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Topic Reading-Vol.2653-7/17/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Biased and wrong? Facial recognition tech in the dock
What is face recognition, or FR? It is a method of identifying or verifying the identity of a person by the images of their faces. Face recognition systems use computer algorithms to pick out specific, distinctive details about a person’s face, such as distance between the eyes or shape of the chin. Then, they convert the information into mathematical data and compared with data of a face recognition database. Facial data can be collected from social media, Closed-circuit Television (CCTV), traffic cameras, published or private photos, or organizations’ database without being recognized by the person. So, if the face of a known terrorist is captured by security cameras in a public place like an airport or station, face recognition system alerts the authority for attention or action. It surely saves time and could save lives.
However, how reliable face recognition technology is? Unfortunately, it varies by situation and object. The angle and brightness of the image, and the skin color and gender of the object all affect the accuracy of the identification system. Also, there are technical difficulties that are unique to machines. For example, differentiating photos of a blueberry muffin and the face of a chihuahua dog isn’t an easy task for facial recognition.
Some authorities use FR aggressively to identify criminals, unwanted or suspicious people in public places. In fact, there are hundreds of millions of CCTV cameras installed in China. On the other hand, law enforcement agencies of San Francisco are banned to use facial recognition for fear of threatening civil liberties and making false alerts.
Is technology always flawless, or close to perfect? Which is more reliable, human eyes or AI-powered face recognition?
Enjoy reading the article and think if you feel more secure in an airport with face recognition security system.


Topic Reading-Vol.2652-7/16/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Amazon at 25: The story of a giant
Born on July 5, 1994, in a Seattle metropolitan area in Washington, Amazon celebrated its 25th birthday this month. The company initially sold books at its online marketplace and later added electronics, CDs and DVDs, games, apparel, groceries and toys to its offering. Just in five years, its sales surpassed well over the one-billion-dollar mark. The rapidly growing online giant retailer opened its distribution services to small businesses, introduced prime membership and subscription services, launched electronic reading and smart devices, started on-demand cloud computing platforms, and stepped into brick-and-mortar retail business. Now, Amazon is the world’s largest online retailer and internet company and US’s second largest employer and technology company by revenue. It is now one of three most valued companies with Microsoft and Apple, which made the founder and chairman Jeff Bezos the wealthiest person in the world, who just made the world most expensive divorce settlement.
What Amazon will be doing in the next 25 years? Will we see extraterrestrial delivery services by amazon spacecraft? That might not be in the not so far future.
Enjoy reading the article and imagine how much you’ll be paying to Amazon next year.


Topic Reading-Vol.2651-7/15/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Destination trouble: Can overtourism be stopped in its tracks?
With rising middle class, increasing budget airlines and massive cruise liners, and influencing travel websites and social media, tourism has been flourishing for the last few years. In 2018, there were 1.4bn international tourist arrivals, according to the World Tourism Organization (UNTWO), a rise of 6% over the previous year. Some of the popular travel destinations are visited by more tourists than the local residents daily. Although tourists bring and spend money that creates jobs and boosts the economy, too many visitors could cause trouble to local communities. Indeed, overtourism is becoming a major problem to popular tourist destinations, and they are trying to find a way to balance tourist demand with the peace and life of the local community. Some cities like Venice, Italy have started levying entrance fees to day trippers who tend not to spend so much money. Such tourist tax varies by season to reduce peak-season visitors and boost slower-season visitors. Others like Amsterdam, Netherlands, and Reykjavik, Iceland are promoting other cities in their countries to divert tourists. To maintain order, Rome, Italy now bans bars to serve alcohol between 2 am and 7 am and fines people who drink in the street after 10 pm.
Overtourism seems to be another case of imbalance between the economy and the environment.
Enjoy reading and learn what this newly created word “overtourism” means.


