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Topic Reading-Vol.3087-9/23/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Google says its carbon footprint is now zero
No business can be run without a carbon footprint. Even if all the electricity a company uses was generated by solar or wind power, the construction of the facility or production of those power generators and batteries emit greenhouse gasses. Also, even if all the employees commute by trains or electric vehicles, or work from home, electricity is consumed, which could have been generated by burning fossil fuel. However, rich companies like Google can offset their emission by planting trees or investing in green projects. Though it still leaves a carbon footprint in some way or another, a commitment to achieve zero carbon footprint is admirable, especially by a globally influential company like Google, which uses substantial electricity for its data centers. The competitors and other companies have no choice but to follow the suit to meet the new business standards and expectations. Indeed. To be competitive in advanced technologies, high-tech companies seem to need to advance in the environmental field as well.
Enjoy reading the article and learn about new Google’s move to the next level.


Topic Reading-Vol.3086-9/22/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Covid-19 Singapore: A ‘pandemic of inequality’ exposed
There are quite a few countries where wealthy citizens enjoy economic growth, urban development, and labor services that are supported by a large number of expatriates. For instance, around and over 70% of the populations of oil/gas-rich Qatar, UAE, and Kuwait are expatriates, many of whom have been building skyscrapers, constructing and repairing roads, and collecting garbage. Without their labor, the economies, and the daily lives of those city states can’t be sustained even for a day.
Singapore is no exception. Of the 5.7 million total population, nearly 1.7 million, or 30%, are non-residents, many of whom provide essential labor services for the residents of the city state. Though Singapore is a technologically advanced, tightly governed, and highly disciplined community, the conditions of those expats’ lives seem far below the ones of the citizens. Many of those expat workers came from India and Bangladesh to earn and send money to their families. They live in dorms where a dozen or more workers share a room, a limited number of toilets, and showers. Social distancing is hardly possible in such overcrowded dorms, and as a result, the Covid-19 cluster occurs here and there.
Someone says it’s a pandemic of inequality. The prime minister admitted that their actions to those dorms were not without shortcomings. One of the dorm’s occupants wants to be treated just like a human.
Read the article and learn about the living conditions of expats workers in Singapore, but not the financial elites who enjoy their lives in a high-rise apartment.


Topic Reading-Vol.3085-9/21/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Qantas offers a seven-hour flight to nowhere
While most travelers, whether on business or leisure, taking a flight is a measure to get to the destination, some people just want to fly to experience unusual environment and time. Unfortunately, most of the international flights from and to Australia are currently not in service due to travel restrictions. So, to entice pleasure fliers, Australia’s proud airline, Qantas, is flying a seven-hour scenic flight from Sydney to Sydney on October 10, covering Queensland, the Gold Coast, outback heartland, and the Great Barrier Reef, including a low flyover over some landmarks. Sounds exciting? Only 134 tickets for business, premium economy, and economy class were on sale, and believe or not, they all sold within 10 minutes despite what they look like regular fares. Did they charge any premium on window seats?
A boarding pass of Flight QF787 from SYD to SYD on 10/10/2020 may become premium.
Enjoy reading the article and think if you are interested in such a scenic flight.


Topic Reading-Vol.3084-9/20/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Israel's borders explained in maps
The State of Israel is a small country on the southeastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea and the northern shore of the Red Sea. It was established in May 1948 after the British mandate terminated but without setting borders. The next day on May 15, the newly established state was invaded by forces of Jordan, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon. Since then, wars, invasions, armistices, occupations, attacks, and literation have been repeated, yet no clear borders have been internationally recognized. Also, though the nation’s capital is Jerusalem, all but two of the 89 foreign embassies are located in Tel Aviv because whose land Jerusalem is still disputed. Despite the tiny land area, scarce natural resources, and small population, Israel’s military forces, intelligence, and economy are all first-class, especially in the high-tech industry. Surviving in such a hostile environment, the small nation must have an edge.
Indeed, border disputes are hard to resolve. But will there be any day when both Jewish and Arabs live peacefully in the region?
Read the article and learn about Israel’s borders.


