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Topic Reading-Vol.2941-4/30/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
With humans vulnerable: How about a digital helper?
To avoid human contacts, more people start using mobile payment tools instead of cash or plastic cards, just like most Chinese people have been doing. Likewise, more jobs are being replaced by robots and AI assistants instead of humans. Delivery robots in quarantine hotels and reception robots in hospitals, where more virus contacts are imminent. Now, thanks to recent AI technology and machine learning, those robots perform even more productively than human counterparts. Also, they can be programmed to understand and speak multiple languages, which cannot be performed by ordinary humans. Furthermore, they work 24/7 without break, save time for battery recharge, and totally immune to the coronavirus, so no need to put protective clothes or masks on. But today’s robots are not a superman. They are limited to perform the tasks they learned. It’s more productive to use them for specific jobs and environments where they can learn and perform better.
Enjoy reading the article and think which now you prefer to be instructed or supported, a human with a mask or a robot.


Topic Reading-Vol.2940-4/29/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Stressed pets: How to stop it now and when you go back to work
Recently, many pet owners are staying home all day because of the pandemic. These people may feel grateful to be with their beloved pet(s) longer than usual especially when they are frustrated by having been confined too long and worried about the future. They tend to give more attention and affection to their pets than usual. But do those pets really enjoy being with their owners so long every day?
According to experts, pet dogs or cats become more frustrated when they stay unusually longer time especially with children, who tend to bother their peace. Interestingly, pet animals have their own routine and way of enjoying their lives when their human companions are out. But they could be stressed when they are attended or annoyed in the supposedly solitary time.
Also, pet owners should know that when they are depressed or frustrated, their pets feel that, too, which could make those animals feel stressed.
The key to peace is routine for pet animals, just like humans. After all, most of the pet owners will go back to the old routine sooner or later, if they are fortunate.
Enjoy reading the article and learn how pets feel when their owners are around all day.


Topic Reading-Vol.2939-4/28/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Planned from scratch: Brasilia at 60 in pictures
Rio de Janeiro had been the capital of Brazil for nearly two centuries until 1960 when Brasilia was inaugurated. It sits the top of the Brazilian highlands in the country's center-western region where there had been nearly no inhabitants, towns, roads, or rails. In 1956, the nation decided to build a new capital city in the middle of nowhere. Its modern architecture, even a half a century later, was designed by renowned Brazilian architects, Lúcio Costa and Oscar Niemeyer. The construction of the main components completed in 1960, including the transportation and living infrastructure, buildings of three branches of the federal government, executive, legislative and judiciary, and housing buildings for the newly moved-in residents.
In 1987, Brasília was chosen as a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its modernist architecture and uniquely artistic urban planning. After a half-century, the city is lived by over four million people in the federation district. On April 21, Brasilia celebrated its 50th birthday.
Enjoy seeing the photos of the history of this still-modern purpose-built city


Topic Reading-Vol.2938-4/27/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
'Fake' meat on the menu as China reopens restaurants
China is slowly reopening business and consumer activities after the outbreak of the COVID-19. As airlines are trying to lure fliers with heavy price discounts (Vol.2936 on Apr.25), restaurants are introducing new menus to attract customers. One relatively new item to Chinese is meat substitutes. Unlike Westerners, Chinese people traditionally eat more vegetable-rich meals to live a healthy life. However, as more people become overweight and/or health-conscious, the demand for non-meat food seems to be on the rise especially after the novel virus outbreak. Now, Starbucks and KFC are adding plant-based food menus to revive their businesses. As more people become worried about the safety of wet markets, where fresh meat, fish, and other produce are sold, marketers are hoping to make such manufactured food items as popular as in the USA.
Well, if there are over 3,000 Starbucks and nearly 6,000 KFC restaurants across the country, many Chinese people will find meat-free sandwiches and nuggets quite soon.
Enjoy reading the article and think which dumplings you want to have, traditional ones, or artificial ones.


