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Topic Reading-Vol.2698-8/31/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Nato: Cyber-attack on one nation is attack on all
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO, is an international alliance by European and North American countries that was established in 1949. It was formed to secure peace in Europe and promote cooperation among the members in the aftermath of WWII when threats were posed by then the Soviet Union. There are 29 member states, including the USA, Canada, Turkey (at least for now), and 26 European countries.  
Though NATO is committed to peaceful resolution of disputes, it could use their military power to undertake crisis-management operations under the collective defense clause, Article 5, which states that if an armed attack occurs against any of the member states, such an attack is considered an attack against all member states, and therefore, they are obliged to help the attacked member state with the military if needed. So, if one ally is intruded or attacked its land by tanks, its airspace by fighter jets, or its water by a submarine of a non-NATO country, other allies might mobilize their military power to encounter the crises.
Recently, the Secretary General of NATO has reaffirmed the organization’s commitment to respond to cyberspace attacks to any member state, such as a nation’s electric power system or government administrative system. However, cybercriminals are usually anonymous. They don’t carry a national flag or dispatch malware from a military installation. Also, they are often not directly linked to the government, agency or military of a nation. For example, a massive cyberattack can be carried out from civilian computers located in one of the allies. Tracking and tracing who, how and where the attacker is not an easy task.
Will the world ever see a counter or preemptive cyber-attack with a NATO flag attached malware?
Enjoy reading the article about NATO’s commitment in cyberspace.


Topic Reading-Vol.2697-8/30/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Indonesia will build its new capital city in Borneo as Jakarta sinks into the Java Sea
Indonesia lies between the Indian and Pacific oceans. With more than seventeen thousand islands, it is the world's largest island country. The nation has a population of over 260 million, it is the fourth most populous country and the world's most populous Muslim-majority country with close to 230 million Sunni Muslims.
The capital city Jakarta sits on Java, the world's most populous island where over half of the nation’s population live. The city is overpopulated and over-congested, the air is badly polluted, and the land is rapidly sinking due to over-extraction of underground water. After 74 years from the independence, the government has decided to move the sinking capital to an underdeveloped area in another island, Borneo, the world's third-largest island, some of which is co-owned by Malaysia and Brunei.
It won’t start at once. The historical move is expected to take 10 years to complete once it is approved by the parliament.
Enjoy reading the article about Indonesia’s capital relocation.


Topic Reading-Vol.2696-8/29/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
China's top 10 cities with most potential
China’s economy has been growing at an unprecedented pace in human history since the last world’s economic crisis in 2008. China has put a lot of fuels to develop the economy and became the second most influential market in the world economy. In some sectors like automobiles, mobile phones, and solar panels, China is now the world-leading market as well as producer.
But how many large cities of China do you know besides Beijing and Shanghai? There are over 300 administrative units at or above prefectural level there, most of which are well connected by highways and highspeed railways.
Here is a list of the top 10 most prospective cities in China. Take this opportunity to learn about these major cities in Alphabet and Chinese.
#10 Hangzhou (杭州)
#9  Tianjin (天津)
#8  Chongqing (重庆)
#7  Wuhan (武汉)
#6  Nanjing (南京)
#5  Chengdu (成都)
#4  Guangzhou (广州)
#3  Shanghai (上海)
#2  Beijing (北京)
#1  Shenzhen (   深圳)


Topic Reading-Vol.2695-8/28/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Yes, tech companies may listen when you talk to your virtual assistant. Here's why that's not likely to stop
AI speakers and voice-controlled devices are still in a very early stage of development. They need to learn more what and how humans speak because the way people say the same things varies widely by person and situation. For example, some might ask, “What’s the weather like?” while others may say, “Tell me the weather forecast.”
These virtual assistants are run by machine learning algorithms that learn patterns from data. So, the more data they are given, the more accurate and appropriate they will become. And the data mean conversations for AI assistants. That’s why your conversations might be listened to by not only machines but also humans of the service providers, such as Amazon, Apple, and Google. They claim they listen to what and how you say to improve the quality of their AI services anonymously. But are users of AI assistant notified it clearly enough? Will there be any chance that the recording is used maliciously by someone?
Enjoy reading the article and think what and how you speak to your AI assistant from next time on.


