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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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Flower Pots Calm Traffic

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To decrease the speed of drivers on Bergstaðarstræti, actress Vigdís Hrefna Pálsdóttir has been placing flower pots in the middle of the road as traffic calming devices, reports Vísir.  “Usually it’s small things – more often than not, flower pots, bags or buckets with flowers in them – that I place in the middle of the street, with more than enough room on either side so that people can drive without hitting them,” said Vigdís. “It’s getting a lot of attention, most people like it and are happy but then the odd black sheep loses it over the flowers.” These odd

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Woman Appointed Police Commissioner Of Reykjavík

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Sigríður Björk Guðjónsdóttir has been appointed Police Commissioner of Reykjavík, reports Vísir, she is the first woman to hold this post. In accordance with a new police law, Police Commissioners in Iceland will be cut down from 15 to 9. Additionally two other women have been appointed Police Commissioners,  meaning that out of 7 newly appointed Police Commissioners, 3 are women and 4 are men. The move comes in the wake of criticism that the National Police Force has been failing to make good on promises to increase gender equality within the force after three men were appointed to senior positions despite

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Prime Minister Sends Letter To Netanyahu

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Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson has sent a strongly-worded letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the subject of the “deeply disturbing” attacks Israel is launching against Gaza, urging for “a peaceful resolution”. RÚV reports that the office of Netanyahu has confirmed they have received Sigmundur’s letter, which can be read in its entirety below. In sending the letter, the Prime Minister echoes concerns brought up by other members of the Icelandic government, including Minister of Foreign Affairs Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson. Iceland’s Foreign Affairs Committee will soon meet to discuss the situation and what action to take. Icelandic

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Chinese Investors May Buy Part Of Icelandic Bank

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A group of Chinese investors are currently in negotiations over buying a portion of Islandsbanki, though this is not the first time such negotiations have been reported. Reuters reports that the investors group is comprised of “Chinese bank ICBC, insurer China Life Insurance Company and a large Chinese private equity fund”, an unnamed source from the Ministry of Finance said. Talks are currently ongoing with the bankruptcy estate of Islandsbanki, previously known as Glitnir, on the subject of possibly buying a stake. “It’s pleasing that there is an interest in the bank,” chairperson of the bankruptcy estate Steinunn Guðbjartsdóttir said.

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Jeep Rolled To Avoid Hitting Sheep

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Two tourists risked their lives in order to swerve around a sheep that had jumped into the road. Vísir reports that the incident took place in Vatnsnes, northwest Iceland, at about four o’ clock this morning. While traveling on a country road, the two tourists were suddenly faced with a sheep that had bounded into their path. The quick-thinking driver swerved to avoid the sheep, causing one of the front wheels to slam into a roadside ditch. This sent the jeep rolling across the road, eventually coming to a stop on its driver side. The first person on the scene

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Panda The Cat Shot With Air Rifle

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Cat owner Vífill Garðarson may need to put his cat Panda down after someone shot him with an air rifle, reports Vísir. Earlier this week Vífill’s neighbour came across Panda lying motionless in his garage and called Vífill to come pick up the cat, but Panda did not run to his owner as he is prone to do. “He just lay there, completely still so I had to pick him up and carry him home,” said Vífill. “When I put him down on the ground again he couldn’t stand up so I rushed him to the veterinary hospital.” Initially the

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