Topic Reading-Vol.2937-4/26/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The reason Zoom calls drain your energy
Work from home, online class, web meeting, video interview, and web party and happy-hour, video conferences are on the rise. To support such video meetings, there are casual apps like House Party, Google Hangouts and Zoom, as well as business tools like Cisco’s Webex, Microsoft’s Teams or San Jose-based BlueJeans easily available and widely being used.
But if you ever have taken part in a video event, you might have found it more tiring than face-to-face events even in a short time. There are several factors that seem to make the participants more intense and stressful than in-person interactions. For example, you are watched just like you watch others entirely during the meeting that’s because unlike physical meetings, no one sits beside or behind you but in front of you. Also, silence becomes more pressing in a video meeting than a face-to-face conference. You naturally try to be more performative than usual and end up finding exhausted. Also, work from home means everything happens in the same enclosed space with the same members almost all the time, who usually spend their time in different places.
It seems to be the time to reset workplace wellbeing under this very different work and living environment.
Enjoy reading the article and think about how you are going to manage online interactions.


Topic Reading-Vol.2936-4/25/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Chinese airlines offer insanely cheap deals to lure back travelers
Many Chinese people missed the biggest traveling season, the Spring Festival in February because of the outbreak of COVID-19. Since then, travels both in the air and on the rails have been largely restricted or limited for whether business or leisure.
Airlines lose money by either grounding airplanes or flying with empty seats. So, as travel restrictions are eased before upcoming Labor Day holidays (May 1-5), airlines started offering deals that could be seen as mistakes, such as a price as low as a vegetable and buy one get another seat free. But will such ultra-low fares bring fliers back to the cabin? Does anyone dare to sit in a middle seat of a jammed flight when no cure or vaccine has been developed for the novel virus? Those who want to avoid such risks, some airlines came up with anti-coronavirus flight packages. For example, a multi-seat option offers empty surrounding seats for the price of a seat. Also, some airlines include coronavirus insurance and an anti-virus pack with face masks and anti-bacterial wipes in the fares.
Will such deals make you feel safer to fly now?
Enjoy reading the article and learn about what you could expect in the travel industry once the travel restrictions are eased.


Topic Reading-Vol.2935-4/24/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Climate change: US megadrought 'already under way'
Megadrought is a long-lasting naturally occurring drought that lasts decades. It seems to occur in North America when water temperatures in the tropical eastern Pacific Ocean become cooler than normal, known as La Niña conditions. Researchers think there were four megadroughts in the western US for the last 12 centuries, in the late 800s, the mid-1100s, the 1200s, and the late 1500s. Historically, megadroughts forced the residents in the affected area to migrate to other places, which could have collapsed civilizations like the Khmer Empire of Cambodia and the Mayan of Mesoamerica.
Now, some researchers say a new megadrought has been taking place in the western US since the new millennium. Though megadrought is a naturally occurring event, the severity could be affected by climate change. Since temperatures in the western US have risen by 1.2C since the year 2000, more moisture is being pulled out of the ground.
By the way, how do researchers know what drought conditions were like in the past?
Enjoy reading the article and learn about megadrought, and also think if you want to stock up California almonds, raisins, and wines.


Topic Reading-Vol.2934-4/23/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Meet the 73-year-old 'skipping Sikh' raising money to fight the coronavirus crisis
It does not have to be a celebrity or politician to raise money to help fight the outbreak of coronavirus. In the UK, Thomas Moore, a 99-year-old retired army officer completed 100 laps of his garden in time for his 100th birthday in an attempt to raise £1,000 for National Health Service. He ended up raising £26.2 million in a few weeks.
A younger British civilian, 73-year old Rajinder Singh, is trying to raise money and also to encourage people at home to keep fit during the lockdown by showing videos of his exercises. "The skipping Sikh" went viral on social media. As Sikh temples have been forced to close down during the lockdown, Singh and his close friends have been isolated for some time. So, he combined two of his passions in short videos, sport and helping others. He also shows off other in-room and in-yard exercises in videos. He hopes to walk along with Tom Moore when the lockdown is lifted.
Enjoy reading the article and seeing the video and think about what you can do to help others during these difficult times.


Topic Reading-Vol.2933-4/22/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Burger King 'plant-based' Whopper ads banned
The Rebel Whopper is a plant-based sandwich by Burger King. It is made with a grilled soy patty, tomatoes, lettuce, mayonnaise, ketchup, pickles, onions, and a sesame seed bun. Though the ingredients sound green enough to claim as a plant-based burger, there is mayonnaise in it, which could be opted out. Also, it is grilled alongside with other meaty products, which makes strict vegans and vegetarians frown.
The burger chain claims that it is clear and transparent that the burger contains no beef. However, The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), the British self-regulatory organization of the advertising industry, judged that the "100% Whopper, no beef" claim could give consumers the impression that the Rebel Whopper is an animal-free sandwich.
Halal, Kosher, Vegetarian and Vegan, each of which has strict rules and expectations.
Food producers and servers are expected not only to abide by the respective guidelines but also to communicate clearly and faithfully to their customers.
Enjoy reading the article and think if vegetarians or vegans would dare to go to a burger restaurant in the first place.


