By Tom Fries The Arctic This Week – 23 June to 29 June 2012
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READS OF THE WEEK
If you’ve only got a few minutes this week, spend your time on these particularly useful, informative, creative or well-written pieces.
A nicely-written article by Fred Weir in the Christian Science Monitor covers the strange rise of Khanti-Mansiysk, and what it says about the Kremlin’s ideas for Russia’s once and future oil cities.
Noteworthy as well is this plangent opinion piece on the challenges of the long-distance, city-country relationship between Canada’s cities and its northern reaches, from the Ottawa Citizen. Author Adam Goldenberg’s speechwriting credentials show through; it is a moving piece.
A dry but absolutely fascinating article published in Alaska Dispatch covers the various constraints on US exports of LNG and what those constraints could mean for the future of Alaska’s gas industry. Lots of interesting detail.
This is a quick but informative “snack” from BusinessWeek covering Gazprom’s, and Russia’s, role as a gas producer in a world where shale gas is coming on-line.
Finally, a fascinating and outstanding article from Diane Gray via Institute of the North covers the assets and potential future of Manitoba’s CentrePort Canada, as well as Arctic shipping infrastructure generally. It’s information-packed and fun to read.
BLOOD & TREASURE
No single theme emerged above the general din of military news this week, so we’ll just lead with Russia and Japan, whose military heads met in Moscow to discuss possibilities for cooperation (RIAN). The two countries have disputed ownership of four islands, the Kuril Islands (RU) / Northern Territories (JP), since WWII. Prime Minister Medvedev is planning a visit to two of them: Etorofu and Kunashiri (Japan Times). Russia also seized a ship carrying sea cucumbers near to the disputed islands this week, though details on who owns the ship and what further plans might be have been tough to come by (Naharnet). The larger country’s famed Northern Fleet, once the nation’s pride, may be part of an expanded strategy for Arctic supremacy as well (windowonheartland.net), and Viktor Chirkov, commander of Russia’s navy, indicated this week that the Russian military has plans for 5-6 additional aircraft carriers to be constructed after 2020 (BO). Coming across the finish line earlier, the new Borey class submarine Alexander Nevsky should be commissioned by the end of this year (RIAN). Meanwhile the Murmansk regional fishery committee is lobbying for another rescue vessel to be responsible for waters around Svalbard (BN), a good choice as cruise traffic in the far North is already growing by leaps and bounds (BO).
Russia’s military relationships with its other neighbors are a mixed bag. President Putin has responded with vague signs of disapproval to the idea that Finland might join NATO (RT), while Russian opposition to the idea may actually be causing a small swing in the opposite direction in the opinions of the Finnish public (YLE). Finland is also preparing to welcome a new defense minister (YLE) later this year, while sustaining its wait-and-see approach to the decision to jointly monitor Iceland’s airspace (IceNews). Russia meanwhile conducts its flyovers of Canadian military installations under the Open Skies Treaty (Yahoo news), and Russia’s military activity is apparently seen by Canada’s Department of National Defense as non-threatening (Canada.com).
Despite the absence of threat from Russia, Canada is goosing its military might with a new fleet of ATVs, a new Arctic base, a fleet of offshore patrol ships and a new Polar-class icebreaker. All of this, if and when it happens, will of course be twice as expensive as it is already planned, and if you’d like to know which CEOs will be sending their children to Canada’s affordable yet high-quality colleges on the commissions from the projects, check out this article from defensenews.com. For a more tempered take on the nature of Canada’s plans, enjoy this skeptical article from Eurasia Review. Michael Byers and Stewart Webb offered a wonderfully detailed assessment of the folly of keeping Canadian airplane manufacturers out of the bidding for search-and-rescue contracts (Byers’s blog), while Canada’s Coast Guard assets are already preparing to demonstrate the country’s vigilant engagement with its North this summer (Telegram).
