Controversial French explorer convicted fined 40K for illegal boat voyage in Svalbard; he says he will appeal

Controversial French explorer convicted fined 40K for illegal boat voyage in Svalbard; he says he will appeal

A French explorer waging a war of accusations against Norway’s government since being detained in northeast Svalbard during a boat trip last fall was convicted Tuesday and ordered to pay 40,000 kroner for More »

Briefs from Svalbardposten for the week of March 21, 2017

Briefs from Svalbardposten for the week of March 21, 2017

Store Norske hoping to build 21 new housing complexes Store Norske is hoping to ease Longyearbyen’s sudden housing shortage by building new apartment buildings in Gruvedalen in an accelerated process beginning this spring, More »

Burning up: Local environmentalists tell Norway’s government not to bring Arctic oil to a firefight

Burning up: Local environmentalists tell Norway’s government not to bring Arctic oil to a firefight

They were forced to give ground to Mother Nature’s Arctic persona before making their objections heard. Their hope is those targeted by the protests will make similar concessions – or be forced More »

Guess who’s in the house? Workers aren’t sure where they can live after latest avalanches redefines ‘community in transition’

Guess who’s in the house? Workers aren’t sure where they can live after latest avalanches redefines ‘community in transition’

Eighteen months ago there were scary headlines about Longyearbyen losing 30 percent of its population and panicky questions about who would fill all those empty homes where laid off coal miners recently lived. More »

Doggonit, what’s that plane doing here? Air Force craft lingers in Longyearbyen after bringing dogs for police training

Doggonit, what’s that plane doing here? Air Force craft lingers in Longyearbyen after bringing dogs for police training

Yes, that’s a Royal Norwegian Air Force plane that’s been parked at Svalbard Airport since Sunday and, yes, the police are taking a serious interest in the matter – but not because More »

 

Breaking borders: European Parliament ends visa-free travel in EU for U.S. residents; may mean trouble for Olso stopovers

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U.S. residents traveling to/from Svalbard appear highly likely to be affected if a European Parliament decision to end visa-free travel in Europe for U.S. residents takes effect. While Svalbard is outside the EU travel zone, most travelers usually have an overnight stopover in Oslo or other European city.

Fair ye tale: Community joins sun in making light out of darkness during this year’s Solfestuka

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The weather’s been too hot. The mining facilities are too cold. But for those kicking off this Solfestuka the madness of the past year is hopefully just right.

Cut off: Emergency, regular phone numbers fail at Longyearbyen Hospital during avalanche

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Both the emergency and regular phone numbers at Longyearbyen Hospital were inoperative during immediately after the avalanche a week ago Tuesday that destroyed two apartment buildings, according to High North News.

Deadliest force: Reseachers hope to improve avalanche-risk awareness with network of snowfall measuring devices

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You might think polar bears – and the potential for attack – are the biggest danger the Norwegian island archipelago of Svalbard. But avalanches kill far more people on Svalbard than polar bears ever have.

Random weirdness for the week of Feb 28, 2017

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To the many in Longyearbyen who suddenly have no address, a Very Special Letter arrived a few days ago. Actually, it’s to the “people of Longyearbyen,” but they wouldn’t have gotten it if not for some persistence by the sender and local postal officials since it was mailed to our editor who’s among those evacuated (not the first time we’ve made that inside journalism joke this week) after Tuesday’s avalanche.

Chilling conclusion: UNIS says faulty boat, last-second travel plans and safety training factors in manfunction at sea malfunction

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A boat with a weak design, last-minute travel plan changes and a lack of proper safety training resulted in a dozen people being stranded and soaked on the icy sea between Barentsburg and Longyearbyen last month, according to an internal investigation by The University Centre in Svalbard.

Flake media: ‘Scientists Add 50,000 Seeds to Arctic Doomsday Vault Because Everything Is Awful’

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The eyes of the world – or at least the press – were on Svalbard last week. But it was future destruction, not the avalanche that destroyed homes and the psyche of residents, that generated headlines.

And most of the lamestream media buried the most interesting aspect of that “other” story.

ALERT: Two avalanches occur near Longyearbyen, officials say nobody trapped

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A large avalanche early Sunday afternoon blocked a snowmobile trail on Hiorthfjellet across from Longyearbyen, but emergency officials said nobody was caught in it. A second subsequent avalanche in the area soon after also apparently trapped no people.

Quest for the top: Denied chance to seek the North Pole, French explorer is going after Norway’s government for stopping him

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Gilles Elkaim’s latest dream is an epic quest to the North Pole in the spirit of Fridtjof Nansen. But the longtime French explorer’s free-thinking ways are considered a crime in Svalbard, so he’s following in the footsteps of the historic Norwegian explorer in another way: waging a very public war on what he calls cruel government repression.

Wasted on cracks: One year after hasty evacuation of Gamle Sykehuset evacuees’ hopes crumbing with the building

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(Author’s note: I planned to write a “straight” news article about last year’s sudden and drastic evacuation of Gamle Sykehuset, but this week’s avalanche and my once again going through what I did in that building sort of screwed that up. These are my thoughts as one of the evacuees a year later supplemented with factual updates from Svalbardposten, which did exceptional coverage despite being swamped with the avalanche. You’ll have to buy a 30-kroner daypass to read it, but since I’m quoting it I obviously consider it worthy.)

A year after being hastily forced out of my home permanently for the first time, only one thing is certain: the living room of the flat I was in must be pretty drafty during storms these days.