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1/24/2019

Topic Reading-Vol.2479-1/24/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
AeroMexico's new 'DNA Discount' ad goes viral
What sort of campaign is it, DNA discounts on flights? AeroMexico, Mexico’s flag carrier airline, has launched a TV commercial to encourage Americans to fly to Mexico. The commercial uses ordinary, conservative Southern Americans who appear to have little or no interest in visiting Mexico. When they are told their percentage of Mexican ancestry, they look surprised or not or little minded. Will they then be encouraged to fly to Mexico on AeroMexico flight or their frequent flying airline? How will they test their DNA and who will pay for it?
Then what will happen when a Mexican immigrant to the USA shows a 100% Mexican DNA test result? Will he or she get a free ticket to their homeland?
Whatever the case may be, this is one attempt to go beyond the border, Mr. Trump.
Enjoy watching the commercial and think if such preferential treatment by ethnicity is ethical or not.

1/23/2019

Topic Reading-Vol.2478-1/23/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
New 'planetary health diet' can save lives and the planet,
Of the 7 plus billion world population, about a billion people live in hunger while two billion eat too much of the wrong foods, says a new study by an international team of scientists. Also, as the world population increases to 10 billion by the middle of the century, people with obese, imbalanced diet, and malnutrition increase as well. Most people are eating too much or too little of certain foods, or just not enough food. For example, people in North America eat too much red meat while those in South Asia eat more starchy vegetables, such as potatoes and pees than recommended levels. The study indicates these unhealthy diet condition and practices are harming the health of not only the people’s but also our planet’s. The scientists who worked on the study also proposes a comprehensive solution to the problem, called planetary health diet. It requires to cut red meat and sugar consumption by 50% while increasing intake of fruits, vegetables, and nuts.
Solutions are there, which doesn’t require substantial funding but does need behavioral change, technologies, policies and regulations, and more importantly, people’s awareness.
Enjoy reading the article and think how close you are or can be, to the planetary health diet.
https://edition.cnn.com/2019/01/16/health/new-diet-to-save-lives-and-planet-health-study-intl/index.html

1/22/2019

Topic Reading-Vol.2477-1/22/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
2018 was the hottest year ever recorded for the planet's oceans
Global warming is not just a rise in atmospheric temperatures but also in oceanic temperatures. That’s because most of the heat-trapping gasses like carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere get absorbed in the ocean. In fact, the highest ocean heat record has been renewed for the last five consecutive years. Higher ocean temperatures cause more devastating storms, higher sea levels, and faster ground ice melting. You may remember super typhoons hit the Philippines and Hong Kong and record-high rains flooded Japan and India last year.
As no sign of slowing has seen in global warming, it is apparent that ocean heating continues. What roles do human ingenuity, international cooperation, and technological achievements play to bring solutions to human-caused problems?
Enjoy reading and think if you just want to keep enjoying warmer water and longer summer on the beach.

1/21/2019

Topic Reading-Vol.2476-1/21/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
How is Qatar coping with its economic embargo?
Qatar lies in a small peninsula on the northeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula. Of the 2.6 million population, just over 300,000 are Qataris and the rest are expatriates. With its abundant natural gas and oil reserves, the per capita income of the Muslim monarchy is the highest in the world. However, as most of the country consists of a low, barren plain, covered with sand, there isn’t much agricultural produce or industrial outputs. It heavily depends on imports. So, when Qatar was blockaded the trade and diplomatic exchanges by its neighbors and major trade partners, Saudi, UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt in 2017, the world thought it would be disastrous for their daily lives and economy. And the economic and diplomatic embargo is still intact. However, the lives and businesses are still in order despite the isolation and Qatar airline is still flying while the airspace of the four countries is blocked. How have they been managing such a crisis?
Enjoy reading and learn why Qatar is blockaded and how it has been managing to survive.

1/20/2019

Topic Reading-Vol.2475-1/20/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Kumbh Mela: How to plan a festival for 100m people
Over 100 million pilgrims are about to gather at a northern Indian city of Allahabadduring during a seven-week Hindu festive period. That’s about the population of Japan or Vietnam and Cambodia combined, or just under one-tenth of India’s population. It is a mass Hindus gather to bathe in a sacred river to wash out their sins. The festival is indeed not only the largest congregation of religious pilgrims but also the largest peaceful gathering in the world.
How to accommodate such a massive temporary human migration in a short period of time? Furthermore, those 100-million-plus pilgrims arrive not evenly during the seven-week period. On the fourth of February, about 30 million people, nearly the population of Malaysia, are expected to attend to bathe in the river. Airports, stations, roads, police officers, tents, toilets, trash bins, road sweepers, hospitals, doctors, and lost and found camps and so on all need to be prepared, organized and operated, not to mention food, water, and medical supplies. Though the event itself is traditional, modern technologies are deployed to organize the crowd, such as CCTV cameras, drones, and AI. Organizers and officials of the even hope no stampedes or outbreak of anything would occur during the festive time.
Some may think it’s easier to live, or wiser to invest a property, in the place, so that you can bathe in the holy river whenever you like. But it is a matter of faith and tradition
Enjoy reading and learn about the challenges to deal with this massive human gathering.

