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Topic Reading-Vol.2170-3/21/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Stephen Hawking on God, artificial intelligence, and mankind's future
Born in Oxfordshire in 1943, Stephen Hawking studied physics in Oxford. He was diagnosed with a rare form of neuron disease at the age of 21 and was said he would live only a few years. However, he went on to Cambridge for his postgraduate research in cosmology and became a professor of mathematics, a role once held by Sir Isaac Newton. He passed away on March 14 at the age of 76 in Cambridge.
He was a brilliant scientist, known for his theories on black holes and relativity, and inspired scientists, astronauts, and students. Though he lost his speaking ability, he was still able to communicate through a speech-generator by using a single cheek muscle.
His daughter once said you could ask any question to him. One of his famous quotes says if one is disabled, one should concentrate on the things that one can do, and not regret the things that one can’t do. He also predicted that Artificial Intelligence would take off on its own and redesigns itself at an ever-increasing rate.
Enjoy seeing this brief video to feel his intelligence and foresight.


Topic Reading-Vol.2169-3/20/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
'We are the future' -- Students across country walk out to demand new gun laws
They want their voices heard. A month after the shooting massacre in a high school in Florida which left 17 people dead, an unprecedented number of students across the U.S. walked out of their classes, some marched to White House, asking for actions to end school shootings. At 10 am in each time zone, the National School Walkout took place for 17 minutes, each minute was dedicated for each victim of the Florida shooting. Though penalties may be imposed in some school districts, students took strides out of their classrooms to ask lawmakers to:
- Ban assault weapons;
- Require universal background checks before gun sales;
- Pass a gun violence restraining order law to disarm potentially dangerous people.
One student cited, "Change never happens without backlash." Now it is time for adults to respond to the movement. After all, it is for their children and for their future.
Enjoy reading and thinking if there was ever a day when students would march to commemorate the achievement of the movement they initiated.


Topic Reading-Vol.2168-3/19/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
How to build muscle as age tears it down
When people reach their 50s or 60s, most of them become physically relieved from family and/or business responsibilities. Also, people tend to become less physically active as they age. Then is the time to start rebuilding their muscles, according to the experts.
Furthermore, even if you exercise regularly, you need to do more and better just to maintain the same level of muscle and physical strength. That’s a hardship, isn’t it? But muscle loss actually begins in your 30s and accelerates in your 50s. Though it sounds depressing, the good news is that you could slow the muscle loss by exercise regularly and intensely. Sound like a fair exchange to you?
Also, more protein needs to be taken to develop new muscles, especially the one from dairy, meat or fish. This may sound a bit encouraging. How about doing some workout and taking grandchildren to MacDonald’s? No fries or sugary drink, though.
After all, healthy aging and independence are essential for anyone to enjoy their remaining years. But that fortune needs to be attained by some work.
Enjoy reading and learning what it takes to be in good shape.


Topic Reading-Vol.2167-3/18/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Saudi Arabia: What to know before you visit
Do you want to see a red planet? Then, you don’t have to wait until next year when Big Falcon Rocket is projected to take you to Mars. From April this year, tourists can enter this desert kingdom, Saudi Arabia. You might not know the fact that Saudi hasn’t been open for tourists since its establishment in 1932, even though over 20% of the population are foreign citizens and millions of religious pilgrims visit Mecca, a holy city for Muslims, every year.
Now you can see the famous camel contest and racing, taste camel burgers, and enjoy a desert scenery on a camel. The kingdom is projecting to welcome 30 million visitors by 2030, up twelve million from 2016.
Indeed, the conservative kingdom is opening opportunities for its citizens, too. Movie theaters are reopening, females are going to be allowed to drive on the street and watch sports games in stadiums.
Just a few reminders. Women need to be 25 and older or accompanied by their husband or male family to get a tourist visa. Also, no alcohol is allowed, even on the plane or in hotels. Lastly but not the least, wear conservatively and avoid exposing your skin.
Do you want to check other restrictions and requirements to visit Saudi or Mars?
Enjoy reading and think if you want to be one of the first wave of visitors to this aggressively changing this conservative oil-rich kingdom.


