Good afternoon, everyone. We hope the first day of Ramadan has treated you well. We’re deep in the arms of the customary Ramadan news slowdown — and likely will be for a couple more days. Look for the pace of news to pick up next week.
THE BIG STORY TODAY- Cleopatra Hospitals has confirmed it is throwing its hat in the ring for a stake in Alex Medical. We have the full story in this afternoon’s Speed Round, below.
You might be able to hear the OG iftar cannon this evening when it fires at the Salah El Din Citadel for the first time in almost 30 years, the Tourism Ministry said in a statement. There are a handful of plausible origin stories for the recently restored cannon. One has it that the tradition of a Ramadan cannon dates back to the era of Mamluk Sultan Khushqadam who, while testing out his new cannon, unintentionally fired it at the same time as the call to maghrib prayers. Ramadan observers took it as a signal that the Sultan was reminding them about Iftar and went on to thank him afterwards. Pleased with the feedback, the Sultan got a little trigger happy and began firing off the cannon every sunset, leading to a new tradition.
So, when do we eat? Iftar tonight is at 6:21pm CLT. You’ll have until 3:59am CLT to hoover down sohour (which would be coffee, for us here at Enterprise).
***CATCH UP QUICK on the top stories from today’s EnterpriseAM:
THE BIG STORY ABROAD: US health agencies are calling for a pause on the rollout of Johnson & Johnson’s much-cheered single-shot vaccine, saying their recommendation comes after reports that the jab causes “rare and severe blood clots” in women, the Financial Times reports. The Wall Street Journal, Reuters and the Associated Press have also given the story top billing on their homepages this afternoon. also has the news.
How big is the risk? Pretty small from where we’re sitting. There are six reports of women with clots from among the 7 mn doses given (in total, to men and women) in the United States. Those same women, if on birth control pills, have an even higher risk: The US Food and Drug Administration “estimates that the risk of birth control users developing a serious blood clot is three to nine women out of 10,000, every year.”
Haven’t we heard this story before? AstraZeneca’s jab has faced similar charges, with a rate of 166 reported clots in 37 mn doses administered — meaning you have about a 3x greater chance of getting a clot after taking AstraZeneca than you do of being hit by lightning the next time you’re allow to go to Europe for vacation.
Also making headlines abroad:
- Europe could impose mandatory vaccination after the European Court of Human Rights ruled that obligatory vaccinations are “necessary,” backing the Czech Republic’s requirement for mandatory pre-school vaccination, Deutsche Welle reported.
- BTC has hit an all-time high of USD 63k just one day before Coinbase goes public through a direct listing that could see the crypto exchange valued at as much as USD 100 bn.
- Countries are up in arms over Japan wanting to dump wastewater from its Fukushima nuclear plant in the ocean, with South Korea, China and environmentalist groups expressing their concern on the impact on the local fishing ecosystem and international public health. (Reuters)
- Hyundai Motor's execs are under investigation for insider trading after South Korea's financial watchdog launched a probe over allegations that the officials had received undisclosed information related to the company’s potential cooperation with Apple on a self-driving vehicle project, the Financial Times reports.
🗓 CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR- “Summer hours” will come into effect for retail stores and restaurants as of this Saturday, 17 April. This means retail shops can close at 11 pm (instead of 10 pm during the winter), while cafes and restaurants can stay open until 1 am (instead of midnight currently). We have more details on the winter vs. summer hours here.
🚙 FOR YOUR COMMUTE-
Meet the Egyptian truck diver being hailed as a hero for ramming a murder suspect’s vehicle in Riverside County, California, allowing the cops to get their guy. Ahmed Shaaban is so OG Egyptian that he shows up on Fox (forgive him for that, please) wearing an “Egyptian Dad” T-shirt in the form of a nutrition label. Watch the interview (runtime: 3:34) including footage of the crash) or read more here.
You may now stop cleaning all the things. Remember those Atlantic pieces we told you about last year and last month? The ones talking about how the constant washing of hands (and groceries and everything else in your life) to ward off covid was … useless theater? Well, the US Centers for Disease Control now concurs, acknowledging what scientists have been saying for months: “The risk of catching the coronavirus from surfaces is low.” The New York Times (hardly a cheerleader for throwing caution to the wind) goes so far as to quote an expert on airborne viruses as saying, “There’s really no evidence that anyone has ever gotten Covid-19 by touching a contaminated surface.”
