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Topic Reading-Vol.2911-3/31/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
What are organizers up against now the 2020 Olympics have been moved to next year?
The 2020 Summer Olympics were originally scheduled to take place from July 24 July till August 9 this year. However, the International Olympic Committee and the Tokyo Organizing Committee decided just four months before the scheduled opening that the games are now postponed to the next year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  
Tokyo was selected as the host city during the 125th IOC Session in September 2013. Enormous planning and preparation work has been carried out ever since by the event organizers, municipal governments, sponsors, contractors, and volunteers, not to mention the athletes and their trainers. Now, their goals are put off by 20 some months. Though postponement is no doubt preferred to cancelation, for those who have been working for this year’s event, it must be quite challenging to keep their spirit and energy for an additional 300+ days. And there still is a big question that hasn’t been answered yet. Will there be vaccine or effective medicine for the novel virus before the games?
By the way, the games will still be marked as Tokyo 2020, even with the change in schedule. They will surely be remembered for some time.
Enjoy reading the article and learn what it would take to reschedule the Olympic Games.


Topic Reading-Vol.2910-3/30/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Antarctic seal photo wins top prize
Nature TTL is a popular online nature photography resource. From about 7.000 entries from 117 countries, the winners of the inaugural Nature TTL Photographer of the Year 2020 competition were announced. There are amazing photos from different parts of the world.
No more words needed. Just enjoy seeing the award-winning photos of nature.


Topic Reading-Vol.2909-3/29/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Parking in a pandemic: Grounded planes scramble for storage space
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, as many as 20,000 airplanes were flying in the air to carry passengers and cargo. However, many of them are grounded because of the increasing travel restrictions across the world. Where are those grounded airplanes parked? Since commercial airports are primarily designed for embarking and disembarking passengers and takeoffs and landings for airplanes, certainly not for parking airplanes for a long period of time. There are designated parking spaces in the US that offer not only space but also maintenances. In addition to the parking fees, airlines can choose to pay service fees to have their fleet maintained for immediate departure if they expect travel restrictions to be lifted soon. Also, because of the reduced flights, airports have some unused space where aircraft can be parked. Runways. In fact, the Copenhagen airport decommissioned two of its three runways and is offering space for airlines.
How long are those flying machines grounded? Who will be paying the expenses to ground airplanes and the crew? One thing is for sure.
Enjoy reading the article and think about how long it will take to bring the aviation traffic level back to the pre-Covid 19 era.


Topic Reading-Vol.2908-3/28/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Coronavirus: India to enter 'total lockdown' after spike in cases
No one had ever imagined a total lockdown of a country with a population of over 1.3 billion for a staggering three-week period until it was announced and enforced March 25. India is a country where community means a lot to the people. It is an essential part of their daily life to go to worship at a temple, mosque or church, as well as to shop at marketplaces and street shops. Schools and universities have already been closed, airplanes have been grounded, and public transportation services have been stopped. Now people are told not to go out except when they have an emergency or essential business. A total lockdown will surely disrupt their lives economically and socially.
It is believed that social distancing is the best measure to combat coronavirus. While one might feel ok for a few days or a week even after he or she was infected by the novel virus. They could then infect a few people only in a week, and then those who are newly infected will infect a few more people, and then they will infect more and more. That is why practicing social distancing is essential to stop spreading the virus. The prime minister Mr. Modi emphasized the importance and seriousness of the measure by stating it as a curfew.
The question is how strictly the lockdown is going to be observed and enforced.
Read the article and learn about this historic move by the second most populous country.


Topic Reading-Vol.2907-3/27/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Japan asked the international media to change how we write their names. No one listened
It was about a century and a half ago when Japan transformed itself from a samurai-ruled closed country to a modern imperial state and opened the doors to the world. In order not to be treated like other colonized Asian neighbors, Japanese leaders decided to introduce their individual names in an opposite way from their traditions, the given name first instead of the family name. Since then, the Japanese government and people and international media communities have been using the given-name-first order. Now, the new emperor was enthroned last year and the Olympic Games are going to be held, though the when to be held is TBD, Japan wants to reverse the name order to the way people are using in the country and asked the international media to comply with. Well, the name of the country or city is changed from time to time, like Peking to Beijing, Bombay to Mumbai, and Burma to Myanmar only to name a few. But such changes are easier to adopt than the names of the entire citizens of over 120 million even though not all of them need to be called or mentioned by foreign media or contacts. Also, the amount of data that is stored in cyberspace and archives need to be either modified or adjusted to be referred. For example, prime minister Shinzo Abe needs to be referred to also as Abe Shinzo. And if you think of business contacts, associates, and friends, how and when the naming order would be changed if ever?
Enjoy reading the article and count how many Japanese names you may need to rename.


