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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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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, recent data from Statistics Iceland shows that only

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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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