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Topic Reading-Vol.1603-8/31/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Controversy over business-class seats on Shenzhen subway
Business class for subway? China is fast and radical when it comes to developing new public transport, such as over 20,000km high speed railway network or recently shown proto-type of the gigantic elevated bus. Now, one of the busiest metropolitan cities, Shenzhen, has introduced a business class carriage in one of its subway lines. It offers luxurious seats, space and comfort that most passengers long for at a price three time higher than the normal fare. It sounds like a good option for rich or tired passengers but not so to the passengers on the other carriages who are more squeezed due to the reduced capacity for the business class carriage. In the meantime, it offers decent travelling option for the travelers from and to the airport that locates 50 kilometers from the city center.
It sounds controversial, doesn’t it?
Enjoy reading and thinking whether you would use the business class car if you were one of the daily commuters of the subway line.


Topic Reading-Vol.1602-8/30/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
India minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan ridiculed for flood photo
Aerial survey. That’s what one of the comments posted on the Twitter on this photo says.
Indeed. The chief minister of the central state of Madhya Pradesh, India seemed to have an inconsiderate move when he paid a visit to the flood-devastated area. Was he just unprepared for the flood or ill-advised by his staff? He was even compared to the former PM of the UK doing the same task with long rain boots on. In fact, none of the followers in the photo looks wearing long boots to inspect the flooded area. Only the poor who usually live in bare feet look more appropriately suited for the task.
If you do it, do it right.
Enjoy seeing the photo and thinking of appropriate words to describe it.


Topic Reading-Vol.1601-8/29/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Airlander 10: Maiden flight at last for longest aircraft
It’s a hybrid aerial vehicle of airplane and airship. It was originally designed for long-term surveillance missions by the US government but was later abandoned due to budget cutback. Airlander 10 is now produced and flown by a British firm for various usages such as surveillance, communications, deliveries and travels. It is over ninety meters long, the longest aircraft in the world. It can stay in the air as long as five days during manned flights. It seems to be advantageous to be long, at least from some perspective.
Enjoy seeing how this longest-ever aircraft takes off and flies in the air, and thinking which could be your dream vacation, cruising in the water or floating in the air.


Topic Reading-Vol.1600-8/28/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
A secret school for Afghans in Iran
Just like anyone else, refugees are humans. Whether documented or not, they need not only food to eat and places to live in but also medical care, education and job opportunities. For fortunate ones who are accepted and registered in a country may get such basic necessities to settle in a new place and start a new life. But many of them aren’t that fortunate. For example, the children of those undocumented immigrants are not enrolled in schools. They are undocumented and uneducated, and left behind from others and abandoned from the society.
But where there is need for help, some people try to offer their hands to help the needy. And there is a person in Iran who tries to educate those undocumented immigrants from Afghanistan.
Enjoy reading and learning how difficult the life of refugees in a foreign country.


Topic Reading-Vol.1599-8/27/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The secret language of flight attendants
Have you noticed some common terms that crew members use on the airplane such as "Cross-check," or "Prepare doors for departure"?
You might have been unconsciously guessing that they mean checking something to make it sure or do something before leaving the gate. Yes. But there are some reasons why crew members use those terms. You may find it interesting to learn some of the terms to know the status or situation of the flight you’re on board.
Enjoy reading and learning to prepare for your next flight.


Topic Reading-Vol.1598-8/26/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Senior North Korean diplomat's defection a 'unique situation
A high-profile diplomat turned a defector. There must have been desperate reasons to desert a home country to live in another that is regarded as the enemy or archrival at best. Though his immediate family are all with him, his parents and other relatives are still in his home country. Those who were left are presumably going to face difficulties from now on. People who they work or live with won’t treat them in the same way they used to do any longer.
And the defector and his immediate family members also most likely live with fears of being assassinated or abducted even under the protection program. Every day and night, a knock on the door or a ring on the phone is going to scare them. Difficult choice they made, didn’t they?
Enjoy reading and think of a life as a defector.


Topic Reading-Vol.1597-8/25/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
What is killing India's babies?
It may be too conventional and also affordable for some physicians. Antibiotics. If they are used too much or wrongly, they become not only ineffective to the virus but also make the virus more resistant to antibiotics. This means that it’s up to the physician who subscribes the medicine that determines the fate of the patient’s life, especially new born babies.
According to the study by one of the leading microbiology researchers, there are as many as 58,000 babies who die from such antibiotic-resistant viruses, or superbugs in India, where antibiotics are used more than any other country in the world.
Are physicians in India so careless or untrained to give right treatment to babies, or do they tend to rely on strong medicine that should be used as last resort?
Enjoy reading and learning what proper treatment and use of strong medicine.


