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.
At last count, there were 326,340 people living in Iceland. That’s .0045% of the world’s population and while it isn’t really a competition, this has created a bit of an inferiority complex among some Icelanders who, as Grapevine writer Oddur Sturluson put it, “find it nothing short of scandalous that their small, unarmed country doesn’t have as much political pull as some of their larger, more powerful neighbours.” To compensate, Oddur argued, Icelanders “invented something brilliant in its simplicity and devastating in its effectiveness…The Per Capita Record.” This, he explained, is “quite simply when Iceland does something noticeable, compared to
Cat owner Vífill Garðarson may need to put his cat Panda down after someone shot him with an air rifle, reports Vísir. Earlier this week Vífill’s neighbour came across Panda lying motionless in his garage and called Vífill to come pick up the cat, but Panda did not run to his owner as he is prone to do. “He just lay there, completely still so I had to pick him up and carry him home,” said Vífill. “When I put him down on the ground again he couldn’t stand up so I rushed him to the veterinary hospital.” Initially the
An estimated 3000 people attended an anti-war “die in” in central Reykjavík yesterday protesting Israeli air raids on Gaza, reports Vísir. At the protest over 600 people lay down on the ground to represent the recent civilian deaths in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Speakers included Reykjavík Mayor Dagur B. Eggertsson and Sveinn Rúnar Hauksson. At the end of the protest participants walked to Iceland’s Government Offices to hand off a memorial wreath with the names of over 600 Palestinian victims written on it. The wreath was given to Iceland’s Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson. Yesterday Sigmundur confirmed that he had sent an official letter to
A group of Icelanders are aiming to have the country brought under the administration of the Norwegian government as “Norway’s 20th county”. The group in question, Fylkisflokkurin (“The County Party”), already has just over 1,200 members at the time of this writing. The group, formed by director of the National Center of Addiction Medicine (SÁÁ) and former Fréttablaðið editor Gunnar Smári Egilsson, purports in their mission statement that they aim for “the re-uninfication of Iceland and Norway”, wherein “the Norwegian government would constitutionally protect and promote Icelandic culture while Icelanders would enjoy all the same rights as Norwegians.” “Iceland is
An ongoing labour dispute that has most directly affected the tourist industry has been resolved. The Air Mechanics Union of Iceland (FVFÍ) has signed a collective bargaining agreement with Icelandair ehf., Vísir reports. The new contract will be in effect until August 31, 2017. As reported, air mechanics have over the summer pushed for higher wages and better working conditions, culminating in temporary work shut-downs. While some of these work stoppages lasted no more than a few hours, this was enough to prompt the cancellation of flights during the height of tourist season. Interior Minister Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir proposed passing
Epidemiologists say that there are no examples of ticks in Iceland carrying either Lyme Disease nor tick-borne encephalitis (TBE). MBL reports that neither of these diseases have been reported to be present in ticks in Iceland. Nonetheless, the Directorate of Health has laid out some helpful tips about ticks and how to deal with them. The Directorate of Health advises the general public to acquaint themselves with what ticks look like and where they can be found. If venturing into tick-risk areas, a person should cover their skin as much as they can, using common bug repellent on exposed parts