Topic Reading-Vol.2932-4/21/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Airline passengers undergo COVID-19 blood tests before boarding
A new norm for air travel? Passengers of an Emirates flight to Tunisia are now tested their blood at Dubai International Airport. The 10-minute test checks if the passenger’s blood has increased antibodies. If the person is exposed to the virus, antibodies are developed to fight against it. Even though the test does not diagnose if the person is actually infected by the virus or not, it helps the person, airline, and health authority to decide whether he/she should fly or not.
Will such a medical check become a standard procedure to board an airplane or ship? Will you feel safer to have all the fellow passengers tested before boarding?
One thing is for sure. You need to arrive at the airport earlier than before.
Enjoy reading the article and learn about this new preboarding protocol at the airport.


Topic Reading-Vol.2931-4/20/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Dutch Hyperloop plan eyes Paris to Amsterdam in 90 minutes
Originally proposed by Elon Musk’s Tesla and SpaceX, Hyperloop is a high-speed transportation system whose pod in a sealed tube could travel at the speed of an airliner.
Inside the low-pressured sealed tube, a pod can travel with minimal air resistance or friction. This could save time for traveling while reducing fuel energy consumption. It sounds like a good alternative to air traveling. A recent study suggests that Hyperloop could transport as many as 200,000 passengers per hour, per direction between Amsterdam and Paris. It takes only in an hour and a half, less than half the time of today’s train travel.
The question is if such a new form of fast transportation meets the interests of investors, passengers, and environmentalists. Will it deliver a handsome return on investment? How much more money will passengers have to pay to save 90 minutes? Will it really reduce the use of fossil fuels without adding carbon footprint? Also, will that be a better alternative than other ground transportation like Maglev or highspeed railways?
Enjoy reading the article and think if the world will see this quite different form of transportation in the near future.


Topic Reading-Vol.2930-4/19/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
A zoo is struggling so much that it may have to feed some animals to other animals
Zoo animals need to be fed and cared for even though there are no visitors. Just like the captive elephants in Thailand, a zoo in northern Germany is facing a serious financial crisis as no revenue has been generated from visitors for a month. The zoo is currently operating solely through donations as no financial aid is granted by city or state government as of Apr.15.
In the worst-case scenario, the zoo might have to decide whether to have their animals starve to death slowly or euthanize some of the 700 animals to feed the others.
And this isn’t the only zoo that needs financial and public support to feed and care for zoo animals. Of course, the zookeepers are in the toughest position. They not only worrying about feeding their beloved animals but also losing their jobs.
Read the article and think about what other animals, whether in captivity or in the wild, could face a similar problem because of the pandemic.


Topic Reading-Vol.2929-4/18/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
'Rice ATMs' provide free rice for people out of work in Vietnam due to the coronavirus crisis
The population of Vietnam is nearly 100 million. The country stretches over a thousand miles from north to south sharing its land borders with China to the north and Laos and Cambodia to the west. You can easily assume that there are quite a lot of interactions with its neighboring countries. However, as of April 15, Vietnam officially has just 266 coronavirus cases and zero deaths related to the novel virus, which is significantly lower than any other country of that size. The government started enforcing social distancing throughout the country on 31 March. Many businesses have been affected by the measure and many people were laid off or reduced pays. Though the majority of them still seem to support the government initiatives, there are people who have difficulty getting food on the table. To help those in need the most, some philanthropists set up vending machines to dispense free rice. Those who want to get free rice are required to stand two meters apart from each other to get rice without human contact.
Rice dispensers, or rice ATMs (Automated Teller Machine), are going to be needed more as the nation’s social distancing policy doesn’t seem to end anytime soon.
Enjoy reading the article and think about what could help the people in need the most during this difficult time.


