RSS Feed


Topic Reading-Vol.1694-11/30/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
'They will kill us': The Rohingya refugees fleeing torture and rape in Myanmar
Religious reason or racial hatred? According to the state media, the operation by the army soldiers was to clear certain areas to find the suspects who killed nine soldiers in October, and is for the sake of national security. The clearance operations included activities like burning the houses, raping women, killing men and chasing those who managed to escape to the border.
Who are the people persecuted by the Myanmar military forces? They are the Rohingya [ˈroʊɪndʒə] people. Most of them are Muslim and their population in Myanmar is estimated to be somewhere around 1.3 million. Though there isn’t any state religion in the country, the vast majority of the Myanmarese believe in Buddhism, and Islam is just one of the minor religions. Unfortunately, the Rohingya people have been segregated and ill-treated for long and is perceived as one of the most persecuted minorities in the world.
Do you remember or know the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate for her non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights?
Enjoy reading and remembering who the political leader of Myanmar is.


Topic Reading-Vol.1693-11/29/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The world most generous countries
What is generosity? Donating money to causes, giving time or volunteering to help others in need? None of these actions seems more substantial or troublesome than solving an algebra problem or doing a grocery shopping. For some it’s just part of their lives, but for others it’s not something they are used to doing regularly or even occasionally.
There are countries that people seem to do or give something for others quite naturally. According to 2016 Global Civic Engagement Report, Burma came to the top of the list of the world most generous countries followed by the US, Australia, New Zealand and Sri Lanka.
Anything common among these countries or cultures?
Enjoy reading and thinking what makes people more generous to others.


Topic Reading-Vol.1692-11/28/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
How will India destroy 20 billion banknotes?
In Topic Reading-Vol.1677, India’s scraping 500 and 1,000 rupee bank notes overnight was introduced. This bold move was to crack down on "black money" or illegal cash holdings. It created long lines in front of the banks as well as confusions and worries among people who have had enough cash to exchange.
To prepare new banknotes to replace the currently-circulated ones in this magnitude in complete secret was an astonishing job, though the printing the new banknotes was delayed due to the shortage of ink! Also, transporting them to the banks across the country and storing them in the vaults in safe must have taken considerable efforts by many.
But what about the replaced banknotes? The estimated number of expired banknotes is somewhere around 20 billion. Will they be recycled, burned to ashes or used as toilet paper?
Enjoy reading and learning what the fates of soiled, damaged or replaced banknotes are once they are collected.


Topic Reading-Vol.1691-11/27/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
World’s Most Expensive Home Hits Market for €1 Billion
A billion dollars for a single home? How expensive a family residence could be? What are the key factors to determine the price tag of an exclusive property, the location, view, style, size, number of bedrooms and bath rooms, age or story?
There are numbers of luxurious properties for sale around the world from America, China to France whose values are well over hundreds of millions. One thing quite common among such expensive properties is the location. Most of them are located in a quiet place or elevated from the noise and traffic of the city, and are overseeing the ocean, mountains, forests or city.
While the number of bedrooms matters more to ordinary families, it doesn’t seem to bother those who are looking for extraordinarily exclusive properties. Of course, only few have over 10 family members to live with.
Enjoy reading and seeing the photos and price tags of the most valuable family properties.


Topic Reading-Vol.1690-11/26/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Pope Francis extends Catholic priests' power to forgive abortion
Yesterday’s Vol.1689 covered how Pope Francis is shaking up the Vatican by appointing new cardinals who are dedicated to those who need help especially in Africa and South Asia.
He made another significant announcement on November 30 when the Year of Mercy ended. During the year, any priests had been authorized the power to absolve the sin of abortion, which were usually allowed only to bishops. He extended this special permission indefinitely.
Abortion has been regarded as a moral evil in the Catholic Church for the last 20 centuries. Though that stance won’t be changed, every priest now can forgive the mothers who confess the sin and wish to come back to church. The intention is to make the Catholic Church more open to anyone who repent from sin.
Giving authorization to the field staff is nothing new in modern businesses, but it’s not that simple to implement such practice for this two-millennium old society.
Enjoy reading and thinking if there is any difference between indefinite extension and permanent resolution.


Topic Reading-Vol.1689-11/25/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
How Pope Francis is shaking up the Vatican
Theory to practice. Vatican to the places where help is needed. That’s what Pope Francis seems to be working on since he became the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church in 2013.
In fact, the 266th pope is more open to other religions, LGBTs, and concerned about humility and the poor.
In his latest appointment of cardinals, who advise and elect the pope, there are more outsiders from Vatican circle than before. His picks are those who actually have been working for people in the fields where help is needed, especially in Africa and South Asia.
As Muslim population is growing rapidly, it seems necessary for other religious leaders to reshape and strengthen their organizations and next leaders.
Enjoy reading and thinking what world leaders should be doing for the present and future agenda.


