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Topic Reading-Vol.1815-3/31/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
A change in diet may have helped our brains get so big
Why are human brains larger than the one of other animals’ or relatives’, whether living or extinct ones?
It has been believed that social behavior contributes how the brain of certain species evolves over time. Think of a solitary primate that never interacts or communicates with others. The part of the brain that controls communication will never be activated, and any useless part of the body never evolves but degenerates over time. If that is the case, the larger the social group is, the better for brain development is?
New study finds that nutrition is another factor that affects the brain size of primates directly and indirectly. Some researchers found that the better the nutrition is, like fruits over leaves, the larger the brain size of certain primate spices is. This sounds understandable, but are fruits easy to get throughout the year and within the territory of the social group?
Enjoy reading and learning the links between social activities, diet and brain size.


Topic Reading-Vol.1814-3/30/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The milk that lasts for months
There are many kinds of milk. Whole, low-fat and non-fat by fat content. Enriched or flavored by added ingredient. Also, fresh, pasteurized or UHT, ultra-heat-treated by preservation method.
The most popular type of milk in US, Australia and New Zealand is pasteurized milk, which is heated at 72 degrees Celsius for about 15 seconds before packed. Though this preservation method kills most of the bacteria in the milk, the shelf life of the pasteurized milk goes no longer than two weeks.
However, milk sold in most of the European countries is UHT processed, which lasts much longer than pasteurized milk even at the room temperatures. UHT milk is heated at a much higher temperature for a shorter time than pasteurized milk to kill most of the harmful bacteria. Sounds very advantageous, doesn’t it?
So why not everyone drinks or uses this more advantageous milk than others?
Enjoy reading and thinking why people are so sensitive to milk.


Topic Reading-Vol.1813-3/29/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
If Earth’s spin reversed, everything would be different
Earth has been spinning clockwise, when viewed from the southern hemisphere, ever since it was formed 4.5 billion years ago. But if, whatever the reason might be, Earth rotated the other way, what the world would be like?
What would be affected the most is the weather and climate. As the jet stream would reverse and that would dramatically change weather patterns in many places. Some areas would turn to desert and others become wet. Northern-hemisphere storms turn counterclockwise and cyclones, in the southern hemisphere, go clockwise. This change would also affect flight times as now-headwinds would turn tailwinds and vice versa.
But you don’t need to worry about this. The only possible way Earth could start spinning in the other direction would be if there was a substantial collision, like with another planet.
Enjoy seeing the animation and learn what Earth’s rotation is about.


Topic Reading-Vol.1812-3/28/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
U.S. workers face higher risk of being replaced by robots. Here's why
The more machines do, the more convenience humans will enjoy. Is this true?
Yes, for those who design, produce or use AI and robots will. Also for those who are capable of working with such technologies will enjoy the benefits. And they are expected to make more decent income than now.
On the other hand, there seem to be a substantial number of jobs that are at risk of being replaced by those convenient technologies, especially routine tasks that are easier to automate, such as drivers, bank tellers and cashers.
Though there are more jobs endangered technologies, many workers seem to think they are affected by people in other places.
Enjoy reading and thinking what your course of action will be to deal, work and live with convenient technologies.


Topic Reading-Vol.1811-3/27/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Are refugees in Europe facing a mental health crisis?
By the time they have reached their sanctuary in Europe, many of those refugees have gone through ordeal enough for the rest of their lives. Many are so depressed that they need immediate and appropriate care to rehabilitate their mental wounds, socially, psychologically, medically and mentally. But not receiving such essential care, they become even and stressed and depressed as they are put in refugee camps for months and their future perspectives become uncertain.
Why does such non-humanitarian handling of desperate refugees continue? In fact, the situation is getting worse in Greece after the ratification of the EU-Turkey deal in March, 2016. More refugees are staying in their temporary tents longer. To make the situation even worse, nationalist sentiments and anti-immigrants movements are arising in many parts of Europ,e and even America.
Read and learn what the situations are like in the refugee camps in Greece.