Topic Reading-Vol.2694-8/27/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The Philippines is the world's most deadly place to defend the environment
It isn’t just forest fires that the authoritarian the populist government have caused in Brazil. They also seem to have created numbers of murders of indigenous peoples and environmental activists, according to environmental and human right organizations. In some cases, those who tried to protect the environment or protest against deforestation are treated as criminals or terrorists and attacked and killed.
And it’s not only Brazil but the Philippines where an extreme leader is trying to convert substantial farmland and forest to industrial plantations. As you can imagine, the incumbent president of the The Philippines created thousands of extrajudicial killings for his “War on Drugs.” It is feared that industrial development might justify the killing of environmental activists and protectionists once they are labeled as criminals or terrorists.
Enjoy reading the article and learn how deadly it could be to defend the environment.


Topic Reading-Vol.2693-8/26/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Amazon rainforest fires: Ten readers' questions answered
The Amazon rainforest is the world’s largest tropical rainforest in the Amazon biome that spread to nine South American countries, 60% of which lies in Brazil. The rainforest represents over half of the remaining rainforests with nearly 400 billion trees. Since one in ten known species lives in the rainforest, it is the world’s most bio-diversified forest. And it has been home for indigenous peoples for over ten millenniums and is also the largest producer of oxygen on the land. The Amazon rainforest is indeed essential for plants and trees, wild species, and humans.
However, the forest has been aggressively deforested and converted to pasture to grow cattle and farmland to plant soybeans. The current Brazilian president has in fact allowed deforestation for farming and logging much more than his predecessors. Also, people deliberately lit fires to make more farmland even in the dry season. And these human activities seem to have caused devastating fires in many parts of the rainforest at an unprecedented scale and speed, which are emitting carbon monoxide and smog that can be seen from thousands of kilometers away.
Now, environmentalists, scientists, and even some world leaders are very much concerned about this year’s Amazon rainforest fires. But who is to blame? Will the fires choke people in other parts of the world to death?
Enjoy reading the answers to ten commonly asked questions about Amazon’s fire.


Topic Reading-Vol.2692-8/25/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
South Korea and Japan's feud explained
History is taught very differently in each side, community, or country. A kids’ quarrel, border dispute, and trade war. Each side has their own side of the story to rationalize their claims and actions, and politicians and media together broadcast it to their people. The story later becomes history and is taught to the next generations. But history is history. Peoples enjoy exchanges in business, tourism, and cultures unless their governments or politicians abuse the history for their political advantage. When that happens, the media play a key role to exaggerate the issue, which was intended by the politicians. Some people then become hostile towards the other side and even affect those who naturally prefer the status quo. Then the dispute escalates further until political focusses and priorities change.
How long will it take for South Korea and Japan to overcome or overlook the past and move for the future? Again, since history is written and taught differently, exchanges and interactions in the real world may educate people better.
Enjoy reading the article and learn what the recent disputes between the two easternmost Asian countries.


Topic Reading-Vol.2691-8/24/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
A crew of Canadian service dogs watched a live musical as part of their training
With a population of just over 30,000, Stratford is a small city on the Avon River in southwest Ontario, Canada. The city hosts an annual theater festival called the Stratford Festival. As the name suggests, the festival features some Shakespearean plays but not as many as it used to do. Nowadays, there are a wide variety of theatre from Greek tragedy to Broadway-style musicals and contemporary works.
Because of the fame and popularity of the festival, some attendants of the performances are accompanied by their service dogs. How do those dogs serve their handlers during a noisy, flashy musical show? Just like on a train or bus, they are expected to sit under the seat or curl up at their handlers’ feet, which a corps of service dogs did by themselves as part of their training at a live performance of the festival.
Did they sit still as they were supposed to? Did the dogs enjoy or were they annoyed by the show?
Enjoy reading the article about how service dogs behave themselves during a live musical show.


Topic Reading-Vol.2690-8/23/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Beginning today, you won't be able to buy plastic bottles of water at San Francisco International Airport
San Francisco is trying to be a pioneer among environmentally conscious American cities, introducing and implementing various initiatives to be a sustainable and healthy city for its residents, including humans, plants, and animals in areas such as sustainable food, waste reduction, transportation and infrastructure, water conservation, proximity to the outdoors.
San Francisco International Airport, or SFO, is also determined to become the world's first zero-waste airport by 2021. As part of the effort, the airport has banned the sale of plastic water bottles in the premises. Now anyone who wants to drink water has to drink from one of 100 or so free water fountains, reusable or recyclable bottle that is sold or any type of container that is brought with. This will cut 10,000 plastic water bottles sold daily in the airport. Those who still want to drink from a plastic bottle still can choose colored, soda, tea or coffee drinks that are still sold on the shelves.
After all, plastic bottles contain microplastic particles that are thought to be harmful to your body and health in the long term. So, you could get healthier by drinking water not from plastic bottles and SFO helps you remind of that.
Enjoy reading the article and think if you want to get a reusable or compostable water bottle and carry it around with you if you haven’t.


