Protest, Parliamentary Resolution Call for Immediate Gaza Ceasefire

Protestors outside US Embassy in Reykjavík

Demonstrators gathered in front of the U.S. Embassy in Reykjavík to demand an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. A few hours before the protest, the Icelandic Parliament unanimously passed a resolution calling for the same thing, condemning violence against civilians and calling for adherence to international laws.

Protestors call for “immediate ceasefire”

A number of people gathered in front of the U.S. Embassy, near the Laugardalur neighbourhood in Reykjavík, to partake in a protest under the banner “Immediate Ceasefire” yesterday. The protest began at 5 PM, with speakers including Dr. Sveinn Rúnar Hauksson, physician and Chair of the Iceland-Palestine Association, and activist Lisa Mackey, Vísir reports.

A few hours before the protests, Parliament approved a resolution from the Foreign Affairs Committee calling for a ceasefire, with all votes in favour.

“The Parliament resolves that an immediate ceasefire for humanitarian reasons must be established in the Gaza region to ensure the safety of civilians, both Palestinian and Israeli. The Parliament condemns all acts of violence directed against civilians in Palestine and Israel. The Parliament demands that international laws be fully adhered to in the interest of humanity, the safety of civilians, and the protection of civil infrastructure,” the Parliamentary resolution reads, which, as noted by Mbl.is, was passed unanimously with 49 votes, following two discussions at yesterday’s parliamentary session.

Important to send a clear message

The resolution states that the Parliament condemns the terrorist attacks by Hamas on civilians in Israel that began on October 7. Similarly, the Parliament condemns all actions by Israeli authorities in the aftermath that violate international humanitarian laws, including the immense suffering, casualties, civilian deaths, and destruction of civil infrastructure. It is imperative that all violations of international laws by the warring parties be thoroughly investigated.

“The Parliament calls for humane treatment and immediate resolution of hostages, access for aid and humanitarian organisations, and that emergency shelter and medical assistance be provided to the public without delay,” it states. Additionally, the government was tasked with contributing additional aid for humanitarian assistance and investigating violations of international laws to follow up on the emphases outlined in the resolution.

As noted by Mbl.is, Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir, in her comments on the vote, thanked the Foreign Affairs Committee for its excellent work in highlighting clear viewpoints reflected in the proposal and for achieving this consensus. She stated it was extremely important for Iceland to send such clear messages to the international community, a clear will of the Parliament for an immediate ceasefire, and for the respect of international laws in the interest of humanity. “I want to take this opportunity to say that I am very proud to belong to the Parliament of Iceland at such times,” Katrín Jakobsdóttir stated.

Laufey Collaborates with Norah Jones on Two Christmas Duets

Bewitched / From the Start

Icelandic singer Laufey released two Christmas songs at midnight in collaboration with Norah Jones. Laufey, a long-time admirer of Jones, described the collaboration as incredible, with both songs being recorded in a single take.

“Pinching oneself”

At midnight, the Icelandic singer Laufey released two Christmas songs in collaboration with Norah Jones: a cover of Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas and original composition entitled Better Than Snow.

In an interview with Vísir yesterday, Laufey commented on the collaboration: “Working with Norah was just incredible. I’ve been listening to her since I was a child. My mother always played her music in the car. It’s like working with a deity.”

“I still can’t believe she’s real,” Laufey added with a laugh. “Seeing the cover photo and my name next to hers feels like a mistake.”

Long admired Norah Jones

Laufey went on to explain that when she was taking her first steps in the music industry, agents and representatives from record companies would often ask her “who she wanted to be?” She would commonly respond by articulating her desire to be associated with jazz, although not confined to it, noting that she wanted her music to appeal to a wide audience, especially her own age group.

Whenever she was asked which artist she would most like to resemble, Norah Jones immediately came to mind. “It was so hard for me to find a singer I wanted to be like, and it’s still quite difficult to answer that, but the closest would be Norah Jones; she wasn’t just confined to jazz – but also pop.”

One take

Norah Jones and Laufey first met at a jazz festival in Geneva last summer. According to Laufey, they had a brief conversation, and a month later, they were in the studio together: “I played the cello and she played the piano. It was very sweet. We recorded Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas in one take,” Laufey revealed.

Due to the ease of their collaboration, Laufey recalled that she and Norah felt they should do more together. “It happened so fast, so we sat there and asked: What now?” Norah revealed she had an unfinished Christmas song lyric and asked Laufey if she wanted to compose it together with her. “Yes. Oh my God, yes,” Laufey responded. “She played a few lines, and I thought to myself that this was amazing.”

The songwriting for Better Than Snow took about an hour. Like the previous song, the recording required only a single take.

