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Siberia might as well be where the world begins to end

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Already a bleak place, the northern Russian region is looking much bleaker of late. It is warming at twice the rate as the rest of the world, with sometimes deadly, sometimes bizarre consequences.

1. Massive sinkholes

As the frozen ground warms up, dozens of craters have formed, including one mile-long, 300-foot-deep sinkhole. Researchers are afraid to get close to the craters for fear of methane geysers shooting off.

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2. Methane unleashed

We don’t want to watch methane literally bubble up from under the grass. And we certainly don’t want the billions of tons of carbon stored in Arctic permafrost — which contains more than twice what’s in the atmosphere today — to be unleashed. Some scientists fear that alone could raise global temperatures by 0.7 degrees Celsius.

3. Smallpox, anthrax, and who knows what else

Warming temperatures have resurrected centuries-old anthrax spores that were dormant in Siberian permafrost, sickening 72 nomadic herders and killing one child. Experts predict that smallpox could also make a comeback as frozen burial grounds thaw.

Legend has it that “Siberia” comes from an indigenous word for “sleeping land.” Now, that land is waking up with fury.

By Kate Yoder, Grist

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Trump administration quietly guts COVID-19 paid leave provision that already excluded 75 percent of workers

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The Trump administration has quietly issued new guidance that will exempt many small businesses from having to provide some workers with paid leave during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Department of Labor issued a temporary rule Wednesday that effectively exempted businesses with fewer than 50 workers from being required to provide 12 weeks of paid leave for workers whose children are suddenly at home from school or child care under the coronavirus stimulus package signed by President Donald Trump.

This article first appeared in Salon.

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Trump is deploying national guardsman to provide pandemic support without any health benefits: report

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The National Guard are an essential part of the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, and thousands of them have potentially been exposed to infected civilians, making it a particularly dangerous and important time to serve.

But according to The Daily Beast, the guard has been deployed in a way that prevents them from being eligible for the military's health care system.

"The approximately 20,000 guardsmen who have been called up to help states around the country deal with the spread of the coronavirus are federalized on what’s called Title 32 status, which puts them in command of their various state governors but with the federal government paying costs," wrote senior national security correspondent Spencer Ackerman. "But according to the National Guard’s advocates and the U.S. governors’ association, the guardsmen are activated on orders that last 30 days. That puts them one single day shy of the requirement allowing the military health insurance system known as TRICARE — think of it as Medicare For All In Uniform — to cover them."

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Vaccine researchers grew ‘alarmed’ as Trump’s CDC wasted weeks of their time with a flawed coronavirus test: report

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According to a report from the Washington Post, in the early days as health officials became concerned about the possibility of the COVID-19 pandemic blossoming out of China, researchers sat and wasted days they could have used to start developing a vaccine because they were assured by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that a testing kit was on its way.

As it turned out, that test was flawed.

Relying on emails and interviews, the Post is reporting, "On a Jan. 15 conference call, a leading scientist at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention assured local and state public health officials from across the nation that there would soon be a test to detect a mysterious virus spreading from China. Stephen Lindstrom told them the threat was remote and they may not need the test his team was developing 'unless the scope gets much larger than we anticipate,' according to an email summarizing the call."

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