Topic Reading-Vol.1688-11/24/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The world first blue wine
Tradition or innovation?
That seems to be the key divide whether one would try this newly created wine or not. When you eat traditional an Italian or Spanish dish, what sort of drinks should go well with it?
OR, resistance to blue. Yes, there are some blue drinks like soda drinks or cocktails like Blue Hawaii, but not usually on dinner tables.
Some entrepreneurs in Spain challenged to create new type of wine. Blue wine. They neither are expertise nor had had any previous experience in wine business but wanted to create something totally new to this most traditional drink.
Some like it but others don’t. It’s hard to imagine eating red tomato sauce pasta with blue wine. Will they go well?
Enjoy reading and thinking if you’re interested in trying this new wine with your favorite dish.


Topic Reading-Vol.1687-11/23/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
University in Henan shows off futuristic library
What do you think this facility is? It looks like a public space where people can meet, gather or relax. It looks so spacious and accommodating that one may spend a whole day working on some project. Yes. That’s what university libraries have been used these days. They are no longer a place where paper books are stored and read but where students work on their assignments, projects or interest. And it is a space where future talents and innovations are going to be created.
What about books? The fifteen-century innovation to print books seems to have been nearly replaced by digital revolution in the 21st century.
Enjoy seeing the photos and imagine how creative and innovative students will be if they spend time in such innovative library.


Topic Reading-Vol.1686-11/22/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
People around the world are eating banana peels because they know something that Westerners do not.
Banana peels are edible. For most of you, eating a banana means just its flesh, not the yellow peel. Though the peel is not edible as is like the flesh unless you are starving to death, they could be palatable if they are fried, baked or boiled. And there are some benefits of eating it.
First, the peel is nutritious. It contains similar nutrients as the flesh.
Second, it is environmentally friendly. Think of how much trash you create every time you eat a banana.
Third, it is cost effective. You may want only a half of a banana if you eat the peel as well. That’s 50% discount!
Enjoy reading and thinking your way of eating the banana peel.


Topic Reading-Vol.1685-11/21/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
How do you keep bananas fresh as they cross the oceans?
How long are bananas you bought palatable, or at least edible? As you know by experience, bananas shouldn’t be kept in the fridge unless you want the yellow peels turn dark brown. Then don’t you wonder why bananas look fresh at stores after a long journey from the subtropical plantation? They must have been kept in a tightly controlled environment to get perfectly ripe at the shelves, not before.
Bananas are shipped in refrigerated containers that are monitored and controlled by Remote Container Management, or RCM system. It allows the shipping companies to even expect the conditions of the bananas in the containers, so that they can not only guarantee the quality but also reduce the time for inspection.
Another area that modern technology is used to entice your daily life.
Enjoy reading the article and seeing the photos of transport, and say how are you to your next banana.


Topic Reading-Vol.1684-11/20/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
What the state of your desk says about you
How does your desk look? Scattered, messy, personalized, organized or plain?
Researchers say that how your desk looks tells your personality. Well, you know it. It’s not limited to the office desk but the rooms and a house you live in, too. The way one works or lives clearly tells what type of person he or she is in general. Though it sounds stereo-typed, there seem to be common styles how one works at the desk.
Enjoy reading and seeing the photos by work types, and think which type you belong to.


Topic Reading-Vol.1683-11/19/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Psychic software? How a small social media company predicted Donald Trump's victory
Do you always answer poll questions as honestly as your comments on social media? Most people write their opinions or feelings from their heart on social media because they want to express them. But they don’t always express their true emotion or thoughts on politics when they are asked because they are asked.
That’s what seems to have happened in the last US presidential election. Many answered more favorably to one candidate than they really think of her. That’s because they might have not wanted to be looked as a supporter of the other radical candidate. But some of them didn’t seem to have voted for the candidate they said they would.
Analyzing social media traffic is a new way to find recent trend, rising problems and potential moves. Combining with Ai and polls, a South African company was able to predict the US election result. They did the same for the UK referendum for Brexit.
Enjoy reading and thinking if you would vote on emotion or by reason.