Topic Reading-Vol.2650-7/14/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
A group of US billionaires is calling for a wealth tax
Wealth tax is a tax on the total value of personal assets, such as money, bonds, stocks, real estate, cars (and boats and airplanes), valuable properties like antiques and paintings, pension plans, and unincorporated businesses. Poor people don’t have such assets. People of the middle-class may have just enough assets to get by for now, and hopefully for after retirement. Only the rich own more than enough personal assets to spend or waste, donate or give, or inherit or succeed at will. They usually try their very best to minimize taxes they have to pay.
Now, some very wealthy Americans are calling for a tax on their wealth to tackle climate change and reduce inequalities. They seem to be generous enough to institute such a progressive initiative trying to make changes. But not all the rich will agree with being levied more taxes as they already paid income tax, sales tax or inheritance tax when they obtained their assets. In other words, it’s double taxation. Also, there are non-financial assets that are unique and hard to value, such as vehicles, antiques, private business.
Will this move help solve the problems? How much additional tax burden can they bear?
Enjoy reading the article and think who should be paying a wealth tax and how much.


Topic Reading-Vol.2649-7/13/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Obesity 'causes more cases of some cancers than smoking'
The fatter a person is, the higher the risks for cancer are. And the risks become even higher if the person is overweight or obese for a longer period. Furthermore, those who are overweight or obese are more likely to suffer from cancer than smokers, according to a UK research institute.
Though the link between obesity and the biomechanisms is still yet to be known, the research shows bowel, liver, kidney, and ovarian cancers are caused more by obesity than smoking. However, smokers shouldn’t feel relieved by these research findings as smoking still is the top cause of cancer overall in the UK. The problem is while smokers are decreasing in number, those who are overweight or obese are increasing. And the potentially fatal problem is increasing child obesity. Indeed, they are obese for a much longer period than their parents.
An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but a candy bar certainly does the opposite.
Enjoy reading the article and think twice before your next snack or dessert.


Topic Reading-Vol.2648-7/12/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
What to drink to help you sleep
What do you avoid eating or drinking after dinner to enjoy a sound sleep? Those who are sensitive to caffeine try to refrain from taking caffeine-rich drinks like coffee, green tea, and some soda.
Then does sweet chocolate that you may find on the bed in your hotel room get you a sweet dream? Sorry. It also contains caffeine. You also need to brush your teeth again.
What about a nightcap? Milk, whether warm or not, might be of some help but definitely not alcohol. It only helps you fall asleep but disrupts your sleep quality.
One thing seems to be sure. None of the things in your hotel room, in the fridge or minibar, helps you sleep better but water. Yes, water. You certainly want to be adequately hydrated when you go to bed.
Whether it’s psychological or biological, try whatever helps and avoid whatever disrupts your sound sleep.
Enjoy reading the article and think which of the tips you may want to try tonight.


Topic Reading-Vol.2647-7/11/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Assam NRC: Are India’s ‘unwanted people’ being driven to suicide?
Assam is a state in northeastern India known for its wildlife, archeological sites, silk, and tea. It is bordered by Bhutan to the north and Bangladesh to the south.
Recently, the state has been intensifying its effort to identify who are locals and who are not.  Those who migrated from its eastern neighbor Muslim-majority Bangladesh, or East Pakistan before its independence in 1971 may lose their citizenship. Four million people have already been excluded from the national register of citizenship list and many of them are feared to face either detention or deportation if they cannot prove their residence prior to 1971. It is a fatal blow to those who have already lived in the state for more than a few decades. They have nowhere to go once they lose their citizenship. Some of those in despair about their future have killed themselves. India was a dreamland and has been their homeland.
Is this just a sort of legal procedure or ethnic cleansing? Could the same thing happen to Hispanic Americans in the US?
Read the article and think how desperate they were when they moved to India from their homeland.