Topic Reading-Vol.2166-3/17/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
How daylight saving time works and why these states want to ditch it
Most states in the US put their clocks and watches forward an hour on Sunday, March 11th. They now start their day earlier to enjoy more sunlight during the day until November 14th. Then, they put their clocks backward an hour, so that they don’t have to get up in the dark. This time adjustment practice is called Daylight Saving Time in America and is observed most of the states except Hawaii and Arizona. It is called Summer Time in Europe, but theirs begin on the last Sunday in March and ends on the last Sunday in October each year.
The practice to adjust times was first introduced during the WWI but wasn’t widely adopted until the 1970s when the world faced substantial oil shortages. Though the practice offers effective use of daylight and saves energy, the first morning in the summertime is a big challenge. Most people don’t mind getting up an hour earlier for fun, like going fishing or skiing, but no one wants that just to do the same things. The last hour of sleep is so precious for both mental and physical health. In fact, more car accidents and heart attacks occur on the first summer day.
Indeed, it isn’t that easy to adjust the body clock.
So, are there any ways to ease the pain? Yes, there are. For example, eating dinner earlier or taking an afternoon-nap helps you to make the transition smoother, if you can.
Enjoy reading and learning about the pros and cons of Daylight Saving Time.


Topic Reading-Vol.2165-3/16/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
After100 hours in Tibet, I knew it was time to leave
When you plan a journey to a place where you’ve dreamed to visit, you probably want to stay there as long as you want especially when you spend a lot of time and money for it. There is no blame. You deserve and earn the trip. But how long is enough to enjoy staying in the dream place? The longer the better? Should you stay until you feel enough?
It seems that an exciting travel experience is no different from a pleasurable dining experience. No matter how sublime the food is, the ecstasy declines as your stomach is being filled. An author of many books on travel emphasizes the pleasure of the inner journey that follows the outer journey. In other words, a sensational memory of an outstanding journey stays long and repeatedly be enjoyed through one’s life. For that reason, an outer journey shouldn’t be too long. And just like any other memorable experience like a sports game or date, a good experience stays in your mind for a long time, if not forever. After all, it’s experience, not just seeing and feeling things in a different place.
But how long is too long or too short? That’s a million-dollar question.
Enjoy reading the article and think how long you want to spend in your dream travel destination.


Topic Reading-Vol.2164-3/15/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Protesting Iran's compulsory hijab law
On March 8, the 107th International Women’s Day was celebrated across the world, calling for gender equality. In the meanwhile, there are numbers of women who are forced to wear certain clothes despite their will by tradition. One of such customs is hijab. It is a veil that covers the head and chest, in some cases face as a symbol of modesty and privacy. Many Muslim women wear hijab by tradition, law or their will. However, in some places, there are women who are forced to wear or not to wear it against their will. For example, Saudi Arabia and Iran, women are required to wear hijab by law. On the contrary, a burka, which covers the entire body and face, is banned to wear in public in France, the Netherlands, and China. In either case, some women experience not only pressure but also physical attacks to wear or not wear hijab or burka in public.
As a small but determined protest against such discriminatory acts and force, an Iranian woman created an animated video with the help of her boyfriend, which shows how she felt the pressure to wear the traditional clothes.
Enjoy watching the animation video and reading the article and think what your choice will be in such a situation, defection, detention, or hijab.


Topic Reading-Vol.2163-3/14/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
International Women's Day 2018: History, strikes and celebrations
March 8th was International Women’s Day. Millions of women around the world rallied, some even went on strike, against gender inequality and pay gap, and sexual discrimination. (Photos)
It was originally a movement to improve labor conditions in New York in 1908. The move became international and was first celebrated in 1911. A milestone event took place in war-torn Russia in 1917 when women demanded bread and peace and went on strike. They successfully removed the tsar and earned the right to vote. The day in the Gregorian calendar was then set as International Women’s Day.
International Women’s day is celebrated around the world but quite differently. For example, women are given a half-day off, flowers, or honor by the president. This year, millions of women in Spain joined an unprecedented strike targeting gender inequality and sexual discrimination, shouting "if we stop, the world stops".
Though the day has been celebrated 107th times and is recognized by the United Nations, the world still hasn’t seen a female Secretary General in the UN yet.
Enjoy reading and think how equally women are treated in your country, society, and family.


