Monday, 21 September 2015
WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY
As the annual pre-Eid news slowdown begins, the biggest news of the day is that we’re getting an extra vacation day, folks: Banks will be closed from Wednesday, 23 September until Sunday, 27 September for Eid Al Adha, the CBE announced. Banks and markets re-open on Monday, 28 September. Prime Minister Sherif Ismail also announced that the public sector will be off during the same days, according to Cabinet spokesman Hossam El-Kawish, Ahram Online reported.
Shakeup in TV Land: If there’s one thing that makes us dread the approach of election season a little bit less, it’s the fact that veteran journalist and talkshow host Ibrahim Eissa promises to be in fighting shape as he returns to Al Kahera wal Nas (AKN), the Tarek Nour Group-owned network that made him a household name. His new show “With Ibrahim Eissa“ (promo; running time; 1:36) will debut in October, just in time for the peak of this fall’s elections for the House of Representatives. Eissa returns to AKN from Naguib Sawiris’ ONTV.
The background: Eissa made history with AKN, which he called home for two years before moving to ONTV, becoming a pillar of must-see talk television when he was the first media figure to go head-to-head with the Muslim Brotherhood in 2012. One episode in particular made him and the network together Public Enemy Number One. The only thing that causes more angst than having elections is not having elections, and if there’s one media celebrity who understands this in his bones, it’s Eissa, who returns to AKN for the final phase of the “transition roadmap.” Eissa has a history of “informed opposition,” recently setting his sights on the extremist teachings at Al Azhar, the seat of Sunni learning, as well as harsh criticism of now-former Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab and his government. We’ll be looking for The Suspendered-One to pull no punches during a heated parliamentary contest — and to keep hammering the need for religious reforms.
On Sunday, Lamis El Hadidy, host of Hona El Assema, interviewed Mohamed Hassan, the father of 14-year old Ahmed Mohamed, the Sudanese-American boy who was arrested when authorities mistook a digital clock he assembled for a homemade bomb. During the interview, Hassan described the events which led up to his son’s arrest and the growing tide of discrimination Muslims have experienced since 11 September 2001.
Hassan: “I have been living the United States for the past 30 years. Our lives changed forever after 11 September. The discrimination we are experiencing today is the result of people’s misunderstanding of our religion. I hope that my son is the last person to suffer from this discrimination … As you know, President Obama invited my son to visit the White House. The fact that my son received so much attention following his arrest indicates that Americans are constantly trying to correct and undo the mistakes they made in the past; this is a good thing.”
(Recently, however, there have been allegations that Ahmed Mohamed did not in fact build the clock himself, but rather took a vintage Radio Shack digital alarm clock [pictured in this Ebay listing], removed it from its casing, and placed it in a pencil box. Mohamed Hassan is an interesting character and seems a bit of an attention seeker, as he’s campaigned for the presidency of Sudan twice and acted as a “defense attorney” for the Qur’an (we kid you not) in 2011, after responding to a television advertisement by lunatic-fringe Florida pastor Terry Jones. After having promised for months to burn the Qur’an, one would assume that an individual of moderate intelligence would expect that the Qur’an would probably not be receiving a fair trial, and really begs the question as to why Hassan, who calls himself a sheikh, would agree to participate. The Qur’an ended up being burned, leading to two days of protests in Afghanistan which led to the deaths of nine people — seven of whom were UN staff killed when protesters stormed a UN compound. The debate over whether the school was within their right to arrest Ahmed, and whether or not it was because he is Muslim, has largely settled around political lines in the United States, with a number of conservatives criticizing Obama’s invitation to the White House.)
Meanwhile, Youssef El Housseiny, host of El Sada El Mohtaramoon, examined the challenges that lay ahead for Egypt’s newly appointed Agriculture Minister, Essam Fayed. “By Ibrahim Mahlab’s own admission, the Agriculture Ministry is drowning in corruption. We Egyptians no longer have the patience for this flagrant corruption … The new [agriculture] minister will face numerous challenges, namely bringing an end to the illegal selling of the state’s land and preventing land violations along the Cairo-Alexandria and Cairo Ismailia highways,” said El Housseiny.
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We weren’t in a mood to share, anyway: Eni’s gas supergiant gas field, Zohr, does not extend into Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), French oil and gas consulting and software solutions provider Beicip-Franlab says. However, seismographic data suggests that the field may stretch into Total’s block 11 in Cyprus, TRT World says, but the “thickness” of the reservoir decreases significantly, findings suggested. Cyprus is still investigating whether the field extends into its waters or not.
