Tag Archives | Iceland

WikiLeaks Wins Case Against VISA In Iceland

The Icelandic courts have ruled that the major global credit card companies cannot block donations to WikiLeaks. Any hope that the United States and other developed nations will see the light? Russia Today reports:

The Reykjavík District Court has ruled that Valitor, formerly known as VISA Iceland, violated contract laws by blocking credit card donations to Wikileaks, according to a press release posted on the whistleblowers’ Twitter account. The court also ordered that the donation gateway should be reopened within 14 days otherwise Valitor will be forced to pay a fine of $6,200 daily.

In June, Datacell, the Iceland-based company that processed donations for WikiLeaks, filed a case against Valitor, the company behind VISA and MasterCard, for “unlawfully suspending financial services”.

The blockade stripped away over 95% of donations from supporters of WikiLeaks, costing the organization in excess of $20 million. Datacell’s director Olafur Sigurvinsson told reporters he was amazed at the double stadards: “I can support Al-Qaeda, the Ku Klux Klan, buy weapons and drugs and all kinds of porn with my Visa card.

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More Icelandic Bankers Arrested

Via Icenews.is

Iceland’s special prosecutor into the banking crisis has confirmed that raids have taken place today and that arrests have been made. The Central Bank of Iceland is among the institutions under investigation.

Special Prosecutor, Olafur Thor Hauksson told Visir.is that house searches are taking place in at least three places today as part of investigations into the central bank, MP Bank and Straumur Bank.

Stefan Johann Stefansson at the central bank confirmed that agents were in the building conducting searches; and it has also been confirmed that searches are underway at MP Bank and ALMC (formerly Straumur).

An ALMC spokesman said that the premises are indeed being searched and that the bank’s staff members are doing their best to help.

In other news, four people have so far been arrested today in connection with the special prosecutor’s investigation into Landsbanki…

[continues at Icenews.is]

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Icelandic Parliament Member Saves Giant Boulder He Claims Is Home To Elves

index.phpHere in the United States, politics rarely places much importance on the well-being of non-human living creatures, so the Icelandic parliament's concern for elves is quite touching. The Iceland Review writes:
MP for the Independence Party Árni Johnsen arranged for the relocation of a 30-ton boulder, which he believes is home to three generations of elves, from southwest Iceland to his home Höfðaból in the Westman Islands today. Arni first encountered the elves’ dwelling when he was in a serious car accident in January 2010. His car overturned and landed beside the boulder. “I had Ragnhildur Jónsdóttir, a specialist in the affairs of elves, come look at the boulder with me,” recollected Árni. “It was incredible, she had never met three generations of elves in the same boulder before...She said an elderly couple lives on the upper floor but a young couple with three children on the lower floor."
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Icelanders Avoid Inbreeding Through Online Incest Database

Ingólfr ArnarsonSo says Samantha Grossman in TIME:

Nowadays, some light Internet stalking is as common a pre-date ritual as showering or putting on a clean shirt. But for Icelanders, that online screening process can include running a date’s name through an incest database.

Sound ridiculous? Consider this: when you live in an isolated nation with a population roughly the size of Pittsburgh, accidentally lusting after a cousin is an all-too-real possibility. But a search engine called Íslendingabók (the Book of Icelanders) allows users to plug in their own name alongside that of a prospective mate, determining any familial overlap. The site claims to track 1,200 years of genealogical information about the island’s inhabitants. Anyone with an Icelandic ID number — that is, citizens and legal residents — is accounted for, the New York Daily News reports.

Not only can the site rule out courtships that might be a bit too close for comfort, but also it helps users determine if they share family ties with any famous Icelanders.

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Iceland Declares Independence From International Banks

Parliament Building in Reykjavík, Iceland.

Parliament Building in Reykjavík, Iceland.

Bill Wilson writes at NetRightDaily:

Iceland is free. And it will remain so, so long as her people wish to remain autonomous of the foreign domination of her would-be masters — in this case, international bankers.

On April 9, the fiercely independent people of island-nation defeated a referendum that would have bailed out the UK and the Netherlands who had covered the deposits of British and Dutch investors who had lost funds in Icesave bank in 2008.

At the time of the bank’s failure, Iceland refused to cover the losses. But the UK and Netherlands nonetheless have demanded that Iceland repay them for the “loan” as a condition for admission into the European Union.

In response, the Icelandic people have told Europe to go pound sand. The final vote was 103,207 to 69,462, or 58.9 percent to 39.7 percent. “Taxpayers should not be responsible for paying the debts of a private institution,” said Sigriur Andersen, a spokeswoman for the Advice group that opposed the bailout.

