Multiple Incidents of Drugged Drinks

Police are investigating an incident in which a young woman was believed to have been drugged in a bar in Reykjavík at around midnight on Thursday evening, RÚV reports. The woman was taken to the National and University Hospital for care.

Recently, Suðurnes police issued an advisory urging people not to accept drinks from people they don’t know after some incidents of drugged drinks in Reykjanesbær.

Capital-area police were busy on Thursday night, also reported that there were a number of incidents involving drug and/or alcohol use . Two individuals also had to be taken to the hospital for drug-related reasons.

This article has been updated

Thunder and Lightning in the Capital Area

Thunder and lightning accompanied a rainstorm in the capital area and in the Southwest region of Iceland last night around 7 pm. RÚV reports that there was a 250 m squall line, or narrow band of storm and wind associated with a cold front, that stretched from the north side of Snæfellsnes in West Iceland to the Westman Islands off the southern coast. It was this weather formation that caused the lightning, which is very uncommon in Iceland.

The Civil Defense Office issued warnings during the storm, advising Icelanders, who aren’t accustomed to these weather phenomena, how to keep safe during the storm. Pools and hot pots were also closed during the storm for safety’s sake.

According to the lightning advisory on the Civil Defense Office’s website, it’s estimated that there are between 250 and 600 lightning flashes a year in the whole country of Iceland. By comparison, the world’s “principal lightning hotspot,” i.e. the southern end of a single lake (Lake Maracaibo) in Venezuela, experiences 232.52 flashes of lightning per square kilometer per year.

Diary of a Powerlifter

Júlían Jóhann Karl Jóhannsson is a 23-year-old who studies history at the University of Iceland and works part-time at a rehab centre for young teenagers. He also currently holds the world record for deadlift in the 120+ kg class, as he lifted 405 kilograms (893lbs) at the 2018 World Open Powerlifting Championships in Halmstad, Sweden. His approach is a meticulous one. Júlían painstakingly takes notes on every training session and every lift in a little notebook. Radiating stoicism, he simply eats, trains – one lift at a time – and sets world records. In a country with a long history of male strength, Júlían is the newest strongman on the block.

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Restaurant and Hotel Workers to Vote on Strike

Efling Chairperson Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir

The Efling labour union agreed tonight to initiate “a secret electronic strike ballot” to decide whether or not those members “who are under the general agreement between [the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise] and Efling and the Keflavík union, specifically those working in restaurants, hotels and associated industries” should go on strike. A public statement to this effect was published on the union’s website. The strike, should it proceed, would come in the wake of stalled negotiations over the union’s wage contract with the SA, which expired on December 31.

Tensions between the Efling, VR, VLFA and VLFGrv unions and SA flared again following proposed changes to the tax system presented by Bjarni Benediktsson, the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, on Tuesday night.

The government’s contribution to the debate involved a significant change to the Icelandic tax system wherein the lowest tax level would be newly set at a monthly wage of ISK 325,000 [$2,718; €2,395] a month. The taxation on this level would be 32.94%.  The tax-free limit would be set at ISK 159.174 a month, taking into account a 4% pension contribution.

Bjarni’s presentation explained that the limit for both the first and second tax levels would be ISK 325,000 in order to maximize, he said, the benefits for low-income groups, as well as people with disabilities and the elderly. Per the second level, however, those who earn less than ISK 927,087 [$7,746; €6,830] a month would be taxed at 36.94% while those who make more than that would be taxed at 46.24%.

The union chairs, including Efling’s Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir, expressed “anger and disappointment” with the government’s proposals, stating that “[i]t was hoped that the government’s involvement could rekindle the discussion, but it’s clear…that this hope will come to nothing.”

Should the work stoppage be approved, it will apply, says the Efling statement, “to cleaning, housekeeping and laundry services for rooms and other sleeping accommodation and connected areas and services, for example in corridors, toilets and shared spaces, in all hotels and guesthouses in the area which Efling has jurisdiction over, which includes the areas of Reykjavík, Kópavogur, Seltjarnarnes, Mosfellsbær, Kjós, Grímsnes og Grafningshreppur, Hveragerði, Ölfus County, and additionally Hafnarfjörður and Garðabær.”

The proposed stoppage would be temporary and would begin at 10:00 am on March 8 and would end at 23:59 on the same day. If a collective agreement were to be signed before the strike, it would, obviously, not go ahead.

Voting on whether or not Efling members will strike will begin on Monday, February 25 at 10 am and end at 10 pm on Thursday, February 28.

Kristín Eiríksdóttir and Kristín Ómarsdóttir Nominated for Nordic Council Literature Prize

Authors Kristín Eiríksdóttir and Kristín Ómarsdóttir have been nominated for the Nordic Council’s Literature Prize. Kristín Eiriksdóttir was nominated for her novel Elín, ýmislegt (English title, A Fist or a Heart) and Kristín Ómarsdóttir was nominated for her poetry collection Kóngulær í sýningargluggum (‘Spiders in the Display Windows’).

The authors were nominated alongside 11 others from Denmark, Finland, Greenland, Norway, the Sami Language Area, Sweden, and Åland. The winner will be announced on October 29 in Sotckholm and the winner will receive the prize’s Northern Lights statuette and DKK 350,000 [ISK 6.36 million; $53,182; €46,904].

Last year, the Nordic Council’s Literature Prize went to Icelandic author Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir for her novel Ör (English title Hotel Silence). An Icelandic author has won seven times since the prize first started being awarded in 1962.

Read the full list of nominees and the motivations for each nomination, in English, here.