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Topic Reading-Vol.2575-4/30/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Why the Swiss still love cash
Switzerland is a landlocked country in the center of Europe. Though all the surrounding countries belong to the EU and adopt Euro, Swiss distances itself from the union nor and currency zone. Their official currency is Swiss Franc. Seven denominations of coins and six series of banknotes are in circulation. Each coin has distinct weight; one franc, two francs, and five francs coin weighs 4.4, 8.8, and 13.2 grams respectively. The main colors of the banknotes are also distinct; yellow, red, green, blue, brown, and purple. Their one-thousand-franc bill is one of the most valuable banknotes in the world, which is worth around ten 100-dollar US bills. This super banknote is still commonly used for big-ticket items and paying bills. Indeed, cash is still the dominant payment method in Switzerland as 70% of the transactions are made by cash and 22% by debit cards, an instant withdrawal from the bank account.
It seems that cash is considered as part of their culture. They prefer to have control over their spending, keep privacy, and prevent getting into debt.
Enjoy reading the article and learn what cash means to the culture.


Topic Reading-Vol.2574-4/29/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Gorillas pose for selfie with DR Congo anti-poaching unit
Located in the east of Democratic Republic Congo, Virunga National Park is a national park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the most biologically diverse protected area in Africa. Since the region has suffered from wars and armed conflicts for over 20 years, the park is protected by 600 trained and dedicated rangers. Facing armed poachers and militants, their jobs and lives are no safer than critically endangered mountain gorillas that are protected in the park. In fact, over 130 park rangers have been killed since 1996.
There, two infant gorillas were rescued by the park rangers in 2007 right after their mothers were killed by poachers. Those two female gorillas have been raised by the park’s caretakers ever since and seem to have learned a lot from them. Now, when the rangers who rescued them took a selfie photo, those two gorillas posed just like humans. One stood straight proudly in a power pose with her feet wide apart, and the other leaned forward to be taken her photo.
Did they also smile when they saw the photo with the ranger?
Enjoy seeing the photo and think about what primates could learn from humans.


Topic Reading-Vol.2573-4/28/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Agent Orange: US to clean up toxic Vietnam War air base
Agent Orange was the most-used herbicide by US military forces during the Vietnam War to eliminate forest and crops for their enemy, North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops. Over 90 million liters of herbicides, such as Agent Orange, Agent Green, Agent Pink, and Agent purple, which were produced by chemical companies like Dow Chemical and Monsanto, were used over Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos for ten years until 1971.
These herbicides contained deadly chemical dioxin. Once exposed, it causes severe skin problems, diabetes, immune system and muscular dysfunction, nerve disorders, or heart disease. It is also highly persistent and lasts many years in the environment in soil, water and in the food chain. As a result, increased rates of cancers and birth defects are linked to these deadly herbicides. Several millions of Vietnamese were affected by the agent including over 150,000 birth defects, according to the Vietnamese government.
Over four decades after the end of the war, the US finally started cleaning up the most contaminated land by Agent Orange, Bien Hoa airport, outside Ho Chi Minh City, where US air force based during the war. Why it took so long to take such an action is not clear. But those chemical manufacturers agreed to pay $180 million in compensation to US veterans 35 years ago.
Read the article and learn about this deadly chemical used by the US military forces.


Topic Reading-Vol.2572-4/27/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Jilin-made explosion-proof train introduced in Tel Aviv
The light rail vehicle, LRV, is a low-capacity, low-speed urban rail transit. It runs either on the ground along exclusive rights-of-way or dedicated railway. Light rail systems are getting popular recently to ease congestion and provide environmentally friendly transportation option in urban cities with relatively low capital costs.
Tel Aviv is the second largest city in Israel with a population of over 400,000 and the economic and technological center of the country. The city signed a contract with a Chinese firm to build and maintain its first light rail system in 2021. Because of continual Palestinian political violence, the city wanted the light rail cars explosion-proof. The vehicles’ windows are blast resistant, the underframe structure is fire resistant, and the door is impenetrable to intruders. The light rail vehicles are also traffic resistant. Thanks to the traffic lights control system, they travel without stopping at red lights.
It surely sounds like a state-of-art, Israeli-standard transportation system. But will it be free from terrorist attacks? Will passengers go through a security gate or pass a metal detector for every ride?
Enjoy reading the article and learn about this explosion-proof light rail vehicle.