Topic Reading-Vol.2689-8/22/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
What is it like to live in an over-touristed city?
Conflicting interests. While travelers and visitors are looking for excitement or extraordinary experience, local residents want to maintain peace and order in their neighborhood. This becomes a serious problem to the cities where visitors outnumber the residents multiple times, like Amsterdam whose visitor-resident ratio went over 18 last year. Such over-tourism puts a strain on the resources and infrastructure of the city. For example, overcrowded public transportation like subways and buses, heavy traffic around popular scenic or selfie spots, and trash and drunken tourists on the street. Other major tourist destinations like San Francisco, Barcelona, and Toronto are also facing  similar problems. To balance the peace of the lives of the residents and attraction for visitors, these cities are trying to divert the tourists to lesser-known places around the cities’ hot spots.
Another problem caused by over-tourism is the rising housing places partly being pushed by vacation rent like Airbnb. Some cities have banned such renting practices, but it is hard to enforce the regulation or monitor the situation.
Over tourism is also a controversial issue among local residents. While there are people and businesses that benefit from visitors, there are people who are constantly annoyed. Tour buses drop tourists at scenic spots and drive narrow and already crowded streets causing noise and leaving exhaust gases. Cruise ships bring thousands of passengers at once to a tiny port town. In the meantime, they hire guides, buy souvenirs, and eat and drink, and pay taxes. Indeed, tourism is essential for the local economy. Tourists are welcomed as long as they respect the local residents, their lives and customs.
Enjoy reading the article and rethink your next vacation plan.


Topic Reading-Vol.2688-8/21/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The water is so hot in Alaska it's killing large numbers of salmon
The salmon usually spend their early life in rivers and then swim out to sea to live their adult lives. When they are matured, they return to their natal rivers and swim up to the places where they were born without eating. There, they spawn on gravel beds and die, and the salmon life cycle begins over again, which is called the salmon run. This is when grizzly bears and eagles catch salmons for their feast.
So, if matured female salmon die with healthy eggs still in their bellies in the river, it could affect their future population. This is what is seen this summer in Alaska’s rivers where water temperatures have reached over 27 degrees Celsius, over three degrees higher than the highest temperatures in normal years. At this temperature, salmon cannot get enough oxygen and lose energy to survive or spawn. Even though salmon are resilient, this level of extreme water temperatures might cause effects on their life cycle in the long run.
Enjoy reading the article and learn how global warming or extreme weather condition could affect wildlife in Alaska.


Topic Reading-Vol.2687-8/20/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Exposure to polluted air is like smoking a pack a day, study says
Emphysema is a lung condition that causes shortness of breath. In people with emphysema, the air sacs in the lungs are damaged, which reduces the surface area of the lungs and the amount of oxygen that reaches your bloodstream. Smoking is thought to be the leading cause of lung problem. The problem of this lung failure is that such signs or symptoms are not easily noticed by the sufferer for years. For example, someone who smokes a pack of cigarettes a day for many years might not recognize the lung problem as the symptom of emphysema like shortness of breath occurs gradually over years. He or she may think it’s just part of aging.
A new study found that such symptoms could occur if people are exposed to ground-level ozone, which is produced when ultra-violent (UV) light reacts with pollutants from fossil fuels. The problem is that this type of ozone is colorless so that it can’t be seen. Also, it is created when pollutants interact with sunlight, under which people tend to go outside and breathe fresh air that contains photochemically transformed ozone. And this exposure to ground-level ozone is found to be as harmful as smoking a pack a day.
The solution? Stay indoors on a sunny day in major cities where the air is polluted by fossil fuels emissions.
Enjoy reading the article and think if sunny weather is good for an outdoor barbecue party.


