Trade Unions Very Critical Of New Budget Bill

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The Confederation of Icelandic Labour Unions (ASÍ) has released a statement saying there is “no foundation for further discussion” with the government if their new budget bill passes. The statement, posted on ASÍ’s website, calls the new budget bill “an attack on working people”, saying that the Central Committee of the labour union was “deeply […]

Volcanic Pollution: Also Bad For Animals

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While there has been considerable reporting on the effects of SO2 on humans, animals are even more at risk. RÚV reports that farmers in the Icelandic countryside are worried about what effects the gas will have on their sheep, many of whom have not yet been herded. While a great many animals in the east […]

Police Raid Illegal Tourist Accommodations

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Police are already starting to crack down on black market rentals of houses and apartments for tourists. MBL reports that the Reykjavík Area Police, in conjunction with the Directorate of Internal Revenue, have closed four establishments illegally renting out accommodation to tourists. These properties, identified as “homes and apartments”, had no permit to rent out […]

Strange Activity At Geothermal Spot

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A geothermal location in southwest Iceland has been going through some sudden and dramatic changes. Víkufréttir reports that the geothermal area of Gunnuhver has seen quite a transformation recently. The site, which was once a relatively placid patch of gently bubbling clay and wafting sulfuric steam, is now under police lockdown. All steam has disappeared […]

Former Foreign Minister: Just Hunt The Non-Endangered Whales

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A former Minister of Foreign Affairs has made a novel suggestion to end the current international row over Iceland’s whale hunting practices. RÚV reports that former Minister of Foreign Affairs Össur Skarphéðinsson believes there is a middle way when it comes to whaling: simply hunt the whales that are not endangered: minke whales. In fact, […]

MPs From 5 Parties Behind Keflavík Train Proposal

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MPs from five parties have proposed the Icelandic government explore building a train between Keflavík and Reykjavík, as well as a train for the greater Reykjavík area. Vísir reports that the proposal has speakers from every parliamentary party except the Pirate Party. Leading the proposal is Left-Green chairperson Katrín Jakobsdóttir, followed by Svandís Svavarsdóttir (Left-Green), […]

Firings At The Directorate Of Labour

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Government-sanctioned budget cuts have forced the Directorate of Labour to let go of some of their employees and cut back on services to the unemployed. “We are struggling with a demand to reduce operational costs by about 100 million [ISK],” Gissur Pétursson, the director of the Directorate, told RÚV. “There is no other choice. We […]

Signs Gender Wage Gap Is Growing

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The Union of Public Servants (SFR) has released a salary poll that shows the gender wage gap within their ranks is growing. Vísir reports that the unadjusted wage difference between men and women doing the same work within SFR is 21%. Men in SFR make, on average, 469,885 ISK per month, while women doing the […]

35 Nations Exhort Iceland To End Whaling

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All 28 European Union member states and seven other countries have delivered a demarche to the Icelandic government to end the practice of whaling. In a statement from the European Commission, they confirm that “The EU, its 28 Member States and the governments of the United States, Australia, Brazil, Israel, New Zealand, Mexico and Monaco, […]

News In Brief: Early September

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Remember last issue when we complained that the Bárðarbunga volcano was a huge disappointment for not having the decency to erupt? Well, apparently the volcano gods read the Grapevine, because a huge fissure opened up in Holuhraun and began spewing forth some very photogenic magma. Icelanders were quick to ask the most important question: What […]

Progressive Wrong About Peace Tower

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A Progressive city councilperson has questioned the cost of maintaining Yoko Ono’s Peace Tower, and was apparently misinformed about how the Peace Fund is used. RÚV reports that Progressive city councilperson Sveinbjörg Birna Sveinbjörnsdóttir has submitted a formal request to City Hall to know how much money it costs the city to maintain the Peace […]

Text Messages Insufficient As Eruption Alerts

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It has come to light that using text messaging to alert towns and villages of poisonous SO2 levels does not work as well as intended. RÚV reports that some 750kg of SO2 are spewing out of the Holuhraun eruption every second. This has caused SO2 levels in many parts of northeast Iceland to reach alarming […]

Alcohol Bill Submitted

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A bill that would permit the sale of alcohol in private shops has been submitted to parliament, and it is uncertain whether it will fail or become law. Currently, alcoholic beverages may only be bought from any of the The State Alcohol and Tobacco Company of Iceland (ÁTVR) stores in the country. One man, Independence […]

Twin Solar Storms = Northern Lights Galore!

