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Topic Reading-Vol.2029-10/31/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Why China has so few female leaders
Phew! He looked so relieved from the stress. Xi Jinping, China’s strong leader, showed a smile after having formed his new management team for the next five years.
Right after the highly intense backdoor talks and struggles before and during the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, the faces of the new leaders were shown to the public. No female leader is found among the top-seven Communist Party Politburo Standing Committee members. There is only one female politician in the next level 25-member Politburo. They are the top leaders for the next five years, beyond 2020.
Why so? Are there any rules that restrict or limit women’s activities or presence on the political stage in China? Not officially. Theoretically, women should have been treated in the same way as men ever since the founder of the nation declared so. In practice, no female party leader has reached the top management group and very few party secretaries of the province or government ministers are seen even today. Even for rank-and-file workers, women’s retirement age is five years younger than men’s 60.
Are Chinese women physically or professionally inferior to men in politics or workplaces?
Enjoy reading and learning about China’s glass ceiling.


Topic Reading-Vol.2028-10/30/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
For $60, woman gets an entire plane to herself during a flight to Greece
Usually, flight crew members match or outnumber the passengers. On a commercial flight, at least the captain, a co-pilot and flight attendants are onboard to fly the airliner and serve the passengers. And there usually are more passengers than those crew members onboard unless the flight is canceled for the airline’s sake. In rare cases, you may find very few passengers onboard and feel either empty or luxurious.
A Scottish woman who was going for a late vacation found herself alone on her flight to an island in Greece. “Alone” doesn’t mean that she had no traveling companion, but there were no other passengers on her flight. Yes. She was the only passenger on the 189-seat jetliner. She paid only $60 to hire a private jet for her vacation!
Enjoy reading and think if you’d like to fly totally alone or with fellow passengers around, but not so close to you.


Topic Reading-Vol.2027-10/29/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Amazon's new service will allow drivers to enter your home to deliver packages
Another eye-opening announcement by Amazon. This time, it’s a door opening service. It seems like a cloud-based home security system rather than a delivery option as they claim.
The question is if you want a delivery person to enter your home to drop off the package you ordered while you are out. Frist, this innovative service requires your permission when the delivery person arrives at your doorstep. With your permission, the door will be unlocked for an indoor delivery. And the online-monitor will allow you to see the real-time delivery scene on your smartphone or PC. You could use this delivery option even if you’re in the house but don’t want to or can’t receive the delivery yourself. Sounds very convenient, doesn’t it?
Which online merchant will follow suit the next?
Enjoy reading and think what benefits you see in this new service.


Topic Reading-Vol.2026-10/28/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
India, notorious for malnutrition, is now a land of obesity
Sounds very contrary to the general perception of India. While over 40% of the children are underweight, there is a growing number of kids who are getting too much weight, some of them are even classified as obese. Why?
This is a country where being fat has been regarded as a sign of wealth and status. Once parents become able to afford to feed their family with any food, they seem to let their kids eat what and as much as they like. When that happens, they jump on Western-style fat and carb rich fast food and sugary drinks, such as burgers, fries, pizza, and sodas.
To make the situation even worse, those kids of growing middle-class families are expected spend a lot of time on sitting at their desks to study in their air-conditioned rooms. When they aren’t studying, they prefer sitting in their rooms playing with their tablets or smartphones to playing with other kids outside, where the temperatures go over 40 degrees and the air is heavily polluted in major cities like Delhi.  
Children are so vulnerable to this kind of radical shift in lifestyle that they are losing the balance between calorie intake and consumption.
As overweight or obesity from early ages could lead to diabase, “diabesity” has become a common phrase to describe the problem.
Enjoy reading and learning how this under-nutrition country has become an over-nutrition country so fast.


