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12/11/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2435-12/11/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers
Why the world is becoming more allergic to food
Food allergy is an abnormal response to a food triggered by the body's immune system. Common food allergic reactions are fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts like walnuts, eggs, milk, sesame, and wheat. An allergic reaction varies by person and the amount of exposure to a particular food. It could be just itching or swelling in the mouth, vomiting or diarrhea, and in a severe case, tightening the throat and trouble breathing, or drop in blood pressure, which could be fatal.
The problem is that the rate of confirmed food allergies among children has been increasing over the last few decades especially in western countries and also in urban environments. It is still unclear what factors to blame. The most likely factors are pollution, dietary habits, and less exposure to microbes, parasites and less exposure to the sun.
In any case, clear and accurate food labeling, avoidance of allergic foods, and a proper diagnosis and treatment are all essential to refrain from allergy-producing problems.
Read the article and learn what food allergy is about.

12/10/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2434-12/10/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers
Nearly 1 million people sit China's civil servant exam
While many young Chinese college students are dreaming to be a high-flying entrepreneur, quite a number of people and their parents seem to think to become a civil servant is more attractive than other job opportunities. Indeed, over 900,000 people applied for 15,500 national civil servant job positions and took exams this year. That sounds very competitive as only one out of every 63 candidates can get the “iron bowl” job.
If there was a bowl made of iron, it would be very solid and difficult to break. Then an “iron bowl” job means it is a very stable job or a job you will never lose. The “civil servant” is still considered an “iron bowl” job by many Chinese people. This makes the competition very fierce, as hundreds of thousands of people fight for civil servant jobs every year. Once people become official civil servants, their life can be worry-free. It’s a decent and secure job.
But this is not limited only to Chinese people. In India, over 23 million people applied for 10,000 available jobs for the state-owned India Railways.
(Reported in Vol.2251 “The jobs in India that attract thousands of applicants.”)
Indeed, there are a lot of people who are looking for an iron bowl or iron rail job in these most populous countries.
Enjoy reading and learn how fierce the competitions are to be employed by the state.

12/09/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2433-12/9/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers
Totally awesome: Seven ways you use Americanisms every day
What influences the most to a language? Culture, media, immigrants, technologies, or new practices? English originated in England, spread across Great Britain, and was adopted in the territories of the British Empire, such as Australia and America. After the World Wars, America’s influence started to surpass the UK’s in many areas and became the world’s most influential country, especially in media, entertainment, and education that affect numbers of people not only in the country but also to other parts of the world. As the US flourishes, it has become more independent in the language and developed new words and altered pronunciation and spelling; such as highway for motorway and color for colour. After the second millennium, American English became the de-facto standard of the world English. Now anywhere you go, you’ll most likely hear local English TV stations use American English, even in the old British territories, like India or New Zealand.
However, as the number of non-native English speakers increases, such a distinction may not be so critical. Yes, English seems to become the most commonly used language on the globe. So, it’s no longer an issue of British or American but how well practically and effectively the language is used.
Enjoy reading and think which spelling or pronunciation you want to learn for the time being.

12/08/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2432-12/8/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers
How George H.W. Bush helped end the Cold War peacefully
Born on June 12, 1924, Massachusetts, George Herbert Walker Bush, was a two-term U.S. vice president under Ronald Reagan, from 1981 to 1989. He then became the 41st U.S. president and served a four-year term until 1993. Before starting his political career in 1967, he was a World War II naval aviator and Texas oil industry executive.
During his 12-year tenure in the White House, he witnessed the collapse of the Berlin Wall, the Soviet Union, and subsequently the Cold War. He dedicated himself to lead the nation and its allies to help establish the new world order with their old enemy.
He peacefully passed away on the last day of November 2018 at the age of 94, only seven months after his wife, Barbara’s death. His eldest son, George Walker Bush, also served as the 43rd president of the U.S.
Enjoy reading about a man who served the nation for years during the last world transformation.

12/07/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2431-12/7/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers
The US averaged at least 1 deadly mass shooting a month in 2018
Every year, over 10,000 lives are taken away by gun violence in the U.S. This means an average of 30 gun-victims every day. In some cases, multiple people are gunned down often by assault or military grade weapons, such as AR-15, AK-47 or M-16. When four or more people are killed, not including the suspect, it is generally called a mass shooting.
Though the year of 2018 has yet to close its curtain, there already have been 18 such incidents in the US as of the end of November. They took place at a house, synagogue, and high school, leaving family members and friends, worshippers, and students gunned down on the floors while they were having peaceful moments.
Why are there so many gun violence victims in a country where most people enjoy freedom and opportunities? Can democracy, government transparency, higher education, wealth, or heavily-armed police force ever reduce such violence?
Read and learn how serious and repetitive US gun violence is.

