A Grapevine service announcement Be patient: That eruption is expected to last until 2015

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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Business Alliance SA Opposes Shorter Workweek

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Alþingi members from the Pirate party and the Social-democratic Alliance, have proposed a change to the Law on working hours, reducing the standard workweek from 40 to 35 working hours. This would shorten each standard workday by one hour. In the exposition attached to the proposal, the MPs argue cite OECD reports showing that workers in Iceland work relatively long days but somewhat erratically: Iceland, with an average 40-hour workweek, measures low on balancing work and leisure, and compares as the 27th of 36 countries listed. At the same time, total working hours in a year are below the OECD

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MPs Want To Shorten Work Week

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A new bill has been submitted to parliament which would, if passed, legally define working full time to 35 hours per week instead of 40. According to the bill, which has been submitted by Pirate Party MPs Björn Leví Gunnarsson and Helgi Hrafn Gunnarsson and Social Democrat MP Sigríður Ingibjörg Ingadóttir, changing the definition of full time would be a matter of changing two numbers: a full work week would be defined as 35 hours instead of 40, and a full work day would be defined as 7 hours instead of 8. The bill points out that other countries which

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Christmas Goat Back To Tempt Fate

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The Christmas Goat has returned to IKEA in Garðarbær, despite facing both potential arson or high winds, which have defeated the giant straw ruminant before. Vísir reports that IKEA in Garðarbær is already beginning preparations for Christmas. While this means the store itself will be replete with holiday decorations, no IKEA in Christmastime would be complete with a six-metre-tall straw goat standing out front, also known as the Gävle Goat. This Swedish mini-tradition was started by Stig Gavlén in 1966, and seems to be a magnet for misfortune, even in Iceland. In both 2011 and 2013, unusually high winds tore

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Eruption Likely To Last Until 2015

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At the rate the Holuhraun eruption is slowing, one volcanologist believes it will last until early next year. Vísir reports that there are a number of indications that the Holuhraun eruption will continue, but at a gradually slowing pace before reaching a complete stop. Volcanologist Haraldur Sigurðsson points out that the crater in Bárðarbunga is sinking more slowly, telling reporters that Holuhraun reminds him of Kröflugos, which erupted from 1975 to 1984. “It’s natural that this lava flow continues, but it is quickly slowing down,” he said. “The crater has been slowing down its sinking from the beginning, but now

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Iceland’s National Gallery Turns 130

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Iceland’s National Gallery turned 130 yesterday, and the museum celebrated by opening a new addition called the Vasulka Room, reports RÚV. In honour of the birthday, entrance to the museum will be free until October 19. The National Gallery of Iceland was actually founded in Copenhagen in 1884 by Björn Bjarnason. Originally it consisted of donated works by mainly Danish artists. The collection came to Iceland in 1885 and has been housed in a few locations (including Iceland’s parliament) until eventually moving to its present location in 1987. The museum owns over 10.000 art pieces and the most valuable collection of

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Iceland Gears Up For 100th Anniversary Of Women’s Vote

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It has been 99 years since women gained the right to vote in Iceland and celebratory plans are already underway, reports RÚV. School events, concerts and museum exhibits dedicated to women’s suffrage have been planned for 2015 – which marks the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in Iceland. Even the Post Office has planned a commemorative stamp to mark the occasion. “It’s important that we honour the work that women put in to gain the right to vote a 100 years ago,” said Auður Styrkársdóttir, Director of Iceland’s Women’s History Archives. “And it’s important to remember that the rights that

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