A Grapevine service announcement LOOK BUSY! Bárðarbunga Volcano Watch: The Morning Edition

News In Brief: November

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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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Sheep Break Free, Police Called

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The Police in Mosfellsbær, a small town east of Reykjavík, received a call after two sheep at Árbæjarsafn made a run for it, reports Vísir. Árbæjarsafn, also known as Reykjavík City Museum aims to give its visitors an insight into the living conditions, work and recreational activities of the people of Reykjavík in earlier times. The sheep belong to the museum but saw an opportunity yesterday and took it by breaking free. Unfortunately for them, they did not make it far and were quickly rounded up by local, Ívar Óli Kristjánsson. Museum staff picked the sheep up, returning them to Árbæjarsafn.

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Icelandic Symphony Orchestra Debuts At BBC Proms

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The Iceland Symphony Orchestra made its Proms debut at the Royal Albert Hall yesterday, reports RÚV. The Symphony performed works by two homegrown composers, both inspired by Iceland’s geology. The slow-growing, primal Geysir by Jón Leifs balanced the shifting tectonics of Hauk Tómasson’s Magma. “We felt so great,” said Concertmaster Sigrún Eðvaldsdóttir. “We could have played on that stage for 50 years. There was no stress, it was just absolutely wonderful, I can’t explain it any other way.” The BBC Proms is a summer season of daily orchestral classical music concerts and events founded in 1985.

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Immigrant Children To Get Mother Tongue Classes

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The City of Reykjavík is making preparations to set up mother tongue classes for primary school children of foreign origin. According to an announcement posted on City Hall’s webpage, the School and Recreation Council has passed a measure to set up a workgroup whose purpose it will be to outline how immigrant primary school children will be taught their native languages. The group will be comprised of representatives from all the parties in City Council, directed by Social Democrat vice councilperson Sa­bine Leskopf. The focus of the group will be to assess the need for children of foreign origin to

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88 Fin Whales Culled So Far

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Over half the quota of fin whales has been culled so far this summer, showing a slight decline from the year previous. Since whaling season began last June 15, Vísir reports, 88 fin whales have been culled. The maximum quota is for 154 fin whales, which may only be hunted during a 3-month period. “It’s being going decently well,” Gunnlaugur Fjólar Gunnlaugsson, the plant manager of whaling company Hvalur hf. “There are a bit fewer animals than there were at this same time last year. It’s been a difficult time, but it’ll work out.” Greenpeace, amongst others, have pointed out

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Nói Síríusly Looking For Candy Tasters

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Icelandic candy manufacturer Nói Síríus is searching for volunteers for a “tasting panel” for the company’s product development department. The tasters chosen would be sent new candy prototypes and asked to mark them, to help Nói Síríus decide which products should make it into production. In the past few years 40-50 families have been sent these prototypes to try out but the company has now decided to expand the testing group and advertised the position on Facebook. Vísir reports that within 20 minutes 514 people had volunteered and at time of writing over 1.300 people had commented on the post,

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Scientists Can’t Agree On Bárðarbunga Eruption

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Scientist have been busy interpreting the newest data from Bárðarbunga but cannot seem to agree on what precisely the data indicates, reports Vísir. Kristín Vogfjörð, Director of Research at the Icelandic Met Office believes that based on her interpretations of the GPS data, the pressure is receding and the likelihood of eruption is minimising. Meanwhile, Ingi Þorleifur Bjarnason, a research scholar with the Insitute of Earth Sciences at the University of Iceland interprets the data differently, believing that the pressure is increasing and that the volcano is rising in preparation for eruption. Magnús Tumi Guðmundsson, geophysicist and professor at the University of Iceland

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