Topic Reading-Vol.2162-3/13/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
North Korean defector: 'I wish I can go back for a day'
What it’s like to defect to another country? For some reason, quite a few numbers of people choose to leave their country with a determination of never returning, while refugees are left no choice but to escape from their country because of a war, natural disaster, or political, religious, racial, or economic oppression. In other words, the difference between a defector and refugee is by will or by force.
The Korean War was fought by both Koreas and their allies between 1950 and 1953. Though an armistice was signed to cease the fight and the Demilitarized Zone was created to separate two Koreas, no peace treaty has been signed. They are said to be technically still at war.
Every year, a few thousand people defect from North Korea, risking their lives. Some try to go across the border, and others take a long journey via China, Thailand to South Korea or the U.S. Making such a life-threatening one-way trip is one thing. But starting a new life in a different country is another challenge. Furthermore, those who defected can never return to their homeland. Indeed, they earned a new life at the sacrifice of their home, family, and friends.
Enjoy reading a defector’s story and watch the video that shows how South Korean public is learning about the North from its defectors.


Topic Reading-Vol.2161-3/12/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
WeChat hits one billion monthly users - are you one of them?
WhatsApp and FB Messenger. Both are owned by Facebook and are the top two instant messaging apps in the world, each with over a billion active users. There are other popular messaging apps like Skype, Viber, Snapchat and LINE that also offer features such as group chats, graphics exchanges, video and audio messages, and stickers and emojis.
In China, none of the above-mentioned apps can be used. Then, how do China’s over 600 million smartphone users exchange messages and photos? WeChat is the leading mobile messaging app in China, with over one billion active users, including overseas subscribers. The basic messaging functions are similar to the ones of other apps, but it does offer much more features and services. It offers services what people need in their daily lives, such as booking taxies or ride sharing, ordering food, making doctor’s appointment, and finding a friend or a date. It is almost like a mobile Internet portal, isn’t it? Furthermore, it provides mobile payments services, like Apple Pay. Once a user uploads their bank account information, they can make payments on products or services via their smartphone almost anywhere, at any shop, and on anything in China. The users no longer have to carry credit cards or even cash these days as stores and service providers like taxi drivers prefer the convenience and safety of the online transaction, rather than cash. You can even pay your traffic ticket to the authority or give some money to a street performer who shows a QR code.
In fact, when you go to China, you may no longer need to exchange your money to Chinese Yuan. Instead, you may want to download WeChat upon your arrival and then bind your credit card to the account. You’ll be free from payment hassles during the stay.
Enjoy reading and learning what a mobile messaging app can do for you.


Topic Reading-Vol.2160-3/11/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Inside the war between Spotify and Apple
Dilemma. It sounds more than cannibalism to initiate a new business that could destroy or replace the existing businesses, especially when they are bringing good money to the company. But that what happened to Apple when Spotify, a music, podcast, and video streaming service, started and grew its freemium service. They offer basic streaming services for free with advertisement to quickly expand its customer base. Apple was too slow to react to this Swedish startup because of its lucrative music download service, iTunes. In short, Apple had other money-making businesses while Spotify focused on just one. Usually, today’s Internet giants have tried to buyout such newly growing potential competitor or money maker. For example, Google purchased YouTube in 2006, and Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012, both at a staggering price in the respective deal.
Now Spotify is going public on the New York Stock Exchange. Though they are still loosing quite a lot of money, the market is expected to put a high price tag on the company.
It also has released its first audio-visual book that looks suitable for smartphone reading or watching. As people, especially the young, spend more time on a smartphone every day, such reading entertainment may take over the conventional paper-reading practice in the new future. In fact, students don’t seem to need paper books any longer as they can learn more and better on their tablet or smartphone. Indeed, audio-visual content stimulates young learners more than black-and-white texts do. Another threat to existing businesses.
Enjoy checking how this AV book looks like and learn what a game changer is like in the article.