Across the border in Alaska, the US Coast Guard seems to be patching together fleets with bubble gum and duct tape to prepare for its various missions in the Arctic this summer (fuelfix.com) while, in an announcement that comes as a surprise to me, the decision to move the 18th squadron’s F-16s from Eielson Air Force Base (Fairbanks) south to Elmendorf AFB (Anchorage) has been, at the least, postponed (AD). A recent post in The Daily makes it seem as though America is falling way behind other Arctic nations in its capacities, but it doesn’t seem like any nation is serving as a role model at this point.
THE POLITICAL SCENE
The conflict in Syria continued to embroil Russia’s Arctic port of Murmansk this week. Early on, the nature of the cargo on board was disputed (RIAN), with a series of claims from Russia that the helicopters were part of an earlier agreement, were old models, were disassembled, etc. (RIAN). Interesting to note that the ship stopped not in Murmansk to be re-flagged but, instead, in the port of Roslyakovo, a military port between Murmansk and Severomorsk (BO). Russia’s southern neighbor China continues to make its displeasure with Norway felt, this time by denying a visa to former Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik (Global Post). The world’s most population meanwhile continues to express its views on the Arctic as a spot for cooperation and collaboration via China Daily.
According to Reuters, Mother Russia is making a major shift towards openness to foreign engagement with its hydrocarbon sector in an effort to share in the benefits of Western technology. Meanwhile Russia’s FSB – the domestic security agency – is a matter of some concern to the European Commission of Democracy Through Law (BO). Next-door neighbor Norway is opening an Arctic Research Center focused on the various thorny challenges of Arctic oil drilling (Fox Business). It’s also making a friendly overture to Russia by opening a consulate in the Russian town of Nikel, just across the border (BO).
Elsewhere in Scandinavia, Greenland and Denmark have submitted their claim to part of the Arctic seabed to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (IceNews), and a meeting between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja on confidential classified information-sharing garnered press attention as well (Atlantic Council). It was the first visit of a Secretary of State to Finland since 1999 (YLE), and on the agenda were discussions of Syria, Afghanistan and Iran, as well as meetings with Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen and President Sauli Niinistö (YLE). The foreign minister next door, Sweden’s Carl Bildt, went over his thoughts for the Arctic Council’s future (among other topics), including taking more concrete decisions, improving PR and uniting as a common Arctic voice behind as many issues as possible (EOTA). The full text of his speech is at Carleton University in Canada is available here. Icelanders determined on Saturday that their new/old President would be Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, sitting now in his fifth term (IceNews), and the tiny country announced as well that it had made its second early repayment to the IMF ($483.7mn) to illustrate its aggressive progress back to a healthy economy (IceNews).
Moving to North America, the ISN blog took an unusual tack on North American power in the Arctic, suggesting that Canada is far ahead of the game. Most of the press seems to feel instead that Canada is woefully unprepared for its role as an Arctic leader in a physical sense. In a recent survey, Canada fell eleven spots to place 51 in worldwide rankings of government openness and transparency (CBC), while premiers of the country’s three northern territories expressed their desire to participate more directly in the activities of the Arctic Council (EOTA). Budget cuts to Parks Canada are meanwhile causing major concern among some of the organization’s former leadership (G&M), and a general decline in support for and investment in Canadian science is the subject of a new book by Jane Jacobs, reviewed this week in the Vancouver Observer.
On a smaller scale, a Nunavut policy intended to give Inuit-owned businesses encouragement to participate in the government contracting process came in for substantial criticism this week (CBC), in particular the apparently loose way in which “Inuit firm” status is determined (NN). Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. expressed an eagerness to work with the Government of Nunavut to fix issues in the contracting process (NN). The Government of Nunavut is also embroiled in wage-benefit negotiations with its unionized employees, but it looks as though a tentative agreement was reached this past week (NN), while Nunavut Tunngavik was awarded nearly $15mn in damages from the federal government for failure to meet all the criteria set forth in the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement (CBC).