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While the planet is bombarded with charged solar particles, this translates into some fantastic Northern Lights displays for Iceland. The Guardian reports today that two coronal mass ejection (CME) bursts from the Sun sent charged solar particles hurtling towards Earth yesterday and today, “raising concerns that GPS signals, radio communications and power transmissions” could be […]

Progressive Party May Be In Trouble

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The Progressive Party, which leads the ruling coalition, is now only the fourth largest party in the country, and edges out the others by about 2%. According to the newest poll from Market and Media Research, the Independence Party is once again the largest party in the country, with 28.2% of respondents saying they would […]

Minister Of The Interior Makes New Spin On Investigations

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Minister of the Interior Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir has come up with a new defence for how she interacted with the former police commissioner which legal experts say is completely wrong. RÚV reports that the Minister has issued another defence of her interactions with former Commissioner of the Capital Area Police Stefán Eiríksson. These interactions included […]

Gálgahraun Nine Trial Begins

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The trial of the nine protesters charged with disobeying police orders in their demonstration against road construction through the Gálgahraun lava field began today. Last October, the nine protesters blocked construction equipment in the Gálgahraun lava fields. Their grievance is that the fields were officially protected from development in 2009. On this, the first day […]

Volcanic Pollution In The Air In East Iceland

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Sulfur dioxide levels in Reyðarfjörður reached alarming levels yesterday, and residents are advised to exercise caution. Vísir reports that SO2 levels in Reyðarfjörður reached 2600 µg/m3 yesterday morning through midday the same day, and have fallen to 250 µg/m3 today. Despite the steep drop, SO2 levels no greater than 1 µg/m3 are considered safe. For […]

Iceland And NATO To Increase Partnership

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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has announced some new developments in Iceland’s relationship with NATO. According to a statement posted on the Minstry’s website, Minister of Foreign Affairs Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson met with Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) of NATO Allied Command Operations Philip M. Breedlove today, to discuss numerous ways in which Iceland will […]

Health Minister Agrees With International Drug War Report

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Minister of Health Kristján Þór Júlíusson told reporters he agrees with a new report from the Global Commission on Drug Policy (GODP) that the “war on drugs” has been a failure. Vísir reports the the GODP has released their latest findings on drug policies around the world. Their conclusions are clear: the criminalisation of drugs […]

Justice For Iceland’s Beekeepers

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The beekeepers who received half of their ordered bees dead on arrival have been compensated for the damage incurred. RÚV reports that the shipping company DHL has made a deal with the beekeepers, in compensation for causing half a shipment of 2 million bees to arrive dead due to a processing error. In addition to […]

Ten Million Raised For Goat Farm

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The general public has shown an outpouring of love and support to save an Icelandic goat farm from closure. RÚV reports that the beleagured Háafell goat farm in Borgarfjörður has received a tremendous amount of support from people around the world. The farm, home to some 400 goats, had fallen into dire financial straits: a […]

Airline Passengers: Your Rights In The Event Of An Eruption

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In the event a volcanic eruption in Iceland disrupts scheduled airplane flights, would-be passengers should know what their rights are. Volcanoes are unpredictable and uncontrollable, but that does not mean that travellers are out of luck in the event their flights are delayed or cancelled as the result of an eruption. The Consumer Agency points […]

An Evening For Edward Snowden

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Iceland will be taking part in an international event in honour of whistleblower Edward Snowden tonight. This evening, participants around the world will be taking part in the Worldwide Reading for Edward Snowden. A part of the international literature festival Berlin (ilb), “all individuals, institutions, schools and media outlets that care about freedom and civil […]

Metal Detector At Parliament

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A metal detector will be set up at the rear entrance to parliament, with additional purposes than was initially announced last December. MBL reports that a metal detector will soon be a part of the rear entrance to parliament. This is the entrance guests take to sit in the gallery overlooking the floor of parliament […]