Topic Reading-Vol.1810-3/26/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Why centuries-old Stradivari violins smash auction records
Antonio Stradivari (1644-1737) lived in nearly the same period as Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). He was an Italian a craftsman of stringed instruments such as violins, cellos, guitars, violas and harps. His instruments have been appraised by prominent players of those instruments for years and regarded the most valuable musical instruments in auctions. In fact, the prices of his good works are expected to double every decade.
Why are they so appreciated? Aren’t there any violins sound as good or deep as his works? Isn’t that the same admiration people have had for Bach or Van Gogh?
Enjoy reading and thinking if you can hear the difference between his and others.


Topic Reading-Vol.1809-3/25/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The International Companies Using Only English
Language isn’t just for communication. It is also to share the culture, feeling and understanding among the speakers of the language. Even though a meeting is held in English as a common language, not all the participants can understand the presentations or take part in the discussions as effectively as they do in their own language. Still, more global companies are adopting English as standard communication language.
If you travel to a country where English is not commonly spoken, you’ll find it incredibly useful and valuable to be able to communicate in English. Otherwise, you will need to learn the language of the place, or have those people learn yours, which sounds too time-consuming and inefficient unless either side of the speakers is an extremely quick learner.
Just like one famous English-speaking politician said, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others,” English may be the least-preferred language for non-native speakers, except for all the others, to communicate with each other.
Enjoy reading and thinking what English is and does to you and your future.


Topic Reading-Vol.1808-3/24/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Britain follows US in electronics ban on flights
After US’s announcement to ban large electronic devices on direct flights to US airports, the UK said it would implement a similar measure in response to unspecified security threats.
You may be surprised to find that the number of flights from Middle Eastern countries to the US has shown a substantial increase over the last decade. Emirates, Turkish, Qatar and Etihad are the airlines that have added more flights than others, and they collectively own the majority of the market share in the air routes to US airports.
Now any electronic device larger than a smartphone needs to be put in the check-in luggage in these over-10-hour flights. This is painful for business travelers who wish to make use of uninterrupted time on the plane either for work or pleasure and any traveler who reads e-books or play video games, including inpatient children.
Another concern is theft. Such valuable electronic devices could be preferred targets for vicious baggage handlers.
Will this move spread to other countries?
Enjoy reading and thinking what the journey is like without your favorite gadget.


Topic Reading-Vol.1807-3/23/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
China and US: face-to-face
The world has been experiencing a historic transition of power and influence across the Pacific Ocean for the last decade.
The U.S. and China. How significant are these two giants in the world? In fact, these two countries combined represent 50% of the world military spending, emit 40% of the greenhouse gasses and generate 36% of the economy. And they are going to allocate even more budget to strengthen their military forces for the sake of defense.
With these increases in military spending, will the world see peaceful solutions or increased tension in the disputed South China Sea waters?
Enjoy reading and learning how significant these countries are in the world and to each other


Topic Reading-Vol.1806-3/22/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
An exclusive tour of Ai Weiwei’s new work
Born in Beijing in 1957, Ai Weiwei is a Chinese Contemporary artist and activist. He collaborated with a Swiss architects as the artistic consultant on the Beijing National Stadium for the 2008 Olympics. Sounds like a national hero of art in China.
However, he has been openly criticizing China’s practice in human rights, and was arrested by the authority at the same capital’s airport in 2011 and held for 81 days without official charges.
As his family was displaced to a rural area during the Cultural Revolution, where they spent 16 years, he has a keen interest in refugee problems. Now, he has put up a monumental new artwork in a hall in Prague, the capital of Czech Republic, which has been reluctant to accept refugees.
Enjoy seeing the video that shows life-threatening hardship refugees are going through. 


