Showing posts with label America. Show all posts
Showing posts with label America. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Who owns the North Pole part 70

A Russian military official told Russian media that the Kremlin was forming a new strategic military command to protect its interests in the Arctic. The formation of the new command follows a December 2013 order from Russian President Vladimir Putin to ramp up Russia's military presence in the Arctic. Putin said Russia was returning to the Arctic and "intensifying the development of this promising region" and that Russia needs to "have all the levers for the protection of its security and national interests."

"The new command will comprise the Northern Fleet, Arctic warfare brigades, air force and air defense units as well as additional administrative structures," a source in Russia's General Staff told RIA Novosti.

Russia created the Northern Fleet-Unified Strategic Command to protect oil and gas fields on the Arctic shelf.

 Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia, and the United States — the five countries that have a border with the Arctic — have been rushing to secure rights to drill for oil and natural gas in places that are now accessible. Hundreds of billions of dollars are at stake. Experts estimate that the Arctic holds some 30 percent of the world's natural gas supply, and 13 percent of the world's oil. That's why companies like Royal Dutch Shell, the U.S.-based Arctic Oil & Gas Corp. and Russia's Gazprom have all been making exploration claims on land in the Arctic.

Countries are making new claims in the Arctic as well. Each of the five nations with Arctic borders is allotted 200 nautical miles of land from their most northern coast. Putin's military expansion was in direct response to a claim of additional land by Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird, who last year asked scientists to craft a submission to the United Nations arguing that the North Pole belongs to Canada. The Canadian claim also asserts that it owns the Lomonosov Ridge, an underwater mountain range located between Ellesmere Island, Canada's most northern border, and Russia's east Siberian coast.

 The American Department of Defense last November released a new Arctic strategy outlining American interests in the region. The new strategy calls for the Pentagon to take actions to ensure that American troops could repel an attack against the homeland from a foe based in the Arctic and calls for increased training to prepare soldiers for fights in Arctic conditions. It makes clear that the Pentagon believes the Arctic is becoming contested territory, and the DOD would act to protect American interests.

http://theweek.com/article/index/256908/the-race-for-arctic-oil-russia-vs-us

Thursday, January 09, 2014

The Environment's Enemies

A report cataloged the 2013 environmental and energy votes of the House in the 113th Congress, and found that in one year, the House voted in favor of anti-environment positions 109 times

The findings of the  report:

51: Number of times House members voted to “protect the interests of the oil and gas industry at the expense of the environment and human health,”
 Including voting multiple times to fast-track the approval process of the Keystone XL pipeline. The House also voted to ramp up drilling on public lands, including passing a bill that would have imposed a $5000 fee for citizens who wanted to protest a proposed drilling project and made it much easier for oil and gas companies to obtain permits for drilling on public lands.
20: Number of times House members voted to weaken the Clean Air Act,
 In August, for instance, the House took aim at the EPA’s ability to weigh the “social cost of carbon” when developing regulations, voting 234-178 for an amendment that would prevent the agency from factoring the social cost of carbon into rules.
27: Number of times House members voted to cut clean energy and energy efficiency funding and block clean energy policies, 
Including passing a bill that would have cut federal investments in renewable energy by nearly a billion dollars.
37: Number of times House members voted to weaken the Clean Water Act and other regulatory efforts to improve water quality,
Including voting three times to block federal agencies from using their money to implement the National Ocean Policy.

The scale of anti-environment votes isn’t totally surprising — 160 representatives from the 113th Congress have accepted more than $55.5 million from the fossil fuel industry, and 56 percent of the Republicans in 2013′s House of Representatives deny the reality of climate change.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Trade Wars

The Pacific War against Japan was never a contest between democracy and fascism, as we have been taught. Neither the British nor the U.S. or the Dutch had ever entertained democracy for Asian peoples. Chiang Kai-shek remained a U.S. ally throughout the war and British historian Christopher Thorne has commented that, “if the term ‘fascist’ is to be employed in a non-European context for the 1930s, to no regime is it more appropriate to attach it than that of the Kuomintang in China.”