Topic Reading-Vol.2025-10/27/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The search for a male South Korean major champion
Are Korean women more competitive, both mentally and physically, than Korean men to compete in international sports games? Whereas a little over a half of the last 30 LPGA, Ladies Professional Golf Association, major titles have been won by South Korean women, only one male player from the country was honored one of the men’s major titles in PGA history.
In South Korea, all able-bodied men are required to serve the military at least two years before they turn 35. Only the medalists of the Olympic games or gold medalists at the Asian Games are exempted from the conscription, mandatory military service. Leaving from professional career for two years especially during the developing period sounds like quite a handicap in any sports in global competitions, doesn’t it? In the meantime, such extraordinary period offers a chance to develop patriotism and strong willpower to win games.
Enjoy reading and think if conscription simply interrupts one’s career, in either sports or business, or gives chance to be tougher in the long run.


Topic Reading-Vol.2024-10/26/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
New study suggests insect populations have declined by 75% over 3 decades
Only a quarter of insects are found to live in nature reserves in Germany now compared to 30 years ago, a new study says. Some may say that’s good news as they are less bothered by bees, ants, or cockroaches. But as insects make up about 70% of all animal species, they are crucial to biodiversity. They pollinate crops and plants, reduce pests, and control waste. It’s obvious that such drastic reduction in the population of insects could have significant impacts on the environment.
Why has their population decreased that much only in three decades? Various contributing factors are suggested for this decline, such as climate change, use of pesticides, and lost habitation.
How did they count the number of such small creatures for some period? They didn’t but measured.
Enjoy reading and learn how the scientists measured the number of insects, and think what sorts of impacts will the world see in the near future.


Topic Reading-Vol.2023-10/25/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The woman who cleans up after 'lonely deaths' in Japan
Living alone gives a person the luxury to do anything and in any way they want. But who gives help to the person when something happens that cannot be managed by themselves, such as a sudden injury, illness or even death? Feeling so lonely and helpless but nothing he or she can do until they are found by someone. In some cases, the person breathes his or her last unattended or unnoticed.
The number of such incidents in Japan is increasing as the nation’s population is aging fast. Also, there are more senior people who live by themselves. Some are being left and others choose to or have no choice but to live alone. Whatever the reason might be, there are mementos in the place that needs to be dealt with when such lonely resident passes away.
There is a young woman who chose to do the job that is usually unwanted by young people, especially women. But she seems to be very serious about the job, does her best to take care of the things left, and talks with the family members or relatives of the person.
Enjoy reading and thinking what it’s like to organize mementos of a person who you have never met.


Topic Reading-Vol.2022-10/24/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Kids under 9 spend more than 2 hours a day on screens, report shows
Watching TV too long was one of the major concerns parents used to have until only a decade ago. Now, only a few parents do, if any. They are or should be, much more concerned about smaller but mobile devices, smartphones and tablets.
New studies have found that most of the young kids in the US have a mobile device and spend hours staring at it. This is a double-edged sword for parents. While they can do their own things while their kids are doing something online, they lose the chance to interact with their children at a time when young kids should read or be read, or play or talk with their parents.
They also report that there is a significant gap in the time those children spend on their screens between those of lower-income and higher-income families. Children of lower-income homes spend considerably more time on watching and playing with screen media than those of higher-income families. This is also linked with their parents’ education level.
It’s also worrisome because children are becoming obsessed by mobile screens as more intriguing apps and devices, such as augmented and virtual reality and smart toys, are getting popular.
But remember, some time ago, many parents said to their kids, “Stop watching TV and read a book.” Now they may say, “Stop staring at our mobile phone. Let’s watch TV together.”
Whichever the case might be, children won’t like to be told what to do.
Enjoy reading the article and think what appropriate digital manners are for young children.


Topic Reading-Vol.2021-10/23/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Google DeepMind: AI becomes more alien
Is it an evolutionary improvement or revolutionary change? Last year and this past May, AI Go machine, AlphaGo, beat two top go champions by learning how humans had played the complex game, which was developed several thousand years ago in China. This itself could mean an AI algorithm, and deep learning combined, surpassed human ingenuity of thousand years in just a few years.
Now, Google’s AI hand, Deep Mind, says their new model, called AlphaGo Zero, beat the original AlphaGo by 100 games to zero only in 72 hours of study. The new model had had no knowledge as to how the game had been played by humans but the rules. It played itself without any knowledge or experience and developed techniques that humans had ever thought of.
It seems that AlphaGo Zero is more like a self-thinking AI rather than a learn-to-judge style AlphaGo or other “conventional” AI applications, which have been used to take humans’ roles. It sounds like the difference between practice and theory, or application and science. The question is how the new revolutionary AI is going to be used, especially under already-too-influential Google’s hand.
Enjoy reading and thinking how you will work with AI in the coming few years.
 (because it’s getting too difficult to predict what the world will be like beyond a few years)