Topic Reading-Vol.2646-7/10/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Heatwaves: What you should and shouldn’t do to stay cool
Summer is coming in the northern hemisphere. If you are in an air-conditioned space, you need not worry about the heat and do whatever you like, such as reading a book, taking a nap or doing an exercise. But when you are exposed to extreme heat, say 35 degrees Celsius or higher, your body is dehydrated quite fast and the body temperature goes up. What should you do to stay cool?
First, you need to get liquid before it’s too late. But with what kind? Water, coffee, or beer? Hot or cold? You also want to get a breeze to make you feel cooler. But should you open the windows or run a fan? Though the answers to these questions are mostly conditional and circumstantial, you may want to know what you should and shouldn’t do and why.
Enjoy reading the verdicts and prepare for the summer heat.


Topic Reading-Vol.2645-7/9/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Second US town pays up to ransomware hackers
Ransomware is a malicious computer software that threatens to destroy someone’s files, systems, or even reputation unless a demanded ransom is paid. If not paid, the ransom goes up, or the threatened files or systems are encrypted so that the victim cannot use or access the data or use the system. At that point, the victim has only three choices, to pay the inflated ransom with a hope to bring the files and system back to life, to restore them from the backup only is such backup had been made, or to give up and rebuild everything from scratch.
Where there are risks, there also are insurance businesses. Cyber insurance is designed to help organizations to relieve or reduce risk exposure by offsetting costs for recovery after a cybersecurity breach. When a small town in Florida suffered downed computer systems for two weeks, they decided to have their cyber insurance company pay the ransom. The good news is the system came back to life after the payment was made and the cost was covered by the insurance. The bad news is that their insurance premium will go up unless they build a bullet-proof security system that convinces the insurer that future risk is lowered.
To avoid such disaster, never open attachment or links in unsolicited emails. Make sure to update your computer system. Keep backup files on an external drive or cloud service. Remember, every time a ransom is paid, it finances the attacker to be more demanding, malicious, and sophisticated.
Enjoy reading the article and learn what ransomware attack is about.


Topic Reading-Vol.2644-7/8/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Makeup fridges a hot item among youth
Why not? If there are specially designed refrigerators like a wine cooler and kimchi fridge, it may make sense to have one dedicated for cosmetic products, such as masks, creams, and perfumes. In fact, makeup fridges are getting popular among appearance-conscious young Chinese. These fridges are specially designed to store small cosmetic products at a temperature below the ambient temperature of the room. Unlike conventional food refrigerators, makeup fridges are colorful and fashionable as they are placed where the user do their makeup. Though they may need electricity and more space, they also help the user organize a variety of products.
Is it necessary to keep cosmetics cool in the first place? Well, users of such fridge want to look and feel cool for sure. Apply a chilled facial mask, you’ll feel cool instantly even though you will not look cool until you remove it.
Enjoy reading the article and think if there is anything else you want to keep at a cool temperature.


Topic Reading-Vol.2643-7/7/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The fiction that predicted space travel
Born in England in 1917, Sir Arthur Charles Clarke was a renowned science fiction writer. The stargazing child worked as a radio engineer during WWII and later became a science fiction writer, futurist and undersea explore in Sri Lanka.
His first novels were about space explorations, the first flight to the Moon and colonization of Mars both of which were published in 1951 during when the world was still stuck in the aftermath of WWII.
His most famous work, A Space Odyssey was written in 1968 when the world was divided by ideology and nuclear weapons. It was made into one of the greatest films of all time directed by Stanley Kubrick. The story was about encounters with an alien monolith that sparks a technological and intellectual leap, which was succeeded by three sequels, 2010: Odyssey Two in 1982, 2061: Odyssey Three in 1988, and 3001: The Final Odyssey in 1997.
Another famous alien encounter story is Rendezvous with Rama in 1973, whose sequels were published in 1991, The Garden of Rama and in 1993, Rama Revealed.
In these futuristic books, Clarke introduced iPad like communication and information device, computer software that reads human lips, space tourism, space elevators, and space stations.
Over a decade after his death, only a few of these have been brought into life. Humans still have a long way to catch up his extrapolations.
Enjoy reading the article about one of the most profound science fiction writers.