Leaving aside the conspiracy theory that the American government knew of the Pearl Harbor attack would take place and chose to allow it to happen, there is no question that an attack from Japan was probable. Contrary to U.S. political folklore, Japan’s subsequent attack was launched on a U.S. naval colony in Polynesia not U.S. territory (Hawaii only became a US state in 1959). And it cannot properly be described as a surprise.

In 1932, the Ottawa Conference cut off Japanese trade with the British Commonwealth, including India. Three years later Japan was forced to curtail shipments of cotton textiles to the Philippines while U.S. imports there remained duty free. (At the same time, U.S. tariffs on many Japanese goods surpassed 100%.) Japan protested about American, British, Chinese, and Dutch encirclement strangling its economy. So in 1937 Tokyo began its conquest of China in earnest, wiping out 140,000 Chinese civilians at Nanking while proclaiming a desire to promote economic development and prevent Communist domination of Asia.

Four years later negotiations between Admiral Nomura and Secretary of State Cordell Hull broke down over the Japanese request for equal trading rights in Latin America in return for allowing U.S. capital penetration of China.

On July 2, 1941 the Japanese decided to move troops into southern Indochina. Washington, having broken Tokyo’s purple code, immediately knew of the decision. On July 21, 1941 Japan signed a preliminary agreement with the Vichy government of Marshal Henri Petain, leading to Japanese occupation of airfields and naval bases in Indochina. Almost immediately, the U.S. and Britain froze all Japanese assets in their countries. Radhabinod Pal, one of the judges in the post-war Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal, later noted that the U.S. embargo presented a “clear and potent threat to Japan’s very existence.”

On July 24, 1941 FDR informed the Japanese Ambassador that if Japan would refrain from putting troops in southern Indochina Roosevelt would use his influence to have Indochina neutralized. But this message failed to reach the Japanese Foreign Ministry until July 27.

On July 26, 1941 Tokyo disclosed its intention to move troops into southern Indochina. The U.S. promptly froze all Japanese assets in the U.S. With Japan importing 90% of its oil, half of that from the United States, Admiral Richmond Turner, Director of the War Plans Division of the Navy Department, stated that it was “generally believed that shutting off the American supply petroleum [to Japan] will lead promptly to an invasion [by Japan] of the Netherlands East Indies.” FDR publicly stated that this reaction would be a justification for war. The New York Times characterized the U.S. move as “the most drastic blow short of war.”

For the Japanese military, it was “now or never.” The Western powers controlled and were choking off access to the raw materials on which Japan's national existence depended. With Washington refusing to lift its embargo unless Tokyo surrendered Chinese territory it had fought for years to conquer (Note: Washington objected to being shut out of the China market, not Tokyo's atrocities there), Japan was left to choose between submitting to U.S. demands or going to war to obtain the oil and other vital raw materials available in the East Indies and Southeast Asia.

Monday, February 11, 2013

They never learn

The Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says the fighters France is battling in northern Mali are some of the very same ones it helped arm in Libya.

General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he favored the idea of arming Syrian militants.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Some Poetry by Langston Hughes



Gods

The ivory gods,
And the ebony gods,
And the gods of diamonds and jade,
Sit silently on their temple shelves
While the people
Are afraid.
Yet the ivory gods.
And the ebony gods,
And the gods of diamond-jade,
Are only silly puppet gods
That the people themselves
Have made.

I Dream A World


I dream a world where man
No other man will scorn,
Where love will bless the earth
And peace its paths adorn
I dream a world where all
Will know sweet freedom's way,
Where greed no longer saps the soul
Nor avarice blights our day.
A world I dream where black or white,
Whatever race you be,
Will share the bounties of the earth
And every man is free,
Where wretchedness will hang its head
And joy, like a pearl,
Attends the needs of all mankind-
Of such I dream, my world!

Monday, January 07, 2013

A football working class hero

Nicolaas Steelink
Organised sport was originally for the elite with its roots in the English public schools. But taking advantage of the free-time offered by the eight-hour day, workers began to democratize games like soccer and rugby. We enjoyed sport as passive spectators and as active participants. Who can blame someone for enjoying leisure on a day off?

