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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Minister Promises Law Against Racial Discrimination

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Welfare Minister Eygló Harðardóttir has announced that, come next fall, the Ministry intends to propose legislation against racial discrimination. This was reported by RÚV. According to RÚV, ‘the notion of equal rights’ will thereby be ‘extended, making it also apply to race and people’s place of origin’. The Minister is quoted as saying that ‘what we have in mind, first and foremost, is for people to have a way through the state apparatus, to verify whether they have been discriminated against or not.’ The legislation will apply, it is reported, ‘both within and outside the job market’. ‘Of course discrimination

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Icelandic Passenger Fixes Plane

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Disappointed with the delay of his flight from Spain, Icelander Davíð Aron Guðnason decided to take matters into his own hands by fixing the plane’s engine, reports Vísir. There were no flight mechanics available when the delay of Davíð’s plane from Spain to Iceland was announced. It was likely that all 180 passengers would have to spend the night at a hotel while the issue was dealt with. Incidentally, Davíð is a flight mechanic by trade and offered to help fix the plane so that it could leave. “I spoke to the pilot, who put me in touch their flight mechanic

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No Horse In Our Beef

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A comprehensive round of testing of beef products across Europe has revealed almost no traces of horse meat in Europe beef and none in Iceland, reports Vísir. The European Commission described the results of the testing as encouraging following last year’s horse-meat scandal, in which millions of ready-made beef meals were pulled from supermarket freezers across Europe.  European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, Tonio Borg, has said the results prove that there has been progress following the events of last year.  According to the report, 10 tests were conducted in Iceland but none showed traces of horse DNA.

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Interior Minister Scandal Causes Tremors In Parliament

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Members of parliament are sharply divided on how to contend with the news that Minister of the Interior Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir may have tried to influence the police investigations of her ministry. Shortly after news broke from DV that Hanna Birna had allegedly told then Commissioner of the Capital Area Police Stefán Eiríksson, both in person and over the phone, that she was unhappy with how investigations of her ministry were being conducted, Parliamentary Ombudsman Tryggvi Gunnarsson spoke with both Stefán and State Prosecutor Sigríður Friðjónsdóttir about the story. After his conversations with the two, Tryggvi sent a formal request

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Puffin Hunting “Unsustainable And Unethical”

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Iceland’s puffin population has hit such low numbers that hunting the birds has sparked strong criticism. The Nature Office of South Iceland has released their findings of a detailed puffin census conducted around the country. Of the dozen nestings areas that were inspected, all of them showed a sharp decline in the number of young puffins. “The Nature Office of South Iceland condemns the decision made by the Westman Islands town council to allow for the hunting of puffins for five days this summer,” their statement concludes. “The office considers hunting puffins in these conditions to be unsustainable and unethical.”

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Protest Planned Outside US Embassy

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The Association Iceland-Palestine has planned a peaceful protest outside the American Embassy on Laufásvegur today at 17:00, reports Vísir. The purpose of the protest is to demand the American government step up its efforts to end the conflict in Gaza and cut off support for the Israeli military through aid and ammunition. Although the White House condemned the shelling of a United Nations-operated school in Gaza on Wednesday news has broken that the Pentagon will supply the Israeli military with new ammunition to further their campaign on the war-ravaged city. According to the Association Iceland-Palestine’s Facebook page 830 people have confirmed they

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