President Abdel Fattah El Sisi had exactly two messages for the Cabinet economic group: Make sure Egyptians have access to affordable medicines, fuel and food — and keep foreign investors happy. The president’s remarks came during his first sit-down with the members of the economic group in Prime Minister Sherif Ismail’s newly sworn-in cabinet. The president suggested the ministers might want to consider paying attention to little details such as “follow through” if Egypt is to win meaningful FDI, particularly in projects including the development of the Suez Canal Zone and the 1.5 mn feddan reclamation project. A readout from Ittihadiya, which features prominently in Al-Ahram this morning, also suggests the president has suggested that FX for imports should be targeted only to essential goods. Members of the Cabinet economic group include the ministers of planning, finance, supply and domestic trade, investment, international cooperation, petroleum, and trade and industry.
Al-Ahram also covers in some detail this morning the official cabinet statement on the first meeting of the Ismail government.
Newly sworn-in ministers have been issuing statements and outlining their plans since landing a seat at the cabinet table. Highlights:
Tourism ministry and JWT plan to launch promotional campaign in six U.S. cities + five in Latin America, Netherlands and Belgium. Zahi Hawass, Al-Ahram Beverages pitching in to help: The Ministry of Tourism, along with JWT, will begin a number of campaigns abroad promoting Egypt, starting with the Netherlands and Belgium near the end of October, according to a statement by an unnamed source in the ministry, as reported in Al Borsa and translated by Daily News Egypt. The Egyptian General Authority for Tourism Promotion will select six hotel managers to take part in the campaign, whose travel expenses are to be paid for by Al Ahram Beverages. The managers will receive training by JWT, who will communicate with the Dutch and Belgian media and work with Hill+Knowlton Strategies to work on improving Egypt’s image. Last week, Daily News Egypt reported that Hill+Knowlton’s recommendations regarding the Western Desert incident had been that “the Ministry of Tourism has to coordinate with all the different parties in the sector and the other ministries, and to announce the investigations of the accident in a conference to which all the international media, especially from Europe and Latin America, are invited.” The next campaign to be launched before the end of the year will be set in six American cities and five Latin American cities, including Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires and Bogota. The Americas campaign is set to involve the help of former antiquities minister Zahi Hawass.
Central Bank of Egypt Governor Hisham Ramez suggested yesterday that Investment Minister Ashraf Salman’s comments on the fundamental inevitability of devaluation were at best unhelpful and contributed to the USD’s strengthening in the parallel market, Al Mal reports.
The shakeup at Telecom Egypt continues as TE gets new chair; TE Data chair to be announced as early as today: Waleed Gad has been appointed the new chairman of Telecom Egypt (TE), replacing Mohamed Salem, who resigned after CIT Minister Khaled Negm was forced out of cabinet in the recent shuffle. Gad, a TE board member since 2012, and has served as vice president of Fujitsu Services for the Middle East. The landline monopoly’s occasional provider of data services, TE Data, is also due to hold a board meeting today to appoint a new chairman, Telecom Egypt CEO Osama Yassin told Al Mal yesterday. Yassin explained that TE Data has also added new board members, the most notable of which is Hassan Helmy as deputy managing director.
Fertilizer industry’s crisis could be resolved — if producers pay-up. State-run EGAS is reportedly prepared to cover 50% of fertilizer companies’ natural gas needs at USD 9.00 per mmBTU as opposed to the current estimated price of USD 4.50 per mmBTU, an EGAS representative told Al Borsa. The anonymous source said that fertilizer companies accepted the offer “without hesitation” because of losses incurred due to a near-complete production stoppage since the beginning of 2015. Further afield: An official at Helwan Cement said the company is willing to buy gas at the price set by EGAS due to lock in its energy supply.
Union Fenosa reportedly ready to drop arbitration case against Egypt: Union Fenosa Gas (UFG) said it is willing to drop its arbitration case against the Egyptian government, Al Shorouk reports. UFG asked Egypt to allow it to import gas from Israel directly, or give it access to gas from the Shorouk block for use at its idle liquefaction plant in Damietta. A UFG delegation is expected to visit Egypt to continue the negotiations. UFG is a joint venture between Eni and Spain’s Gas Natural. Its Damietta gas export plant stopped operating in 2012 as chronic gas shortages prompted the Oil Ministry to funnel gas into the domestic grid rather than to LNG facilities. UFG filed a complaint with the International Chamber of Commerce in 2013. In an interview with Daily News Egypt published on Sunday, El Molla declined to comment on whether UFG or BG Group would be allowed to import natural gas from Israel, but said that talks with both firms are ongoing. “Both companies that you are talking about will be part of the solution of the energy shortage crisis; all the scenarios are on the table.”
