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US Considering Sanctions Against Iceland Over Whaling

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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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Airline Row Going To EFTA

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A legal dispute between WOW Air and Icelandair will be appealed to the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). A decision from the Supreme Court reversed an earlier decision made by Reykjavík District Court, which ruled that the dispute would not go to EFTA. The original request to take the dispute to the international authority was made by Icelandair and Isavia, the company which operates Keflavík International Airport. WOW Air originally filed the legal complaint, against both Icelandair and Isavia, as well as The Competition Authority (ICA). The dispute centres around the parsing out of flight times between the two airlines,

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Killer Whales Playing Off Coast Of Iceland – VIDEO

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An alert journalist in the right place at the right time recorded killer whales frolicking off the coast of Bólungarvík, in northwest Iceland. Víkiari, the news website of Bólungarvík, reports that Guðbjörg Stefanía Hafþórsdóttir spotted three killer whales off the coast of Ósvör, just east of Bólungarvík. As they swam closer, they eventually made their way into Bólungarvík harbour. Guðbjörg managed to record two of the whales, swimming about 10 metres from shore, which you can see below. Killer whales only number in the hundreds around Iceland’s shores, and seeing them swimming so close to shore is an even rarer

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Bárðarbunga Volcano Watch: The Afternoon Edition

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Volcano watch is still in full swing, but no eruption yet. In the meantime, here’s a roundup of the day’s Bárðarbunga news so far: 13:23 – The closure of the area north of Vatnajökull glacier has already lead to significant financial losses for the local tourism industry, reports RÚV. In light of recent evacuations, mountain huts and guest accommodations at Kverkfjöll and Askja have had to close now for the winter, nearly a month earlier than planned, despite nearly full bookings for the remainder of the season. 12:53 – Should this eruption occur, Friðþór Eydal, a spokesman for ISAVIA, which

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RÚV Backtracks, Prayers Back On Air

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Iceland’s National Broadcasting Service, RÚV, have backtracked their recent decision to take prayers off air following a meeting with the Bishop of Iceland. As reported, RÚV planned to remove daily morning and evening prayers, plus programmes in which scripture is read out and replace it with a single once-per-week programme examining theology, the culture of religion and society.  Morning prayers and the nightly programme, Orð Kvöldsins (Evening Words) featuring scripture will remain on the radio’s roster. “It is important that words of prayer are heard in the media age,” said Bishop of Iceland, Agnes M. Sigurðardóttir, who welcomed the decision to keep morning prayers,

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Twitter Flooded With Cowabunga Bárðarbunga Jokes

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In anticipation of Bárðarbunga’s possible eruption, social media users have been busy sharing their thoughts on the volcano. Many of these tweets are helpful, pointing travellers to vital resources but an alarming number use Bárðarbunga as a segue into some kind of Cowabunga joke. Presented here is a selection of tweets collected by the Grapevine. Helpful Dear people, please stay updated through safetravel.is regarding #bardarbunga volcano. — I heart Reykjavík (@IheartReykjavik) August 19, 2014 Pretty cool visualisation of #Bardarbunga‘s seismic activity. Updated every minute. http://t.co/H7u0ic5fJW — Ómar Kjartan Yasin (@omarkj) August 19, 2014 Follow the development in #Bardarbunga at our Facebook page https://t.co/EeMH2MgxKB

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Area North Of Bárðarbunga Volcano Evacuated

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An evacuation order went into effect yesterday in the area north of Vatnajökull glacier, in light of ongoing earthquake activity around the Bárðarbunga volcano, reports RÚV. According to Víðir Reynisson, department manager of Iceland’s Civil Protection and Emergency Management, the evacuation has been a success though he could not be sure that some had not been left behind.  “The evacuation has gone well so far,” Víðir told RÚV last night. “We don’t expect the evacuation to be finished until maybe 3 am… This sort of thing just takes time. There are bad roads and such. What will happen next is that the Icelandic Coast Guard will

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