In the United States, the debate over the wisdom of joining the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea continued (PRI), though it took a back seat to bigger political news in the country. The Supreme Court upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, but governor of Alaska Sean Parnell remains firmly opposed to the law, making Alaska’s future adherence to it – or lack thereof – an uncertain matter (AD). Alaska’s exasperation with the federal government also showed up this week in an argument over the requirements of the Voting Rights Act (AD), but at the same time Alaska Representative Don Young touted the $1bn in federal money he was able to bring home to support the Alaska Railroad (AD). The Department of Justice also approved Alaska’s hotly-contested new voting-district map, clearing the way for planning for the fall round of elections (AD), while the Alaska Coastal Management Program continues to be the subject of push-and-pull between those eager to develop and those advocating more caution (KTOO).
Some interesting analysis of the future of energy in a global sense came out this week, with Statoil’s chief oil economist predicting that demand for the thick, black stuff will peak in about 2030 (AB), while natural gas demand will grow 60% by 2040 (naturalgaseurope.com). An analyst looking at Canada’s future as an exporter was sober in his assessment (Telegram), while Morgan Stanley is predicting a general decline in commodity prices that will be bad news for Russia and other countries reliant on their exports (RIAN). The Arctic Council states are meanwhile developing a joint agreement to deal with oil slicks in the Arctic (VOR).
This week also saw an explosion of news on drilling in US waters occasioned by the departure of Shell’s rig the Kulluk from its temporary residence in Seattle and by the government’s release of its five-year oil-leasing plan. Jennifer Dlouhy of the Houston Chronicle has been providing really commendable, high-quality coverage, including: a post on Shell’s efforts to reassure regulators and environmentalists of its ability to deal with any – god forbid – spill in the Chukchi or Beaufort (fuelfix.com); a post on the various concessions made (and not made) by Shell, and to whom they went (fuelfix.com); a general overview of the situation (San Francisco Chronicle); and brief coverage of Shell’s testing of its capping stack, intended as a first line of defense in case of a blowout (fuelfix.com). That capping stack was good enough for the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (Offshore), and on Wednesday two massive rigs left Seattle for northern waters (ADN). Fantastic pictures of the event came from @pewenvironment and – with the Space Needle in the background – from @westseattleblog. The Coast Guard established a “temporary safety zone around the nineteen vessels associated with Arctic drilling” on their way out (gpo.gov). Greenpeace of course has been preparing to do what it can to monitor Shell’s activity, but the Esperanza – part of the planned fleet – is held up for the moment for propeller repairs (Seward Phoenix Log).
A couple of ruminations on the wisdom or folly of Arctic drilling were also released this week. Chuck Clusen at the National Resources Defense Council delivered himself of an exhaustively-detailed recap of the international debate over the past months, and a similar overview of the discussion’s different moving parts came from Nature. A more novel article on the details of seismic surveying and its potential impact on marine life came from Anchorage Daily News, and an impassioned piece inspired by Subhankar Banerjee’s recent talk in Seattle was released in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
Meanwhile the political football of drilling in US Arctic waters was punted aggressively back and forth; The Arctic Institute’s Kathrin Keil covered the game with erudition and style. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar called a newly-released plan to auction three leases off of Alaska towards the end of the 2012-2017 period – Chukchi in 2016, Beaufort in 2017 (KTUU) – “cautious but forward-looking.” The National Resources Defense Council called the plan “too aggressive,” while the American Petroleum Institute called it “too restrictive” (Reuters). And that captures pretty much all that you need to know about politics in the US generally these days, Arctic or otherwise. Should you wish to read the Secretary’s complete remarks, they’re available at the DOI website. The government’s policy of “targeted leases” is intended to evince a more holistic approach to drilling decisions, including indigenous peoples’ concerns and environmental concerns in the cost-benefit analysis (Christian Science Monitor). The city of Adak seems ready to advertise itself as the new home for support hub for offshore drilling (alaskapublic.org), and TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline is inching forward in its US section (Platts). Almost as an afterthought, an interesting article covering the national political and regulatory hurdles that will have to be cleared for Alaskan LNG to be shipped to Asia, specifically, came out in Alaska Dispatch – lots to learn here.