Topic Reading-Vol.2906-3/26/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Why does Russia, population 146 million, have fewer coronavirus cases than Luxembourg?
Russia borders with both China and Europe where the COVID-19 outbreak has badly spread. However, less than 500 confirmed cases and a few deaths have been reported publicly from Russia as of Mar. 23. Is their border control so tight to prevent the novel virus from entering the country, have all the cases been reported properly, or are there enough and reliable test equipment or medical staff in place? Indeed, they have tight grips when it comes to controlling both geographic and cyber borders. But even one virus carrier could spread the disease to many, and they could spread it to many more. Also, are all the cases reported properly? You may remember that the doping scandal that banned Russian from all major sporting events for four years.
Read the article and think when Russia’s infection figures surge, if ever.


Topic Reading-Vol.2905-3/25/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Discounts, freebies, coupons spice up consumption market
While the death toll is mounting in Europe, especially in Italy where hundreds of people are dying each day, China is trying to recover from the economic slowdown during the outbreak of the novel virus. The nation suffered a substantial loss in all business activities over the course of the last two months, including the supposedly robust spring festival period. Even though many still hesitate to open their wallets to spend on things they would have bought a few weeks ago, local governments, retailers, and service providers are offering coupons, vouchers, and discounts to stimulate consumer spending.
Which will be more effective to reboot the once-frozen economy, giving relief money to those in need or stimulating those who have money to spend? That decision might be more influenced by the next election rather than the economy in a democratic country.
Enjoy reading the article and think about what will take and how long to recover from the pandemic.


Topic Reading-Vol.2904-3/24/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
During a pandemic, what does being the world's happiest country mean?
What makes people happy varies widely by the people, culture, beliefs, political system, freedom, equality, safety, economy, income distribution, tax system, and environment, only to name a few. Set at the UN general assembly in 2012, March 20 is World’s Happiness Day, which is intended to draw international attention to happiness as a measurement of well-being. Each year, over 150 countries are ranked based on six variables to support well-being: income, freedom, trust, healthy life expectancy, social support and generosity. Northern European countries like Finland, Denmark, Norway are ranked high every year while African and some Asian countries are seen as the least happy states, such as Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, and Yemen.
But when the world is under COVID-19 pandemic, is such happiness index valid? People in many places will be facing social distancing, isolation, shelter life, business shutdown, and even quarantine. What then will make people happier under the present and future circumstances? It seems that mindset like trust, pride and willingness to help each other plays an important role to overcome this extraordinary situation.
Enjoy reading the article and think how you are going to manage yourself and your family under the crisis.


Topic Reading-Vol.2903-3/23/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Saudi Arabia has launched the ultimate oil power play.
Never initiate a price war unless you’re the lowest cost player. A golden rule for any business. Though the world is shifting from fossil fuels to renewable energies, oil still is the major source of energy. Without oil, cars won’t drive, ships won’t sail, and airplanes won’t fly. Of the roughly 80 million barrels of crude oil produced daily, the US produces 15 million, Saudi Arabia 12, and Russia 10. So, any of these three giants has a significant impact on oil supply and prices in the world. Now, Saudi Arabia initiated a price war by increasing production, and the crude oil prices slide to $20 per barrel, which had been fluctuating between $40 and $60 per barrel for the last five years.
How could the kingdom do that? Is the cost to produce and ship oil significantly cheaper than the US or Russia? Actually, yes. Wall Street Journal estimated the average cost for a barrel of oil in the US and Russia are around $20 while that of Saudi Arabia is less than $10. Half the cost!
However inexpensive their production cost might be, the lower the prices are, the less profitable the supplier is going to be. So why a price war?
Enjoy reading the article and learn why a crude oil price war amid COVID-19 pandemic.


