Thief Steals Children’s Coats

A thief snuck into Vesturbæjarskóli elementary school on Thursday morning and stole coats belonging to eleven students, RÚV reports. Police have been alerted, but so far, there are no leads on the perpetrator or the stolen winterwear.

The thief came in through an entrance that faces Framnesvegur. In an email to parents, school principal Margrét Einarsdóttir wrote that in light of the incident, that entrance would henceforth be locked after children arrive in the morning and that the school would also be reviewing its security.

Belugas on Board: Plane to Transport Whales to Iceland Sanctuary

Cargolux beluga plane

The plane that will transport beluga whales Little Grey and Little White from China to Iceland this spring has been unveiled. The plane, decorated with images of its two special travellers, will transport the animals from their current home in an aquarium in China to the world’s first open water sanctuary for beluga whales, now under construction in the Westman Islands, South Iceland.

The journey will be a complex one over land, air, and sea, to get the two whales across the nearly 10,000km (6,200mi) distance to their new home. The journey is expected to take around 24 hours. A team of caretakers will travel with the whales to ensure their well-being on the trip.

Andy Bool, Head of SEA LIFE Trust, who is building the sanctuary, said, the initiative is “a complex but truly inspiring project,” saying an animal care team, veterinarians, and marine experts were working together to ensure the best possible journey for the whales. Cargolux, a European cargo airline, is sponsoring the flight to help relocate the two animals.

Cathy Williamson, policy manager at Whale and Dolphin Conservation, stated about the project: “Whales and dolphins are highly intelligent creatures and are not suited to being held in a small pool performing tricks. It is hoped that this project will help to encourage the rehabilitation of more captive whales into a more natural environment in the future, and one day bring an end to the use of whales and dolphins for human entertainment.”

Njáls saga Manuscripts Unite for “Family Reunion”

Njáls saga manuscripts.

The Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies hosted an unusual “family reunion” this week, where all three branches of Njáls saga manuscripts were united, likely for the first time, RÚV reports. Some of the manuscripts are around 700 years old.

Njáls saga is a 13th-century Icelandic saga that deals with blood feuds in the Icelandic Commonwealth. It is the longest and most developed of the Icelandic sagas, and is often considered the peak of the saga tradition. The “reunion” of sorts was organised in honour of the anniversary of Árni Magnússon’s death January 7. Research Associate Professor Svanhildur Óskarsdóttir said the event gave scholars a chance to look at the origin of Njáls saga.

According to Svanhildur, Njals saga was likely complied around 1280, though the oldest found manuscripts date from around 1300. The research of Einar Ólafur Sveinsson and others discovered that Njals saga manuscripts can be classified as belonging to one of three branches, called the X, Y, and Z branches. The January event at the institute was likely the first time that manuscripts from all three branches had been collected together, as the Reykjabók manuscript, belonging to the X branch, is currently on loan to Iceland from Denmark.

Njáls saga manuscripts.
[/media-credit] The manuscripts, as seen at the Arni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies.

It’s priceless to be able to see the manuscripts together, says Svanhildur, particularly so shortly following the publication of new research on the works, titled New Studies in the Manuscript Tradition of Njáls saga.

Prime Minister Will “Sleep On” Proposal to Put Back the Clock

Sleepy in Reykjavík

A task force under the Prime Minister’s Office has released a comprehensive report on whether Iceland should put back its clock by one hour to align with its geographical position. The report presents three options for dealing with the negative effects of Iceland’s skewed clock. The Prime Minister told RÚV she will “sleep on it.”

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Borrowed time

Local time in Iceland corresponds to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). While in Greenwich itself, the sun reaches its highest point at 12.30, in Iceland it does so only at 1.30pm. Putting back the clock has popped up in public discussion and parliamentary proposals in recent years. While many worry that the current lack of morning light affects Icelanders’ health and productivity, others say changing the clock could be detrimental – not least for airline schedules and businesses.

Research has shown that Icelanders sleep too little, and the report points out the clock’s role in these findings: its skewed position disturbs the biological clock and encourages locals to go to bed later. This can have many negative effects on their health, including increasing the likelihood of depression and other illnesses, as well as affecting performance in school and at work. Iceland does not use daylight saving time and the report does not consider its implementation.

Three options given

The report proposes three options for dealing with these negative effects. The first is to maintain the status quo, but educate the public about the benefits of going to bed earlier. The second option is putting the clock black by one hour, which the task force asserts would improve performance in school among children and youth and reduce dropouts, as well as having a positive effect on the health and productivity of the general population. The third option presented in the report is to maintain the clock’s position but change school and work schedules so that classes and work hours begin later in the day. This option is seen to have more negative repercussions than positive, however, as it could cause scheduling problems within families with children and increased operational costs for businesses.

Opposing arguments

Airline companies and athletic associations have be among those who oppose the change. The former say it would cause confusion in flight schedules, while the latter say less daylight after school and work hours would reduce people’s outdoor activity in the afternoons. The report states, however, that the change would only decrease daylight during waking hours (7.00am-11.00pm) by 3-4% and decrease daylight between 3.00pm and 9.00pm by 13%.

Prime Minister will “sleep on it”

Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir states that although she was originally against changing the clock, research on the effect of sleep on people’s health has affected her stance. She adds that it’s impossible to ignore Icelanders’ widespread use of sleeping pills, which according to a recent assessment conducted by the Director of Health, far exceed rates in other Nordic countries. Katrín says, however, that she has yet to take a stance on the issue. “I will sleep on it,” she remarked.