A spokesperson for the Norwegian army has confirmed that the Icelandic Coast Guard bought 250 MP5 submachine guns from them last December, contrary to official contentions that the guns were a gift. RÚV reports that Dag Aamont, a spokesperson for the Norwegian army, has confirmed that the Icelandic Coast Guard signed a deal with the Norwegian army on December 17 of last year to purchase the weapons. According to the agreement, Iceland paid about 11.5 million ISK for the weapons. Dag would not offer more information on the matter, nor would he comment on statements from Icelandic officials that the guns were a gift. Official statements of the new weapons cache in the hands of the Icelandic police account for only 150 MP5s. It is unknown who owns the remaining 100 submachine guns. However, the new information also directly contradicts official statements on how the guns were obtained. As reported, Jóhannes Þór Skúlason, assistant to Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson stated on Facebook that the guns are a “gift from Norway”, and that the cost to the Icelandic state was none. He added that the guns were a part of the “good teamwork in police matters” between the two countries. Furthermore, Chief of the National Commissioner of Police Jón F. Bjartmarz told reporters that none of the additional funds the police received last year were used to purchase weapons. The matter is further confounded by a recent statement from Icelandic Coast Guard director Georg Lárusson, who said of the guns, “I don’t know how these weapons that the police now have got into their hands, but I can find out. … I can’t say whether these guns came from us or are owned by us. It is out of the question that [Coast Guard] employees handed the police these guns without my knowledge.” At the time of this writing, over 600 Icelanders have said they will be attending a demonstration to be held this Friday in front of the capital area police station. Attendees are encouraged to arrive armed with soap bubble blowers, water balloons and water guns, all of which will be fired at the police station itself. At the same time, about 7,000 Icelanders have joined a group entitled “Return the Guns” to Norway. In addition, about 3,000 Icelanders have so far signed a petition calling for a national referendum on the matter.
Copyright holders interest group STEF has issued an injunction against many Icelandic telecoms to block access to Deildu.net and The Pirate Bay. MBL reports that The Performing Rights Society of Iceland (STEF) has already filed an injunction against telecoms Vodafone, Hringdu, Síminn, Tal and 365 Media, asking the court to rule in favour of ordering them to block access to torrent sites The Pirate Bay and its Icelandic cousin, Deildu.net (now known as Iceland.pm). The injunction against Síminn fell through on technicalities, and the judge in the Tal case recused themselves as being unfit to hear the trial. While most of these telecoms have been resistant to block access to these sites, 365 Media expressed a willingness to explore the idea, and STEF has urged Síminn and Tal to do the same. However, both telecoms have responded by saying that they did not consider it their place to block their customers from accessing websites, and would not do so without an injunction. As reported, tens of thousands of Icelanders visit both sites every year, and this has been a source of frustration for STEF, who have contended that file sharing violates copyright and deprives artists of revenue. STEF managing director Guðrún Björk Bjarnadóttir told reporters that a recent Reykjavík District Court decision ordering Vodafone and Hringdu to block their customers from accessing the Pirate Bay and Deildu.net marks a “milestone” on the use of torrent sites in Iceland, expressing the hope that the precedent set will make blocking torrent sites “an easier matter than having to go through a long legal process”. However, anyone who is a customer of Vodafone and Hringdu can still access the two sites if they know how to operate a proxy server. Guðrún said she recognises this, and that “the fight continues”.
Outside of Iceland’s capital, priests outnumber medical clinics, and some far-flung corners have no government offices at all. Vísir reports that, according to data from the Icelandic Regional Development Institute, priests are considerably easier to find than medical professionals in many parts of the countryside. While priests are absent from 12 municipalities outside the capital area, medical clinics are absent from 15 of them. Three municipalities – Svalbarðseyri, Stöðvarfjörður and Stokkseyri – have no government branch offices whatsoever. Reykjavík is home to the seat of government, the National Church, and the main offices of nearly all public service departments. Outside of the capital area, Akureyri has the greatest concentration of public offices in the countryside. A significant number of public offices can also be found in smaller towns around the country, amongst them Ísafjörður, Sauðárkrókur, Egilsstaðir and Selfoss. Outside of these municipalities, however, towns and villages around the country often greatly lack or are devoid of public services. This necessitates residents to travel, sometimes for hours by car, to obtain the services paid for through public revenues.
