News In Brief: May 2015 - The Reykjavik Grapevine

News In Brief: May 2015

Published May 25, 2015

Photo by
Natsha Nandabhiwat

1280px-Sea_Shepherd_Bob_Barker_SeaworksIt’s that time of year again: time to argue about whale hunting! An umbrella organisation of numerous whale-watching companies have criticised whale hunting just outside the Faxaflói Bay area, where a whole lot of whale-watching takes place. Their main argument is that whale hunting scares away other whales and a single whale-watching excursion generates as much revenue as a landed whale. Still, the whale hunt is on for the summer.

6056407064_80229288a4_bIn news almost universally embraced by our readership, downtown’s main street, Laugavegur, will be closed to car traffic for four months this year, up from three months last year and one month in 2011. Although this greatly increases foot traffic, and most merchants express approval of the closure, some shopkeepers worry about the decreased number of parking spaces—17 spaces, that is.

gunnar bragi sveinsson from gunnar bragi's official facebook pageMeanwhile, the ongoing back-and-forth between Iceland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson and the European Union has yet to conclude, and will likely continue until the heat death of the universe. Recently, the EU released a report in which Iceland was listed as a nation seeking accession despite Gunnar Bragi’s repeated insistence that Iceland’s accession is now off the table on account of that letter… he sent them. While the EU has insisted a simple letter isn’t going to cut it, Gunnar Bragi told reporters that it was “not practical” to put the matter up for parliamentary vote. Why? Because last time, he said, the measure didn’t pass. So I guess we can take “not practical” to mean “not likely to go my way if put to a vote.”

ethicsPerhaps more hotly contested than whaling is the idea of Iceland joining the majority of European countries that change their clocks in the winter. A parliamentary proposal to set the clocks back by one hour in late autumn is currently stuck in committee, and committee members have heard testimony from practically every interest group in the country, including sleep researchers, Icelandair, and the Golf Association of Iceland. On the one hand, changing the clocks will mean waking up to daylight later into the winter than usual. On the other hand, it also means coming home from work or school in darkness earlier than usual. Quite the conundrum.

Bjarni-BenIt’s not easy being one of the least-trusted politicians in the country, like our Minister of Finance Bjarni Benediktsson, who has repeatedly been flipped off in public, mostly by a long-haired guy who drives bus #12. Bjarni recounted his encounters with the finger-happy bus driver on a recent radio show and said that other members of the general public have also at times been prone to give him the finger “for unknown reasons,” or unknown to Bjarni, anyway.

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