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News In Brief: November

Published November 12, 2012

The month of October began on a peaceful note with the LENNONONO Awards given in Reykjavík. These awards, which recognise efforts made for the cause of world peace, were this year presented to late peace activist Rachel Corrie, author John Perkins, noted anti-theist Christopher Hitchens, Russian punk rock band Pussy Riot, and pop singer Lady Gaga. While some wondered how Hitchens—who was a prominent cheerleader for the invasion of Iraq—ended up receiving a peace award, the event was by all accounts joyously celebrated and it was followed by the lighting of Ono’s “Peace Tower” on the island of Viðey.
A bit of an environmental scare took hold when hay near an aluminium smelter in northeast Iceland was found to have high levels of fluoride. Farmers were immediately informed of the potential contamination and advised not to feed the hay to their animals until it was deemed safe. After a thorough examination, it was determined that levels of fluoride in the hay were far below what are considered dangerous levels, and the farmers were given the green light to give the fluoridated hay to their horse and sheep—all of whom are now reported to have beautiful smiles.
Speaking of animals that were almost poisoned, a dog show in Kópavogur was temporarily cancelled when pieces of liver sausage were found scattered around the area. Tests done at the University of Iceland revealed that the pieces did indeed contain high levels of rat poison. For the time being, there are no known suspects or motives, but police are still investigating.
Were you thinking of visiting Álftanes next year? Too bad! It won’t exist anymore. Earlier this month, residents of Álftanes and Garðabær voted in a referendum in favour of merging their communities, which will take effect next year. The new town is to be named, imaginatively enough, “Garðabær.” One resident of the old Garðabær complained that the referendum information packets were one-sidedly in favour of the merger between the relatively wealthy Garðabær and the debt-ridden Álftanes, but hey, all water under the bridge now!
In other news, Icelanders voted yes to a new constitution earlier this month in an advisory referendum made up of six questions. About 49% of eligible voters took part, with two-thirds of them voting in favour of parliament accepting the draft that the Constitutional Council has written. They also voted in favour of nationalising natural resources that hadn’t already been privatised, creating a “one person = one vote” rule, and keeping a clause about a national church in the new constitution. Media sources the world over subsequently reported the constitution had been written by the nation as a whole via Facebook and Twitter.
Finally the most widely read story this month—thanks in part to Pee-Wee-Herman for sharing it—was the story of police breaking up a cat party in Suðurnes. Neighbours of an abandoned house noticed cats coming in and out of an open window of the house and, naturally, they called the police. When the police showed up, they found no people in the house but they did find “two to three cats” snuggling on the couch. The cats were summarily evicted and the house was shut tight by the police thereafter. Whoever said cats have it easy clearly has never tried to be one in Suðurnes.



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Two-Thirds Against Alcohol In Supermarkets

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Vísir/Fréttablaðið today published a poll indicating that two-thirds of the Icelandic population would rather not see alcohol sold in grocery stores. Last month, Independence Party MP Vilhjálmur Árnason was first speaker for a proposal to amend the law on retail in alcohol and tobacco, and other related legislature, which would allow any private enterprise with a retail-permit to sell alcoholic beverages. As it is, the State reserves monopoly in that market, through its liquor stores, and has done so since the end of general prohibition in 1922. Introducing the proposal, Vilhjálmur said that its aim was “to approach the spirit

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Preferred Filmmakers To Know Little About The Country

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Icelandic filmmakers have expressed their surprise and bemusement at Promote Iceland’s decision to outsource the production of a recent promotional video to international producers Pulse Films. The video is part of Promote Iceland’s ongoing campaign, “Inspired by Iceland”, and supposed to introduce Iceland as an exciting winter destination. Interviewed by Vísir, Hrafnhildur Gunnarsdóttir, Chair of the Icelandic Filmmakers Association, said: “It is incredibly strange, especially in the current climate when Icelandic filmmakers are struggling to survive, that they look for foreign producers. It is weird that they don’t try to get Icelandic filmmakers involved.” Stefanía Thors, Vice Chair of the

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126 Icelanders Would Rather Be Forgotten

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126 of over 150,000 socalled “privacy requests” received by Google this year came from Iceland. These 126 requests involved 282 URLs, around a third of which were removed as requested. This is according to figures published by Google in a recent report. Privacy requests are based on what has been coined “the right to be forgotten”, established in Europe by precedent of a ruling at the European Court of Justice in May. Since then, Google is bound to process requests from European citizens to remove links in search results related to their name. Google’s report does not cite specific examples

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WHAT THE FLIPPING HELL?

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Alright. So this surveillance video from the Höfðatorg parking garage in Reykjavík has been making the rounds in Iceland and across the greater internet today, after the garage’s custodian, Albert Guðbrandsson, uploaded it to YouTube (having resisted the urge for an entire three years – now that’s some willpower!). In the video, we can see… um… well. Yeah. No idea what’s going on there. The video was caught at around midnight in July of 2011. RÚV notes that the driver was made to pay for the damages he caused to the garage’s gate, and that police were involved in the

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Icelanders Object To More Machine Guns For Cops

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Many Icelandic citizens are voicing their opposition to the recent police acquisition of MP5 submachine guns, manifesting in protest and petition alike. Icelanders have long prided themselves as belonging to a peaceful, army-free country. This is being cited by many Icelanders on social media as amongst the reason why they object to recent news that the Icelandic police have received and bought a cache of 150 MP5 submachine guns and untold numbers of Glock-17 semiautomatics from Norway. At the time of this writing, over 400 Icelanders have said they will be attending a demonstration to be held this Friday in

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Iceland Gets Closer To 330,000 Mark

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Iceland’s population reached 328,170 at the end of the third quarter of the year, increasing by over a thousand in just three months. Statistics Iceland reports that there are more men than women in Iceland, at 164,710 and 163,460 respectively, and over two-thirds of the total population – or 210,660 people – live in the capital area alone. 23,840 people living in Iceland are foreign citizens, with 860 more foreigners entering the country than leaving it, and 400 more Icelandic citizens leaving the country than moving to it. The vast majority of Icelanders who left the country went to somewhere

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