Before long, major social democratic parties across Europe were using sporting clubs and festivals to construct working-class identity and promote solidarity. By 1928, German sports societies had more than two million members, most of whom were affiliated with the Social Democratic Party. These clubs offered escape and a sense of belonging to the masses. Thousands hiked and learned to swim, freeing themselves, however fleetingly, from the grinding indignity of wage slavery. In Austria, during the Red Vienna period (1918-1934), a new stadium was built to host a “Workers’ Olympiad,” which welcomed participants from across the world—a testament to the internationalist impulses of a confident and forward-looking movement. In Britain we had cycling and rambling associations. Another sports world seemed possible, one that needn't be sold as a commodity. But these days sport has become unlinked from the working class political movement, hi-jacked by the jingoistic nationalists, the profit-seeking media corporations and sponsors, not to mention the egotistical oligarchs seeking an identity through being club owners.

One can even imagine aspects of sports that most closely mirror the capitalist ethos taking on a different context in a better society. Competition is brutal and ruthless in capitalism, under which, in many parts of the world, winning and losing carry life or death consequences. But competition in a safe environment can be positive and rewarding. We can imagine the new ways in which work and play could intermingle in a future society governed by equality and abundance rather than exploitation and scarcity. The discipline and pride of a craftsman who hones a skill and the athlete who trains toward perfection will have a larger place in the world.

Nicolaas Steelink was inducted into the American Soccer Hall of Fame in 1971. He was instrumental in organising the Californian Soccer League in the 1950s. Nicolaas Steelink was Dutch and immigrated to the US in 1912 at the age of 22. It was through his contacts playing football that he got introduced to a variety of political activists including socialists, industrial unionists and anarchists. At the time Steelink was angered by the injustices that surrounded him in California. Poor working conditions, war propaganda and censorship that was luring young Americans to their death in the trenches of the Somme, corruption and unpunished lynchings, were among the issues that helped radicalise the young Steelink. He joined the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and wrote a weekly column for their paper the Industrial Worker.

Following the First World War a number of states passed repressive laws in response to a rising radicalism amongst a large section of the workers. In California the state passed the Criminal Syndicalism Act in 1920, and Steelink was subsequently one of the first of the 151 IWW members to be arrested under these new powers. He was sentenced to five years hard labour in the infamous San Quentin prison for being a member of the IWW. After two years Steelink gained parole and his strong sense of injustice had been reinforced by the experience. He dedicated the rest of his life to continue to fight authority and injustice and continued contributing regular articles to the Industrial Worker entitled “Musings of a Wobbly”, under the pen name Ennes Ellae. He never lost his love for football. It was through football that he found that he could help the underprivileged youth, giving them a sense of comradeship and self-pride. He coached his teams to play flowing, skillful football that expressed his ideas of individual freedom.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Three countries - same story

The annual assessment of hunger and homelessness conducted by the US Conference of Mayors reveals that the number of homeless people in 25 large cities has increased by seven percent since 2011. It also says that about 20 percent of the hungry do not get any help, and that social services are being forced to turn them away empty-handed. Half of those seeking food assistance are families and nine percent are homeless. The survey has also found that the lack of affordable housing, rising poverty and unemployment are the root causes of homelessness among families with children.

The British government’s new benefit cuts that will hit working-age people could be “devastating” and dramatically increase poverty, says leading British anti-poverty charity Oxfam.

“This Bill will effectively mean a permanent reduction of benefits, which could be devastating at a time when a proper safety net is desperately needed by millions of the most vulnerable people in Britain,”
said Oxfam UK poverty director Chris Johnes. “Benefits are already at their lowest levels relative to average incomes since the welfare state was founded and it’s highly likely that this regressive change could lead to an increase in poverty, especially for those people who are already facing a perfect storm of cuts to public services and rising prices.”
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said the bill is a “naked attack on hard-working families” who should pay the price for the government’s economic failure.