Topic Reading-Vol.2686-8/19/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Greenland: Trump warned that island cannot be bought from Denmark
Greenland isn’t real estate. It is an autonomous territory of Denmark with a population of about 56,000 most of who live in coastal settlements. The largest island on the planet lies between the North Atlantic and Arctic oceans and much of the land surface is covered by a permanent ice sheet, which has been receding recently because of global warming. It is rich in natural resources, such as coal, zinc, copper and iron ore. Greenland also plays a key role in regional geopolitics and also for the world environment.
So, why does the president of the United States mention his interest in buying this island all of a sudden? Historically, the US purchased lands and their inhabitants from other countries, Louisiana from France in 1803 and Alaska from Russia in 1867. But such “deals” have no longer been practiced recently because countries seemed to have found an alternative way to acquire new territories, namely by force, like Crimea by Russia and the Golan Heights by Israel. The incumbent US president may be more peaceful than other aggressive rulers but quite thoughtless when it comes to international relations or people’s sentiment. Surely, he’s gotten “Nos” from both Greenlanders and Danes.
By the way, he is scheduled to make his first official visit to Denmark in September. Will this be on the agenda?
Enjoy reading the article about US president’s real estate interest and the reactions.


Topic Reading-Vol.2685-8/18/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Triple talaq: India criminalises Muslim 'instant divorce'
What is Triple talaq? It is a prevalent practice among India’s Muslim community that allows a Muslim man to divorce his wife by simply saying, texting or writing “talaq” three times even though such practice is uncommon among Muslims in other countries. In fact, most of the Islamic schools of thought prefer the divorce process to be deferred for reconsideration or reconciliation over a period of three months. Though the practice was declared unconstitutional by the nation’s supreme court in 2017, it took two years for the parliament to ban the practice by law because of oppositions from non-ruling parties. Some of such opponents say the practice was already outlawed by the court and others claim that laws shouldn’t regulate domestic issues like this.
If such inequality still exists, politicians and the government officials in India have a lot to do to bring the soon-to-be most populous nation up to speed with other advanced countries not only in technology or GDP but in human rights and hygiene.
Enjoy reading the article and think what should be prioritized in democracy.


Topic Reading-Vol.2684-8/17/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The Tale of Genji: The world’s first novel?
Murasaki Shikibu was born in 970’s as a daughter of Fujiwara Tametoki, a medium rank Japanese aristocrat and an author of Japanese waka and Chinese poetry. It was after she became a widow in 1001 that she started writing what is considered the world’s oldest novel, the Tale of Genji. It centers on the life and loves of an elegant and highly sophisticated Hikaru Genji, who was born to an Emperor during the Heian Period. The story composed of 54 chapters and is broadly divided into three sections. This thousand-page-long story was first translated into modern Japanese nearly a millennium after it was written.
Enjoy watching the video to learn about this ancient tale of a handsome prince who enjoyed endless romances in and around the palace.


Topic Reading-Vol.2683-8/16/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Gun owners in New Zealand voluntarily surrender more than 10,000 firearms
One mass-shooting was more than enough for New Zealanders to introduce and implement tougher gun control laws. It was March 15 this year that a shooter fired semi-automatic weapons at two mosques in Christ Church and killed 51 people. New Zealand government and parliament were quick to act to ban semi-automatic weapons and implemented a nationwide gun buyback program. Many gun owners responded to the program and over 10,000 firearms were voluntarily surrendered to authorities within a month. That’s a significant number considering the nation’s small population of under five million.
The neighboring country, Australia, took a similar action after a shooting incident in Tasmania in 1996 that left 35 people dead. Their program collected 640,000 illegal firearms.
While whether these gun buyback programs stop people from shooting others remains to be seen, a substantial number of weapons were voluntarily surrendered in each program. Emotion could divide people, but it could also unite people to act for a better society. Unfortunately, politicians of the country that has the longest list of mass shootings seem to be concerned only about the next election and keep their do-nothing attitude toward firearm control.
Read the article and learn what could be “enough is enough” to stop mass shootings.


Topic Reading-Vol.2682-8/15/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
How we got the dogs we know and love today
The dog was the first species that was domesticated. Dogs are thought to diverged from wolves 20,000 to 40,000 years ago around the Last Glacial Maximum. They have been bred over thousands of  years for variations in shape, size, colors, behaviors, and sensory and physical capabilities. Dogs perform various roles for their masters, such as herding, hunting, protecting, guarding, and even aiding and healing people. They are now regarded as the best friends of humans. It is estimated that there are nearly one billion dogs around the world.
Dogs have undergone rapid changes for the last few centuries and were formed into modern dog breeds. They vary in weight from a kilo like the Chihuahua to 90 kilos, in height from 15 centimeters to 76 in height like the Great Dane, as well as in color and coats. The Pomeranian, Jack Russell, Doberman, Labrador Retriever, and Poodle are some of the most popular dog breeds. But what are the origins of them?
Enjoy reading the article about the origins of our long-time closest friends.