1/19/2019

Topic Reading-Vol.2474-1/19/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Int'l retail giants go digital to woo consumers
While disputes over trade remain unsolved on the table between Beijing and Washington D.C, innovations and practices are being integrated at retail stores.
China’s Internet users exceed 800 million, and most of them are also heavy users of mobile payment services, such as Alipay and WeChat Pay. And they are becoming more and more dependent on these cash-less payment services. In fact, over 50% of the transaction at Carrefour stores, a French multinational retailer, in China is done by mobile payment and nearly 40% of the shoppers use "Scan and Go" smartphone app. Such payment service is also offered at 350 Walmart stores in China along with a new online-map for shoppers to locate merchandises in the store.
It seems that online and onsite shopping practices are being more integrated these days, especially in China. When you are in China, do as Chinese do.
Enjoy reading what international retailers are doing in China and think if cash is still king.

1/18/2019

Topic Reading-Vol.2473-1/18/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Terracotta Warrior Hotel
Most of the tourists to Xian, China are attracted to see the famous terracotta army. It is a collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of the first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang. Those sculptures, including 8,000 warriors, 130 chariots, and 520 horses were created and buried to protect the emperor’s afterlife over two thousand years ago. They are exhibited in the Museum of Qin Terracotta Warriors and Horses at approximately 40 km northeast of Xi'an. Now, there is a hotel in the city that offers a more intimate experience with the terracotta soldiers. Three of the hotel rooms are decorated and furnished with 200 warrior replicas in their bedrooms and bathrooms. Is that entertaining or just too much? In either case, it’ll be an unforgettable and unusual experience for the guest.
Enjoy seeing the photos of the immersive guest rooms in China’s ancient city.

1/17/2019

Topic Reading-Vol.2472-1/17/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
CES 2019: Skin printer wipes years from your face
A skin printer? It is actually called the Opté Precision Skincare System. It is a handheld gadget that detects the color and pigmentation of the skin and spot blemishes and then applies special makeup on each skin spot that is detected by an embedded camera. Sounds like what a beautician does on your face, doesn’t it? It is actually a handheld thermal inkjet printer with a special makeup formula that lasts all day unless the face is washed. The formula, called Opté Precision Serum, has various color versions to match the skin color.
How does it work?
Enjoy watching the video that shows its demonstration at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

1/16/2019

Topic Reading-Vol.2471-1/16/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Canada wants to welcome more than 1 million new immigrants in the next three years
Canada has the largest surface area of fresh water in the world. Though its land area is nearly as large as the US’s and China’s, its population is around 37 million, only 11% of the US’s and less than 3% of China’s. Though the climate isn’t as warm as Mexico or Bolivia, it has abundant natural resources to keep the houses heated. More importantly, Canada is one of the world's most ethnically diverse and multicultural nations because of its large-scale immigration from many other countries. In fact, over a quarter of the population is non-white, including the indigenous population. Canada is one of the world’s most generous countries for immigrants and has one of the highest per capita admission rates. It offered permanent residency to 286,000 immigrants and refugees in 2017 and is now going to accept one million new residents in the next three years. How generous it is compared to its southern neighbor whose administration is eager to build walls to its border to Mexico!
Enjoy reading and think about the immigration policies of Canada, the US, and your country.

1/15/2019

Topic Reading-Vol.2470-1/15/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
A second mysterious repeating fast radio burst has been detected in space
The Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment, CHIME, is an interferometric radio telescope installed recently in British Columbia, Canada to measure the acceleration of the Universe to improve the knowledge of how dark energy behaves. It also detects the mysterious extragalactic fast radio bursts, or FRB, that last just milliseconds, whose astrophysical cause is unknown.
This research radio telescope was still in partial operation when it detected repeating short bursts of radio waves last year. Why and where these bursts occur is still unresolved. Though such radio bursts aren't rare in space, the detection made some people think that they were created by advanced extraterrestrial civilizations.
Are such radio waves indicative of the existence of creatures in other galaxies? Aren’t we the only one?
Enjoy reading and think of a time when the first contact will be made.
https://edition.cnn.com/2019/01/09/world/second-repeating-fast-radio-burst-detected/index.html