The New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA) awarded SODIC a 30.76 feddan (30 acre) plot of land in Sixth of October, SODIC said in an EGX statement. The land “is located in the heart of Sixth of October City,” a ten-minute drive from the company’s mixed use development, SODIC West. SODIC says it acquired the land plot at a cost of EGP 211 mn payable to the government over four years. In other SODIC news, Al Mal reports that SODIC phase one of the company’s North Coast community Caesar has sold-out. SODIC says it managed to complete the sale of the first phase in just four months. The newspaper also notes SODIC as having completed 40-50% of the construction work for its Eastown project in New Cairo.
Tahya Masr has reportedly allocated EGP 100 mn to a new, four-phase taxi replacement program nationwide, Al Borsa reports, starting initially with about 1,000 vehicles, without getting into details about which governorates. Expect domestic assemblers to get a shot in the arm from the program: The last “white taxi” program provided financing for taxi owners who traded in aging cabs new locally-assembled white cabs. Tahya Masr will cooperate with the social Fund for Development on the program. In other news, SFD chief Soha Suleiman said yesterday that the fund will pump a further EGP 400 mn in financing into the market by the end of the year, including through four programs with Tahya Masr.
The Consumer Protection Agency (CPA) ordered Beyti to put the production of its Tropicana-branded apple juice on hold and withdraw existing packs from the market. The CPA is reacting to claims made on social media that the apple juice’s taste has changed and that Beyti has secretly withdrawn the product from the market. There are general health and safety concerns, the head of the CPA said, and a committee will be formed to inspect Beyti’s production facilities in Beheira. The company was also referred to the general prosecutor. (Read in Arabic and here. The story has also crossed into English here.)
Fighting in Benghazi raises tensions ahead of ‘peace talks’: Fighting erupted west of Benghazi on Saturday between General Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army forces and fighters allied to Daesh, according to a medical source and local residents speaking to Reuters. Clashes, which involved both artillery and airstrikes, killed at least six and wounded ten others. The fighting comes at a bad time for peace talks aimed at creating a unity government between the internationally-recognized government in the east, to which Haftar is allied, and the Islamist rebels in Tripoli, whose ranks include the Muslim Brotherhood and who had staged a coup following their defeat in Libya’s last parliamentary elections. The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) came out strongly against Haftar’s airstrikes in a statement on Sunday, saying they were “a clear attempt to undermine and derail the ongoing efforts to end the conflict.” The negotiations are currently taking place in Skhirat, Morocco, and have entered “a final and most critical stage.”
… The ongoing chaos in Libya makes it a key component in the refugee and migrant crisis facing Europe, with nearly 4,700 migrants and refugees rescued off Libya’s coast by the Italian coast guard on Saturday. One woman was found dead among those rescued, according to Reuters.
U.S. private equity firm TPG has made its first investment in Africa, acquiring a minority stake in a chain of private schools in Morocco to “tap into a middle class which is spending more on education,” the WSJ’s Frontiers blog reported. The firm, which is partnered with Satya Capital Ltd., will pay 250 mn Moroccan dirhams for a minority stake in Ecoles Yassamine. The school chain “educates 6,000 students in six schools, and plans to build and buy more Moroccan schools before expanding to other countries in Africa.” TPG is investing in Africa through its growth fund.
Arctic must be drilled for oil -Royal Dutch Shell CEO: “The amount of energy we consume is going to double in the first half of the century so we will have to supply twice as much as we do today as an industry. Most renewables produce electricity, and electricity is just 20% of the energy mix. Where is the other 80% going to come from?” said Royal Dutch Shell CEO Ben van Beurden, according to John Rees of the Financial Mail. With regard to the acquisition of BG Group, Van Beurden was quoted as saying “When we did the BG transaction, people might have been worried it would put the dividend at risk. But I wanted to make sure that is not the case. For the rest of the year it will be USD 1.88 per share and it is going to be at least that amount next year.” (Read) According to the US Geological Survey (pdf), the Arctic accounts for c.25% of the world’s undiscovered oil and gas, with 84% of that offshore. Van Beurden is also quoted at the end of a New York Times piece on the challenges facing arctic drilling as epitomized by the Russian village of Teriberka, which has fallen into decline after Gazprom was forced to ditch plans to develop a large offshore gasfield called Shtokman. With regard to Shell’s activities in Arctic Alaska, Van Beurden says “Alaska is a long-term play,” he said. “That is the way you have to look at it. We can’t be driven by today’s, tomorrow’s, or next year’s, or last year’s oil price.”
