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Conservatives Back in Power?

Published September 22, 2010

Great divisiveness between the Social Democrats and the Leftist-Greens over whether or not former ministers should stand trial for negligence has brought up talk of new elections, or even a new coalition formed comprised of Social Democrats and the Independence Party – the same two parties who were driven from power in early 2009.
As reported, the parliamentary committee was originally assembled with the knowledge and approval of the prime minister and given the task to investigate which, if any, former ministers should stand trial in a national court for their part in the economic collapse. Their conclusion was that two conservatives – former Prime Minister Geir H. Haarde and former Minister of Finance Árni M. Mathiesen – and two Social Democrats – former Minister of Foreign Affairs Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir and former Minister of Business Björgvin G. Sigurðsson – should stand trial for negligence. A recent poll on the matter showed that a strong majority of Icelanders fully support the idea.
However, Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, also a Social Democrat, told parliament that she doubts that pressing charges against them would accomplish anything, and that they could not have prevented the economic collapse.
The remarks have sparked a catalyst of reactions that could lead to new elections, or even a new coalition.
Atli Gíslason, chairman of the parliamentary committee, told Vísir that if a parliamentary majority does not pass a measure calling for the four former minister to stand trial, that new elections should be held.
In fact, many Leftist-Greens, Progressives, and MPs for The Movement have expressed disappointment with the prime minister’s remarks, which they see as her protecting members of her own party, and many wondering why she has waited until now to say anything about the work the committee was assigned to do.
Birgitta Jónsdóttir, an MP for The Movement, called the Prime Minister’s remarks “predictable spin”, and said that she ought to apologize to parliament for it. Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, chairman of the Progressive Party, told RÚV that new elections were indeed discussed in parliament yesterday, as was the formation of a new coalition, comprised of the Social Democrats and the Independence Party: the same two parties that were driven from power in the wake of popular protests in early 2009.
The Leftist-Green Party officially disagrees with the prime minister, with Leftist-Green chairman Steingrímur J. Sigfússon telling reporters that he was pleased with the work that the committee has done.
A vote on the matter is expected today.



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Iceland, Now With Transgenic Mice

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Genetically modified mice will soon be imported into Iceland and used to further cancer research, reports RÚV. The Environment Agency of Iceland has granted the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Iceland a license to import and use genetically modified mice for scientific purposes. Genetically modified, or transgenic mice have had their genomes altered through the use of genetic engineering techniques and are widely used for medical or scientific research. Where cancer is concerned, transgenic mice can be developed to carry cloned genes that have the potential to cause cancer. The disease symptoms and potential drugs

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Mentally Ill Inmate Kept In Solitary For 2 Months

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An inmate with mental health issues has been in solitary confinement at Litla Hraun maximum security prison for the last 2 months, reports RÚV. The man has in the past spent years in the psychiatric ward of Iceland’s National University Hospital. Two years ago however, he was deemed mentally competent enough to serve out the remainder of his – undisclosed – sentence at Litla Hraun. The prison withheld therapy from the inmate – who was diagnosed with psychopathy – for a year and a half before granting him treatment this past spring. Recently the inmate began refusing to take his medication and as

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Defence Attorney: Facebook “Likes” Constitute Impartiality

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A lawyer defending former Interior Minister assistant Gísli Freyr Valdórsson has asked the court to remove the prosecutor for “Liking” a news story pertaining to the trial. 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 now on trial in Reykjavík District Court and today, RÚV reports, the defence has offered a unique argument as to why the prosecutor, Helgi Magnús Gunnarsson, is unfit to participate in the trial. Ólafur Garðarsson, Gísli Freyr’s defence attorney, argued in court today that

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Iceland: A Good Place To Grow Old

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A new report from Global Age Watch puts Iceland in 7th place amongst the best countries in the world to grow old. According to the report, Norway is officially the best country in the world to grow older, while Afghanistan is the worst. Iceland has held its position in the top ten due to the life expectancy and financial security, amongst other factors. Icelanders aged 60 years old today can expect to live another 25 years; 17.8 of those in good health. 100% of the population over 65 receives some kind of pension, with only 1.6% living in poverty. In

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“Illska” And “Ósjálfrátt” Nominated For Nordic Council Literature Prize

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Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl’s Illska (“Evil”) and Auður Jónsdóttir’s Ósjálfrátt (“Secretaries to the Spirits”) have been chosen to be Iceland’s entries for the Nordic Council Literature Prize. While both authors share the nomination, Illska also bears the honour of having already won the Icelandic Literary Prize in 2012 and The Book Merchant’s Prize. Illska is a 500+ page novel about Agnes Lukauskas, an Icelander of Lithuanian descent, and her love triangle with Ómar Arnarson and Arnór Þórðarson, in a story that spans decades. Ósjálfrátt, which is Auður’s seventh novel, follows Eyja, her family, and the narrative threads that course through all

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News In Brief: Late September

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 Fortunately for us, the Holurhraun eruption (discussed here and here) has not produced airplane-choking ash clouds nor led to devastating glacial flooding. There have, however, been continuous plumes  of sulphur dioxide wafting through mostly North and East Iceland from the site of the Holuhraun  eruption, giving police another reason to cordon off a large swath of Iceland from public access. Not that  this hasn’t stopped a few idiots from blithely driving into an eruption site anyway. New forms of natural  selection ahoy! Minister of Health Kristján Þór Júlíusson is exploring the legalisation of drugs, going so far as to  agree

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