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News In Brief: Late July Edition

News In Brief: Late July Edition

Published July 31, 2012

The downtown nightclub Nasa came back into the news, with the future of the building that housed it undergoing more twists and turns in a struggle between city officials and a grassroots movement to save the site. A petition was started, with more than 11,000 signatures at the time of this writing, to save Nasa from demolition and to prevent the building of a hotel at the location that critics say would cast an unsightly shadow over Austurvöllur, the square in front of Parliament that many Icelanders like to enjoy in the summertime to get some sun. However, Páll Hjaltason, the chairperson of the Reykjavík Planning Committee, said that the city had long planned to renovate the club, and that it will not be torn down. The hotel, however, still appears to be on the drawing board, so at least that part of the struggle will continue. More on that elsewhere in this issue.
Poor Eve the seal, despite being an Icelandic native (probably), will not be allowed to return to her presumed home from her sanctuary in England, on the grounds that Icelandic authorities are worried she may introduce foreign diseases to the native seal population. For now, there are no plans to implement such a measure for human beings, so those planning to visit or move to Iceland should be able to breathe easier.
Snorri Óskarsson, an Akureyri schoolteacher who was suspended with pay for writing an anti-gay blog, has been terminated from his position. This prompted, among other people, former Central Bank chair and current Morgunblaðið co-editor Davíð Oddsson to come to his defence, saying that Snorri should not have been fired for his opinions on homosexuals. While Snorri cried foul, Akureyri mayor Eiríkur Björn Björgvinsson said that Snorri was not fired for his blog, but that his termination was based on his job performance. Meaning that Snorri isn’t just a homophobe; he’s also a lacklustre teacher.
Freedom does ring on domestic airline flights in Iceland, though, as the Icelandic Civil Aviation Administration confirmed that they will not begin weapon searches for domestic flights. The decision was made on the grounds that it would be too costly and time consuming to increase security, while causing unnecessary delays, for an airline system that faces almost no threat of armed hijacking or terrorism as it is. Domestic airline passenger shoes will remain firmly on foot.
Chinese entrepreneur and perennial newsmaker Huang Nubo quite casually mentioned in an interview in Beijing aspects of his land rental deal that had previously not been brought to light. Apart from wanting to turn 30,639 hectares in northeast Iceland into a luxury hotel and recreation area, will also be building 100 luxury villas, mostly for “wealthy Chinese.” Oh, and his lease isn’t just for 40 years—it’s for 40 years, with an option to rent for an additional 40 years. Minister of the Interior Ögmundur Jónasson was less than pleased with the news, saying, “If people can rent land for this length of time, it becomes more or less equivalent to land ownership.” What other little surprises Huang Nubo plans to spring on us remain to be seen.
The case of Björk Eiðsdóttir and Erla Hlynsdóttir—two journalists who wrote articles on the strip clubs Goldfinger and Strawberries and were subsequently sued for liable, appealed to the European Court of Human Rights, and won—is still rippling through Iceland. A grassroots movement was started calling for the boycott of stores owned by the man who refused to sell the issues of Ísafold magazine covering the Goldfinger story in 2007. These stores include Krónan, Nóatún, Elko and Byko. While there have been no discernible effects of the boycott so far, organisers say the purpose is to clearly convey the message that suppressing freedom of the press will have consequences.
The political spectrum in Iceland widened just a little bit this month, as the formation of an Icelandic Pirate Party was announced. Most of the media attention has been focused on MP Birgitta Jónsdóttir, but she is one of many forming the party, which has as part of its platform government transparency and freedom of expression. The party recently had its first public meeting to better form the platform, but for now most of the public discussion seems to revolve around the party’s Icelandic name—Píratapartýið—which sounds foreign to many Icelandic ears. Whether the name stays or goes, and whether public discussion can shift its focus to the party’s actual platform, is still undetermined.   



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Listicle: A Survival Guide For The Darkest Months

Listicle: A Survival Guide For The Darkest Months

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In Reykjavík and beyond, there are some activities that are available only in the winter season. January can be made into a lively month, with a few ideas and a bit of willpower—never before has the frozen city pond looked as inviting, or a glögg by the open fireplace seemed so tempting. The hardest part is often deciding to do something and getting going, so push yourself to get out of the house and you’ll rarely regret it. Instead of dozing the morning away, you can flick on a SAD lamp, down some lýsi, pull on some colourful clothes, and

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SAD Times: The Effects Of Winter—And How To Fight Back

SAD Times: The Effects Of Winter—And How To Fight Back

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When I meet working psychologist and PhD student Erla Björnsdóttir, it’s already dark outside. Reykjavík’s streets are becoming treacherous as compacted snow freezes into sheets of slippery ice, and the streetlights have been lit for a couple of hours already, throughout the late afternoon. People clutch their hot drinks in the coffeehouse, and a barman lights candles on the tables. The atmosphere is tangibly hushed as the winter season hangs over the city. Around 101’s many downtown bars and cafes, sleep issues become a common topic of conversation at this time of year. Whilst some locals carry on as normal,

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A Tale Of Ice And Fire (But Mostly Wind… And Not Much Sun)

A Tale Of Ice And Fire (But Mostly Wind… And Not Much Sun)

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Icelanders are obsessed with the weather. That shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s ever been here: the weather is no joke. If you don‘t keep a close eye on forecasts and weather-related news, you might miss out on the few good days of summer, end up stuck somewhere in a snowstorm or—on rare occasions—drive right into the latest eruption’s ash cloud. In that spirit, we present some peaks and ebbs of 2014, as it pertained to our friendly in-house meteorological expert. Now, it would be a bit extreme to say that this was a good year for Iceland

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WHERE WERE WE? WHERE ARE WE? WHERE ARE WE HEADED?

WHERE WERE WE? WHERE ARE WE? WHERE ARE WE HEADED?

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To mark the beginning of a new year, we posed two questions to dozens of Icelanders, old and new. Representatives of every single political party, ministers, mayors and machinists alike (as per usual, the governing parties mostly ignored our queries). We asked them to tell us—in their own unique ways, from their own unique perspectives—what summed up the year 2014, and what they expected of the coming one. We asked them to answer the following: “Where are we now, at the end of 2014. Looking back, how did that journey begin, and where did it leave us?” “Furthermore: Where are

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Eight Inside Tips to Surviving the Icelandic Winter

Eight Inside Tips to Surviving the Icelandic Winter

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DARK ICELAND can be a total fucker to deal with, all Northern Lights and magical elves aside. So guess what: our man Ragnar put together a bit of a “listicle” to help y’all cope. Now, go forth and cope! Try the secret menu at Bangkok Ask for the “Thai Style” menu at Thai restaurant Bangkok in Kópavogur. Asian take-out in Iceland can be a pretty dismal affair, but it’s not entirely the fault of the restaurants—as Icelanders can’t seem to see past their love of soggy deep-fried shrimp with sweet-and-sour sauce. But if you know the magic word, they’ll serve

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Year In News: 2014

Year In News: 2014

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The year 2014 was chock-full of controversies, blunders, humour, and, of course, cat stories. So brew yourself a cuppa and make yourself comfortable—we have a lot to go through. JANUARY The year came out of the gate running, with television personality-cum-sports announcer Björn Bragi Arnarson remarking that Iceland’s dominant performance in a handball game against Austria was “like the German Nazis in 1938. We’re slaughtering the Austrians!” All the while, Icelandic brewery Steðji put slaughtered whales to good use, crafting the novel Þorri “Whale Beer,” which contains trace amounts of whalebone meal. And, in an attempt to harness the 40%

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