Topic Reading-Vol.2928-4/17/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Deadly olive tree disease across Europe 'could cost billions'
Xylella fastidiosa is an aerobic, Gram-negative bacterium of the monotypic genus Xylella. It is considered to be one of the most dangerous pathogens for plants as no cure for the infection has been found yet. Xylella could infect cherry, almond, plum trees, and olives. In Europe, olive trees were the main victim of the pathogens. Once infected, the tree is limited the ability to move water and nutrients, thus it withers and dies.
For the world’s three largest olive oil producers, Spain, Greece, and Italy, this bacterium is as deadly as coronavirus to the economy. Though trees don’t move around to spread the disease like careless humans, insects do. Until researchers come up with the disease-resistant trees, the only way to cope with this disease is to remove infected trees. Now, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has been devastating Italy, this olive killer bacterium is spreading across the country’s plantations. For those who depend on olive oil for their cooking and dining, this could have a huge impact on their diet and wallet.
Read the article and learn about an outbreak of this deadly plant pathogen.


Topic Reading-Vol.2927-4/16/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
What will travel look like after coronavirus?
Not knowing when travel restrictions are going to be lifted, it seems way too early for business travelers or vacationers to plan their trips in the midst of coronavirus pandemic. But for the travel industry, it is time to plan not only how long they need to hibernate but also how quickly they recover from the hibernation. As travelers’ perceptions and expectations are going to change after the crisis, there will be new practices and norms for traveling.
For example,
Cruise ship dining: All you can eat buffet at a dining hall => In-room a la carte dining
Hotels: Upgrade to a suite room => Upgrade to a thoroughly sanitized and disinfected room
Onboard announcement: Always keep your seatbelt fastened during flight => Always keep your mouth covered with a mask while on board.
Good news is that you’ll find a lot of very good deals when the industry tries to recover from the travel restrictions.
Enjoy reading the article and think when you would start planning your next trip.


Topic Reading-Vol.2926-4/15/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Coronavirus: The children struggling to survive India's lockdown
On March 24, India shut its $2.9 trillion economy, closing its businesses and issuing strict stay-at-home orders to nearly 1.4 billion citizens. Air, road, and rail transport systems have been suspended ever since. Furthermore, this nationwide lockdown is now extended for an unspecified period.
Under such circumstances, those who can afford to click-to-order daily necessities from online merchandisers or watch videos online at home seem to get along with the new norm OK as long as they can keep their jobs. In the meantime, the most vulnerable in such a strict lockdown are street children who depend on daily activities on the street where they aren’t allowed to be at the moment. Without going out, they have no source of income or food. To make the situation even worse, those who try to help them also have lost access to hungry children because their services aren’t regarded as essential, at least as of now.
How will the desperate children survive in such a restrictive situation for so long?
Read the article and think about how the children in need could be helped during the strict lockdown.


Topic Reading-Vol.2925-4/14/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The pandemic is playing to almost every one of Amazon's strengths
Can’t go out for shopping, order from Amazon. Want to see a movie or drama, find one at Netflix. Work from home, use an online meeting platform like Zoom. Whichever the case is, Amazon most likely gets business. Amazon generates business not only from shipping merchandise from its fulfillment centers but also from web services, called AWS, Amazon Web Services, which owns the largest space share in cloud services.
Amazon is no exception from coronavirus pandemic as their employees have been infected. They have recently had to hire 100,000 new employees to fill the backlogged orders across the US. But as more people spend a longer time at home, their businesses are growing at a pace when every day is like a holiday.
Enjoy reading the article and learn how a well-established business can grow at a time of difficulty.


Topic Reading-Vol.2924-4/13/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
People in India can see the Himalayas for the first time in 'decades,' as the lockdown eases air pollution
Jalandhar is a city in Punjab, a state in northern India. It lies a little over 160 kilometers away from the Himalayans. The residents of the city used to enjoy seeing faraway views of the world’s highest mountain range when the sky was clear. However, for the last few decades, the sky has never been clear due to air pollutions. Now, because of the nationwide lockdown to contain coronavirus outbreak, the sky is clearer than ever before, and therefore, young residents of the city can see the invisible mountains for the first time. Since there aren’t so many things they can do these days, such an unexpected gift seems to have surprised and comforted the residents, who know quite well that the magnificent view will disappear when the lockdown is lifted
Enjoy seeing the photos and reading the article about this surprise gift by a nationwide lockdown.