12/06/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2430-12/6/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers
New Zealand beached whales: Why are so many getting stranded?
In late November, scores of whales were found dead on several beaches in New Zealand. They seem to have gotten stranded on the beaches by groups, in one case a dozen whales and in another case over 100. While whale stranding is not that uncommon, why did such a large number of marine mammals get stranded on the beach all of a sudden?
Experts suggested a few possible causes but have been unable to conclude the case yet. The whales might have been too ill to swim or eat and died. Their navigation and communication system by echolocation might have been confused in very shallow waters. The groups might have been misguided by the leader or a member of the herd. Warmer water temperature might have led their preys to certain areas and the whales followed them.
In any case, such mysterious mass stranding seems to have been happening since before humans inhabited the southern islands.
Enjoy reading and learn about another mystery of nature.

12/05/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2429-12/5/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers
How Japan's corporate culture allows corrupt CEOs to win
Consistency may be one of the words that describe Japan’s corporate culture. Lifetime employment still is one of the commonly practiced, or at least understood, employment standards in Japan. Unlike most of the corporations in capitalist economies, new graduates are usually hired without specific job descriptions or terms of the employment in Japan. Once employed, employees are expected to do what they are assigned to do. In many cases, they continue to work in the same company for a long time, experiencing various jobs and responsibilities and learning to perform better within the organization. While such intra-company career development practice ensures consistency, it doesn’t seem to foster innovative or outward-looking attitudes or culture.
There is no single factor that caused the recent Nissan chairman’s misconducts. There is no one system or practice that ensures flawless corporate governance, either. But having ousted its absolute boss, Nissan has presumably learned a hard lesson.
Enjoy reading and learn what Japan’s employment system is like.

12/04/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2428-12/4/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers
Police arrest 6 after a teenage boy died in an adulthood initiation ritual in Kenya
Adulthood initiation is said to be a one-way bridge from one’s youth to adulthood. It was a traditional ceremony designed to teach a fifteen-year-old boy the customary values of his people, the Kikuyu, Kenya's most populous ethnic group. The ritual was held during the school holidays. The boy went on a trip to be bulled to harden him which seemed to have gone too far. He was then circumcised, isolated from this family and found dead.
Although such initiation ritual has been practiced for a very long time, deaths haven’t occurred often during or after the ceremony.
The boy had good grades in school and wanted to be a neurosurgeon.
Read the article and learn how a traditional custom turned to be a fatal incident.

12/03/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2427-12/3/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers
Why is Jack Ma a member of the Communist Party of China?
Born in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China in 1964, Jack Ma Yun is the co-founder and executive chairman of mighty Alibaba, China’s leading e-commerce enterprise. He is also one of the richest not only in China but also in the world. No wonder his primary ideology is for an open and market-driven economy.
Recently, it was revealed that he has been a member of the Communist Party of China, or CPC. He must have been very busy organizing his schedule and priorities as having been fulfilling the member’s duties while leading and managing the fast-growing Internet enterprise.
But it might have been one of the reasons the company has been growing without interfered by the ruling party, government or authorities, at least on the surface. If you look at what happened to Tencent, Alibaba’s archrival, or Wanda Group, a multinational conglomerate, it is obviously essential to build and maintain a good relationship with the absolute ruler in China.
Can Google or Facebook deal with such distinctive social system to do business there?
Enjoy reading and learn how the legendary entrepreneur is good at managing businesses.

12/02/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2426-12/2/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers
China baby gene editing claim 'dubious'
A new unprecedented treatment by a Chinese medical expert has sparked outrage from scientists around the world. They call the gene editing unethical or even monstrous if that was what really implemented.
Genome editing, also called gene editing, is a group of technologies that give scientists the ability to change an organism's DNA. These technologies allow genetic material to be added, removed, or altered at particular locations in the genome, according to the US National Library of Medicine.
The Chinese professor in a laboratory in Shenzhen, the capital of high-tech industry in China, claimed that he altered twin daughters’ embryos to prevent them from contracting HIV in the future while neither of their parents is infected by the deadly virus. It means there was no immediate need to alter their healthy genes. Then why did he do that? Did the parents want him to do the editing? Were they informed of sufficient information about the risks?
Though the world still isn’t ready for such ethical, moral medical treatment, technologies are advancing faster than ever before.
Read the article and learn what gene editing could mean to human lives.

