Bad timing? In what the Pentagon says is a first, five Chinese warships were spotted in international waters in the Bering Sea off the coast of Alaska yesterday as President Obama visited the state, reports the Wall Street Journal. Defense officials say they're not entirely sure what the Chinese vessels are doing in the area of the Aleutian Islands, but they are not considered a threat or a major concern and the US respects "the freedom of all nations to operate military vessels in international waters in accordance with international law," the New York Times reports. Analysts tell the Journal that the sighting is another sign of China's shift toward having a "blue water navy" that regularly sails far from its own shores.
In another first, President Obama became the first sitting US president to cross the Arctic Circle yesterday, the AP reports. "I've been trying to make the rest of the country more aware of a changing climate, but you're already living it," he told a crowd in the town of Kotzebue. He has used much of his Alaska visit to sound the alarm on climate change, and to call for more American icebreakers. Earlier in the day, Obama visited the fishing town of Dillingham, where he joined local schoolchildren in a traditional dance. In what was almost certainly another first, a salmon spawned on the president's shoes when he picked it up, prompting a resident to quip that it was "happy to see him," reports the Alaska Dispatch. (Read more Alaska stories.)