Topic Reading-Vol.2642-7/6/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
San Francisco becomes first US city to ban e-cigarettes
An electronic cigarette also called e-cigarette or vapor is a battery-operated device that emits doses of vaporized nicotine. Users of e-cigarettes can enjoy a similar sensation to inhaling tobacco smoke without smoke. Though the manufacturers claim that e-cigarettes offer a more healthful alternative to cigarettes, there is growing evidence that vaping may be harmful. It contains nicotine that is addictive especially to the young and hazardous during pregnancy. Also, the aerosol contains harmful solvents, flavorings, and toxicants.
The most alarming problem seems to be teenage vapers who tend to do what others do. With alluring assorted flavors, such as menthol, peach pit, vanilla, chocolate, and mango tango, along with fashionable packaging and cool brand names, more and more teenagers are attracted to this smoking alternative.
Now, San Francisco is going to prohibit sales of e-cigarettes in and delivery to the city. It sounds controversial because San Francisco is where Juul Labs, the most popular e-cigarette manufacturer in the US, is located. They claim that the ban will drive their customers back to their competitor’s products, traditional cigarettes.
Isn’t it like staring at smartphones instead of TV screens? Both are addictive. In either case, how do kids get money to buy a smartphone or vaper?
Enjoy reading the article and think how much monthly allowance is appropriate for high school kids.


Topic Reading-Vol.2641-7/5/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
A guide to 4th of July for non-Americans
Yesterday, The United States of America celebrated its 243rd birthday. It declared independence from Great Britain on the fourth of July 1776 and became the first European colony to be recognized by the international community after the American Revolutionary War that ended in 1783. Other countries in the American continents followed suit and became independent in the next century, like Mexico from Spain, Brazil from Portugal, and Canada from Britain.
On the fourth of July, Americans celebrate their birthday party and enjoy ceremonial events across the country. Firework displays, parades, and barbeque parties, to name a few. Somehow, hot dog is the most popular food to celebrate this birthday, and over 150 million hot dogs were eaten last year, according to an industry organization. Actually, a single man ate 71 hot dogs in 30 minutes at the Nathan's Famous hot dog eating contest to defend his title.
The original form of the US consisted of 13 former British colonies. The number of states expanded and finally became 50 when Alaska and Hawaii were added to the list in 1959. The country has now the strongest economy, military, and stomach for junk food.
Enjoy reading and learn what you can expect to see on this happy birthday.


Topic Reading-Vol.2640-7/4/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The Arab world in seven charts: Are Arabs turning their backs on religion?
Do you have any idea how people in Arab countries think about religion, women’s rights, foreign influences, social practices, migration, or wellbeing? Do you think most of them are conservative, traditional theists?
BBC recently conducted a survey across 10 countries in North Africa and the Middle East and the Palestinian territories. It found that;
- the number of people who identified themselves as not religious increased over the last five years
- most people think it's ok to have a female leader in their respective state but not in their houses
- an honor killing, a practice to kill a family member who brought dishonor onto the family is more accepted than homosexuality
- Israel and the US are identified as the most threatening powers and Erdogan and Putin are more supported than Trump
- and more than one in five people are considering moving out to their countries mainly due to economic reasons.
If you are interested in the survey results, enjoy reading the article.


Topic Reading-Vol.2639-7/3/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Norway island wants to be world's first time-free zone
Sommar√ły is an old fishing village on a small island in Norway with a population of just over 300. It is located on the 69th parallel north, well north of the Arctic Circle, where the sun doesn’t set for nearly 70 days between May and July. In return, the sun doesn’t appear over the horizon from November to January. So, the villagers work or enjoy outside activities as long as they can beyond the time clock in the precious summer. Kids play football at 2:00 am and parents mow the grass after dinner.
This summer, the villagers signed a petition to be a time-free zone, hoping to be free from traditional time-restricted lifestyle while boosting tourism. Indeed, tourism and fishing are their main source of income in the small island village.
When do they sleep? Well, they can catch up with their sleep in the long winter.
Worry about your body clock when you visit there? You’ll eat when you become hungry and sleep when you feel sleepy. Sounds like an ultimate vacation experience, doesn’t it?
Enjoy reading and think if you want to try a life in the Arctic Circle, whether in summer or winter.