12/01/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2425-12/1/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers
16 personality traits and what they mean
What adjectives do you think of when trying to describe the personal features of your friends? Is there any perfectly descriptive word? Aggressive or ambitious, considerate or impulsive, dependable or reliable, social or talkative, only to name a few. Sometimes for non-native English speakers, there may be quite a few unfamiliar words that are used to describe personality traits; such as Misanthropic, Masochistic, and Phlegmatic.
Enjoy reading a list of words used to describe the *plethora of personalities.
    *plethora  a very large amount of something,

11/30/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2424-11/30/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers
UK and Spain reach agreement over Gibraltar, paving way for Brexit deal
Though it appears to be part of Spain geographically, Gibraltar is a Britain’s overseas territory located at the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula. As the rocky outcrop sits at the tip of the Iberian Peninsula that oversees the 13-kilometer-wide strait between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, Gibraltar has been strategically important for trade and military.
It became Great Britain’s territory under the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. Under the current constitution, this tiny British territory with a population of 30,000 has almost complete internal self-governance through a parliament. They decided to remain status quo in recent referendums in 1967 and 2002 against Spain’s proposal to transfer the sovereignty.
So, what will happen when Britain leaves the EU? For now, access between Gibraltar and Spain is the same as one of any other EU nations.
Enjoy reading and learn the complexity of Brexit, or any divorce settlement.

11/29/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2423-11/29/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers
In Pictures: The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards 2018
This year’s Comedy Photo Awards winners have been announced!!!
Those winning photos feature;
a shocked squirrel,
an owl apparently playing peek-a-boo,
a grinning blue shark,
a surprised owl,
a family of brown bears,
a rhino wearing a peacock-feather tutu,
an exasperated bear,
a budding white bear photographer,
a red squirrel doing the splits,
a moose blows a raspberry,
two lizards appear to do the tango, and
two dusky leaf monkeys in a highly dramatic fight.
Which one is your favorite?
Enjoy seeing these amazing and enticing photos and share them with your family and friends.

If you wish to see the finalists, check this website.

11/28/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2422-11/28/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers
South Korea closes largest dog meat slaughterhouse
Though it has never been a mainstream part of the Korean diet throughout history, dog meat has been eaten occasionally but continually. However, as dogs become more popular as a pet rather than as a dish especially among young generations, the demand for dog meat has been declining. Still, there are several hundred restaurants that serve dog meat just in Seoul. It is also estimated that as many as one million dogs are consumed annually in this country with a population of just over 50 million.
Now, the nation’s largest dog slaughterhouse has just been demolished. Advocates of animal rights welcome the move and hope that the custom is going to cease. Restaurants will then have to come up with some alternative delicacy that entices customers who seek something beyond today’s ordinary menu.
But what about pigeon or rabbit meat on French menu? Is it less barbaric to eat such harmless creatures that are also kept as a pet than dog meat?
Enjoy reading and think what eating customs should be valued and preserved in your culture.

11/27/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2421-11/27/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers
6 ways your brain is tricked into holiday shopping
Do you consider yourself a good shopper? Even though you might give your friends or loved ones good advice as to whether to make a certain purchase or not, you might make impulse or unnecessary purchases for yourself. But that may not your fault. You might have been skillfully tricked by the retailer. That’s because your brain can be affected by factors such as smell, sound, display, and even attitude of the store staff. For example, people tend to spend more in a warm-scented store. Also, shoppers seem to make more impulse purchases when faster music is played in the store.
Nos, you want to remember that a shopping season to you is also a selling season for retailers. They are trying to make the most of this business opportunity by taking advantage of shoppers’ psychological and emotional behaviors.
Enjoy reading and learn what tactics your shopping sites, whether in-store or online, are deploying to make you spend more.
https://edition.cnn.com/2018/11/22/health/shopping-black-friday-retailer-tricks-explainer/index.html

11/26/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2420-11/26/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers
The worst year to be a human has been revealed by researchers
There are quite a few ways to trace the history besides reading what is written. One way is to analyze ice samples from glaciers or ice sheets in high elevation or altitude, such as the Alps or Antarctica and identify atmospheric pollutants in different times. Recently, researchers found that there was a substantial increase in vog in CE 536 caused by volcano eruptions in Iceland.
Vog is a form of air pollution that is caused when sulfur dioxide and other gases and particles emitted by a volcano eruption react with the air. Vog contains a mix of dangerous components and irritates the eyes and causes a range of harmful effects on the lungs, including wheezing, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing. Also, the particles scatter light, making the air appear hazy, which affects the crop growth. Particle pollution can cause asthma attacks, heart attacks and can kill.
After the massive volcanic activities, the northern hemisphere seemed to have suffered from years of disastrous climate, agricultural, economic and health impacts.
Can human ingenuity cope with such catastrophic natural event now?
Enjoy reading and learn what really is a bad year in human history.