Topic Reading-Vol.2571-4/26/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Pig brains partially revived four hours after death
It had been thought that the brain dies quickly and completely when blood supply stops until this new experiment conducted to 32 decapitated pigs (at a slaughterhouse). Though no signals that indicated awareness or consciousness were detected, the presumably dead brains of the pigs showed some signs of response like a normal brain does when special liquid was pumped into at the same pace as the pulse four hours after death.
The finding surprised both science and ethics community. If a brain death was reversed, there could be ways to treat damaged brain functions by Alzheimer disease, a stroke, or oxygen starvation at birth. In the meantime, it could ignite debates as to if brain dead is permanently dead or irreversible. When should life support be terminated? When should organs be donated for transplant?
The recovery or restoration of brain functions could change our definitions of death.
Read the article and learn about this sensational discovery.


Topic Reading-Vol.2570-4/25/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Eating just one slice of bacon a day linked to higher risk of colorectal cancer, says study
Eating an apple a day keeps the doctor away. But what about red meat?
While the red fruit may help you keep your health, a chunk of red meat or a slice of processed meat seems to increase the risk of bowel cancer significantly, according to a study conducted to adults in the UK. In fact, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the UK and US, where both red meat, such as beef, pork, and lamb and processed meat like bacon, sausages, and ham are popular food items. They say that an even small amount of processed meat seems to affect as much as a large portion of red meat to bring you closer to cancer, like cigarettes, alcohol, and asbestos. That sounds scary, isn’t it?
So, the next time you are tempted to pick a pastrami sandwich or bacon cheeseburger, think twice before you order. What about a BLT sandwich without bacon?
Enjoy reading the article and think of an alternative sandwich menu.


Topic Reading-Vol.2569-4/24/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The amount of plastic in the ocean is a lot worse than we thought, study says
Are all plastic materials evil? Should all single-use plastic materials be banned?
Cellophane is a thin, transparent sheet made of regenerated cellulose and is used for food packaging since the 1930s when supermarkets started packaging meat and vegetables. When wrapped or sealed by cellophane, the product and merchandises can be placed on the store shelves neatly and picked up by shoppers easily. Later in the 1950s, Saran Wrap, or cling film, became popular to seal food items in containers to keep them fresh for a longer period of time, which also leads to reducing food waste.
In the meantime, single-use plastic bags or drink bottles became popular since the late 20th century and have been creating more plastic waste that harms the environment and lives of marine creatures. As you probably know, those plastic wastes floating on the sea become microplastic when they are broken into by currents and exposed to ultraviolet light. And microplastic can be swallowed by fish and the fish is eaten by humans.
Also, not all plastic materials are equal. Some are recycled more commonly than the others like PET while others are recycled almost never like PVC. In the meantime, many of the single-use plastic items like shopping bags and straws can be substituted easily by other more environmentally friendly materials, like cotton bags or paper straws.
Humans seem to need to be better at using their own inventions.
Enjoy reading and learn about this convenient but harmful material.


Topic Reading-Vol.2568-4/23/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
First ever civilian helicopter-plane hybrid is coming next year
Helicopters can take off and land vertically, hover, and fly forward, backward, and even laterally. Since they need no runway to take off and land, they are used for many purposes, such as rescue, transport, and surveillance missions. However, they cannot fly as long as or as fast as aircraft.
Propeller driven aircraft can fly two to three times as fast as an ordinary helicopter does and as long as over 2,000 kilometers. When an aircraft cabin is pressurized, it can fly higher than most clouds to avoid bad weather. However, it requires a runway to take off and land.
So, is there a hybrid heli-plane that can take off and land without a runway and can fly as fast as an airplane? Yes, there is. It’s called tilt-rotor aircraft, which change the angle of the propeller engines for vertical take-off and landing and horizontal flying. The first of its kind is the US military’s V-22 Osprey that can fly as long as 500 km just in an hour. Now, a civilian model is about to debut, called the AW 609 by Italian aerospace company Leonardo. Since the tilt-rotor aircraft has a pressurized cabin, it can be used not only for search, rescue or cargo transport missions but also for passenger transport. Who do you think will buy one?
Enjoy reading the article and watch the demo video about this hybrid aircraft.


