Glulam to be Made from Icelandic Lumber

Over the last few weeks the Icelandic Forest Service, Límtré/Vírnet and Innovation Center Iceland have been conducting research into the possibility of using Icelandic lumber to produce glue laminated structural beams, sometimes called glulam, RÚV reports. Imported wood has hitherto been used for the application.

Glulam is a type of engineered wood, made from lumber that is bonded together with structural adhesives. It is commonly used as structural beams in all types of man-made structures, such as sports halls, glasshouses, gazebos and even bridges.

“We’re very excited about this. It’s great that we’re embarking on this journey,” says forester Trausti Jóhannsson. “Finally we’re creating real lumber from our trees, people are saying. Not just cutting them down, putting them in the wood chipper and then burning them. We’re now thinking towards the future.”

“The through line in this project is environmentalism,” says Logi Unnarson, advisor at Límtré/Vírnet. “We are well aware of the importance of this project. Now there are plans to increase forestry in Iceland, so it’s obvious that we’d benefit greatly from using Icelandic lumber. We’d spare us the transportation of heavy goods from Europe and be able to concentrate on building up a strong lumber industry here.”

The Icelandic glulam will soon be tested at the Innovation Center Iceland with first result being expected by spring.

Paid Internships for Student Teachers

Lilja Alfreðsdóttir is one of the people nominated for Person of the Year.

Minister of Education, Science and Culture, Lilja Alfreðsdóttir introduced new measures today in accordance with the government’s policy statement on education, RÚV reports. This means that come next fall, master students in their final year of teaching studies for elementary school and kindergarten will get paid for their internship. They will also be able to apply for a study grant, with the government planning to spend up to 250 million ISK on the study grants alone. Furthermore, the University of Iceland and the University of Akureyri will both receive grants to increase the number of teachers who specialise in job-related guidance

The ministry is also looking into possibilities to support students in other teaching fields, such as would-be high-school-, music- and art teachers, as well as looking into how to further stimulate the growth of teacher numbers, for example through the Icelandic Student Loan Fund, LÍN.

According to a press release by the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture, only 28% of those workings in kindergartens now are certified teachers. Around 1.800 positions need to be filled in order to fulfil legal obligations of the proportions of educated teachers in kindergartens in the country.

Numbers of elementary school and kindergarten teacher students reduced by 40% between 2008 and 2018. The measures of the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture are designed to change this development. At the current rate, however, elementary schools will need to fill around 1.200 teaching positions with unschooled teachers in four years, meaning that their percentage would rise from 8.6% in 2017 to 25%.

More Infected by Measles

landspitali national university hospital iceland

Four cases of measles have been reported in Iceland in recent days, making this the most serious outbreak in decades, RÚV reports. An adult passenger on an Icelandair flight from the Philippines carried the virus and managed to infect three others on the same plane, one adult and two children under the age of 18 months, which is the normal age of vaccination in Iceland.

As Iceland Review reported last Monday, an 11 month old child was infected on the fateful flight, but was then hoped to be the only one. Now it has become apparent that two others are infected.

Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason says that about 90 to 95 of Icelanders are vaccinated against measles and considers it unlikely that a epidemic of the virus will occur due to so-called herd immunity. Cases of measles are reportedly on the rise in Europe.

Measles is a highly contagious virus that can travel by air and touch. Early symptoms are similar to the common flu, fever, nasal congestion, coughing, inflamed eyes, headache and swollen glands. Three or four days after the start of symptoms a rash spreads over the body, the telltale sign of measles.

The National University Hospital of Iceland has released a statement on their Facebook site explaining that unvaccinated children under the age of 18 months are especially sensitive to the virus. They don’t see reason for parents to have children without symptoms checked, but advice anyone who suspects having contracted the virus to call the number 1700, where nurses can be consulted around the clock.

WOW Air Takeover Might Come with Harsh Conditions

Bondholders of struggling Icelandic airline WOW air who invested in the company for 60 million euros just last fall, might have to accept large write-offs of their shares in order for the possible investment of equity firm Indigo Partners in the company to go through, Fréttablaðið reports.

Additionally, Indigo Partners have reportedly demanded that the share of WOW air’s current CEO, Skúli Mogensen, be drastically reduced from what was previously discussed.

These conditions were put forth by Indigo Partners at a meeting with Skúli last Thursday, the same day a deadline given by the company’s bondholders to reach an agreement with the company was reached. The deadline has now been extended until the end of March.

Indigo Partners demands reportedly came as a shock to Skúli. According to insiders, Skúli was expecting a much easier deal to go through. Last week, WOW air representatives secured a deal with the airline’s proprietors, paving the way for a deal with Indigo Partners, an equity firm that has a controlling interest in airlines such as American Frontier Airlines and JetSmart.

Representatives of the firm are reportedly well aware of their strong negotiating position against Skúli and and WOW air bondholders, who have little choice but to agree to Indigo Partners’ terms, considering their other option seems to be the bankruptcy of the company.

Indigo Partners have declared that the company is ready to invest for up to 75 million dollars in WOW air

Therapy for All

Kara Connect - Þorbjörg Helga Vigfúsdóttir

It’s a dark winter morning in Bíldudalur, a small, isolated town in the remote Westfjords, and 10-year-old Anna is preparing for a video meeting with a speech therapist to work on her lisp. While her classmates head to a grammar lesson, Anna works one-on-one with a specialist situated in downtown Reykjavík. That same afternoon, 51-year-old Kjartan sits down for his regularly scheduled appointment with a therapist, who is located in Akureyri, North Iceland. The only therapist in town is a close family friend. Battling with depression, Kjartan has up until now been unable to meet with a specialist. It’s impossible to hire specialists to come to every small town in Iceland – and that’s where Kara Connect comes in. All over Iceland, the start-up is making healthcare accessible to individuals who could not access it before.

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