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‘America’s got to up its game in the Arctic’: Defense Secretary Jim Mattis

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The United States needs to “up its game” in the Arctic and deal with an increasingly important and developing part of the world, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Monday, as a warming Arctic opens up new sea lanes and oil and minerals reserves.

“Certainly America’s got to up its game in the Arctic. There’s no doubt about that,” Mattis told reporters in Alaska before leaving on an Asia trip.

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Mattis said part of that would be an increased coast guard presence.

Warming in the Arctic has raised the prospect of a new rush for resources. The Arctic is estimated to hold more hydrocarbon reserves than Saudi Arabia and Russia.

“So the reality is that we’re going to have to deal with the developing Arctic … It is also going to open not just to transport but also to energy exploration,” Mattis said.

The United States and Russia have both expressed interest in boosting Arctic drilling, and Russia has bolstered its military presence in the north.

Russia, which is in the midst of a major rearmament program, has embarked upon its biggest military push in the Arctic since the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union, beefing up its military presence and capabilities.

Under President Vladimir Putin, Moscow is rushing to re-open abandoned Soviet military, air and radar bases on remote Arctic islands and build new ones as it pushes ahead with a claim to almost half a million square miles of the Arctic.

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Also, earlier this year China outlined ambitions to extend President Xi Jinping’s signature Belt and Road Initiative to the Arctic by developing shipping lanes opened up by global warming.

China’s increasing prominence in the region has prompted concerns from Arctic states over its long-term strategic objectives, including possible military deployment.

Republican Senator Dan Sullivan from Alaska, standing alongside Mattis, said there was bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress to see the Arctic in more strategic terms.

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“I agree with the secretary, I think we’re behind, but I think we’re finally starting to catch up,” Sullivan said.

Reporting by Phil Stewart; Writing by Idrees Ali; Editing by James Dalgleish

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What would Russia prefer to happen in the UK election?

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The UK election comes against the background of one of the worst periods in Russian-British relations since the end of the Cold War. Badly shaken by the 2006 poisoning of the former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko in London, relations spiralled further down in the aftermath of Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. The poisoning of another former spy, Sergei Skripal, in March 2018 in Salisbury then killed off any hopes of a recovery in bilateral relations.

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Why New Zealand’s White Island erupted and why there was no warning

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Five people have been confirmed dead, 18 have been rescued and are injured, some seriously, and several remain unaccounted for after a sudden volcanic eruption on Whakaari/White Island off the east coast of New Zealand.

The island is a tourist destination and around 50 people were on it when it erupted on Monday afternoon. Volcanologists at GeoNet, which operates a geological hazard monitoring system, described the eruption as impulsive and short-lived, with an ash plume that rose to more than three kilometres above the vent.

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‘Pathetic weenie’ Ted Cruz buried by Morning Joe’s Donny Deutsch for latest suck-up to Trump

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Members of the "Morning Joe " panel were both appalled and disgusted after watching a video of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) pushing Russian propaganda and defending Donald Trump over the weekend, recalling the ugly campaign the president ran against the Texas Republican in 2016.

Addressing Cruz's appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press," where he accused Ukraine of meddling in the 2016 election, host Joe Scarborough marveled out at how the senator debased himself in the service of Trump after what happened to him in 2016.

After the host brought up the interview, MSNBC regular Donny Deutsch had a few things to say about Cruz.

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