1/14/2019

Topic Reading-Vol.2469-1/14/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
It takes a CEO just days to earn your annual wage
How much is too much? Chief Executive Officers, or CEOs, usually are compensated well enough for the roles they play and the results they create. Their compensation also needs to be competitive within the industry. The same is true for other executives, managers and rank and file workers in order to make the company stay competitive and productive. Then, how much disparities in payment are there between the top and average workers?
In some countries like the US, UK, and India, CEOs earn average workers’ annual income in less than two days. In other words, the top bosses are paid over 200 times more than their employees. In the meantime, top executives in South Korea, Mexico, and Singapore need to work six days to earn the annual wages of their workers or earn 60 times more than their average workers.
Though comparing the compensations in different roles and jobs may make little sense, it also reflects the business dynamism and social disparities in wealth and status of the country.
Enjoy reading and learn the gap in annual compensation between the top and the bottom.

1/13/2019

Topic Reading-Vol.2468-1/13/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Study: China faces 'unstoppable' population decline by mid-century
Two scores ago, China started to set a limit on the number of children parents could have. The restriction is called “one-child policy” and had been implemented strictly until 2015 when the ruling party raised the limit to two. However, things seem to have changed during the four decades and the policy change from “not to” to “allowed to” hasn’t shown a significant change in the number of newborn babies.
In those days, the more children meant more production and wealth. The cost to raise children had never been so high until the new millennium when more parents started to want their children to receive higher education. Also, their lifestyles started to change, and parents tried to invest and save money for retirement. Thus, China’s natural birth ratio per woman has been declining like other Asian countries, such as Japan and Korea. Now, the fertility rate hovering just around 1.6, way lower than 2.1 to maintain the population, the population is estimated to decline from the peak at 1.44 billion in 2029. This means the dependency ratio, the number of economically contributing people to non-working people (under 15 and over 64), will become higher, which will cost more to the social welfare budget while domestic consumption will be declining. Not good news for the second largest economy in the world.
Enjoy reading and what population decrease could mean to the world leading economy.

1/12/2019

Topic Reading-Vol.2467-1/12/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Why your pizza may never be delivered by drone
Will commercial delivery by drones become popular soon? Though faster delivery of pizza, books, and clothes have been talked around for some time, no large-scale delivery operators like Amazon or Pizza Hat has offered such service yet, at least at a national scale.
One reason is that technology to ensure that drones don’t collide or interfere with other flying objects, such as helicopters and airplanes, hasn’t been realized yet. In fact, there have been quite a few incidents that personal drones interfered with air controllers and police helicopters. Another reason is there are international rules that regulate the use of drones. In some country like Saudi Arabia, commercial or personal use of drones is not allowed. Also, there are concerns about privacy, security, noise, and threats to other flying creatures that deter the use of unmanned flying machines.
By the way, how resistant are commercial drones against wind and rain?
Enjoy reading and learn what factors need to be considered before delivery by drones become popular.

1/11/2019

Topic Reading-Vol.2466-1/11/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Pakistan International Airlines cracks down on 'overweight' cabin crew
Weight is a crucial factor to fly an airplane. Passengers are limited how much carry-on and check-in luggage they can put aboard without extra fee. Some airlines even tried to charge an extra fee to overweighed passengers, though the attempt was backlashed and withdrawn before implemented. But what about the overweight, and subsequently the appearance of the flight attendants? Is it that crucial to perform their duties aboard the flight?
Pakistan International Airlines thinks so. In fact, the airline has a suggested weight chart for their cabin crew because they want their flight attendants to look good and stay healthy. Approximately 100 of the 1,800 cabin crew members are required to reduce 30 pounds in the next six months, or they will be grounded.
Six months later, the airline will be operating 3,000 pounds less weight while adding some “over-weighted” ground staff.
Enjoy reading and think which is more crucial in the cabin, attitude or appearance.

1/10/2019

Topic Reading-Vol.2465-1/10/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Is the Kerala temple battle about gender, law or religion?
Kerala is a state on the southwestern, Malabar Coast of India. The population is just over 30 million and Malayalam is the most widely spoken language and also the official language of the state. The literacy rate of the state exceeds 93% and the life expectancy is 77 years old, both are the highest in the country. The most popular religion is Hinduism, practiced by over half of the residents followed by Islam and Christianity. Sounds like a relatively decent place, doesn’t it?
However, as many as five million women formed a 600-kilometer human chain on New Year’s Day to demand entry to the Sabarimala temple, a major Hindu temple that restricts the entry of women between ages of 10 and 50, or child-bearing age. Though the Supreme Court of India ruled that the gender restriction is unconstitutional last year, many men in India have been resisting the ruling, pressing the authorities and shrines not to change the traditions.
Is such a strong resistance caused by just sexual discrimination, tradition or religion, or a combination of all?
Enjoy reading and learn what gender barrier is like in Southern India.