Recent studies show that millions of people in Germany are threatened by rising poverty despite low unemployment rates. 12.4 million people or one in seven people in Germany have been at risk of poverty. Critics argue that the expansion of the low-paid job opportunities, called “mini jobs,” have put the economic pressures on the poorest in society.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Facts of the Day

How many people know that out of 150 countries, the United States have the fourth-highest wealth disparity? Only Zimbabwe, Namibia and Switzerland are worse. 93% of financial wealth is owned by the richest 20% of Americans.

The richest 1% have doubled their share of America's income in 30 years. From 1980 to 2006, the richest 1% actually tripled their share of after-tax income.

Only 4% of those raised in the bottom fifth make it to the top fifth as adults. Only about 20 percent even make it to the top half. 80% of black children who started in or near the top half of U.S. income levels experienced downward mobility later in life.

According to UNICEF, among industrialized countries only Romania has a higher child poverty rate than the United States. Just in the last 10 years the number of impoverished American children increased by 30%. While 12 percent of white children live in poverty, 35% of Hispanic children and 39% of black children start their lives below the poverty line.

 For every dollar of non-home wealth owned by white families, people of color have only 1 cent. Median wealth for a single white woman is over $40,000. For black and Hispanic women it is a little over $100.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Who owns the North Pole - Part 50

We have now reached a land-mark half-century of posts titled Who Owns the North Pole. Why bother? Because it raises questions of national sovereignty over a previously ecologically vulnerable region that will become increasingly exploited for its natural resources as a consequence of climate change. The issue of the arctic reveals the nature of capitalist expansion.

Dan Sullivan, a former state attorney general, is the commissioner of Alaska's Department of Natural Resources says that Alaska has about 40 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil and more than 200 trillion cubic feet of conventional gas.with some experts predicting that the United States could become the largest hydrocarbon producer in the word -- outstripping Saudi Arabia and Russia -- by 2020. Developing Arctic resources will promote our American interests in many ways: securing a politically stable, long-term supply of domestic energy; boosting U.S. economic growth and jobs; reducing the federal trade deficit; and strengthening global leadership on energy issues. Leading academic researchers and economists in Alaska have estimated that oil production from Alaska's outer continental shelf will bring federal revenues of approximately $167 billion over 50 years, and create 55,000 jobs throughout the country.

Sullivan argues that America possesses some of the highest standards in the world for environmental protection. "Developing U.S. resources in the Arctic has the added benefit of enhancing global environmental protection. One of the arguments used by Arctic drilling opponents is that "we aren't ready," but it is obvious that no matter what preparations are made, they will argue that it isn't enough...Delay or disallow responsible resource development, the end result is not to protect the environment, but to drive hydrocarbon investment and production to countries with much lower environmental standards and enforcement capacity. Last year, it was reported that between 5 million and 20 million tons of oil leak in Russia per year. This is equivalent to a Deepwater Horizon blowout about every two months. Russia had an estimated 18,000 oil pipeline ruptures in 2010 -- the figure for the U.S. that year was 341. If we do not pursue responsible development in the Arctic, countries such as Russia -- perhaps even China, which is interested in securing access to Arctic hydrocarbon resources -- will dominate energy production from the Arctic. Such a scenario does not bode well for the global environment."

When Sullivan cites Shell as an example of good providence, it seems he conveniently forgets about their operations in the Niger Delta. The estimated oil spill in the Niger Delta ecosystem over the past 50 years is equivalent to about one “Exxon Valdez” disaster each year.



Monday, April 23, 2012

the Plight of the Native Americans

The UN is to conduct an investigation into the plight of US Native Americans, led by James Anaya, the UN special rapporteur on indigenous peoples.

Many of the country's estimated 2.7 million Native Americans live in federally recognised tribal areas which are plagued with unemployment, alcoholism, high suicide rates, and other social problems. Apart from social issues, US Native Americans are involved in near continuous disputes over sovereignty and land rights. Although they were given power over large areas, most of it in the west, their rights are repeatedly challenged by state governments. Most Americans have little contact with those living in the 500-plus tribal areas, except as tourists.

Anaya, a University of Arizona professor of human rights, is originally from New Mexico and is well versed in Native American issues.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/apr/22/un-investigate-us-native-americans

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Life begins before conception!