Beheading and crucifixion of 21-year old Saudi arrested for anti-government protests, firearms offenses awaits ratification of King Salman: Arrested at age 17, Ali Mohammed al-Nimr is the nephew of a prominent Shia cleric and political activist named Sheikh Nimr Baqr al-Nimr, who was also sentenced to death for his speeches against the Saudi king. Human rights organization Reprieve says that Al-Nimr was convicted based on a forced confession that was extracted through torture. Al-Nimr was sentenced to death in 2014, and his final appeal has now been dismissed, meaning his execution may take place at any time following the king’s ratification. Al-Nimr is to be first beheaded, and then crucified.
EGYPT IN THE NEWS
The lead story on Egypt in the international press heading into this morning focused on the flooding of the remaining Hamas-operated border tunnels. The AP‘s brief coverage notes that Hamas has called on Egypt to stop the project, which includes establishing fish farms in the flooded buffer zone, saying the move would further isolate Gaza. Hamas also says that the project could threaten homes on the Palestinian side of the border and is a threat to groundwater. Al Jazeera has a blog post on the story under the title Strangled: Gaza after Egypt floods tunnels, with part of the url reading ‘horror-fear-gaza-egypt-floods’ and tagged under ‘human rights.’
The second item gaining international attention is news of the bomb that went off in Mohandiseen on Sunday which injured two and led to no fatalities, as noted in National Security below. As with the above story, most outlets used the AP’s short report.
The Economist’s print edition joins in covering the mistaken killing of the 12 tourists in the Western desert saying “instead of helping secure Egypt from the jihadist menace, its military inadvertently dealt a deadly blow to a tourism industry that has already been battered by years of political upheaval and terrorist violence.”
Killing of Mexican tourists in Egypt: How did the tragedy happen? Sonia Farid reviews in Al Arabiya several statements made in the Egyptian media regarding the Western Desert incident of last week, including “Fire in the Oasis” by Abdullah al-Sinawi in Al Shorouk, (Read in Arabic) among others.
Feminist groups operating in Egypt are trying to change “their way of action, from emergency to sustainability, with more or less success,” Florence Massena writes for Al-Monitor. “I guess it became too hard to convert ourselves to an awareness group; we were not specialized in that matter,” Leslie Piquemal, in charge of logistics at OpAntiSH, told Massena. Another group, the Basma organisation, says it is taking “baby steps” believing that “education to gender-biased issues is the only way for a long-term solution” to combat gender-based violence.
Al Arabiya has a brief note on the demolition of the iconic Tahrir graffiti wall near the old AUC campus, citing Al Ahram, which says it is being taken down to make room for a garden. (Read)
Darth L. Jackson: We’re in a Samuel L. Jackson mood lately. Watch this internet classic from 2010 where Darth Vader is voiced by Samuel L. Jackson, most of which is taken from his dialogue in Pulp Fiction. (Watch, running time: 2:55)
Eni’s gas discovery could extend into Petroceltic’s concession area, broker says
Proactive Investors | 17 Sep 2015
Eni’s gas discovery at the Zohr field could extend into Petroceltic’s concession area, Dublin based brokerage Davy said. “The physical footprint of the discovery “may well” crossover into Petroceltic’s 50% owned North Port Fouad block,” a note by Davy read. That would not only increase the value of Petroceltic’s North Port Fouad concession, but also make the company a more relevant target for possible M&A suitors. (Read)
Nexans to supply BP with umbilicals for Libra and Taurus fields
Energy Business Review | 18 Sep 2015
French firm Nexans was awarded a contract to supply static umbilicals for BP’s and Dea’s West Nile Delta Taurus and Libra fields off the coast of Alexandria. “Nexans will supply 48km umbilicals comprise electrical and fibre optic cables as well as hydraulic and chemical lines for subsea development of the fields. The scope of the contract also includes accessories for the project,” Energy Business Review said without presenting the financial terms of the agreement. The Taurus and Libra fields, which were discovered in 2000-2001, are tied in to existing BG Group-operated Burullus facilities and are a part of the first development phase of the West Nile Delta fields, the publication added. (Read)
25 companies pull tender requirements to supply 3 mn smart meters
Al Borsa | 20 Sep 2015
