From Iceland — What Are Icelanders Talking About? Rumble In The Jungle

What Are Icelanders Talking About? Rumble In The Jungle

Published May 7, 2021

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Wikimedia Commons

Drugs! Do you like to do drugs? Well then you may be interested to know that Parliament is debating whether or not to decriminalise cannabis for personal consumption. On the one side are the classic arguments in favour: addiction should be treated as a health issue rather than a criminal one, the war on drugs is lost, and so forth. Opposing this idea, however, are the police (unsurprisingly) but also the Icelandic Medical Association, who contended that decriminalisation would lead to more young people trying drugs—contrary to actual research, which shows that places which have decriminalised drugs have seen no increase—and sometimes even seen decreases—in consumption. The battle rages on!

Another hot topic in the discourse is press freedom in Iceland. This may come as a surprise, considering you don’t hear about journalists being jailed, kidnapped or assassinated here. But Reporters Without Borders, in their World Press Freedom Index for 2021, recently pointed out one case in particular that Icelanders have been very concerned about: fishing giant Samherji’s campaign of harassment against journalists who reported on Samherji’s wrongdoing. Samherji has specifically targeted journalists at RÚV, who were amongst the first to break the story of Samherji bribing Namibian officials in exchange for lucrative fishing quotas. The case has drawn international attention, prompting the Namibia Media Professionals Union to issue a statement of support for their Icelandic cohorts. So no, we don’t murder reporters here; we just have corporate and political interests using other methods to silence and censure them.

In happier news, vaccinations have been kicking into high gear. A large part of this is due to Icelandic authorities both wanting to relax domestic restrictions completely and give tourism an extra boost by the time summer arrives. Thousands of people have been getting dosed, in massive drives so large that the Laugardalshöll stadium has been opened for the sole purpose of accommodating enough people to get their shots. As this is being written, some 40,000 people are set to get vaccines within the span of a week, using a mixed bag of vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Janssen. If all goes according to plan, pretty much everyone should be vaccinated by late July. Wish us luck!

Lastly, the eruption site just got a lot more, um, lively. We’ve got lava fountains belching 300 metres into the air. We’ve got chunks of lava raining down hundreds of metres away from their point of departure. It’s a veritable volcanic rager. Quite photogenic, but plans are being made to expand the danger area around the eruption site, so that visitors can stay safe as the situation changes.

Note: Due to the effect the Coronavirus is having on tourism in Iceland, it’s become increasingly difficult for the Grapevine to survive. If you enjoy our content and want to help the Grapevine’s journalists do things like eat and pay rent, please consider joining our High Five Club.

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