Kanye's Big Purchase, Student Loans, and America's Haunted Hotels Everything you need to know for today in five minutes.

Good morning. It's Tuesday, Oct. 18, and we're covering Kanye West's purchase of a social media platform, the official launch of the student loan forgiveness site, and much more. Have feedback? Let us know at [email protected].


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Kanye to Buy Parler

Billionaire rapper Kanye West, who legally changed his name to Ye, agreed yesterday to purchase the social media platform Parler for an unknown sum. The news comes a week after both Instagram and Twitter restricted Ye's accounts for violating user policies


Founded in 2018, Parler jumped in popularity after Facebook and Twitter banned former President Donald Trump in early 2021. Parler's parent company reportedly received $56M in recent funding, and estimates peg its monthly active users at roughly 700,000. For comparison, Twitter and Facebook report nearly 450 million and 3 billion MAUs, respectively. Ye's two-decade career in music and fashion has made him one of the wealthiest musicians in the world, with a net worth of $2B, although some of his longtime collaborators are reviewing their partnerships with him. 


Separately, the family of George Floyd is considering a lawsuit against Ye for his recent claims Floyd died from an overdose, despite the April 2021 murder conviction of ex-officer Derek Chauvin. 

Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids

Hearing aids are now available to purchase over the counter in the US for people 18 years or older with mild to moderate hearing loss. A federal law, first passed in 2017, went into effect yesterday, allowing high-quality hearing aids to be purchased at pharmacies and retail stores without the need for a prescription, medical exam, or professional fitting.


The over-the-counter hearing aids will be air conduction aids—worn inside or behind the ear while moving sound down the ear canal (see 101)—and have sound limits to help reduce further hearing loss.


An estimated 37.5 million Americans older than 18 have some level of hearing loss, and 28.8 million could benefit from hearing aids. Hearing aids traditionally cost $1K to $4K per ear and are not typically covered by Medicare or insurance—the over-the-counter hearing aids are expected to be available at a fraction of the cost.

Student Loan Forgiveness 

The US Education Department launched its online student loan forgiveness application yesterday after testing a beta version over the weekend. More than 8 million borrowers have already submitted an application since Friday. See the application here (not accessible overseas).


The official release comes after President Joe Biden in August announced an executive action to cancel up to $10K of federal student loan debt for those who made less than $125K per year (or $250K per household) in either 2020 or 2021, and up to $20K for Pell Grant recipients.


The form, available through Dec. 31, 2023, asks for individuals’ date of birth, Social Security number, and contact information. No documents have to be uploaded. Borrowers who qualify for forgiveness and would like their balances adjusted before federal student loan payments restart in January should submit an application by Nov. 15


Nearly 43 million Americans owe about $1.6T in federal student debt. The average borrower owes more than $37K; the median is between $20K-$25K (see overview). 

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Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

In partnership with The Inkey List

> The 2022-23 NBA season kicks off tonight with defending champs Golden State Warriors taking on the Los Angeles Lakers (10 pm ET, TNT); see full season preview for all 30 teams (More


> K-pop group BTS announces hiatus until 2025 to allow its members to complete compulsory South Korean military service (More


> Barcelona's Alexia Putellas wins Ballon d'Or as soccer's best female player for second straight year; Real Madrid's Karim Benzema wins his first Ballon d'Or (More)

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Science & Technology

> US health officials say flu season appears off to quick start, with test positivity reaching 10% in the Southeast (More)


> Astronomers detect the brightest gamma-ray burst on record; scientists believe the energetic signal came from a dying star collapsing into a black hole roughly 1.9 billion light-years away (More) | What are GRBs? (More)


> Researchers develop self-healing material made from DNA-connected crystals, capable of reforming to its original state after damage upon adding water; may enable new components for soft robotics, chemical sensors, and more (More)

Business & Markets

> US stock markets close higher (S&P 500 +2.7%, Dow +1.9%, Nasdaq +3.4%) on strong bank earnings (More)


> Goldman Sachs plans reorganization, reshuffling businesses into one of three units: investment banking and trading, asset and wealth management, and financial technology platforms (More)


> Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to commit $1.2B in an effort to eradicate polio globally (More)

Politics & World Affairs

> At least eight people killed after Russia strikes Ukraine's central Kyiv with 28 explosive-laden kamikaze drones (More) | Russian military bomber crashes into apartment complex in southern Russian port city of Yeysk, kills four and injures 25 others (More) | Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to publish book of wartime speeches Dec. 6 (More)


> Justice Department seeks six months in jail, $200K fine for Steve Bannon over contempt conviction for failing to comply with House Jan. 6 committee subpoenas; sentencing is set for Friday (More


> New UK Finance Minister Jeremy Hunt plans to scrap nearly all of Prime Minister Liz Truss' previously planned tax cuts (More) | Sweden's parliament votes 176-173 to elect conservative leader Ulf Kristersson, 58, as prime minister (More)



The Science of Self-Love

TED | Dan Harris. Former news anchor Dan Harris was shocked to find out people thought he was a jerk. Here he discusses how he confronted the hard truth and embraced the science of self-love. (Read)

How to Prove a Secret

Quanta | Sheon Han. Explaining “zero-knowledge” proofs, or how to verify the existence of a secret without revealing the secret itself. (Read)



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The complex ancestry of the modern-day banana.


Possible globster sighted on the Oregon coast.


Watch a humpback whale surprise a father and son.


An 18-year-old recreates entire universe in Minecraft. (w/video)


When you hold 150 lit candles in your mouth—for a world record.


Clickbait: Burger King wants to help you find ghosts in your home.


Historybook: "Moby-Dick" is first published (1851); The US purchases Alaska from Russia (1867); Thomas Edison dies (1931); Astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch conduct first all-female spacewalk (2019); Former Secretary of State Colin Powell dies (2021). 


"Always do your very best. Even when no one else is looking, you always are. Don't disappoint yourself."

- Colin Powell

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