Topic Reading-Vol.1596-8/24/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Is this the most beautiful way to burn trash?
Architectural design to be cleaner and greener. Usually, very few are interested in visiting waste facilities or power plants because they are often ugly and smelly. You may often see or imagine dark smoke is being emitted from the incinerators or power generators. But if such facilities are designed by architects to promote greener environment or to provide facility for leisure activities such as skiing or snowboarding?
That’s what has been and is being done by some architects who are eager to educate and entice people for greener environment.
Enjoy reading and checking the ideas that could help reduce trash and garbage.


Topic Reading-Vol.1595-8/23/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
What’s the easiest sport to win a gold in?
Enjoyed watching the Olympic Games? It’s quite exciting to see someone wins a gold medal especially in a popular sport like 100m sprint, marathon or football. Those who won a gold medal must be highly talented, well supported and of course, must have worked very hard.
But when you think of winning a gold medal, you may want to choose a sport that you’re not only good at of course but also less competitive in the Olympic Games. What are they?
After all, all the medals are created equal and look the same.
Enjoy reading and learning a way to win a medal.


Topic Reading-Vol.1594-8/22/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Forbidden City gets wireless coverage
It was designed and built as emperor’s palace in the 15th century during the Ming Dynasty. It wasn’t supposedly visited by tourists or commoners. Forbidden City in Beijing had been a secretive and closed place for five centuries until a hundred years ago. It is now the Palace Museum, the most visited museum in the world.
As such popular tourist destination, the museum now offers a free Wi-Fi service to its visitors to provide information of the facilities and exhibitions. It also allows visitors to participate in interactive games and treasure hunt activities.
The closed and forbidden city is now an open and accommodating museum.
Enjoy reading and thinking if you’re interested in visiting this modernized museum of historical exhibitions.


Topic Reading-Vol.1593-8/21/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Why India needs a Daughters' Day
It’s because that kind of grass-roots activity is needed to correct their social behaviors, practices and disrespects on women in addition to making and enforcing laws to protect women and girls including the ones before born.
Because of the patriarchy deeply entrenched in their societies, the sex ratio in India is 110 boys for every 100 girls in the same age. Without human intervention, the ratio is supposed to like 103 to 106 boys. Though the ratio isn’t as bad as the one in China, which goes over 115 boys per 100 girls, it clearly shows boys are preferred children for Indian families. Even after their born, girls’ lives are threatened by abuses, rapes and assaults.
Now the government, or at least the minister in charge, has moved a little further to educate people to appreciate and treat girls in the same way as they do to boys by using social media. This kind of campaign is definitely cost efficient and seems more effective than the ones being spent a lot of money.
Enjoy reading and learning what sort of prejudice and mistreatment are still in place in India.
p.s. Just be reminded that “Thursday” means not this one in this week but Aug.11th.


Topic Reading-Vol.1592-8/20/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Would you take a selfie on Mars? Julien Mauve snaps interplanetary tourists
Is it so unrealistic for ordinary people to travel to the red planet? As the photographer who earned the 2016 Sony World Photography Award said, it takes only half a day and $800 to travel to the other side of our planet. Then why not to the neighbor planet?
And what would you do if you had a dream vacation on Mars? Of course, you won’t be able to swim in the water or breathe fresh air there. But you would definitely enjoy shooting once-in-a-life photos of the scenery and yourself.
That’s what the photographer wanted to show in his photos of the traveler’s using a selfie and a tablet like any tourist does on earth. Though the background is unusual, the persons in the photos look quite natural.
Enjoy seeing the photos and imagining if or when you would take a journey to Mars.


Topic Reading-Vol.1591-8/19/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
In pictures: India's stunted children
While education may give a chance for better job opportunities and more prospective future, nutrition, especially in the early stage of life, including before born period, seems to provide good health and physical development for later life.
Thanks to its tech-laden education and furious competition, India recently has produced world renowned scientists, professors, CEOs and tech specialists. They are also driving high-tech and medical businesses and have created leading industries and jobs in rapidly growing cities like Bengaluru.
However, many of its 1.3 billion population haven’t gotten toilets, sanitary water or proper nutrition. As a results, India has the highest number of children suffering from stunted growth in the world, according to the charity WaterAid. Food shortage, poor sanitation and contaminated drinking water are to blame for malnutrition, which results in stunted growth among children. Also malnutrition during pregnancy among child bearing mothers causes the problems.
Basic nutrition and sanitation before higher-education. That’s what seems to be needed more immediately, not only in India but also in other developing countries.
Enjoy reading and thinking how to improve the situation for such left-behind children.