Topic Reading-Vol.2159-3/10/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
How close are we to a hamburger grown in a lab?
Farm-raised salmon is quite popular now. It seems to have taken place for wild Alaskan or North Atlantic salmon in most places. Some argue that those naturally-grown salmon tastes better, but more and more people enjoy the almost identical taste of farm-raised salmon as it becomes widely available at an affordable price. After all, both are still salmon.
What about cultured meat? It is also called in vitro meat or clean meat. It is meat grown in cells in vitro instead of inside animals. First, stem cells are extracted from the animal. Then, they are grown and multiplied in a lab to create meat. It is basically the same technology as the one used in the medical field to repair organs. During the process, healthy fat like Omega-3 fatty acid can be added to make the meat tastier and healthier. It takes significantly less energy, water, land and emits much less greenhouse gas. Sounds ideal for the world whose population is expected to increase by 30% in the next few decades, doesn’t it?
The first cultured beef burger patty was shown and eaten in public in 2013. Now, it is time for consumers to taste clean meat. Some meat producers are eyeing to market clean meat as early as this year. In a few years’ time, it may be part of the standard menu in space or on Mars. Also, it may not be too long before cultured meat becomes the majority of meat consumption on our planet.
Enjoy reading and thinking what the determining factor is for you to choose either pasture-raised or lab-raised meat, the price, taste, look or health benefits.


Topic Reading-Vol.2158-3/9/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Millennials 'set to be fattest generation'
Being too fat is as dangerous as smoking, according to health experts. Excess body fat damages cells and increases the risks of cancer, just like the same way as smoking does to one’s body. Smoking is a distinctive habit that can be recognized by the smoker and the people around them. They have been warned the health risk for some time, and the number of smokers has been declining in developed countries. However, overweight isn’t recognized as distinctively as smoking either by the person or their family or friends in a situation where others are also getting fatter.
Health researchers expect that seven out of every 10 millennials in the UK, those who were born between early 80’s and middle of 90’s, are going to be overweighed when they reach middle age, about twice as many as their parents’ generation. The current trend shows that while the number of people who are defined as overweight is declining slightly, those who are obese are increasing much faster than the decline, meaning more people are getting excessively fatter and more people are being defined as too heavy.
Just a reminder. Body mass index (BMI) is a simple index of weight-for-height for adults that is defined as a person's weight in kilograms divided by the square of his height in meters (kg/m2). WHO defines normal weight (BMI 18.5–24.9), overweight (25.0–29.9), and obesity (≥30.0).
Enjoy reading and think what modern “developing country” means, in government debts, people’s weight or polarization.


Topic Reading-Vol.2157-3/8/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Teenager's brain research could one day help Alzheimer's patients
Indrani Das. She was a senior student in high school when she was awarded the Regeneron Science Talent Search, highly respected science and math competition in the U.S. She explored how brain damage occurs by examining a process called astrogliosis. This process can produce an excess amount of toxin that could damages neurons. If the cause of brain damage is found, the process to slow or reverse it could be found. That would help people with Alzheimer’s, ALS strokes and traumatic brain injuries.
The fact that a high school student won such a prestigious award is amazing but what is more astonishing is her determination to find a way to save brain cells in disease. She is now a college freshman, researching at a children's hospital in Boston. While studying a type of supporting brain cell, she has recently enrolled in her local ambulance corps as an emergency medical technician. She wants to stay close to people who are in need of help.
By the way, there are 13 Nobel Prize winners among the alumni of the Regeneration’s award.
Will she be one of them someday? Fingers crossed.
Enjoy reading about this amazing, enthusiastic and dedicated young scientist.


