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Topic Reading-Vol.2202-4/22/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Chinese man caught by facial recognition at pop concert
As reported in yesterday’s Vol.2201, one could alter his or her face with an app on smartphone. Though human viewers may be easily impressed by such enhanced facial appearance, cameras linked to AI face recognition systems aren’t.
Also reported in Vol.2142, China has the world most extensive surveillance network. There are 170 million closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras that produce images or recordings for surveillance in public places and street corners across the country. A few of such cameras installed in a concert hall caught an image of a man among 60,000 concert goers and identified him as an economic crime suspect. He was caught by police officers when he sat in his seat. There will be 500 million such cameras installed across the country soon.
As facial recognition technologies advance, the face may someday become a person’s identification replacing documents or cards, such as passport, driver’s license, credit card, social security card, or even tickets. Will such surveillance and convenience by advanced face recognition technologies make you give up privacy?
Enjoy reading the article and think of a world where everyone is located, and every transaction or access is monitored.


Topic Reading-Vol.2201-4/21/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Altered faces are dominating China's selfie industry
Taking selfie photos and posting them on SNS is no more different from writing comments these days. In fact, many young Chinese are so selfie-obsessed that they post their own photos on SNS to be social. Now, there are apps to help those who want to show socially well-perceived photos on SNS. Those smartphone apps allow users to edit their selfie photos to make them look in a way they want. They can enhance, highlight or delete the part of the facial features like a professional photo editor does. Which is easier and surer to make one look nicer, doing make-up or editing photos, or both? It sounds like using an avatar in a virtual reality game. Is SNS an augmented reality or virtual reality? In any case, it seems that new social practices are being created as new smartphone apps become popular these days.
Enjoy watching the video and think if you want to enhance the face value by your smartphone.


Topic Reading-Vol.2200-4/20/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Henley Index: 2 Asian passports now world's most powerful
What does the power of a passport mean? Can a certain passport holder get a discount for shopping in other countries? One of the privileges certain passport holders have is visa waiver. It allows passport holders of specific countries to enter the country for certain purposes, such as traveling, visiting, or business for a limited time without obtaining a visa. Most of the 193 UN member states exempt passport holders of preferred countries from their visa programs. Then, which passport holders are regarded safe, harmless and beneficial to other countries?
According to one of the several indexes created by financial firms to rank global passports, Japan and Singapore passports have more visa-free entries than any other passport, closely followed by Western countries like Germany, Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Sweden, and Spain, and another Asian state, South Korea.
Enjoy reading the article and check how many countries you can visit without a visa.


Topic Reading-Vol.2199-4/19/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Experts warn Europe: Don't grant robots rights
A robot is a machine that carries out a series of actions automatically. Most robots are designed to perform a task, such as industrial robots, medical operating robots, patient assist robots or delivery robots. Some robots are created to perform tasks autonomously like auto-driving, and others are constructed to look like humans and take on tasks such as reception robots in a Japanese hotel chain.
Now, European legislators are considering whether to grant rights and responsibilities to intelligent robots that do tasks autonomously. They think granting legal status to sophisticated autonomous robots makes them responsible for any damage they may cause. Sounds like a progressive move towards a co-existing society between humans and robots, doesn’t it? However, experts in robotics, artificial intelligence, law, medical science, and ethics warn that such status would allow manufacturers, programmers and owners to waive the liability of their robots they create or use.
Just like autonomous driving cars, who is responsible for an accident?
Enjoy reading and think of a world where robots take on half of the tasks that humans do now.


Topic Reading-Vol.2198-4/18/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Symphony of the Seas: World's largest cruise ship sets sail
Want to experience something the biggest in the world? Here’s one for you.
MS Symphony of the Seas is the largest passenger ship. This newly inaugurated 228,000-ton, a 360-meter-long cruise ship has 2,759 cabins to host as many as 6,680 guests. There are 24 elevators to connect 18 decks, 22 restaurants to fill over 6,000 stomachs, 24 pools to entertain kids and adults. Also, the ship is divided into seven neighborhoods, each of which has its own personality, such as an adults-only lounge or park, and a family packed water park. If you want to enjoy a thrilling moment during the peaceful and entertaining voyage, take a 10-story drop water slide at a steep 27-degree incline.
This city-like cruise ship is operated and serviced by 2,200 crew members, meaning every three passengers are served by a crew member. Sounds very luxurious, doesn’t it? Also, imagine a massive building with nearly 9,000 people is cruising the water at a speed of 40km per hour. It seems like a whole town is making a massive migration or exodus.
Enjoy reading the article and seeing the photos and video, then think if you want to be one of those passengers for your next vacation.