11/25/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2419-11/25/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers
Dead sperm whale found in Indonesia had ingested '6kg of plastic'
You might be getting a plastic lunch unconsciously. If you go to a convenience store and buy your lunch, for example, you may get a plastic-wrapped sandwich, a plastic cup of orange juice with a plastic straw and in a plastic bag. And these plastic items are single-use because they are economically cheap.
If all these plastic wastes are properly collected and recycles or reused, there won’t be so much problem to marine creatures. However, more single-use plastics are being used day by day as fast-food chains, supermarkets, and convenience stores increase in developing countries in Asia, especially China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Thailand.
Small fish eat microplastic, bigger fish eat small fish that have undigested microplastic in their stomach, and eventually, humans eat those microplastic inclusive fish. Also, larger ocean creatures that swallow everything in the water get direct hit by plastic wastes such as plastic bottles, bags, cups, and even flip-flops, which were just found in the stomach of a dead whale on the shore in Indonesia.
While human innovations have provided modern lifestyles and convenience, they also have been creating environmental problems, such as pollutions and global warming.
Enjoy reading and think about when and how you get a plastic-free lunch.

11/24/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2418-11/24/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers
Why AI is shaping our world?
Where and how much AI is being used these days? You must have heard about Artificial Intelligence beat a human Go champion, help customer service agents, or translates a language into another. But what is exactly the difference between automatic and autonomous driving?
More and more AI-powered systems and devices are helping and saving human works these days. For example, a chatbot stimulates the conversation via text or voice interactions. You can ask questions or make a command, and then a chatbot responds or performs the requested action. It saves not only the company the human resources to employ but also the inquirer the time because the chatbot responds almost immediately. But beyond such practical convenience, AI performs more complicated, delicate and even creative works, and does such tasks even better than humans in many cases.
Check out this introduction to explore the technologies and trends of AI and think if you’re interested in following the upcoming articles about how these silicon brains.

11/23/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2417-11/23/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers
Five reasons why we need to sleep more
Like what to and what not to eat, we all know that proper sleep is essential and beneficial to live a better life. But exactly what benefits can we expect from proper sleep, even though how long is proper varies by person and age?
First, you can learn and remember things better. Proper sleep makes your brain prepare to learn new things and store new memories. This sounds beneficial enough to turn off the smartphone and go to bed a little earlier. But proper sleep also improves health and therefore, extends life expectancy, which pleases your family and also the health ministry as the health care costs decline. Furthermore, proper sleep enhances creativity and improves productivity. This not only benefits you but also your colleagues, bosses, and employer.
Sound sleep, sound business. Proper sleep, better life.
Enjoy watching this brief video and think what it takes you to sleep a little longer and better.

11/22/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2416-11/22/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers
How Hong Kong plans to replace 100,000 trees
Typhoon Mangkhut was the strongest typhoon to strike hit Hong Kong since Ellen in 1983. It caused flooding, especially in low-lying and coastal areas, and knocked over more than 50,000 trees blocking several roads. Also, there seem to be another 50,000 or so felled trees that were not reported.
You may wonder if there are so many trees in Hong Kong. In fact, less than a quarter of the land in Hong Kong has been developed, and the rest of the land space is quite green.
These felled trees not only damaged houses and cars but also caused road disruptions in many parts of the city. The authority hurried to remove those felled trees from busy streets to somewhere. But where to? Also, what are they doing with so much wood waste? No city in the world is prepared to deal with such a large amount of wood waste in a short time.
Enjoy reading and learn about this unthinkable problem Hong Kong suffered after a typhoon.
https://edition.cnn.com/2018/11/09/asia/hong-kong-typhoon-mangkhut-trees-intl/index.html

11/21/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2415-11/21/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers
Japan Airlines tightens alcohol rules for pilots
Is flying a passenger airplane so stressful, especially for Japanese pilots? Japan Airlines, a renowned once the de-facto flag carrier, announced that the airline tightens alcohol check with a new breathalyzer system at all airports. The move came after one of their pilots was arrested in Heathrow airport when he tried to get on board an aircraft. The test showed that the pilot was nine times over the legal alcohol limit in the UK. The airline also had a number of delayed flights for the last few years because of the failures of their pilots to the pass alcohol test before boarding.
Is this problem only unique to that particular airline? What about other Japanese airlines, or other airlines in the world? Is flying an aircraft safely so frustrating? Does it make pilots too lonely to stay away from their families or country abroad? Or is it too difficult for pilots to sleep without excess alcohol because of jet lag?
Whichever the cause might be, passengers aren’t expecting to be flown by a drunk pilot.
Enjoy reading and learn what could happen in the cockpit if a pilot is sitting under influence of alcohol or drug.