From the Inside Out

anne carson poet

As Anne Carson stepped on stage to accept the International Vigdís Prize, awarded annually since 2020 for outstanding contributions to world languages and cultures, she thanked the audience in two ways. What she called “the Icelandic way” consisted of a quoted passage from Njáls Saga concerning generosity among friends; “her way” comprised a “poetic event.” The […]

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Government Awaits Proposal for Protective Barriers in Reykjanes

Iceland Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir

During an informal session of Parliament yesterday, the Chairman of the Centre party inquired as to the government’s progress on protective barriers against potential volcanic eruptions near Grindavík, Vísir reports. Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir responded by noting that recommendations for such barriers were expected to be submitted to the government for review in the coming days. Recent earthquakes caused visible damage to infrastructure near Mt. Þorbjörn, prompting HS Orka to initiate preparatory work for barriers at the Svartsengi power plant.

Inquiry into the state of protective barriers

During an informal question session in Parliament, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, Chairman of the Centre Party, raised concerns about the construction of protective barriers and other preventive measures in response to potential volcanic eruptions near Grindavík. He urged the government to heed expert advice and make decisions regarding the construction of these barriers to protect settlements and infrastructure.

“Isn’t it time to start heeding the advice of these experts and, at the very least, make some decision, preferably to begin construction to protect settlements and other infrastructure?”

Ongoing preparations since 2021

In response, Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir outlined the ongoing efforts since the first disturbances on the Reykjanes peninsula. She highlighted the collaboration with local authorities, emergency responders, and the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management in mapping the area and compiling data.

Katrín mentioned that proposals for protective barriers were under review and that recommendations to the government were expected soon: “These proposals have been under review by the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management who plans to make recommendations to the government in the coming days on the appropriate course of action.”

(As noted by RÚV yesterday, when the eruption began at Fagradalsfjall in 2021, a group of experts was established to focus on the protection of critical infrastructure on the Reykjanes Peninsula. This group has been considering possible scenarios based on existing data, with the greatest emphasis being placed on protecting the Svartsengi power plant and the Blue Lagoon.)

Accused the coalition of indecisiveness

Sigmundur Davíð criticised the government for its indecisiveness and the disarray in handling the information related to this issue. He referenced Víðir Reynisson, Head of the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management, emphasising the urgency of a decision.

Katrín acknowledged the commencement of preliminary work for such projects but noted the current infeasibility of large-scale actions: “We have not yet reached the stage where a formal proposal from the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management is in place. However, I expect it to be presented in the next few days, and I can then discuss it in more detail.”

Sigmundur Davíð further inquired if immediate action would follow the receipt of this proposal. Katrín assured that the proposal would undergo thorough examination and expert review before any decision. She concluded by expressing confidence in the coordinated efforts of all parties involved to manage the challenging situation.

“I want to take this opportunity to say that I believe all parties in the system are working in a coordinated manner to address this difficult situation,” Katrín concluded.

Visible damage to Svartsengi Power Plant

As reported by Vísir yesterday, a swarm of earthquakes in the early hours of Thursday, November 9, caused visible damage to roads and infrastructure near Mt. Þorbjörn on the Reykjanes peninsula. The Blue Lagoon was subsequently closed. Cracks formed in the asphalt of Grindarvíkurvegur, the road that leads to the town of Grindavík, and on the walls and floors of the Svartsengi power plant.

“Cracks have appeared widely in floors and walls, and it was clear upon arrival this morning that there was a considerable tremor last night. Monitors have fallen to the floor, and new cracks have appeared in many places,” Kristinn Harðarson, the production manager at HS Orka, told Vísir yesterday.

Prep work for protective barriers underway

Kristinn revealed that HS Orka had initiated preparatory work for the construction of protective barriers: “We are beginning preparations, bringing materials to the site so we can respond quickly if we need to set up protective barriers. We are trying to shorten the response time as much as possible,” Kristinn stated, adding that he hoped that this would ensure uninterrupted and ongoing operations at the power plant in case of an eruption.

Four to six trucks, carrying gravel from a nearby quarry to the power plant, drove into the area yesterday. As noted by Vísir, this gravel could be used for protective barriers or even to cover boreholes and pipelines in the event of an eruption.

Deep North Episode 51: Western Promise

west icelanders canada

While most people today are very much aware of Europe’s exploration and colony building in what was optimistically called the New World, you would be forgiven for not knowing that Icelanders founded a self-governing colony in the Americas as well. New Iceland was established on the shores of Lake Winnipeg, Manitoba in the late 19th century, beginning with the settlement of Gimli, named after “the most beautiful place on Earth” in Norse mythology. It is estimated that nearly 25% of the entire population of Iceland emigrated to North America over the four decades that followed.

We look at the history of the short-lived Icelandic colony in Manitoba, and the story of one Icelander in particular.