At Home: Science helps define Arctic border of Canada
While most Canadians probably aren’t familiar with the area called the Lomonosov Ridge (an underwater shelf), it is nonetheless the most important piece of Canadian land in the matter of our Arctic sovereignty as of late.
While our neighbours to the south have often disputed our northernmost borders, the Russians are currently the most insistent that our version of the border is inaccurate.
The Russians made their ownership ideas clear last year when they put their flag up under the sea at the North Pole.
The Lomonosov Ridge is currently being studied in a combined effort between Canadian and Danish scientists in an effort to prove that the land is in fact a continuation of North American soil and thus belongs, in part, to Canada.
Many nations see the Northwest Passage as an international route that is free for all to access. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) was signed by Canada in 2003 and states that countries that own coastal land have a 22.2 kilometre outline around that land and are free to control access to that water.
At the present time, the Canadians and the Danes are getting ready to submit their evidence to UNCLOS in hopes of securing power over Arctic areas. Russia is also preparing submissions to the UN body, arguing that such power should be theirs. Canada will be presenting their scientific evidence that undersea lands in question are indeed a continuation of currently recognized Canadian territory.
Canada’s Defence Minister, Peter MacKay, was in Iqaluit this week for Operation Nanook, the annual military exercises there. MacKay stated that Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic was one of the main purposes of the yearly event.
The ownership of such remote northern lands (and seas) is seen as an important matter for the future mining and drilling of natural resources there.
In Foreign News: American house foreclosure and house arson numbers both soaring
While the US mortgage crisis continues full bore, there are more and more interesting statistics being released that have a direct link to the home financing problems south of our border.
First, the number of home foreclosures in the United States increased by 55 per cent last month over the same time last year. That number represents 272,000 Americans who received a foreclosure notice in July 2008, according to the BBC. So far, more than a million Americans have lost their homes in this current housing crisis, the highest number since the Depression.
Besides the number of home repossessions being up, so are the numbers of homes that are going up in flames. According to fire officials in the US the number of arson cases always increases shortly after a swell in foreclosure numbers.
While it is not usually the homeowners who set fire to the repossessed properties, these homes are at a high risk for firebugs. According to John Hall, head of research at the National Fire Protection Association in the US, approximately two-thirds of the fires in vacant buildings are due to arsonists, and higher numbers of home foreclosures mean higher numbers of vacant buildings.
The US government has responded to calls for help by passing a bill that will allow struggling homeowners to remortgage their homes with less expensive loans rather than face repossession.
This bill will also provide a tax break for homeowners who are buying for the first time, and government could see a total price tag of $25 billion for the measure.