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Andie Sophia Fontaine

Reykjavík, Iceland
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About Andie
Journalist at Iceland Review
Feature Stories Content Writing Research
Politics Current Affairs Investigative Reporting

What’s going on with the January 2024 eruption in Reykjanes?

14 Jan 2024  |  Iceland Review
On January 14, a volcanic eruption began near the town of Grindavík on the Reykjanes peninsula in Iceland, prompting the evacuation of the town the previous day due to seismic activity. The eruption is closer to Grindavík than the last eruption in December, with lava flows breaching defense walls and reaching residential areas, causing damage to infrastructure and homes. Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir has pledged support for the affected residents. Despite the eruption, travel to Iceland remains safe, with Keflavík International Airport and main highways unaffected. Tourist sites may be closed, and the eruption site is off-limits to the public. The Icelandic Red Cross is accepting donations for those affected. For updates on the situation, the public can refer to the Icelandic Met Office, the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration, Safe Travel, and Isavia.

Iceland’s Ruling Coalition Likely to Continue

01 Oct 2023  |  euronews
Iceland's coalition government, consisting of the Left-Green Movement, the conservative Independence Party, and the centre-right Progressive Party, is likely to continue after gaining a majority in the recent parliamentary elections. Despite predictions of a left-leaning victory, the centre-right parties gained more support. The Independence Party and the Progressive Party, holding 29 seats, may form a new government without the Left-Greens, potentially with the Reform Party or the People’s Party. A recount in the Northwest District led to a decrease in the number of women in parliament, falling short of a majority. The election results also suggest a conservative approach to issues like healthcare and the economy, with less likelihood of constitutional reform or EU accession talks resuming. Climate change was a significant issue but did not result in increased support for parties advocating for more aggressive carbon emission cuts.

Sandra Ósk Eysteinsdóttir of Reykjavík Pride on why the Rainbow Conference matters.

07 Aug 2023  |  GayIceland
The article features an interview with Sandra Ósk Eysteinsdóttir, a board member of Reykjavík Pride, discussing the significance of the Rainbow Conference during the Pride event. The conference aims to address the challenges faced by the queer community in Iceland, including backlash, queer rights, and hate crimes. Sandra emphasizes the importance of discussing pressing issues affecting marginalized individuals within the queer community, such as trans people and those using 'they/them' pronouns. The conference will cover a range of topics, including disability, sports, refugees, and youth in relation to queerness. Sandra also touches on the perception of Iceland as a queer-friendly country, acknowledging that while it may be easier for some, like lesbians, it's not the same for all queer individuals, especially those who stand out. The Rainbow Conference is seen as a step towards building a better society for the queer community.

The Double-Edged Sword Of Visibility: Iceland’s Rising Anti-Trans Rhetoric

25 Jun 2023  |  The Reykjavik Grapevine
The article discusses the rise of anti-trans rhetoric in Iceland and Norway, despite both being among the most queer-friendly countries. It highlights a recent violent attack in Oslo, Norway, and the subsequent solidarity rally in Iceland. The piece explores the role of Icelandic media in shaping public attitudes towards trans people, citing instances where national media outlets have published anti-trans opinion pieces. Interviews with various stakeholders, including the president of Iceland's largest trans organization, an academic, an activist, and a lawmaker, reveal concerns about the safety of trans people, particularly in the healthcare system. The article also addresses the legal aspects of hate speech and the importance of allyship in combating transphobia. It emphasizes the need for education, challenging transphobic views, and active support for trans rights to prevent hate from escalating.

Is This Even Legal? The Directorate Of Immigration Under Fire

05 Apr 2023  |  The Reykjavik Grapevine
The Directorate of Immigration (ÚTL) in Iceland faced criticism after evicting asylum seekers and denying them services for refusing to assist in their own deportations to Greece. The Immigration Appeals Board (KNÚ) ruled these actions unlawful. The article includes interviews with affected asylum seekers from Gaza and discussions with legal experts on the legality of deportations to Greece under Icelandic law and the Dublin Regulation. Calls for reform or closure of ÚTL and the resignation of the Minister of Justice Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir are mentioned. The article also touches on the asylum seekers' desire for a normal life and the challenges they faced in Greece. The Grapevine, facing financial difficulties due to the impact of Coronavirus on tourism, encourages readers to support their journalism.

