things that make the news in iceland: thirsty prisoners, clumsy thieves, and more bieber

It’s that time again, friends: time for a roundup of the latest strange and absurd news from this little Atlantic outcropping, plus the requisite dose of Bieber shenanigans.

“Prisoners want red wine with their meals” (

Prisoners at Kvíabryggja, a minimum-security prison in Grundarfjörður, have reportedly demanded that they be allowed to consume red wine and other alcoholic beverages with their meals, at least on special occasions. Kvíabryggja is reportedly home to some of the criminals responsible for the 2008 banking crash (I’m too lazy to confirm this beyond this article, which confirms that former Kaupthing co-owner Ólafur Ólafsson resides at Kvíabryggja). As stated in the article, though, all prisoners in the penal system, regardless of their crimes, must follow the same rules. So it looks like the bankers won’t be sipping merlot any time soon.

“Thief threatens Breiðholt family: wants items he accidentally left behind after break-in” (

A thief who broke into a home in Breiðholt (an area of Reykjavík) early Tuesday morning accidentally left behind a sweater and jacket. A family of four lives in the home, and the father successfully chased away the thief, but not before he threatened them with a knife and threw a brick through a window in the children’s bedroom.

A couple days later, the father got a text message from the thief saying he had left his sweater and jacket at the house and planned to return to retrieve them. Apparently the father contacted the police, who showed little interest and concern and told him to just go ahead and meet the guy and then get back in touch.

Update: The plot thickens! “Family threatened by thief receives some of the stolen goods back along with an apology”

Apparently actress Ýrr Baldursdóttir, shocked and horrified by the story of this robbery, decided to take matters into her own hands. She contacted the family and asked them for the thief’s phone number. She then contacted the thief and told him he should return the stolen goods. This seems to have gone over well, as the next day Ýrr and her friend Gilbert went to the thief’s home and retrieved a good portion of the loot.

The actress was reportedly “reluctant” to discuss the matter with the media for fear that people would assume she did it for the attention, but she did share the following with DV:

“Vandinn var að allir hlutir voru ekki á sama stað og innbrotsþjófurinn náði ekki í vin sinn sem geymdi rest en hann lofaði að koma öllu til skila. Einhvern veginn í minni barnalegu trú eða löngun geri ég ráð fyrir að flestir séu gott fólk en misjafnlega á sig komnir, og þurfi bara að sjá að hægt sé að leysa málin áður en í óefni er komið. Hingað til hefur þetta farið fallega fram og vel fyrir alla og ég vona að svo verði með afganginn.”

“The problem was that all the items were not in the same place and the thief couldn’t get in touch with his friend who was keeping the rest, but he promised to return everything. Somehow in my childish faith or desire, I think most people are good people and simply need to realize it’s possible to solve the problem before the situation gets worse. So far this process has gone well for everyone involved and I hope the rest will resolve itself in the same manner.”

No word yet on whether the thief has received his sweater and jacket back.

“Crafty cat steals striped clothes in Vesturbær” (

In other theft-related news, a literal cat burglar has been stealing striped clothes from unsuspecting Vesturbær residents. Ljósa, a lovely orange and white cat, has a clear preference for striped garments, generally choosing socks and mittens, although she did recently bring home her first pair of knickers.

Perhaps someone should conduct a study to determine whether orange cats are more likely to display kleptomaniacal tendencies. There are at least two orange felines with a particular penchant for this type of thievery, the other being Snorri the Portlandian cat who steals his neighbors’ shoes, gloves, hats, and stuffed animals. Snorri seems to operate at a much higher level than Ljósa, though, as his owner routinely has to gather his loot in a wheelbarrow and push it around the neighborhood, returning items one by one to their rightful owners. In the video accompanying this news article, you can witness Snorri hunt a flip-flop.

“Naked photos of Justin Bieber cause a stir” (

Sorry, but with Justin Bieber media coverage, there’s always more where that came from. This was a particularly, erm, attention-grabbing article. It appeared in my Facebook newsfeed with a startling rear-view photo of naked Biebs, taken while he was in Bora Bora.

Remember how I stated in my previous Bieber coverage that he would forevermore be referred to as “Íslandsvinur” (“a friend of Iceland”)? Here’s the first sentence of this article:

Íslandsvinurinn og stórstjarnan Justin Bieber hefur enn á ný stolið fyrirsögnum fjölmiðla beggja vegna Atlantsála.”

“Friend of Iceland and superstar Justin Bieber has again stolen headlines on both sides of the Atlantic.”

Notice that “friend of Iceland” is mentioned BEFORE “superstar.” You can see what the Icelandic media considers most important.

It’s worth (roughly) translating a bit more of the article, I think:

“Ófáir, ekki síst Íslendingar, hafa velt því fyrir sér hvernig popparann sé vaxinn suður á bóginn á síðustu misserum eftir að myndir af honum á nærbuxunum einum klæða fóru á flakk.

Það gerði til að mynda Vala Grand fyrir skemmstu sem sagði að ekkert samræmi væri á milli þeirrar bungu sem Bieber skartaði í myndatöku fyrir fataframleiðandann Calvin Klein hér um árið og þeirri sem fylgdi honum upp úr íslenskri lækjarsprænu á dögunum. Gekk hún svo langt að segja að um hrein og bein „vörusvik“ væri að ræða.”

“More than a few, including plenty of Icelanders, have wondered in previous months how well the pop star is endowed after photos of him clad only in underwear started making the rounds.

Vala Grand, for one, considered the matter recently, and declared that the bulge Bieber sported in photo shoots for designer Calvin Klein is not consistent with that which followed him up out of an Icelandic stream several days ago. She went so far as to say that the matter at hand was a downright deception.”

The real question is, what filter did The Bieber decide would best accent his features?

Bónus language lesson: The word used in this article to refer to Bieber’s, ahem, goods, is bunga, which may be familiar as it is also part of the name Bárðarbunga, the volcano that made even more headlines than Bieber last year. Among the translations offered by are bulge, bump, elevation, and protuberance.

You’re welcome.

And that’s a wrap for now. I expect there will be plenty more absurd news to report within a matter of days, if not hours.