Picture: 123RF/Romolo Tavani
Picture: 123RF/Romolo Tavani

1. Really cool opportunity

The SA National Space Agency is looking for three volunteers to take an all-expenses-paid three-month trip to Antarctica and it has opened up applications to the public. Anyone with a background in science or engineering can apply. There is no pay for the work — which includes hard physical labour — and candidates have to be physically and mentally strong. Antarctica is the coldest place on Earth, and the isolation can take a mental toll.

The agency says the volunteers will assist its engineering team with maintenance and upgrades to infrastructure.

2. Under the dragon’s eye

China is pushing ahead with a controversial social credit rating system that will apply to its 33-million companies, as a way to have greater control over its business environment. The system will be a form of supervision of all firms, small and large. The social credit rating will take note of court rulings, tax records, environmental protection issues, government licensing, product quality, work safety, and administrative punishments by market regulators, and assign scores accordingly.

The plan’s advocates say it will help create better corporate citizens, but critics say it is heavy-handed. Foreign firms fear it could be used as a weapon during international trade disputes or to give local firms an advantage.

3. Drought batters Zim

Zimbabwe has declared a state of disaster in urban and rural areas following a drought that has cut crop output by more than half, Bloomberg reports. The drought has affected more than 5.7-million people, according to aid agencies, and the country expects to import as much as 800,000t of corn. Zimbabwe’s government has appealed for $464m to stave off famine.