A Grapevine service announcement Pay attention: Holuhraun, still spewing lava. Bárðarbunga, still sinking.

US Considering Sanctions Against Iceland Over Whaling

Published July 21, 2011

The US government is considering imposing sanctions on Iceland for the practice of hunting endangered fin whales. Ministers within the Icelandic government – and even within the same party – have mixed reactions.
The Associated Press reports that the Obama administration intends to cite Iceland as an example when announcing a law that gives the US the right to impose sanctions on any country that flouts international animal conservation laws. After the announcement, which is set to happen Wednesday, the US president then has 60 days to decide on sanctions. Sanctions against Iceland would likely involve ceasing to import any Icelandic fish products, at least from companies connected to whaling.
Minister of Agriculture Jón Bjarnason told Vísir he is not concerned with a possible sanction, considering it “out of the question” that the US would do such a thing. He also takes issue with the US pointing out that Iceland is hunting an endangered species, saying that there are 20,000 fin whales in the North Atlantic, of which Iceland is hunting less than 200.
However, Árni Þór Sigurðsson – chairman of the foreign affairs committee and, like Jón, a member of the Leftist-Green party – believes the practice of whaling should stop, writing on his Facebook, “Icelanders (or should we say ‘An Icelander’?) hunting whales is more damaging for the business and political interests of Iceland than stopping [whale hunting].”
Árni’s use of the singular when talking about whale hunting is not meant entirely in jest. It has recently come to light that Iceland’s whaling “industry” is more or less the business venture of a single man, Kristján Loftsson.
With disagreements within the government over whaling, and possible sanctions looming, it is still not clear what official response the Icelandic government will take.



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Geir Haarde Lands Washington D.C Ambassadorial Post

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Former Prime Minister of Iceland, Geir H. Haarde, has landed a pivotal ambassadorial post in Washington D.C, reports RÚV. Geir is most known for being prime minister during Iceland’s 2008 economic meltdown. In 2010, parliament voted in favour of Geir standing trial for negligence and mismanagement while in office. Geir was eventually found guilty of one of the four charges of negligence levied against him. As reported, the charge was that he either knew or should have known that he had to respond in some way to the information he had been receiving that the economy was unstable. Prosecutor Sigríður

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Iceland Sends Men Only To UN Conference On Women

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Iceland, considered a global leader in gender equality, has announced it will send only men to a U.N. conference on women and gender equality, reports ABC. Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson told the U.N. General Assembly of world leaders on Monday that the January “barbershop” conference will be unique, “as it will be the first time at the United Nations that we bring together only male leaders to discuss gender equality.” It won’t however, be the first time in history that male leaders get together to discuss women’s issues, without any women present. According to Gunnar Bragi, the

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Tax Committee Chair: “No Choice” But For Government To Buy Tax Evasion Evidence

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The chairperson of parliament’s Tax and Economics Committee believes the Icelandic government should buy evidence of tax evasion, a sample of which has already been offered to authorities. RÚV reports that Frosti Sigurjónsson, a Progressive MP and the chairperson of the Tax and Economics Committee, believes the government should pay to receive only legal documentation of Icelanders evading taxes. If the documents were illegally obtained, he added, this detail would certainly “complicate” matters. “If it’s true what I’ve heard, that the Germans have gone this way, buying this kind of information, than I believe we have no choice but to

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No Known Icelanders In ISIS

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The National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police confirms there is no evidence that any Icelanders have joined forces with the theocratic extremist group ISIS. Vísir reports that they sent a formal inquiry to the police on the matter, and were informed that – to the best of anybody’s knowledge – no Icelandic citizens have joined forces with ISIS. As far-fetched as the possibility may sound, European Union anti-terrorism chief Gilles de Kerchove told the BBC that over 3,000 EU citizens have already joined ISIS. Closer to home, Vísir adds that at the beginning of the summer, Danish secret services revealed

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Murder In Breiðholt

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A 28-year-old man is in police custody, suspected of having strangled his wife. The suspect denies the charges against him. RÚV reports police were alerted to the scene shortly after midnight yesterday, at which time the victim had been dead for a few hours. It is also reported that the couple’s two children, aged two and five, were in the home at the time of death, but were asleep. Vísir reports that the suspect denies killing his wife, and was led into Reykjavík District Court yesterday for a custody hearing. He will remain in police custody until October 17. “These

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Volcano Watch: Lava Field Bigger Than Lake Mývatn

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The lava field created by the Holuhraun eruption is now 44.5 square kilometres, reports RÚV. By comparison, Lake Mývatn is 37 km2. Seismic activity continues to be strong with as many as 60 earthquakes reported in the Bárðarbunga area on Saturday. The largest earthquake reported yesterday had a magnitude of 5.2 and the subsidence of Bárðarbunga caldera continues. Since September 12, the caldera has subsided by 7 metres and the subsidence has now reached the caldera’s half-way point. Iceland’s Civil Protection and Emergency Management services have closed roads in the Northeast, north of Dyngjufall as well as some roads out

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