1/09/2019

Topic Reading-Vol.2464-1/9/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Just 6 months of walking may reverse cognitive decline, study says
As you age, part of your brain that helps you get things done declines. It is called the executive function that organizes information and structures it, and also regulates the surroundings and responds to it. Typical examples of executive functions skills are; managing time, paying attention, switching focus, planning and organizing, doing thing based on your experience and avowing doing or saying the wrong thing. Losing such skills sounds very depressing, doesn’t it?
But here is good news. Recent research to adults, averaged around 65 years old, with high blood pressure shows that their executive function skills significantly improved after six months of regular, moderate exercise like walking or cycling. And those who also underwent a controlled diet with less salt, fatty foods, and sweets but with more vegetables, fruits and whole grains showed even higher improvement!
Enjoy reading and think if you want to start doing some regular exercise before being recognized your executive function declining.

1/08/2019

Topic Reading-Vol.2463-1/8/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
What's behind China's space program expansion
About the same time as NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft flew by the farthest orbiting object of our solar system, Ultima Thule, China’s Chang'e-4 landed successfully on the far side of the moon. Did these two historical space exploration events take place coincidentally? Since NASA’s New Horizon has been in space since 2006 and its progress has been updated to the public, China could have known when the historic flyby would be made.
Also, on 27 December 2018, BeiDou Navigation Satellite System started to provide global services after the USA. Russia, and the European Space Agency. Now, the Chinese military and mobile phones can operate independently from others’ global positioning system.
Why China is so keen on space business? Will it bring in hefty return on huge investment?
Enjoy reading and learn what China’s space programs are about.


1/07/2019

Topic Reading-Vol.2462-1/7/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
NASA provides first image from record-setting flyby of Ultima Thule
The Kuiper Belt is a region of leftovers from the solar system's early history. It is a circumstellar disc in the outer Solar System, extending from the orbit of approximately 50 AU from the Sun. (AU: astronomical unit, roughly the distance from Earth to the Sun, about 150 million kilometers)
Launched in this month 13 years ago by NASA, New Horizons is an interplanetary space probe. The spacecraft reached Jupiter in 2007, conducted a reconnaissance flyby study of Pluto and its moons in 2015, and has just reached one of the outermost orbiting objects of our solar system this month, over 6 billion kilometers from the Sun. It had been thought to be an object shaped like a bowling pin and called Ultima until it was found that it is actually an attached two objects by gravity, forming a snowman like shape. The newly named Ultima Thule is thought to be formed about 4.5 billion years ago when the solar planet was born. One researcher calls it as the time machine to time zero as it is one of the first planetesimals or objects that went on to form planets.
Enjoy reading and learn about this outermost extraterrestrial object that orbits the sun like our planet.

1/06/2019

Topic Reading-Vol.2461-1/6/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
MIT invents method to shrink objects to nanoscale using basic lab equipment
Shrinking humans and objects to nanoscale have only be seen in movies. But researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have come up with a new method that shrinks objects to as small as one-thousandth of the original size.
Nanotechnology develops and produces extremely small tools and machines by controlling the arrangement of separate atoms. Such technology can be applied in science fields, such as chemistry, biology, physics material science, and engineering. For example, mobile phone manufactures may one day use this technology to shrink conventional microchips, instead of developing complex and expensive Nano-size chips, to produce lighter and smaller phones with more features economically. What is remarkable about this newly announced shrinking technology is that unlike other methods, it requires neither sterile rooms or toxic materials. This could mean that you may use it at school or at home.
Enjoy reading and think what you would like to shrink if you had a home-use shrinking machine.

1/05/2019

Topic Reading-Vol.2460-1/5/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Venice to charge tourist entry fee for short stays
The central part of a northeastern city in Italy is lived by only around 55,000 residents. But this historical city of art and architecture is visited by as many tourists each day as residents. Situated across 118 small islands that are separated by famous canals and connected by more than 400 bridges, Venice is one of the most popular tourists’ destinations in Europe. You might have seen tourists with cameras/smartphones or newly-wed couples with bouquets riding on gondolas in a photo or video in this World Heritage Site. This overwhelming number of tourists overcrowds the city and causes environmental problems and financial burdens. This floating city is already collecting taxes from hotel occupants as much as €30m annually, but none to day visitors who just stop and go without lodging or stay on a cruise ship. Now, short time visitors are going to be levied an entry fee of up to €10 depending on the season. The question is how such specific tax is going to be charged. Will there be entry points to collect the tax? Will credit cards or online payments be accepted?
How much is too expensive to experience a World Heritage Site? For example, a one-day pass to visit Angkor Wat and nearby monuments costs foreigners $37 dollars.
Enjoy reading and think if such tax or fee could change your mind whether to visit or omit a World Heritage Site in your trip.