Topic Reading-Vol.3083-9/19/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Global perception of US falls to two-decade low
What do people think of the US recently? It was a global leader in the late 20th century until a few years ago when the current administration suddenly seemed to have given up its international leadership roles and shifted its focus on domestic popularity.
The findings from 13,000 people in 13 US allies, namely Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, the UK, the Netherlands, Japan, and South Korea, show that positive views on the US have dropped significantly to the lowest level in the last two decades. All but South Koreans have a more unfavorable view of the US than those who answered favorably. Also, over 80% of the respondents mentioned the US handled coronavirus poorly, the leading country of both coronavirus cases and its death toll.  
It takes years to earn respect from others but it takes only a few mistakes or bad tweets to lose it.
Read the article and think about what you think of the US now and after November.


Topic Reading-Vol.3082-9/18/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Singapore distributes Covid contact-tracing tokens
Singapore is known as a melting pot of diverse cultures with Malay, Chinese, and Indians as the main cultures and also many other Asian cultures brought in by migrant workers like Filipinos. Also, it is known as the tech-savvy state. In fact, Singapore was the first to introduce a contact tracing app to help contain the spread of Covid-19 in March. Of the five million total population, the app is used by 1.4 million residents as of August, though it was initially downloaded by nearly half of the population.
In order to resume businesses as normal as swiftly as possible, the business-minded city-state government has started distributing Bluetooth contact-tracing tokens to all the residents. The token is small enough to be either strapped or hand-carried by anyone. It doesn’t require any download or operation, so that anyone can use it, even for those who aren’t used to smartphones. Also, the information of the contacts stored on the token is only uploaded by or handed physically to the health ministry only when the user tests positive. No fear of privacy breach.
Will this high-tech device with practicality and safety will be used by the rest of the residents?
Enjoy reading the article and learn what makes a tracking system work to all.


Topic Reading-Vol.3081-9/17/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Climate crisis could displace 1.2 billion people by 2050, report warns
In the next three decades, you aren’t going to see or hear good news about the environment. Global warming of course is the first to blame. It has been causing climate changes such as rising sea levels, severer weather conditions, draughts, and floods only to name a few. Such changes in climate are also causing ecological disruption, threatening already vulnerable species, forests, and biodiversity around the world. Another human-causing impact on the environment is increasing population, modernization, and urbanization. The present world population is about 7.8 billion and it is estimated to reach 10 billion by the middle of the century, and the majority of the increase will take place in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, where water shortage already is a constant, life-threatening problem. In fact, nearly one-third of the world population now already suffers from severe water stress.
So, when more parts and broader areas of the world become more unsuitable and unsustainable for people to live in, what will they do? The exodus from the sinking or dying places and migration to more livable places sounds like a viable option. But how many?
Read the article and think about how today’s divided world will become united to cope with the global problem.


Topic Reading-Vol.3080-9/16/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,

Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards

The 6th Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards Competition is now closed. There are 44 finalist-photos that are waiting to hear the announcement for the awards in October. When you look at these amusing photos, you may wonder if any living creature, even a bird or fish, is sentient and expressive.

“Look at my shining teeth!” “Upside down?” “Can’t stop laughing!” “Don’t tell anyone.”

“Bike sharing!” “I can help you eat it.”  “Forgot what I forgot.”

Enjoy seeing these funny photos and put your comment!


Topic Reading-Vol.3079-9/15/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,

A ball python laid 7 eggs at the Saint Louis Zoo, even though she hasn't been around a male in years. With a maximum length of 1.8 meter, the ball python is the smallest of the African pythons. It tends to curl into a ball when stressed or frightened. While young pythons and males mainly eat small birds, larger ones and females prey on small mammals. Mature females lay three to 11 eggs, incubate them underground, and leave them when they hatch. So, it shouldn’t be a surprise to find seven eggs were laid by a female ball python #361003 at the Saint Louis Zoo in Missouri, USA. However, the python is over 60 years old and had had no contact with a male for at least 15 years, possibly nearly 30 years! In fact, ball pythons are known to delay fertilization by males or reproduce by themselves. So, zookeepers are now trying to find if those eggs were indeed asexually produced or not. They are also waiting to see and hear the eggs hatching soon with their fingers crossed.

