Klaustur Scandal Continues to Cause Upset

Klaustur Bar

Alþingi’s Environment and Communications Committee voted in a new chairman this morning amid upset over the return of the Klaustur scandal MPs to parliament, RÚV reports. The former chairman was one of the MP’s recorded making misogynistic comments last November. The recordings were reported to The Icelandic Data Protection Authority, which is currently investigating the matter

The Environment and Communications Committee’s last meeting was reportedly a heated one, with contention arising over the presence of Bergþór Ólason, one of the disgraced Klaustur scandal MPs, who had been chairman of the committee until he took a leave of absence due to the scandal. Bergþór has now stepped down as chairman and been replaced by Jón Gunnarsson, MP for the Independence Party.

The minority parties are not satisfied with the new chairman, as it means that the opposition now only has two chairmen in the Parliament’s committees, instead of three. The parties released a statement today, objecting to a member of the government parties taking over the committee. They had previously proposed that a member of the opposition should take Bergþór’s place. The Centre Party, to which Bergþór belongs, suggested that Jón Gunnarsson of the Independence party, should lead. The motion was then accepted to accusations of betrayal from the minority opposition.

Meanwhile, the Klaustur MPs have now reported Bára Halldórsdóttir to the Icelandic Data Protection Authority, the woman behind the infamous recording, for breach of privacy. Bára, who is LGBT+ and disabled, claims she was outraged at how the MPs spoke and decided to record them on the spot. The Klaustur MPs have in turn accused Bára of conspiring against them by wearing a disguise, dressing up as a tourist to draw attention away from herself as she recorded the MPs’ drunken outbursts.

Yesterday the Icelandic Data Protection Authority revealed on their website that they have requested that Klaustur hand over surveillance footage of the fateful evening, in order to ascertain what truly went on.

As Iceland Review has previously reported, the Klaustur scandal broke late last November when a recording of MPs for the Centre Party and People’s Party, including Bergþór Ólason, was made public where the MPs were heard making disparaging remarks about colleagues, women, gays and disabled people over drinks at hotel bar Klaustur in downtown Reykjavík, causing uproar.

In the Name of Cod

cod wars Coast Guard Vessel Óðinn

You’ve heard about the world wars, the Six-Day War, the Hundred Years’ War, and the not-really-a-war Cold War, but you’d have to be an expert either in Icelandic history or international fishing regulations to be familiar with the Anglo-Icelandic Cod Wars.

This content is only visible under subscription. Subscribe here or log in.

Continue reading

Norse Pagan Fellowship Considers Crowdfunding Temple Completion

Iceland’s Ásatrú Fellowship is currently constructing its first and only Norse temple in Öskjuhlíð, but construction costs have already exceeded the budget set for the project, Fréttablaðið reports. The religious organisation is now considering crowdfunding part of the money needed to finish the job.

The Ásatrú Fellowship is Iceland’s official Norse religion organisation. Despite being founded in 1972, the fellowship has never had an official temple to house its operation, until now. The original budget for the temple was 127 million ISK, a number they’ve already exceeded with the temple half-built. They now estimate that the temple will cost 270 million ISK to complete.

“We’ve had so many people contact us asking if they can support us in any way,” says musician and fellowship’s Allsherjargoði, Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson. “We’ve been trying to find a way to do this without begging, but instead work out a deal where our supporters will get something in return.” The fellowship is currently considering working through crowdfunding sites like Karolina Fund to raise at least 18 million ISK in donations.

“We’re considering all options. We want to do this with a certain amount of dignity,” the Allsherjargoði adds.

At the fellowship’s official Lögrétta meeting last December, it was revealed that the financial situation of the fellowship is much better than it has been in previous months, making it possible for the fellowship to pay bills and temple-building costs without hurting their day to day operations. This, says Hilmar, is possible in part due to donations from benefactors.

“We haven’t been forced to take out a bank loan yet and we want to see what we can pay for by ourselves and with this crowdfunding initiative. The original idea was to do this without getting ourselves into debt, and we’re still persevering.”

Hilmar says the most optimistic prediction for a date of temple completion is in December 2019, but he’s hoping parts of the temple will be able to host the fellowship operations earlier than that, possibly in the fall.

Deutscher Investor kauft Hellisfjörður

Der Deutsche Sven Jacobi hat den Hellisfjörður in Ostisland gekauft, berichtet Austurfrétt. Jacobi gilt als Marketingspezialist in Deutschland.
Der abgelegene Fjord war im vergangenen Sommer zum Kauf angeboten worden, er hatte zuvor einer Gesellschaft im Besitz des Hollywood-Produzenten Sigurjón Sighvatsson gehört.

Der Aufkauf des Fjords durch Sigurjón im Jahr 2000 hatte zu seiner Zeit für Aufsehen gesorgt. Sigurjón hatte damals in grossem Stil in Island investiert, den Fjord kaufte er, weil er nach eigenen Angaben aus dem Osten stamme und seiner Familiengeschichte näherkommen wolle, berichtet Vísir.

Der neue Besitzer Jacobi hatte sich vor einigen Tagen zusammen mit seinem Anwalt mit dem Gemeinderat des Fjarðarbyggð getroffen, um die Pläne des Deutschen mit dem Fjord zu besprechen.