Topic Reading-Vol.2197-4/17/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Baby born through surrogacy after parents die
Destined to be an orphan upon arrival into the world. This boy was born On Dec 9, 2017 from a Laotian surrogate mother in a hospital in Guangzhou, China. He was named Tiantian, literally sweetness, by his maternal grandmother in the hopes of bringing happiness and sweetness to the families of his dead parents.
Only five days before the scheduled transplantation of the embryos created by his parents using vitro fertilization, both parents died in a car accident. His dead parents were both only child of their respective families, just like many others in China because of the One-child policy. The parents of the dead couple were so eager to use the left embryos in a hospital to keep their family lines. Since there is no such regulation or law for a use of dead parents’ embryos in China, they had to file a lawsuit to retrieve the embryos, seek a hospital overseas to conduct a transplant operation, and find a surrogate mother to deliver the baby. Four years after the couple died, their, and their parents' dream came true.
The grandparents won’t tell this story to the boy until he is ready.
Enjoy reading the article and learn what it took for the grandparents to make this amazing birth happen.


Topic Reading-Vol.2196-4/16/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Delivery robot puts pressure on deliverymen
I-M-WAY is a street centering on intelligent manufacturing in the Zhongguancun Science Park in Beijing. The core of the street is an agile manufacturing center that provides much-faster research and development opportunities for manufacturing businesses than conventional processes by 3D printers, material testing machines and various kinds of manufacturing and testing devices. It is a home to more than 360 enterprises and programs and provided services for over 5,000 businesses.
One of such manufacturing entrepreneurs has developed a delivery robot. The one-meter-tall yellow robot runs as long as 60-80 kilometers after a single battery charge. It can carry up to 30 kilograms at a maximum speed of 12 kilometers per hour. Just like auto-driving cars, the delivery robot uses laser radars to avoid road barriers automatically. To pick the delivered parcel, a QR code needs to be read by a smartphone, just like bike-sharing.
It seems that more unmanned, autonomous technologies are being developed in China where labor costs are rising faster than ever before.
Enjoy reading and think which machine delivery method you’d prefer, a drone, robot or human.


Topic Reading-Vol.2195-4/15/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Is this the best time in history to learn languages?
Is a foreign language something needs to be taught by a teacher and studied like other subjects? Today there are over 250 million people live in a country other than the country where they were born. It’s a 50% jump from year-2000 level. As international migration increases, a wider variety of cultural and linguistic interactions are happening in communities and classrooms. Kids are and will be getting used to more multicultural and multilingual world.
Also, they can be more connected with others in the world through their smartphones. They can play games with others and see photos and videos made by someone who lives on the other side of the planet. Such situation where kids learn without realizing they are absorbing information or developing skills is called implicit learning.
It seems that children and young adults are exposed to more multicultural and multilinguistic environment to learn other languages than any other time in history. And it's not only for food but also for fun and interest. Indeed, learning through interactions and experience is no less valuable than an academic degree.
Enjoy reading the text and think what other languages you are interested in learning.


Topic Reading-Vol.2194-4/14/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
First luxury hotel in space announced
What is your dream vacation or experience? Visiting Antarctica to take photos with penguins, or staying in a completely isolated island privately? What about overlooking the blue planet from 360 kilometers above the surface without any gravity? Such dream may come true very soon if only you can afford it.
A US space technology startup has recently announced a 12-day vacation plan for space travel. Four space travelers and two crew members will stay in their fully modular space station at a time. While the luxury space hotel orbits Earth every 90 minutes, the guests will see around 16 sunrises and sunsets every 24 hours. And of course, they can enjoy floating freely in the gravity-free cabin and dining in their space suits.
What will it take to get there? A three-month training program and all-inclusive transportation to and accommodation in the space station costs $...
Enjoy reading the article and think if it’s a value package for an authentic astronaut experience.


