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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Police Guns Detained By Toll Authorities Until Proven Gifts

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The 250 machine guns, recently acquired from the Norwegian army, have been sealed off by toll authorities, who will not deliver them to the Coast Guard until the latter can prove that the weapons were a gift, as its representatives have publicly claimed. According to RÚV, toll authorities locked up and sealed the warehouse in which the weapons are kept, until the Coast Guard can provide such evidence. Whereas the Coast Guard has not provided any proof, toll authorities have a copy of the Norwegian Army’s invoice for the guns, supporting Norway’s claim that the Coast Guard purchased them. If

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Adam Ibrahim Pasha Ends Hunger Strike

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Adam Ibrahim Pasha has ended his hunger strike. He announced the end of the strike on Thursday evening, his tenth day striking. Pasha took the action to protest against the Directorate of Immigration’s decision not to process his application for asylum in Iceland. In his announcement, Pasha explains that he respects Icelandic authorities and the Directorate of Immigration in particular. He says that he does not want them to feel as if he meant to force their decision, but explains that he took the action out of fear for his own life, if deported. He says that he now considers

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“To Write A Saga, You Must Kill A Cow”

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Last night, as reported, director Benedikt Erlingsson and producer Friðrik Þór Friðriksson received the Nordic Council Film Prize for the 2013 comedy “Of Horses and Men”. In his acceptance speech, Benedikt criticized the government for cutting the budget of the Icelandic Film Fund by, he said, 42 percent, this year. Describing the situation as a “catastrophe”, Benedikt announced the presence of Icelandic politicians at the ceremony, and encouraged other members of the audience to pick up the topic in conversations, during the succeeding party. “Talk to them about the Icelandic sagas,” Benedikt said, and continued: “Tell them that we who

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Bishop Blames Immigration For People Leaving The Church

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Bishop of Iceland Agnes M. Sigurðardóttir believes people leaving Iceland and foreigners coming in contribute to the high numbers of people deregistering from the National Church. Addressing attendees at an ecumenical council last Saturday, RÚV reports, the bishop offered a number of explanations for why more people are leaving than joining the National Church. “One explanation I mentioned earlier is that when people move out of the country, they are automatically de-registered from the church,” she said. “So one explanation [for the decrease] are the number of people leaving the country.” However, this is incorrect. People who leave the country

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Most Consider Themselves Unsafe Downtown

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Over half of those who responded to a poll done for the police said they feel unsafe downtown after dark or after midnight on weekends. MBL reports that, according to a poll conducted by the Social Sciences Department of the University of Iceland (at the behest of the police), 55% of respondents said they considered downtown a very or rather unsafe place to be either after midnight on weekends, or after dark on any day of the week. Only 8% said they believed they were very safe downtown during these hours. Women were 71% more likely than men to consider

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Labour Leaders Prepare For Hard Road Ahead

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Leaders of several trade unions say they are getting ready to take a harder stance against management this year, with the need for solidarity amongst workers especially emphasised. The temporary collective bargaining agreement that was agreed upon earlier this year is soon reaching a close, and many professions – such as music teachers and doctors – are already striking, or considering doing so. Vísir spoke with several trade union leaders about the negotiations to come, and what their position on the current labour situation is. Kristján Þórður Snæbjarnarson, chairperson of the Icelandic Electricians Union, said solidarity amongst workers is the

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