Topic Reading-Vol.2020-10/22/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
China congress: How authorities censor your thoughts
Yes, there is Internet in China, and it is well protected by the Great Firewall of China. You’re free from being annoyed by frequent X-rated ads or daily open criticism against the party leaders, like the ones in the US. You can use approved social network services, search engines and mobile payment services like AliPay, but in the meantime, many open and popular services, such as Google or Facebook are blocked by the Great Firewall. It sounds like an Intranet rather than the Internet, doesn’t it?
The question is what kind of content, topic, words or names are caught or granted by censorship, which had become more sensitive as an important political show approached. Some of the favored keywords that are often mentioned and promoted by the authorities are; “core socialist values,” “to enhance people’s cultural taste,” and “strengthen spiritual civilization.”
Enjoy reading and learning about the modern wall that protects the ruling body from its own people.


Topic Reading-Vol.2019-10/21/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
New Volvo brand aims for Tesla
Volvo is a Swedish, now Chinese-owned, vehicle manufacturer founded in 1927. It manufactures and markets sport utility vehicles, station wagons, sedans and compact sedans through its 100 national sales companies worldwide. The 90-year old car company announced in July this year that all the new models from 2019 will be fully electric or hybrid-electric.
Now they’ve announced a new brand name and the first two models, the first one to establish a dedicated brand image and the second one to compete with the best-selling electric car, Tesla Model 3.
As both of the Polestar cars will be built in a factory in China, which is expected to be the world’s leading market for green vehicles, you can easily imagine they will sell a lot of them in China at least to start with. But they won’t. Why?
Enjoy reading and learning what the automotive industry and market will be like in 2020.


Topic Reading-Vol.2018-10/20/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The health benefits of coffee
If you don’t drink or no one you care for drinks coffee, never mind. But if you do, you may be interested in learning what coffee does to you.
Coffee, in general, seems to have various health benefits to humans, provided that the stomach is in good shape. For example, it is highly antioxidant. This could prevent human cells from being oxidized by toxins, chemicals, and inflammation. Also, it is rich in caffeine. It could make the drinker feel less tired and the brain become more energized.
But nothing should be consumed too much, and coffee is no exception. You may want to drink two or three cups of either instant or filter coffee a day just to enjoy the benefits of it.
How credible are these recommendations? It seems that any of such benefits requires more research to prove the validity.
Enjoy reading and thinking how you would enjoy the taste, flavor, and benefits of coffee.


Topic Reading-Vol.2017-10/19/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Is there an upside to having no social life?
Have you tried to figure how much time you spend on social activities per day or week on average, such as going out or having a drink with a friend, or attending a party? Why such social activities are important to you? Is that just for fun or because of fear of missing out? No matter what the reason might be, most people engage in some kinds of social activities often or occasionally. Have you ever thought of staying away from such activities entirely for some time?
One freelancer did an experimental social disconnection for a month and found that it gave him more chance to do things that he usually didn’t, such as cooking, exercising, and reading. Also, he found himself more creative or productive to the things that had been unsolved.
Some researchers also suggest that staying away from routine tasks make people become more open-minded to new ideas or solutions. It sounds social disconnection seems to be beneficial at least to some extent. In the meantime, the writer of the article is quite aware that social activities provide new opportunities and good relationships with others.
Enjoy reading and thinking if you’re interested in disconnecting yourself from the activities you think are necessary or unavoidable.


