Progressives Mock Muslims On Video

by

Reykjavík’s two Progressive councilpersons showed up at a student party uninvited and held forth in an incident captured on video. Vísir reports that last Friday night, political science and economics students from the University of Iceland were holding a party at Hverfisgata 33. The upper floors of this building are home to a reception hall, […]

Landowners Demand End To Smelter Pollution

by

A group of landowners in Reyðarfjörður have told the Alcoa Fjarðaál aluminium smelter to stop the emission of fluoride in the area. Austurfrétt reports that the landowners’ group Landeigendur Áreyja has told the directorship to put an end to the omissions, which they say are far too high. Guðrún Kjartansdóttir, speaking to reporters on the […]

Immigrant Wins Work Permit Challenge Against Government

by

An immigrant from Iran has won a court case against the Icelandic government, after he was denied a work permit on grounds the court found insufficient. MBL reports that the man in question came to Iceland from Iran in 2011, originally on a student permit. Later in the year, he bought an import company, taking […]

Poison Gas Cloud Heading Northeast

by

The Icelandic Met Office predicts sulphur dioxide (SO2) gas from the Holuhraun eruption will move north and east over the next 24 hours. As can be seen, the Met Office has two maps for predicted areas where significant levels of SO2 will be present. Egilsstaðir and Reyðarfjörður are expected to be hit the hardest by […]

Special Prosecutor Accused Of Illegal Phone Taps

by

A former employee of the Office of the Special Prosecutor says the office tapped phones of suspects illegally. The Minister of Justice believes the matter needs to be investigated. In an interview with Fréttablaðið, former Special Prosecutor’s Office employee Jón Óttar Ólafsson said that the office listened in on illegal taps of phone conversations of […]

Foreign Ministry Harshly Criticised

by

The Minister of Foreign Affairs has received some backlash over his decision to close the Icelandic International Development Agency. While the Agency will be absorbed by the Foreign Ministry, Vísir reports, the move is not without its critics. Minister of Foreign Affairs Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson told reporters for RÚV that when his office examined the […]

Civil Protection: Potentially Fatal To Ignore Closed Area Warnings

by

Civil Protection in Iceland would like to remind the general public that illegally entering the eruption area could be dangerous or even fatal. RÚV reports that the tracks of at least six separate interlopers were found entering the cordoned-off area surrounding the Holuhraun eruption. Víðir Reynisson of Civil Protection in Iceland wants to remind people […]

Police Mistaken On Child Abuse Case

by

The police have declined to prosecute a case of child abuse at a local playschool, and the Ombudsman for Children says this is based on a legal misunderstanding. As reported, the playschool Leikskólinn 101 was shut down in August 2013 after video evidence of child abuse reached city authorities. RÚV reports that one of the […]

More Labour Unions Criticise Prime Minister

by

Another labour union group has criticised the proposed 2015 budget, while Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson doubts unions will make good on their threat to walk out over it. In a new statement from the Húsavík Labour Union Office (Framsýn) entitled “The heart of the government doesn’t beat with working people”, the labour union group […]

Interior Minister Assistant On Trial

by

One of the Minister of the Interior’s assistants is currently on trial for his part in the leak of a memo about asylum seeker Tony Omos. Gísli Freyr Valdórsson, a former assistant to Minister of the Interior Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir, was charged with breach of confidentiality and relieved of his position last August. He is […]

Asylum Seekers To Get Health Coverage

by

A new bill from the Minister of Health would provide health insurance coverage to Iceland’s asylum seekers. Currently, only those asylum seekers who were expressly invited to Iceland by the government have had immediate health coverage. RÚV reports that this may soon change. This Tuesday, Minister of Health Kristján Þór Júlíusson will submit a bill […]

PM Baffled By Union Criticism

by

Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson told parliament he was very surprised by the harsh criticisms the proposed budget has received from labour unions. RÚV reports that Social Democrat MP Árni Páll Árnason asked the Prime Minister what his response was to yesterday’s statement from the Confederation of Icelandic Labour Unions (ASÍ) on the proposed 2015 […]

Foreign Minister Unsure About Sanctions Against Israel

by

Minister of Foreign Affairs Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson told parliament that he was unsure whether now is the time to engage in sanctions against Israel. MBL reports that the Minister, responding to a question from Social Democrat MP (and former Foreign Minister) Össur Skarphéðinsson on whether or not Iceland should start sanctions or embargos against Israel, […]

Sulphur Dioxide Cloud Moving West And South

by

The cloud of SO2 emanating from the Holuhraun eruption is moving both further west and further south. The Icelandic Met Office reports that the SO2 from the Holuhraun eruption has already spread over a large portion of the country. Currently, it covers a large portion of central Iceland, extending northwest to Blönduós and east across […]

Trade Unions Very Critical Of New Budget Bill

by

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

by

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

by

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

by

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

by

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

by

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

by

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

by

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

by

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

by

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

by

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

by

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

by

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!

by

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

by

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

by

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

by

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

by

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

by

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

by

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

by

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

by

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

by

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

by

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

by

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

by

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

by

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

by

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

by

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

by

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

by

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

by

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

by

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

by

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

by

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

by

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 […]