Topic Reading-Vol.2638-7/2/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Breakfast around the world: How different countries start the day
Do you eat breakfast? If yes, what do you usually eat for breakfast? Breakfast is, of course, the first meal of the day eaten in the morning. Some people want to start their days with a decent and balanced meal with a newspaper and others prefer something to get energized quickly with their eyes on their smartphone. But when you allow yourself an extra sleep on the weekend, you may feel like eating something special to break the fast, such as a three-egg omelet, a mountain of pancakes, or strips of juicy bacon instead of the regular, monotonous cereal and fruit or bread and butter. Indeed, breakfast represents the lifestyle of the person.
In the meantime, breakfast also showcases the culture of the region or country. Rice, bread, noodles, pancakes, beans, sausage, eggs, and cheese, you name it. It is quite exciting to eat out in the morning at a busy street restaurant or stand that is filled with local people. Yes, that is when a foreigner can be part of the local culture and life. Why not taste a local breakfast before going out for sightseeing?
Enjoy finding the delicious diversity of our world's breakfast cultures.


Topic Reading-Vol.2637-7/1/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Electric planes herald new era for aviation at the Paris Air Show
The Paris Air Show is the world’s largest air show and aerospace-industry exhibition event. Both military and civil aircraft are shown and demonstrated at this biannual aviation trade fair. As more cars go electric and hybrid on the ground, so are the aircraft in the air. It’s time to realize cleaner air travel, and electric and hybrid propulsions were the highlight of the show. They no longer are just concept but are going to production as early as this year.
One such cleaner aircraft is a battery-powered propeller plane that can carry nine passengers up to 1,000 km on a single charge, enough range and capacity for regional carriers or as a short-range transporter. And there already are 170 electric aircraft under development by technology startups, aero design companies, and mega manufacturers. Aero industry is becoming like the automotive industry where new startups with innovative technology could become a key player overnight.
Indeed, the world is depending more and more on batteries for smartphones, automobiles, and now airplanes. Whoever comes up with more dependable, longer lasting, and lighter battery is going control the designs of electronically powered products.   
Enjoy reading the article and think when you will fly in an electric airplane.


Topic Reading-Vol.2636-6/30/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Christchurch attack: New Zealand launches gun buy-back scheme
A gun buyback program purchases guns, and in some cases with ammunition, from private owners to reduce the number of firearms. Some programs also give the chance for those who own firearms illegally to surrender the weapons to the authority without prosecution
In Argentina, over 100,000 firearms were collected in the 2007-2008 buyback program, which was voluntary and anonymous.
In Brazil, more than one million guns were collected and destroyed in two programs between 2003 and 2009.
In Australia, as many as 660,000 firearms were retrieved and destroyed in a similar program in 1996.
New Zealand banned semi-automatic weapons shortly after the March 15 Christchurch massacre which left 51 victims. They’ve now launched a buyback program to collect as many as 14,300 licensed military-style semi-automatic weapons until December 20.
In any case, even though the number of guns on the streets is reduced at least for some period of time, the chance for another mass shooting still remains until the last gun is collected.
Read the article and learn what gun buyback program is about and what it does and doesn’t.