Arizona lawmakers gave final passage to an anti-abortion bill that declares life begins two weeks before conception. A sentence in the bill defines gestational age as "calculated from the first day of the last menstrual period of the pregnant woman," which would move the beginning of a pregnancy up two weeks prior to conception.

Representatives passed a bill to prohibit abortions after the 18th week of pregnancy. Arizona the earliest definition of late-term abortion in the country; most states use 20 weeks as a definition. Nationally, 1.5 percent of abortions in the U.S. occur after the 21st week and 3.8 percent occur between the 16th and 20th weeks.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Food Stamp Nation

“I’ve got two children,” she says. “I’ve got to have food.”

So do 46 million other Americans. In fact, if the Americans using food stamps constituted a country, they would be the 27th largest nation in the world.

In the first minutes of each month, food stamp purchases at 24-hour Wal-Marts across the country surge as those relying upon food stamps drives through the dark to purchase sorely needed food.

“Our sales for those first few hours on the first day of the month are substantially and significantly higher,” Wal-Mart CEO William S. Simon told a Goldman Sachs conference 18 months ago. “If you really think about it, the only reason somebody goes out in the middle of the night and buys baby formula is that they need it — and they’ve been waiting for it.” Studies show that food stamps typically last only 17.5 days

Launched under Kennedy , first as a pilot project and later permanently by Johnson as part of his “War on Poverty,” food stamps (technically known as the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) has been supported by the American agricultural sector keen to have more markets for its produce, as well as liberals and conservatives. These days, program is now under attack. The federal program currently costs taxpayers about $75 billion annually — a point of mounting criticism among conservatives who contend that their tax dollars are being parceled out to people who, they believe, are not contributing to America.

New York City (and the state of Arizona) insist on finger-imaging technology, the digital equivalent to fingerprinting, to verify food recipients. Some recipients feel that process treats them like criminals.New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg contends that for “people who are receiving things, rather than dedicating their lives to make it better, this is hardly something that’s a great imposition or that anyone should feel stigmatized about.”

“If you ask a liberal, all of these people on food stamps are oppressed — people who got screwed by the elite,” says Syracuse University political scientist Jeffrey Stonecash. “If you ask a conservative, these are simply people who made choices, like deciding not to continue their education.” How Americans view food stamps now, “is entirely a function of one’s ideology,” he says. Seeking political advantage, Gingrich is making a direct appeal to that part of American society that is now angry, explains Stonecash, people who have lost their homes, their retirement accounts, who have worked hard and now think, “there’s this vast welfare state out there that is consuming huge amounts of money.”

At the beginning of last year Texas had the most citizens enrolled in the program with more than 3.5 million people; California was number two at 3.3 million and New York state ranked third with 2.8 million. To be eligible, an individual must not make more than $14,088 per year. A person with a family of four can’t have a household income exceeding $28,668. The average payout isn’t handsome: individuals get $133 per month while families average $290.

http://www.thestar.com/news/world/uselection/article/1129304--america-s-food-stamp-nation-continues-to-grow?bn=1




Saturday, May 14, 2011

Who owns the North Pole - Part 29

Greenland is an autonomous territory belonging to Denmark. But the U.S. believes Greenland is headed for independence, presenting “a unique opportunity” for American gas and oil companies to make money.

With Arctic ice receding due to global warming, American officials have been cozying up to Greenland, where future oil and mineral deposits may become available to exploration. State Department cables released by WikiLeaks reveal that the U.S. and other industrial nations are jockeying to “carve up” Arctic resources in the coming years. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates Greenland territory may sit atop oil reserves as large as those in the North Sea. The Arctic Circle could contain 90 billion barrels of oil, about 1,700 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and 44 billion barrels of natural gas liquids. In addition to oil and natural gas, mining companies also have their eyes on aluminum, iron ore, gold and rubies.

One diplomatic dispatch states: “Our intensified outreach to the Greenlanders will encourage them to resist any false choice between the United States and Europe. It will also strengthen our relationship with Greenland vis-a-vis the Chinese, who have shown increasing interest in Greenland's natural resource.”

