Lebanon was already in crisis. Then came the Beirut explosion.

Before a deadly blast rocked Lebanon’s capital on Tuesday, the country’s economy was already on a Venezuela-like trajectory. Now, with at least 100 people dead in Beirut, thousands wounded, many more displaced, and likely billions of dollars required to repair the damage, Lebanon is careening toward that devastating future.

Two explosions in Beirut’s port area sent a red mushroom cloud thousands of feet into the air. Lebanese officials said a fire at a warehouse containing 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate — which can be used in agricultural fertilizer, bombs, and rockets — that had been stored six …

TikTok clone Instagram Reels is just one of the many times Facebook has copied its competitors

Facebook’s TikTok knockoff, Instagram Reels, is making its big United States debut today. The feature is Instagram’s answer to TikTok, the wildly popular short-form video streaming app. It would be a big deal if this copycat product is as successful as Instagram Stories, but that’s hardly guaranteed.

Reels lets users make 15-second edited videos overlaid with music directly in their Stories, Feed, or a new Reels section in the Instagram Explore tab, as my Vox colleague Rebecca Jennings explains here. It’s a near clone of TikTok, which similarly lets people upload lip-sync videos. The timing of the US release …

Mortality, mass psychosis, and how we live today

The question has the ring of one posed by a street-corner preacher: If you knew you were going to die tomorrow, how would you spend today? Answers, presumably, will vary. You might visit your family, or break off a relationship, or go careening down the highway at top speed on your motorcycle. You might get incredibly drunk, or go to church, or hug your child. It’s just a thought experiment, but it’s a revealing one.

Wait, back up — is it a thought experiment? None of us know for sure that we’ll die tomorrow, but we also don’t know that …

The US needs real-time data to fight the pandemic. We’re still not even close.

Six months into America’s battle with Covid-19, we still can’t really see the enemy.

There isn’t good real-time data on where the virus is and who it is infecting. Our diagnostic testing is at an all-time high, but it’s still missing the vast majority of infections.

We don’t have systematic surveillance programs like we do for the flu to fill in the gaps, and we don’t have good metrics that tell us how well the virus is being contained. We’re particularly in the dark about what’s happening in many minority communities, which have lower testing rates than white communities. …

Missouri approves Medicaid expansion ballot initiative, extending coverage to 200,000 people

Missouri voters approved an expansion of the state’s Medicaid program in Tuesday’s election, according to Vox’s partners at Decision Desk — making another success story at the ballot box for the program in a state where it had been stifled by Republican opposition.

The ballot initiative expands Medicaid eligibility to 138 percent of the federal poverty level (about $17,500 for an individual or $30,000 for a family of three) as authorized under the Affordable Care Act. An estimated 230,000 low-income Missourians will become eligible for Medicaid, though that number could end up being even higher given the recent job losses …