Enjoy reading the article and learn about this surprisingly late reproduction by an old python.


Topic Reading-Vol.3078-9/14/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,

Wildlife in 'catastrophic decline' due to human destruction, scientists warn
The earth is a shared community among humans, animals, reptiles, amphibians, birds, plants, fish, and insects. So, the planet's ecosystem is like a collective living organism and operates very much like the human body. If any part of the planet loses balance, it affects the whole body. However, we humans have been acting as the sole ruler of the planet and overwhelming the other creatures and territories. According to the latest study by the conservation group WWF, wildlife populations have been declining at an unprecedented pace, nearly 70% fall over 20,000 populations of mammals, birds, amphibians, and fish in the last half-century.
It seems that humans are driving in the wrong direction at a very high speed. Thus, slowing down isn’t enough to stop the destruction of the ecosystems. Deforestation, over-fishing, greenhouse gas emissions, plastic waste, and food supply and consumption are all to blame.
If reversing is unrealistic, we seem to need to change the direction, at least.
Along with global warming, ecosystem destruction is a clear and ongoing danger to all creatures of the planet.
Read the article and learn about the impact humans are causing on earth’s ecosystem.


Topic Reading-Vol.3077-9/13/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Champagne makers are throwing out grapes. Here's why
Champagne is a sparkling wine that is produced in the Champagne wine region of France. It is produced from specific types of grapes, such as Pinot noir and Chardonnay harvested only in the region, which keeps the value of this particular wine. Champagne is a premium drink that is usually enjoyed as part of a celebration or as an aperitif before the beginning of a meal. So, at a time when events, celebrations, and social dining occasions are rarely seen due to the coronavirus pandemic, demands for Champagne have significantly declined. What are the producers of this premium wine doing to cope with this difficult time?
Unfortunately, there is only one way to keep the value when the demand declines.
Enjoy watching the video and learn about the impact of the pandemic on Champagne.


Topic Reading-Vol.3076-9/12/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Vibrating suit allows deaf people to 'feel' music
Music is an audible sensation or experience. You listen to or hear music through your ears, except for those who read the score and recreate the music in their brains. But what if you can’t hear anything? Is there any way for deaf people to experience music?
Yes, there is not. Though they may not experience the full content of the music, they could enjoy some part of the music through vibrations. There is a tech company in California that developed a vibrating suit for deaf people to feel music through their skin. The suit consists of 24 contact points to vibrate the pulses that were translated from audio. Though it doesn’t reproduce the music in the same way as we hear, it provides musical experience to those who can’t hear. Also, the device could be used to enhance audio, like the ones in movies.
So, someday, there will be another digital track that enables the audience to feel the movie.
Enjoy reading the article and learn about this vibrational music experience.


Topic Reading-Vol.3075-9/11/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Secrets of male elephant society revealed in the wild
The roles of male elephants aren’t limited only to breeding. A new study found that they do enjoy social lives like females. Also, male elephants seem to learn from older ones within their herd, like a matriarch leads a female-and-calf society. For example, a more mature bull seems to lead a group when they are in a move from place to place, which suggests that he possesses valuable ecological knowledge for their survival. If that is the case, hunting or poaching old male elephants could impair their learning cycle. Elephants do remember.
Enjoy reading the article and learn about how male elephants live.


Topic Reading-Vol.3074-9/10/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The companies that help people vanish
Where there is a need for help, there always are businesses that provide solutions. One such example is a Japanese company that provides assistance to those who want to disappear from their lives. The company provides lodging for their customers in an unknown place and helps its clients withdraw money from ATMs without being identified or tracked. Sounds like a safehouse that hides persons from the law, hostile actors, or actions, doesn’t it?
Why do some people want to vanish and erase the trace? In fact, some people want to stats a new life, and others want to escape from their lives. Whatever the motive might be, each reason is serious enough for the person to vanish secretly and suddenly.
Read the article and learn about this unusual business to help people in need.


