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News In Brief: Early September

News In Brief: Early September

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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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No-Fly Zone In Effect Over Holuhraun Eruption

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ISAVIA has imposed a no-fly zone over the Holuhraun eruption site and a parts of northeastern Iceland. In a brief posted to their website, ISAVIA, who control and run Iceland’s airports, have stated that it is unclear how much ash is likely to be produced. Contingency plans in the event of disruptive ash production are in place. Reykjavík’s Air Traffic Control Centre, in cooperation with the Icelandic Met Office has mapped out a no-fly zone over and around the Holuhraun volcanic eruption. The no-fly zone (pictured), includes Akureyri Airport. At this time it is only possible to fly to and from Akureyri if Visual

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Breaking News: Eruption Confirmed At Holuhraun

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The Icelandic Met Office has confirmed an eruption has started in Holuhraun, north of Dyngjujökull. This is further backed up by the Míla live-feed where the eruption is visible in the distance.  According to Iceland’s Civil Protection Authority the lava is making its way to the surface through a 100 metre long fissure with low lava fountains with thin flowing lava. The eruption site is located in an area devoid of ice meaning that the flood risk for North Iceland is so far minimal.  

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Humpback Whale Saved From Netting – VIDEO

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The Icelandic Coast Guard rescued a whale that had been caught in netting, with the whole event record on video. A statement from the Icelandic Coast Guard announces that they received a call yesterday morning of a whale near Skagafjörður that had reportedly gotten caught in some fishing netting. The whale had attempted to free itself, but a rope from the net was entangled around its tail, and it was swimming not far from shore. A local sailor had attempted to free the netting from the whale himself, but the hook he was using was smacked from his hand by

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Pagan Chief Says Racists Co-Opt Elements Of Ásatrú

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The Head Cheiftain of the Ásatrú Society says neo-Nazis have attempted to co-opt the pagan faith – a practice the society utterly disavows. “We strongly oppose any attempt by individuals to use their association with the Ásatrúarfélagið of Iceland to promote attitudes, ideologies and practices rejected by the leadership of the Ásatrúarfélagið. We particularly reject the use of Ásatrú as a justification for supremacy ideology, militarism and animal sacrifice,” a statement the religious order posted on their website in English reads in part. “It should also be known that visitors have no authority to speak on our behalf. There is

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Interior Minister Spoke Untruthfully To Parliament

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What Interior Minister Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir told parliament earlier this summer about police investigations of her Ministry, and what the reality was, are two different things. As Vísir points out, Hanna Birna addressed parliament on the investigations of her Ministry on numerous occasions. On June 18, while police investigations were still ongoing, she told her colleagues that she had no knowledge of what police were uncovering and how they were conducting their investigations. “I do not know these investigations,” she told parliament. “I do not know about them, and it would be unnatural if I knew about any part of

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Deutsche Bank Buys Icesave Debt

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The Netherlands has sold its claims on the estate of the failed Icelandic bank Landsbanki to Deutsche Bank, reports RÚV. “I am pleased that the sale has enabled the Dutch state to get its money back quickly,” Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem told Bloomberg. The Dutch Finance ministry has now recouped all of the €1.43 billion euros ($1.89 billion) the country paid out to compensate Dutch depositors with Icesave accounts after Landsbanki failed in 2008. The Dutch Finance Ministry said the sale of the remaining claims to investors had yielded about €623 million euros.

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