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Topic Reading-Vol.1267-9/30/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Nation takes measures to ease green card access
What would bring in foreign talents and investment? Job opportunities, living standards, legal transparency, human rights, judiciary system, security, environment or education? Some countries are more open to immigrants or permanent residents than others such as the U.S., or Canada. And many people want to work, study or live in there. Is China attractive to foreigners? It used to be when the Tang dynasty prospered in the seventh and nine centuries. How about now and the near future? Are there any of those inviting factors to foreigners available? Probably better to ask desperate refugees from Syria if they want to.
Enjoy reading and thinking what would bring in more foreign talents and investment.


Topic Reading-Vol.1266-9/29/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Latin American students prefer Microsoft to Google
It wasn’t newsworthy if it were several years ago, but now it is. Since most of the students, both graduates and under-graduates, who were surveyed in other continents responded the other way around, the preference Latin American students showed makes people wonder why. Don’t Latin American students like free meals in the cafeteria or day care service for their children?
Another interesting finding is that IT and engineering students ranked Samsung right after IBM and higher than GE. This may not be surprising because of their presence in mobile product market. Apple wasn’t listed within the top five neither among business nor tech students.
Enjoy reading and learning what Latin American students’ priorities and preferences are.


Topic Reading-Vol.1265-9/28/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Rebalancing skewed sex ratio remains a difficult target: Govt
Is the one-child policy to be blamed? China’s gender ratio at birth is critically imbalanced. In general, a male-female ratio between 103 and 107 at birth is considered normal. But in China, the ratio is still over 115 in 2014 despite the efforts and initiatives taken by the National Health and Family Planning Commission, including the relaxed one-child policy in certain regions.
Why so? Chinese people prefer having a boy because of the social and economic factors. Also the one-child policy encouraged parents to become even more selective.
How do they realize such selection? Doctors and hospitals are helping those parents by providing illegal fetus sex identification and sex-selective abortions.
Will those newly born and growing boys be able to find their partners in the future? What will they need to find their partners, fortune, status, wealth, prospects or appearance?
Enjoy reading and thinking what is and will be China’s families like.


Topic Reading-Vol.1264-9/27/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
'Universal urination duration' wins Ig Nobel prize
What’s the Ig Nobel Prizes? It is a parody of the Nobel Prizes, yet very scientific, that honors ten unusual or trivial achievements in scientific research every year. The studies for the awards are expected to first make people laugh, and then make them think. The award ceremony is held at Harvard University and followed by public lectures by the winners at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Sounds very authentic, doesn’t it?
There are 10 award categories, including Physics that discovered biological principle that nearly all mammals empty their bladders in about 21 seconds. Other winners are from all over the world, such as Japan, Chili and Thailand.
Enjoy reading, laughing and thinking these 10 award winning discoveries of the year.


Topic Reading-Vol.1263-9/26/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Nobel secretary regrets Obama peace prize
The 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. It was one of the most surprising news of the year when the world most honored and respected prize was awarded to US President Barak Obama, who had just assumed the role in the beginning of the year and hadn’t done any remarkable achievement for world peace. Many thought that the committee was hoping him to play a big role to work for peace, including the reduction of nuclear weapons and promotion of nuclear nonproliferation treaties. And that assumption was confirmed by an ex-secretary of the committee who served the role for a quarter of century. He mentioned that the committee had hoped that the award would strengthen the US president to work for world peace.
It sounds proactive, an unusual step for the committee, to award someone for hope, not the achievement he or she has done over the years.
Enjoy reading and learning the insight of Nobel Committee.


Topic Reading-Vol.1262-9/25/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Two million Indians reply to ad for 300 clerical jobs
Simply, there aren’t enough jobs out there. With a population of 215 million, Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state of soon-to-be the most populous nation, has nearly 13 million unemployed young people. No wonder why as many as two million young people applied for 300 entry jobs in the state government for a $240 salary. That’s over 6,000 applicants per job! It is estimated to take four years to interview all the candidates even if they could have 200 interviews a day for 25 days a month. Among the applicants are 152,000 graduates and 255 doctors, who must have spent more money to earn their degrees in the same period of the employment should they get the job.
As private sectors haven’t created enough job opportunities for increasing young population, they seem to have left no choice but to apply for government jobs in the police, military and state offices despite their degrees in higher education.
Will such over-qualified workers maintain their motivation for their jobs? Will those massive interviews be conducted fairly? Will there be corruption and bribes in the selection process for such highly demanded opportunities?
Enjoy reading and thinking about the imbalance in limited job opportunities and growing population.