Topic Reading-Vol.2193-4/13/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Vaping now an epidemic among US high schoolers
What is vaping? It is to breathe in an aerosol, or a vapor, using an e-cigarette. E-cigarette is a hand-held electronic device that heats an e-liquid to produce an aerosol. It makes the “smoker” feel like smoking a cigarette.
Though the health risks of e-cigarettes are uncertain, e-cigarettes can lead to nicotine addiction when used by non-smokers. And it is concerned that children could start smoking once they are used to vaping. Health experts are worried about the artificial flavoring chemicals in e-cigarettes that seem appealing to kids. As a matter of fact, the number of e-cigarette use by high school students is rapidly rising in the U.S. Since the vapor disappears quickly and the odor doesn’t remain like cigarette smoking, some high school students are vaping in hallways or even classrooms.
The pleasure of inhaling artificial vapor shouldn’t be allowed in the school environment, especially the ones that make young kids become addictive. Maybe it is time for school administrators to consider installing another detecting device in schools.
Enjoy reading and think of the benefits and drawbacks of artificial something.


Topic Reading-Vol.2192-4/12/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
China will fight back 'at any cost' – Ministries
China seems firmly determined to counteract the US’s offensive trade sanctions. Immediately after the US announced to consider additional tariffs on Chinese products worth $100 billion, China held a news conference to restate its firm position against any new tariff on Chinese products. The language used in the conference was no longer diplomatic but retaliatory, like the one used in territorial disputes or foreign intervention in its domestic affairs such as human rights.
Unlike daily tweets by the US President, what China announces is firm and well-thought out. When they declare to fight back with all options possible and at any cost, they mean it. What politicians in democratic countries concerned about the most may be next elections and opinion polls. They don’t seem to mind reversing or changing what they said. But that won’t apply to Chinese leaders.
In the meantime, Chinese foreign minister said the relations between China and Russia are the best level in history during his visit to Moscow. Enemy of the enemy is a friend, isn’t it?  
Enjoy reading the article and think how scarcely the situation could be if the word “trade” is removed from the text.


Topic Reading-Vol.2191-4/11/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
How laughter makes you a better worker
When do you laugh? People usually don’t laugh when they are alone. They laugh when they are or want to be relaxed. They laugh to share joy and happiness with others. In fact, laughter is a visual expression of positive emotional states, such as joy, mirth, happiness, or relief. The behavior that helps clarify their intentions in social interaction, and also adds an emotional context to conversations. It shows acceptance and positive interactions with others. Therefore, if a group of people is laughing together, it could mean that they are open to others and to themselves. According to experts, this might help the individuals of the group become more creative and innovative. That’s why offices and laboratories that produce creative or innovative ideas are designed to provide relaxed and interactive environment even in today’s digitally connected world.
Does it mean you are expected to create more in such relaxing environment?
Enjoy reading the article and try to remember when you became more creative.


Topic Reading-Vol.2190-4/10/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
What women say about the gender pay gap
April 6, 2018, seemed to be a historic day for both men and women in the U.K. It was the deadline for over 9,000 employers to disclose their gender pay gaps among their 15 million employees, roughly half of the UK workforce. The mandatory disclosure law was made a year ago in an attempt to fight workplace discrimination. The UK gender pay gap on average is 18.1% for all workers or 9.4% for full-time staff. Now female workers in companies with 250 or more employees know if their gender pay gap is wider than the nation’s average and how much.
What about the other side of the pond? According to CNN, women in America earn only $0.80 for every dollar men make on average. Surprisingly, gender pay gap is wider in the industries where expertise seems to make difference to the job, such as teaching, sales, and legal, female earn $0.78, $0.67, and $0.56 respectively for every dollar their male coworkers receive.
In the early 20th century, there were growing suffragette movements across the U.K. to earn the right to vote. A century later, it may be the time for women to make their voices heard.
Enjoy reading the article and think what creates the gender pay gap.