Tensions within NATO are also exposed, as Canadian leaders privately express disquiet over the alliance’s mooted plans to project military force in the Arctic in the face of perceived Russian aggression. Recently re-elected Canadian PM Stephen Harper is quoted by diplomats as saying that a NATO presence in the region would give non-Arctic members of the Western alliance too much influence in an area where “they don’t belong”.
Another cable quotes Danish foreign minister Moeller’s opinion that “new shipping routes and natural resource discoveries would eventually place the region at the center of world politics.” The head of the Russian navy is quoted as saying “one cannot exclude that in the future there will be a redistribution of power, up to armed intervention.” A 2010 cable quotes Russian Ambassador to NATO Dmitriy Rogozin saying: "The twenty-first century will see a fight for resources, and Russia should not be defeated in this fight ... NATO has sensed where the wind comes from. It comes from the North."

Greenpeace campaigner Ben Ayliffe reacting to the release of the new cables, said “These latest Wikileaks revelations expose something profoundly concerning. Instead of seeing the melting of the Arctic ice cap as a spur to action on climate change, the leaders of the Arctic nations are instead investing in military hardware to fight for the oil beneath it. They’re preparing to fight to extract the very fossil fuels that caused the melting in the first place. It’s like pouring gasoline on a fire.” Ayliffe of Greenpeace continued: “As so often before, this new military build-up is all about oil."

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Who Owns the North Pole - Part 24

The Obama administration, like the Bush one before it, has identified the Arctic as an area of key strategic interest. The U.S. military anticipates the Arctic will become "ice-free" for several summer weeks by 2030, possibly as early as 2013. The U.S. Arctic is melting quickly because of accelerated climate change. The prospect of newly thawed sea lanes and a freshly accessible, resource-rich seabed has nations jockeying for position. And government and military officials are concerned the United States is not moving quickly enough to protect American interests in this vulnerable and fast-changing region. The Arctic is believed to hold nearly a quarter of the world's untapped natural resources and a new passage could shave as much as 40 percent of the time it takes for commercial shippers to travel from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

"We're not doing OK," said Lt. Cmdr. Nahshon Almandmoss "We definitely don't have the infrastructure available to operate for an extended period of time in the Arctic in the summer, much less in the winter when it's more critical for logistical purposes."

In a report last September, the Government Accountability Office said the Coast Guard lacks adequate infrastructure or equipment in the Arctic.

"With 20 percent of the yet-to-be-discovered oil, gas and minerals remaining in the world in the Arctic, the U.S. can't risk losing it," said Rear Adm. Christopher C. Colvin, commander of Alaska's 17th Coast Guard District, from Anchorage.

The Arctic nations - Russia, Canada, Denmark, Norway and the United States - have been preparing to claim larger chunks of territory under a clause in the treaty that governs the world's waters. Non-Arctic nations like China and South Korea also have been eyeing the economic potential in the far north. The only international treaty that applies to the Arctic is the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, ratified by more than 150 nations. But although it helped draft the convention and subsequent revisions, the United States has not ratified the treaty; conservatives say it impinges on U.S. national sovereignty. Under the treaty, a nation that can prove its continental shelf extends past the current boundary of 200 miles off its coastline can be granted up to 150 additional miles of seabed. Like other Arctic countries, the United States is gathering scientific evidence for its claim to an extended continental shelf in the Arctic. Russia has been preparing a territory claim that would absorb nearly half of the Arctic into its possession

"An extra 150 miles of shelf can be billions or trillions of dollars in resources," said Lt. Gen. Dana Atkins, commander of Alaskan Command, Joint Task Force Alaska, Alaskan North American Defense Region and the 11th Air Force.

In 2007, Russia planted a flag in the waters below the North Pole. Canada planted one nearby soon after. Denmark placed its flag on the north's contested Han Island (which Canada promptly removed and delivered back to Danish officials.) America and Canada cooperated on scientific and military operations last summer. Canada bought fleets of F-35 fighter jets and is building a new base along its Arctic coast. Russia is building new icebreakers and new nuclear-power stations on its north coast.

Nations are taking steps to position themselves.