Topic Reading-Vol.2567-4/22/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Should we be searching for hidden spy cameras in Airbnbs and hotels?
Call a taxi or touch the display for an Uber? People can choose their ride from many options in many places around the world. Also, travelers can choose a room from accommodation options, such as hotels, motels, inns, and also vacation rental booking services. They provide search engines for vacation rentals by matching those who want to offer their rooms for rent and those who are seeking accommodation. Travelers can not only stay in a less expensive room but also expect more local, homey experience than a conventional hotel stay.
Airbnb is a leading search service provider operating a global online marketplace and hospitality service with over five million listings worldwide. Sounds accommodating the needs for both room providers and renters, doesn’t it? But just like a few cases occurred in rideshare services, there are also criminal cases in room share services. And even though it is not as violent as sexual assaults, there are cases where travelers’ privacy is seriously breached, as the recent case in motel rooms in South Korea (Vol.2542, March 28). When a family from New Zealand stayed in a room in Ireland booked via Airbnb, they found a hidden video camera live streaming their room. Though it is an isolated incident, you may want to make sure that there are no bed or electronic bugs in your room. Indeed, no matter how many stars are shown on the website or app, safety, privacy, and cleanliness are the top priorities for accommodation.
Enjoy reading and learn how to find hidden cameras in a room.


Topic Reading-Vol.2566-4/21/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
What does it take to be an eSports pro?
E-sports is a video game competition between either individuals or teams. The industry has been growing rapidly for the last decade and it is estimated that there are now over 400 million watchers around the world. In the UK, video game businesses generate more money than movies and music industries combined. Considering the amount of time kids spend on gaming, it may not be as surprising as you might think.
Now, gaming is no longer just entertainment for serious gamers and competitors. There are professional players and teams that compete at esports events. Their salaries and awards are no smaller than those of professional athletes of conventional sports. They work hard to train themselves both physically and mentally to be competitive at the latest versions of games. Indeed, the more gamers appear in the market, the fiercer the competitions become. And unlike traditional sports, games are constantly updated, and more challenging versions and new games are developed nearly every day. Talent and dedication don’t seem to be enough to stand out in the competition.
Enjoy reading the article and learn what this fast-growing industry.


Topic Reading-Vol.2565-4/20/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Why India is one of world's most protectionist countries
India’s economy has been growing rapidly since its economic reform 1991. Thanks to the large population and service sectors including back-end IT systems, software development, and service centers, its GDP is the world’s seventh largest as a whole. However, despite the size of the pie, each portion is so small and it’s GDP per capita ranks below 100th.
One of the reasons is farming. Over one-third of the rural population depend on the farming business. Their productivity is low because of the lucrative government subsidies and accessibility to other markets is quite limited due to the lack of efficient transportation systems. Though the country welcomes foreign investment in most sectors but retail to protect their small retail shops, it discourages import with high tariffs and inconsistent regulations. It is the world’s largest democratic country and the government policymakers and parliament’s lawmakers are both eager to entice 900 million voters by creating more domestic jobs and subsidizing the agricultural industry. Speaking of elections, their 2019 general election is ongoing.
But will protected industries survive or grow in the long run? Well, since India’s general elections are held every five years, anything beyond the next election seems way beyond their scope.
Enjoy reading and learning about the world’s fastest-growing but most protected market.


Topic Reading-Vol.2564-4/19/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
What if California seceded from the US?
As seen in the endless marathon debates in the U.K., departure from a united body isn’t an easy task. It seems to polarize the citizens of both the departing state and remaining body.
California is the most populous U.S. state with approximately 40 million residents. The state’s economy is the fifth largest in the world after the US with or without California, China, Japan and Germany. It means the tax revenues from California is vital to the US federal government and other states, not to mention the world’s mightiest military forces.
Of course, there are no clear and present talks or moves of California’s secession. But what would happen should the Golden State tried to secede from the U.S.? It seems like the situation of Catalonia’s independence movement from Spain. Would there be another civil war or military invasion?
However, because of the scale and influence of California’s economy, technologies, immigrants, and environmental initiatives, Cali-exit would certainly shake the world order should a secession occur.
Enjoy reading and learn about what-if scenarios about the Golden State of America.