Thanks are due to Anna Kireeva for a detailed, well-curated overview of Russia’s multi-front efforts to plan for Gazprom’s future (Bellona). In a larger sense, Gazprom’s role as a natural-gas powerhouse may be threatened by growing worldwide production of shale gas (BusinessWeek). On the Shtokman front, further discussions continue to yield nothing solid. Aleksandr Medvedev said this week that the configuration would certainly be changed, but you can see how deeply all the parties are enjoying the negotiations in the accompanying photo in this article from Barents Observer. Barents Nova reported Medvedev’s announcement of “just a little more time” until details are refined and revealed, while the Moscow Times reported a significant change, in that rights to market Shtokman’s production will move from being Gazprom-only to being shared among the project company’s partners.
In what is rapidly becoming my favorite topic, Russia-Japanese cooperation on oil took a big step forward with the signing of a contract between Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp (JOGMEC) and Russia's Gazprom Neft to conduct a geological survey in Eastern Siberia near the ESPO pipeline (Asahi Shinbun). Such efforts should help Japan diversify away from its reliance on Middle Eastern oil, which currently makes up 90% of its imports (Sacramento Bee). In other news from Russia, it looks as though pre-sales of gas from Novatek’s Yamal project will be used in part to finance the planned $20bn Yamal LNG complex (Reuters), while TNK-BP is working on reviving fields in Western Siberia with hard-to-recover reserves (Reuters).
The Wall Street Journal published an article on increased Arctic drilling activity that focused largely on Norway’s plans for new license rounds, big news not only because of the 72 blocks in the Barents Sea but also because of their proximity to the North Pole at the 84th parallel (arcticportal.org). The country expects the licenses to be hotly contested (Reuters). Because many of the proposed licenses are close to the Russian boundary, there are whispers that Rosneft and Lukoil are both likely to be involved in the round (BO). No surprise, as Rosneft will be opening a subsidiary in Norway (oilandgaseurasia.com). The Norwegian Polar Directorate is also undertaking seismic exploration north of Svalbard this summer (BO). Amidst all this excitement, a strike by 700 of Statoil’s offshore personnel is causing the shutdown of multiple facilities and the loss of an estimated $25.1mn per day (AB, IceNews). Statoil is also considering a dramatic reduction in its office staff (AB). Elsewhere in Scandinavia, Iceland’s Landsvirkjun signed a big deal to provide geothermal and hydro energy to a silicon-metal production plant in the country’s North (IceNews).
In mining this week, we heard that Lukoil is joining hands with Arkhangelsk oblast to develop, among other things, the oblast’s diamond resources (diamondne.ws). In Canada, coal deposits on Ellesmere Island may have a future (EOTA), with Canada Coal’s CEO making promises to stay away from the 50 million year old Axel Heiberg fossil forest (NN). Encouraging results in Agnico-Eagle’s Meliadine gold mine are meanwhile inspiring increased investment by the company, an economic boon for Nunavut (NN). Areva’s proposed Kiggavik uranium mine near Baker Lake, Nunavut is meanwhile facing continued challenge at an environmental and social level from Nunavummiut Makitagunarningit and others (NN), and citizen opposition to a proposed quarry in Yukon is rising as well (Whitehorse Star). Elsewhere, the reopening of the Nahanni Range road, washed out in recent floods, means that the CanTung mine in Yukon is back at work (natungsten.com).
BUSINESS & INDUSTRY
Record low ice on the waters of the Northern Sea Route allowed oil tankers Indiga and Varzuga to set sail from Murmansk to Chukotka this week (BO). Such increased activity will, in what is perhaps not shocking news, increase the demand for icebreakers to support it (Institute of the North). Meanwhile a really outstanding article from Diane Gray via Institute of the North on the assets and potential future of Manitoba’s CentrePort Canada, as well as on Arctic shipping infrastructure generally, is information-packed and fun to read.
