NATO Troops Occupy Reykjavík Bars

Bar owners in central Reykjavík were kept busy last week by some 6,000 very thirsty NATO personnel, Vísir reports. The military personnel were stationed in Reykjavík on their way to Trident Juncture 2018, a NATO exercise to take place mostly in Norway, and the organisation’s biggest in recent years.

When taps ran dry at Sæta svínið and the American Bar, located in the centre of Reykjavík, owners made an emergency call to Ölgerðin brewery, who transported 100 additional kegs downtown to keep up with the demand. “They were hard-working, the dear boys,” remarked a brewery employee when asked about the military invasion.

“Yes, it was tremendous. It was an unbelievable crowd,” said Nuno Alexandre Bentim Servo, one of the owners of gastropub Sæta svínið. He says the party raged from Wednesday through Sunday, day and evening, though the troops were under instructions to be back on board by midnight.

The group has since departed for Norway, where they will presumably have more chance to sample the local ale. Nuno says he feels for his Norwegian colleagues. “I understand that in the main exercises in Norway the personnel will probably be around 40,000,” he stated. “They’ll probably need to get beer from Finland or something.”

Minister Proposes Anonymity for Sexual Offenders

Minister of Justice Sigríður Andersen.

Minister of Justice Sigríuður Andersen has put forth a bill proposing that rulings of district courts relating to sensitive personal issues will no longer be published online, Kjarninn reports. Such cases would include sexual assault, violence in close relationships, restraining orders, and inheritance. The bill also proposes anonymity be observed in the publishing of convictions in such cases.

The bill would also grant district courts the authority to set rules regarding photography and audio recordings on their premises. The exposition of the bill states the changes are proposed to ensure better privacy.

Icelandic court rulings are currently published online. While anonymity is observed in certain cases, such as when a ruling involves children, or is related to incest or inheritance, the bill proposes extending the policy to cases involving sexual assault, violence in close relationships, and restraining orders.

“In the making of an action plan about the handling of sexual assault cases in the judicial system, there were clear opinions or suggestions that media coverage of sexual offences and their rulings or the handling of the case proved burdensome for victims,” Sigríður stated on morning radio today. “Anonymity is not set in these cases to protect the accused, rather the victim, because who the victims are can often be identified in the rulings and witnesses as well, for example.”

Sigríður added: “I think people should ask themselves whether it should be the role of the government to add to the punishment in this way when men have finished serving their sentence, let’s say 30 years later, that’s it’s still possible to look them up on a publicly available list. Criminal records have simply become public.”

Icelanders Travel Less in Iceland

Icelandic residents travelled significantly less often within Iceland during the summer of 2018, RÚVreports. This was especially true of Reykjavík residents, for whom poor weather in Southwest Iceland may have played a part. The data comes from a survey on travel habits carried out for the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration.

About 22% of respondents, or 50% more than in 2014, stated the number of foreign tourists affected their travel plans during last summer. A total of 68% stated they had stopped visiting popular tourist destinations due to the number of foreign tourists, a decrease from 76% in 2014. While 16% stated they couldn’t book accommodation because it was fully booked by foreign tourists, 10% mentioned difficulties in making restaurant reservations for the same reason. Others stated that foreign drivers were unsafe, often stopping in the middle of the road to take pictures.

The average number of trips Reykjavík residents make outside the capital area has been steadily decreasing since 2007. While 11 years ago residents of Iceland’s capital city took an average of 12 trips out of the city during the summer, they took only six in 2018. Icelanders in general appear to be going abroad instead, making on average three trips outside Iceland in 2018, a number that has risen steadily since 2010.

The youngest age group of survey respondents was the only one which travelled more inland in 2018 than 2017. Overall, private vehicles were used for 87% of trips, while 8% travelled as passengers in someone else’s car, and 5% travelled by bus or airplane.

Over-Budget Barracks Vandalised

Expensive grass planted in a controversial City of Reykjavík restoration project was ripped up last night, RÚV reports. The grass was imported from Denmark specially for the restoration of a Nissen hut at 100 Nauthólsvegur road and is reported to have cost the City of Reykjavík ISK 757,000 ($6,500/€5,600).

The restoration has been the subject of criticism from the public as well as city councillors for going extraordinarily over budget. While the projected cost of the project was around ISK 158 million ($1.4m/€1.2m), it has already cost the city ISK 415 million ($3.6m/€3.1m), and has yet to be completed. The cost of the grass in particular was heavily criticised, and last night an unknown party appears to have taken the mater into their own hands.

“Most of [the blades] were ripped up and thrown all around the area[…]They were of course torn up with the roots so there was a lot of soil and fertiliser and stuff around them,” recounted Dalmar Ingi Daðason, restaurant manager at Bragginn Bistro, the restaurant housed in the restored barracks. Dalmar says although he can sympathise with people’s anger over the project’s extravagant spending of tax money, “it’s not possible to show any understanding” for vandalism. “This is a sad issue.”

Though the restoration is not fully completed, the City of Reykjavík told RÚV that Reykjavík University has agreed to rent them in their current state. Representatives from the City stated it is up to RU to decide whether to complete construction of the toilets, which remain unfinished. RU representatives, on the other hand, say the building housing the toilets is not included in their rental agreement with the city.