Topic Reading-Vol.2563-4/18/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Amazon reportedly employs thousands of people to listen to your Alexa conversations
Amazon’s Alexa, or Echo, is a smart speaker that does what the user says by connecting to the intelligent personal assistant service via the Internet, including music playback, setting alarms, sending and receiving messages, playing audio books, providing information such as weather conditions, traffic reports, and news. It can also function as a home automation hub to control smart devices like lights and air conditioning. The device starts listening to what the user(s) says when it hears one of the names chosen by the user; "Alexa", "Echo", or "Computer". So, once activated, the smart speaker sends whatever it heard to Amazon to provide the services. If such information is only used for the service without being listened to or analyzed by someone, you may not worry about it so much. But it is reported that Amazon staff are listening to what the users said to improve the functionality and services unless it is opted out. Amazon says user identities cannot be accessed by the auditors. But what if an auditor happens to listen to a conversation of the people he or she can identify personally? Also, what if the user identities are leaked to the auditing flow?
No system is perfect, as you know.
Enjoy reading and think twice before speaking to your smart speaker.


Topic Reading-Vol.2562-4/17/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
India election 2019: Voting to begin in world's largest election
As of April 2019, the population of India is approximately 1,365 million, the world’s second largest only after China. India is a federation with a parliamentary system and the single largest democratic state. 543 members of the House of the People, the lower house, are elected by direct vote every five years, and choose the Prime Minister of India.
In this year’s national election, as many as 900 million people are eligible to vote at one million polling stations across the subcontinent. If the same turnout occurs as the last election in 2014, about 600 millions of votes are going to be cast and counted, which, as a whole, is 10 times as large as the UK’s or five times as large as Japan’s population. The voting will be held in seven stages in 39 days starting from April 11th till May 19th and counted on May 23rd. Because of the size of the ballots, the electric voting system has been used since 1999. Once cast, the voter is applied an indelible ink on a fingernail that remains for at least two days to prevent double-voting.  
The election system and implementation both seem to work properly to administer this massive election. But what about the campaigns? While over 80 million new voters are added since the last election five years ago, who are 18 to 22 years old and looking for the future, about half of the workforce work in agriculture, which produces only 17-18% of the nation’s GDP. It means that farmers and agricultural labors are not wealthy and looking for immediate solutions for more today’s problems, such as government subsidies and social welfare rather than longer-term issues like education and productivity. Thus, while the election system has been well established and democratically implemented, the election campaigns seem to be focusing on buying voters’ minds, just like other still-developing nations.
Enjoy reading and learn what this single largest event of democracy is about.


Topic Reading-Vol.2561-4/16/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
How trees secretly talk to each other
Does a tree speak?
Then do trees talk to each other? At night in a deep forest, you may feel they might be whispering quietly. In fact, they do communicate with each other but not by voice.
They do that through their funguses, or fungi, that grow around and inside their roots. They provide trees with nutrients and in return, they receive sugar from trees. Trees share resources by plugging into each other through funguses. This mechanism is called the Wood World Web. Through this fungi network, shaded seedings are provided sugar from older trees. They are also given resources that are dumped from dying or old trees. Likewise, trees release chemical signals to other trees through their roots. It seems Wood World Web help trees grow and defend themselves better. However, the network can be hacked by others like the World Wide Web. Nutrients could be stolen by other plants and toxic chemicals might be released by other species. Scientists haven’t figured out why trees live in such an altruistic way.
Enjoy watching this animation video and think about the messages released when trees are chainsawed or bulldozed.  


Topic Reading-Vol.2560-4/15/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Parks in Beijing want to blacklist 'uncivilized' visitors
Too preventive or proactive? People with certain criminal records could be restricted from running a public election, getting a passport or visa, applying for a loan or a credit card, or driving a car depending on the crime they committed. Also, they are often limited to find a place to live in or place to work at. In a sense, most societies are proactive based on past criminal records. So, what about preventing people with bad behaviors or conducts, which might have been charged fines but were not prosecuted like driving records, from using public facilities? There are people who steal toilet papers from public restrooms or pick flowers from parks in China. If authorities could get records of such individuals, they can now identify them by using face recognition systems and warn or block the person at the point of entry. That’s what is happening in some part of China, where there are hundreds of millions of cameras monitoring at public places and on the road. Sounds preventive and proactive to maintain the social order, doesn’t it? In the meantime, financial activities and personal profiles are also all tracked by mobile payment platforms. People seem to be tracked all the time and easily identified wherever they go. Feel secure?
Enjoy reading and think about the time when you are greeted by your name at a public toilet.