Topic Reading-Vol.2016-10/18/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Watch Dubai Police test its latest gadget -- a flying motorbike
Where in the world do you think the hottest and latest technologies are deployed? Surprisingly, Dubai Police, which is already equipped with Lamborghini patrol cars, self-driving robots, and android officers. Sounds aggressively fast, autonomous and intelligent, doesn’t it?
That’s because this oil-rich dessert gulf emirate is looking to become the happiest city on earth by its Smart Dubai initiative. One of the attempts is Smartbootcamp, which is designed to support innovative companies in the areas like IoT & Connectivity, Urban Automation & Mobility, and Artificial Intelligence. And they are not shy of flying gadgets. Air taxi, a self-flying copter that can carry two passengers for half an hour, is about to debut. And this newly revealed flying motorbike is one of such Vertical Take-off and Landing Aircraft (VTOLs) that can fly a human with its four propellers at a speed of 60km per hour.
No one wants to be chased by a Lamborghini police car on the road and flying motor cop in the air in the desert.
Enjoy reading and thinking what this smart city will be like in 2025.


Topic Reading-Vol.2015-10/17/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
How will we deal with all of the world’s rubbish?
Centuries from now, a historian may write, “While humans in late 20th and early 21st century CE tried to reduce, reuse, and recycle waste they had created, they relentlessly produced more waste only to make their lives convenient and economy prosperous, until they finally realized in the 2Xth century CE that it was too late to revive the ecology system of the planet.”
This challenge to reduce waste is getting more difficult day by day as more waste, especially the ones that are not be naturally degraded. is being produced and discarded.
While leaders and organizations of the global communities are struggling to reduce the total waste, new marketplaces are being developed to use more non-degradable but convenient materials such as plastics. It seems like pressing both accel and brake pedals at the same time, doesn’t it?
But there is some hope. Human ingenuity and conscious mind to cooperate will eventually overcome such difficult and complex challenges.
Enjoy seeing the video to learn these four bald ideas to tackle the mounting trash.


Topic Reading-Vol.2014-10/16/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
US withdraws from UNESCO over 'anti-Israel bias'
Another “out” by the U.S., after TPP, NAFTA, Paris Agreement, and Iran Nuclear accord. This time, from one of the key bodies of the UN, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, better known as the UNESCO.
The US has been very unhappy with the decision by the UNESCO in July to list the Tomb of the Patriarchs a World Heritage Site. The compound, also called the Cave of the Patriarchs (Cave of the Double Tombs), is a burial chamber for the early biblical Patriarchs; Adam, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It is highly revered by Jews, Christians, and Muslims. The tomb compound is located in the ancient city of Hebron, a Palestinian city in the southern West Bank, a very complex town controlled by the Palestinians and administered by Israel.
The US also was dissatisfied with the UNESCO’s move to grant Palestinian a full membership in 2011 and has been suspending the due payment ever since.
Now the powerful and influential nation says it withdraws from the UNESCO. This another quit announcement has shaken the organization, the UN and the whole world except Israel, which immediately followed the US’s move.
Enjoy reading and learning why this place is so sensitive and also why the US is so unhappy with the UNESCO.


Topic Reading-Vol.2013-10/15/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Five ways science can improve your focus
How do you usually manage to keep your concentration when your mind is drifting away?
It’s not as easy as one might think to stay focus, especially on a difficult task. Just drinking coffee won’t help that much. It takes strong willpower to connect different regions in the brain while impulsive forces are disrupting the network.
Interestingly, what it takes to stay focus is not trying to keep your mind with the task but do opposite things, like taking a short break, watching a funny video, or emptying the brain by meditation. In other words, refresh yourself with something that is away from the task you’re working on.
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But make sure you get back to the task after the mind-break.
Enjoy reading and thinking which idea might work best for you to keep your concentration.