Topic Reading-Vol.2189-4/9/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Bread's crust not more nutritious than the rest
Most bread crust is harder and more flavored than the rest. The crust is formed from surface dough when it is baked. It is hardened and browned through a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars, like seared steaks, pan-fried dumplings, cookies, and biscuits.
It has been said or believed that the crust is more nutritious than the rest. But is it true? Not necessarily, according to food and nutrition experts. There are pros and cons for the part of bread, but it seems that the part of bread does not give as significant difference as the type of bread. For example, 100% whole-wheat bread or 100% whole-grain bread is more nutritious than other types of bread.
So, the question now is whether you use or consume the crust. Some people cut off the crust when they make sandwiches. But such practice seems economically and environmentally problematic. Does bread crust taste as awful as banana skin?
Enjoy reading and think if you will cut off the crust when you make sandwiches next time.


Topic Reading-Vol.2188-4/8/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Here's a new reason why eating out might be bad for your health
Sugar, salt, fat and now what?
Phthalate is a substance added to plastics to make the material more flexible, transparent, durable and long-lasting. It is used in plastic gloves, commonly used in food processing factories and fast food restaurants, and plastic bags for packaging. A new study found that the substance is harmful to your health. Consumption of phthalate leads to birth defects, behavioral problems, obesity, and infertility. Researchers suggest that you eat at home more because home cooking has less exposure to or consumption of the chemical, provided that the food isn’t already-prepared one and packed in a plastic container.
Sounds very annoying, isn’t it? How can you avoid food or drink that is NOT packaged in plastic in your daily life?
What about Vada Pav (Vol.2186), a popular fried potato burger prepared and sold by street vendors in India? No or little container seems to be used in the cooking or wrapping process as the sandwich is simply prepared by his bare hands and served in old newspaper.
Enjoy reading the article and think which should be concerned more, phthalate or hygiene.


Topic Reading-Vol.2187-4/7/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The world oldest center of learning
What is the oldest university that is still being operated? You may think of Nalanda University in India or Oxford University in England. They taught Buddhism and Christianity respectively. But in fact, the oldest university that is still in operation is the University of Al-Karauine in Morocco. It was founded by an immigrant woman in 859 CE to teach Islam. It is located at the center of the medina in Fez, Morroco, one of the best-preserved historical towns in the Arab-Muslim world. The medina is a car-free urban area where donkeys and carts are the main transportation means.
During its early years, the school focused on religious education but later added linguistics, grammar, law, music, Sufism, medicine, and astronomy. Though the university was founded by a woman, it was until recent years when female students started studying at the institution in significant numbers. The mosque of the university is not limited only to Muslims, so that many tourists from around the world visit this oldest university and enjoy ancient Islamic calligraphy and mosaics of the medina.
Enjoy seeing the gallery and think if you want to visit and see one of those oldest textbooks written on deer skin.


Topic Reading-Vol.2186-4/6/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Vada Pav: The Indian burger McDonald’s can’t master
What kind of burger-substitutes are there in India where beef is rarely a popular choice of food? Surprisingly, McDonald’s is quite popular in the subcontinent. They serve chicken sandwiches and veggie-burgers with spices and flavors that stimulate their appetite and please their stomach. But there is a more popular street food that is similar to hamburgers especially in Mumbai, called Vada Pav, or Bombay Burger. It is a vegetarian fast food dish consists of a deep-fried potato dumpling sandwiched by a bread bun (pav). It is usually accompanied with chutney and green chili pepper to make sure the eater feels the sandwich spicy enough for their taste. As you can imagine, the combination of fried potato and bread is a quick energy charger. That’s because Vada Pav was first invented as a snack for mill workers in Mumbai. The snack is now prepared and sold by street vendors and chain restaurants across the country who all claim that theirs have a secret recipe or a special ingredient that makes their vada pav special.
Indeed, it is Bombayites, or Mumbaikars, choice of snack.
Enjoy reading the article and think if you want to make this India’s potato sandwich yourself or get there and taste it at one of those street vendors.