The gist of an article from HeraldNet on the massive decline in king salmon numbers in Alaska this year is that we don’t know what’s going on, really, while Eye on the Arctic highlighted the interesting argument taking place between sport fishers and commercial fishers over who has access to the remaining fish. In Murmansk, a fisheries research institute has been accused of using its research-catch license for commercial activities (BN), but the city apparently has no fish for itself out of its massive yearly hauls; it all disappears elsewhere (Russia Beyond the Headlines). In Greenland, the fight with the International Whaling Commission over appropriate catch quotas for the coming years appears increasingly acrimonious (NN).
Finally, if you’re interested in the wonky details of fisheries policy, you’ll want to know who was appointed to the US Commerce Department’s regional fisheries councils (NOAA).
Food security in Nunavut and more generally in Canada’s North is a persistent issue, though attention to the protests seems to be waning. Nunavut Premier Eva Aariak met with other officials to seek out a long-term solution this week (Canada.com) in advance of the upcoming meeting of the Food Security Coalition, but they have a long way to go. AANDC stats on food prices show that a standard basket of food (one week, family of four) in Coral Harbour ran $442 in 2010; the same was available for $242 at the same time in Winnipeg. Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett strongly criticized the Tories’ handling of, and talking points on, the Nutrition North Canada program (NN), including federal health minister Leona Aglukkaq (CBC). Relatedly, Mayor of Iqaluit Madeleine Redfern and Green Party leader Elizabeth May met in Saskatoon to try to bridge a deep divide on the value of the traditional Inuit seal hunt (Nunavut News) both as a source of food and income, but apparently with more acrimony than mutual understanding. In Whitehorse, flooding has been the cause of a (hopefully temporary) food shortage, and one city councilor has been using it as a goad to encourage increased contributions to local food banks (CBC). Next door in Alaska, too much food – or the wrong kind of it – is the problem, but recent stats indicate that, at least among youth, obesity rates may have fallen from a high of 38% to 36% (AD).
Deserving of a separate paragraph is this plangent opinion piece on the challenges of the long-distance, city-country relationship between Canada’s cities and its northern reaches (OC). Author Adam Goldenberg’s speechwriting credentials show through; it is a moving piece.
Other health issues present unique problems in a northern, remote context. The recall of tuberculosis vaccine stocks in Nunavik has left health officials scrambling for resourceful alternatives (NN), while cases of multi-drug resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in the Northwest Territories are beginning to make the news (CBC). High levels of mercury in ringed seal liver are the subject of a public-health campaign asking women of childbearing age in Nunavut to avoid the otherwise highly valued “country food” (NN). In the face of all this, the National Aboriginal Health Organization in Ottawa said its last goodbyes (NN). Across the border in Alaska, it’s domestic violence that made news this week (EOTA) as part of a newly-released study focused on epidemiology within native families.
Reliable infrastructure is a component of healthy communities, and a meeting of the premiers of Canada’s three northern territories made that obvious; “When we looked at ways to reduce the cost of living it all boiled down to infrastructure — either roads or airports or other means of transportation,” said Bob McLeod, premier of the Northwest Territories (NN). A small victory in this department was the successful repairing of a washed-out airport runway at Qikiqtarjuaq in Nunavut (NN), while the introduction of competition in home internet service providers has meant that Northwestel’s prices have magically come down (NN). Far away in Yakutsk, ground has been broken on a new 180MW natural gas power plant (VOR), and the rise of the city of Khanti-Mansiysk was the subject of a fascinating article in the Christian Science Monitor.
On the media front, the Strategic Alliance of Broadcasters for Aboriginal Reflection in Canada released what will doubtless be a helpful guide to all of us covering terms commonly used in reporting on aboriginal issues; for instance, what is the proper usage of the term “First Nation”? The Jane Glassco fellows’ research on successful leaders in Canada’s North may hold keys to successful advancement of the northern territories (NN), while the Gwich’in Tribal Council, representing 2500 people and controlling more than 16,000 square kilometers in NWT and Yukon, have elected Robert Alexie Jr, who ran focusing in part on transparency in council decisionmaking, as their new president (NN).