Topic Reading-Vol.1261-9/24/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Asia's smartphone addiction
How old is too young and how long is too long? Speaking of the smartphone, Asia is the place not only to produce most of the phones sold in the world but also to innovate how to use them. As parents who are already or nearly addicted to smartphones, there is no wonder why their children are even more attached to the personal device since they are just toddlers. Books and TVs already seem to have become the culture in the past, maybe only enjoyed by their grandparents. Kids in the neighborhood are no longer their close friends. Instead, they spend most of their time with their avatars, animation characters or human friends they rarely meet or never met.
Is this kind of behavior addiction, obsession or mental disorientation?
Be reminded before blaming them. Children can’t get their smartphones themselves. They are given and the subscription fee is paid by their parents, just like books or toys. So who should be responsible for this?
Enjoy reading and imagining how those smartphone-addicted children will be like when they become adult and do to their children.


Topic Reading-Vol.1260-9/23/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Marine population halved since 1970 – report
More humans on the ground, more carbon dioxide in the air, and less creatures in the sea. This seems to be the case at least for the last 45 years. The extent of the decline in marine population is staggering, nearly 50% during the period according to a study conducted by the World Wildlife Foundation, or WWF.
What is going to happen for the next few decades of time when the world population is expected to grow by nearly 30% to nine billion? Also, there will be an huge increase in wealthy segment of people whose appetite for certain seafood is extremely high, such as sea cucumbers, shark fins and tuna. Some of the marine creatures may become extinct.
Enjoy reading and learning what is happening and going to happen under the water.


Topic Reading-Vol.1259-9/22/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Air India to ground 'fat' cabin crew
You need to be fit to fly and serve passengers on flights. That’s what Air India, the national flag carrier of India, set as a rule and has been implementing.
The question is how they define who is agile enough to serve passengers and deal with an emergency situation? That’s Body Mass Index, or B.M.I. The range the airline set is 18-25 for a male cabin crew member and 18-22 for female. So a male attendant of 170cm height can weigh as heavy as 72kg and a female of 165cm height can weigh no heavier than 60kg.
These sound normal for most of the rice-diet Asians and young Indians. But when the metabolic process slows down as one ages, the weight tends to rise beyond that normal range unless careful diet and proper exercise are taken routinely.
It is also said that the fitness of the cabin attendants mirrors the corporate image. Then what about the executives of the airline? The heavier their BMIs are, the better the corporate image are? Is ROE, Return on Equity, is the only index for them?
Enjoy reading and learning about the agility to fly.


Topic Reading-Vol.1258-9/21/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Journeys with germs: What are the dirtiest things on an airplane?
What do you think is the dirtiest thing around your seat on an airplane? Surprisingly, the tray table is much dirtier than the overhead air vents or seatbelt buckles, which are also as dirty as lavatory flush buttons.
A microbiologist took 26 samples from various spots in four commercial flights and five airports in the U.S. and measured the amount of bacteria per square inch. The findings are jaw dropping because the spots with more bacteria than others were the tray tables and drinking fountain buttons. Next time you drink water from a fountain in the airport, never wipe your mouth with the finger you pushed the button, or eat anything that touched the tray table.
Enjoy reading and learning what you need to pay attention on your next flight.


Topic Reading-Vol.1257-9/20/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Japanese lawmakers OK greater overseas role for military
Japan's parliament passed a law to allow the military to fight overseas for the first time since the end of World War Two 70 years ago. Many Japanese are attached to the pacifist provisions in the constitution which forbid fighting overseas to resolve international conflicts except in cases of self-defense. Though the changes re-interpret rather than formally change the constitution, critics argue that this will violate the pacifist constitution and could lead Japan into unnecessary US-led wars abroad.
The new legislation would allow Japan's military to mobilize overseas when Japan is attacked, or when a close ally is attacked, and the result threatens Japan's survival and poses a clear danger to people, and there is no other appropriate means available to ensure Japan's survival and protect its people.
Enjoy reading and learning what this re-interpretation of the pacifist constitution could mean to Japan and its neighbors.


Topic Reading-Vol.1256-9/19/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Test shows how old your body really is
How much difference is there between one’s chronological and biological ages? That seems to vary by person extensively. Researchers in the UK have developed a method to measure how fast one’s body is aging.
Some people die early and others live long, sometime over a century. Therefore, chronological age, or how long you’ve lived doesn’t seem to show how much longer you might live accurately. Also, even a healthy person, both physically and mentally, could die tomorrow by a sudden stroke or something. So health doesn’t seem to assure longevity, either. What could give more dependable prediction for aging is to compare your gene activity with sample markers. Sounds like determining a car insurance premium based on the person’s driving habit rather than his/her age, doesn’t it?
Enjoy reading and learning about this new bio-ageing measurement.