Topic Reading-Vol.2681-8/14/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Why the French love to say no
 “Non” in France does not always mean ‘no’. In fact, the French ‘no’ is often an invitation to debate, engage and better understand one another.
Children learn to be critical of their opinions or thoughts in school where 12 out of a scale of 20 is given an honorable mention. Bureaucrats of France make every effort trying not to be blamed for being wrong and have made the administrative system old-fashioned and inefficient. But that necessarily mean that they never say or mean yes or “oui.” French people just tend to hide agreement in the context of what is being said, including tone, body language, setting, and situation. So, if you want to get “oui” from a French person, you may want to have him or her say “non” several times before presenting your intended suggestion or opinion.
It’s quite interesting that French culture distinctly differs especially from American’s where their independence from the British rule ended only 13 years earlier than the French Revolution which started with saying “no” to their nine-country-long monarchical rule.
Enjoy reading the article and learn about what “non” really mean in France.


Topic Reading-Vol.2680-8/13/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
I tried 5G. It will change your life — if you can find it
5G is the fifth-generation cellular network technology while the one most of you are using is 4G, which has been in use for the last decade. Though 4G does what you want quite efficiently and economically, 5G does it 30 times faster than 4G, or 10 times faster than the average home broadband speed. Then, how much more to pay to get that speed? Currently, only a few devices offer the capability and they cost twice or three times as expensive as 4G models. Even iPhone series doesn’t have a 5G model yet. Also, the coverage is quite limited, only in certain metropolitan cities, such as New York and Chicago. However, that situation isn’t that much different from the rollout period of 4G. It’ll come soon.
The benefits of 5G aren’t limited only to the speed. It handles much more bandwidth, which allows the data from sensors, cars , and robots that can work simultaneously without interruption or delay. For example, it will bring self-driving cars on the street and control robotic surgeries from a distant place. It’s like driving an F1 racing car on a highway that has many more lanes than freeways in Los Angeles.
As we’ve experienced, price, technological, and infrastructural difficulties are cleared only in several years, if not a few. Just like you cannot imagine the life without4G network now, you won’t remember what life was like without 5G probably before 2025.
Enjoy reading and learn what 5G does now and will offer soon.


Topic Reading-Vol.2679-8/12/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
For the first time, high-speed rail available during Hajj pilgrimage
The Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam. Muslims are required to perform this pilgrimage once in their lifetime if they are physically and financially able. During Hajj, pilgrims travel to Mecca, Saudi Arabia to perform a series of rituals, including walking counter-clockwise seven times around the Kaaba, the cube-shaped building. In 2019, over 1.8 million foreign pilgrims and 700 thousand domestic pilgrims are expected to travel to Mecca during the five days undertake the annual Islamic pilgrimage started on August 9.
This year, some of those pilgrims can take advantage of the Haramain high-speed railway that began operational last October. It links 450 kilometers between the Muslim holy cities of Medina and Mecca via King Abdulaziz International Airport only in two hours at a speed of 300 kilometers per hour. The electrified double-track line is designed to run the trains at the temperatures ranging from 0 °C to 50 °C, the highest temperature in the desert kingdom at the speed.
Though it won’t change the ground temperatures, the highspeed train service surely helps those who could book their seats to perform their services more comfortably and memorably.
Enjoy reading the article and watching the video about the Haji and highspeed train service.


Topic Reading-Vol.2678-8/11/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The ABCs of Chinese education
In China, all children must attend six years in primary school and following three years in junior high school. In 2018, there are a little over 100 million students in 162,000 elementary schools and 46 million students in 52,000 junior-high schools respectively. Then most of them, nearly 40 million students or 90% of children, attend senior high school. There are a little over 24,000 senior high schools across the country. As a result, China’s literacy rate is over 96%, one of the highest in the world.
But they don’t stop just there. Around 60% of senior high school graduates now go to one of 2,663 universities or colleges. Every year, those who wish to go to university take the national college entrance exams, called Gaokao in June. Nearly 10 million students took the test this year. It is not simple to get passed the exam. Reports show that only 60 percent of the exam takers are able to make it to any university of which only a very few students make it to the prestigious universities.
Competition is very serious in the world’s most populous nation.
Enjoy reading and learn about China’s education system by numbers.