Topic Reading-Vol.2923-4/12/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
How new technology is transforming Vietnam's economy
Vietnam is a unitary Marxist-Leninist one-party socialist republic country. But its economic policies have grown increasingly capitalist since the reform in 1986. With the nearly 100 million relatively young population, Vietnam’s economy is booming with competitive industries in textiles, agriculture, furniture, plastics, paper, tourism, and telecommunications.
Since many Vietnamese are used to doing things online with their smartphones, gaming and e-commerce platform ventures are building solid businesses like China. In the meantime, there are manufactures that are aiming environmentally and socially sustainable growth.
Want to know some examples?
Enjoy reading about these growing business in Vietnam.


Topic Reading-Vol.2922-4/11/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
City where virus emerged ends lockdown
The lockdown was lifted in Wuhan, the original epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the city recorded almost no new local infections in recent weeks, travel restrictions are being eased gradually. Borders to the metropolis of 11 million are reopened while some restrictions still remain in place. The 76-day lockdown was an unprecedented effort to contain the outbreak. The residents had to endure a very difficult time for such a long period of time. What was the life like being locked down for over 10 weeks? How did they manage it? What did they learn from it?
Enjoy watching the video about what some of the residents say to the world.


Topic Reading-Vol.2921-4/10/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Drive-through funerals are being held in the epicenter of Spain's coronavirus pandemic
Madrid is the capital of Spain and is also the epicenter of COVID-19, accounting for 40% of the nation’s coronavirus deaths. As so many more people are dying every day, funeral and burying resources, such as hearses, priests, and gravediggers, are all stretched to the limit. But the most difficult ones are those who are left by the dead. Because of the strict restrictions by the government, only as many as five mourners are allowed to pay their final respect. But they are not allowed to see or touch their loved one or even the casket. In fact, the quick service is held outside the church building while the casket is still inside the hearse. You don’t want to send your loved one like this drive-through funeral.
In Spain alone, over 13,000 people have died only in a few weeks, the second most deaths after Italy in Europe. A very difficult time, indeed.
Read the article and watch the video and learn what’s it’s like to send your loved one in such an unusual way.


Topic Reading-Vol.2920-4/9/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Online or offline? Education sector ponders its future
Nearly 300 million students, ranging from kindergarten to college students in China are now taking online classes in some way or another because of the COVID-19 pandemic. While textbooks are being handed to students and their parents by masked and protected teachers (Vol.2919), it seems still too early to resume onsite classes in most places. But how much and how long will online classes take place for onsite classes in China? Also, which do students, who have grown with digital gadgets, prefer studying, online or offline? It may be depending on the subject or activity rather than all or nothing choice.
Enjoy reading the article and think about how schools will be running classes after the pandemic.


Topic Reading-Vol.2919-4/8/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Teachers distribute textbooks via non-contact method
After over two months of lockdowns and social distancing to cope with COVID-19, China seems to be returning to normal lives. However, things seem to be done very differently to refrain from spreading the virus again. To prepare for the coming new semester, new textbooks are being handed to the parents of primary students. But if you see the photos, you’ll find them look very unusual for the occasion. Both the school staff and the parents are wearing protective masks and gloves as if they are in a hospital or disease control center. And you know what? Classes are going to be held online. Never be too careful.
Enjoy seeing the photos and think if this is going to be the new norm this year and beyond.


Topic Reading-Vol.2918-4/7/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Trump says Harry and Meghan must pay for security
Amid COVID-19 pandemic, the President of the most wealthy and powerful nation tweeted about the money for a royal family from the closest ally. Recently, Prince Harry his wife Meghan and their sun Archie moved from Canada to California where Meghan used to live. Though Harry doesn’t have any royal duties any longer, he’s still a prince and a grandson of Queen Elizabeth II. Why the US president tweeted such a mean message to the public while Harry’s father was infected by the coronavirus and the world and his own country are both struggling to cope with the pandemic? Will that statement buy more votes at the next election?
Whatever the President says in Washington DC, it is the local police that needs to worry about their security.
Enjoy reading the article and think what the tweet was for.
(The number of confirmed cases and the death toll by COVID-19 are both much higher from the date this article was published on Mar. 29.)