Jacobi ist Geschäftsführer des Marketingunternehmens Neo Advertising, welches Werbetafeln etwa in Flughäfen, Grossmärkten und Einkaufszentren betreibt. Neo hat Büros in fünf Ländern, zu seinen Kunden gehören Unilever, L’Oreal und Edeka. Das Unternehmen war im Jahr 2006 gegründet und im November 2017 an die Ströer Group verkauft worden, Jacobi sollte jedoch Geschäftsführer für zwei weitere Jahre bleiben.

Der Hellisfjörður ist ein kleiner Fjord südlich von Neskaupstaðir, der Hof liegt am Ende des Fjords und umfasst 1900 Hektar. Auf dem Land steht ein im Jahr 1970 gebautes Sommerhaus. In dem Fjord kann man unter anderem angeln und Vögel jagen. Von der Strasse aus ist er nicht zugänglich, man benötigt ein Boot, um dort hinzukommen, oder muss zu Fuss über die Berge hinwandern.

Der Hellisfjörður ist seit dem Jahr 1952 nicht mehr bewohnt. Von 1901 bis 1913 hatte es auf dem Land Sveinsstaðir am Nordufer des Fjords eine norwegische Walfangstation gegeben, Ruinen davon sind noch vorhanden.

Jacobi besitzt das Land über die Gesellschaft Vatnstein ehf., deren Zweck im isländischen Unternehmensregister mit “Frischwasserzucht” beschrieben wird.

Über seine Pläne wollte er keine Auskunft geben. Informationen dazu würde es im Frühjahr geben, liess er wissen. Auch vom Gemeinderat gab es keine Auskunft zum Deal mit dem Deutschen.

Landverkäufe in Island sind umstritten, vor allem wenn das Land an ausländische Käufer geht. In der Vergangenheit hatte es immer wieder Nachrichten über den britischen Chemiemogul James Ratcliffe gegeben, der als Fischfreund inzwischen mehr als 40 Ländereien im Osten des Landes direkt oder als Teilhaber in Aktiengesellschaften besitzt. Zuletzt machte Ratcliffe von sich reden, als er die Wasserrechte einer seiner Flüsse an einen Kraftwerksbetreiber verkauft hat.

Im Herbst hatte sich das Alþingi mit den Landaufkäufen durch Ausländer befasst, unter anderem war eine Wohn- und Meldepflicht für Landeigentümer diskutiert worden. Gesetzliche Beschlüsse oder Einschränkungen hatte es jedoch keine gegeben.

Central Bank Warns Against Pay Raises

Central Bank of Iceland

Már Guðmundsson, governor of the Central Bank of Iceland, warns against excessive pay raises in a new video, saying they would inevitably lead to increased interest rates and unemployment in the country. His words are expected to ruffle some feathers amongst union leaders who are now working to do exactly that.

This morning, the bank revealed its plans to keep official interest rates the same as they’ve been. “We are now experiencing economic challenges due to a shrinking tourist industry,” Már said. “More companies are looking to reduce staff rather than increase and inflation is expected to rise due to a reduction in the value of the Icelandic króna.”

“The good news is that inflation predictions have lowered slightly after a rise just before Christmas, and due to this the Central Bank’s real interest rates have increased.”

Már then seemingly directed his words to union leaders, saying that “opposing forces have influenced our decision not to change official interest rates,” adding that “we shouldn’t experience capital decay unless we suffer any new blows. Strikes and pay raises that exceed our capacity would be exactly that kind of blow. The result would be increased interest rates and unemployment. Let’s try to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

Asked about the current redundancy in apartments in Reykjavík, Már said that a cooling in the housing market was expected after the past years’ upswing, RÚV reports. “I’m not that worried at the moment. We always expected things to eventually slow down, possibly lowering the króna’s high exchange rate and, in turn, lowering housing prices. This has come to pass.”

Langoustine Numbers at Record Low

Numbers of langoustine around Iceland have plummeted, RÚV reports. Iceland’s Marine and Freshwater Research Institute suggests an 80% reduction in harvesting between years.

If MFRI’s suggestions will be heeded, the langoustine quota will be reduced to 235 tons this year. Furthermore, langoustine fishing will get banned in Lónsdjúp and Jökuldjúpi to protect young langoustine. The institution also suggests a total ban against fishing with a bottom trawl in selected parts of Breiðarmerkurdjúp, Hornfjarðardjúp and Lónsdjúp, to alleviate strain on langoustine stock.

Last year’s fishing season the quota was 1.150 tons, which was an all-time low at that time. Despite this, only 728 tons were caught, another record low for Iceland’s fishing industry since steady langoustine fishing commenced in the 1960s. Most langoustine was caught in 2010, around 2.500 tons, which was double the amount caught in 2004. Over the past years, numbers have been falling rapidly.

MFRI’s report says that the density of langoustine spots is among the lowest they know or about 0.07 langoustine holes per square meter. Furthermore, the report indicates that numbers among new generations of langoustine are dwindling, and have been critically low since 2005. “If practices don’t change we can expect a further reduction in langoustine numbers,” the report concludes.