Sign #621 of the End Times- We just broke the spine (metaphorically) on Civilized to Death: The price of progress, a rare exercise by a public intellectual that reads like a page turner without — but stops well short of the lunatic fringe. So far, Christopher Ryan is convincingly setting up an argument that progress “has perverted the way we live: how we eat, learn, feel, mate, parent, communicate, work, and die.” Check it out on Amazon, or go listen to his interview with Paul Saladino, the MD who deploys a pretty deep command of biochemistry to advocate for an animal-based diet (trigger warning for some of y’all, we know, but the interview is on point).
Sign #622 of the End Times- AI is being used to teach empathy to humans working at call centers by monitoring the words, tone and pitch of customer calls, writes the Financial Times. Using tools such as Cogito, when AI detects the customer starting to sound irritated or upset, it will send an “empathy cue” that reminds the worker to think about how the customer is feeling and try to relate. The antidote to bad customer service, the FT’s Sarah O’Connor argues? “If you want people to act like humans, try treating them that way.”
Building a software business? You need to meet Joel Spolsky. Before 37Signals became Basecamp, before the jocks decided they wanted to become nerds, there was Spolsky: A New York-based coder whose entrepreneurial bent gave birth to Trello and Stack Overflow / StackExchange, among other products. His blog, simply titled Joel on Software, is relatively dormant now, but the wisdom he cranked out in 1,114 articles (to say nothing of his excellent column for Inc) makes it a must read if you’re an entrepreneur at heart — no matter what sort of business you’re building.
We know we’re late to this party, but are any of you as bummed as we were to discover that Jerry’s apartment hallway can’t exist? Esquire has the story.
📺 ON THE TUBE TONIGHT-
As the Oscars grow nearer, check out Promising Young Woman, which picked up five nominations. The revenge thriller follows a young woman who decides to set up situations where she can find and call out [redacted] assaulters. Plagued by a traumatizing past, 29-year-old Cassie Thomas decides to become predator instead of prey in a film that explores all the players in [redacted] cases and how even friends and family can be complicit. The Hollywood Reporter says the film “refuses to let anyone off the hook.” Promising Young Woman is a contender for best picture, best film editing, and best original screenplay, while Emerald Fennell is up for best director and Carey Mulligan is up for best actress. You can watch the film on Amazon Prime or Apple TV.
⚽ We’ve got two Champions League matches for you tonight at 9pm: Paris Saint-Germain is up against Bayern Munich, while Chelsea will be playing against Porto.
🍰 EAT THIS TONIGHT-
What to bring to your 3ezooma tonight: Nola has gone above and beyond with their Ramadan treats this year and we don’t know where to begin. Their sweet offerings are mostly classic desserts including kunafa, roz bel laban and mahalabiya with a modern twist. We’re eyeing their konafa Lotus cake, om ali crème brûlée, kunafa Nutella nut bomb, and Cadbury biscuit tart. They’ve also got roz bel laban mi3amar, an odret ader cake, an oriental plate of atayef and bala7 el sham. If you’re headed to a gathering with kids and you want to be the hero of the 3ezooma, check out their Ramadan DIY kit box, with empty kunafa bites that come with piping bags of Lotus and Nutella, as well as some cute arts and crafts including a wood fanoos.
We sat down with Laila and Adel Sedky from Nola on our podcast Making It last year ahead of Ramadan and the duo gave us the rundown of how much time and effort it takes to perfect the perfect Ramadan desserts (listen, runtime: 38:51).
Also: We still maintain that all of Egypt owes a debt of gratitude to our friend Youssef “Abu Kunafa” Kamal, now at Arqaam, whose family we credit for having been the first to ever make kunafa Nutella.
🎤 OUT AND ABOUT-
There’s not much happening on the first day of Ramadan — a day best spent with family and friends.
💡 UNDER THE LAMPLIGHT-
Ramadan Recipes: From Our Holiday Table to Yours is one of the few English language cookbooks revolving around the holy month. Written by Samantha Sanchez, the book features dishes from Morocco, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkey, Albania, Uzbekistan, and Egypt. It’s interesting to see the flavors and recipes Muslim cultures around the world have come up with to celebrate Ramadan, and its a cheap read that promises to spice up your Iftar table with new culinary surprises.
Or stay closer to home with Samia Abdennour’s Egyptian Cooking from the AUC Press, first published in 1984 and a “a must-have cookbook for anyone who wants to eat as the Egyptians do.”
🌤 TOMORROW’S WEATHER- Expect daytime highs of 29°C and nighttime lows of 14°C before the weather gets hotter (and potentially more dusty) in the coming days, our favorite weather app tells us.