Topic Reading-Vol.2902-3/22/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The evolution of the modern workday
The world is fair to everyone when it comes to time. Everyone has 24 hours a day and seven days a week, not a second longer or shorter. Nowadays, many workers regularly work around eight hours a day and 40 hours a week, save farmers whose work clocks depend more on seasonal requirements. However, those who live in the arctic circle have much shorter daytime and longer nighttime in the winter and experience the opposite in the summer. Thus, their work hours fluctuate a lot by season. On the other hand, dwellers of megacities and workers of IT industries can spend active 24 hours if they choose to do so. Very different lifestyles in modern times.
What about hunter-gatherers? They seem to have spent only a few hours to get their day’s food. Easier life? Actually, they collected only two or three calories for every calorie they invested. That is much less efficient compared with farmers who harvested 33 calories per calorie-work in ancient times. Today, they earn 300 calories per 1 calorie investment.
How humans have evolved their workstyles?
Enjoy reading the article and think which work-life might suit you the best.


Topic Reading-Vol.2901-3/21/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The rules of video conferencing at home
COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, has been disrupting many businesses and activities around the world. Airlines, hotels, restaurants, and concerts and events are losing as the passengers, guests, customers, and audiences have no choice but to give up outing and stay home. Even production lines have been and are going to be stopped as their supply chain is cut, and their workers are unable to come to the factory. However, online businesses and services are flourishing amid the pandemic. For example, online retailers are experiencing unprecedented businesses at this time of year without special promotions and having difficulty catching up with surging orders. Also, video conference services and apps are on the rise as more and more people are now working from home. Indeed, a new norm is being set to avoid contacting directly to one another.
As you can imagine, you don’t need to dress up or commute when you work from home. However, when you have a video meeting or conference, you need to present yourself appropriately, at least your upper body and background even however messy the other part of yourself and the room are.
Enjoy reading a few tips about how to properly take part in video conferencing at home.


Topic Reading-Vol.2900-3/20/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The Cashmere crisis in the Himalayan ice desert
Cashmere wool is fiber taken from cashmere goats. Because of its fine, strong, light, soft, and high insulating features, cashmere wool is highly valued around the world. The soft hair is actually the undercoat of Cashmere goats which live in an unforgiving mountainous region in the Ladakh Range and the Changthang plateau where average altitude reaches six kilometers high and the winter temperatures could mark -40 degrees Celsius. The severe conditions stimulate the growth of the goat’s soft undercoat, which is essential for the goats and valuable for humans.
But because of climate change and wildlife conservation programs, both of which are initiated by humans, the environment of the roof-of-the-world is changing.
Enjoy reading the article and seeing staggering photos of lives in the Changthang plateau.


Topic Reading-Vol.2899-3/19/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Amazon's Just Walk Out till-free tech offered to rivals
Contact-free service probably is what is most demanded by both shoppers and stores these days when coronavirus outbreak has spread beyond borders and continents. Already, numbers of self-service checkout counters and stores are being operated in China and the US where retailers are competing to offer easy and convenient services to their customers while cutting the labor costs. Recently, Amazon added Amazon Go Grocery, which offers everything customers would want from a neighborhood grocery store—from fresh produce and meat and seafood to bakery items and household essentials—plus easy-to-make dinner options. It deploys Just Walk Out Technology, which automatically detects when products are taken from or returned to the shelves and keeps track of them in a virtual cart. Shoppers can just leave the store when they finished picking up the items they wanted. The payment is done through their Amazon account, just like online shopping.
Now, Amazon offers this walk-out technology to other brick-and-mortar retailers. Though initial investment to set numbers of instore cameras and other equipment is quite high, customers may prefer such cashier-free shopping to avoid human contacts.
How popular will this technology become and how soon?
Enjoy reading the article and think if you want to just walk out of the grocery store.