Bárðarbunga Activity Raises Questions

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The Bárðarbunga caldera has sunk by 15 metres, which does not mean an eruption is on the way, but is the deepest recorded caldera sink in over a century. Meanwhile, the flowing lava from Holuhraun is approaching the river Jökulsá á Fjöllum. RÚV reports that a supervisory plane, flying over the area last Friday, detected […]

Chinese Ambassador To Iceland Disappears

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The Chinese Ambassador to Iceland left the country last January, and has not been seen nor heard from since. DV reports that Ma Jisheng, who has been China’s ambassador to Iceland since 2012, left Iceland on January 23 of this year. By all accounts, he was expected to return the following March. However, Ma Jisheng […]

Support For European Union Accession Increases

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A new poll shows that the number of Icelanders who support joining the European Union has been on the rise. Vísir reports that, according to a Capacent Gallup poll conducted for the pro-EU organisation Já Ísland, 45% of respondents said they would probably or definitely vote in favour of accession if given the chance today. […]

Councilman Offers Reward If Anonymous Columnist Comes Forward

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A Reykjavík city councilperson has offered to pay 100,000 ISK to charity every month for a year, if the author of an anonymous column reveals themselves. Staksteinn is a regular column that appears in the newspaper Morgunblaðið and often casts criticisms (many of them based on unnamed sources) at left-wing politicians. Though it has no […]

Debt Relief Package Might Fall Short

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There might not be enough money to finance the household debt relief package the Progressive Party promised voters during election season. Tryggvi Þór Herbertsson, a former Independence Party MP in charge with coordinating the debt relief project, told RÚV that things are proving difficult for the ambitious effort. “I think the fall-back plan has always […]

Seized LSD Increases Over Tenfold

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Nearly 8,000 doses of LSD have been confiscated by Icelandic customs authorities this year, in contrast to just 10 doses in 2012. The Directorate of Customs reports that the amount of LSD seized by authorities has increased dramatically. In 2010, 510 doses were confiscated. In 2011, that figure rose to 4,500, only to drop again […]

Airline Dispatchers To Strike

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The Icelandic Air Dispatchers Association (FFM) will be holding a temporary work stoppage starting this September 11. Valdimar Pétursson, the chairperson of FFM’s negotation committee, confirmed for Vísir that the work stoppage will take place on the finally dates and times: September 11: 7:00 to 19:00 September 14: 7:00 to 19:00 September 18: 7:00 to […]

EU Accession Split Possibly Dead In The Water

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A proposal from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to end Iceland’s accession into the European Union might not be submitted after all. Vísir reports that Minister of Foreign Affairs Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson considers it “highly unlikely” that a national referendum on whether or not to continue EU accession talks will be submitted during this government’s […]

Foreign Investors Join Icelandic Gold Rush

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Foreign investors have joined in the search for gold in Iceland, which has been continuing for at least the past year and a half. MBL reports that unnamed foreign investors have joined up with the Icelandic gold-searching company Melmi hf., putting “a few hundred million” ISK into the effort. In exchange, the investors will get […]

Scientists Warned To Vacate Area

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Increased instability in the eruption area has prompted scientists to be called upon to evacuate the area for safer ground. According to The Icelandic Met Office, around 160 earthquakes have been recorded since midnight last night, most of the concentrated at the northern edge of Dyngjujökull. In fact, “a magnitude 5.5 earthquake occurred at 03:08 […]

What To Name The New Lava Field

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As the Holuhraun eruption has spead lava over a wide swath of the country, Icelanders now ask themselves: what should we name the new lava field? As reported, magma pouring from the kilometres-long fissure in Holuhraun has now spread over an area comprising some 4 km2. When all is said and done, a new lava […]

Little Change In Party Support, High Voter Dissatisfaction

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Two separate polls show little change in party support, although large numbers of voters are either undecided or dissatisfied with any of their options. Two polls have recently measured levels of support for the different political parties in parliament; one from Gallup (G) and one from Fréttablaðið (F). Their results are comparable, and while they […]

Most Icelanders Not Happy With Summer Of 2014

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In terms of the weather alone, most Icelanders have been unhappy with this past summer, with one notable exception. According to a new poll from Market and Media Research, only 45.4% of Icelanders nationwide have been satisfied with the weather this past summer. This is up slightly from 44.9% for the summer of 2013, but […]