Topic Reading-Vol.1255-9/18/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
New human-like species discovered in S Africa
Ardipithecus ramidus (4.4 million years ago), Australopithecus afarensis (3.9 - 2.9 million years ago) and Homo habilis (2.8 - 1.5 million years ago) existed before more widely known human-like species, such as Homo neanderthalensis (200,000 years - 40,000 years), Homo sapiens (200,000 years - present) emerged. Now, remains of new human-like species were found in South Africa that could fill the gap between those primitive and modern species. It’s called Homo naledi, which has small, modern-looking teeth, human-like feet but primitive fingers and a small braincase.
It’s a lifetime dream for any anthropologist to make such a historic discovery. This time, not only the exploration team but the science world is also excited about this emergence of new human kind.
Enjoy reading and learning about the discovery and history of human-like species.


Topic Reading-Vol.1254-9/17/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Is alcohol actually bad for you?
To dink or not to drink. A simple but very controversial question as to if drinking of alcohol is good or not. There is no doubt that excess drinking is harmful for physical health, mental orientation and brain functions. But what about moderate drinking such as a glass of wine or beer a day or several times a week? Mentally, it provides benefit because people want to drink to comfort or satisfy oneself, just like eating sweet. Restraining desire too much may add more stress to daily life. Satisfying desire makes one refreshed or relaxed.
Though numbers of extensive studies have been conducted, it doesn’t seem to be a simple issue because a lot of factors are involved to determine the cause of health problems or life span.
Enjoy reading and learning the effects of drinking.


Topic Reading-Vol.1253-9/16/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
The truth about polar bears
Do polar bears and penguins get well together? No one has known or will most likely ever know if they live together in a same place in nature. The diverged bear lives in the Arctic regions while the flightless bird lives on and near Antarctica. Their habitats are poles away, way too far to swim across.
Apparently, the white bear looks similar to the brown bear, such as the grizzly bear. As some of the grizzly bears live in northern part of the American continent, they occasionally encounter. In fact, they are productively compatible, meaning they can produce offspring. Actually, some of those hybrid bears have been observed.
Enjoy reading and learning about this vulnerable species in the Arctic Circle.


Topic Reading-Vol.1252-9/15/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
US murder rate sees sharp increase in 2015
Rise in murder, not in Afghanistan or Syria, but in the U.S. Cities like Milwaukee, Wisconsin, St Louis, Missouri, and Baltimore, Maryland, each has recorded an over 50% increase in the number of murders so far this year. Also, large cities like Washington DC, New York, Dallas, Chicago and Philadelphia have shown steep rises, though at a lesser extent. Why?
Some say police officers are now policing the cities and towns not as frequently as they used to because they are afraid of being charged for excessive use of force, after the Ferguson incident, the case that a white police officer shot an un-armed African American teenager and caused a violent racial conflict in the town.
Others say social factors such as the youth population or dissatisfied social class are to be blamed.
After all, many of these murders contribute over 33,000 gun related deaths in America.
Imagine living in a city where there is a murder case every day.


Topic Reading-Vol.1251-9/14/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Refugee crisis: Why aren't Gulf states taking them in?
Why are they risking their lives, crossing the water or walking a long way to Europe? Are there any places waiting for them assured by their friends or relatives? Will they get a job to make their living? Do they speak the same language? Isn’t the climate there similar to theirs? Do they share the same faith? The answer is no to all these questions. But they still leave their homelands in Syria and try to settle somewhere in Europe.
The biggest and simplest question is why not the countries in Gulf, Arabian Peninsula or northern Africa? There are at least several oil-rich countries and kingdoms where there are a lot of foreign workers taking construction and service jobs. These places offer the same language and religion, similar climate and life styles and more importantly closer access to their homeland.
So far, rich countries such as Saudi, Kuwait and UAE have loosen their deep pockets a little, donating several hundred millions of dollars for humanitarian assistance, but still keep tight on their borders. What are their rationales?
Enjoy reading and learning how neighboring countries react to this historic exodus.


Topic Reading-Vol.1250-9/13/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Earth's trees number 'three trillion'
It’s eight times more than the previous estimate. The latest estimate of the number of trees on our planet is around three trillion. Where are they? Approximately a little under half of the trees are in tropical or sub-tropical regions like famous Amazon rainforest.
How big is three trillion? Since there are a little over seven billion people living in the world, the number of trees per person is about 420. You may think there are a lot of trees but not quite. As deforestation continues, about 10 billion trees are being lost every year. Humans control the environment of today and the future.
Enjoy reading and learning about the population of trees.