Topic Reading-Vol.2677-8/10/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Ethiopia 'breaks' tree-planting record to tackle climate change
Ethiopia lies in the northeastern part of Africa, known as the Horn of Africa. With a population of just over a hundred million inhabitants, it is the second most populous country in Africa after Nigeria and is also the most populous land-locked country in the world. Ethiopia is a multilingual nation with 90 individual languages spoken. Sounds challenging to unite a country, doesn’t it?
The African nation has been facing a serious deforestation problem since the early 20th Century. About 35% of the land used to be covered with forests but it is only around 4% after the millennium. So, as part of the government’s Green Legacy Initiative, a nation-wide tree planting exercise was taken place in 1,000 sites on July 29. As many as 350 million seedlings of indigenous trees were planted by volunteers just in 12 hours. The project seems to be one of the means to unite a nation of so many different languages and tribes.
Now, a world record and strong momentum were established. It’s time to grow the seedlings to form forests. But where were they planted? There seems to be a lot of free land in Ethiopia.
Enjoy reading the article about one example to tackle the effects of deforestation and climate change.


Topic Reading-Vol.2676-8/9/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The Hyundai Kona SUV is India's powerful new electric car
With nearly four million new cars sold last year, India’s automobile market became the fourth largest in the world after China’s 28 million, US’s 17 million, and Japan’s five million. But the air quality in the country is notoriously bad. In fact, 13 of the world’s 20 most air-polluted cities are in India, affecting people’s health more seriously than smoking, high blood pressure, child malnutrition, and risk factors for diabetes. While air is polluted mostly by biomass burning for cooking and keeping warm in rural areas, vehicle emission is to blame in urban areas.
Now, to become a global hub of manufacturing electric vehicles, the government recently announced plans to reduce taxes on electric car production along with incentives for lithium batteries and charging infrastructures. At the same time, the Hyundai Kona Electric, a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Company that owns the second highest market share in India, introduced a powerful electric SUV that can travel over 400 kilometers on a single charge. It is probably enough for most daily use, but will that be enough for a weekend trip with air-conditioning running all the way? The company also has a plan to build a network to charge their vehicles too, by installing a network of fast chargers at gas stations in Mumbai, New Delhi, Bangalore, and Chennai.
Electric vehicle sales and electric charging stations seem like a chicken and egg scenario.
The price tag of the e-SUV? Around 2.5 million rupees, or $37,000.
Enjoy reading the article and think if the new e-SUV will be bought more as the only or second car for the owner.


Topic Reading-Vol.2675-8/8/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Baby Elon Musk, rapping Kim Kardashian: Welcome to the world of silly deepfakes
Deepfake is an AI-based technology that is used to produce or alter video content to present something that didn't occur. In other words, it shows a video image of someone doing something that the person didn’t do. For example, a famous scholar is dancing and singing like a school kid or the former president is criticizing the present administration like a rap star.
Though it could be just funny and entertaining as long as a deepfake video is made just for fun, it could also harm or ruin the reputation of the person whose image was used maliciously in the video, like pornography or discriminatory conducts.
Fortunately, it takes quite a lot of work to create such videos. First, the creator needs a base video of the person and thousands of photos of his or her face. Then, he has his computer match the subject’s face with the key points on someone else’s face frame by frame. After that, he uses deep-learning programs to replace faces in the video manually to finish the work.
As long as those amateur creators are making fun of celebrities or politicians with their deepfake videos, the public can just enjoy watching them and give encouragement to the creators with emojis and comments in return. However, if such techniques are used to attack a political opponent or destroy someone’s reputation or status especially for elections, such videos need to be removed from social media sites like YouTube and Instagram before they’ve gone viral. Will they act quickly and decisively? Another hearing may be held in congress.
Enjoy reading the article and watching the video to learn what deepfake is about.