The New Constitution: Iceland’s Second Revolution

01 Apr 2023  |  The Reykjavik Grapevine
The article discusses Iceland's efforts to draft a new constitution following the country's economic collapse in 2008. The current constitution, largely unchanged since 1874, is seen as outdated. A grassroots effort led to the creation of a Constitutional Assembly and a National Forum in 2009 and 2010, respectively, to gather public input. Despite a referendum in 2012 where 66.3% of voters supported a new constitution based on the draft, the process has stalled due to low voter turnout, legal challenges, and resistance from Parliament and business interests. Key figures like human rights lawyer Katrín Oddsdóttir and Helga Baldvins Bjargardóttir of the Women’s Association for the New Constitution express frustration at the lack of progress and the systemic forces opposing change. The proposed constitution includes provisions for national ownership of natural resources, equal voting rights, and the ability for the public to demand referendums on legislation. The article highlights the importance of the new constitution for Iceland's future, especially in light of the current recession and pandemic.

What’s at stake in Iceland's general election?

24 Sep 2021  |  euronews
The article discusses the upcoming parliamentary elections in Iceland, highlighting the key issues and the political landscape. Health care, the economy, and climate change are the main concerns for Icelandic voters. The current coalition government, led by the Leftist-Green Movement, is facing a tight race, with the possibility of a multi-party government being formed due to the diverse support for nine parties. The election could be historic, potentially resulting in a coalition of four or more parties, which is unusual for Iceland. The next government will also decide on the fate of Iceland's draft for a new constitution and whether to resume EU accession talks. The article provides an overview of the different political parties' positions on these issues.

From Iceland — Being Nonbinary: In Iceland And Everywhere

06 Aug 2021  |  The Reykjavik Grapevine
The article discusses the recognition and challenges of nonbinary individuals in Iceland. It features interviews with three nonbinary Icelanders, Ari Logn, Regn Sólmundur Evu, and Reyn Alpha Magnúsar, who share their personal experiences and the societal challenges they face. The term 'nonbinary' is explained as an umbrella term for gender identities outside the male-female binary. Despite legal recognition in Iceland, such as the X gender marker and relaxed naming laws, nonbinary individuals still confront societal challenges, including the gendered nature of the Icelandic language and a lack of representation and education. The interviewees express the need for societal change, including more diverse nonbinary representation and a more inclusive language. The article also touches on the impact of the Coronavirus on tourism in Iceland and its effect on the Grapevine's ability to operate, encouraging readers to support the publication.

From Iceland — The High Cost Of Living: Renting And Being Foreign In Reykjavik

18 Jan 2021  |  The Reykjavik Grapevine
The article discusses the challenges faced by immigrants in securing affordable housing in Reykjavík, Iceland. It highlights the high demand and low supply in the rental market, which has led to a steady increase in rental costs. Immigrants, often earning minimum wage, are caught in a financial catch-22, unable to secure housing loans due to being on a credit blacklist for unpaid bills. The article also touches on the unethical practice of employers providing overpriced and poor-condition housing to immigrant workers. The impact of AirBnB on the rental market is examined, showing how it has reduced long-term rental availability and contributed to rising property values. Social housing is presented as a solution, but the current system is criticized for being difficult to qualify for and having a long waiting list. The article calls for better education on housing rights for immigrants and legislative changes to address the issues in the rental market.

How Iceland’s Protest Laws Are Being Used Against Protestors

25 Nov 2020  |  The Reykjavik Grapevine
The article discusses the state of protests in Iceland, highlighting the tension between police powers and the rights of protestors. It focuses on Article 19 of the Law on Police, which has been used to arrest peaceful protestors, and the narrow interpretation of this law by Icelandic courts. Activists Elínborg Harpa Önundardóttir and Borys Ejryszew, who have been advocating for refugees, faced charges for violating Article 19. The article also covers the role of the Directorate of Immigration (ÚTL) in blocking protests, the historical significance of Austurvöllur as a protest site, and the varying police responses to demonstrations. Lawyers Helga Baldvins Bjargardóttir and Sigrún Ingibjörg Gísladóttir argue that the Icelandic legal system's interpretation of Article 19 is too broad and does not align with European human rights laws. The article also touches on the challenges faced by the defense in accessing evidence and the high threshold for appeals, which can have a chilling effect on the right to protest. The need for legal reform to ensure the right to protest and freedom of expression in Iceland is emphasized.

From Iceland — Songs Of The Dammed: Hvalárvirkjun And The Future Of Árneshreppur

13 Jul 2018  |  The Reykjavik Grapevine
The article discusses the economic and infrastructural disparities between the booming Reykjavík area and the rural northwest shire of Árneshreppur in Iceland. It focuses on the proposed hydroelectric project, Hvalárvirkjun, which has divided the community of Árneshreppur. Supporters argue it will bring jobs and infrastructure, while opponents fear it will destroy the natural beauty and benefit foreign interests more than the local community. The article explores the perspectives of various stakeholders, including local residents, municipal board members, and environmentalists. It also touches on the broader implications of rural development, the preservation of natural landscapes, and the potential impact of energy projects on small communities.

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