🌎 Live, laugh, loan forgive

Plus: How to keep frontline workers from quitting
🌎 Live, laugh, loan forgive

Good morning, Quartz readers!

Here’s what you need to know

The US student loan forgiveness website is now live. President Joe Biden said 8 million people already filed applications via StudentAid.gov without encountering glitches.

America’s first and only digital ad tax was declared unconstitutional. A Maryland court ruled in favor of Verizon and Comcast, which filed a challenge in April 2021.

Texas launched a probe into Sam Bankman-Fried and his company FTX Trading. Securities regulators said the planned acquisition of Voyager shouldn’t go ahead until they investigate whether FTX’s yield-bearing crypto accounts break the law.

Microsoft became the latest tech firm to lay off workers. The company did not provide a number for the job cuts, but Axios reported they were kept under 1,000, across teams and countries.

Ye agreed to buy conservative social media app Parler. The controversial rapper formerly known as Kanye West won’t be able to avoid content moderation, even as a platform owner.

Canada targeted Russian misinformation in a new sanctions round. Ottawa imposed sanctions on 34 people and one television network run by Russia’s Ministry of Defense.

What to watch for

The planned release of China’s third-quarter GDP data, scheduled for today, has been postponed—no new date or reason for the unusual delay has been given. 

Economists have predicted economic growth of 3.4% in the July to September period from a year earlier, up from the 0.4% growth slump in the second quarter that was marked by widespread pandemic lockdowns and a worsening real estate crisis.

The indefinite postponement could suggest that the numbers are not looking too rosy and would likely clash with the rousing and confident speech Chinese leader Xi Jinping just gave at the opening of the week-long 20th Communist Party Congress two days ago.

The official target for GDP growth this year, set in March, is “around 5.5%.” By July, officials had reportedly begun softening that goal. Regardless of when China’s GDP figures are eventually released, it’s unlikely that they’ll be anywhere close to that target.

Pop quiz: What food product has had the highest price jump in the US?

Hint: You won’t believe it’s not butter! Margarine is made from vegetable oils, including sunflower oil. A second pop quiz: Which two countries make up nearly three-quarters of the world’s supply of sunflower oil? Hint: One was invaded by the other in February.

Initial worry about vegetable oil scarcity caused consumers to stock up, which, of course, created true scarcity. It doesn’t help that butter’s price has also gone up, which could push homes to channel the 1980s and switch to butter’s hydrogenated oil replicant.

Margarine is just one product that can illustrate how global challenges are elevating food prices. Since Jan. 2020, the consumer price index for food has gone up 20%, outpacing overall core prices by around 15%, US Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows. Need some grocery relief? Try tomatoes.

Image for article titled 🌎 Live, laugh, loan forgive
Graphic: Clarisa Diaz

How to keep your frontline workers from quitting

A years-long global event that needed them, labor shortages, soaring costs of living—frontline employees who must physically show up to do their job, are seriously burned out. Kylie Uvodich, general manager at SafetyCulture, describes five actions employers can take to improve the work (and lives) of frontline workers.

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Surprising discoveries

There could be a cancer vaccine within the next decade. The team behind Pfizer’s covid jab say they’ve had some “breakthroughs.”

An energy beam in space appeared to be traveling at seven times the speed of light. But turns out it was just an illusion—it was only creeping along at 670 million miles per hour.

The richest guy in Europe sold his private jet to avoid Twitter trackers. CEO of LVMH, Bernard Arnault, is now renting his luxury flights to avoid scrutiny.

Solar-powered headphones hit the market. Nano ink” allows them to charge in both sunlight and artificial light.

Members of K-pop band BTS are serving in South Korea’s military service after all. But fear not, ARMY, it’s only goodbye for now. They plan to reassemble in 2025. 💜

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