Topic Reading-Vol.2156-3/7/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Alibaba hungry for top spot in food delivery market
Founded in 1999 by an iconic ex-English teacher Jack Ma, Alibaba Group is a China’s e-commerce, retail, Internet, AI giant. Its businesses range from C2C, B2C, to B2B, using its Taobao Marketplace (web platform), Alipay (electric payment services), search engines and cloud computing. The famous online shopping bonanza, China’s Singles’ Day, which posted over US$25.4 billion sales on November 11 last year. Alibaba is one of the 10 most valuable public companies in the world.
This e-commerce platformer has been aggressively trying to secure the last-mile access in food delivery business. The market has already grown to over $10.7 billion in China and is still growing rapidly. Over 90% of this market is shared by two giants, Ele.Me and Meituan Dianping. The former has just been announced to be purchased by Alibaba and the latter is backed by Tencent, Alibaba’s archrival. was founded in 2008 by two young students in a campus of a prominent university in Shanghai.
Does it sound like business practices in China? Indeed, China’s e-commerce businesses have created world-leading platforms in money transaction and payment like Alipay and WeChat Pay, bike-sharing, and food delivery service. And as those players grow, they compete more hungrily in the capital market.
Enjoy reading and learning this recent capital acquisition in a communist party-ruled country.


Topic Reading-Vol.2155-3/6/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Germany's top court has paved the way for major cities to ban diesel vehicles.
Gasoline or diesel. Neither is a good choice to run the engine of a vehicle. Gasoline cars emit more CO2, which is harmful to the environment, while diesel cars produce more nitrogen oxide emissions, which is the main cause of air pollution. But for cities where air pollution is a more immediate issue than global warming, restricting the use of diesel cars could be an option. This may happen in two of the most air-polluted cities in Europe, Stuttgart and Düsseldorf, Germany, where the automotive industry is the driving force of the local economy, after the recent ruling by the Federal Administrative Court. Now, these two heavily industrialized cities have the authority to limit a certain type of vehicles, namely diesel cars, to drive into the city center to curb air pollution.
It’s a big blow to German auto manufacturers not only because a third of cars in Germany run on diesel, but also similar restrictions may be implemented in other German cities and even across Europe. Now they need to make a decision whether to try to sell more gasoline cars or accelerate the development of more environmentally friendly electric or fuel-cell vehicles.
Also, the drivers of diesel cars in those cities face even more serious problems. One is that they may not be able to drive their cars into city centers. Another is that their cars are officially labeled as air-polluters by the court. They will find themselves constantly in the public eye when they drive their environmentally friendlier vehicle on the road and park in front of their house.
Enjoy reading and think what type of vehicle you would drive if you lived in such air-polluted cities.


Topic Reading-Vol.2154-3/5/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
How France cut its per capita gun ownership in half
Why can guns and ammunition be purchased and owned so easily? One justification is for leisure, like hunting animals and birds and shooting cans and clays. There is no harm, at least to humans. Another is for self-defense. And there are guns suitable for these purposes, like small pistols. However, no one is allowed to kill innocent people by assault weapons, which are designed to kill people by firing bullets like rain from distance. Then why are such weapons of mass shooting sold, purchased and owned in some countries? Do they need to defend themselves and their families from military or insurgents?
This question is never answered in the U.S., where more guns are owned than the number of residents. On the contrary, France was awakened by the 2015 terrorist’s attacks in Paris that left 130 people dead and hundreds wounded. They categorized guns by the purposes and capabilities and imposed strict controls on ownership of firearms. People seem to have awakened, too. The number of guns owned per 100 people in 2016 dropped to 15, about half of 2006.
Force awakens, or the Empire strikes back? May the decision be up to them.
Enjoy reading and think if this France’s initiative would ever help eradicate massacres in other countries, especially the U.S.A.