11/20/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2414-11/20/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers
Five myths about wild fires
It this a new normal? There seem to be more and more deadly wildfires raging in many places around the globe, widespread wildfires in Siberia last year, a series of wildfires in Greece this year, and now in California only to name a few. Unfortunately, an increasing number of such devastating wildfires seems to be neither temporary nor coincidental.
What are the main causes of, and countermeasures to deal with these disasters? Are they caused by natural phenomena, human activities, or climate change, or a combination of all? There also seem to be actions to be or not to be taken to prevent or reduce the damage and victims of wildfires that might not have been properly practiced or understood.
Read and learn about this present and clear danger to human lives, properties, and wildlife.


Also, watch this intense escape from a wildfire to feel how furious it is. https://edition.cnn.com/videos/us/2018/11/09/california-wildfires-orig-acl.cnn

11/19/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2413-11/19/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers
Australians outraged over Sausage Sizzle safety ruling
When you order a hot dog, most of you probably expect the onions will be placed on top of the sausage, if you want any. That seems to have been the most commonly accepted and expected way a hot dog is served.
The Sausage Sizzle sandwich, made of a sausage wrapped in bread, is a popular hot dog sold inside and outside of the Bunnings hardware stores, Australia’s leading DIY retailer that runs nearly 300 outlets. When the retailer announced a plan to place onions under the sausage instead of on top for a safety reason, numbers of enthusiastic fans of the sandwich expressed strong outrage at the change, including the PM.
Do you think it’s a big deal? Well, imagine a slice of tomato or cheese is placed under a beef patty, how does the burger look and taste?
Enjoy reading the article and think about how sensitive people are when it comes to a simple recipe.

11/18/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2412-11/18/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers
How Amazon delivers in the Himalayas
Amazon has been expanding the customer base in populous markets of India. Now, the e-commerce giant is getting its foot in the door of the Himalayas.
Leh is a small town in northern India which lies at an altitude of 3,500 meters. The present-day population of this ancient capital of the Himalayan kingdom of Ladakh is just about 30,000. Though there aren’t so many business or commercial activities in this mountainous town, residents, including monks, seem to be interested in buying things online. The last-mile of e-commerce in this remote town has been longer than the one of other populated areas until recently. Now aggressive Amazon recruited delivery personnel to complete the final part of the logistic process. Bike riders. Since there aren’t signs or addresses on the street, the delivery personnel have to be familiar with the local residents to ensure that the delivery is made to the right recipient. Some worry about environmental impacts. What will happen to the worn-out items that have never been used in the self-sufficient old town, not to mention the discarded cardboard boxes and packaging materials? It will take longer for the nature to degrade those foreign objects in the beautiful environment.
Enjoy watching the video and think if e-commerce will become part of the lifeline in the Himalayas.

11/17/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2411-11/17/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers
Mourning dog waits for 80 days in road where owner died
Dogs are mostly loyal. Unlike another popular long-domesticated pet animal, cats, they learn to do what the owner expects them to do maybe for a reward or a praise. Some dogs are so loyal that they keep waiting for the owner at a place where they used to meet or spend time together often, or where the owner passed away.
The former case was demonstrated by a famous Akita dog, named Hachiko in Japan. The loyal dog awaited his master’s return for nine years after his death at the train station at the precise time when they used to meet. His statue is still placed in front of the busy Shibuya station in Tokyo.
Now there is another case that a loyal dog stays in the middle of a busy street where his owner was killed. Ever since the owner of this lonely dog died on the road in the capital city of Inner Mongolia, China last August, he has been staying there. It is not clear whether he doesn’t know the fact that his owner is gone forever, or he just doesn’t want to recognize it. Whichever the motive might be, he hasn’t accepted any offer of help by other people.
Enjoy reading the article and see the video and think how much longer this poor dog will stay around there, particularly when freezing winter is approaching in Inner Mongolia.

