The Iowa Caucus Meltdown, a Coronavirus Mask Shortage, and More News
Surgical masks are in shortage and Democrats need work on reportage, but first: a cartoon about parental sexting. Here’s the news you need to know, in two minutes or less.
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Iowa Caucus tech meltdown is a warning
Thanks in part to a buggy app, the Iowa caucus results for the Democratic presidential race have been delayed for hours. So far there’s every indication the results will turn out just fine—the votes were all properly recorded, and a paper backup means that they can be verified. It was the reporting process that collapsed, but the snafu underscores just how much can go wrong when you lean on untested tech.
Amid coronavirus fears, a mask shortage could spread globally
As millions of Chinese remain in lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus, a new global problem has arisen: a shortage of surgical masks. Chinese factories are churning out 20 million masks a day, but the Chinese foreign ministry says they’re starting to run out. And that isn’t just a problem for China: The US gets 95 percent of its surgical masks from overseas, and China is the world’s largest supplier. The supply gap could lead to health care problems that go far beyond this particular outbreak.
Fast Fact: 50 Percent
That’s how much scientists may be underestimating the impact of melting permafrost, according to a new report in Nature Geoscience. Permafrost—landscapes of frozen soil and rock—thaws as the Earth warms, releasing CO2 and methane into the atmosphere and leading to more warming, more thawing, and even more carbon emissions. Now it’s happening so abruptly that landscapes are collapsing in on themselves.
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