The top­ics you have to be able to dis­cuss this week

Financial Mail - - BETWEEN THE CHAINS -

1. Of­fice sup­ply glitch

US of­fi­cials say a pa­per­work short­age that pre­vented Chad from pro­vid­ing the US with a sam­ple pass­port was one rea­son the coun­try was in­cluded in the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s lat­est travel ban tar­get­ing ma­jor­ity Mus­lim na­tions. Its in­clu­sion came as a sur­prise be­cause Chad is re­garded as an ally of the US.

All coun­tries were given 50 days to take steps in­clud­ing pro­vid­ing a sam­ple of a re­cent pass­port. Chad ran out of pass­port pa­per and sim­ply couldn’t com­ply.

2. So­lar power fu­ture

The cost of so­lar en­ergy will fall by an­other 60% over the next decade, the head of the In­ter­na­tional Re­new­able En­ergy Agency says. The drop in the cost cou­pled with im­prove­ments in ef­fi­ciency have al­ready pushed ca­pac­ity from vir­tu­ally zero at the start of the cen­tury to 300 GW by the end of 2016. The agency ex­pects at least 80 GW of new ca­pac­ity to be added glob­ally each year over the next five to six years. China is set to be the world’s big­gest and fastest grow­ing so­lar mar­ket.

3. Salt­wa­ter rice re­search

Sci­en­tists in China have man­aged to im­prove the yields on a strain of salt­wa­ter-tol­er­ant rice, af­ter more than four decades of re­search. Though it is eight times as ex­pen­sive as nor­mal rice, the ini­tial yield was sold thanks to its unique flavour.

Over 200 types of rice were planted at the Sa­line-al­kali Tol­er­ant Rice Re­search & De­vel­op­ment Cen­ter in Qing­dao. Seawa­ter from the Yel­low Sea was pumped, di­luted and chan­nelled into the rice pad­dies. Yields beat fore­casts, lead­ing the project re­searchers to say the rice is ready for com­mer­cial­i­sa­tion.

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