A Grapevine service announcement Pay attention: The Holuhraun eruption is at it again

No Evidence Of Wrongdoing In US Embassy Surveillance Case

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Published December 8, 2011

The state prosecutor’s office has concluded that the US embassy in Iceland broke no Icelandic laws when conducting a Surveillance Detection Unit (SDU) that aroused controversy last year.
Last November, the US embassy admitted engaging in SDUs in Iceland. An SDU is essentially extending security surveillance from beyond the building of the embassy itself and into the neighbourhood around it. A Norwegian blogger added to this explanation in more detail, saying in part “the SDU will be stationed outside the embassy, working in plain clothes and will do its best not to be noticed or seen as having anything to do with the embassy. The members will normally be recruited from police or military intelligence, and are usually very experienced in their chosen field. They will actively follow, photograph, videotape and monitor persons that they deem to be deserving of that treatment.”
Embassy spokesperson Laura Gritz emphasised though that SDUs are “neither secret nor spying. It is not used against a host country or its citizens. It is simply to watch for suspicious activity within the vicinity of the embassy and its employees.” US Ambassador to Iceland Luis E. Arreaga-Rodas reiterated this, explaining on the news show Kastljósið that the US has no reason to spy on Icelanders, as the US and Iceland are friends. He added that the SDU is just a security measure, designed to save lives, focused exclusively on suspicious activity.
Nonetheless, the Ministry of Justice refered the matter to the state prosecutor for review. Vísir now reports that the state prosecutor has found no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of the US embassy.
The state prosecutor said that there was furthermore nothing to indicate that embassy employees, or anyone the embassy hired, broke any Icelandic laws in conducting SDUs. As such, the office found no need to pursue the matter further, and the case has been dropped.



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Union Official Worried About Tourism Industry Workers

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The managing director of one of Iceland’s largest trade unions says they are “extremely worried” about workers in the tourism industry. “We are extremely worried about [workers within] this field,” Drífa Snædal, the Managing Director of the Federation of General and Special Workers in Iceland (SGS), told Vísir. “If Iceland intends to build up the tourism industry, it will have to really clean house.” Drífa says that unions around the country have had to deal with reports of employees filing grievances, mostly about being paid unfairly. “There are two types of groups within the tourism industry,” she said. “Those who

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Faroese Ship Bids Iceland Adieu

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The beleagured Faroese fishing vessel that ordinary Icelanders assisted despite the cold shoulder from government has bid our fair shores farewell. MBL reports that Næraberg departed from Reykjavík harbour at about 6:00 this morning. At the time of this writing, the ship is about halfway to Greenland, presumably to resume fishing mackerel. As reported, the ship was sailing from Greenland when it encountered engine trouble and radioed Iceland for permission to dock in Reykjavík harbour to conduct repairs. However, citing an obscure law about fishing rights, Icelandic authorities initially only allowed permission for the ship to dock – the crew

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Stormy Weather Is Hurricane Cristobal Petering Out

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The high winds and rain Iceland has been experiencing over the past 36 hours or so are the remains of what was Hurricane Cristobal. Iceland’s mercurial weather caught the attention of science buffs overseas, as Discover Magazine reported late last night that the storm formerly known as Hurrican Cristobal was taking “dead aim” at Iceland. Hurricanes are not common to more northern latitudes. In fact, Cristobal had changed into what is known as a “warm seclusion cyclone” by the time it reached Iceland. This kind of cyclone is characterised by a center of warm, wet air surrounded by cooler air.

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Björk’s Biophilia Film To Premiere In Reykjavík This Week

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Björk’s Biophilia tour went on for almost two years, scoring a huge hit with critics and audiences around the world due to it’s innovative, immersive production. After a long process of trying to fund a definitive concert film of the project, it came right down to the wire, with the final show at London’s cavernous Alexandria Palace becoming the subject of Biophilia Live. BAFTA-award winning editor and filmmaker Nick Fenton, speaking of his experience as co-director, said: “We felt like security guards, in a little booth surrounded by screens and talking to sixteen cameramen and women. You couldn’t feel further

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VIDEO: Holuhraun Best Place For An Eruption

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Holuhraun is the best possible location for an eruption, geophysicist Magnús Tumi Guðmundsson has told RÚV. Although the magma flow from Holuhraun is considerable and steady, Magnús Tumi does not feel it qualifies as a large eruption. New data indicates that approximately 250 cubic metres of magma is spewing out of the fissure each second. According to Magnús Tumi, the current Holuhraun eruption is completely different to the Eyjafjallajökull eruption of 2010. Given that the Holuhraun eruption is entirely above ground and a mainly basalt eruption it is producing no disruptive ash. The Eyjafjalljökull eruption on the other hand was

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Holuhraun Still Going Strong, Could Last All Year

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The Holuhraun eruption, which began again yesterday with magma plumes as high as 60 metres, is going strong and might see out the year, reports RÚV. “The eruption is comparable to the one we saw from Krafla [in 1975],” said volcanologist Ármann Höskuldsson. “At first there was just a tiny eruption then the eruptions got gradually larger as time passed. It’s possible that this event will last until the end of the year, possibly into some of next year as well.” Seismic activity continues at Vatnajökull though none topped 4.9 on the Richter scale yesterday, presumably because the eruption has alleviated some

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