Topic Reading-Vol.2153-3/4/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Badeshi: Only three people speak this 'extinct' language
Pakistan is regarded as a young country. About half of the total population of 200 million are under the age of 30, and 35% of the population is under 15.
There are over 60 languages spoken in this ethnically diverse country. Urdo is the national language, along with English, and understood by over 75% of Pakistanis. However, the Punjabi language is the most commonly spoken language used by 44% of the population.
As those young children start to have their own families, this already-populous country is going to add more people at a faster rate than the world average.
Then, what language do those young people and will their new children speak? Usually, children speak in either mother tongue or a language spoken among their friends and in school. This means not all the languages currently used may be spoken or preserved in the future. In fact, there is one language that is thought to have been extinct but recently found to be spoken only by three people in a remote valley deep in the mountains of northern Pakistan. It is called Badeshi. Sadly, the language isn’t learned by their children or any other neighbors as other language had become dominant in the region. Even those only speakers have forgotten some words of the language because they rarely speak it. Since no one else speaks or learn the language, when those three people die, so will the language.
Enjoy reading and listening to the endangered language that will soon become extinct.


Topic Reading-Vol.2152-3/3/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The low-cost mini satellites bringing mobile to the world
More satellites in space for broader coverage for mobile communications. It might have sounded like a bold plan a few years ago but it’s going to happen by the next Olympic Games.
Indeed, there still are a lot of people in the world who don’t have affordable mobile communication services. Most of them live in remote places where there are no mobile phone masts. They neither have internet connection nor simple phone calling or text messaging services while quite a few companies and innovators are trying to launch numbers of satellites to provide full and fast broadband services in already-connected affluent customers on the planet. Economically, it has been too costly to set up a land-based mobile network or launch satellites to cover under-developed marketplaces.
Now, an Israeli venture is preparing to launch as many as 200 mini-satellites to provide basic mobile communication services to three billion people in equatorial regions in Africa and Latin America. The key to this ambitious and unprecedented project is the launch and operational costs. They came up with a shoebox-sized satellite that weighs only 10kg, just enough to provide basic voice and text services. The total cost to put 200 satellites is no higher a conventional communication satellite.
While there already are over two billion smartphone users in the world, there are billions of people who just need basic mobile phones and who still don’t have either device.
Enjoy reading and learning about this new initiative to connect more people around the world.


Topic Reading-Vol.2151-3/2/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Florida governor calls for gun sale age to be raised to 21 after Parkland shooting
New initiatives have been announced by the governor of the state where 17 students and staff members were slain on Valentin’s Day in a high school. As you probably know, people are legally allowed to purchase, own and use guns in the U.S. Federal law prohibits the possession of a handgun or ammunition by any person under the age of 18 but provides no minimum age for long guns, such as rifles and shotguns, which are thought to be used for hunting animals and birds, not humans.
After the tragic massacre, the governor of Florida, who claims himself a father and grandfather, announced that he urges the state lawmakers to discuss and take the two proposed actions swiftly. One of them is to raise the age for gun purchase from 18 to 21, like some other states did some time ago. It sounds like a minimum age for driving to that for drinking. Another action is to strengthen the restrictions for mentally ill persons to buy guns. So, as of now, a mentally unstable high school student or dropout can buy guns and ammunition now, without being asked how the guns are going to be used.
Read the article and watch the video and think what it would take to have an armed kid drop the weapon in America.


Topic Reading-Vol.2150-3/1/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Fly from Tokyo to Paris without leaving the ground
Welcome abroad. An affordable first-class travel Paris, New York and/or Hawaii is now available from Tokyo. First Airlines now offers a no waiting-line, hassle-free, and zero-turbulence travel to those popular destinations only at $56! Furthermore, it takes only two hours. Passengers will enjoy a two-hour flight in a mimic first-class cabin with a real four-course meal, and then a virtual tour to their choice of destination. For those who are looking for an even more affordable travel, there is a business class cabin and service available at a $10 less price. Either way, it sounds like a dream trip, doesn’t it?
Enjoy reading and learning what kind of new travel experience is being announced.