A Grapevine service announcement Be patient: That eruption is expected to last until 2015
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News In Brief: Early September

News In Brief: Early September

Published September 7, 2012

Good news for those who are bound to the bus when it comes to travel: municipal bus service now extends across the country. If you live in the capital area, you can now take the bus as far afield as Akureyri, and if you already live in the country, Strætó hf. will also be providing smaller buses or even cars to those wishing to travel between towns and villages. Hitchhiking is now rendered something to be done solely for fun and adventure, as opposed to out of sheer necessity, for the car-less who want to travel outside of the capital area.
In other news, farmers are now actively targeting tourists to take part in the annual sheep round-up, also known as “réttir,” which occur all over Iceland every autumn. Réttir entails heading out into the hills on horseback, four-wheeler and on foot to gather sheep (which have spent the summer grazing in the mountains) and bring them back to their respective farms, as part of their journey onto our dinner tables. The round-up usually ends in an alcohol-fuelled celebration, too, so there’s that to look forward to at the end of all your hard work.
One of Grapevine’s more popular news stories in a long time was the unusual tale of a woman who unknowingly took part in search for herself, after she was erroneously reported missing during a tour of south Iceland. The confusion arose from the fact that when stepping off the bus at Eldgjá, she reportedly changed clothes before getting back on the bus. Apparently no one recognised her after the wardrobe change, and she was reported missing, sparking a manhunt that continued into the early morning. Even more bizarrely, the woman took part in the search herself without realising that she fit the description of the missing person. The search was called off around 3AM off when she announced her existence to the police.
An Icelandic yacht builder in Dubai is currently embroiled in accusations of forgery, following a civil case he launched against an Emirati who refused to pay for a yacht the Icelander had built for him. While winning that case, the court shortly thereafter claimed the Icelander had forged government documents related to it. The Foreign Ministry has since gotten involved, although there is as yet no word on what progress is being made.
With the referendum on the draft of the new constitution coming up next month, the national church is fighting for its continued government support. With current poll numbers showing that most Icelanders still do not trust the institution, the church is hoping public opinion will be on their side when it comes to the question of whether or not to have the concept of a national church present in the new constitution.
Already, public support to remove the clause from the constitution, which would effectively de-nationalise the church, is growing and the church is preparing an “information website” that Bishop of Iceland Agnes M. Sigurðardóttir told reporters will be purely informative, not taking an official stand itself, so that voters can decide for themselves whether or not they want the new constitution to have an article on the church. Will the church survive the referendum? Well, it’s in God’s hands now.
Iceland’s renowned distinction for glaciers may become a thing of the past in a couple of centuries. It has been reported that, for the first time in human memory, the peak of Snæfellsnes is bare of ice. Even more unsettling, scientists measuring glacial melting trends now estimate that if the melting rate continues as it has, Iceland’s glaciers will be no more in about 200 years. Climate change denialists will no doubt contend that this is due to volcanoes getting hotter or some such nonsense. In the meantime, keep in mind that your grandchildren might never know Iceland to be very icy at all.
In more encouraging news, Google Voice Search now recognises Icelandic. Trausti Kristjánsson, who conducted the project, used about 123,000 voice samples from 563 different people to complete the effort. Apart from giving native speakers all the advantages that Google Voice Search gives speakers of other languages, foreigners can now test their Icelandic pronunciation by seeing, for example, if saying “Eyjafjallajökull” to Google Voice Search will return results for the famed volcano, or show random results for Abraham Lincoln.
Perennial favourites Of Monsters And Men, who have been enjoying a smashing success across North American and Europe, have now attained an achievement closer to home. According to British music chart positions, they have now matched a record previously held only by Björk. While Björk’s appropriately named first solo effort, Debut, was released, it went straight to the third position on the British music charts, and the first single from the album—‘Violently Happy’—went to the 36th position. ‘My Head Is An Animal’—Of Monsters And Men’s first album—has made it to the third position as well, but notably the first single from that album—“Little Talks”—is now at the 12th position. It was at the 21st position only a week ago. Not too shabby!



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Business Alliance SA Opposes Shorter Workweek

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Alþingi members from the Pirate party and the Social-democratic Alliance, have proposed a change to the Law on working hours, reducing the standard workweek from 40 to 35 working hours. This would shorten each standard workday by one hour. In the exposition attached to the proposal, the MPs argue cite OECD reports showing that workers in Iceland work relatively long days but somewhat erratically: Iceland, with an average 40-hour workweek, measures low on balancing work and leisure, and compares as the 27th of 36 countries listed. At the same time, total working hours in a year are below the OECD

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MPs Want To Shorten Work Week

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A new bill has been submitted to parliament which would, if passed, legally define working full time to 35 hours per week instead of 40. According to the bill, which has been submitted by Pirate Party MPs Björn Leví Gunnarsson and Helgi Hrafn Gunnarsson and Social Democrat MP Sigríður Ingibjörg Ingadóttir, changing the definition of full time would be a matter of changing two numbers: a full work week would be defined as 35 hours instead of 40, and a full work day would be defined as 7 hours instead of 8. The bill points out that other countries which

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Christmas Goat Back To Tempt Fate

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The Christmas Goat has returned to IKEA in Garðarbær, despite facing both potential arson or high winds, which have defeated the giant straw ruminant before. Vísir reports that IKEA in Garðarbær is already beginning preparations for Christmas. While this means the store itself will be replete with holiday decorations, no IKEA in Christmastime would be complete with a six-metre-tall straw goat standing out front, also known as the Gävle Goat. This Swedish mini-tradition was started by Stig Gavlén in 1966, and seems to be a magnet for misfortune, even in Iceland. In both 2011 and 2013, unusually high winds tore

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Eruption Likely To Last Until 2015

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At the rate the Holuhraun eruption is slowing, one volcanologist believes it will last until early next year. Vísir reports that there are a number of indications that the Holuhraun eruption will continue, but at a gradually slowing pace before reaching a complete stop. Volcanologist Haraldur Sigurðsson points out that the crater in Bárðarbunga is sinking more slowly, telling reporters that Holuhraun reminds him of Kröflugos, which erupted from 1975 to 1984. “It’s natural that this lava flow continues, but it is quickly slowing down,” he said. “The crater has been slowing down its sinking from the beginning, but now

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Iceland’s National Gallery Turns 130

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Iceland’s National Gallery turned 130 yesterday, and the museum celebrated by opening a new addition called the Vasulka Room, reports RÚV. In honour of the birthday, entrance to the museum will be free until October 19. The National Gallery of Iceland was actually founded in Copenhagen in 1884 by Björn Bjarnason. Originally it consisted of donated works by mainly Danish artists. The collection came to Iceland in 1885 and has been housed in a few locations (including Iceland’s parliament) until eventually moving to its present location in 1987. The museum owns over 10.000 art pieces and the most valuable collection of

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Iceland Gears Up For 100th Anniversary Of Women’s Vote

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It has been 99 years since women gained the right to vote in Iceland and celebratory plans are already underway, reports RÚV. School events, concerts and museum exhibits dedicated to women’s suffrage have been planned for 2015 – which marks the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in Iceland. Even the Post Office has planned a commemorative stamp to mark the occasion. “It’s important that we honour the work that women put in to gain the right to vote a 100 years ago,” said Auður Styrkársdóttir, Director of Iceland’s Women’s History Archives. “And it’s important to remember that the rights that

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