Topic Reading-Vol.2898-3/18/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,

IBM wants to make computers fluent in human
What does being fluent in a human language mean? Nowadays, you may find it quite advanced and sophisticated when you speak to a voice recognition device or app, provided that your pronunciation and intonation are clear, and your language is proper. Also, you might have already used a system that creates meeting minutes, which requires a capability to distinguish who spoke what during the meeting. However, the accuracy is still depending on how properly speakers speak the language.
In the near future, naturally spoken languages can be recognized by advanced AI-powered speech recognition systems. For example, even local dialects or figurative expressions will be decoded, properly texted, and sorted. Also, a huge amount of documents can be summarized, or specific information can be extracted from the document in a matter of minutes. Such capability will help humans to work on more complicated work instead of spending a lot of time on reading and scanning documents.
Enjoy reading the article and think about what your job will be like a few years from now.


Topic Reading-Vol.2897-3/17/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Is this the digital future for Bank of England banknotes?
Which money do you prefer, paper or digital? While many people still prefer using hard cash like Japan or Italy, people in America and Korea have been used to use plastic cards like Visa or Master. In China, most of the consumers seem to have abandoned the use of cash or card and instead, pay nearly everything by their smartphones. So, what is the future of currency?
Now, the Bank of England is thinking about introducing electronic banknotes for consumers and businesses. It is not intended to replace paper banknotes but to complement them. The digital currency is not the money currently held in the bank or transmitted among individuals and businesses. Unlike encrypted currencies, it is a new form of money issued by the central bank and is guaranteed to have the same value as already issued paper money. So, instead of withdrawing banknotes from an ATM, you could load digital money to your account.
Sounds assured? You may have a choice in the future if you want the salary paid by paper or digital.
Enjoy reading the article and think if digital currency adds more benefits or convenience.


Topic Reading-Vol.2896-3/16/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Is it allergies, the flu or the coronavirus? How to tell the difference
You see more people wearing a facial mask these days if they get any. The number of confirmed coronavirus patients has already exceeded 100,000 around the world. You may wonder if any of the symptoms you suffer from, such as the stuffy nose, sore throat, or sneezing is a sign of being infected by a bad cold or the flu, if not the novel coronavirus. Are there any easy and simple ways to tell the difference between allergy and virus infection?
In fact, though symptoms vary by individuals, there are relatively clear distinctions in the symptoms of allergy/flu and the flu/coronavirus, such as fever, fatigue, and body aches. They sound simple enough even for a schoolchild to understand. But there are common symptoms between the seasonal flu or cold and coronavirus, such as fever, body aches, fatigue, and coughs. So, how can you tell if you need an emergency care service or not? It is shortness of breath.
Enjoy reading the article and learn which action you should take, get a pain reliever, take an allergy relief, go to the doctor, or call the coronavirus hotline.


Topic Reading-Vol.2895-3/15/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
How to keep your workplace clean -- and yourself healthy -- during the novel coronavirus outbreak
Clean your room, your parent might have said to you at some point in your childhood.
Sanitized. You might have seen a label like that in your hotel bathroom.
Now, under the pandemic of the novel virus, COVID-19, you may find Disinfected signs more in public places, stores, and even offices, where many of you spend longer waking time than home. So, why not making your workplace safer? Here are some tips.
First, cleaning does remove dirt from the surface but only reduces the number of germs. It is still the primary action to protect you and your place. Wash your hands properly.
Sanitizing is another way to reduce the risk of infection. It kills germs though not as thoroughly are disinfection. There are handy sanitizing products available in the market. It also substitutes handwashing when water is not available.
Then disinfecting, which kills germs on surfaces. Though it doesn’t make the surface visibly cleaner, it does kill germs effectively when the disinfected surface is kept for a few minutes before touched or used again.
Lastly, you may also want to avoid shaking hands or talking too closely with others, not to mention hugging or kissing. If you want to be friendly even at this difficult time, you may greet or show your appreciation by gestures or signs, as well as smiling and waving.
Enjoy reading the article and think which strategy you would deploy to defend yourself from the invisible, stealth enemy.