Topic Reading-Vol.2559-4/14/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
How do supermarkets tempt you to spend more money?
Is your supermarket tricky? You usually aren’t so suspicious about how your usual supermarket tries to make you spend more. But without realizing, most shoppers are spending more on the items they didn’t intend to buy. For example, essentials like milk and eggs are placed far away from the entrance and each other so that shoppers walk through the store and look around other items. At the cash register, sweets are presented to encourage your impulse buys. Also, while special offers and discounted items are often put at the end of isles to catch shoppers’ eyes, cereals for kids are placed at their eye levels. Interestingly, healthy foods such as vegetables and fruits are found near the entrance, so that the shopper will feel less guilty to pick up not-so-healthy items like red meat or sausages.
Do you want to be smarter at your regular supermarket?
Read the article and find some tips to avoid impulse or unnecessary purchases.


Topic Reading-Vol.2558-4/13/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Cruisers' choice: Best cruise ships of 2019
If you want to stay away from traffic, transport, waiting lines, packing and unpacking, checking in and out during your vacation, a cruise trip may be a good option. You only need to be bothered by all these things once when you board and disembark the ship even if you’re visiting many places around the world for as long as several months. You can stay in the same room being served and entertained during the entire trip. And of course, ocean breeze and view all the time. Just like hotels, you can choose from large-size cruisers with thousands of passengers and crewmembers to smaller ones with as few as only dozens on board. Since there are so many cruise trip options around the world, you may find it difficult to find the one that suits your need and preference. So, here is the 9th annual Cruise Critic Cruisers' Choice Awards that rates cruise ships based solely on ratings from the passengers to help you find the one you want to spend time on.
But be warned. While everything on board may be of the highest standards and meets or exceeds your expectations, the weather conditions, are not guaranteed.
Enjoy reading the article and ranking and seeing the photos of some of the cruise ships.


Topic Reading-Vol.2557-4/12/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
How ancient Greeks trained for war
Calisthenics is a form of bodyweight exercises such as muscle-ups, push-ups and pull-ups, squats, handstands, and leg raises. It uses body weight for resistance and improves muscular and aerobic conditioning and balancing and coordination skills. Unlike Yoga, Calisthenics emphasizes strength and demands high levels of flexibility and body coordination. Of course. It was a regular part of workout exercises in a city-state, Sparta, which was the predominant military power in ancient Greece in 650 BCE till 400 BCE. Now, it is widely used in sports teams and military units as synchronized physical training by a group to strengthen unity and discipline. It is also widely performed as part of physical education in schools.
Enjoy watching the video of the incredible muscle control and the ability to pose in gravity-defying positions.


Topic Reading-Vol.2556-4/11/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
For the first time ever, electric cars outsold gas and diesel vehicles in Norway
An electric car is powered by an electric motor or motors, using energy usually stored in rechargeable batteries. Unlike conventional gasoline or diesel engine cars, electric cars emit no exhaust gas from the onboard source of power. Numbers of countries are promoting electric cars to replace air-polluting fossil-fuel powered cars with tax credits, subsidies, and other incentives, such as designated parking space and discounted tolls and parking fees.
Norway is one of the most aggressive countries to promote zero-emission vehicles with a goal to stop selling new gas and diesel passenger cars by 2025. Since the Nordic country generates more electricity than its domestic consumption by renewable energy sources, such as water, wind and geothermal, the whole nation is moving in top gear toward the zero-emission environment. And in March, electronic cars outsold gas and diesel cars first time ever. Guess what drove the electric car sales? Tesla Model 3. It was the biggest single car model sales in a single month and accounted for over half of all the electric car sales of the month.
Enjoy reading and predict how soon the world will see more zero-emission cars on the road than others.


Topic Reading-Vol.2555-4/10/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
NASA wants to land astronauts on Mars by 2033
Mars, often referred to as the Red Planet because of its reddish appearance, is the fourth planet from the Sun in our Solar System. Unlike our inner neighbor Venus, which is the hottest and least visit-able of all, Mars has much more habitable environment with ice and air, though it is too thin to breathe. The Red Planet has been the next frontier to land humans after the Moon for astronomers, entrepreneurs, and even politicians.
Though it is bright and easily visible to naked eyes especially when it comes close to us every 26 months, it is still over 57 million kilometers away and takes six to nine months to fly there even if the spacecraft takes advantage of the Hohmann Transfer Orbit.
So far, the US has successfully landed eight unmanned spacecraft on Mars. Now NASA, the US space agency is trying to land humans there by 2033.
Who will send humans to Mars and successfully bring them back to Earth first, NASA, Russia, China or Space X?
Enjoy reading and imagine when you or your offspring will visit the Red Planet for vacation.


