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Iceland’s Next Prime Minister Still Undecided

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Published April 29, 2013

The final decision of who will be the next prime minister of Iceland rests with President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, who will meet individually with the leaders of all elected parties this afternoon, Vísir reports.
Both Bjarni Benediktsson, the leader of the Independence Party, and Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, leader of the Progressive Party are candidates for the title as each party won 19 seats in Saturday’s parliamentary elections.
While the Independence Party won the largest share of the popular vote by 2% over the Progressive Party, the big victory is considered to lie with the Progressives, who have more than doubled their representation in Parliament since the 2009 elections, when they won nine seats, which was an increase from the seven seats they won in the 2007 elections. Meanwhile, the Independence Party has only gained three seats since the 2009 election and despite the increase, this still remains the second worse results in the party’s history.
Although it is likely the two parties will form a majority coalition government, Sigmundur Davíð has stated that he will only work with a party that will help him deliver on his promise to lower mortgage rates by 20%.
The promised mortgage reduction was the main carrot dangled by the Progressives in the election race as a proposed universal flat tax rebate. However, economist Jón Steinsson from Columbia University has shown that it is likely to benefit high-income earners and wealthy property owners at the expense of those living outside the Reykjavík area, who were not as affected by the real estate bubble. Jón told Vísir that “75% of the flat tax rebate would run into the pockets of those who are not in any financial trouble.”



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Nói Síríusly Looking For Candy Tasters

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Icelandic candy manufacturer Nói Síríus is searching for volunteers for a “tasting panel” for the company’s product development department. The tasters chosen would be sent new candy prototypes and asked to mark them, to help Nói Síríus decide which products should make it into production. In the past few years 40-50 families have been sent these prototypes to try out but the company has now decided to expand the testing group and advertised the position on Facebook. Vísir reports that within 20 minutes 514 people had volunteered and at time of writing over 1.300 people had commented on the post,

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Scientists Can’t Agree On Bárðarbunga Eruption

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Scientist have been busy interpreting the newest data from Bárðarbunga but cannot seem to agree on what precisely the data indicates, reports Vísir. Kristín Vogfjörð, Director of Research at the Icelandic Met Office believes that based on her interpretations of the GPS data, the pressure is receding and the likelihood of eruption is minimising. Meanwhile, Ingi Þorleifur Bjarnason, a research scholar with the Insitute of Earth Sciences at the University of Iceland interprets the data differently, believing that the pressure is increasing and that the volcano is rising in preparation for eruption. Magnús Tumi Guðmundsson, geophysicist and professor at the University of Iceland

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Wants To Raise Taxes On Tourism

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An MP for the Progressive Party wants to raise taxes on hospitality services and reinstate the VAT for businesses in the tourist industry. Karl Garðarsson, posting on his Facebook, expressed objections to a proposal from the Independence Party to raise taxes on food, while “there is no sign that tourism or associated parties will pay their share.” As RÚV points out, in the summer of 2013 the ruling coalition reversed a change to tax law made by the previous government, which raised the taxes on hotel stays from 7% to 14%. This decision prompted the idea of imposing entrance fees

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Anti-Piracy Group Declaring Bankruptcy Due To Embezzlement

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The board of anti-piracy group Smáís wants to declare bankruptcy, brought on by the former director having allegedly embezzled funds out of the company. RÚV reports that Smáís has recently filed bankruptcy papers with Reykjavík District Court. According to their filing, the main reason cited is that the former director of Smáís, Snæbjörn Steingrímsson, had been funneling money out of the company while at the same time falsifying the company’s financial reports. The embezzlement and false accounting allegedly went on for years, giving the board an inaccurate impression of the actual financial state of Smáís. Furthermore, taxes had not been

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State Broadcasting Archives Need Saving

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Iceland’s state broadcasting service, RÚV, needs help in archiving a wealth of audio and video material going back decades. RÚV reports that many of these archived recordings – some of them going back to 1935 – are in a bad state of disrepair. All told, there are some 10,000 albums, 30,000 reels of tape, 10,000 CDs and thousands of videos featuring interviews, plays, music, news and more. Many of these artefacts are in damaged and fragile condition. Hreinn Valdimarsson, a technician at RÚV, believes the state of the archives is due in large part to a lack of interest in

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Bárðarbunga Earthquake Visualization

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An Icelandic computer scientist has created a data visualization showing all of the Bárðarbunga earthquakes measuring over 1.5 on the Richter scale over the last 48 hours. The data used, he explained, is raw data collected from the Icelandic Met Office (it has not been verified by that office), and will help viewers see how the situation is progressing at the volcano. See the whole visualization in motion here.  

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