The hepcats of Oyama are all set to unleash their monster of a début album, Coolboy, which will be released in Iceland via 12 Tónar on November third (those fortunate enough to live in Japan can get it in less than a week, via Imperial Records). After giving the thing a couple of spins, we can verify: Coolboy is a good album. Great, even. Lucky you, then, that Oyama would opt to premiere its first single, Siblings via the very website you are reading. In this very story you are reading! Yes, check it out, here’s Siblings: Now, that there’s a pretty great, fuzzy, early-‘90s Pale Saints and (Smeared-era) Sloan referencing track right there. One of those songs that somehow manages to dress up oodles of raw, melodic power and human frustration in shiny, sensual whispers, so that it becomes all pleasant-like to listen to. Anyway, the Pétur Ben produced album will be out soon enough, and if you like this, you’ll love that (pre-order it through their BandCamp here). And of course, you’ll be able to catch them at Airwaves (and in Japan, in November, if you are fortunate enough to live there). To celebrate this premiere, we sent the band some random questions, just for the fuck of it. The venerable Úlfur (he is the blondest one) responded thusly: What can you tell us about the new single? It’s one of our newest songs, an exploration of new sounds and elements. It’s probably the least “shoegaze” song we’ve done so far. It’s called “Siblings”? Why? Is it about siblings? I dunno. I think it’s about relationships eventually making people act like siblings. Like, they’re stuck with each other, whether they like it or not, good or bad. When/where/how did you record ‘Coolboy’? We started recording in March and stopped recording in September. We recorded bass and drums (and some guitars and mellotron) in Sundlaugin, but most of everything else in Kári’s studio, Studio Eitt. Pétur Ben produced the album, and we recorded some stuff at his studio also. It was so nice to have him with us; he offered a unique viewpoint of our new songs, that we hadn’t considered, and helped us explore the tracks to their fullest potential. Which was PRETTY nice! Do you get much radio play in Iceland? How can a band of your stature and genre best reach an audience in your home country? We don’t get a lot of radio play… yet. Maybe the new songs are more radio-friendly than our old ones? Who knows? I have never understood why the songs that get played a lot on the radio are the ones that get popular, it seems really random to me. Has this tune been a feature of your live set for long? No, not really, since Christmas I think. And it has never been played live in the form that it took in the recording process. How many guitar tracks are on it? 54 (no joke) Who’s your favourite Beatle? George McCartney. Who’s your
Math-rockers Agent Fresco may be in the middle of mixing their upcoming 2015 album, but they still found the time to release new video “Dirt Water,” which is a parody of previously released “Dark Water” video. It is directed by Bowen Staines of Don’t Panic Films, who has previously shot videos for Skálmöld, Sólstafir and The Vintage Caravan, amongst others. Check it out below, and compare to Dark Water. The video was released to promote Agent Fresco’s upcoming Airwaves shows. You can catch them on the following dates: November 5: Gamla Bíó at 21:40, during which they will exclusively play new content November 8: Gaukurinn at 02:20, Blue Lagoon (off-venue) at 13:00 and Slippbarinn (off-venue) at 18:30 Fans can also see Agent Fresco play at Húrra this Saturday, where they will be joined by Fufanu and CeaseTone.
Vísir/Fréttablaðið today published a poll indicating that two-thirds of the Icelandic population would rather not see alcohol sold in grocery stores. Recently proposed changes Last month, Independence Party MP Vilhjálmur Árnason was first speaker for a proposal to amend the law on retail in alcohol and tobacco, and other related legislature, which would allow any private enterprise with a retail-permit to sell alcoholic beverages. As it is, the State reserves monopoly in that market, through its liquor stores, and has done so since the end of general prohibition in 1922. Introducing the proposal, Vilhjálmur said that its aim was “to approach the spirit of our times, follow its process and align with what the people in this country want.” In its current form, the change would make all kinds of alcoholic beverages available in grocery stores, strong liquor included, rather than only milder forms. Vilhjálmur has explained that he considers this general approach necessary for access in the countryside to be equal to that in more densely populated areas. In Vísir’s poll, 92% of the 801 correspondents polled, stated an opinion. As already mentioned, 67% of those were against the proposal. Interviewed by Vísir, Vilhjálmur, a former police officer, who professes never to have tasted alcohol, expressed his surprise at the poll’s results. He said that it was not in line with earlier polls nor with the support he had felt among the public. Earlier attempts A similar amendment was last proposed on January 18, 2009, two days before the so-called cutlery revolution gained the momentum that lead to the downfall of the Independence Party’s and the social-democrat Coalition’s government. It has become somewhat traditional that young Independence Party MPs propose such a change, left-wingers scold them for it, and the proposal eventually evaporates.