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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Icelandic Hot Dogs Containing Danish Beef

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Sláturfélag Suðurlands (SS) reports that there is a shortage of Icelandic beef, prompting the company to blend Danish beef into their hot dogs. Sold under the slogan “Icelanders Eat SS Hot Dogs”, SS hot dogs are arguably one of Iceland’s iconic foods. However, Viðskiptablaðið reports that they are no longer 100% Icelandic. “Unfortunately, due to the present shortage of Icelandic beef, we have been forced to use a little Danish beef that meets our quality standards,” SS product manager Guðmundur Svavarsson told reporters. While not specifying on the exact quantity of Danish beef in the hot dogs, Guðmundur provided assurances

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New Wave Of “Microsoft” Fraudsters Hit Iceland

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Fraudsters pretending to be employees of Microsoft are contacting Icelanders by both letter and telephone. MBL reports that one of the most common tactics these fraudsters will use will be to call people on their home phones, purporting to be employees of Microsoft. These fraudsters tell the potential victim that Microsoft has detected a virus on their computer, and that in order to be rid of it, they must go to a specific website to download and install “virus removal software”. In reality, these are not people calling from Microsoft, who cannot see into your computer to look for viruses

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Fewest Sunny Days In 25 Years

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July in Iceland has so far had one of the fewest sunny days in over a generation. MBL reports that July has only had three completely cloudy days so far – July 1, 10 and 18. However, a lack of completely cloudy days does not necessarily mean an abundance of sunny days. 50.6 hours of sunlight have been recorded for the month of July so far. This is 58.5 fewer hours than the sunlight average for July calculated from 1961 to 1990, and 85.3 fewer hours than the average over the past ten years. In fact, there has not been

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Iceland’s Symphony Conductor Joins Protest In Tel Aviv

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Conductor and Music Director of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Ilan Volkov, will lead an ensemble of musicians at an anti-war protest today at Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, reports Slipped Disc. The protest will call for peace talks and an end to the occupation. A number of other cultural personalities have pledged their support and will be participating.  “We will do some improvised vocal and instrumental response to the situation. It is a small part of an evening with many other performances.” said Ilan.  The group will gather in the square at 8pm. Their slogan reads: ‘We stand together against the silence of

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Sturla Turns 800

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A celebration is planned in Dalasýsla this weekend to mark 800 years since the birth of saga writer Sturla Þórðarson, reports Vísir. The guest of honour will be former president Vigdís Finnbogadóttir and guest speakers include; Speaker of the House Einar K. Guðfinnsson, Norwegian politician Olemic Thommessen, writer Einar Kárason and director of the Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies, Guðrún Nordal. Sturla Þórðarson, Snorri Sturluson’s nephew and pupil, was a chieftain as well as a saga and contemporary history writer active in the 13th century. His most famous work is Íslendinga saga, the longest saga within Sturlunga saga. In the wake of the dissolution of

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Foreign Committee To Meet Over Gaza

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Iceland’s Foreign Affairs Committee will meet to discuss the situation in Gaza, although the Foreign Minister has called it “pointless” to cut ties with Israel. RÚV reports that Birgir Ármannsson, the chairperson of the Foreign Affairs Committee, will call together the committee to discuss the situation in Gaza. “The events that we have been closely following are of course tragic, and they cause us a lot of worry,” he told reporters. “The news that is being reported, daily now, underlines the seriousness of the issue.” The committee’s meeting is in response to a request from Left-Green MP Svandís Svavarsdóttir to

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