Topic Reading-Vol.2554-4/9/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Daily low-dose aspirin no longer recommended as heart attack preventative for older adults
Aspirin is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). It relieves pain, reduces fever, and lowers inflammation. Also, low-dose of Aspirin has been widely used as a blood thinner for those who have a high risk of blood clots, stroke, and heart attack.
However, it is no longer recommended as a preventative for older adults unless they have a high risk of, or already have heart disease according to the new guidelines announced by the American Heart Association. That’s because Aspirin raises risk for bleeding as people age.
They now instead recommend a healthier lifestyle with a good diet, moderate exercise, and of course, no smoking as the first line of prevention of such diseases.
Do what you can do before getting medication.
Enjoy reading and think about what you can do and what you are doing to maintain or improve your health.


Topic Reading-Vol.2553-4/8/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Why we need to reinvent democracy for the long term
The collapse of democracy? Looking at the endless, fruitless debates and votes in the UK parliament for Brexit and the president’s reactive tweets that criticize anyone including his own cabinet members, politicians are only dealing with today’s polls and the next election. Indeed, elected leaders, politicians and lawmakers in democratic countries, are becoming more generous to buy support from their voters while putting aside all critical future agendas, such as environment, government deficit, and weapon of mass distractions.
Why has such short-termism become dominant in the democracy? Several factors are to blame, such as election cycles, lobbying by special interest groups, and lack of influence and interest by the future generations, according to a public philosopher.
Then, will dictatorship or totalitarianism bring better future? Compare China and India, the largest non-democratic and democratic countries in the world each with over 1.3 billion population. It is obvious which country has achieved higher economic growth, more technological innovations, and stronger initiatives to improve the environment.
Isn’t there any new hope for democracy?
Enjoy reading the article and learn about the challenges today’s democracy is facing.


Topic Reading-Vol.2552-4/7/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
One in five Chinese children is overweight or obese, and the booming economy may be to blame, study reveals
That figure was only one in 20 children back in 1995 when China’s economy was just about to start booming. Back then, studies focused mainly on undernutrition as poverty was their main concern. But a new study evaluated the effect of economic growth on malnutrition in all its forms and found that Chinese children who were classified as overweight or obese exceeded 20 percent in 2014, a huge increase from just two decades ago.
During the time, more people moved to urban cities, kids spend more time at home playing games and staring at smartphones or at cram schools to study for exams, and families eat more packaged or delivery food and consume sugary drinks but walked much less, thanks to the rapid motorization and urbanization.
The problem is that such excess weight gain in childhood is often carried into adulthood and raise the risk of diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular problems.
It seems that China’s economic growth has also created a serious domestic problem.
Enjoy reading the article and think about the ways to keep children’s mental and physical health.


Topic Reading-Vol.2551-4/6/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Ground Force tests proficiency of top officers
Once you’ve reached a general’s rank in the military, you may think you will no longer be bothered by exams. However, it seems that no one is free from examinations in China’s People’s Liberation Army, the world’s largest military unit to climb the ladder. As many as 52 top commanding officers, mostly major generals, and some senior colonels, took the examination simultaneously across the county in early March. The examination was designed to check their capabilities in organizing training and commanding their troops, including theory, strategy and command skills.
Originated in ancient China to select bureaucrats, tests have been widely used in China, Korea and Japan for public service posts and school enrollments. While testing offer fair opportunities to the candidates and applicants, it hardly measures or predicts how well they could perform in the real world. Also, many parents in those countries spend fortunes to have their children attend private cram schools to prepare for the exams, which is thought to be one of the major reasons why their birthrates have been dropping.
Are there any prep schools for generals?
Enjoy reading the article and think which measures or enhances the capability of individuals better, paper tests or simulation games.