Twenty-five corporations including Siemens, Huawei, ZTE and ABB have taken out the bid documents outlining conditions for an upcoming tender to supply the state with 3 mn smart electricity meters. The tender will require that bidders form consortia, with each one including at least one expert in meter production and another a specialist in communications systems. (Read)
Installation of steam facilities and the drilling of up to five additional wells – Lagia Oil Field
Company Statement | 17 Sep 2015
South African oil and gas exploration company SacOil, through its subsidiary Mena International Petroleum Company, has begun phase 2 of its development at its 100% owned Lagia oil field in Sinai. The second phase will witness the drilling of at least 5 additional thermal wells and the installation of steam facilities. Steaming will first focus on existing wells, which at the moment are producing from cold flow only. Drilling of Lagia 11 to 15 is set to begin in mid-October 2015. (Read)
Government to choose between OC and a Chinese company to implement monorail project
Al Shorouk | 20 Sep 2015
The government is going to choose one of Orascom Construction (OC) and an unnamed Chinese contractor to implement the Sixth of October monorail project, Al Shorouk said. The project will be implemented in partnership with Bombardier and Arab Contractors. Sources told Al Shorouk NUCA had already gave OC the green light to begin negotiating project funding with domestic banks, but talks had stopped as OC did not reply to the banks’ offer and the government has not yet said whether it will guarantee the loan or not. OC was reportedly in talks for a 14-year, EGP 5.4 bn loan. (Read in Arabic)
REAL ESTATE + HOUSING
Demolishing the AUC science building is part of developing downtown Cairo, governor says
Al Shorouk | 20 Sep 2015
The AUC science building in the Tahrir campus will be demolished as part of the project to redevelop downtown Cairo, the capital’s governor, Galal Saeed said. The university has agreed to the plan to demolish the building, Saeed claimed, adding that the building has not been in use “for years.” AUC is expect to turn the site into an open green space, the governor said. (Read in Arabic)
Lafarge Egypt to pump EUR 29 mn into alternative fuel
Al Mal | 20 Sep 2015
Lafarge Egypt is aiming to pump EUR 29 mn investments into its factories’ energy axis, of which EUR 14 mn are to transfer to using coal, according to Lafarge Egypt Executive Chairman Hussein Mansy. The investment will be used to buy the necessary equipment to use coal as an alternative fuel, of which the company has already spent EUR 8 mn. Mansy expects the production rate of all cement factories to increase after receiving the official licenses from the Ministry of Environment to import and use coal, highlighting that his company uses petroleum coke with a temporary license from the ministry until his company can complete consolidating its legal standing. (Read in Arabic)
Housing Ministry allocates EGP 811 mn to raze ‘unsafe’ informal settlements
Al Mal | 20 Sep 2015
The Ismail government has allocated nearly EGP 811 from the Informal Settlements Development Facility (ISDF) to implement a three-year plan to remove “unsafe informal settlements” in Egypt, Housing Minister Moustafa Madbouli said. The Housing Ministry is now in charge of informal settlements issues after the dissolution of the Ministry of Urban Renewal and Informal Settlements on Saturday. In regards to the Maspero Triangle, which is a designated “unsafe” area under ISDF regulations, Madbouli said that he will hold meetings with investors and landowners to determine the necessary renovations. It’s not clear how the Maspero Triangle international masterplanning contest will be managed, however. (Read in Arabic)
Tutankhamun’s tomb in Valley of the Kings closed for renovations starting in October
Ahram Online | 20 Sep 2015
King Tutankhamun in Valley of the Kings in Luxor will be closed for restorations starting from 1 October, with work lasting between one and three months, according to antiquities minister Mamdouh Eldamaty. Part of the work will see the mummy moved to a side room to provide a more suitable environment for its preservation. (Read)
TELECOMS + ICT
TE Data text messages hacked
Al Masry Al Youm | 19 Sep 2015
TE Data announced in a statement on Sunday that a group calling itself The Curse of the Pharaohs tried to hack the ISP’s text message system, sending out a message urging users to join its internet boycott on Sunday. The hackers, however, were not able to reach users’ personal information, the statement claimed. (Read in Arabic)
BANKING + FINANCE
CBE conducting field studies to assess progress in financial inclusion
Daily News Egypt | 18 Sep 2015