Topic Reading-Vol.2635-6/29/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Carbon fiber subway trains complete trial run
Written by a renowned Chinese science fiction writer Liu Cixin in 2008, The Dark Forest is the second book of the science fiction trilogy "Remembrance of Earth's Past." In the book, in the not-so-distant future, auto-driven vehicles are flying in the air, people are touching monitor screens that appear almost anywhere and robots are serving customers in restaurants in the underground world. Does this sound too futuristic or unrealistic?
Nowadays, many new technological advances in transportation infrastructures are realized in China. Nearly-nationwide Highspeed Railway network, Magnetic Levitation Trains, or Maglev, and subway system in most major cities. Now, they’ve got a brand-new advanced subway train made of fiber composite materials, which make the train 13% lighter than conventional subway trains. The auto-driven train is equipped with an intelligent monitoring and warning system that initiates repair work when needed. Its windows are touch panels that show videos and news when they are touched by passengers. Also, the newly applied fully active suspension gives smoother-than-ever ride even at a faster-than-usual speed.
Enjoy reading the article and learn about another technological break-through in China.


Topic Reading-Vol.2634-6/28/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
India to overtake China as the world's most populous country: UN
The world’s population was about 2.5 billion in 1950, six billion in 2000, seven billion in 2012, and 7.7 billion this year. So, there are over three times as many people now as were shortly after WWII on the planet. That is quite a leap in a very short period of time in Homo Sapience’s seventy-some millennium history. And the increase has been accelerated especially for the last two decades, which have added nearly two billion people. The world is surely getting more crowded especially in Asia and Africa.
And for the next three decades, the world is predicted to add two more billion people. The growth rate declines as over 50 countries are expected to lose their populations more than one percent mainly due to low fertility rate. China alone is going to lose 300 million people by 2050 due to the decreasing fertility rate that is caused by urbanization, later marriage, and rising living, especially education costs.
The growth is expected to come from other part of Asia, but not from eastern countries like Japan or Korea but from South and Southeast Asia like India, Pakistan, and Indonesia and also from Africa. For example, Nigeria, whose present-day population is about two hundred million, is expected to add more than half a billion people just in the next three decades.
Will the world have enough food and fresh water, not sea water, to feed this rapid population growth? Also, will the environment allow humans and other species to survive?
Enjoy reading and think how far 2050 is from now, not only for us but also for our children.


Topic Reading-Vol.2633-6/27/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Dogs' eyes evolve to appeal to humans
You know it.
Dogs often make an attention-grabbing expression or noise when they want their owner to do something for them, such as petting and feeding. You may take it for granted, but researchers found that such infant-like expression is a result of evolution over millenniums.
Since domesticated dogs no longer need to develop strong jaw muscles to bite other animals or tear the meat off the bone, they seem to have developed a muscle to raise the inner eyebrow over time instead to make a non-verbal appeal to humans, just like human infants do. Indeed, they seem to have learned such subtle and delicate, yet effective communication means to get along with, or even take advantage of human feeling.
Are they getting smarter than our cousins in the wild, apes or monkeys, that share the same ancestor? Maybe, at least when it comes to living with humans.
Over the next few millenniums, humans may be trained to do what dogs’ eyes tell them to do.
Enjoy reading the article and look at dogs’ eyes carefully when they demand something.


Topic Reading-Vol.2632-6/26/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Beijing says US legalization of marijuana is a 'threat to China'
Ordinary civilians usually aren’t allowed to possess or use guns and cannabis in most of the countries without permission or prescription. However, presently in the US, people can carry guns and even machineguns in most of the states and possess and use marijuana at least in 10 states. Though it is not part of the ongoing trade war, China accuses the US of increasing cannabis trafficked to the country where smuggling, trafficking, and using drugs are severely punished, including the death penalty. Will the dispute escalate to another war like the Opium Wars in the 19th century?
In the meantime, the US has been criticizing China for uncontrolled production and distribution of Fentanyl, a painkiller 50 times stronger than morphine or heroin, to the country. It claims that one in four overdose deaths in the US last year was linked to the deadly strong painkiller.
Neither marijuana nor Fentanyl should be used as a tool for the trade war as both are a health issue for people.
Enjoy reading the article and think if other countries are witnessing a similar increase in drug smuggling and trafficking from North America.