Topic Reading-Vol.2185-4/5/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Prince Laurent: €46,000 blow for Belgium's 'cursed prince'
What is it like to be a prince whose brother is the king? Not bad. A royal status without a king’s obligations, public attention, or time restriction.
Prince Laurent of Belgium is the second son of King Albert II and Queen Paola, and younger brother of King Philippe. The 54-year-old prince is 12th in the Belgian line of succession, practically no hope to ascend the throne.
Despite a lengthy emotional letter to the Belgian parliament, his endowment was cut by 15% by the parliament after he showed up at a Chinese diplomatic function in full military uniform without the consent of the government. The animal-loving prince claims that the endowment is the only source of income for him and his family because he is unable to work for a living as a royal. His annual allowance is now £270,000, roughly $378,000. Will that be enough for a family of a prince and four princesses to live a royal life?
Enjoy reading and think what the life of a royal family is like.


Topic Reading-Vol.2184-4/4/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Smart Homes for Dogs
Do you have a pet dog? Whether you do or not, here is something you may want to check. Smart kennel. While you enjoy the convenience and benefits of modern technologies, such as smartphone and apps, most pet dogs are left home alone while you are out working, doing things needed, or having fun. They don’t have so much to do during such a time but to sleep, in some cases nearly all-day long. It is unprotected, vulnerable and stressful time for any dog. Is there any device or technology that pleases the left-alone dog?
Yes. Just like your smart-home, there is a dog house that provides comforts such as a fan and mind-healing music. Also, there is a house that features an auto-feeder and water supplier. Another device is a remote camera with a speaker and microphone that enables visual and audio contact with the dog from anywhere in the world.
Does a dog like to be spoken or awaken by a speaker? Can a dog identify its master through a speaker?
Enjoy reading the article and watching the advert videos about smart dog houses.


Topic Reading-Vol.2183-4/3/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Guangzhou opens unmanned 'car vending machine'
Another innovative service for smartphone users. China is famous as the world most advanced mobile payment society. People shop and pay by their smartphones, and businesses make transactions on mobile payment platforms. This time, a brand-new car can be test driven from a vending machine through a completely human-free process. You just need to apply for a test drive of a car of your choice. Your application is instantly approved or disapproved by the online credit scoring system. If your credit score exceeds a certain point, you could test drive a car free of charge. Throughout the process, no human is involved. Sounds like as easy as a bike-sharing service.
The credit scoring system is called Sesame Credit. It is a personal credit scoring system provided by Alibaba’s financial service arm. Users of Alipay are rated based on a variety of factors, such as social media interactions, purchases at Alibaba’s websites, payment through Alipay. A high scorer earns a higher credit limit, better interest rate, and easier access to various services including the car vending machine. It has already regarded one of the person’s credentials, such as the educational records, job, and salary.
Enjoy reading and learning about this unmanned service innovation in the most populous country in the world.


Topic Reading-Vol.2182-4/2/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Free gift? China extends influence in Africa with $32M grant for regional HQ
Established in 1975, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is a 15-member regional group to promote economic integration between the member states.
The 15 member countries of the ECOWAS are Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d’ Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Senegal and Togo. ( Map : How many of these do you recognize?)
Now a new headquarters of the organization is going to be built in Abuja, Nigeria with a grant from China. The organization says the $31.6 million grant is China’s goodwill, and they will promote future ECOWAS-China cooperation.
Is this the same kind of grant that an educational institution is given to build a library or to initiate a research project? Between countries, there always are trades and exchanges. What sort of return will the organization be expected for the new facility? Will that be a good deal?
Enjoy reading and think if this grant is an aid or aim.


Topic Reading-Vol.2181-4/1/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The drone that drops lunch on your desk
The dabbawalas is India’s lunch delivery system from homes and restaurants to people at work. The food is prepared by meal suppliers or at home, put into a reusable lunch box, then delivered by a dabbawalla using a bicycle or railway trains. After the meal is eaten, the empty lunch box is picked up by the delivery man. The system seems quite ecological compared with the fast-growing food delivery system in other countries, especially China, that uses plastic or paper for container and motorcycles for delivery.  
Indeed, many workers in India are accustomed to this two-century-old lunch delivery service, especially in busy Mumbai. This means there is a huge demand for food delivery. In order to meet the demand, a new way of food delivery is arising. Unmanned Arial Vehicle, UAV, or more known as the drone. Sounds quite progressive in a market where food is delivered by a man on foot or on a bicycle, but considering the congested streets and trains, open air might be a good alternative route for daily delivery.
Enjoy seeing the video and think which delivery you would prefer for your lunch, by a human or a drone.