Topic Reading-Vol.2012-10/14/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The power of print in a digital world
Should students read on screen or in paper? While some countries and educational communities are putting heavy emphasis on shifting to digital learning, many parents, teachers and policymakers seem still reluctant to make that move so aggressively or in some cases not at all. It is a controversial issue as many of those adults studied and read in paper when there were young. The question is if there is a considerable difference between the two media when students read and understand what’s written.
A new research found that there are some advantages and disadvantages in the two media when students read and are asked questions. Students preferred reading digitally probably because the students who were surveyed are used to it. They showed no significant difference in reading and answering general questions of the text in two media but performed better in paper reading when it came to specific questions.
If students;
- can read texts faster on screen than in paper,
- and can understand what’s written in the text on screen as well as in paper,
- but can answer specific questions not as correctly on screen as in paper,  
what should educators do to teach or guide them to do better?
Whether you take this finding as a challenge or problem to adopt a new reading style, one thing for sure is that there will be significantly fewer paper documents to read or write in the future.
Enjoy reading and think which way students should learn, in the very way you learned or in a way they will be using. 


Topic Reading-Vol.2011-10/13/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The child's maths lesson video that is outraging India
Are disciplinary actions effective to teach children math? If yes, to how far?
It is indeed critical to be very good at math in India where math and science are essential competencies to step up the career ladder or initiate a new business. Parents, especially the middle-class, are so eager to have their children learn better than others for their future. They believe good education is the surest and safest way to be successful in India’s prospective but competitive environment.
However, one mother, or her sister, went too far to force her three-year-old girl to learn numbers. She not only pushed the girl to the point where she started crying and begging for mercy, she also slapped the girl’s face to have her say the numbers correctly, like the way shown in this video;
The video went viral on social media and received numbers of criticisms in and outside of India. There seems to be a lot of postings from those who are critical of the conduct but what about others? Are there a lot of parents who do such harsh disciplinary actions to their children?
See the video and read the article. You may also want to check Vol.2010 about 'In school, but learning nothing' to compare where there is education and there isn’t.


Topic Reading-Vol.2010-10/12/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
'In school, but learning nothing'
Before skill training, higher education or lifelong learning, young students need to have basic skills in math and reading. Of course, but a report by the UN agency revealed that over 80% of school-age children are unable to read properly in sub-Saharan Africa and southern and central Asia.
Building schools and sending teachers are not enough to provide good education. Teachers need to be well educated, trained and paid. They also need to be provided with adequate teaching materials and equipment. However, the budget and resources are scarce in those areas.
Students won’t learn enough only by attending school, either. They need to be physically and mentally in good shape to take classes, think and learn. They also need to be motivated and supported by their family. Unfortunately, their parents seem to be too busy feeding their family to worry about their children’s future or even tomorrow.
Read the article and think what should be and could be done to help those children to learn basic literacy and numeracy before entering adulthood.


Topic Reading-Vol.2009-10/11/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Indonesian President and his entourage forced to walk during traffic jam
Indonesia is a big country in terms of population and congestion. There are over 261 million people live in the world largest island country with more than 17,000 islands. Nearly 90% of them are Muslims, which makes it the world most populous Muslim country. Approximately 30 million people live in and around the nation’s capital, Jakarta, also known as the world city with the worst traffic. Drivers and passengers could spend hours in their cars just to move for a few kilometers. Many people choose motorbikes to live and move more efficiently because they can maneuver the traffic twice the speed of a car with just a 10th of the cost and gas.
That was exactly what the president of the country wished when he was stuck in his car on the way to a military event. After just sitting in the motion-less car for half an hour, he decided to walk to the venue with his suits on under the sizzling heat. His generals and ministers, not to mention their guards, were left no choice but to follow him.
He certainly exposed himself in public for some time suffering from the most popular problem in the capital, received public attention and sympathy. Do you think this move will help him win the next election?
Enjoy reading and thinking what plan President Joko Widodo has in his mind to solve or improve this congestion.


Topic Reading-Vol.2008-10/10/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
How US gun culture compares with the world
Another gun massacre, the worst in history so far, by an individual occurred in Las Vegas in America leaving over 60 deaths and 500 wounded victims. They were having fun at an outdoor rock music concert on Sunday evening when the gunman started firing at them by machine guns from a hotel room on the 32nd floor. It was found that the gunman owned dozens of guns and thousands of ammunitions in his home. They were all purchased legally.
The country with a population of 323 million has over 900,000 armed officers. Also, there are as many guns as the number of people in the country, which represents nearly a half of the guns owned by civilians in the world. No wonder why the US has the highest rate of death by firearm in the developed world. The gun owners claim that those gun, including assault rifles and machine guns that are used by military forces, are for self-defense. And the majority of them own more than one gun.
In the meantime, there are countries that are nearly free from gun crimes. And countries that have restrictive gun laws seem to have a much fewer number of gun-related violence.
Enjoy reading and learning what makes the US more gun-violent than most others in the world.