ENVIRONMENT, SCIENCE and WILDLIFE
This week, researchers in Sweden predicted a worst-case temperature increase of 8 degrees Celsius by the end of the century in Finnish Lapland (EOTA), while a blog post from Jason Box looked at worryingly low reflectivity on the Greenland ice sheet and the Guardian offered a concise, clearly-explained overview of the latest data on sea ice extent and volume, neither of which is looking good. Elsewhere, thanks are due to Susan Evans, whose detailed explanation of the thinking and methodology behind the recent RACER report from the WWF is informative and persuasive (climateprep.org). I’d also like to point to the blog “Arctic research” which provides, I have to say, delightfully engaging posts with good pictures. It’s not the most amazing writing or the best photography, but the stories are personal and engaging, including this one on looking for moth larvae in northern Scandinavia.
In terms of specific science and technology, it looks like an advanced satellite system is about to be deployed in the service of ice-monitoring in the Baltic and Arctic to assist with icebreakers and marine construction (hydro-international.com), but I could be misinterpreting this. Similar efforts to improve dynamic positioning systems are taking place in Canada (worldmaritimenews.com), while cleverly-wrought unmanned marine vehicles (they look like robots surfing) are being increasingly used to gather important ocean data in a cost-effective manner (NOAA).
Forest fire season is furious this year, with 17 new fires reported in Alaska last weekend from lightning strikes (EOTA) and 18 shortly thereafter in the Northwest Territories, for a total of 49 in the NWT (EOTA). In Labrador, a couple of communities have been evacuated because of nearby fires (CBC), but in Alaska the end of the week brought better weather for firefighting efforts (EOTA).
An expedition to collect plant life around southern Baffin Island’s Soper River is chronicled in fascinating detail by Nunatsiaq News and the Chronicle Herald, and the joy of field research really comes through in both articles. Sad results on polar bears on Svalbard suggest that populations there are dwindling or moving elsewhere; only five hibernating individuals were identified on Kongsøya (BO). Meanwhile the argument between aboriginal peoples and researchers over the actual size of Canada’s polar bear populations continues (EOTA). In Yukon, ordinary bears are a growing problem that is proving tough to solve (Whitehorse Star), but that also provides opportunities for elderly Labrador retrievers to demonstrate doggy heroism (Whitehorse Star).
In marine life, the fifth annual Celebration of the Seal took place in the Canadian North (US Politics Today, oddly), and the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board and Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans are preparing for feedback on a proposed narwhal management plan (NN). Meanwhile there’s growing anger that Greenland is apparently serving whale meat, caught under rules that permit for subsistence hunting only, to people in restaurants (Guardian). Craig Medred in Alaska Dispatch went to extraordinary lengths to chronicle the myriad variables behind this year’s collapse of the king salmon run, while sleeper sharks in Alaskan waters are looking increasingly like the culprits behind tales of Nessie-style monsters (AD). Finally, in winged creatures, we learned this week that populations of geese in the Canadian Arctic are growing while populations of shorebirds decline (CBC) and that, at a “personal” level, the cries of a distressed chick from Alaska’s wonderful LoonCam family were the cause for numerous distressed calls from around the United States (AD).
THE SPORTING LIFE
Sports news this week was all over the map, though the undoubted favorite was a weird, otherworldly, captivating article and video on Nipwitz, “hardcore Finnish free-ski stylists” (Atlantic Cities), followed closely by a quick photo series of a game of roller derby in Yukon (Whitehorse Star). A dry, just-barely-this-side-of-polite article from the CBC covered the setting of a new national sports policy in Canada and the associated hoopla. On the other side of the spectrum, a moving article about compensation to be delivered to those families who lost dog teams in the slaughter of sled dogs in the 1950s and ‘60s in Québec, and about the tensions arising from those payments, is matter-of-factly but beautifully delivered by Jane George in Nunatsiaq News.
THE GRAB BAG
A collection of entertaining, weird or informative news that fits nowhere else…
The crash of a Russian military plane in Karelia seems to have endangered neither lives nor property on the ground (ITAR-TASS).
DELIGHTFUL: I’ve always felt like Halifax is where I belong, but have been hard-pressed to explain why. Now I know, thanks to the Globe & Mail’s “What Kind of Canadian are You?” quiz.
