The European Free Trade Association’s Surveillance Authority (ESA) has launched an investigation into state financing of the Harpa Concert Hall and Convention Centre. According to an announcement on the ESA’s website the Authority began looking into the State’s funding of Harpa since 2011 after receiving a complaint from an unnamed “interested party.” The question about the suitability of the Icelandic government funding Harpa revolves around the clear financial separation at the concert hall between running cultural happenings and commercial events, like conferences. “Aid to promote culture is welcome under the EEA Agreement. Iceland must, however, make sure that such aid is not in fact subsidizing commercial activities, such as the hosting of conferences,” said Oda Helen Sletnes, president of the EFTA Surveillance Authority, in the ESA’s statement on the investigation. The initial research the ESA has conducted since the original complaint was lodged in 2011 raised enough questions about the possible funding of commercial activities at Harpa with State money to warrant launching the official investigation. Harpa is jointly owned by the Icelandic State and the City of Reykjavík.
A lawyer defending former Interior Minister assistant Gísli Freyr Valdórsson has asked the court to remove the prosecutor for “Liking” a news story pertaining to the trial. Gísli Freyr Valdórsson, a former assistant to Minister of the Interior Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir, was charged with breach of confidentiality and relieved of his position last August. He is now on trial in Reykjavík District Court and today, RÚV reports, the defence has offered a unique argument as to why the prosecutor, Helgi Magnús Gunnarsson, is unfit to participate in the trial. Ólafur Garðarsson, Gísli Freyr’s defence attorney, argued in court today that
A new report from Global Age Watch puts Iceland in 7th place amongst the best countries in the world to grow old. According to the report, Norway is officially the best country in the world to grow older, while Afghanistan is the worst. Iceland has held its position in the top ten due to the life expectancy and financial security, amongst other factors. Icelanders aged 60 years old today can expect to live another 25 years; 17.8 of those in good health. 100% of the population over 65 receives some kind of pension, with only 1.6% living in poverty. In
Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl’s book Illska (“Evil”) has been chosen to be one of Iceland’s entries for the Nordic Council Literature Prize. Eiríkur shares the nomination with novelist Auður Jónsdóttir for her book, Ósjálfrátt (“Unintended”). Illska also bears the honour of having already won the Icelandic Literary Prize in 2012 and The Book Merchant’s Prize. Illska is a 500+ page novel about Agnes Lukauskas, an Icelander of Lithuanian descent, and her love triangle with Ómar Arnarson and Arnór Þórðarson. The story spans decades, through the height of World War 2, to Iceland’s recognition of Lithuania as a sovereign nation in 1991,
Fortunately for us, the Holurhraun eruption (discussed here and here) has not produced airplane-choking ash clouds nor led to devastating glacial flooding. There have, however, been continuous plumes of sulphur dioxide wafting through mostly North and East Iceland from the site of the Holuhraun eruption, giving police another reason to cordon off a large swath of Iceland from public access. Not that this hasn’t stopped a few idiots from blithely driving into an eruption site anyway. New forms of natural selection ahoy! Minister of Health Kristján Þór Júlíusson is exploring the legalisation of drugs, going so far as to agree
The follow-up to Björk’s 2011 album ‘Biophilia’ will be co-produced by Brooklyn based Venezuelan artist Arca, reports Pitchfork Media. Arca has previously collaborated with Kanye West on his album Yeezus and FKA Twigs on EP2. Björk’s last album Biophilia has far surpassed the boundaries of a simple studio album and by embracing new technology has found its way into Nordic school curriculums and been the inspiration for a film which recently premiered at Manchester International Festival.
A thousand litres of the Christmas beer, Þvörusleikir (named after Icelandic Yule Lad “Spoon Licker”), was poured down the drain at Borg Brugghús in recent days, reports Nútíminn. Árni Long, Borg Brugghús (Borg Brewery’s) master brewer told Nútíminn that he would not distribute a beer he was even a little unsatisfied with. “This is obviously a tragedy for beer enthusiasts like us,” said Árni. “But at the same time it’s something you must learn to tolerate as master brewer for an innovative brewery. These 1.000 litres of Christmas beer simply did not measure up to the standards we set for [our