Topic Reading-Vol.1590-8/18/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Road test for homegrown transit elevated bus
China fast. It was only a month ago when a new public transportation concept was revealed.
Now, there is a proto-type to test the feasibility of the concept.
No wonder why the one-party ruling country has put over 20,000km high speed railway network in seven years.
The idea looked so unique and innovative that many didn’t expect to see the actual unit so quickly, merely a month.
Do you think you’ll really see such a progressive mass transportation model appear in the near future? If it ever does, it will be most likely in China.

Enjoy seeing the photos of the actual concept of the new transportation system.


Topic Reading-Vol.1589-8/17/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Dutch men confirmed as world's tallest
The taller the better? May be, up to some extent.
Over the last century, people in most areas have increased their height, which is a proof of better environment, such as nutrition, healthcare, sanitation and medication. Even North Koreans have had some gain in height while people in sub-Saharan Africa or south Asia haven’t shown such gains.
Interestingly, most of the tallest people are Europeans led by Netherlands for men and Latvia for women. Americans used to be taller than others a century ago but now they aren’t so much taller. Is that because they had immigrants from Mexico and Asian countries or are consuming too much junk food and drinks instead of natural produce or milk?
Enjoy reading and learning who are taller than the others in the world.


Topic Reading-Vol.1588-8/16/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Life among barrel bombs for Aleppo's children
Just too much for children. Children who manage to survive in this war-torn Syrian city, Aleppo, where bombs and shells fall like monsoon rain, suffer from mental disorder. Mistrust and unrest caused by a civil war destruct children’s minds much more badly than a war against an external enemy because mistrust and uncertainty are developed among their own people.
But beyond such situational problems, what is the state of mind of a child like if a she sees a death of her family member, or he himself experiences a life-or-death moment? It’s just more than too much for vulnerable children to bear emotionally and psychologically.
No wonder why so many refugees have been fleeing from the region.
Read the article and think what kind of mental relief and treatment should be given to those unfortunate children in Syria.


Topic Reading-Vol.1587-8/15/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Taiwan president gives first apology to indigenous groups
Never too late for apology. However, it requires not only personal courage but also political determination and consideration to apologize something made long ago by the predecessors or ancestors.
There are only about 2% of the 23 million population in Taiwan whose ancestors were native to the island. Over the last four centuries, the island was colonized, ruled and assimilated by the people from Europe, China, and Japan. Their cultures, traditions, languages and lifestyles have been severely affected by those rulers. Many of those indigenous people work under the average wages and live below the modern standards.
Now the Taiwan’s new leader whose ancestors are partly from one of those indigenous tribes formally apologized to the indigenous people for the past abuse and wrongdoing.
The question now is what and how much the government will do to respect their cultures and improve their living standards.
Enjoy reading and learning about what this courageous leader has done to the indigenous people.


Topic Reading-Vol.1586-8/14/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Chinese flock to America to work for companies they've bought
Is the U.S. too open to talented or affluent foreigners? It has quite a few visa allocations each year to those who have outstanding brains or skills, and also to those who make decent financial investment. This will make the country to stay competitive in today’s academic, research and development and business environment.
Then who are the ones getting the ticket to live in the U.S.? Chinese, especially the rich. Many of them seem to prefer living in the freedom and luxury without worrying about air pollution or political intervention, not to mention the un-censored, un-restricted access to the Internet. Also, they can make their children better educated in English speaking environment.
While the U.S. is not welcoming China’s growing influence over Asia, the Pacific and the cyber space, its doors are still open to their talent and money, at least up to certain extent.
Enjoy reading and thinking if you’re also interested in investing in the U.S.


Topic Reading-Vol.1585-8/13/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Second-child policy spurs new spending in China
New babies, new businesses. Sounds good not only for couples who have wanted to have a second child but also for businesses that sell maternity and infants goods and services, including doctors and hospitals. Thanks to the adjusted policy by the central party committee last year, more Chinese couples seem to be encouraged to have second child despite the rising costs for education and housing.
It’s also good for social development. The country had been under a strict one-child policy in urban districts nearly four decades until the policy was eased in 2013. Only couples in rural areas had been allowed to have a second one if the first child was a girl.
This policy successfully controlled the population growth but it also caused shortages in workforce as well as gender imbalance because many Chinese couples prefer boys to girls.
It seems that Chinese boys still have to wait for a while to find their mates.
Enjoy reading and learning about new economy created by a policy change.