11/16/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2410-11/16/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers
Alibaba Singles Day sales top $30 billion
How substantial $30 billion is? It is about the GDP of small or developing countries ranked about 100th in the world, such as Jordan or Tanzania. Alibaba, China’s e-commerce giant, generated record sales exceeding $30 billion during the 24-hour sales extravaganza, known as Singles Day Sales on 11/11/2018. The sales event has been taking place every year since 2009 and is now held in other Asian countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam by Alibaba’s subsidiaries.
Most of the orders came from smartphones and most likely paid by Alipay, Alibaba’s online payment platform. The company not only generated the biggest sales of the year but also collected an enormous amount of personal data. Who buys what and how much will make the online e-commerce site more attractive to not only online shops but also advertisers.
Brick-and-mortar shops also took advantage of the sales bonanza, as well as exporters in Japan, the US, and Australia.
Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Fathers or Mothers Day were all originated in Western cultures. Now, this single-day sales event created by a Chinese firm seems to spread to other parts of the world as well.
Enjoy reading and learn what this sales event will be like ten years from now.

11/15/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2409-11/15/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers
Armistice Day: Macron and Merkel mark end of World War One
The armistice of World War I was signed on November 11, 1918, between Germany and the Allies. During the 51-month period, battles took place in and around Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and even the Pacific Islands, Eastern Asia, and Latin America. Nearly 10 million military personnel were killed and almost the same number of civilians lost their lives.
Why did it take too long time and too many lives to end the war? People should have learned that no one wins a war by then. But even after the deadliest war, another world war took place only three decades later mainly between the same nations.
At least, isn’t it mind resting to see a photo of the leaders of then enemies sitting peacefully together to remember the armistice day a century later? The sad thing is that while then US president took a big role to end the war, the incumbent US president seems to have any respect or consideration for the past and the future of other countries.
Enjoy reading the article and think why people repeat the same mistakes over and over again.

11/14/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2408-11/14/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers
Forget the trade war, China's economy has other big problems
China’s growth seems to have been overly financed by debts. A number of generous investments were initiated to vitalize the economy back in 2008 when the financial crisis hit the world, and indeed they’ve pushed China’s economy to the second largest only after the US. As long as the real economy is growing, such debts don’t always create so much headache. However, when economic growth slows down, repaying debts becomes a serious burden, especially for often inefficient and uncompetitive state-owned enterprises. The same is true for the real estate market. Many emerging middle-class Chinese have invested heavily in residential properties, not just one but a few. Such investment is also financed by borrowings from banks with an expectation of higher market prices. But the housing market seems to be cooling, too. And then, the declining birth rate. The government relaxed the decades-long one-child policy recently but that seems to have done too late. Education costs and modern lifestyles have already changed the formation and value of Chinese families.
And now, a trade war with the U.S is about to kick in. No wonder China’s middle-class feel weary of their lives (Vol.2407).
Will China be able to manage this new challenge and start a sustainable and consistent growth?
Enjoy reading and learn what is going on in China’s economy.

11/13/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2407-11/13/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers
China's middle class: We're being picked like leeks by the government
When the country’s economy is booming, many can enjoy the benefits. Among those beneficiaries, the middle class is the people who drive the economy the most.
The middle class usually mean the broad group of people socio-economically between the working class and upper class. Their activities are one of the key indicators of the economy because they spend, borrow and invest more when they think the future is prosperous. On the other hand, when they feel clouds in the economic horizon, they cut back their loans for homes and automobiles, spending on luxurious items and activities such as traveling and dining out, expenditures for daily necessities.
Recently, the fast-growing Chinese middle class seems to have been experiencing their first financial downturn. While their salary prospects are uncertain, the cost of living, especially rents, is increasing. To make the things worse, some had invested heavily in the stock market that has plunged nearly 40% this year. Many investors are now forced to cut the losses of the investment. Many of such middle-class people now feel that they are the victims of the government and the exploiting class and call themselves leeks.
It seems like a situation where populism prevails in a democratic state.
Enjoy reading and learn how the current Chinese economy affects their middle class.

Topic Reading-Vol.2406-11/12/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers
Suicides among Japanese young people hit 30-year high
Of the 21,000 people who committed suicide in Japan in 2016, 240 were students of elementary, middle and mostly high school students. Unfortunately, the 30-year-high figure represents nearly one student suicide per school day. The causes of these early suicides ranged from family problems, worrying about their futures and school bullying, according to the notes or logs left by those who took their lives. As the number of students’ suicide surge in September and April, those students seem to have had a very difficult time to get back to school after the summer vacation or to start a new school year. (Note: School year starts in April in Japan)
In fact, suicide is the leading cause of death among young people aged between 15 to 34 in Japan. While the country is known for safety and modesty, some students seem to suffer serious emotional pressures that don’t seem to be recognized or eased by their classmates, teachers or parents.
Read the article and learn one of Japan’s underlying social problems.  

