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Monday, 29 May 2017

What we’re tracking on 29 May 2017

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu arrive in Cairo today for talks with their Egyptian counterparts. On the agenda are terrorism and the conflicts in Syria and Libya, Youm7 reports. Private-sector intelligence consultancy Stratfor suggests the Kremlin will be looking to expand its Libya operations and build up its rumored Sidi Barrani air base in Western Egypt, whose existence both countries have denied. Egypt can now “leverage its healthier relationship with the US under Trump to try and extract concessions from Moscow,” says the brief. Egypt’s ambassador to Russia tells Al Shorouk that the two sides will also talk about restoring flights between the two countries and finalizing contracts for the Daba’a nuclear power plants, two closely related issues on which we’ll be keeping a close eye.

The visit comes three weeks after the latest of many reports that Cairo and Moscow have basically concluded negotiations on the plant. Russia’s semiofficial Sputnik re-upped the story yesterday, but El Dostor suggests that the next round of nuke talks will be sometime in mid-June when the Electricity Ministry sends a delegation over to Moscow to meet with Rosatom, which will build the USD 30 bn plant. The long and the short of it: Don’t expect today’s visit to result in the resumption of flights. That awaits resolution of the contracts for the nuke plants.

Stop us if you think you’ve heard this one before: The government will begin implementing the fuel subsidy smart card system “very soon,” sources told Al Masry Al Youm. For the stragglers who have not gotten their cards yet, you can ask for them to be delivered through this link.

Call ahead if you’re due to travel through Heathrow — more than a third of British Airways’ flights were canceled yesterday as the airline struggled to resume operations following a catastrophic failure of IT systems on Saturday. “Air industry experts have warned that it could take days for services to fully return to normal and clear the backlog,” NBC News reports. Passengers hit by cancellation can claim up to GBP 200 a day for a room and GBP 25 per person for meals, plus the cost of a cab to a hotel, BBC notes.

We’ve heard it before, but… The US is once again considering the idea of banning in-cabin use of electronic devices larger than a mobile phone, according to remarks made on a weekend talk show by the US secretary of homeland security. Bloomberg and Reuters have the news.

If you read only one non-Egypt story today, make it “Is China’s economy turning Japanese?in the Financial Times. “There are few things studied as closely by the Chinese Communist party as how to avoid the fate of its Soviet counterpart. In an internal meeting after he assumed power in 2012, President Xi Jinping said no one in the Soviet Union had been ‘man enough’ to stand up to Mikhail Gorbachev and glasnost. But for Mr Xi another historical event from the same era may warrant more immediate attention. It is just over 30 years since Japan began inflating a property and stock market bubble whose implosion ravaged public confidence, cowed corporations and scarred an economy for decades. China’s priority today is to avoid that fate.

And while you’re on the FT’s site, remember that Daesh hates music — so go spin a record. So suggests the Financial Times’ pop culture critic, who writes, “All types of music, from nasheeds to the songs of Ariana Grande, whose concert was targeted a week ago, share a single characteristic. They are a physiological experience, capable of doing powerful and unbidden things to minds and bodies. Music triggers emotions and memories. It is invisible, heard as acoustic signals, but we also feel it at a bodily level, through vibrations. The science writer Philip Ball describes it in his book The Music Instinct as ‘the most remarkable blend of art and science, logic and emotion, physics and psychology, known to us.’”

With that in mind, this morning’s edition of Enterprise is brought to you by Apple Music’s Best of ‘70s Metal with a homegrown playlist of late ‘80s Seattle stuff thrown in for good measure. Also fueling Enterprise this morning: Our custom brew of Starbucks’ Ethiopian blend, guzzled for sohour. Yes, Ethiopian — the GERD gives us GERD, but this is the finest mass-market coffee out there. Previously secret directions for making coffee the Enterprise way:

  • Buy your Ethiopian blend ground for French press — that’s nice, big, fat grinds. Story it in the freezer between pots;
  • Boil water;
  • Put six level 2T scoops (that’s 12 tbsp) of coffee in an 8-cup Bodum or some other French press;
  • Let water cool 30 seconds after it comes to a boil;
  • Pour water over the coffee grinds in the Bodum, filling it as close to the top as you can;
  • Stir the mixture 25 times with a large spoon to aerate the grinds and make sure they’re sodden all the way through;
  • Let sit 1 minute — no more, no matter what the interwebs tells you;
  • Press and decant into a coffee flask to keep it warm — never leave the coffee to sit with the grinds unless you want to drink bitter, vaguely gritty sludge.

It’s literally that simple, but we (immodestly) think the results are just perfect: A clear, crisp coffee with great afternotes and no sludge. Drink it black, ba’a.

PSA- Your decision to burn the midnight oil may get your boss that presentation she wanted by morning, but it could well burn out your brain, too, increasing your odds of developing dementia later in life. The New Scientist looks at how “the brain starts to eat itself after chronic sleep deprivation.”

Oh, and give your US counterparty a break if they’re not quick to answer the phone or email today. It’s a long weekend for Memorial Day in the United States, marking the start of summer over there. ‘Murica returns to work tomorrow.

So, when do we eat? Maghrib prayers are at 18:50 CLT in Cairo, and the cutoff time for sohour is 3:12am.

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