BRIGHTER, BUT BIZARRE, HOLIDAY HIGHLIGHTS: Advent in Longyearbyen starts w/ letters, lights, lyrics – and looney laws

BRIGHTER, BUT BIZARRE, HOLIDAY HIGHLIGHTS: Advent in Longyearbyen starts w/ letters, lights, lyrics – and looney laws

An idyllic snowy, yet mild and mostly windless, first Sunday of Advent in the world’s northernmost town was full of traditional celebrations to mark the start of the holiday season – but More »

CELEBRATING CHRISTMAS AT WHATEVER IS YOUR SPEED: Full stocking of lively and leisurely traditional Svalbard events gets going, even in this year gone viral

CELEBRATING CHRISTMAS AT WHATEVER IS YOUR SPEED: Full stocking of lively and leisurely traditional Svalbard events gets going, even in this year gone viral

Outside in the snow and wind there were racers, both fleet of foot and strolling with strollers. Inside a city made of cookies crafted by homebodies in cozy kitchens got underway from More »

AVALANCHE ON ROAD TO MINE 7: Governor urges caution after fresh snow and high winds create unstable coniditions

AVALANCHE ON ROAD TO MINE 7: Governor urges caution after fresh snow and high winds create unstable coniditions

Screenshot from Kjetil@obskorps/regobs.no. An avalanche along the road leading to Mine 7 observed by a snowplough driver Saturday morning is prompting The Governor of Svalbard to issue an advisory to people travelling More »

25M KR. IN COVID-19 TOURISM AID FOR SVALBARD: Norway’s government OK’s extra funds to help devastated industry

25M KR. IN COVID-19 TOURISM AID FOR SVALBARD: Norway’s government OK’s extra funds to help devastated industry

After months of pleas from Longyearbyen tourism companies, many saying they are weeks from bankruptcy, Norway’s government on Thursday announced it is providing an extra 25 million kroner in COVID-19 crisis aid More »

NO CHARGES IN DRUGGED BEAR’S DEATH: Autopsy shows polar bear tranqilized for research tagging apparently drowned when its head ended up in water, governor rules

NO CHARGES IN DRUGGED BEAR’S DEATH: Autopsy shows polar bear tranqilized for research tagging apparently drowned when its head ended up in water, governor rules

A polar bear that died in September while in the process of being “tagged” by researchers likely drowned when its head ended up in a pool of water, The Governor of Svalbard announced More »

 

‘EVERYTHING IS ALMOST NORMAL FOR NOW’: Local post office still receiving most mail despite strike by security workers, some packages may be sent by boat if strike continues

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A strike by security employees that had postal officials warning it would “paralyze” mail and packages to Svalbard is so far having little practical impact since items are being sent via commercial flights, Longyearbyen Post Office Manager Terje Gjeitnes said Wednesday.

UNIS REOPENING – FOR THOSE WILLING TO PUT IN THE LONG HOURS: University says semester-long classes will resume in January, but shorter master/PhD courses cancelled

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The University Centre in Svalbard is planning to resume classes in January despite a resurgence in COVID-19 cases across Europe and elsewhere, but only semester-long classes will be offered due to complications presented by quarantine requirements for arriving students and precautionary requirements during field work, the university announced in a press release Tuesday.

“PARALYZED” POST DUE TO STRIKE: Strike expansion by security workers means some Svalbard mail and packages can’t get required scanning; medicines still arriving

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(Original story from Sunday updated to reflect expanded strike now occurring)

An expansion of a strike by security workers for Posten Norge means many packages and other mail destined for Svalbard are on hold because they cannot receive the require screening for air transport, although an alternative is place for pharmaceuticals and other critical items, officials said Tuesday.

SEXLESS ‘STATE’ GOVERNMENT: Language Council recommends Sysselmannen (‘governor’) be renamed Svalbard Syssel (‘country subdivision’) to meet gender-neutral requirement

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Due to Svalbard’s version of gender identity politics there will no longer be a Sysselmannen (translation: “governor”) as of Jan. 1, with Norway’s government recommending the person/office presiding over the archipelago be referred to as Svalbard Syssel (translation: “Svalbard state” – more or less).

HOT AND WET IN THE DARK: New high temperature record for Svalbard as area between Longyearbyen and Svea goes from 3.9C to 9.4C between midnight and 1 a.m. Thursday

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A year where the weather in Svalbard is as extreme as the rest of the surreality of 2020 set another record early Thursday morning as the temperature in an area between Longyearbyen and Svea rose from 3.9 degrees Celsius at midnight to all-time high for the archipelago on this date of 9.4 degrees, according to the Norwegian Meteorological Institute.

(UN)REALIABLE POLAR BEAR RADAR RUMOR: News report says Longyearbyen Camping getting AI-based system after fatal polar bear attack; (UPDATE: turns out the report was false)

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UPDATE 5 p.m.: The news article cited is inaccurate due to a misunderstanding by the radar programmer who spoke to a Longyearbyen resident, not a city official, about the possibility of putting the system at the campsite. Story below is updated with details.

A widely-published claim Longyearbyen Camping is getting a polar bear tracking system quickly ended up on the radar of the campsite’s owner and city officials – who said they knew nothing about it – but it turns out the story was “fake news.”

Norway is proposing a total heavy oil ban for Svalbard – here’s the reactions as it also fights in court for its right to Arctic oil drilling happening just beyond the archipelago’s boundaries

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An expanded ban on ships using heavy oil in all of Svalbard’s waters, instead of just designated nature areas, is generally earning praise from environmentalists after being proposed by Norway’s government this past week.

But as the government awaits public input from other interests the environmentalists are using the proposal to highlight other “hypocritical” government activities such as oil drilling in the region that’s the subject of a landmark lawsuit occurring as the proposal was announced.

LETHARGIC BEAR LINGERING: Polar bear spotted Sunday still (slowly) wandering around Adventdalen without disrupting much, but extra caution urged due to near-total darkness

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Photo by Marcel Schütz

A polar bear first spotted near Longyearbyen on Saturday is still lingering two days later in Adventdalen, where it’s not moving around much or disturbing much, according to observers and The Governor of Svalbard.

IT’S SNOW JOKE: Governor issues avalanche warning after snowslides in mountains south of town despite scant snow – but if you see lots of rescuers in the area today don’t panic

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There’s little snow on the ground, but there’s still enough to trigger several small avalanches in the Lars Hiertafjellet/Trollsteinen area south of Longyearbyen, prompting The Governor of Svalbard to issue an alert Monday about travel in the area.

Adding to that bit of odd news is another item with odd timing, as local Red Cross volunteers are planning a search and rescue exercise Tuesday evening in the Huset/Nybyen area near the base of the “avalanche zone.”

ESCAPING THE ‘END OF AMERICA?’ Is Svalbard still the easiest refuge for U.S. residents fleeing because the ‘wrong’ person won the election? And can ‘both sides’ find a happy haven?

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Regardless of the bold “Biden wins” headlines, the official winner of the U.S. presidential election won’t be known for weeks (because lawsuits and “the process”). But one certainty is it’s “the end of America” if the wrong guy wins – in the mindset of an unhealthy percentage of both those on the Trump train and Biden backers.