🌎 Bezos's bad timing

Plus: A plethora of memoirs.
🌎 Bezos's bad timing

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Here’s what you need to know

Jeff Bezos’s philanthropic pledge clashed with Amazon’s mass job cuts. The billionaire committed to giving away most of his fortune just as it emerged that his company was planning its largest-ever round of layoffs.

Berkshire Hathaway bought a 1.2% stake in Apple’s chipmaker TSMC. Warren Buffett doesn’t often invest in tech, but when he does, it’s usually got something to do with Apple.

The Republican party is one seat away from taking the House. The GOP is projected to win a slim majority in the lower chamber as former president Donald Trump is set to announce a third bid to the White House.

Google agreed to pay $391.5 million to 40 states over location-tracking activities. The payout counts as the largest privacy-related multistate settlement in US history.

The US fined six airlines a total of $7.25 million for delaying refunds to passengers. This year marked a new record for penalties against airlines—and it’s not over yet.

A Boeing-built spacecraft spent a record 908 days in space. Operated by the US Space Force, the X-37B has the ability to maneuver between orbits, which makes it easier to hide.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever scored a November US box office record. The $180 million opening came as Marvel’s parent company Disney announced a hiring freeze and job cuts. 


What to watch for

In a publishing coincidence made in political wonks’ heaven, former US first lady Michelle Obama’s new book is hitting the shelves at the same time as Mike Pence’s memoir about his time as vice president.

Obama’s The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times, released today (Nov. 15), is her second book since leaving the White House, and merges the memoir and self-help genres to offer reflections and advice to deal with life’s challenges. Pence’s So Help Me God covers his time as Donald Trump’s second-in-command, including the immediate aftermath of the Jan. 6 Capitol riots.

Book sales were down 6.6% in the first six months of 2022 compared to the year prior, with non-fiction particularly feeling the crunch. But as fame remains a key driver of sales, the two books will no doubt end up on the New York Times’ Best Seller list, presently packed with celebrity memoirs from the likes of Matthew Perry, Bono, and Bob Dylan.


Russian oil greases India’s wheels

Image for article titled 🌎 Bezos's bad timing
Graphic: Mimansa Verma

India is now among the biggest buyers of Russian oil, and US Treasury secretary Janet Yellen says that’s no issue, so long as Delhi doesn’t violate the bounds of the G7’s price cap, set to be finalized Dec. 5.

Last May, the US proposed a price cap on Russian crude oil that would waive sanctions if countries buy the stuff below a set price. The proposal would also deny the use of Western insurance, finance, and maritime services for tanker cargoes priced above a set limit.

Till now, Russia has not signaled any intent to sell its crude oil under the impending price cap, and it doesn’t have enough ships to transport its own oil. The big problem it faces: about 95% of the global tanker fleet is estimated to be covered by insurers in the G7.

Post-cap, Moscow may well turn to non-western shipping companies in the Arabian Gulf, China, and India to create alternative supply chains, giving its major oil buyers solid leverage to bargain.


Stay, gold!

As a commodity, gold’s been on a real rollercoaster, soaring to an all-time high during covid’s first summer when it breached $2,000 per ounce. Since then, it has slumped sharply, though prices recently spiked again above $1,700 amid turmoil in the crypto world and a slide in the dollar.

The precious metal has traditionally been seen as a haven in times of volatility, uncertainty, and distress (see: the last couple of years). But as the US Federal Reserve battles inflation, its aggressive rate hikes have fueled a relentless rise in the dollar and taken some wind out of gold’s sails. Quartz’s Mary Hui goes panning for more info in the latest Weekly Obsession.

✦ Our next Obsession—OK, sometimes it’s more than weekly—hits on Wednesday. Sign up for free, and never miss an issue. And while you’re at it, grab a Quartz membership for 50% off our usual price.

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Surprising discoveries

The mascot for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games is… a hat. The Phrygian cap is a symbol of the French Revolution, and weirdly huggable in mascot form.

Chile’s first lady would like to not be. Irina Karamanos points out that the role casts her—possibly permanently—as an accessory, and is pushing for its elimination.

Your cat’s paying attention to you… even when it seems like it couldn’t give a single litter box visit about the things you say.

Dung beetles are burrowing farther to avoid a changed climate. To be fair, though, the 1998 movie Deep Impact did it first.

What happens when you give dairy cows weed? Presumably for legitimate scientific purposes, researchers found that cows yawn, drool, get red eyes, and aren’t their normal graceful selves.


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