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Thursday, 16 July 2020

What we’re tracking on 16 July 2020

Good morning, ladies and gents, and welcome to what will probably be the final Thursday this month that we arrive in your inbox. Next week we’re being treated to a four-day week courtesy of the 23 July Revolution, with Eid Al Adha likely starting the following Thursday on 30 July.

Looking at the pages of the US press this morning, we’re glad we’re not on the other side of the Atlantic right now. Already comfortably leading the world with 3.5 mn cases, officials in the US are freaking out as cases rise in 41 states. Policymakers are finally getting with the program and beginning to make mask-wearing mandatory while local authorities across the country look to restore lockdown restrictions. Yikes.

Also on the front pages as we woke up this morning: Twitter is in crisis mode after hundreds of verified accounts were hacked in an apparent Bitcoin scam. Some of the platform’s most followed personalities — including Barack Obama, Bill Gates and Kanye West — became inadvertent promoters for a scam that urged users to send USD 1k to a Bitcoin address. The Verge is calling it the “most catastrophic security breach in company history,” and potentially a “global security crisis.”


The Health Ministry confirmed 59 new deaths from covid-19 yesterday, bringing the country’s total death toll to 4,067. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 84,843 confirmed cases of covid-19, after the ministry reported 913 new infections yesterday. We now have a total of 26,135 cases who have fully recovered.

The push continues to keep restaurants open until later: The restaurants division of the Giza Chamber of Commerce is lobbying authorities to have diners and cafeterias in touristic cities stay open until 2am, division head Mohamed Embaby said. The division’s push is adding to the chorus of voices from the industry that want the government to reverse its plans to permanently impose a 10pm closing time for restaurants and coffee shops.



Barcelona could follow other parts of Catalonia back into lockdown in the coming days, as covid-19 cases rise again in the region, just weeks after the government lifted lockdown restrictions, the Guardian reports.

India has also reimposed lockdown measures after the number of confirmed cases crossed the 1 mn mark, the Associated Press reports.

Israel’s economy is now facing “tremendous damage” after a too-hasty reopening in May caused covid-19 cases to jump, and has since had to reimpose lockdown measures. Israeli-American political analyst Joel Rosenberg points a finger of blame at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for being “distracted” by his West Bank annexation plans and leaving the virus to spread again, CNBC reports.

Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, saw a mad rush to stores late last month before the tripling of the country’s VAT rate, a measure taken to stabilize public finances wracked by coronavirus lockdown and low oil prices, says the Financial Times.


The Education Ministry will resolve complaints from private school parents over school fees after the end of the ongoing Thanaweya Amma exam period, Masrawy reports, quoting a ministry source. School parents have complained that they were made to pay bus fees for the second term of last academic year despite schools moving to online learning. Parents and guardians are also complaining over schools continuing to charge them for canceled on-campus activities, and not providing the option to pay the upcoming year’s tuition fees in installments. Read our Blackboard features (here and here) for more on the back-and-forth.

Five new metro stations to open before Eid Al Adha: Authorities will test run five new stations on Metro Line 3 on Saturday ahead of opening before the Eid Al Adha holiday, Al Shorouk reports, citing unnamed sources at the Egyptian Co. For Metro Management & Operation. The opening of the stations — El Nozha, Hisham Barakat, Qobaa, Omar Bin Al Khattab, and El Hekestep stations — was supposed to happen in April but was delayed after the onset of the coronavirus.

Google has an AI-driven Hieroglyphics translation tool, Fabricus, which is now available to the public. The platform allows you to decipher and translate hieroglyphs into Arabic or English and vice versa.


Tunisia is facing political turmoil after Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh resigned yesterday, Reuters reports. Coming at a time when the government is battling an economic downturn caused by covid-19 and a divided parliament, the need to appoint a new prime minister will further postpone urgently needed economic reforms and make it harder for the country to cope with a potential surge in covid-19 infections.

WTO needs to pick new leader ASAP, say candidates: Nominees to head the World Trade Organization have called on members to reach a decision quickly so the next leader can quickly address what one described as a “deep crisis” in the international agency, Reuters reports. Eight candidates are in the running to succeed Brazil’s Roberto Azevedo, who will step down a year early at the end of August.

Apple to hang onto EUR 13 bn after appeal in tax battle with the EU: EU judges have ruled in favor of Apple in an appeal by the tech giant against an order by the European Commission to pay back EUR 13 bn in unpaid taxes and interest to Ireland, Sky News reports. In 2016, EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager ruled that Dublin had given the tech giant “sweetheart” tax treatment for over 10 years, breaching the bloc’s rules on state aid. But in a blow to the commission’s efforts to rein in US tech companies, the EU’s second-highest court said yesterday blocked its order, ruling that it had failed to prove that Apple had been given an economic edge by Irish tax policies.

The global population may finally start shrinking after 2050, by which time global birth control access and education will reach critical mass, a new study published in the Lancet Journal suggests, according to Bloomberg. While fewer humans would be positive for the climate, a shrinking population would actually pose a major challenge to developed countries as production and tax collection would dwindle.

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