Topic Reading-Vol.1682-11/18/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The Persian art of etiquette
Say no three times before saying yes. It may sound complicating to you but this is the way to say yes courteously in Persian culture. For example, accepting a gift requires several back and forth replies and compliments before the gift is handed. Even a taxi driver refuses to take the fair that he deserves declines a few times. It might be very confusing when you negotiate with an Iranian counterpart for business or politics. But that seems the way to show respect and to be polite in Persian society, called taarof or tarof. Similar attitudes for respect are also seen in Chinese culture called limao and in Japan as reigi.
Hospitality is another distinct tradition in Persian culture. If you ask a way to somewhere, the person may take you there. If you’re invited for a tea, you may end up staying overnight.
Do you prefer being declined before accepted, or declining before saying yes?
Enjoy reading about this unique Persian tradition and think if you want to experience it in Iran.


Topic Reading-Vol.1681-11/17/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
China versus US in e-commerce
Who spent US$18 billion on a single day in China? How did they buy that much?
Instead of going to the mall and look around, Chinese shoppers seem to prefer shopping online to save time, compare prices and enjoy convenience. They spend more time and money online than American shoppers. They like to use their smartphones to shop, as much as two-thirds of shopping is done by smartphones while only one-thirds of America’s online shopping is made by smartphones. That might be because Chinese online shoppers are younger than Americans on average and they are more used to using smartphones than PCs, being helped by the most popular mobile payment, Alipay, easy and convenient online payments by Alibaba with over 400 million users.
What you see in Chinese online shoppers probably indicates the shopping trends in emerging markets as their infrastructures and payment structures are similar to those of China.
Enjoy comparing the user profiles and habits of Chinese and American online shoppers.


Topic Reading-Vol.1680-11/16/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Online shopping frenzy sparks trash concern
$18 billion, or 120 billion yuan, sales were generated on a single day. That’s what China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba posted on its Singles’ Day sales festival on November 11th this year, up 32 percent from the previous year.
You can easily imagine it will take several days or even weeks to fulfill this magnitude of orders across the country. Trucks and drivers will be running around to deliver hundreds of millions of packages. What will happen to the boxes and wrapping materials such as bills and envelopes, poly and plastic bags, cardboard boxes and tapes when those delivered goods are unpacked? Even though 80% of the cardboard is recycled, the rest needs to be produced by chopping trees. Also, there are tons of non-biodegradable materials that will be dumped or burned somewhere. It is estimated that 30 billion tons of post packages are produced in 2016 and that figure will increase to 50 billion by 2018 as more people shop online in China by their smartphones. But who is paying all these environmental costs?
Enjoy reading and thinking how to reduce or discourage the use of shipping materials.


Topic Reading-Vol.1679-11/15/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Want to read your dog's mind? Japan's boom in weird wearable tech
How well do you know the feeling of your pet dog(s)? You probably have a good guess by their eyes, ears or tail even though dogs don’t tell you how they feel. But if you want to know more precisely and timely how they feel, there is a newly developed device that shows the mental status of your pet dog. It is called Inupaty, or dog-pathy in English, a wearable heart rate monitor that shows how the dog presumably feels by six LED lights. For example, if the dog is calm, you’ll see the blue light glow. When the dog is excited, red light glows instead.
This new wearable device certainly helps the dog’s owner understand how the dog feels better but it also seems convenient to those who aren’t so familiar with the dog. When you encounter a dog wearing this wearable monitor and lights, you’ll find if you should go nearer or stay away from the dog.
Enjoy reading about newly designed wearables and think if you want any of them.


Topic Reading-Vol.1678-11/14/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
This is what Africans really think of the Chinese
The fact is more positive than some of you might have thought. People in Africa don’t seem to have strong preference as to who help them build infrastructures like railways or highways, or brings affordable consumer products like mobile phones or clothes.
For business development, they seem to have preferred providers or partners. The US business model is preferred the most followed by China, former colonial powers and South Africa. It’s quite surprising to see how China has gained such status in a short period time.
How many people still have negative image on made-in-China products? Who cares who funded or constructed the railway? Money is money.
Enjoy reading and thinking when China will establish infrastructure power in Africa.


Topic Reading-Vol.1677-11/13/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
India scraps 500 and 1,000 rupee bank notes overnight
A complete surprise. Bank notes of the largest and the second largest, 1,000 and 500 rupees, will no longer be used or exchanged next year in India. You need to be quick to use or exchange these bank notes before they become a pile of paper, if you have any.
It is quite astonishing that such impactful announcement had never been either speculated or leaked from the administration in Delhi or banks across the country. They kept this move in complete secret in order to bring the country’s black money to the financial system. Such black money has been created by corruption, tax evasion and illegal transactions. In India, most transactions in daily life are in cash, which makes them invisible in the country’s financial system.
Will this bold move help the administration fulfill its commitment to reduce corruptions and clean the financial system?
Enjoy reading and think what you would do if you had substantial amount of unclaimed rupees in an Indian bank.