Topic Reading-Vol.2631-6/25/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Backlash grows against cashless society
Is cash still king?
In China, nearly 600 million people use mobile payment, such as Alipay and WeChat Pay that dominates over 90 percent of the market. In fact, the total number of transactions made via mobile payment platforms surged to 60 billion in 2018, up from 1.7 billion in 2013. People can buy mantou at a food stand, book a rideshare vehicle, make utility payments, or even pay a speeding fine. More and more people in large cities stop carrying their wallets when they go out.
In the US, six out of every 10 retail transactions were made in cash a decade ago but now it's only three in 10 transactions. More retailers prefer accepting only plastic or mobile payment to cash to save time and cost as well as to reduce the risk of robberies.
In Sweden, many banks abandoning handling cash as the Scandinavian country is moving towards a cashless society.
It seems that money control is shifting from banks to card issuers and mobile payment platformers. And this move gives convenience for both ends of the transaction. As a result, more retailers are accepting only non-cash payment. However, what about those who don’t have a plastic card, mobile phone, or bank account? Will they all be left out when no one accepts cash? To save such cash-dependent payers, some cities have past laws to require small retailers to accept cash for goods and some services, such as Philadelphia and San Francisco.
Cash used to be the most preferred payment method, but it is not any longer.
Enjoy reading the article and think about how you will make payments a decade from now.


Topic Reading-Vol.2630-6/24/2019

Topic Reading-Vol.2630-6/24/2019
Life in India's first city that's almost out of water
Located on the Coromandel Coast off the Bay of Bengal, Chennai, used to be called Madras, is the biggest cultural, economic and educational center of south India. With a population of nearly five million, it is the sixth largest city in India.
Chennai usually gets most of the seasonal rainfall during the monsoon season from October to December that refills water reservoirs. Since no major rivers flow through the region, Chennai suffered from massive floods during the monsoon season in 2015 that was caused the record-breaking rains in a century. But when there is little rain during the season, the city gets water shortage. And that is what happed in the last monsoon season. As a result, the city’s four major reservoirs are almost dried out after having no rain for nearly 200 days. Now people, businesses, hotels, schools and even hospitals get no tap water. They are solely depending on water tankers. Only large hospitals get priority for water delivery, but most others get rationed quota of water once a day or week. Many restaurants and hotels are closed for weeks. People have a hard time washing their dishes, bodies and even hands before a meal, which is hygienically problematic as people eat by hand. Don’t even think about toilet flush. Furthermore, farmers are badly hit by this drought as they mostly depend on ground water which is also running very low. Only those who are driving water trucks are exempt from this crisis.
Are major cities in other regions free from such severe water shortage?
Read the article and learn what water shortage is like in a major city.


Topic Reading-Vol.2629-6/23/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Can we spot a killer asteroid before it hits Earth?
Can you imagine how vulnerable our planet is to asteroids? Have we been hit only once a century or millennium? How deadly could that be if the Earth is hit by one in the near future?
When an over-100-meter-wide meteor crashed into Earth in 1908, as many as 80 million trees were knocked down over an area of 800 square miles in the Siberian forest.
In 2013, when a 20-meter-wide asteroid exploded in the skies over Chelyabinsk, Russia, the airburst caused shockwaves that smashed windows and injured 400 people.
Last year, a small asteroid called 2018 LA exploded over Botswana, Africa and a meteoroid of a size of 2-meter-across landed in thick grass, which was retreated after an intensive search.
Aren’t these asteroid impacts frequent and significant enough for human beings, and all the other earthlings, to worry about? If it had been Central Europe, not Siberia, what scale of destruction would have recorded in human history? People would not have had enough energy or resources to engage in WWI. What if the last year’s tiny meteoroid had hit Beijing or Washington DC instead of the grassland in Africa? The damage and casualty would have been beyond imagination.
In order to save earthlings from killer space rocks, a system of telescopes called Atlas is tracking objects flying around our planet. Once a potentially hazardous asteroid is discovered, astronomers begin plotting trajectories and predicting impact sites. When the asteroid comes close enough for radars, they can estimate the density of the object to predict landing area and the impact when it enters the atmosphere. Then an early warning could be issued to the people in the predicted area.
Is there any way to avoid such devastating impact?
Enjoy reading the article and learn about this not a present but clear danger to all earthlings.