Topic Reading-Vol.1805-3/21/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Pope signals he's open to married Catholic men becoming priests
Clerical celibacy. It is the requirement in some religions that members of the clergy be unmarried. Except for a small number of exemptions, this has been one of the respected traditions in Roman Catholic.
Though this might not be the only reason that has caused a shortage of priests in the centuries old religious mainstream, the top of the church suggested that the church might allow already-married men to become their priests. This could open the door to those whose faith is different to convert, or followers of the religion to become a priest.
Will this move create a considerable number of new Catholic priests?
Enjoy reading and thinking about pros and cons of Clerical celibacy.


Topic Reading-Vol.1804-3/20/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
How would missile defense systems work against North Korea?
Shooting down a high-speed flying object in the air sounds very challenging, especially within a limited time.
Ballistic missiles. There are a few variety of this destructive weapon, such as short-range, mid or inter-mediate range, and long range ones. They can be equipped with a nuclear warhead and fired either from the ground or from under the sea. Also, it’s getting more and more difficult to predict or detect when such deadly missiles are launched as the world most secretive country, North Korea, advances its technology. Furthermore, its absolute dictator doesn’t seem to hesitate to order anything to protect his regime. And it would be extremely difficult for anyone to resist or decline what they are told to do, especially after seeing the assassination of the ruler’s half-brother.
How South Korea, Japan and the U.S. defend their people and land from such destructive attacks?
Enjoy reading and learning how sophisticated, but not completely bulletproof, the latest missile defense systems are. 


Topic Reading-Vol.1803-3/19/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
New Zealand river first in the world to be given legal human status
A legal personality for a river? Even though New Zealand is abundant in nature, granting the same legal right as a person to a river sounds a little odd. But this isn’t new news to the indigenous Maori who had been claiming the right for 160 years. Their lives have been so closely associated with the Whanganui River in North Island that they believe the prosperousness of the river is also theirs.
Of course, since a river can’t represent itself to court or society, two human representatives will speak of its interests and wellbeing. This doesn’t sound so different from corporations or incorporated entities being represented by their board members?
Enjoy reading and thinking if any other non-human places or things should be recognized the same legal status.


Topic Reading-Vol.1802-3/18/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Food safety myths
Pink pork meat, raw beansprouts, and reheated rice. Are these safe to eat? What about refrozen food or dropped food on the floor?
Hygiene and food safety are important not just for those working in the food industry but for anyone who eats food. Most of you presume the practices you’re accustomed to are appropriate. But you might have been saved by luck. Food could be contaminated much faster and more easily than you think. For example, cooked rice should be consumed within the day because bacteria grow fast in the rice and could multiply and produce a toxin. Such toxin remains in the rice even it is reheated or microwaved. Sounds scary, doesn’t it?
Enjoy reading and learning what could go wrong with the food you eat or serve.


Topic Reading-Vol.1801-3/17/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The fact the sky is dark reveals a lot about the Universe
The sky is blue in the daytime, provided that there are no clouds over you. Likewise, the sky is dark at night, unless a supermoon reflects the sunlight brightly. You know that, but have you ever questioned yourself, or someone else, why the sky is dark at night?
Though there are hundreds of billions of live stars shining in the universe, they don’t seem to be bright enough to make the universe white or even gray. You might think that those stars are too far away from Earth. Yes, indeed. The age of the light from a star could be as old as 13.7 billion years because it was the time when the universe was born, the Big Bang. But the lights that reach Earth might have travelled even longer light years because the universe is still expanding faster than the speed of light. It sounds too dim for any light to brighten this dark universe, doesn’t it?
Enjoy seeing this animation video to learn about stars and universe.

If you are also interested in why the sky is blue question, check this out.


Topic Reading-Vol.1800-3/16/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
20 million at risk of starvation in world's largest crisis since 1945, UN says
Millions of people are starving to death in Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and northeast Nigeria. Scarcity is not just limited to food and water. Sanitation, medicine and medical treatment are becoming increasingly scarce in those places. Draught and famines are not the only causes for this disastrous situation. There are terrorists who block and steal the delivery of vital supplies to the people in need.
The UN says it’s the worst humanitarian crisis since its foundation. While more and more world wealth is being owned by a few sections of society, more and more people are not getting daily necessities and are suffering from starvation and undernutrition.
Read the article and learn how serious this starvation problem is even seven decades after the last world war.


