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.



News
Minister’s Phone Data Left Unexamined, Out Of Respect

Minister’s Phone Data Left Unexamined, Out Of Respect

by

Vice State Prosecutor Helgi Magnús Gunnarsson says that data about the former Minister of the Interior’s phone communication was not examined during the police investigation of the Ministry’s leak of confidential documents in November 2013. This was in response to inquiries made by DV. The official says that the Capital Area Police department took this decision, out of respect for Hanna Birna’s position as Minister, at the time. He claims not to be not aware of the Police having discussed this with the Minister, during the investigation. The Police examined data concerning the phone usage of seven Ministry employees, including

News
Police Officer Wants Limits On Immigrants’ Right To Privacy

Police Officer Wants Limits On Immigrants’ Right To Privacy

by

Police officer Birgir Örn Guðjónsson, colloquially known as Biggi the cop, wrote an article, published in Fréttablaðið/Vísir on Thursday, under a title which may be loosely translated as “The Forbidden Article”. Birgir shares an anecdote about a man “of foreign origin” who, reportedly, would not allow his wife out to party, and claims that this shows the need “to wonder whether the cultures of those who come here are always their private matter.” The article is vague as to which information should, according to the officer, be made public. Its appearance shortly after the leak of confidential documents about one

News
Police Need Machine Guns To Fight Islamic State

Police Need Machine Guns To Fight Islamic State

by

The general police forces need 70 pieces of MP5 submachine guns as soon as possible, 150 soon, and at least 260 such weapons in the long term, to have the upper hand against terrorism, says Jón Bjartmarz, Chief Superintendent at the High Commissioner of the Icelandic Police. Interviewed by RÚV, Jón explained the immediate goal as having “two machine guns at each station house, and there are 35 of those.” One of the threats that Jón cites as a reason for acquiring the artillery is the Islamic State (IS). Jón says that IS is not simply a threat from outside,

News
University of Iceland: A New Linguistic Area

University of Iceland: A New Linguistic Area

by

A new linguistic area has developed at the University of Iceland, where Icelandic and English are used equally, says a professor, as reported by RÚV. The professor adds that this causes problems for a large number of teachers and students, which remain largely unspoken. Even if the majority of courses at the University of Iceland is still taught in Icelandic, in most departments, most of the reading material is provided in English. Meanhile, teachers also face growing demands to publish their research in English. Professors Hafdís Ingvarsdóttir and Birna Arnbjörnsdóttir investigated the use of English at the university, interviewing both

News
Palestinian Ambassador To Visit Iceland

Palestinian Ambassador To Visit Iceland

by

On the 3rd anniversary of Iceland recognising the state of Palestine, the Palestinian ambassador to Iceland (who resides in Oslo, Norway) will be speaking at a special event arranged by the Iceland-Palestine Association. The event which coincides with the UN’s annual day of solidarity with the Palestinian people, will start at 14:00 and is open to all. The ambassador, Mufeed Shami, Iceland’s ambassador to Palestine, María Erla Marelsdóttir, will be speaking at the event and singer Ragnheiður Ólafsdóttir will be performing. As reported, immediately following the meeting at Iðnó, a launch party for Fyrir Gaza will start. Fyrir Gaza is a charity

News
Bárðarbunga Probably Won’t Erupt After All

Bárðarbunga Probably Won’t Erupt After All

by

The Bárðarbunga caldera has sunk by only 50 metres since the Holuhraun eruption began three months ago, indicating that it will not erupt, reports RÚV. Holuhraun on the other hand, continues to erupt and shows no signs of stopping. Scientists with the Institute of Earth Sciences flew over Bárðarbunga and Holuhraun yesterday to collect new data and investigate the likelihood of an eruption at Bárðarbunga caldera. Currently the Holuhraun eruption is fed by lava from underneath Bárðarbunga volcano. “Yes we believe that it’s likely [there will be no eruption in the Bárðarbunga caldera] and that the results we collected on our

Show Me More!