From Iceland — News In Brief: Late September

News In Brief: Late September

Published October 1, 2014

Holuhraun Continues To Erupt  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!

unnamed (3)Minister of Health Kristján Þór Júlíusson is exploring the legalisation of drugs, going so far as to  agree with a recent Global Commission on Drug Policy report that the War on Drugs has failed. Instead,  he believes Iceland should emphasise education, prevention and treatment for addicts. Oh, he also wants  to extend health coverage to refugees. Kristján proves once again that Iceland’s most conservative  politicians are still to the left of most American Democrats.

NEWS IN BRIEF The fun never ends at the Ministry of the Interior. One of the Minister’s former assistants, Gísli Freyr Valdórsson, is now on trial for his part in leaking a memo about asylum seeker Tony Omos to  select members of the press. Gísli Freyr’s legal team have been pretty creative when it comes to his  defence, arguing at one point that the office cleaning staff at the Ministry might have, for whatever  reason, printed the memo themselves and sent it to the press. Sure, that’s possible. Or maybe it was the  ghost of a pirate, or maybe Gísli Freyr has an evil twin. Anything’s possible in Legal Town!

unnamed (4)In lighter news, Sigtryggur Rósmar Eyþórsson has probably become the first Icelander to grace a South Korean postage stamp. The honour comes from winning an international stamp collectors’ competition in Seoul. I bet you didn’t even know stamp collectors compete with each other. Neither did we, but this is the first time an Icelander participated in the event. And he won on the first go. That’s nothing to sneeze at, and Sigtryggur ought to consider buying a lottery ticket.

unnamed The Progressive Party of Reykjavík seems to be addicted to shooting itself in the foot. Not content  with how bad questioning the operating cost of the Peace Tower made them look, they apparently  decided to go all-in by crashing a student party. There, Progressive city councilperson Guðfinna  Jóhanna Guðmundsdóttir rambled tipsily about the Progressives, before introducing the other city  Progressive, Sveinbjörg Birna Sveinbjörnsdóttir, as “the woman against the mosque in Reykjavík,” which  she indeed is. Inexplicably, Guðfinna then added, “You can see her in a burka on Laugavegur,”  prompting Sveinbjörg to wrap her head and part of her face with a scarf. Oh, hilarious xenophobia.

unnamed (1) You may have noticed the Icelandic police making international news lately, primarily for being  adorable cuddly kitten-lovers with winning smiles. One person who is not smiling is Chaplas Menka.  Originally from Liberia and living in Iceland since 2009, Menka was recently stopped by police, taken to  the station, and told he was under arrest—only the police would not tell him what the charges against  him were, nor would they let him contact a lawyer. Instead, they reportedly pushed him into a cell and,  while using a knife to cut off his plastic cuffs (instead of the tongs normally required), cut him in the leg  deep enough to warrant hospital care. Of course, anyone who saw that video last summer of an Icelandic  cop practically body slamming a deeply intoxicated young woman already knows it’s not all teddy bears and ice cream when it comes to the Icelandic police. Sorry to burst your bubble.

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