Topic Reading-Vol.2894-3/14/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
A Komodo dragon with no male partner gave birth to three hatchlings
Komodo dragons are the largest, heaviest lizards in the world — and one of the few with a venomous bite. Komodo dragons live only in a few Indonesian islands of the Lesser Sunda group. They live in tropical savanna forests but range widely over the islands, from the beach to the ridge top. These stealthy hunters use their sense of smell to detect food, or prey, with their long tongues to sample the air.
Although male dragons usually grow larger than females, no obvious structural differences are seen between the sexes. However, dominant males compete for females in ritual combat. Once mated, female Komodo dragons usually lay about 30 eggs at a time.
Last year, in the Chattanooga Zoo Chattanooga Zoo' in Tennessee, USA, a female Komodo gave birth to three hatchlings without mating with a male partner. It is called pathogenesis, a type of reproduction in which living things develop from eggs that have not been fertilized. The rare reproduction occurs when another egg, rather than sperm, fertilizes an egg. It is welcomed by researchers and zoologists since the Komodo dragon is listed as vulnerable to extinction.
What are the roles of male Komodo dragons now?
Enjoy reading the article and learn about the Komodo dragon and pathogenesis reproduction.


Topic Reading-Vol.2893-3/13/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Should working while you commute count as paid time?
If you’re a train commuter, do you often work on the train to or from the office? If you do, is the time you’ve worked on the train paid? Most would say no because it is before or after work hours. But what is the difference between overtime in the office and overwork on the train? The answer may vary by the type of job. A store clerk or baggage handler can’t do their jobs offsite while a sales representative or event coordinator can write reports or respond to emails on the train without being interrupted by their bosses or phone calls. In fact, there are increasingly more people working at home because of the outbreak of coronavirus. Then, what is the difference between working at home and on the train?
Nowadays, many trains offer free wi-fi for passengers. Though many of them simply watch videos, play games, or read e-books or digital papers to kill their time or just to relax, some people work desperately to catch up with their work. In the meantime, more people are now missing the boundaries between work and home, working on the way to or from work might help such workers refrain from bringing their work to home, or simply make them work longer.
In any case, should such work time be paid?
Enjoy reading the article and think if you prefer working on the train in the first place either you are paid or not.


Topic Reading-Vol.2892-3/12/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Smartphones may make your headaches worse, study finds
Do you suffer from a headache often? If yes, how and how long do you use your smartphone? If you use a smartphone for hours every day, it might take longer or more painkillers to recover from a headache, according to a study conducted in India.
One possible cause for a slower recovery is “text neck.” It means that you bend your neck to scroll through your smartphone often and for a long time. That’s because your spine gets strain as much as 10 kilograms or more. Another cause is that your eyes are strained when you focus on the screen, hold it too close to your eyes, and use the phone too long.
Though the correlation between a headache and these physical strains aren’t clear, it seems that excessive use of a smartphone seems to deteriorate the recovery from a headache.
Though the study was conducted only to those who use smartphones a lot, what about online game players who spend hours with their tiny machines?
Enjoy reading the article and rethink how and how long you want to use your smartphone.


Topic Reading-Vol.2891-3/11/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Gender study finds 90% of people are biased against women
With exceptions in several countries, mainly in Islamic states, women are granted the same rights as men by law, or gender is not specified in laws. However, in practice and perception, women are not treated or viewed equally as men. There seem to be a distinctive barrier of bias and prejudices in many places in the worlds though the level of inequality varies by country and culture.
The UN Gender Social Norms index examined biases in politics and education in 75 states and found that nearly half of men think they have more right to a job than women. That limits the opportunities for women to get a job as there are substantially more male managers and employers in businesses and government offices. Gender bias and prejudices need to be reduced and removed for gender equality.
Enjoy reading the article and learn about the gender gap existing in people’s minds.


Topic Reading-Vol.2890-3/10/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Why do we need leap years?
We had the 29th day in February this year. You might remember that we have an extra day when we have the Olympic Games. Yes, 2020 is a leap year. But do you know why we need to add an extra day every four years?
An extra day is added to the calendar at the end of February every four years, or in a leap year, making the year 366 days. The extra day adjusts the variance between the 365-day calendar and the actual time, 365.24 days, for Earth to rotate the sun. The leap years were set when the Gregorian calendar was created by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582.
But is that it? You might have realized that the additional time to orbit the sun is 0.24 days to 365 days, NOT 0.25 days. What does the calendar do with the variance?
Enjoy reading the article and learn about the mechanism and origin of leap years.


