From Iceland — News In Brief: Mid-July 2015

News In Brief: Mid-July 2015

Published July 21, 2015

Gabríel Benjamin
Photo by
Aqqa Rosing-Asvid

pam andersonIcelanders’ persistence in hunting fin whales continues to enrage the outside world, most recently attracting the ire of a group of activists, a celebrity and, potentially, a ruthless world leader. Late June, activist group Hard To Port commenced direct action against whalers, kayaking out to their ships, setting off flares, and clambering onto a whale that was about to be dragged to shore. Meanwhile, former Baywatch star and known PETA supporter Pamela Anderson has tried to bring The Bear into the fray, urging Russian president Vladimir Putin to assist in getting Iceland to cease whaling.

15192079156_2a60e733cc_zBack on dry land, employees of the Vatnajökull National Park have opened up a walking path north of the newly formed Holuhraun lava field. Despite the field still being hot, tourists are apparently not too hot on checking it out, with local tour operators commenting that there was seemingly no demand for tours through the area.

Iceland’s fauna is on an upswing these days. Firstly, the arctic fox populatioAlopex_lagopus_IMG_9019n of Northwest Iceland, which seemed to be mysteriously dying off last year, has made a full recovery in 2015. Great news! Not so great is the fact that those lovable rascal ticks that started spreading all over the country last year have now become a permanent part of our ecosystem—and a new species of rash-inducing midges is similarly attempting to find a home here.

The allure of tourist dollars, euros, pounds and yuan continues to entice Icelahurranders. As part of this ongoing development, a group of downtown real estate magnates have announced plans to transform a block of downtown buildings in order to house more touristfriendly shops and services. As this block currently houses celebrated live music and cultural venues like Húrra, Gaukurinn, Paloma and The Dubliner, local—and visiting—partygoers have expressed outrage at the idea.

Folks that are furious about the tourist economy changing the face of central ReyPietro_lorenzetti,_compianto_(dettaglio)_basilica_inferiore_di_assisi_(1310-1329)kjavík can take some solace in now being able to take the lord’s name in vain as they field their complaints, since Alþingi recently struck down the article of law that forbade blasphemy in Iceland. Holy-mother-fucking-Jesus-and-Mary, it’s about goddamn time! And it couldn’t have come at a better time, given recent revelations about police activities.

Newly leaked emails from Italian surveillance software provider Hacking Team, made accessible through Wikileaks, reveal that Met Police detective inspector Rag19455273422_c637e11c36_znar H. Ragnarsson approached the group asking for information on their “Smart phone stealth solutions.” The emails show Ragnar pursued the matter through numerous emails, inquiring into mobile surveillance capable of intercepting VoIP communication. In a statement, the Met Police claim to not have acquired the aforementioned surveillance tools from Hacking Team, emphasising that there had been nothing “abnormal” about their explorations.

To end on a positive note, Icelandic mixed martial art luminary and UFC competitor Gunnar Nelson just decimated rising star Brandon Thatch, dispa12364796585_5eaaaf14d2_ztching him in the first round with a submission. What most surprised fight commentators was the way he did so—Gunnar is known for his phenomenal wrestling and grappling skills, but in the fight he knocked Brandon down in a punching exchange, which is where Brandon was assumed to have the advantage. At the press meeting after the fight, the stoic Icelander amused UFC President Dana White with his short and succinct answers. Dana said Gunnar was “fucking fascinating.”

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