Topic Reading-Vol.2917-4/6/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Canada's outlandish hair freezing contest offers much-needed laughs
Yukon is a westernmost territory of Canada with a population of just over 40,000. It borders Alaska to the west and British Colombia to the south. Though it is quite warm in summer, winter temperatures go below -20 degrees Celsius.
There is a popular tourist destination in this northern territory of Canada. Takhini Hot Pools. The hot springs pools are open year-round at relaxing temperatures between 36° and 42° Celsius. The water is natural and rich in minerals. Sounds nice.
Some people visit the hot springs in winter not only to enjoy the warm water but also the cold air. This past winter season, 288 people took part in the annual Hair Freezing Contest. What sort of contest is that?
Enjoy seeing the photos of the winners of 2019-2020 season and learn how to create such extraordinary hair artwork.


Topic Reading-Vol.2916-4/5/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Coronavirus: Thai elephants face starvation as tourism collapses
In Thailand, elephants are very important. They have been referred to in many artworks, literature, and national emblems. Elephants are also regarded as sacred animals in the Buddhist country. There used to be over 100,000 domesticated elephants in the country but now there are fewer than 5,000 of them in captivity or in the wild.
Elephants consume 100-200 kilograms of food daily, or approximately 5% of their body weight. Their diet includes bananas, leaves, bamboo, tree bark, and other fruits. Financially, tourism plays a vital role to feed over 3,000 captive elephants in Thailand. However, there are almost no tourists recently because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Without revenues, caretakers are running around to get as much food as they can get. Though elephants aren’t infected by the deadly novel virus, they are severely affected by the pandemic.
What about other animals in zoos?
Read the article and learn about one of the side effects of the coronavirus.  


Topic Reading-Vol.2915-4/4/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Zoo shares adorable pictures of orangutans playing with their otter friends
Otters have long, slim bodies and relatively short limbs. They are, by nature, playful in the water with their offspring, pups. They usually eat fish and live up to 16 years.
An orangutan has a large body, a thick neck, long and strong arms, short and bowed legs, and no tail. It is mostly covered with long, reddish-brown hair. Orangutans only live in the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra.
If you read these descriptions, they unlikely become good friends. However, in a zoo in Belgium, a family of orangutans and their cohabitants, otters, became close to each other. Since orangutans share 97% of their DNA with humans, they are very intelligent, sensitive, and emotional like us. Otters’ playful nature seems to be of interest to the intelligent primates there.
Enjoy seeing the photos of these unlikely friends in the zoo.


Topic Reading-Vol.2914-4/3/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Italy's coronavirus patients are dying alone
Social distancing for infected patients seems like total isolation. For those in the death bed, they have no one to talk to or to be comforted by. Just in one day, nearly 1,000 people passed away without being attended by their loved ones. Medical and funeral capacities have long been pushed to the limit. People’s hearts sank to the bottom while frustration is rising to the limit after being locked down over three weeks.
Watch the video and feel what their life and death are like in Italy’s epicenter of COVID-19.


Topic Reading-Vol.2913-4/2/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
How Russia is using authoritarian tech to curb coronavirus
Big Brother is a fictional character and the symbol in a famous novel Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell published seven decades ago. The ruling party of the fictional society has the total power over the inhabitants, and every citizen is under constant surveillance by the authority.
Now in 2020, some governments are increasingly getting logs of their people’s daily activities. Surveillance cameras, facial recognition technologies, geolocation records, and credit card and mobile payment transactions are used integratedly to identify individual’s movements and activities and when and where. This helps track coronavirus carriers and their contacts so that the authority can arrest those who violated quarantine or social distancing or warn who had close contacts with them.
Such surveillance and tracking by the government will raise privacy concerns and political backlash in normal times. However, the world is under pandemic and people tend to accept, or even welcome, such government intrusion of privacy to save their lives.
Is this going to be a new norm even after the pandemic is over?
Enjoy reading the article and think if you support such government initiatives to cope with the pandemic.


Topic Reading-Vol.2912-4/1/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Aydin Buyuktas bends drone images into otherworldly urban landscapes
This is no April fools or hoax but visual art. Bended drone photos. If you see any of these photos, you might remember Inception., a 2010 science fiction action film written and directed by Christopher Nolan. These surreal images were digitally curved and folded landscape of Istanbul where the photographer lives. Isn’t that incredible to see multi-dimensional views of those supposedly flat places?
Well if you lived in Rama, a cylindrical alien starship in a science fiction novel by British writer Arthur C. Clarke, you would see the world like this.
Enjoy seeing the extraordinary views of ordinary places.