CBE is running field surveys and extensive studies in the Egyptian market to identify the obstacles hindering progress in financial inclusion domestically, Mai Abol Naga, head of the Supervisory Instructions department at CBE, told DNE. “The survey is designed to measure the amount of knowledge of dealing with various financial institutions, such as banks, insurance companies and real estate financing companies. It aims to identify the reasons of financial exclusion, as well as to reach a national strategy to apply the concept of financial inclusion for all segments of society, in addition to establishing rules to protect clients,” the paper said. The results will be used to guide the CBE to the best method to achieve financial inclusion. (Read)
Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce rejects Labor Law
Al Shorouk | 20 Sep 2015
The Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce has announced that it rejects the new Labor Law for not linking salaries to productivity, said Ahmed El Wakil, president of the federation, contrary to promises made to investors at the EEDC in Sharm this past March. (Read in Arabic)
EGYPT POLITICS + ECONOMICS
Arab Parliament to send delegation to monitor elections
Al Masry Al Youm | 20 Sep 2015
The Arab Parliament will send a delegation made up of several non-Egyptian Arab nationalities to monitor the parliamentary elections in Egypt set to take place between 17 October and 02 December 2015, says Arab Parliament speaker Ahmed El Jarwan. The Arab Parliament had previously monitored the constitutional referendum, and the presidential elections. (Read in Arabic)
High-ranking policeman assassinated in Egypt’s North Sinai: Officer Ahmed Mohamed Abdel-Sattar was shot dead in the early hours of Sunday by unidentified assailants, the second high-profile assassination in North Sinai in the past two weeks, as noted by Ahram Online. General Khaled Kamal was shot at a security checkpoint in Arish on Wednesday. Last week’s Martyr’s Right campaign resulted in the death of 370 militants, according to official reports.
Three policemen were injured in a bombing near a Foreign Ministry office in Ahmed Orabi street in Mohandiseen: The bomb squad found remains of a homemade bomb made with nails and gunpowder, Shorouk reported. Investigators are gathering surveillance tapes from nearby facilities. Daesh claimed responsibility for the attack on Twitter.
A military statement on Monday announced that five militants were killed and 15 others were arrested on the fourteenth day of Operation Haq El Shaheed [Martyr’s Right], Al Shorouk reports.
ON YOUR WAY OUT
“Egypt is seeking to buy a single liquefied natural gas (LNG) cargo for delivery into its new import terminal on Oct. 10, trade sources said,” according to a brief statement published by Reuters .
Court rejects Mahinour El-Masry’s legal challenge, upholds sentence: An Alexandria appellate court has rejected activist Mahinour El-Masry’s appeal against her 15-month prison sentence for allegedly storming a police station during a protest during Morsi’s reign. (Read)
Fire in Old Cairo’s Jewish Alley injures 4: A fire that broke out early Sunday morning in Haret al-Yahud [The Jewish Quarter] injured four people, according to the ambulance authority head quoted by Ahram Online. Firefighters reportedly used 16 fire trucks and two water tanks to put out the blaze. (Read)
UK scientist seeks permission to edit genes of human embryos: Stem cell scientist Kathy Niakan at London’s Francis Crick Institute has applied to the UK’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority to conduct a series of experiments that involve the editing of genes of human embryos, Reuters reports. The experiments seek to uncover more information about the early stages of human development, and the embryos will not directly be involved in human reproduction. Scientists hope that the work may be applied to better understanding and treating infertility. The move follows an announcement by Chinese researchers earlier this year that they had modified the DNA of human embryos. The Guardian has a brief explainer on the research as well as the genome editing tool Crispr. Earlier this year, a group of scientists called for a worldwide moratorium on Crispr’s use to edit the human genome as “You could exert control over human heredity with this technique, and that is why we are raising the issue,” according to David Baltimore, former president of the California Institute of Technology as quoted by the New York Times.
The 2015 Emmy Awards just wrapped up, with HBO’s Game of Thrones winning a record-setting 12 wins. HBO’s Veep garnered 4 awards, including Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series, supporting actor in a comedy series (Tony Hale), and lead actress in a comedy series (Julia Louis-Dreyfus). Anna Chlumsky was nominated but didn’t win supporting actress in a comedy. Watch her in Amy’s Meltdown, from Veep. (Watch, running time: 1:29)
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