Topic Reading-Vol.2889-3/9/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Coronavirus: Vietnam's handwashing song goes global
The very basic to avoid infection of Covid-19, the novel coronavirus is to wash hands properly.
According to the health ministry of Vietnam, there are six steps for washing hands. But no matter how effective the procedure is, it’s not easy to learn and practice it in daily life. So, a popular dancer and the health ministry came up with an online dance video to show how to wash hands properly. And you know what? The video went viral on TikTok and spurred a lot of people to take part in the dance challenge.
While the novel virus is spreading rapidly beyond borders, dancing videos to fight against it is also spreading around the world. May the force of the viral video be with you to fight the dark virus.
Enjoy watching the video and learn how to wash your hands properly.


Topic Reading-Vol.2888-3/8/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
New nose mask reduces infection risk during mealtimes
Coronavirus could infect anyone regardless of the gender, age, nationality or profession. Thousands of medical staff are working day and night in the epicenter of coronavirus, Wuhan, China. While they are treating and caring those who are or likely infected, they aren’t immune from this deadly virus even with the protective suits and masks. In fact, numbers of doctors and nurses have been infected, and some of them lost their lives.
In order to keep those frontline workers less vulnerable to the virus infections, one of the doctors there came up with an idea to reduce the risk of contracting the virus while eating or drinking. Though it is unsure how much this half-mask prevents virus infections among the frontline workers, anything that reduces the risk of infection is welcomed.
Enjoy reading the article and seeing the photos and think how courageous those frontline workers are.


Topic Reading-Vol.2887-3/7/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
How to calculate your dog’s real age
Many dog owners may wonder how old their loved pet dogs are. Usually, age refers to the chronological age, the actual amount of time a dog has been alive. It is widely thought that each year, a dog gets seven years older. But some may know that dogs age 12 human years in each of their first two years and four human years in every following year. For example, a dog that was born five years ago is 36 human years old as calculated: 12 x 2 + 4 x 3.
However, chronological age doesn’t take any breed or individual factor into account. In fact, life expectancy varies widely by breed. For example, while smaller dogs often live over 15–16 years, medium and large size dogs usually live between 10 to 13 years. Also, there is a wide gap in living conditions, nutrition, and biomarkers, such as gene expression and immune cells, just like humans.
So, you can tell the approximate age of your pet dog chronologically, but actual biological age is hard to calculate. But perhaps, you also find their aging process by monitoring their daily activities and individual behaviors, such as how much and fast it eats or runs, how playful it is, or how quickly it moves and reacts.
Enjoy reading the article and learn how dogs age chronologically and biologically.


Topic Reading-Vol.2886-3/6/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
As work resumes in outbreak, brand-new 'normal' emerges
Though the coronavirus outbreak is spreading to the world, businesses and services have resumed operations gradually and carefully in China. Of course, it’ll take some time to get back to normal, but it seems that the new normal is setting in China. For example, people are asked to commute earlier or later than before to avoid congestion on public transportation. When they arrive at the office building, they may find elevators aren’t shared by others in some buildings. In other words, one can occupy an elevator by himself or herself. What a luxury! In the office, employees with their facemasks on are seated a meter or more away from others. It looks quite solemn. In the cafeteria, they are encouraged to bring their own utensils. Also, more employees are assigned or encouraged to work at home. They no longer have to shave or make up, wear a business suit, or commute to their offices. Instead, they may now need to clean the house in case of a video conference. Teachers are also changing. They are now using more high-tech tools to run their classes online. Different skill sets are needed to keep their jobs.
No one knows how different the new normal is going to be and for how long it’ll last, but the world is surely changing.
Enjoy reading and learn what is happening in the aftermath, hopefully, of the novel virus in China.


Topic Reading-Vol.2885-3/5/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Children facing uncertain future, experts warn
Despite the agreement on 17 sustainable development goals, SDGs, in 2015, very little improvement has seen in hunger, poverty, and climate action in the world. Those who have been enjoying their lives and dying within the next few decades especially in developed countries don’t seem to care so much about climate change. However, those who are growing now are going to have to live in the world that faces a rise in ocean levels, heatwaves, malnutrition and infectious diseases like malaria as a result of global warming. They are also threatened by another human-created health problem, junk foods, and sugary drinks. Over two billion people including children, or roughly 30% of the world’s population, are overweight while 150 million children suffer malnutrition. TV commercials and target ads in social media that promote unhealthy foods and drinks are to blame. Both climate change and junk food ads are created by adults and are threatening the future of their offspring. Does any other creature on the planet do such a self-destructive act?
Read the article and think if human ingenuity is going to save or keep harming the future.


