A Grapevine service announcement Pay attention: Holuhraun reaches river, steam plumes reported
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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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Progressive Wrong About Peace Tower

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A Progressive city councilperson has questioned the cost of maintaining Yoko Ono’s Peace Tower, and was apparently misinformed about how the Peace Fund is used. RÚV reports that Progressive city councilperson Sveinbjörg Birna Sveinbjörnsdóttir has submitted a formal request to City Hall to know how much money it costs the city to maintain the Peace Tower. Speaking to reporters, Sveinbjörg said she had nothing against the Peace Tower itself; she simply wanted to know the operational costs for a work of art. Furthermore, she added that she found it strange that former Mayor of Reykjavík Jón Gnarr should receive money

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Text Messages Insufficient As Eruption Alerts

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It has come to light that using text messaging to alert towns and villages of poisonous SO2 levels does not work as well as intended. RÚV reports that some 750kg of SO2 are spewing out of the Holuhraun eruption every second. This has caused SO2 levels in many parts of northeast Iceland to reach alarming levels. In order to alert residents in the area of these dangerous levels of SO2, mass text messages were sent Friday evening to people living in Eskifjörður, Reyðarfjörður, Fáskrúðsfjörður and Neskaupstaður. However, many text messages arrived late, if at all, depending in large part on

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Resignations At DV Stack Up After Editor Is Ousted

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DV’s managing director, assistant editor, and at least 4 other employees have resigned in light of recent events which saw chief editor Reynir Traustason ousted from his position, reports RÚV. As reported, ‘World Class’ gym chain owner, Björn Leifsson, filed a libel suit against tabloid DV –  known for its critical investigative journalism – earlier this year. At the end of August, Björn announced that he had bought a minor share in the paper, with the declared intention of getting rid of its editor, Reynir Traustason (pictured). Björn then sold the shares to owners who proceeded to form a new board. Subsequently

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Eruption Pollution At All Time High

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The residents of Reyðarfjörður have been advised to stay indoors as fumes from the Holuhraun eruption cause pollution to spike to record levels, reports RÚV. Reyðarfjörður, located on Iceland’s east coast saw levels of sulfur dioxide reach 4,000 µg/​cubic metres last night. Residents of Reyðarfjörður have been advised to stay inside and monitor pollution readings. In addition to staying inside and closing all windows and doors, residents are recommended to turn on their radiators to increase air pressure inside their homes. These pollution levels are the highest readings in Iceland since the Icelandic Meterological Office began recording sulfur dioxide pollution

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Alcohol Bill Submitted

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A bill that would permit the sale of alcohol in private shops has been submitted to parliament, and it is uncertain whether it will fail or become law. Currently, alcoholic beverages may only be bought from any of the The State Alcohol and Tobacco Company of Iceland (ÁTVR) stores in the country. One man, Independence Party MP Vilhjálmur Árnason, hopes to change that. Vísir reports that Vilhjálmur’s bill, which would make alcohol legal for sale in supermarkets, has been submitted to parliament. However, even he admits that support for the bill is on a knife’s edge. “I expect that there

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Twin Solar Storms = Northern Lights Galore!

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While the planet is bombarded with charged solar particles, this translates into some fantastic Northern Lights displays for Iceland. The Guardian reports today that two coronal mass ejection (CME) bursts from the Sun sent charged solar particles hurtling towards Earth yesterday and today, “raising concerns that GPS signals, radio communications and power transmissions” could be scrambled. On the brighter side, the Guardian also speculates that the “storms might also trigger beautiful auroral displays along northern latitudes as electrically charged solar particles hit the atmosphere.” As it turns out, they are absolutely right. As can be seen on the Icelandic Met

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