11/11/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2405-11/11/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers
Nepalese festival celebrates 'day of the dogs'
When people celebrate a festival, should dogs be part of the festive occasion? In Nepal, they take part in the five-day Nepalese Hindu festival of Tihar. The second day of the festival is a designated day for dogs. Pet dogs are celebrated and blessed with a red mark called Tika, applied to their forehead and given flowers garlands whether they like them or not. They are also treated with a special food they like, such as milk, meat or eggs. Some people say just a day of special treatment is not enough for their beloved partners, but dogs look quite happy to get special attention from people. 
Because of the religious nature of the festival, the treatment is not limited to pet dogs but is offered to non-pet dogs and cats. They may wish that the festival takes place not just annually but weekly or even daily.
Enjoy reading and seeing the photos of happy dogs in Nepal.

11/10/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2404-11/10/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers
South Koreans are working themselves to death. Can they get their lives back?
It seems that necessity to work hard to rebuild the country became a custom and obsession in South Kora. The nation underwent the deadly and destructive three-year-war until 1953. People had no choice but to work whatever it took to put food on the table. And men seem to have been expected to do the job for their families and by the employers ever since. Workplaces are understaffed, workers are overburdened, and organizations are mismanaged. Korean workers worked much longer hours than other OECD member states. As a result, the numbers of deaths by overwork went so high that a word dedicated to such death was created, gwarosa.
Good news is that a new regulation will be put into effect next year to limit weekly working hours to 40 from 68. That’ll make significant changes to workplaces, workers and their families if it is enforced. The problem is that the law applies only to large companies that employ 300 or more workers, at least for a while.
Read the article and learn what working could mean in different cultures

11/09/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2403-11/9/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers
How your heart age is key to heart attack or stroke risk
You probably know and heard of what could increase the risk of heart attack or stroke. Obesity, poor diet, a lack of exercise and high blood pressure, you name it. If you simply keep eating and doing what you want, such risk factors increase greatly. Unfortunately, it requires a certain determination for one to do what he or she is usually not willing to do, such as exercising regularly or cutting the amount of alcohol or sweets. But what if there is a wake-up call, like a simple web-test that tells you an estimated heart age? In fact, Public Health England offered a free online test to the residents. Surprisingly, as many as nearly two million people took the test. The 16-question test found that almost 80% of the test takers had a heart age higher than their actual age. Those whose heart ages are older are told that they have a greater risk of an early death. Very straightforward warning, isn’t it? Interested or afraid to know the result?
Enjoy reading the article and take the test to find out how much older or younger your heart is than your age.

11/08/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2402-11/8/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers
Custom KitKat shop opens in Japan
Four scores and five years ago, its father brought forth in London a new confectionary. The unique chocolate-covered wafer bar confection became soon popular in Europe and America. KitKat is now sold by Nestle around the world. Ever since it landed on Japan 1973, Kit Kat has been one of the top-selling chocolate products. There have been over 300 permanent, limited and seasonal flavors, such as ginger ale, soy sauce, green tea, and banana to keep momentum and stimulate impulsive purchase. For Japanese, KitKat sounds like "Kitto Katsu" a phrase meaning "You will surely win." It is one of the most popular gifts to entrance exam takers, especially in January and February.
Now, a brand-new KitKat chocolatory opened in a busy subway station in Osaka. Shoppers can customize KitKat with their favorite flavor, such as milk, matcha or strawberry flavored white chocolate, and nine toppings including marshmallow, pineapple, cranberry, mango, green raisin, almond, cashew, macadamia, and shredded coconut, and then have it hardened before their eyes by a blast of liquid nitrogen. What a show to watch! Another cool spot to visit in Japan.
Enjoy reading and design your own KitKat, you will win!

11/07/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2401-11/7/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers
Meet Sophia: The robot who laughs, smiles and frowns just like us
A robot that not only expresses human emotions naturally but also understands the emotional state of people, up to a certain extent. This robot, named Sophia, was developed to represent the intersection of humanity and technology as well as to enhance humanity.
To realize such complex movements of the face and voice, researchers had to study neurobiology and biology of human facial expressions to design how to move each part of the artificial muscle. She can generate various expressions such as joy, confusion and even frustration. She also shows up as a model and delivers a speech. With these human-like abilities, she became the first robot to be granted a citizenship, in Saudi Arabia.
Enjoy watching the video and think if you may want to have a robot partner or pet in your home someday.