Topic Reading-Vol.2884-3/4/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
China may send ducks to battle Pakistan's locust swarms
As said in Vol.2860 on February 9th, grasshoppers are usually solitary and harmless to humans. However, under certain circumstances, they change their behavior and habits and become more abundant, gregarious, and nomadic, called locusts. Although an adult locust eats its own weight in food daily, or about one half of a gram, when they become gregarious, they eat more and travel over 100 kilometers in a day and eat anything they find on the way.
Now, locusts have invaded and devastated in Pakistan, causing the worst infestation in two decades. One of its neighbors, China, which has been busy fighting coronavirus for two months, is trying to give Pakistan their hands to combat the locust swarms. This time, not with high-tech machines like drones or artificial pesticides but with a natural predator, ducks. They eat over 200 locusts a day, three times more than chickens do. Furthermore, they’ll provide eggs and meat when they retire from their jobs. Sounds like a win-win solution, doesn’t it?
Enjoy reading the article and think if humans can make use of the natural food chain to solve a problem in nature.


Topic Reading-Vol.2883-3/3/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
21 of the world's 30 cities with the worst air pollution are in India
As many as seven million people die each year because of air pollution, according to the World Health Organization, WHO. South Asia has the most air-polluted cities with 27 of the 30 most polluted cities in India, Pakistan or Bangladesh. For example, the air quality index level of New Delhi, the capital of India, was more than three times the "hazardous" level.
Exposure to small particles, which are smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, are called PM 2.5 and could cause lung and heart disorders and also damage cognitive and immune functions. Rapid urbanization and moralization are to blame for the poor air quality in those major cities. Also, burning coal to generate power, cook meals, and warm houses pollute the air. While large cities in the most populous country, China, have been improving the air quality, those in the second-most populous country, India, have poor air quality as 21 of which are ranked within the world’s top 30 air-polluted cities.
What is it like to live in such cities?
Enjoy reading the article and seeing the video to learn about today’s air pollution problems in South Asia.


Topic Reading-Vol.2882-3/2/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
World planking record set by ex-marine, aged 62
Planking is one of the most effective bodyweight exercises. All you need to do is to maintain a position similar to a push-up as long as you can. Planking develops core muscles in a relatively short span of time but it doesn’t require any equipment and can be performed almost anywhere and anytime. There are some variations for planking, such as knee plank and side plank but the most common way to perform a plank forearm plank, which is slightly easier than holding your body up with just your hands. You may find it not-so-demanding to hold your position for a short time but how long do you think you hold the position?
There is an ex-marine who recently broke the world record at the age of 62. What helped him to sustain the position for over eight hours was a smartphone that showed him videos.
What sort of videos encouraged the physically old man to break the world record?
Enjoy reading the article and seeing the video to learn what encourages a human to outperform his own limitations.


Topic Reading-Vol.2881-3/1/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Encephalitis: 'I couldn't remember my boyfriend'
Encephalitis [ɛnsɛfəˈlaɪtɪs] is an inflammation of the brain. It is caused mostly by an infection invading the brain but sometimes through the immune system attacking the brain by mistake. Anyone at any age can get this inflammatory disease, and each year, approximately half a million people suffer from Encephalitis in the world. Symptoms range from mild confusion or drowsiness to loss of consciousness and coma. Also, Encephalitis may cause longer onset, such as confusion, altered personality or behavior, movement disorders, seizures, and memory loss.
When a 23-year-old British woman got the herpes virus, it went into her throat and to her brain and erased her most recent five-year memory. She can’t remember anything she did after she was 17, including her study in sixth form and university, driving skill, and friends. Now she needs to reestablish the past and recent relationships with them, including her boyfriend. Also, she lost her sense of taste and smell, which, unfortunately, is not expected to recover.
Now, she is trying to re-establish the relationships with the help of her unknown friends.
Read the article and learn about how serious Encephalitis could be.