Topic Reading-Vol.1584-8/12/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Iran destroys 100,000 'corrupting' satellite dishes
Militia seems to have higher authority than the government in Iran.
The country has the Revolutionary Guard to protect the country's Islamic system besides ordinary military, to prevent foreign interference and coups by the military or any other forces.
Under this spiritual guard unit, there is a paramilitary organization that works on the ground level called Basij. They recently collected and destroyed a large number of satellite dishes to protect the country from spiritual corruption despite the criticism by the president and education minister. Their rationale is that satellites undermine the family value and spoil children.
If satellites do such harm to people, what about the Internet?
Enjoy reading and comparing this militia to Nazi’s paramilitary wing or the Red Guards during the cultural revolution.


Topic Reading-Vol.1583-8/11/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
South China Sea: Vietnam airport screens hacked
Anything can be hacked. Emails and websites are no surprise. Political campaigns are also victims of hacking. And now, flight display screens in the airport. This caused serious inconvenience to many of the passengers who were flying or transiting at two major airports in Vietnam. Can you imagine seeing political messages against the nation’s political stance in the capital’s airport?
This is what happened in at Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City airports. The screens and sound systems broadcast political criticism against Vietnam and Philippines on the disputed waters in the South China Sea.
Though it was indeed shocking, the problem was so obvious that the airport officials managed to cope with the problem manually. But if any sensitive or critical information was altered subtly and not being recognized, no counter actions or measures could be taken and problems could become out-of-hand.
Enjoy reading and thinking if auto-driving is hacking-free.


Topic Reading-Vol.1582-8/10/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Cambodia: Why Tonle Sap is world's most threatened lake
Overfishing indeed depletes the fish supply in any water, a sea, lake or river, no matter how abundant the supply is. The increasing population and growing appetite for healthier protein, overfishing is becoming a regional problem beyond borders.
Here in Cambodia, Tonle Sap Lake is literally a large river (tonle), that connects Tonlé Sap River to the Mekong. The water level of this lake fluctuates by season but the overall water supply has been decreasing, environmental changes caused by humans are mainly to blame. It casts a dark shadow over the region’s future.
As a more immediate danger, its fish supply is rapidly declining to the level that some fishermen were left no choice but to change their jobs. This is caused by overfishing and the use of illegal fishing methods such as poison, explosives and small-meshed nets.
The problems of this once abundant and resourceful lake are mainly caused by the people who used to be and are supposed to be enjoying the resource of the lake.
Enjoy reading and seeing the video to learn how easily people deplete the vital resource.


Topic Reading-Vol.1581-8/9/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
A passage of hope on India's hospital train
Only one doctor for every 1,000 inhabitants. That’s the number of doctors on average in India whose population is going to be the largest in a few years. But that doesn’t represent the situations in rural towns where there are very few and limited medical facilities or practitioners are found.
In order to provide specialized medical services and operations, a hospital train has been running across the subcontinent over the last 25 years. It has equipment to conduct diagnosis and surgeries by doctors and surgeons, all voluntary. Local hospital pre-check the patients and decide who should be treated in the train.
The timetable of this train is announced a year before the scheduled arrival. That is how much this hospital train is needed. Patients need to be very patient.
Enjoy reading and seeing the photos of this life saving or changing train service.


Topic Reading-Vol.1580-8/8/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Jupiter's giant red storm makes its atmosphere hotter than molten lava
The great red spot in Jupiter. You might recall it in a picture of the largest planet in our solar system, just like a ring of Saturn. In fact, this red spot is a gigantic storm that is three times larger than the size of our planet. It is so huge that it takes as long as six days to complete a spin.
New studies found that the storm stirs up the gas for hundreds of years and heat the atmosphere above it to 1,000 degrees Celsius. How can a storm in such a distant planet from the Sun generates heat like that?
Enjoy reading and learning about this familiar but unknown red spot in Jupiter.


Topic Reading-Vol.1579-8/7/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The Mystery of Van Gogh’s Madness
Art is life. 75 paint works just in the last 70 days of his life, including the one painted on the very morning Van Gogh committed suicide, July 27, 1890. He was only 37. And one of those last works was the famous “Wheatfield with Crows.”
Ever since he sliced off his left ear in the last month of 1988, the great painter had been suffering from mental illness until he finally took his life himself 18 months later. Mid-thirties is supposed to be the most creative and productive time for many artists. Some enjoy the success and fame they have created while others struggle with mental or physical difficulties such as Mozart or Beethoven. And sadly, Van Gogh also left great works in those days, predicting or expecting his last day on earth approaching somehow.
Enjoy reading and thinking what death meant to the great painter. 


