National Church Forms Response Team on Harassment

Harassment cases that arise within the National Church of Iceland will now be addressed by an independent response team, Vísir reports. The team’s chairperson says his biggest hope is to find there isn’t much work for the team to do.

A three-person team has been formed to manage any cases of harassment, gender-based violence, or sexual violence that may arise within the nation’s largest religious institution. Such cases were previously handled by a council of representatives who work within the church, but the new response team works outside of it.

“This is one of those projects that one takes on where one hopes that one has nothing to do,” stated Bragi Björnsson, the team’s chairman, adding: “We are fully ready to accept whatever number of cases comes up.” The team is now working on a website where it will be possible to report harassment or abuse. Until it is up and running, cases can be reported to members of the team or human resources professionals within the church itself.

In March of last year, the General Assembly of the National Church adopted new procedural rules and a new policy against bullying, sexual and gender-based harassment, violence, and sexual abuse within the church.

Ice Blockage in Hvítá River

river water

An ice blockage in Hvítá river, Southwest Iceland, is being closely monitored, RÚV reports. There has been significant rainfall in the area, which could lead to elevated water levels rising even higher, as well as the possibility of flooding once the blockage breaks. South Iceland Police were monitoring the area yesterday and are expected to return today.

A blockage in the same spot caused flooding and damage to summer homes in the area two years ago. Flooding is a particular danger if the weather warms quickly, as that could cause a sudden break in the blockage and increased conductivity and higher water levels in the river.

Experts will continue to monitor the area over the coming days.

Space Company Hopes to Launch Rockets from Iceland

rocket launch skyrora

European space company Skyrora hopes to test rockets in Iceland this year, RÚV reports. A company spokesperson says conditions in Iceland, particularly in the Northeast, are ideal for launching rockets. Skyrora hopes to execute three test launches in Iceland this year.

Skyrora is a European start-up that develops rockets for launching satellites into space. The company is headquartered in Scotland, where it has developed, among other things, a 3D-printed rocket engine.

“[Iceland is] a fantastic geographic location, especially on the north coast. It’s got quite a low population density, fantastic access to sun-synchronous and polar orbits for the satellites,” Owain Hughes, the company’s Partnerships Manager, told reporters in Iceland recently, adding that a fair amount of space testing has already been done in Iceland, “for example the tests for the Apollo crews back in the ’60s.”

“Over the next 12 months, we plan on launching rockets between about two metres in size to 11 metres in size reaching altitudes of between 45 kilometres to 100 kilometres. They will end up back on land so we intend on launching them into the sea, but we’re working with the relevant authorities including the Coast Guard in order to ensure that there’s no threat to mariners out at sea, there is no long term damage and that all of it is brought back to land as soon as possible after launch,” Hughes stated.

Hughes hopes that junior college and university students can be involved in the launches and that the project sparks Icelanders’ interest in the space industry.