11/06/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2400-11/6/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers
Can music therapy work on dogs?
Some pet dog owners or carers might believe that music calms dogs. In fact, some study shows that dogs in animal shelters are less likely to bark and more likely to sleep to classical music than more upbeat music like heavy metal or no music. But what about specially trained dogs like police dogs that are often under stress for their intensive searching tasks?
Here, in a Spanish police dog training center, dogs hear classical music when they are off duty and in their respective cage. The staff members say that they bark less and look more relaxed.
Have the trainers found what type of classical music dogs prefer?  Do German Shepherds like Wagner more than Verdi, or Retrievers prefer symphonies to chamber music? Maybe we should put a “Like” button next to those dogs to gather data.
Enjoy watching a video and think if what makes you feel calm and relaxed.

11/05/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2399-11/5/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers
India unveils the world's tallest statue
Will the Statue of Unity in India become as popular as the Statue of Liberty in New York?
This newly inaugurated statue in the western Indian state of Gujaratis is 182 meters tall, nearly twice as tall as the famous copper statue in Manhattan, and now is the world’s tallest statue. Unlike other religious or anonymous statues, this new statue is a tribute to one of the independence leaders, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, who served as the first Deputy Prime Minister of India. Though he is not as known as Nehru in the world, he worked very closely with Gandhi and was, in fact, the last person to talk privately with Gandhi before he was assassinated only minutes later.
Will this founding father serve the nation once again by bringing millions of tourists as incumbent PM Modi expects?
Enjoy reading and watching the video and think if a statue, however huge or tall might be, is attractive to you to visit the remote site.

11/04/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2398-11/4/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers
Why is Seven Samurai so good?
This over-six-decade-old, black-and-white work by Akira Kurosawa is one of the most well-known and referred to films among movie producers, actors, and critics. In the 16th century in Japan, seven master-less samurais were hired by farmers to protect their village from bandits. Though the story sounds simple, the making and acting of this movie are both outstanding. It won Silver Lion award in the Venice Film Festival in 1954 and won or nominated in other prominent film awards. Scores of years later, movie critics were asked by BBC to choose their favorite non-English language movies. Among the 100 top listed films, Seven Samurai came to the top of the list.
Why is this particular old movie?
Enjoy reading and learn about this legendary milestone work in cinema history.

11/03/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2397-11/3/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers
Amazon is investing millions to keep packaging out of landfills
While generating billions of dollars in bottom line profit, Amazon is also creating tons of trash on the earth as their fulfillment centers ship over a million packages daily. That’s a lot of cardboard being used, opened and trashed or recycled. In each box or package, there is bubble wrap and/or Styrofoam to keep the merchandise in good shape. How much of such plastic packaging materials is properly collected and recycled?
Now, in order to respond to the rising criticisms and demands for reducing or replacing single-use plastic items like straws and lids, Amazon announced to invest “ten million dollars” to a fund that invests in recycling programs, sustainable goods, and landfill reduction efforts through venture capitals and investment funds.
Does is sound generous or sufficient to you considering the amount of trash the online giant is creating every day?
Enjoy reading and think how much trash from the delivered packages you throw out a week.


11/02/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2396-11/2/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers
Is it OK to be average?
Do you consider yourself an average person? If you are, do you want to stay in or stand out from the crowd?
Being an average or ordinary person gives you a chance to fit in a classroom, workplace, or community easily. Many people prefer to be that way simply to stay in the comfortable zone or to intentionally hide their identity, such as a criminal or undercover operative. But unless you have some distinguished talent or particular reasons, you can decide and control mostly how you are seen by the way you look to, speak to, or treat others.
Indeed, being an average, you’ll get fewer hassles, troubles, or worries. But isn’t that too boring to you?
Enjoy reading and think if being average an insult or compliment.

11/01/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2395-11/1/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers
Driverless cars: Who should die in a crash?
Driving a van with passengers, your family or friends, and suddenly noticed an extended family, grandparents, parents and two kids are walking across the street at a distance that is no way to avoid a collision. What would you do?
This is a kind of situation you never want to face when you sit in the driver’s seat, who to save and who to hit if there is ever any moment to think or judge. Instinct probably prevails over logic, and reaction likely comes before conscious control.
A research found that how people cope with such situation differs widely by culture. The Japanese chose to avoid hitting pedestrians while the Chinese wanted to save the passengers. The French chose to save young people but the people in Confucianism cultures, such as China, Taiwan, Korea, and Japanese, chose otherwise.
So, what would a self-driving vehicle do in such a situation? What sort of decision-making algorithm is going to be set? Would that vary by country or situation? Should the driver be asked to choose an algorithm option before activating the self-driving system?
Enjoy reading and think what you would do at such a critical moment.