Topic Reading-Vol.1799-3/15/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
South Korea: Cheers, tears as Seoul wakes up to life without Park
Park Geun-hye is the first woman elected as President and the first president ousted in South Korea. She had been regarded as First Lady of the country since her mother was killed by an assassin in 1974 until her father, then president, was assassinated by his own intelligence chief in 1979. She was so committed to her country and even said she married it instead of a partner.
Why could such a dedicated person be impeached by lawmakers, upheld by the Constitutional Court and ousted from her position? Was that because of her own wrong doing or mismanagement, political battles or public sentiment?
Enjoy reading and learning what challenges people in South Korea are facing.


Topic Reading-Vol.1798-3/14/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
India washing machine launched with 'curry' button
White cotton clothes are popularly worn by many in India. They look nice if they are kept clean and unstained. There is one problem though. The color is vulnerable to stains. And Indian foods are very spice-rich and colorful, whose stains are not easily removed by regular washing. Also, it is quite common to eat food by the right hand in India. You can imagine how burdensome to keep their clothes look clean and stainless. Since most of the house chores are taken care by women in the subcontinent, Indian women must be spending a lot of time on washing clothes, mostly by hands.
Now there is a saver for time and energy. A new washing machine with a 'curry' button. Though it doesn’t cook curry, it removes curry stains off the clothes. It was developed by Japanese electronics manufacturer Panasonic to solve most common problems in washing in Indian market. The new washing machines with a “curry” button costs only 10% more than compatible models without the function.
Enjoy reading and thinking how much more sales could be generated with an extra feature.


Topic Reading-Vol.1797-3/13/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Why China’s Internet reveals where we’re headed ourselves?
Conservative-minded foreigners seem to think China’s velocity for construction, innovation and adaptation is as fast as the speed of light. Is China the only one that moves faster than developed countries?
For those who have never seen any sort of display, smartphone may be the first of that kind.
Likewise, those who have never talked on the phone, sent or received money, or accessed to the Internet, the mobile gadget may be the first device to experience such functions. No wonder why people in rural part of China had already used the modern tools conveniently and effectively in their daily lives when this British anthropologist researched in the area a few years ago. He would probably have found the same or similar trend in other underdeveloped or developing areas in South Asia and the most part of Africa.
More new innovations and conveniences are expected to evolve in emerging markets.
Enjoy reading and thinking which group you belong to in terms of new technologies and convenience, following or leading.


Topic Reading-Vol.1796-3/12/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Nike becomes first major brand to launch hijab for women
If you have to wear one, wear the right one. That’s what the international sportwear giant announced two days before *International Women’s Day.
The Pro Hijab is designed to make sport more comfortable for Muslim women. It of course has the brand’s their trademark 'swoosh' above the left ear. The new product line is scheduled to go on sale in 2018.
Is this good news or bad news? While someone embraces this sporty hijab, one woman pities herself because she can no longer use hijab as excuse not to exercise. 
Is this sport hijab available only to Musslim women, or anyone who wishes to wear?
Enjoy seeing the images of this new line of religious and functional sportwear.
   *International Women's Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.


Topic Reading-Vol.1795-3/11/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Digital tool teaches Indian boys about gender equality
Appealing the rights of women by marching the streets around the world is one way to get attentions to the problem. However, gender inequality cannot be solved unless the superior side learns why it is a problem. So how about educating young men and boys about the issue?
That’s what the Centre for Health and Social Justice (CHSJ), a New Delhi-based charity, has been doing in northern India where there is the largest gender gap in youth literacy rates and the second-highest number of domestic and sexual violence cases in the subcontinent. They offer a toll-free number for young men and boys to listen to short programs about sexual and gender topics in an engaging way by their mobile phones. Among the boys who listened and learned the equality and education for mutual happiness, some started helping their mothers and sisters at home and others encouraged their sisters to continue studying.
It sounds like a long way to reach the goal but unless the root of the issue is understood by both genders, the problem will never be solved.
Enjoy reading and learning about this grass-roots and breakthrough initiative in conservative India.