Topic Reading-Vol.1676-11/12/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Washington establishment is shocked by election
This is how people look when they hear words from their boss about something they never wanted to happen. They are so dismayed by the fact that the person who they have never expected, anticipated or imagined to take control of their proud office, and the nation.
This isn’t really the first time that a person who hadn’t had any Washington experience or connection at all to become president. There were presidents who had never worked in or for Washington before they were elected, such as Ronald Regan, George W. Bush or Bill Clinton.  
But the newly elected president had never had elected office experience. In fact, he has never been promoted or fired like ordinary people, though he fired many in business and his TV show. No wonder why those White House staff members look so worried.
Enjoy reading and thinking why people tend to avoid thinking or preparing for the worst scenario.


Topic Reading-Vol.1675-11/11/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The real reason Van Gogh sliced off his ear
Artists are very sensitive and naïve. Also, many of them are vulnerable to fear of losing things or people they adore. These often pressure them to unusual behaviors or conducts, obsession or even suicide. Beethoven’s excessive love to his nephew, Shuman’s suicide and Van Gogh’s ear slicing to name a few.
Why did the great Dutch impressionist slice his own earlobe? Why the left not the right one, or both? There have been a lot of questions and guesses about this mysterious conduct that happened the night before Christmas Eve, about a year and half before his death by suicide. Was that part of ending his own life?
Enjoy reading this new guess work by an art expert about this long disputed mystery.


Topic Reading-Vol.1674-11/10/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
New Delhi schools closed 3 days because of smog
Which city do you think suffers from air pollution the most? Most of you may think it’s Beijing, China. But in fact, Delhi, India suffers from the most polluted air. With high temperatures around 30 degrees Celsius, the level of air pollution reached the level to have to close schools for three days.
The city is known for its poor air quality but this time has gotten worse. Fireworks set off to celebrate Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights during the last weekend are partly to blame.
Now, construction and demolition works are all suspended. Cars may be restricted for use on every other day depending on the license plate numbers. But these measures are all temporary and won’t solve the underlying problem.
Enjoy reading the article and comments and think if you’d like to move to Delhi for a job that doubles your income.


Topic Reading-Vol.1673-11/9/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Smoking causes extensive damage to DNA, study shows
To quit or not to quit. That’s the decision smokers seem to have to make especially after this new evidence of DNA damage by smoking has been revealed. Everyone knows smoking is harmful to health. Everyone agrees that smokers tend to have much higher risk of getting lung cancer than those who don’t by fact. But why and how?
According to a new study report, smoking actually damages DNA in organs that are directly exposed to smoke and also accelerates the genetic mutations, which certainly increases the risk of cancer. So, it is clear.
Now it’s up to the smoker whether they want to keep damaging their DNAs or not. One clinic therapist suggests a tip to quit smoking. Act decisively. Determination must come first before making attempts to quit smoking because it isn’t an easy task to get away from addiction.
Enjoy reading and thinking how many of your friends and family members do smoke and if they can quit it. 


Topic Reading-Vol.1672-11/8/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
China receptionist job sees 10,000 applicants
While there are many prospective job opportunities in booming industries such as IT and real estate, many people flock to any stable job opportunities no matter how overqualified they are. There were nearly 10,000 applicants for a public receptionist job at China Democratic League.
Public sector still seems to be the most-wanted by many in China. This year, as many as 1.4 million job seekers took the civil service examination. Only 2% of them could get a job that is regarded stable and respectable, called “Iron Rice Bowl.”
In the meantime, there are job openings that have not been filled for some time even though they are suitable and challenging for college graduates, such as bank regulatory and meteorological jobs. Why? Those openings are in autonomous regions like Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang that are far away from China’s central.
Enjoy reading and thinking if there is and will be an iron rice bowl for the next 30 years.


Topic Reading-Vol.1671-11/7/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
How well do you know Japan?
Sushi, Mount Fuji, sumo and kimono. These may be some of the things you may think when you are asked about Japan. But just like in your country, there are many things that are interestingly unique in Japan. There are 20 quizzes about Japan that you can test your knowledge (or rather guess). You don’t need to be so serious. Even Japanese people have never heard or thought of some of the questions.
Enjoy challenging the quizzes and learning some interesting facts about Japan.