1/04/2019

Topic Reading-Vol.2459-1/4/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Vanuatu uses drones to deliver vaccines to remote island
It doesn’t sound so surprising to use a drone to shoot photos or videos, spray pesticide, or deliver something. But transporting vaccines had never been done until this recent approach by UNICEF in a remote island on the Pacific Ocean.
Vanuatu is an archipelago country lies some 1,700 kilometers east of northern Australia. Of the 14 islands that consist the nation, Erromango is the fifth largest one. Since there isn’t any paved road to go across the island, it takes humans to hand carry or sail things from one side of the island to the other, which makes extremely inconvenient to transport ice-packed vaccines. In order to solve this last-mile delivery problem, UNICEF wisely used a commercial drone, which took only 25 minutes to fly 40 kilometers.
While drones could interfere with commercial air traffic if they were used near or around an airport like Gatwick in England, they’ve just been proved to be of great help to save lives.
Enjoy reading and learn about how a drone could be commercially used to save lives.

1/03/2019

Topic Reading-Vol.2458-1/3/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Electric 3D-printed motorbike provides a glimpse into the future of green travel
E-motorcycle doesn’t sound so new any longer these days, not only on the theater screens but only on the street. Also, 3D-printed commodity items, industrial parts, and artworks are nothing new. But what about a 3D-printed functional electric motorcycle?
A German manufacturing company has broken the limits of conventional mechanical design and engineering and created a prototype of 3D-Ebike, named Nera. Everything but the electronic components is 3D-printed, including the tires and wheels, which means each motorcycle could be custom-built. Without a steel chassis, the Nera E-bike weighs just 60 kilograms, but not any other number on performance or range has been announced yet.
How long will it take to see fully customized 3D-printed E-bikes running on the street? Will we see ones for ride-share services?
Enjoy seeing this futuristic prototype of a printed motorcycle.

1/02/2019

Topic Reading-Vol.2457-1/2/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
How a country suddenly went ‘crazy rich’
A double standard is emerging among commoners in Indonesia. It is the world's largest island country with more than seventeen thousand islands. Indonesia has a population of over 260 million, the fourth largest population in the world and the most populous Muslim-majority country. The Indonesian archipelago is abundant in natural resources, such as oil, natural gas, tin, copper, and gold. On the ground, they produce agricultural produces like rice, palm oil, tea, coffee, cacao, spices, and rubber. All these resources and produces but rice make an only limited number of corporations and individuals very wealthy while the vast majority of the workers, miners, and farmers and their families live well below what is considered standard among developed nations. In fact, the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, GDP, ranks 7th largest in the world while the per capita GDP is merely above 100th. So, the newly emerging middle class is enjoying luxurious lives by taking advantage of their growing income and low living costs. When they’ve gotten everything tangible from home, cars, and commodities, they are now spending money on occasions like dining, travels, and events. But how luxurious or outrageous such occasions are?
Enjoy reading and learn about the extravaganza of Indonesian’s growing upper middle class.
https://www.bbc.com/news/stories-46529582

1/01/2019

Topic Reading-Vol.2456-1/1/2019

Happy new year to MEL Topic Readers,
For the new year, try 12 monthly 'micro-resolutions'
Did you maintain your new year’s resolution last year, or do you remember it if any? How long did it last? If the resolution was kept throughout the year, you are the winner of the self-discipline award. While many people make their new year resolutions, only a few of them maintain them till the end of the year. That may be because the resolutions were too ambitious or abstentious. For example, jogging 10k every morning, cutting out all sweets, quitting smoking or drinking entirely, or learning 10 new words every day are all too demanding tasks. But what about committing yourself to something only for a month? You may have a better chance to remember and stick to it. After a month, you may reward yourself for the achievement. Yes, a short-term win or loss makes you review, rethink, or renew the custom or behavior you’ve had for some time. You don’t have to come up with all the 12 monthly resolutions now. You can try something for a month and set another one, or continue the same one, for the next month.
Enjoy reading the article and think what resolution to take on for the first month of 2019.