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Wednesday, 14 March 2018

What we’re tracking on 14 March 2018

US President Donald Trump ousted US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson — and Tillerson only found out through Twitter, the New York Times reports. Tillerson told reporters that “the president had called him from Air Force One just after noon — more than three hours after Mr. Trump had tweeted the news of his firing to his 49 mn followers — to inform him personally of the dismissal.” The president pointed out differences in opinion over key areas of foreign policy, including the US’ nuclear agreement with Iran, as the impetus for his decision to cut Tillerson. Trump has tapped Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo to become SecState and appointed Gina Haspel — who allegedly had a “leading role” in operating a notorious CIA torture site — as the first woman to head the CIA.

That makes an Ikhwan-hater the new Secretary of State: As a lawmaker, Pompeo co-sponsored a bill to ban the Ikhwan, despite opposition from Muslim activist groups, according to the Washington Post. Egypt had lent its diplomatic weight to the legislation, so expect Pompeo’s appointment to be welcomed here in Cairo.

Are you really surprised members of our House of Representatives are taking advantage of the presidential election to push for a cabinet shuffle? “It is almost certain that the Ismail Cabinet will submit its resignation following the election,” said the noted gadfly Rep. Moustafa Bakry. Other MPs appear to think that while changes to the cabinet lineup are coming, it will not include the so-called sovereign ministries (Foreign Affairs, Interior, Defense, and Finance), Al Shorouk reports. Most appear united in wanting to evaluate the current Ismail cabinet.

Speaking of the election, citizens living abroad can start voting at Egyptian embassies across the world on Friday, Ahram Gate reports.

Sources close to the potential IPO of Aramco are increasingly pessimistic that the oil giant will see an international listing, according to Reuters. “I would guess it is about even that there will be no international IPO,” said a high-level source familiar with the preparations.

Ten years ago today, Bear Stearns was bailed out and forced into a “hasty weekend shotgun marriage to JPMorgan Chase,” the Wall Street Journal writes in a long take: “Key players have spent the last decade arguing about what was done, defending past decisions and wondering how such a crisis would play out today.”

Television is looking very interesting heading into the last weeks of the month, with Enterprise favourites including Bns, the Americans (the last season), Silicon Valley and Suits (the last season for the Mike and Rachel characters) all returning to a screen near you. And April is looking awesome, too: Westworld will be back on HBO on 22 April in the US, while The Handmaid’s Tale returns three days later. Business Insider has a list of shows it thinks are worth watching through May.

Oh, and Pearl Jam has released a new single to support an upcoming album, their first since Lightning Bolt in 2013.

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