News In Brief - The Reykjavik Grapevine

News In Brief

News In Brief

Published February 6, 2013

January started off on a sensational note with international media reporting that Iceland was the thing to fear in 2013. Two different shows on America’s Public Broadcasting Service depicted Iceland as a ticking time bomb ready to explode this year. While Iceland is volcanically active, geologists were quick to point out that predicting eruptions to the year is pretty close to impossible.

An Icelander became the unwitting subject of the international news after he drank a bottle of Tópas liqueur, boarded an Icelandair flight bound for New York and proceeded to yell at and spit on other passengers before they and the crew managed to tape him to a seat and gag him. A fellow passenger photographed the “the air hooligan” and the image went from Facebook to Reddit, at which point his fate was sealed. The airline says the man will face charges.


President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson had a few things to say this month. In an interview with the BBC, he said Iceland’s economy is recovering because of the national character. Never mind that this was the same reason he cited in 2005 to explain why our eventually doomed venture capitalists were succeeding. He also proclaimed that Icelanders will “never forget Gordon Brown,” that his name will live in infamy in Iceland for “centuries.” I guess we’ll have to wait and see if he’s right about that one.

Whether it was something about her national character or not, Vilborg Arna Gissurardóttir became the first solo Icelander to reach the South Pole. She travelled by skis and slept in a tent the entire 60-day journey, which is perhaps something to keep in mind when it’s cold and you’re waiting for the bus. Her supporters donated a total 6.5 million ISK to the charity LÍF, which raises money for wards catering to females at Iceland’s national hospital Landspítalinn. Kudos to Vilborg!

A drunken man who was arrested for trying to skip out on paying for a dessert spent the night in a jail cell where he at some point attempted to eat a mattress. The man insisted that he was hungry and had been denied food by the police. The police said they visited the man a total of 17 times, giving him water, letting him use the toilet, and bringing a doctor to check on him. Reykjanes District Court ordered the man to pay 20,000 ISK in damages.

After about 13 years, the City of Reykjavík approved an application from the Muslim Society of Iceland to buy land for the purposes of building a mosque. Vice Chairperson of the Muslim Society of Iceland Salmann Tamimi, who filed the original application said he was overjoyed to hear the news, and hopes to start building this summer. The mosque will be built in Sogam••ri, which is a bit out of the way, but a plot of land nonetheless.

Minister of the Interior Ögmundur Jónasson got himself in hot water when the Icelandic media reported that he was trying to ban porn. Bloggers raged, the Pirate Party accused him of censorship, and thousands of college-aged males began Googling “proxy server.” In reality, porn is already banned in Iceland. What the Minister is trying to do is get an actual definition of “porn” on the law books, and trying to update the existing porn ban law to account for the Internet.

EU talks had been closing in on home base, with the dreaded chapters on fishing and agriculture looming on the horizon, when it was announced that the accession talks would be put on hold. Not stopped, not set aside, but “slowed down” due to elections this April. Nonetheless, this prompted EU opponents to loudly proclaim that we must have a referendum on whether or not to continue talks again. But even the president seemed confused.

Finally, EFTA ruled in Iceland’s favour in the Icesave dispute over whether or not Iceland had broke international law when it allowed Icelanders to withdraw their money from Landsbanki after the 2008 crash, but not foreigners who had money in Landsbanki’s Icesave branch. The verdict prevents the UK and Netherlands from suing Iceland for potentially billions of euros. Iceland is ecstatic.

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