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December 15, 2011


Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The House will consider the conference report on the fiscal 2012 defense authorization bill. The Senate will resume consideration of two proposals for balanced-budget amendments to the Constitution.


Media Reviewtodaysevents 


president signingDoes Politics Trump Science in the Obama W.H.? President Barack Obama turned it into a campaign-trail talking point: He would end the Bush administration's "war on science." But four years later, as the White House shifts into reelection mode, Obama is facing the same attacks he leveled against his Republican predecessor: He is putting politics ahead of science, and some of the president's most ardent supporters are bracing for more disappointment. The complaints about Obama's record come after a pair of controversial administration actions in recent months - First, the White House shocked the environmental community by overruling the Environmental Protection Agency and halting implementation of tough new smog standards until after the presidential election.Then Obama endorsed his health secretary's unprecedented decision to overrule scientists at the Food and Drug Administration and block over-the-counter sales of emergency contraceptives to minors.



Embattled Interior Nomination Advances, Could Face GOP Hold. A Senate panel on Wednesday endorsed President Obama's choice for a top Interior Department post, a pick that some Republicans have vowed to block. The Environment and Public Works Committee gave voice approval to Rebecca Wodder's nomination to serve as assistant secretary of Interior for Fish and Wildlife. Wodder, the former president and CEO of the conservation group American Rivers, has drawn opposition from several Republicans over her support for stronger water protections and federal regulation of hydraulic fracturing, a process for extracting natural gas and oil from shale formations. "I can't think of anyone that I have opposed more or would oppose more for this particular position than Rebecca Wodder," said Sen. James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma, the panel's top Republican, during a markup last week. Congressional Quarterly


belugaBelugas Trapped in Icy Arctic Waters at Risk of Death.  Enprisoned in ice, more than 100 Beluga whales in far eastern Russia risk death unless rescued soon. The flock of gentle ghost-white whales was trapped in ice floes in the Sinyavinsky Strait off the Bering Sea near the village of Yanrakynnot, said a statement from the Chukotka Autonomous Region. Fishermen reported that the whales were concentrated in two relatively small ice holes, where, for now, they can breathe freely. But the Belugas' chance of swimming back to water is slim due to the vast fields of ice over the strait. CNN 


Methane Discovery Stokes New Global Warming Fears Shock at Retreat of Arctic Releases Greenhouse Gas. Dramatic and unprecedented plumes of methane - a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide - have been seen bubbling to the surface of the Arctic Ocean, according to scientists undertaking an extensive survey of the region. The scale and volume of the methane release has astonished the head of the Russian research team who has been surveying the seabed of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf off northern Russia for nearly 20 years. The Independent


Arctic sea iceFinland Wants Rail Link to Arctic Ocean, Opening of northeast passage would halve travel time to east Asia. A proposed rail link from Rovaniemi, in Finnish Lapland, to Kirkenes, in the north of Norway, has taken center stage in discussions on upgrading the transport network in the Arctic region. The prospect of less ice in the Arctic Ocean through global warming means that the ocean could become more navigable. This would make it possible to open the Northeast Passage along the northern coast of Russia to more shipping. The head of the project, Nenrik Falck of the Norwegian Tschudi shipping line, says that 34 vessels have already sailed through the passage this year. In 2010 only four ships made it through. Helsingin Sanomat


NOPPStatement by NSF Office of Polar Programs Dirctor Karl A. Erb on the Untimely Passing of Deanna Kingston. As the head of the National Science Foundation's Office of Polar Programs (OPP), I wish to express profound sadness at the death earlier this month of Deanna Paniataaq Kingston, 47, a professor of anthropology at Oregon State University and a prominent pioneer in Arctic social sciences. Deanna was a pioneer in exploring the intersections of Native knowledge and Western science and finding ways to combine attributes from both domains for the betterment of all -  especially for her beloved community of King Island, Alaska. National Science Foundation


Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No Arctic legislation was formally considered yesterday.

Future Events                                   


Alaska Marine Science Symposium, January 16-20, 2012. The symposium was first held in 2002 to connect scientists in Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, and beyond in an effort to collaborate and communicate on research


activities in the marine regions off Alaska. There will be plenary and poster sessions featuring a broad spectrum of ocean science on issues of climate, oceanography, lower trophic levels, the benthos, fish and invertebrates, seabirds, marine mammals, local and traditional knowledge, and socioeconomic research. There will also be speakers, workshops and special sessions.


Workshop: Responding to Arctic Environmental Change: Translating Our Growing Understanding into a Research Agenda for Action Jan. 30-Feb. 1, 2012.   Queen's University, Kingston, Canada. Co-sponsored by International Study of ArcISAC logotic Change (ISAC) and the School of Policy Studies at Queen's University. Endorsed by the International Arctic Science Committee, this workshop is the first in a planned series of meetings that aim to collectively shape and coordinate initiatives for research that directly addresses the needs of stakeholders who are affected by change or who are addressing arctic environmental change. The long-term objective is to enable local people, the arctic nations and the wider global community, including the scientific community, to better respond to a changing Arctic. This workshop is a pre-IPY 2012 Conference event. It is intended to develop a science plan that will feed into and further evolve at IPY 2012 Conference "From Knowledge to Action". For more information and to register for the workshop go here. 


Arctic Science Summit Week 2012, April 20-22, 2012. The summit will provide opportunities for international coordination, collaboration, and cooperation in all areas of Arctic science. Side meetings organized by stakeholders in arctic science and policy are also expected. More information to follow. 


From Knowledge to Action, April 22-27, 2012. The conference will bring together over 2,000 Arctic and Antarctic researchers, policy and decision-makers, and a broad range of interested parties from academia, industry, non-government, education and circumpolar communities including indigenous peoples. The conference is hosted by the Canadian IPY Program Office, in partnership with the National Research Council of Canada, among other groups. Each day of the conference will feature a program of keynote speakers, plenary panel discussions, parallel science sessions, as well as dedicated poster sessions. The conference-wide plenaries will explore themes related to topics of polar change, global linkages, communities and health, ecosystem services, infrastructure, resources and security. Other sessions will provide the opportunity to present and discuss the application of research findings, policy implications and how to take polar knowledge to action. 


The Tenth International Conference on Permafrost, June 2012. The conference will be held in Tyumen, Russia, and is organized and hosted by Russia. The last conference was held in Fairbanks, Alaska, in 2008. Details to follow.  


The Arctic Imperative Summit, July 29-August 1, 2012. The summit will be hosted by Alaska Dispatch and will bring together leading voices in this conversation, including residents from the small villages that comprise Alaska's coastal communities, state, national and international leaders, the heads of shipping and industry, as well as international policymakers and the news media. The goal of the summit is to sharpen the focus on the policy and investment needs of Alaska's Arctic through a series of high level meetings, presentations, investor roundtables and original research.


15th International Congress on Circumpolar Health, August 5-10, 2012. This kivalina girlevent is sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Society for Circumpolar Health, and the International Union for Circumpolar Health.  The forum will consider community participatory research and indigenous research; women's health, family health, and well-being; food security and nutrition; social determinants of health; environmental and occupational health; infectious and chronic diseases; climate change health impacts; health service delivery and infrastructure; and behavioral health.


Arctic/Inuit/Connections: Learning from the Top of the World , October 24-28, 2012.  The 18th Inuit Studies Conference, hosted by the Smithsonian Institution, will be held in Washington, DC. The conference will consider heritage museums and the North; globalization: an Arctic story; power, governance and politics in the North; the '"new" Arctic: social, cultural and climate change; and Inuit education, health, language, and literature. For more information, please email Lauren Marr.



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