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Iceland Uses Social Media to Write New Constitution

Coat Of Arms Of IcelandAaron Saenz writes on Singularity Hub:

The newest government in the world was designed with help from comments on the internet. God help us all.

After Iceland’s economic collapse in 2008, the island nation decided it was time to write a new constitution, this one not based on its parent country of Denmark but rather made from the original ideas of its citizens. Iceland’s small population of 320,000 elected 25 assembly members from 522 ordinary candidates (including lawyers, political science professors, journalists, and many other professions), who in turn opened their process up to the public in an unprecedented fashion.

The Constitutional Council was highly active on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Flickr, where they solicited comments and suggestions for the new government. On Friday July 29th, 2011, the Iceland parliament officially received the new constitution, comprised of 114 articles divided into 9 chapters. Set to be reviewed, and then put before vote for ratification by October 1st, the internet-assisted document marks a possible paradigm shift in governing.

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Iceland Considers Making Cigarettes Prescription-Only

Photo: Hendrike (CC)

Photo: Hendrike (CC)

Cigarettes seem like the last thing a doctor would prescribe, but Iceland may be moving to outlaw the sale of cigarettes in stores and only allowing pharmacists to dispense them. The proposal was written in hopes of reducing the amount of smokers and emphasizing the health concerns rather than the marketing tactics. Those with a prescription for cigarettes will be considered addicts getting the chemicals their bodies have become accustomed to. The Guardian reports:

Iceland is considering banning the sale of cigarettes and making them a prescription-only product.

The parliament in Reykjavik is to debate a proposal that would outlaw the sale of cigarettes in normal shops. Only pharmacies would be allowed to dispense them – initially to those aged 20 and up, and eventually only to those with a valid medical certificate.

The radical initiative is part of a 10-year plan that also aims to ban smoking in all public places, including pavements and parks, and in cars where children are present.

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Welcome to Iceland: ‘Press Freedom Haven’

iceland_parliamnet_0WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange has been all over Scandinavia lately. First a columnist position for a Swedish tabloid, now he’s in Iceland to help parliament protect the freedom of speech in the media. From RTÉ:

After Iceland’s near-economic collapse laid bare deep-seated corruption, the country aims to become a safe haven for journalists and whistleblowers from around the globe by creating the world’s most far-reaching freedom of information legislation.

The project is being developed with the help of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

It flies in the face of a growing tendency of governments trying to stifle a barrage of secret and sometimes embarrassing information made readily available by the internet.

On 16 June a unanimous parliament voted in favour of the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, a resolution aimed at protecting investigative journalists and their sources.

‘We took all the best laws from around the world and pulled them together, just like tax havens do, in order to create freedom of information and expression, a transparency haven,’ Birgitta Jonsdottir, the member of parliament behind the initiative, said.

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Top Bank Executives In Iceland Jailed, Sued For Billions

jon-asgeir-johannesson2Yet another instance in which the United States could learn something from our Scandinavian brethren: In Iceland, bank executives who helped bring about the nation’s financial meltdown are being rounded up and jailed, issued international arrest warrants, and sued for billions of dollars. AFP reports:

More than a year and a half after Iceland’s major banks failed, all but sinking the country’s economy, police have begun rounding up a number of top bankers while other former executives and owners face a two-billion-dollar lawsuit.

On Wednesday, the administrators of Glitnir’s liquidation announced they had filed a two-billion-dollar (1.6-billion-euro) lawsuit in a New York court against former large shareholders and executives for alleged fraud.

Four former Kaupthing executives, who all live in Luxembourg, have meanwhile been arrested in Iceland in the past week and Interpol has issued an international arrest warrant for that bank’s ex-chairman, Sigurdur Einarsson.

Former head of the bank’s domestic operations, Ingolfur Helgason, and former chief risk officer Steingrimur Karason were arrested late Monday on arrival from Luxembourg, just days after former Kaupthing boss Hreidar Mar Sigurdsson, along with Magnus Gudmunsson, who headed the bank’s unit in Luxembourg, were taken into custody.

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Amazing Northern Lights Show Over Erupting Iceland Volcano (Photo)

Major props to “ice,” an Icelandic photographer with one very cool collection of photos of the current volcanic eruption in Iceland. Not so cool is that the volcanic ash in the air over northern Europe has stopped all UK air traffic, so for anyone planning to meet the disinformation crew at the London Book Fair next week, stay tuned…

Here’s the pick of the crop of photos, showing the Northern Lights a/k/a Aurora Borealis:

(c) 2010 Ice - shown here in reduced size as fair use.

(c) 2010 "Ice" - shown here in reduced size as fair use.

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