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Arctic ‘doomsday vault’ stocks up on more food seeds in preparation for a global catastrophe: report

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An Arctic “doomsday vault” is set Tuesday to receive 60,000 samples of seeds from around the world as the biggest global crop reserve stocks up for a global catastrophe.

The seeds are to be deposited in the vault inside a mountain near Longyearbyen on Spitsbergen Island in Norway’s Svalbard archipelago, about 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) from the North Pole.

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“As the pace of climate change and biodiversity loss increases, there is new urgency surrounding efforts to save food crops at risk of extinction,” said Stefan Schmitz, who manages the reserve as head of the Crop Trust.

“The large scope of today’s seed deposit reflects worldwide concern about the impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss on food production,” Schmitz added.

“But more importantly it demonstrates a growing global commitment –- from the institutions and countries that have made deposits today and indeed the world –- to the conservation and use of the crop diversity that is crucial for farmers in their efforts to adapt to changing growing conditions,” he said.

Common as well as wilder varieties of grains are being sent by institutions in countries as diverse as Brazil, the United States, Germany, Morocco, Mali, Israel and Mongolia.

The latest shipment will bring to around 1.05 million the number of seed varieties placed in three underground alcoves which form the vault, known also as Noah’s Ark.

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Aimed at safeguarding biodiversity in the face of climate change, wars and other natural and man-made disasters, the seed bank has the capacity to hold up to 4.5 million batches, or twice the number of crop varieties believed to exist in the world today.

It was launched in 2008 with financing from Norway.

Its usefulness was spotlighted during Syria’s civil war when researchers were able in 2015 to retrieve from the vault duplicates of grains lost in the destruction of Aleppo.

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The countries and institutions that deposit seeds in the vault retain ownership over them and can retrieve them when necessary.

Paradoxically, the vault was itself hit by climate change.

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In 2016, water seeped into the vault’s tunnel entrance due to permafrost melting as Arctic temperatures climbed unusually high.

Norway has since financed work to insulate the vault from further effects of a warming and wetter climate, which scientists say is happening two times faster in the Arctic than elsewhere.

The Global Seed Vault. AFP / Sophie RAMIS.

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Mike Pence’s office punishes CNN for refusing to air his portion of coronavirus briefing

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Vice President Mike Pence has kept the nation's top health officials from appearing on CNN since the network stopped carrying the daily coronavirus briefings in their entirety.

The vice president's office, which is responsible for booking those officials to deliver pandemic information, told CNN that Dr. Deborah Birx or Dr. Anthony Fauci would not be permitted to appear on the network until it carries the briefings, including Pence's remarks, in full.

"When you guys cover the briefings with the health officials then you can expect them back on your air," a Pence spokesperson told CNN.

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‘Well-spoken cultist’: Bill Barr trashed for praising ‘statesmanlike’ Trump and urging an end to COVID-19 lockdowns

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During an interview with Fox News host Laura Ingraham Wednesday night, Attorney General Bill Barr praised President Trump's "statesman-like" effort at the "beginning" of the coronavirus epidemic where he "tried to bring people together" while "working with all the governors" -- a characterization that did not go over well with many of the President's critics on Twitter.

https://twitter.com/matthewamiller/status/1248241999297339394

https://twitter.com/andeparks/status/1248255118291742722

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The Supreme Court is poised to extend gun rights at the worst possible time

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“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” —Second Amendment to the United States Constitution

As the deadly COVID-19 contagion sweeps across the country, gun sales are surging, spurred in many regions by panic buying and purchases by first-time firearm owners. Fearful and insecure Americans are taking advantage of weak and ineffective gun-control laws and stocking up, as President Trump might say, “like never before.”

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