Topic Reading-Vol.1249-9/12/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
NASA starts year-long isolation to simulate life on Mars
Six people, three men and three women, have started living in total isolation, for 365 days. They aren’t family or friends. Once thing common among them is the fact that they volunteered to put themselves to this experimental project, simulation of what the life would be like on our neighbor planet, Mars.
They are now living in a small dome without privacy or any contact with outside. When they go out, they have to wear a spacesuit. Though where they are is Hawaii, there are no green plants or live animals because the site is near the volcano in the big island. Personal conflicts are unavoidable even among those highly intelligent and motivated specialists, and that is indeed part of the experiment.
Would you be interested in taking part in such an extreme environment? Maybe with a smartphone, if it works.
Enjoy reading and imagining what the life for those brave six volunteers would be like for the next 12 months.


Topic Reading-Vol.1248-9/11/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Blue sky vanishes immediately after Beijing's massive parade
What are Beijingers longing for the most? Any event of national pride, such as APEC summit or anniversary military parade which just took place on Sep. 3rd.
Why? Beijing is so infamous for its badly polluted gray sky. Beijingers usually suffer from heavy smog and can’t see blue sky or enjoy breathable fresh air.
However, when the nation’s capital hosts an event of significance to draw attention from the world, it bans the use of cars, order employees of all businesses to take day offs and shut down air-polluting factories for days.
Because of these decisive measures, the residents can then enjoy not only sudden holidays but also blue sky and no traffic for a short period of time. They call such precious blue sky “APEC blue” or “Parade blue,” which now also refer something doesn’t last long, such a love affair or fad.
Unfortunately, just like a daydream, the usual is back the day after the event.
Enjoy comparing the photos of Beijing sky before and after the massive parade.


Topic Reading-Vol.1247-9/10/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Frederick Forsyth reveals MI6 spying past
Have you read or seen any of Forsyth’s books or films? He used to be a journalist working in various places in conflicts, including Nigeria during the 1967-70 Biafran War, which killed over a million people in the battles and famine. He was asked by Britain’s foreign intelligence agency, MI6 (Military Intelligence, Section 6) to provide hands-on information about what was really going on in the war region. Of course, not like the way 007 does in the films. Since then, he had had contact with the agency to give information that he gained in the other side of the iron wall during the cold war period, while having been given approvals for the sensitive contents in his books.
Some may question his authenticity or integrity as an independent journalist and writer. But he wasn’t paid for any of the information he handed nor directed what or how to write in his books.
After all, in those days, it was hard to decline such a request for the nation he belongs to and loves.
Enjoy reading about this intelligence activities of the master spy-story teller


Topic Reading-Vol.1246-9/9/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Why do some people refer to themselves in the third person?
Do you refer to yourself as he or she? Or do you know anyone who does?
Some people, especially those who are proud of themselves and their successful achievement, tend to have this linguistic habit.
According to a psychotherapist, thinking about yourself in the third person isn’t that an unusual habit especially among those who believe they are successful. However, talking about yourself in the third person is not a usual custom. For example, Julius Caesar wrote, “Caesar conquered ~ and successfully placed Roman governance in the region.”
Who and how they use this third person reference?
Enjoy reading and learning about this curious behavior.


Topic Reading-Vol.1245-9/8/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
North America's tallest mountain to be renamed Denali
What to call a local icon or identity is a much more significant issue than others might think. There are places whose names were recently renamed from British ones to the original ones, Mumbai from Bombay, Chennai from Madras in India, or Chomolungma from Mount Everest in Tibet.
Now the Democrat President has renamed North America’s highest mountain known as Mount. McKinley to Denali in the state of Alaska, Republicans’ stronghold. The move was welcomed and praised by Alaskans who have been campaigning for the rename at the federal level.
No matter what people call the 6,190-meter tall mountain, the view and presence of the mountain remain unchanged.
Enjoy reading and learning about this recent renaming of Alaska’s proud mountain.


Topic Reading-Vol.1244-9/7/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Google’s look, evolved
By now you might have recognized the change of the look, Google’s logo, on your PC, tablet, smartphone, TV or wearable. That is exactly the reason the giant search engine, or rather an information service provider nowadays, has revamped its logo design.
As its official blog says, “once upon a time”, which refers to as long as 17 years ago when they started the service, they were dealing only with PCs. In those days, a click was the key to access something. But now, people have access to its services anywhere, anytime and by any device by tapping, touching and/or talking.
It doesn’t matter to its users which logo they are shown. But for them, it’s a forward-looking move especially after announcing its new organizational structure and leaders.
Enjoy reading and seeing their new style.


