wall of a man-made dam walking and licking the concrete for salt.
Interestingly, they were females and their young but no male ibex. Are male ibex afraid of heights?
Enjoy seeing the video and reading the article to find an extreme life of Alpine ibex.


Topic Reading-Vol.1163-6/18/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Ghana says locals used as 'guinea pigs' in Ebola trial
$5 and a mobile phone. Is it worth risking your live or health?
That was an offer made to the residents of Ghana to test the safety and effects of two experimental vaccines against Ebola virus. It was offered by an American and a European pharmaceutical giants to the poor in Africa. It might have sounded reasonable if the test was in urgent need for the citizens of Ghana. However, while Ebola spread in some of the African countries, Ghana wasn’t one of them. The rationale for the experiment in an unaffected region hasn’t been given in the article.
One question still remains. Who will pay the subscription fee for the free cell phone? Isn’t that part of promotional activities by a phone service company in the country?
Enjoy reading and learning about this controversial medial experimental project.


Topic Reading-Vol.1162-6/17/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
This man’s blood has saved the lives of two million babies
Over 1,000 blood donations! This ordinary looking 78-year old guy is known as "The Man with the Golden Arm" in Australia.
His blood has an unusual antibody. It has been used to develop an injection called Anti-D to prevent women from having miscarriages and also babies from being born with brain damage. He has donated blood plasma from his right arm nearly every week for the past 60 years.
Despite the nearly-weekly practice for over a half century, he still hates the pain of the needle and the sight of his blood.
Enjoy reading and learning about this irreplaceable man for many Australian soon-to-be mothers.


Topic Reading-Vol.1161-6/16/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Fifa: Sepp Blatter fires PR chief over joke on television
What sort of joke cost a director’s job in an international organization?
It could have been just a joke. But it was made by a responsible person of the organization at a public place at a time the organization is watched attentively in the world. The chief of the organization was left no choice but to dismiss the joke-teller while he himself is under heavy pressure to leave his office immediately.
Now the world is waiting to hear who will be charged next and if the already-scheduled world cup events are going to be held.
Enjoy reading this very costly joke.


Topic Reading-Vol.1160-6/15/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
The army of parents behind China’s children
Why so many gaokao topic readings? Think of the magnitude of expectations by unprivileged families in China. Over nine million students took this year’s national college entrance exams while around 7.5million students have just graduated from college. Of the millions of college graduates, no more than half of them had found a job before graduation in 2013. So what is going to happen when these serious test takers graduate from college four years later while economic growth is slowing? The question is if they don’t try to enter good college, are there better or other options for the only child those Chinese parents have in such a competitive society?
It seems that this controversial one-time test is regarded as a better chance for most of the parents and students in China to stay or join the middle class and enjoy modern and materialized lives that those parents might have dreamed for.
Enjoy reading and thinking if you’d spend a half of the day studying to prepare for once-a-year life changing exam or try to develop unique strength to develop your own business or profession.


Topic Reading-Vol.1159-6/14/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Solitary confinement: 29 years in a box
6 x 9 x 12 feet. These are the dimensions of the space this man spent nearly 23 hours a day for 29 years. In the cell, there was just a steel bed and a sink, which was also used as toilet, but no window. There was hardly any contact or talk with other inmates. No march to the dining room. Food was served on a tray under the door to the cell.
How a man or woman can maintain mental and physical health under such an extraordinary condition? Doesn’t such relentless punishment do more harm than good?
Read and think what the life was like for the man who spent 29 years in a solitary cell.


Topic Reading-Vol.1158-6/13/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Turkey's ruling party wins most seats but falls short of majority
No to autocracy. There was a clear message by the voters of Turkey to the president who had tried to empower his role in a pivotal country in the Middle East.
The parliamentary constitutional republic succeeded the Ottoman Empire in 1920. It’s well known for the ancient city Istanbul but its capital is now Ankara. While it is a secular state with no official state religion, and the constitution provides for freedom of religion and conscience, Sunni Muslim is the dominant religion of the nearly 80-million population.
The leader of the still-ruling party, ex-three-term prime minster and the incumbent president built a highly controversial presidential palace that has at least 1,150 rooms, additional guesthouses, a botanical garden, a situation room with satellite and military communications systems, bunkers able to withstand biological, nuclear and chemical weapons attack, a park and a congress center.
Will that sort of extravaganza will do any good to the citizens? Didn’t he witness and learn from the Arab Spring? The answer was clear.
Enjoy reading and learning about the voice of democracy.