Topic Reading-Vol.2674-8/7/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Addicted to the internet? Behavioral therapy could work, researchers find
Video game addiction, causes mental, emotional, and even physical disorder over a long period of time. Men are overwhelmingly predominant in this addiction. In some clinic, they represent 90% of the patients who are treated or diagnosed.
Emotional symptoms of video game addiction are;
- Feelings of restlessness and/or irritability when unable to play
- Preoccupation with thoughts of previous online game activity or anticipation of the next online session
- Lying to friends or family members regarding the amount of time spent playing
- Isolation from others in order to spend more time gaming
Physical symptoms could include;
- Fatigue
- Headache due to intense concentration or eye strain
- Pain, numbness, and tingling in the thumb and fingers caused by the overuse of a controller or computer mouse
- Poor personal hygiene
Is gaming or online addiction curable? It seems so. A research found nearly 70% of the men entered remission after a 15-week cognitive behavioral therapy consisted of  group and individual sessions. So, if someone around you showed any signs or symptoms of gaming or internet addiction, he can be helped by proper therapy.
Enjoy reading the article and learned how serious internet and gaming addiction could be.


Topic Reading-Vol.2673-8/6/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Heatwaves and the human body
If you live in the northern hemisphere, by now you might have had enough summer heat and your body has gotten used to it. As the temperature rises, you get sweat and feel tired because your body works harder to keep your core temperature down by loosening the skin to sweat to increase the heat loss from the skin as it evaporates. It’s a good body mechanism but puts a strain on your body. If you aren’t too young or too old, your body can manage the strain but if not, or if too hot, it could lead to heat exhaustion, such as dizziness, fainting, confusion, nausea, muscle cramps, headaches, heavy sweating, or tiredness. Sounds like common symptoms one can have when they are really in bad shape or sick. That how serious heat exhaustion could be. Before you start feeling any of these heat-related problems, you’d better drink a lot of liquid, like water, tea or coffee, move to a cooler place, and cool the skin with cold packs around the armpits or neck. If you still feel exhausted after all these quick remedies, you’d better be taken care of in the hospital. In fact, heat waves cause thousands of deaths each year around the world. The good news is that you know what you have to do to avoid suffering from heat exhaustion and stroke. Stay cool and hydrated.
Enjoy reading and learn the mechanism of heat exhaustion.


Topic Reading-Vol.2672-8/5/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The Silicon Valley space race
Space race was originally caused by the clash between East and West, or communism and capitalism, and had been driven by patriotism and nationalism until the end of the cold war. The first animal that went to space was a dog nicknamed Laika in 1957. Yuri Gagarin was the first man who made a space trip in 1961. Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman to fly to space in 1963. They were all Russians. It took another six years for Russia’s space rival to mark “the first” mission in space, Apollo 11 to land the first man on the moon in 1969. An enormous amount of investment was made to develop and advance technologies to realize these missions, which subsequently brought about and enhanced new technologies, such as semiconductors, microchips, and computers to aerospace, military, and IT industries.
Even after the cold war, there is fierce but peaceful race is going on in space. China and India are on the racetrack to send probe missions to the moon. In the private sector, several ambitious space missions have been undertaken, such as a trip to space, landing on the moon and even colonizing Mars.
One of them is Space X by Elon Musk, the founder of PayPal and Tesla. It is an aerospace manufacturer and space transportation services company that aims to reduce costs for space transportation and to build a colony on Mars.
Blue Origin in another aerospace manufacturer and sub-orbital spaceflight services company that was founded and funded by Jeff Bezos, the founder and chairman of Amazon. The company also visions to realize space colonies that can be inhabited by thousands of people, just like Rama described by Arthur C. Clarke.
After all, egos, whether they are national or personal, seem to stimulate human ingenuities.
Enjoy watching the video and think what motivates and drives people to go beyond what they are.


Topic Reading-Vol.2671-8/4/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The arm’s-length flats of Tokyo
Harry Potter didn’t choose to live in a cupboard under the stairs of his aunt’s house. When his parents were killed by a vicious wizard Voldemort, or you-know-who, he was left no choice but to be part of the Dursley family until he was enrolled in Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Now, in Tokyo, the world’s most crowded metropolis with over 38 million residents, there are young muggles who choose to live in a cupboard-size apartment. Since such tiny apartments are economical and conveniently located, they are highly demanded by young people who want to save living costs and commuting time. Also, it is somewhat convenient because everything in the room can be reached within arm’s length. The problem is noises from other rooms because those apartments are built cheaply. Interestingly though, some of the residents are used to such living noises and they even enjoy the feeling of living at home.
The cost of living in a cupboard size apartment is less than $800. It’s still cheaper than staying in a capsule hotel in Tokyo.
Enjoy watching the video and learn about this cupboard life in Tokyo.