Topic Reading-Vol.2007-10/9/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Photos show theme parks before and after smartphones
What a significant change in attitudes only in seven years!
Amusement parks, concert holes or museums are supposedly the places where people can disconnect themselves from online space, outside world or daily life. However, more and more people are gazing at their smartphones these days wherever and whenever they are, and they tend to look so serious at a time when they could be smiling or laughing.
It seems that more people have an obsession to stay connected and updated, fear to be disconnected, or addiction to the gadget, app or games with their smartphone. And this move doesn’t seem to stop anywhere in the near future.
Is that good or bad? Are you already addicted to your smartphone? Do you spend more time gazing the screen rather than interacting with others?
Enjoy reading the article and comparing the photos taken before and after smartphone addiction.


Topic Reading-Vol.2006-10/8/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
New LG smartphone keeps mosquitoes away
Mosquito repellent in a smartphone? Sounds like a great feature considering the fact that they are often used outdoors where there are countless numbers of mosquitoes flying around warm bodies trying to suck their blood especially in hot and humid places like India and South-East Asia.
LG, one of the Korean electronics manufacturing giants has announced that their new Android smartphone is equipped with a feature that keeps mosquitos away from the bearer without any noise, smell or fume. It won’t cost you any monthly charge or one-time payment because it is a feature of the phone, not an app that the user needs to purchase. Sounds like a feature of the dream, doesn’t it?
The question is how effective it is to make the bearer free from annoying mosquitoes.
Whether it is a practical feature or not, like any other devices or chemical products, it may be just like one of the apps on your smartphone that are rarely recognized.
Enjoy checking this innovation in an attempt to make a new smartphone more attractive.


Topic Reading-Vol.2005-10/7/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
German president: New walls have gone up
27 years have already passed since Western Germany and Eastern Germany were reunited. Though overall German economy has been outperforming any other EU nations for the last decade or so, there still is a considerable gap between the former socialism regions and the western regions. Of the 80 million plus total population, only about 20% of them live in the east including Berlin. There still are significant economic disparities between the two blocks; the easterners are only at about three-quarters of the western level in terms of productivity and roughly 70% in per capita GDP. Also, only a third of eastern Germans own their homes, while in western Germany half do. Thus, people in eastern Germany seem to be less tolerant of immigrants, unhappy with the widening economic gap and looking for a change. As a result, more voters chose the party that presented most visible and tangible change than western voters.
On the nation's Day of German Unity, the president took the chance to remind the citizens that there is no option to go back to nationalism.
By the way, isn’t that the chancellor who leads Germany? Yes, but they also have an elected president whose duties are mostly ceremonial.
Enjoy reading and thinking if the world is getting more divided rather than united.


Topic Reading-Vol.2004-10/6/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Body clock scientists win Nobel Prize
Which clock do you follow? Most people follow the time as to what they do, such as to get up, eat, work or sleep, except for those who are free from any social or business engagement. But do people physically follow the mechanical, nowadays electric, regulator?
People, or any other creature on the planet, usually get active when the sun rises and slow down when it sets, except for some animals that live in the opposite time cycle such as the bat or owl. But what does actually regulate the body clock?
There have been numbers of scientists who have been trying to find the answers to this question, and three of the leading researchers are awarded the Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine in 2017 for their findings for human health and wellbeing.
Enjoy reading and learning what the body clock does to you.