Topic Reading-Vol.3073-9/9/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Ex-World Bank head Robert Zoellick: ‘The world could look like 1900 again
Robert Zoellick is an American public official and a republican. He served various positions to support both GW and HW Bush administrations, as deputy secretary of state, US trade representative, and White House deputy chief of staff. He was also the president of the World Bank between 2007 and 2012 when the world suffered from the global financial and economic crisis. You can tell that he is a man of wisdom and a trusted republican.
He now warns that the world could look like it did before World War I when major powers tried to compete with each other. If the US, or the Trump administration, keeps its hostile stance in its foreign policy especially against China, and undermines the benefits of the international system, he fears that the world will not get over with the current crisis.
Enjoy learning what this wise man says about the current US foreign policies.


Topic Reading-Vol.3072-9/8/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Baby boom for Uganda's endangered mountain gorillas
Gorilla beringei beringei, more popular as mountain gorillas live in forests in the mountains over 2,000-meter high. They have thicker fur that helps them to survive in a habitat where temperatures often drop below freezing. However, human intrusions into their territory forced them to move higher up in the mountains, which made them endure to live in severer and more dangerous conditions. Despite human invasion, conflict, and poaching, the population of mountain gorillas has increased to over 1,000.
On average, only two births of this endangered species are recorded in Uganda each year. However, the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has already seen seven so far this year. What a baby boom!
Did the coronavirus pandemic affect their breeding habit? Have there been fewer visitors or hunters who could have bothered their habitats?
Enjoy reading the article and learn about the baby boom for one of our closest cousins.


Topic Reading-Vol.3071-9/7/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Rohingya crisis: Growing up in the world's largest refugee camp
In Cox’s Bazar district in Bangladesh, there are a few large-scale refugee camps for Rohingya people who fled from ethnic and religious persecution in Myanmar. Nearly a million inhabitants live in those camps with little to eat and live on. The camps are so overpopulated that social distancing is hardly possible to prevent coronavirus from spreading. Also, the camps are so vulnerable to cyclone season. Even if they can manage to live today, they see little or no hope for the future. Despite such despairing situations, 20,000 children are born there every year. What are their lives like? What hope do those young lives have?
Watch the video to learn about the children in the most desperate situations.


Topic Reading-Vol.3070-9/6/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
JEE: India holds crucial college exam amid Covid-19 fears
The Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) is an engineering entrance examination conducted for admission to various engineering colleges in India. Since the vast majority of India’s college students major in science/engineering fields, this national exam seems to be the equivalent of China’s National College Entrance Examination (NCEE), commonly known as Gaokao. This life-determining event took place between Sep.1 and 6 despite the protest by exam takers who worried about being infected by coronavirus on the way to or at the exam sites. Of course. Once they are infected, they could carry the infection home and pass the virus to their loved ones who are more vulnerable than them. The appeal was taken to even the supreme court but was declined. How many infections could have made during the 6-day exam period?
To your surprise, another highly competitive national entrance exams for medical schools, the NEET (The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test), is also going to take place on the 13th.
Will the National Testing Agency have enough time and encouragement to assess how effective the elaborate safety measures they took at JEE?
It indeed sounds like a life-time event.
Read the article and learn what brings India’s scientific ingenuity to the world-leading level.