Topic Reading-Vol.1157-6/12/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Gaokao gives students overseas opportunities
You might have read the previous volume, 1156, about the prevention of gaokao cheating. You may wonder if the test only be used to enroll in Chinese colleges and universities. Actually, though the number is still limited, some universities in other countries honor the test results for student admission. That sounds reasonable because no one test can measure students’ learning potential better than others. Also, considering the fact that China sends more students to universities and colleges in the U.S. than any other country, it’s quite natural to use the test scores for reference, as long as they are reliable and fair.
Gaokao may not provide sufficient indication whether students possess unique talent or potential, they can at least show how well students are able to master given knowledge and their ability to work hard and consistently.
Enjoy reading and learning how gaokao is and could be used.


Topic Reading-Vol.1156-6/11/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Tough methods to prevent cheating in gaokao
9.4 million. This is the number of the students who took the national college entrance exam, or gaokao this year in China. The test scores determine which school and major the test taker can be enrolled in. It is very critical for Chinese students to graduate from a prestigious university because academic credentials are essential to qualify and compete to get a good job. Naturally, there are students who want to get higher test scores than they could get by themselves. In the previous years, some of such test cheaters were caught. They used electronic devices to send and receive signals to get the answers.
The authorities took actions to match such high-tech cheating methods and introduced electric signal detectors and even drones to monitor the testing room.
Enjoy reading and learning how serious gaokao is.


Topic Reading-Vol.1155-6/10/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Saudi court upholds blogger's 10 years and 1,000 lashes
What do you consider a harsh punishment? A long imprisonment or capital punishment?
What sort of wrongdoing or illegal conduct do you think deserves such punishment?
In Saudi Arabia where Islam laws are strictly in place, insulting the religious dignity can never be tolerated. One blogger was arrested for the charge through blogging and sentenced a 10-year imprisonment and 1,000 lashes, and the first 50 was given already.
The kingdom has declined all the requests and criticism from the world for this inhumane treatment to its citizen. The blogger hasn’t received the second round of lashes yet. Are they going to give 50 lashes every half year for the remaining of his sentence so that they can keep him alive?
Read what kind of punishment is still legal and intact in this oil-rich kingdom.


Topic Reading-Vol.1154-6/9/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Hypersonic aircraft to go 5 times the speed of sound
Takes only half an hour from LA to NY? That sounds like a game changer for traveling, doesn’t it?
Sorry, this isn’t for transoceanic or transcontinental passenger flights but for intercontinental weapon carrier. This newly tested unmanned aircraft can travel five times faster than the speed of sound, or Mach five. It flies so fast that it will hardly be detected or intercepted.
Will that be the best use of human ingenuity and technology? How much carbon footprint will it leave?
Enjoy reading the article and watching the video.


Topic Reading-Vol.1153-6/8/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
How IS seeks sectarian war in Saudi Arabia
State, beliefs or tribes. Which of these factors is more fundamental, essential or influential to people in the Middle East and Arabian Peninsula? Who is trying to take advantage of these complex and controversial issues?
The majority of Saudi’s population, over three-quarter, is Sunni Muslim and the rest is Shia. The air campaign Saudi carried out in Yemen was aimed at Shia rebels.
Saudi’s archrival Iran is a Shia dominated country. ISIS or ISIL wants to present itself as the most dedicated force to push back against the advance of Iran's Shia allies and bombed two Shia mosques in May.
What is this cruel militant group intending to do? Will Saudi be capable of handling and containing this potentially ground shaking threat?
Enjoy reading and learning what’s going on in the Arab’s largest kingdom.


Topic Reading-Vol.1152-6/7/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Whatever happened to Psy and K-pop’s bid to conquer the world?
Whether you are a K-pop fan or not, you probably have seen Gangnam Style video on YouTube, haven’t you? That’s what you’re going to read. Psy was such a big star in 2012 that his music videos were seen more than anyone’s then. He even performed at the inauguration of his country’s newly elected president the year after. But where is he? That’s one thing you’ll find in today’s Topic Reading.
Another thing you’ll learn is how K-pop stars are being created. It seems quite different from the way western entertainment industry has been practicing.
Enjoy reading and learning about K-pop!