Topic Reading-Vol.2628-6/22/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Reading the tea leaves about whether drinking green tea is good for you
Originated in China, green tea is popular among Asian countries. Unlike black tea or oolong tea, green tea doesn’t undergo withering and oxidation process. Because of the abundant catechins, green tea has been believed to have various health benefits, such as preventing cancers and cardiovascular diseases, lowering fasting blood sugar, losing weight, and deterring cognitive decline. Is green tea really an almighty medicine or life-savor?
Unfortunately, none of such health benefits has been chemically or medically proven. However, that does not mean you cannot enjoy the flavor and taste of green tea. For example, what is an appropriate or ideal drink after a Chinese or Japanese cuisine, coffee or black tea with sugar and milk? Indeed, food and tea, like wine or sake, have long been evolved together. Also, there is undeniable relaxation benefit for having green tea, just like having a cup of coffee or black tea after a meal, during work or for a break.
The bottom line: you can certainly enjoy green tea without harm to your health.
Enjoy reading and learn about what green tea does or doesn’t do for you.


Topic Reading-Vol.2627-6/21/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
World's most popular theme parks
Have you planned your family vacation for this summer yet? If your children, or yourself, are big fans of Harry Potter, go to one of the Universal theme parks in Orlando, Florida, Los Angeles, or Osaka. For Star Wars enthusiasts, Disneyland in California or Disneyworld in Florida are the hottest spots with their new Galaxy’s Edge theme park. And for those who want to enjoy Disney characters and atmospheres, choose one of Disneyland parks closest to you, like the one in Tokyo, Shanghai, Hong Kong, or Paris.
Not surprisingly, most popular theme parks last year were Disney properties in various locations, such as Disneyland, Disneyworld, DisneySea and so on.
Even in today’s digital age, theme parks are still popular destinations attracted a little over half billion visitors in 2018. About half of them enjoyed at 25 most popular parks around the world.
Enjoy checking the top-25 list to help you plan your next vacation.


Topic Reading-Vol.2626-6/20/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Is it time to treat sugar like smoking?
Plain tobacco packaging requires the removal of all branding, such as colors, imagery, logos, and trademarks, and permits manufacturers to print only the brand name in a regulated size, font, and place on the pack. The rest of the package’s area must be printed with, often severely discouraging health warning to deter smoking. In 2012, Australia became the first country to introduce plain packaging. In the UK, plain packaging became a requirement for all cigarettes sold after May 2017. In Asia, Thailand is becoming the first country to mandate plain packaging starting from September this year.
There is a more serious health problem in the UK. Obesity is now one of the leading preventable cause of death. More than one-third of men and over 8 in 10 women are thought to be overweight or obese, and by next year, the ratio is predicted to reach 90%. This serious weight problem has been increasing the number of deaths by diabetes, heart diseases, and cancers as well as medical costs. And children are no exception. They are constantly exposed to attractive sweets and sugary drinks, which often contains multiple times of recommended daily sugar intake per serving.
In order to make people think twice before opening the attractive package of a such-rich snack or twisting the cap of a sugary drink, a new move to introduce “discouraging packaging” is on the rise. Imagine a chocolate or candy bar wrapped in a plain package full of health warning with a plain brand name. For producers, it would be awfully difficult to market or promote new products that aren’t familiar to consumers. It would also be difficult for consumers to distinguish Coke from Pepsi.
Though it may sound too radical when the smoking ban in public places or plain tobacco packaging was first discussed, neither of which had been expected to pass Parliament.
Enjoy reading the article and think if the idea is a good step towards a sugar-free diet.