From Iceland — News In Brief: Early September

News In Brief: Early September

Published September 18, 2013

News In Brief: Early September
Parker Yamasaki

It’s back-to-school month! A time for the re-emergence of the alarm clock, of brown bag sack lunches, and of making new friends. On September 4, Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð met with President Obama in Sweden to discuss the Nordic region’s relationship with the United States. Apparently things are just peachy, as Sigmundur confirmed afterwards that Obama is in fact a “really likeable” guy. That’s despite Obama making jokes about Sigmundur wearing mismatched shoes. Yes, he wore one dress shoe and one Nike trainer.
What was that about unwanted surveillance? Oh, no not you Obama. We’re talking about Laugardalslaug. This past month, Laugardalslaug reported that they catch some not-so-slick swimmers trying to cop photos of the notable swimming hole three to four times a week. According to the pool’s rules, photographs of the grounds require permission by the sports and leisure authority and the photographer must be accompanied by a member of the pool’s staff at all times.
In other surveillance news, Iceland was in Facebook’s recently published report revealing the names of every country that has requested information about its citizens via the social website, how many accounts were accessed, and what percentage of those accounts yielded useful information. While some countries were notably nosier than others (the U.S. topped the list with a whopping 12,000 requests made regarding nearly 21,000 accounts), Iceland is not so innocent. According to the report, sometime within the first 6 months of 2013, a single government request was filed regarding information about one Icelandic citizen. And, according to the report, that information proved useful in the investigation, brandishing Iceland with a 100% success rate.
Speaking of one in 320,000, a French woman named Jessica Decap recently reached out to the Icelandic public in search of her Icelandic half-brother. Apparently back in 1968 Jessica’s father was working as an electrician in Iceland where he impregnated a woman who may or may not be named Gugga. The news was broken to him after he had returned to France, and the child was never sought out. Now, four and a half decades later, Jessica has taken up the task of finding her Icelandic half-brother, guided by a telegram that describes the boy as “tall.” So next time you’re out and about, keep an eye out for Jessica’s tall, half-French half-brother.
And good looking out, Icelandic public! Back in July a certain Icelandic policeman gained notoriety after a civilian video of his brutal arrest of an intoxicated woman circulated the internet. On August 30, he was officially charged with assault by the State Prosecutor’s Office. The Icelandic public knows that no one deserves to be dragged through the street in such a psychedelic pair of pants despite what they say to anger you.
Perhaps she was just letting out a little frustration over a recent study by the Association of Academics revealing that men have on average 8.4% higher salaries than women in jobs that require degree requirements. And that’s just small potatoes compared to the 27% average salary gap between genders in state and municipal jobs. So, ladies, let your boo take you out to dinner tonight.
Speaking of “boo,” Reykjavík Mayor Jón Gnarr has revealed that he will announce whether or not he plans to run for re-election on October 31, which is Halloween, of course. Recently, two polls returned results that showed overwhelming popular support for him taking on a second term. But do the polls align with what is best for the people? The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind.
And if it’s not careful, it might just get tangled up in one of the Iceland’s newest windmills. Earlier this month, the national power company, Landsvirkjun, signed an agreement with two engineering firms to raise more windmills in Iceland. The company is optimistic that wind power could be a third significant source of energy for Iceland, trailing behind hydropower and geothermal power. May the force be with you, Landsvirkjun.
The Reykjavík Environmental Planning Committee is feeling the force too. On August 28 they advanced a proposal to change the name of one of Reykjavík’s streets that ends with the suffix ‘höfði’ to ‘Svarthöfði,’ the Icelandic translation of Darth Vader. And who better to accompany the proper honouring of Darth than…mini-Darth! The proposal includes a second suggestion to change one of the street names that ends with ‘-kinn’ to ‘Anakinn.’ Way to go, nerds of Iceland. Now climb out of that trashcan and get back to class.

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