Topic Reading-Vol.2003-10/5/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
How wind can power the world's mass transit
No need to be so science-fictional. Learn from history, or try doing what has been done before the Industrial Revolution. But just do it determinedly and thoroughly.
What is one way to run a train without fossil fuels? Using electricity generated by a nuclear power plant doesn’t sound any greener, either. Hydroelectric power sounds like a viable option in a place where there are plentiful water and sufficient elevation to fall the water, but the environmental impacts around the area and along the river need to be studied carefully.
The national Dutch rail service came up with a bold idea to run all of the country’s electric trains by wind power, the nation’s proud traditional renewable energy source, and implemented it! Now the nation’s trains are all run by renewable energy.
It seems that determination and commitment realized this remarkable achievement.
Enjoy watching the video and reading the article about this human ingenuity with simple technology.


Topic Reading-Vol.2002-10/4/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Catalonia referendum result plunges Spain into political crisis
What are the roles of the national government?
What rights do the local government have?
A historic referendum took place in Barcelona on October 1 whether to go independent from Spain or not. Such referendum is regarded unconstitutional by the national government. They even had national police forces assault polling stations and injured several hundreds of voters. Though they couldn’t stop the referendum, the violent move lowered the turnout down to just 42% of the eligible voters for elections.
This crack down seemed to have elevated the number of voters who said yes for independence to over 90%, much higher than pre-referendum estimates. If there had been no police suppression to the polling stations, the turnout most likely would have been much higher. But what about the result? The crackdown might have simply hardened the spirit of Catalans and united the supporters for independence.
What will the Catalan government do next and how the national government, EU and UN will react?
Enjoy reading and thinking if any local government should have right to have such referendum for independence, and if such referendum should be respected.


Topic Reading-Vol.2001-10/3/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
US Marines get first female infantry officer
Wow, a female lieutenant to lead a fighting platoon of toughest guys!
While some religiously and/or traditionally conservative countries still prohibit or restrict women to drive a car or wear an exposing outfit, other gender-progressive countries encourage and promote women to take traditionally male-held roles like combat units. And of course, the world mightiest armed forces, the US military, takes the lead.
A female US Marine successfully completed the highly-demanding infantry officer training course and will soon be assigned to lead a combat platoon. It sounds like a new challenge for both the officer and the soldiers to work together in extreme conditions. She could be assigned to command her troops in a place where women are required to get a permission from their guardian to travel or just to go out. How will she be looked in such places?
Enjoy reading the article, and the last two volumes of Topic Reading, and think if the world will see more or fewer boundaries between genders, races or beliefs in this century.


Topic Reading-Vol.2000-10/2/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Saudi Arabia driving ban on women to be lifted
There are many cars on the streets and gas is plentiful and inexpensive. Yet no Saudi women is driving in their homeland at all. Why? Because it is prohibited by law.
In this ultra-conservative desert kingdom, women must wear a loose black garment called an abaya and headscarf, get a permission from a male guardian when they travel and avoid interacting with unrelated men. They can work but only in a separated workplace from men.
Now a historic announcement was made to allow women to drive effective June next year, just like any other country in the world.
Though it sounds like a relatively minor move, this is a big step towards the direction laid out by the crown prince who is transforming this conservative oil-dependent kingdom to an economically balanced and independent modern kingdom.
Great news for progressive women but bad news for those who are hired to drive women there.
Enjoy reading and think what would be the next step to modernize the desert kingdom.

BTW, thank you so much for reading this 2000th issue. It took nearly five years and five months to get here.


Topic Reading-Vol.1999-10/1/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
This is what happens when gender roles are forced on kids
Either a boy or a girl, babies are usually babies. They do the same things and act in the same way mostly. When they become toddlers, both boys and girls become active, though boys are more powerful as they develop macules. When they become children, boys and girls tend to do different things and do things differently. For example, types of toys they play with, colors of things they paint or use, and clothes they wear are usually designed for boys and girls respectively. Then when they reach puberty, girls usually start changing earlier than boys, they tend to, or often are taught to by tradition, keep some distance from each other. All these changes and behavioral differences seem to occur quite naturally and gradually within their respective society. In other words, boys and girls have or are expected to have, physical functions to work and social roles to play once they reach their adolescence.
In the next two topic readings, you’ll also learn very different roles and expectations women have in two distinctively different cultures.
Enjoy reading and learning how children change as they grow.