Topic Reading-Vol.1794-3/10/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
School brings hope to child slaves in India
Child slavery. It doesn’t sound like a modern practice but it still is seen in rural parts of India, and other poor regions in Asia and Africa, even today. Poor, and mostly illiterate parents are convinced to borrow unrepayable amount of money, not knowing what is written on the contract or how much interest is going to be charged. Soon later, those poor parents are left no choice but to pay back the loan through their labor, including their children’s, under unimaginably harsh conditions. Such labors are known as debt slavery or bonded labor.
Though it is an illegal practice, law enforcement in the populous subcontinent isn’t an easy task. There are quite a number of children who have never attended school or even watched TV. Education seems to be one of the effective long-term solutions for people in poverty.
Read the article and watch the videos to learn how basic education could prevent poor parents from building unpayable debts and protect their children from illegal practices.


Topic Reading-Vol.1793-3/9/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Russia urged to ban 'Beauty and the Beast' remake over gay 'propaganda'
It’s just a remake of the Walt Disney Pictures' magical animated classic "Beauty and the Beast." And it seems that the less-than-a-second scene in the finale of the movie bothers a conservative Russian lawmaker to demand the Culture Ministry to issue a nation-wide ban of the film, just a few days before the release. And if the ministry finds elements of propaganda of homosexuality, the movie could be shown in the country.
What may be of interest to you is the fact that in Russia, homosexuality is regarded as "non-traditional sexual relations," and such content is prohibited to be shown to children by law.
Things are taken very differently by country, belief, or tradition, aren’t they?
Enjoy reading and thinking if such diversity in views on sexual matters stays or increases in the future.

Check the trailer if you’re interested in the movie.


Topic Reading-Vol.1792-3/8/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
China to raise 2017 defense budget by around 7 pct: Spokesperson
Another rise in military spending by a superpower. Within a week after the US announced a 10% increase in military budget, China committed to add seven percent more money to its People’s Liberation Army. Both increases exceed their respective economic growth forecasts, meaning they’ve set a higher priority on their defense budget than other issues such as welfare, education or environment.
Except during a war, money spent on military mainly flourishes defense industry, and rarely bring back tangible returns to their people. Security, defense and national interests are common rationales for such spending. Is there winner, if any, in this race?
Enjoy reading and thinking what the world would be like if more money is spent on education than military. 


Topic Reading-Vol.1791-3/7/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Can we ever travel faster than light?
If humans ever managed to find an earth-like habitable planet within a few light-years distance, would it be possible to get there within a man’s lifetime? That might be only possible if a spaceship was created that travels faster than, or at least as fast as, the speed of light, like the ones you might have seen in Star Trek or Star Wars movies. But is it theoretically and practically possible to fly a spaceship as fast as the speed of light?
There seem to be some physical barriers to be broken through to reach that speed level, such as energy and radiation. If the speed of sound creates blasting shock waves, what kind of physical effects could the speed of light cause?
Enjoy seeing this easy-to-understand video to learn what it’s like to travel like the light.
Note: There are some images that are associated with a few famous scientific movies in the video. How many of them can you recognize? 


Topic Reading-Vol.1790-3/6/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Sweden reintroduces conscription as tensions rise over Russia
Conscription, draft or compulsory military service. Whichever the way you call, it is mandatory for any man or woman of the country who was born in certain years to serve in military once they are called in. Though the length or field of the service vary depending on the suitability of the individual, the time spend in military significantly affects the person’s life at least for a few years. And Sweden has decided to bring back this once suspended system from next year.
Why has this peaceful Scandinavian country, which has been maintaining an official policy of neutrality in foreign affairs for over a century, decided to strengthen its military forces?
Enjoy reading and learning what the security situation is like in northern Europe.


