(CBC News, ) -- More than a hundred soldiers, training to be future generals and commanders, are in Iqaluit this week to learn about the Arctic as a strategic asset. One hundred and thirty-two students from the Joint Command and Staff Program at the Canadian Forces College in Toronto started a three-day field-trip in the Nunavut capital on Tuesday. Soldiers from across Canada and around the world sign up for the year-long program, in order to study all aspects of military strategy. They've come to Nunavut to study strategic aspects of the North. "These are the future leaders of the military," Maj. Mike Fitzgerald, a course development officer with the college, said Tuesday. "These will be the Rick Hilliers, the Walt Natyncyks. They come out of the classes like this." The field trip began Tuesday with briefings from Nunavut Premier Eva Aariak, top officials with the Canadian Forces in the North, and other northern leaders. On Wednesday, the students are expected to practise survival skills with local Canadian Rangers on the sea ice. "It's like no other place in Canada—the Arctic in general but Iqaluit in particular," said Lt.-Cmdr George Forward, one of the program's students. "People are very friendly here, very happy to see you, no matter who you are. And so far, we've had a good time. I look forward to the next few days." In addition to outdoor training with the Rangers, students on the field trip will also attend lectures on the social, cultural and economic aspects of the North.
Posted 4 February 2009; 11:36:50 PM. Permalink
(IPY.org, 4 February 2009) -- A study suggests that extreme weather events in the Arctic will become more common as the winter ice cover retreats, with potentially severe consequences for human activity. One of the most visible signs of climate change is the dramatically reduced ice cover in the Arctic. The retreat of the sea ice leads to rapid changes in the weather conditions in these areas. A new study published in Climate Dynamics reveals that regions that have been covered by sea ice until now will be exposed to new kinds of severe weather. This may have dire consequences for human activities in the Northern regions. The study was led by a member of the International Polar Year project IPY-THORPEX (THe Observing system Research and Predictability EXperiment). The main focus of the project is to study extreme weather phenomena from the inside, with the purpose of acquiring new knowledge in order to improve weather forecasts. Large increases in the potential for extreme weather events were found along the entire southern rim of the Arctic Ocean, including the Barents, Bering and Beaufort Seas. While these areas are sparsely populated, an increasing commercial marine activity is predicted there, paradoxically because the sea ice is set to retreat. “One consequence of climate change is that new areas are uncovered, opening for commercial activities,” said Dr. Erik Kolstad, at the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Change, who led the study. At the same time, commercial activities in the North (e.g., fisheries, oil industry and shipping) will become increasingly vulnerable to extreme weather as the activities in these areas increase.
Posted 4 February 2009; 5:39:48 PM. Permalink
(Lisa Demers/Anchorage Daily News, 3 February 2009) -- Lawyers for Yup'ik speaking voters say the state had problems translating ballots into Yup'ik. Here's one example, according to the lawyers: The state's translation for the predator control initiative used the word "takukaq." In one Yup'ik dialect, that means "brown bear" but in a coastal dialect, it means "seal," the lawyers said. "As a result, voters on the coast (a predominately Yup'ik-speaking area) read a ballot that indicated seals would be shot because they had been consuming too many moose calves and were depleting the population&mdahs;a nonsensical prospect," lawyers wrote in a motion filed in U.S. District Court last week. The state failed to provide enough translation help for Yup'ik speaking voters last year during three separate elections, violating a court order that it make significant improvements, according to the American Civil Liberties Union and the Native American Rights Fund. The concerns are playing out in U.S. District Court in the case of Nick v. Bethel, a civil suit filed in 2007 to force improvements in elections for Yup'ik speakers with limited or no English ability.
Posted 4 February 2009; 11:23:47 AM. Permalink