Topic Reading-Vol.1151-6/6/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
'Virgin-born' sawfish are a first in the wild
Reproducing alone, or virgin born, does occur. As was presented in The Lost World, an insightful novel by Michael Crichton which was also filmed by Spielberg, some species reproduce under extreme conditions such as captivity or isolation. This time, researchers studied and concluded such reproduction in being made in the sawfish, critically endangered ray, in an open sea. The population of this endangered species is so sparse that finding a mate is an extremely challenging task. The female sawfish might have left no choice but to reproduce without mating. The virgin born sawfish the researchers identified are all female. Will this practice avoid extinction?
Enjoy reading thinking the difference of captivity, isolation and extremely-sparse population.


Topic Reading-Vol.1150-6/5/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Street art in the heart of Morocco
Can you tell the difference between graffiti and street art?
Both are murals in the city, aren’t they? True. Graffiti artists, or taggers, want to mark their names to be known. They usually do their jobs when they aren’t watched to avoid being caught. Street artists, on the other hand, aim to appeal to viewers to interpret their thoughts and impressions. Their works are usually done on authorized walls or spots and the process created is seen by anyone.
Morocco, a small kingdom in northern Africa, hosted an international street art festival in the capital. It actually is an ideal place for street artists to paint murals because there are more than enough white walls in the city. Passersby and onlookers were interested in the work by the renowned street artists and took photos or asked questions. Though the festival ended, the works are going to be kept until the end of the year.
Enjoy seeing some of the works and thinking of visiting the kingdom to see them.


Topic Reading-Vol.1149-6/4/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Half of college students want to work in second-tier cities: Survey-China
Job seeking in China isn’t that easy. Although GDP has been growing over seven percent for the last several years, China’s job market for college graduates doesn’t seem to have enjoyed that much growth. One reason is that the number of college graduates has been increasing at a higher rate than that of having been created by the robust economy. There are nearly 20 million college students in China. Nearly 10 million students take the national entrance exams each year. At the end of this school year in June, approximately 7.5 million students are graduating and entering the job market. While over 20 percent of new college graduates are said to be unable to find a job, this year’s new graduates are expecting to earn over 50% higher salary than the last year’s respondents to the survey.
Are they more qualified or simply just too confident? As the economy isn’t expected to grow or create new jobs as much as the previous years, Chinese students will surely have to work very hard to find a job that meet their expectations in such a highly competitive and saturated job market.
Enjoy reading and learning about the challenges of the youth in China.


Topic Reading-Vol.1148-6/3/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
What makes Swiss cheese? You don't have the hole story
Holes, or eyes, in Swiss cheese. Nothing new. Some holes are larger than others. But have you recognized those holes have gotten smaller these days? Well, if you buy cheese by the gram, it doesn’t matter. You’re paying as much as you get. It’s kind of odd though to buy something with holes in it, which don’t seem to add any value or flavor to it but identity.
Recently, science was applied to find why and how such holes are created in this particular cheese. The research didn’t show anything new but to confirm what has been known practically.
Enjoy reading and thinking if you like larger or smaller holes in Swiss cheese.


Topic Reading-Vol.1147-6/2/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
India's Mysore crowns new maharaja Yaduveer Wadiyar
He would have been educated in England if it was half a century ago. But like other prospective Indian students, he chose to study in America, namely in Boston where talents from the worlds gather to Harvard and MIT. Another notably interesting fact is that the newly crowned maharaja of Mysore graduated from neither of the prominent private universities despite his wealth and status. He attended and earned a BA economics from University of Massachusetts, a public school.
The 23-year-old new maharaja succeeded not only the crown, palace, properties and assets of the 600-year-old dynasty but also a legal battle against the provincial government for the property right of the palace and possible a legal challenge by his cousins for the crown.
Enjoy reading and learning about this latest coronation of the legendary dynasty in India.


Topic Reading-Vol.1146-6/1/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Cuba officially off U.S. terror blacklist
The move looks at least historic. The U.S. removed its neighboring island country from its list of countries that sponsor terrorism. It’s the first step to restore normal relationship, diplomatically and economically. Currently, they don’t have embassies or trade businesses, so they need to start and keep official and regular diplomatic dialogues. The next step seems to be the lift of the embargo on Cuba by the U.S. that's been in place since 1960. However, there are concerns and worries in America to treat Cuba in a same way as other countries because of their communism and dictatorship regime.
The distance between Havana and Key West, Florida is only 180km, which was swam by a 65-year-old woman, and another 180km to reach Miami. While one senior citizen can reach the other shore of the water, diplomats still seem to face difficulties to normalize the bilateral relationship.
Is this one of the second-term president’s efforts to mark a symbolic milestone during his leaving the office?
Enjoy reading and learning this new move to normalize a relationship between neighboring countries.