Topic Reading-Vol.1670-11/6/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Russia's different reality
Danger of propaganda. Nothing seems to prevent propaganda from becoming belief, if not fact. What is being said repeatedly over time tends to become what people perceive or believe, whether it is true or not. As the number of younger generations increase, the pain of the wars fade away. If they don’t learn from history, they may be easily influenced by media and social network. In that case, more radical opinions or messages are reached to the young who are still vulnerable to moral attack, criticism or temptation.
Russia suffered a few devastating wars against the west in the last two centuries by Napoleon, German Empire and Hitler’s Nazis. After the last world war, the Soviet Union, the former body of Russia, was pressured by the U.S. and NATO. No wonder why Russians want to distant themselves from the west.
Enjoy reading and thinking what would you think of the west if you were a Russian.


Topic Reading-Vol.1669-11/5/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Can science stop the looming banana extinction?
Hard lesson learned from the devastating epidemic. In 1950s and 60s, a fungal disease wiped out then popular Big Mike bananas, which is said to have been more palatable than today’s bananas. The industry was on a brink of destruction. But human ingenuity saved banana growers, traders and eaters by developing a new genetically different species, which are eaten mostly around the world. The problem is that most of the commercially planted bananas now are genetically identical. This means bananas are extremely vulnerable to new diseases.
Never put all the eggs into one basket. The lesson learned doesn’t seem to have been applied yet.
Enjoy reading and thinking how essential bananas are to you and your family.


Topic Reading-Vol.1668-11/4/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
US election: Why does the US have such low voter turnout?
55%. This was the turnout in the last presidential election in the U.S. despite the heated campaigns and debates along with more-than-enough media coverage, only about half of the eligible voters cast their votes for the last few decades to choose President. Even when the first African-American was elected in 2008, the turnout was 57%. These figures look much lower than the ones of other democratic states like Australia, Israel, or France. Why so?
First, it’s not mandatory like Australia or Turkey. Second, people must register to vote. Third, elections are held on Tuesday when most people work on.
No wonder why US planted democracy doesn’t seem to work in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Enjoy reading and guessing high low the turnout will be on next Tuesday.


Topic Reading-Vol.1667-11/3/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Party ramps up supervision
Xi Jinping is now head of the CPC, Communist of China, the military and the nation. This is the order of importance, significance and influence of the China’s leader.
It was announced by the Sixth Plenary Session of the 18th Central Committee of the CPC that President Xi Jinping as the Party's "core." It means that he now is an unshakable leader of the world most populous country, also that his absolute leadership is officially confirmed. It is a move to consolidate the top leadership to lead the country forward while western democratic countries are shaken by populism. Another significant issue discussed and adopted was intra-Party democracy. It is essential for the CPC to ensure healthy political environment and maintain its integrity to lead the country only by one ruling party.
Enjoy reading and thinking which democracy is more essential to bring prosper to the nation and its citizens, public democracy or party democracy.


Topic Reading-Vol.1666-11/2/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Your favorite rice dishes are ...
Rice is one of the most grown crops in the world along with maize and wheat. It is eaten as main dish in many cultures and often accompanied by various local delicacies such as curry in India, kimchi in Korea or row seafood in Japan. It is also cooked with cheese, coconut milk or chicken broth to produce special flavor and taste.
How many rice dishes have you tried or known? There seem to be surprisingly many and distinct dishes that people enjoy in each culture. And some people are even willingly to fly their homeland to eat their favorite dish.
Enjoy reading and seeing the most craved rice dishes around the world and think if you want to fly to taste one. 


Topic Reading-Vol.1665-11/1/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
From gay sex being illegal to teachers hitting you: Seven things you'll be glad you didn't live through
In the U.K., to be sure. Though they are either out of question or unquestionably legal these days, there were conducts and practices that had not been illegal or quite common until a few decades ago such as smoking on airplanes, hitting a student or having a gay sex.
Basic human rights and gender equality are respected in most democratic countries now but they weren’t until late last century, long after the last World War. Those who were born in early or the mid-20th century most likely experienced or witnessed such now-uncommon practices or punishments. Nowadays, even smoking or non-smoking question is becoming obsolete because the all flights and school premises, and more restaurants or hotels are entirely smoke-free.
Well, cowboys were carrying guns in America, some are still, and Samurais were carrying swords in Japan until the 19th century. Customs don’t seem to change so fast even in today’s fast-paced world.
Enjoy reading and thinking if you’ve ever witnessed or experienced the examples in the text.