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Monday, 15 May 2017

What we’re tracking on 15 May 2017

Is yours one of the 1.3 mn computers believed to still be vulnerable to WannaCry, the ransomware infection that swept the globe over the weekend? The Financial Times reports that British intelligence has warned businesses must brace themselves for “further cyber-attacks this week on a potentially ‘significant scale.’” Some 10k businesses and other organizations have been hit so far in 150 countries, the Verge reports, and things could get worse today when vulnerable users fire up their word terminals as the western work week resumes, security analysts are warning. The UAE’s Comae Technologies is blogging in full-geek detail about the attack (and getting plenty of media attention for it) and is now warning that two new variants of the ransomware are now in the wild.

Let the budget debate begin: Finance Minister Amr El Garhy’s 2017-18 budget goes up for discussion at the House Budget Committee today.

On the use of slush funds: Finance Ministry officials will appear before the House of Representatives’ Economics Committee today to brief MPs on the latest on the so-called “special revenue” funds (also known as “special accounts” or “private funds”), Al Mal says. The House is looking to draft legislation that would govern the slush funds and link them directly to state coffers. The House has for some years now questioned the practice of the special accounts, which are funded with revenues separate from the normal budget process, maintained at the central bank, and which can reportedly be spent on a minister’s authority with little oversight. See past examples here (last August) and here (last November). MPs complained earlier this year that some ministries were refusing to be transparent about special funds under their control.

Pitching for investment in Beijing: Trade and Industry Minister Tarek Kabil and Investment Minister Sahar Nasr were plugging investment in Egypt yesterday at Beijing’s Belt and Road Forum, according to Al Ahram. But there’s trouble in Paradise: India opted not to send an official delegation to the gathering, “and instead criticised China’s global initiative, warning of an ‘unsustainable debt burden’ for countries involved,” Reuters reports. While a handful of Indian academics apparently made the pilgrimage, an Indian foreign ministry spokesman “said India could not accept a project that compromised its sovereignty.” The newswire said India “is incensed that one of the key Belt and Road projects passes through Kashmir and Pakistan.” Meanwhile, General Electric, Honeywell and Citi are among the big US corporations that want in on Belt and Road projects, the New York Times writes.

Is Donald Trump planning a sweeping shuffle of leading West Wing personalities? Writing that The Donald is “frustrated and angry at everyone,” Axios’ typically well-sourced Mike Allen writes that the president is “considering a ‘huge reboot’ that could take out everyone from Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and chief strategist Steve Bannon, to counsel Don McGahn and press secretary Sean Spicer.” Allen cites unnamed White House sources, and his piece is causing a stir among the punditocracy in DC this morning. Allen adds that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is just about the only cabinet member with whom Trump is happy at the moment.

PSA on a slow news morning: All seven seasons of Mad Men are on Egyptian Netflix. So, too, is the full second season of the Netflix original Sense8, for the more adventurous of you. We’re adding both to the queue for Ramadan which, incidentally, begins in something like 11 days.

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