Topic Reading-Vol.1789-3/5/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The world biggest ghost towns
China’s economy has grown very fast, faster than any other state of this magnitude in human history. The country with the world largest population cemented more concrete in three years than the U.S. had done in the whole 20th century. It also created more highways and high-speed railways than any other country in the world in a decade or so.
Such rapid expansion has been driven by government investment or initiated and subsidized by local governments. It has been China’s winning theory to develop and grow economy by building apartments to house people from rural areas, stadiums and museums to attract visitors, and industrial parks to invite new businesses. But recently, some of such development projects seem to have shown discrepancies between plan on paper and reality, and created ghost towns.
Enjoy seeing the photos of developed but not inhabited towns in China.


Topic Reading-Vol.1788-3/4/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The surprising foods you should eat to banish garlic breath
Garlic. Adds fantastic flavor to dishes like pasta, salad dressing and pickles but also causes disgusting odor to the eater’s breath, body and sweat. Since the substance goes you’re your bloodstream, rigorous tooth brushing doesn’t help at all to remove the odor from your breath. It is also nutritious because it contains a lot of Calcium and some vitamins. Are there any ways to remove or smooth the odor of this tasteful and nutritious food?  
In fact, there are some foods that do when they are eaten with garlic, such as lettuce, celery, potato, parsley, mint leaves, and mushroom. Simple! They are all popular ingredients for Italian dishes. But what if no such odor-killing ingredients is in the dish?
Good news. There is an easy and simple countermeasure for you. Guess what?
Enjoy reading and learning what garlic does to you and your smell.


Topic Reading-Vol.1787-3/3/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Could you survive just on one food?
If there were only one food to eat, what would be your choice? Meat, bread, rice, bananas or yogurt? While no one food seems to have everything needed to make a human live for a long time, there seem to be better ones than others.
Lions eat just meat. So why not humans? It doesn’t seem to work because meat lacks vitamins and fiber.
What about vegetables and fruits? There are a lot of vegetarians in the world. But you still need to take protein and fat that aren’t contained enough in bananas or broccolis.
Whether you like or not, potatoes are found to be more balanced nutrition than any other single food.
Time to make another call to Mark Watney, the botanist left on Mars, to find what it’s like to eat just potatoes in every meal for days.
Enjoy reading and thinking what it’s like to have only one item on your plate.


Topic Reading-Vol.1786-3/2/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
SpaceX to fly two space tourists around the moon in 2018
Is that so soon? Space tours seem to come true starting from next year. And it’s not just orbiting the Earth but traveling to and go around the moon! That sounds like the Apollo missions nearly a half century ago. But this time, it is not a public mission but a private tour.
Despite the extremely high ticket price and risk, demanding physical requirements, incredibly uncomfortable accommodation and barely palatable pre-cooked meals, the demand for such extraordinary experience seems higher than most people think. According to the tour operator, a huge sum of down payment has already been paid for this week-long space trip.
Spirit, desire or interest, whatever you call, anxiety seems to move people as far as to the moon.
Enjoy reading and thinking if you’d like to save money to experience this once-in-a-lifetime vacation.


Topic Reading-Vol.1785-3/1/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Germany hate crime: Nearly 10 attacks a day on migrants in 2016
They were accepted but don’t seem to be welcomed. While number of refugees and migrants fleeing from war-torn countries such as Syria to Germany decreased from 600,000 in 2015 to 280,000 in 2016, nearly 10 attacks per day were made to those who reached the most economically prosperous land in Europe looking for safety and their shelters. Asylum hostels, houses, individuals and even volunteers suffered from such hate crimes.  
What made those German residents become so hostile to their new neighbors? Did they cause too much and/or too many troubles to the society?
They have different languages, traditions, customs and beliefs from Germans, but are they the main reasons that caused so many violent activities in a normally-peaceful country?
Enjoy reading and thinking if you support or oppose to bring in more refugees to your neighborhood.