Topic Reading-Vol.3069-9/5/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
China's war against Japanese aggression in numbers
On September 3rd, China marked the 75th Victory of War of Resistance against Japan Day. Wait a minute. The Pacific Theater of World War II ended indeed 75 years ago in 1945, but wasn’t it at noon on August 15 when Japan’s emperor radio-broadcasted an announcement of the acceptance of the terms of the Potsdam Declaration? In Japan, yes. They commemorate Memorial Day for the end of War on August 15. On the other hand, most of the allied nations set September 2 as Victory over Japan Day, or V-J Day, when the Instrument of Surrender was signed on the deck of USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. However, China decided to celebrate the victory and set three-day holidays starting on September 3, which became V-J day. Since China was then represented by Kuomintang, which later fled from the mainland and established the Republic of China in Taiwan, the same day is commemorated as V-J day in Taiwan.
Now, how the war against Japanese aggression, which put hold the Civil War, is figured in China?
Read the facts and figures about China’s version of their war against Japan’s aggression


Topic Reading-Vol.3068-9/4/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
This map lets you see where your hometown was on the Earth millions of years ago
Are you interested in how the surface of our planet looked like hundreds of million years ago? Even if you aren’t keen on geology, you might have heard about the movement of tectonic plates and the existence of supercontinents. About 750 million years ago, the earliest-known supercontinent began to break apart. The continents later recombined to form Pannotia roughly 600 to 540 million years ago, then finally created Pangaea, which broke apart 200 million years ago.
An American paleontologist recently created an interactive map that shows what Earth looked like in those eras and where a present location used to be then. You can also search it by the time when the first land animals appeared or when dinosaurs became extinct.  
You don’t have to study geology to enjoy seeing what happened and when on Earth with this interactive map.
Enjoy reading the article and enjoy this amazing interactive map of our mother earth.


Topic Reading-Vol.3067-9/3/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
In pictures: Mexico school classes resume on TV
The population of Mexico is just about 130 million, the 10th populous country in the world. While the nation’s number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 is just around 600,000, the death tolls are over 60,000, the third largest only after the US and Brazil, or just about as many as India whose population is 10 times more than Mexico.
So, they decided not to bring 30 million school children back to classrooms for the new school year. Instead, they are now teaching children through distance learning. Sounds like pretty normal in today’s digitalized education communities, doesn’t it? However, many of the Mexican families neither have access to the internet nor own a PC. So, they are now broadcasting school classes on TV! Though it is not interactive, students can at least take classes from home and do assignments.
Education doesn’t have to be done by digital or online. This old-fashioned way helps millions of school children study even though they cannot go to school. After all, children like watching TV, provided that they don’t have a smartphone.
Enjoy reading the article and learn about this desperate attempt to keep children educated even under the pandemic in Mexico.


Topic Reading-Vol.3066-9/2/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
How algorithms keep workers in the dark
The management team is supposed to provide answers to the questions by their employees as to how they made certain decisions or instructions. However, as the use of AI algorithms become more popular among all businesses, from financial investment to delivery routes, there is an increasing number of unanswered questions among front-line workers. For example, pickers at a shipping facility are set their walk pace and food delivery drivers are allocated and evaluated their jobs. Algorithms are even used in the employment process, where no one knows why someone was rated higher or lower than other candidates.
So, while algorithms become more powerful and influential, are they flawless or dependable? Fundamentally, they could be biased depending on the inputs and learning. Also, they could create a power imbalance between algorithm management and workers. Indeed, algorithms are like a black box as no one knows what’s inside and it is nearly impenetrable.
As algorithms become smarter by machine learning, humans may need to learn about machines.
Enjoy reading the article and think about what could make humans outsmart AI algorithms.


Topic Reading-Vol.3065-9/1/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The new residency schemes inviting workers abroad
Work-from-home is becoming popular among businesses of all kinds, even those that were reluctant to lose in-person control or contact. While some employees are enjoying more private time having been relieved from the commute and office hours, others are feeling stressed working on the kitchen table. The question is, does it have to be work-from-HOME? Actually, the home could be anywhere as long as a decent internet connection and private working space are available. So, why do you need to stay at home where you live now? How about staying in a dream resort or a foreign country where you usually don’t have the chance to stay for an extended time. Surprisingly, there are invitations from some of the coronavirus-free places that want you to stay and work for a while, such as Bermuda, Barbados, and Estonia. They issue a so-called digital nomad visa to those who want to stay and work for half a year, a full year, or even longer, provided that those applicants have health insurance and stable income.
Enjoy reading the article and think if you want to try working from a remote home, at least for some time.