Yet one more candidate for Congress is convinced that President Obama has been throwing islands at Russia’s feet (care2.com). If this story were even 2% less ridiculous, if would have died long ago.
CBC North has been recognized with a couple of recent awards. Congratulations, folks!
FANTASTIC: An Arctic Exploration timeline, nicely put together by Woods Hole.
Who’s ready for some seal meat prepared by top chefs from Newfoundland and Labrador (CBC)?
The Lena Pillars National Park in the Sakha Republic is on UNESCO’s list of nominations as a world heritage site (RIAN).
COOL: A 700 year old ship has been discovered sunken off of Sweden’s coast (IceNews). The question is: ought the money be spent to excavate it?
A circle dance with 15,293 people (!!!!!) in Yakutsk set a new Guinness World Record (@yakutia).
A 13-hour live-streamed program covering a summer-solstice train ride from Helsinki to Rovaniemi drew almost half a million viewers (YLE).
NOTEWORTHY: Ruminations on a growing “industry” of flattening the lives of aboriginal peoples in the Arctic down to one dimension were the substance of a nice blog post/book review from Tim Querengesser and also a sharp editorial from TAI’s own Alison Weisburger this week.
Nobody seems to have noticed a 6.6 earthquake off of Kamchatka (Khaleej Times).
HOLLYWOOD: Tom Cruise is filming a new sci-fi pic in Iceland. (Daily Mail)
Alaska’s Eklutna cemetery is an amazing mixture of Orthodox and native tradition (NPR).
Yakutia is attempting to deal with its illegal marijuana-growing problem by replacing it with…worse marijuana (RIAN).
NUTTY NORWEGIANS: I mean, it’s tough for Norwegians NOT to get carried away by Swedish pop star Robyn and just take their clothes off and run into the woods. Isn’t it? (The Local)
Mia Bennett provided a nice post on the idea of having Vladivostok as a second or third Russian capital (EOTA).
An ambitious electrician in Yakutia nicked 2.5mn rubles’ worth of gold bars from a bank in which he was repairing some wiring (RIAN).
PHOTOS & VIDEOS
I am seriously considering the purchase of an iPhone purely so that I might join the Instagram community and take advantage of great photos like these, from yask76 (1, 2, 3, 4), and these, from uhellet, cowgirrl3, and rosemarydonut.
Flickr also plays host to a number of great northern photographers, professional and amateur, including Sea Surface OA Arctic Cruise (note: worst possible username), DnV Photo (1, 2, 3, 4), Swansea University and Clare Kines (1, 2, 3, 4, 5).
Other photos came from Twitter user @JR_North_of_60, sustainablework on ow.ly, and, of course, heart-melting pictures of Yakutian laika puppies from @yakutia.
Let me also point to a library of historic polar images provided by the Scott Polar Research Institute – thanks for putting this together!
A quick photo album of some prehistoric rock art from Alta, Norway – a UNESCO world heritage site.
A photo from Nunatsiaq News of a couple getting married in Arctic Bay. Congratulations!
Plus video of a luxuriating polar bear (via oneworldoneocean) and of ducks diving for mussels (via BBCEarth). I’d like to point out that you can watch such amusing things happen live at the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward, which I cannot recommend strongly enough. Should you wish to have access to several different livecams, including Arctic-appropriate ones, you can find them here.
Alaska Dispatch (AD)
Anchorage Daily News (ADN)
Barents Nova (BN)
Barents Observer (BO)
Eye on the Arctic (EOTA)
Fairbanks News Miner (FNM)
Globe and Mail (G&M)
Moscow Times (MT)
Natural Gas Europe (NGE)
New York Times (NYT)
Northern News Service Online (NNSO)
Northern Public Affairs (NPA)
Nunatsiaq News (NN)
Ottawa Citizen (OC)
RIA Novosti (RIAN)
Russia Today (RT)
Voice of Russia (VOR)
Wall Street Journal (WSJ)
Washington Post (WP)
Winnipeg Free Press (WFP)