Visitors And Locals

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While tourism has certainly been playing a critical role in bolstering Iceland’s economy, like any market force, it is not without its rippling effects. Property owners hoping to cash in on the tourism gravy train are finding it far more lucrative to rent to tourists than locals, as those on vacation will often anticipate having […]

Union Official Worried About Tourism Industry Workers

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The managing director of one of Iceland’s largest trade unions says they are “extremely worried” about workers in the tourism industry. “We are extremely worried about [workers within] this field,” Drífa Snædal, the Managing Director of the Federation of General and Special Workers in Iceland (SGS), told Vísir. “If Iceland intends to build up the […]

Faroese Ship Bids Iceland Adieu

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The beleagured Faroese fishing vessel that ordinary Icelanders assisted despite the cold shoulder from government has bid our fair shores farewell. MBL reports that Næraberg departed from Reykjavík harbour at about 6:00 this morning. At the time of this writing, the ship is about halfway to Greenland, presumably to resume fishing mackerel. As reported, the […]

Stormy Weather Is Hurricane Cristobal Petering Out

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The high winds and rain Iceland has been experiencing over the past 36 hours or so are the remains of what was Hurricane Cristobal. Iceland’s mercurial weather caught the attention of science buffs overseas, as Discover Magazine reported late last night that the storm formerly known as Hurrican Cristobal was taking “dead aim” at Iceland. […]

Workers Unite!

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Earlier this month, a news story broke in the Icelandic media that a young Icelandic woman working at Lebowski Bar was fired after she asked to be paid minimum wage—effectively a pay rise over what she was getting. The story sparked shock and outrage amongst many. To others, it was merely par for the course. […]

Fishing Minister Defends Faroese Snub, Other Icelanders Offer Cake

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The Faroese fishing vessel Næraberg may have been snubbed by authorities, but other Icelanders are helping the beleagured ship in any way they can. RÚV reports that Minister of Fisheries Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson has called the treatment of the Faroese mackerel fishing vessel Næraberg to be based on “a misunderstanding” on why the snub occurred. […]

Holuhraun Volcano Erupts Again

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An eruption has commenced at Holuhraun again, replete with magma plumes some 60 metres tall. RÚV reports that an eruption has re-opened at Holuhraun, just north of Vatnjökull, which began in the early morning hours. As can be seen, this is a lava eruption, and plumes of magma are reportedly reaching heights of up to […]

Poll Decidedly Grim For Interior Minister, Government

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A new poll from Fréttablaðið and Stöð 2 shows about two-thirds of respondents want Interior Minister Hanna Banna Kristjánsdóttir to resign, and trust in her – as well as the government in general – is remarkably low. According to the poll, Vísir reports, which asked respondents if they believe Hanna Birna should resign, 67% of […]

Faroese Receive Cold Welcome In Reykjavík Harbour

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A damaged Faroese fishing ship was intially refused service in Reykjavík Harbour. That situation changed after protests from Faroese and Icelanders alike. Vísir reports that the Faroese mackerel fishing boat Næraberg experienced severe engine trouble on their way from fishing stocks in Greenland waters last Thursday. This prompted the captain to put in a request […]

Musician May Face Hate Speech Charges

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An Icelandic musician who has been an outspoken opponent of the Reykjavík Pride festival may be looking at hate speech charges for his remarks about the LGBT community. Gylfi Ægisson, a musician who has made his opposition to Reykjavík Pride publicly known on more than one occasion, did so again in the comments of a […]

Japan Airlines Returns To Iceland

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Travelling between Japan and Iceland will, for two months at least, be a whole lot easier. Vísir reports that Japan Airlines intends to have six flights from Osaka and Tokyo to Keflavík International Airport in August and September. The first flight landed last Thursday, carrying some 220 passengers. This marks the third year in a […]

News In Brief Late August

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Unless you’ve been literally living in a cave for the past two weeks, chances are that you’ve heard of the possible eruption at Bárðarbunga peak. In the end (at the time of writing), this insufferable geological formation didn’t have the decency to erupt even a little bit, let alone disrupt air travel across the European […]