Topic Reading-Vol.1243-9/6/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Xi meets with former KMT chairman, stressing joint marking war anniversary
Fought each other, together against warlords, each other again, together against Japan and each other to be separated. That is what these two Chinese parties had done in the early 20th century, the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Kuomintang (KMT) or the Nationalists until they established the current states in mainland China and in Taiwan respectively in 1949.
70 years after their united front against Japan ended, they shook hands to commemorate the victory and end of the war against Japan, clearly not to remember the beginning of the Civil War which left no fewer casualties than they had endured during Japanese aggression, and devastated the entire country for four years.
Is this the beginning of a new path toward unification?
Enjoy reading and learning how CPC announced the handshake with KMT.


Topic Reading-Vol.1242-9/5/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
China to cut troops by 300,000: President Xi
On September 3rd 2015, China commemorated the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. They showed off its muscles more clearly than ever at the V-Day military parade with 12,000 troops in 50 formations, not to mention their latest weapons and vehicles on the ground and in the air.
President Xi Jinping, also the top of the People’s Liberation Army (P.L.A.), not only demonstrated China’s military might to the world but also pleaded commitment to peace saying, “China will never seek hegemony or expansion.”
He also announced to reduce it troops by 300,000 from the 2.2-million-strong armed forces to modernize the military, shifting resources from land to sea, air and presumably cyber and outer space.
The question is why one needs to have such a military show-off to commit peace.
Enjoy reading what now-the-most-influential leader said to his people and the world.


Topic Reading-Vol.1241-9/4/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
How does Usain Bolt run so fast?
Many of you want to know this secret. Why one can run faster than the others in a race, especially among the top athletes who have been given natural ability and persevered vigorous training? You may assume the faster the legs move, the faster the runner can go. But what makes difference between top athletes and casual runners isn’t the speed of their leg’s movement but the time the runner in the air, or strides.
According to a researcher in England. Ordinary runner takes 50-55 steps to run 100 meters while top athletes reach the finish line only by 45 or so steps . Also, longer time in the air means shorter time on the ground. Ordinary runners are touching the ground as long as 50% longer than top athletes.
OK, now. Why Bolt sprints faster than other top athletes?
Enjoy reading and learning what makes runners run faster.


Topic Reading-Vol.1240-9/3/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Dos and don’ts to preserve your brain power
As one gets older, his or her ability to remember new things tends to weaken. It becomes more difficult to remember even a thing you just were going to do. Are there any effective solutions or exercises to stop or delay such aging problem?
The answer is not No. Though there isn’t any silver bullet to shoot the cause of this problem, there are several things you should or shouldn’t do to delay or ease the problem, such as physical exercises, healthy eating and socializing with others. Also, learning to speak a new language or to play the piano seem to have positive effects.
Then what are the things you shouldn’t do? Exposing your ears to loud music or sound as well as putting junk foods to your stomach. That doesn’t sound anything new, does it?
Enjoy reading and learning how to deal with brain aging.


Topic Reading-Vol.1239-9/2/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Expert: We're 'locked-in' to 3 feet sea level rise
A rise in global sea levels of one to three feet. That was the prediction that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change made two years ago. But according to NASA’s latest projections, even the higher end of the estimate doesn’t seem to be enough. That’s bad news for those who live or do business in coastal areas or islands with low altitude, not to mention the polar bears that have already been struggling to live in fast-changing environment.
The cause? Expanding warmer ocean water, melting mountain glacier and ice sheets especially in Greenland and Antarctic. As a matter of fact, sea levels have already risen close to 3 inches for the last two decades. As the population and activities of humans are going to increase rapidly for the next few decades, higher sea levels seem inevitable.
Enjoy reading and learning another warning of global warning.


Topic Reading-Vol.1238-9/1/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
The Challenges of Setting up Shop in India
India is rising for sure. Unlike fast-aging China, nearly two-thirds of the 1.2 billion population are under the age of 35. But how to ride the giant elephant? There seem to be numbers of challenges that foreign business investors and operators have to face.
India is so diverse that most foreigners have difficulty understanding their customs, cultures, religions, caste, language and practices. It is the world largest democratic state with over 700 million eligible voters. However, it is far from transparent like other democratic countries, ranked 85 among 175 countries on transparency and corruption index.
The transportation is another hurdle. It has only 1,300 km of fast roads compared to 112,000 km in China. There are no fast-train railroads which China has over 20,000km across the country.
However, it is still one of the most prospective market in the world.
Enjoy reading and learning about the challenges to do business in India.