Topic Reading-Vol.1578-8/6/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Indian parliament backs key tax bill
In fact, it seems that India has more states than the EU.
While EU member states have no economical border to move goods from one to another, India has 29 states that levy tax individually when goods are brought in. Truck drivers have to submit document to pay taxes when they drive across a border to another state. This sounds like the middle-age tax systems that were practiced centuries ago. In one sense, India is not one country when it comes to taxes.
Now, a new law has just been passed the parliament to have one Goods and Service Tax for the all 29 states. It is the first break-through tax reform since its independence nearly seven decades ago.
No wonder why India is still stuck with its world-largest democracy while its rival one-party-ruling country, China, has already become number two in many areas just in the last decade.
Enjoy reading and learning what could make economy boost more than the other, process or action.


Topic Reading-Vol.1577-8/5/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Rio Olympics bring beautification projects to rundown areas
If murals could change the safety, security, and beauty of a city, there will be painting works all around the world. But no one thing could change any city and its suburbs, even hosting a big event like the Olympic Games.
Rio de Janeiro is hosting the 2016 games. Quite a lot of changes have been made to transform the city of local residents and visitors from the world, and the very rich and very poor. Huge mural work has been painted, an Oceanside bike path was built (and collapsed), an old motorway was replaced by a public transportation system, and abandoned sites were transformed into a public park and play ground.
Will these changes make the city and the lives of the residents, including the ones of poor people living in the suburbs, any better after the games?
Enjoy reading the article and seeing the before-after photos.


Topic Reading-Vol.1576-8/4/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Solar Impulse completes historic round-the-world trip
Just a weight of a full-size SUV, it has a longer wingspan than that of a B747 jumbo jet. It uses only solar energy and speeds 70km per hour, not as fast as cars on the high way. Yet this break-through solar powered airplane flew around the world. It took 17 legs from its first departure at Abu Dhabi, UAE to land back there after flying 35,000km in four months and two weeks.
The cockpit is as tiny as a phone box. In the longest leg from Japan to Hawaii, the pilot had to endure nearly five days to cover 9,000km. He was allowed to sleep only 20 minutes at a time.
Enjoy reading and thinking what this world trip could mean in the history of aviation and renewable energy.


Topic Reading-Vol.1575-8/3/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
China's Sansha launches maritime ecological protection fund
This time, an ecological activity.
Though Sansha is administered as a prefecture-level city by China, it is internationally disputed territory, including the Spratly Islands and Paracel Islands in the South China Sea.
Despite the recent international tribunal ruling that its claims to rights in the South China Sea have no legal basis, China doesn’t seem to hesitate to increase its aggression to the area. Making artificial landscape, a port and a runway, and deploying military vessels and aircraft don’t seem to be enough. There is now an ecological movement in the sea.
If one reads, hears and sees news and stories only from once side, he or she would probably believe them without much doubt.
The water and the blue hole just look too beautiful for any dispute.
Enjoy reading and thinking if you want to go and see this beautiful nature.


Topic Reading-Vol.1574-8/2/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Muslims pray with Catholics over French priest's murder
People are brothers and sisters. Beyond the race, belief or gender, or, language, culture or country, people are people. People can do something better and bigger in solidarity.
That is what happened in France when people gather to mourn the 85-year-old Catholic priest who was killed by two Muslim teenagers. Groups of Muslims attended the masses in churches across the country to pay tribute to the father.
People enjoy watching Olympic games or movies, or show sympathies to those who have lost their loved one. Though not exactly the same, people have common sense and feeling that can be shared with most of others.
Enjoy reading and thinking which creates more value to this world, union or division.


Topic Reading-Vol.1573-8/1/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Erdogan to West: 'Mind your own business'
On one point, he may be on the right course. Ever since the failed coup attempt threatened his fate, Turkey’s president Erdogan has been cracking down on those who were involved in the attempt and also anyone who might have supported or associated with them in order to prevent such unlawful incident from recurring. But it seems the crackdown has gone a little too far. The number of people arrested, detained or sacked went over 60,000.
World media and leaders have expressed their concerns about this radical purge as a way to realize authoritarian regime. And such criticism is of course unacceptable to Erdogan who seems to have determined to secure his elected seat and to protect democracy.
The world no longer need domestic conflict or political instability in the Middle East, and Turkey sits in a very pivotal place between the East and West, bordering Greece/EU, Syria, Iraq, Iran and Russia.
Enjoy reading and thinking what could happen if Turkey becomes unfriendly with its allies.