Topic Reading-Vol.2550-4/5/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Bangladesh woman with two wombs has twins one month after first birth
A 20-year-old Bangladeshi woman was not knowingly pregnant with one baby and twins at the same time. The woman delivered her first baby normally in a hospital and came home happily with her first child. But just 26 days later, she went to another hospital and found that she had twins about to be born. She underwent an emergency Caesarean and had a twin boy and girl. Why could that happen? Why didn’t the twins come out at the same time as the first baby? Didn’t she or her doctor know that she had triplets?
No, the babies were not triplets but one baby and twins because they developed in two different wombs, or uteruses. In fact, it is estimated that one in 1,000 women in the UK has double uteruses. The young mother seems to have ovulated three eggs, and they were fertilized at the same time and became three embryos, one settled in one of the two wombs and the other two did in the other womb. That’s why there were one baby and twins but not triplets.
But why wasn’t she or her doctor aware of her condition before the first delivery? That’s because she and her husband were so poor that she had never taken an ultrasound scan until she was taken to the hospital where she delivered the twins.
Now, the poor but happy young parent working busily with their hands full.
Enjoy reading and learn about this possible but amazing story.


Topic Reading-Vol.2549-4/4/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Wow Air failure: 'They gave us pizza - then cancelled our flight'
Can you imagine a situation where the ticket you have just booked online or a boarding pass that you have in your pocket at the gate becomes suddenly invalid because the airline has just ceased operations? Unfortunately, this is what happened on March 28 to Wow airline passengers and ticket holders. The Icelandic low-cost carrier started services in 2012 and had been operating between Iceland, Europe, Asia, and North America until the sudden death. Waiting passengers had been told at the gate that their flights were delayed until the final call. Those who were about to go home from their travel destinations were affected the most. They had to, and some are still struggling to find a way to fly back. Some airlines have been offering “rescue fares” for those whose tickets become invalid. Also, tickets had been sold until the last moment. Those who used credit cards might get a refund from the card issuers, but they have to claim and re-arrange their travel plans. And of course, the airline employees lost their jobs while they were working on the ground or in the air.
Before you book your next flight, you may want to check not just the airfare or cancellation policy of the ticket but also the financial statement of the airline.


Topic Reading-Vol.2548-4/3/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Europe will require carmakers to install speed limiters from 2022
Some cars are equipped with cruise control, auto driving or parking, and/or emergency braking systems. And auto-driving or self-driving cars are about to be introduced. However, most cars are still and will be driven by human drivers. Whether to keep or exceed the speed limit is still at the driver’s discretion, at least for a while. But after 2002, that freedom is going to be limited by the safety mechanism in EU countries. Under the new safety rules, all new cars need to have intelligent speed assistance systems as standard equipment. No particular technologies or specifications are announced to meet the new rule. Auto manufacturers and their technology partners have to come up with practical solutions to safely control the speed whether by using the digital map data or checking the signs on the road, neither of which is updated regularly or standardized. In any case, such a speed control system is required for auto-driving vehicles. So, why not?
Enjoy reading and imagine the traffic that all cars drive at the same speed.


Topic Reading-Vol.2547-4/2/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The Haka: What it means and how it's performed
All Blacks, the New Zealand national rugby union team, does something very intriguing before their games. Stomping their feet, pumping their fists, and staining their vocal chords, all in unison. The Haka is a ceremonial dance or challenge in Maori culture. War Haka was originally performed by Maori warriors before a battle to displaying their strength to intimidate the opponent. Various versions of Haka are now performed by men, women and even children to welcome guests, to acknowledge achievements, or to show a sign of respect and unity in special occasions including funerals. Recently, Haka was performed in many places in New Zealand to mourn the victims of the mass shooting in Christchurch.
Haka seems not only to boil the blood of the performers but also appeal to the heart of onlookers.
Enjoy reading the article and watching the videos of various Haka to learn what could unite people and raise their spirits.


Topic Reading-Vol.2546-4/1/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Health apps pose 'unprecedented' privacy risks
Is it a personal benefit or privacy breach? When you use health apps, you store a lot of personal health information knowingly or unknowingly; such as your blood pressure, heartbeat, the type and time of exercise, calorie consumption, and diet, along with your medical records, not to mention our personal profile information, such as your age, gender, race, blood type, color, weight, height, and BMI.
Yes, the more information you are known, the more personalized diagnoses and recommendations could be provided. You also could get target ads by relevant marketers that could suit your present or potential needs, such as supplements, exercise machines and sports gyms.
If it stops there, it may not cause you too much trouble. But once such information is leaked or sold to more aggressive parties that try to exploit or abuse personal information for their benefit, you’ll be in a big problem. Can that happen even if you use an app in anonymity? Yes, the information here and there could be artificially linked to form a unique identification.
This is no April fool.
Enjoy reading and learn about potential danger and disaster you could face from your health app.