Sunday, July 22, 2007

Who Owns the North Pole Part 4

Socialist Courier is keenly following the story of which nation state will ultimately own or control the North Pole and have reported here , here and here about it . Time magazine has now shown an interest in the new developments that are following climate change and global warming in the Arctic Circle region .

Late last month, Moscow signaled its intentions to annex the entire North Pole, an area twice the size of France with Belgium and Switzerland thrown in — except all of it under water. The ice-frozen North Pole is currently a no man's land supervised by a U.N. Commission. The five Polar countries — Russia, the U.S., Canada, Norway and Denmark — each control only a 200-mile economic zone along their coasts. And none of these economic zones reach the North Pole. Under the current U.N. Maritime convention, one country's zone can be extended only if it can prove that the continental shelf into which it wishes to expand is a natural extension of its own territory, by showing that it shares a similar geological structure.
So, the Russians claimed a great scientific discovery late last month. An expedition of 50 scientists that spent 45 days aboard the Rossia nuclear ice-breaker found that an underwater ridge (the Lomonosov ridge) directly links Russia's Arctic coast to the North Pole. This, they insist, surely guarantees Russia's rights over a vast Polar territory that also happens to contain some 10 billion tons of oil and natural gas deposits.
Russia's first attempt to expand beyond its Arctic zone was rebuffed by the U.N. Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, but Moscow hopes that its "latest scientific findings" will produce a different outcome when the Commission next meets, in 2009.
Moscow is also looking to restore control over a 47,000 sq. km (18,000 sq. mile) piece of the Bering Sea separating Alaska from Russian Chukotka. The territory was ceded to the U.S. in 1990 under the U.S.-Soviet Maritime Boundary Agreement signed by Secretary of State James Baker and Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze. While the deal may have helped ease Cold War tensions, anti-reform Soviet hard-liners always opposed giving up a piece of territory rich in sea life and hydrocarbon deposits, and they and their nationalist successors prevented the agreement's ratification. Today, the Agreement still operates on a provisional basis, pending its ratification by the Russian parliament.
But what had once been a battle cry of the nationalist opposition has now become the official line. In recent weeks, Kremlin-controlled media have berated the Agreement as a treasonous act by Shervardnadze (who later became the pro-NATO President of Georgia). Now, leading pro-Kremlin members of the Russian legislature are publicly demanding that the Agreement be reviewed, with the aim of recovering the country's riches.

In May, U.S. Senator Richard Lugar told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Russia claiming the hydrocarbon-rich area would be to the detriment of U.S. interests.

Meanwhile here we read dispute Canadian claims to the North West Passage .

Whereas Prime Minister Harper asserts "Canada has a choice when it comes to defending our sovereignty over the Arctic. We either use it or lose it. And make no mistake, this government intends to use it ...It is no exaggeration to say that the need to assert our sovereignty and protect our territorial integrity in the North on our terms have never been more urgent...The ongoing discovery of the north's resource riches coupled with the potential impact of climate change has made the region a growing area of interest and concern," Harper said. "

America meantime describes the Northwest Passage as "neutral waters."

"It's an international channel for passage," U.S. Embassy spokesman Foster said .

As global warming melts the passage -- which now is only navigable during a slim window in the summer -- the waters are exposing unexplored resources such as oil, fishing stocks and minerals, and becoming an attractive shipping route. Commercial ships can shave off some 2,480 miles (3,990 kilometers) from Europe to Asia compared with current routes through the Panama Canal.

Canada also wants to assert its claim over Hans Island, which is at the eastern entrance to the Northwest Passage. The half-square-mile (0.8-kilometer) rock is wedged between Canada's Ellesmere Island and Danish-ruled Greenland .
In 1984, Denmark's minister for Greenland affairs, Tom Hoeyem, caused a stir when he flew in on a chartered helicopter, raised a Danish flag on the island.The dispute flared again two years ago when former Canadian Defense Minister Bill Graham set foot on the rock while Canadian troops hoisted the Maple Leaf flag.

Let us not be mistaken , many former allies have become rivals when natural resources become a bone of contention

Summer School

Summer School 2017

Summer School 2017  21st – 23rd July Fircroft College, Birmingham   These days, con...