Random weirdness for the week of Oct. 15, 2019

Random weirdness for the week of Oct. 15, 2019

Which of these is fake news: 1) A luxury “igloo” hotel at the North Pole for $105,000 a night, 2) a luxury “blimp” hotel at the North Pole for $80,000 a night More »

LABOR OUTMANEUVERS LIBERALS: Incumbents keep council majority by luring Conservative and Progressive parties

LABOR OUTMANEUVERS LIBERALS: Incumbents keep council majority by luring Conservative and Progressive parties

The Labor Party is set to extend its 16-year leadership of the Longyearbyen Community Council for another four years by forming a majority with the Conservative and Progress parties, who say they didn’t More »

Briefs from Svalbardposten for the week of Oct. 8, 2019

Briefs from Svalbardposten for the week of Oct. 8, 2019

Court: ‘Hidden defects’ mean owners of condemned Gamle Sykehuset flat can get refund The owners of an apartment at Gamle Sykehuset, which city officials condemned in 2016 due to massive damage caused by More »

WHEN BALLOTS GO BONKERS: How did Liberals narrow the vote gap with Labor, yet lose a council seat? Say hello to the Webster/Sainte-Laguë method

WHEN BALLOTS GO BONKERS: How did Liberals narrow the vote gap with Labor, yet lose a council seat? Say hello to the Webster/Sainte-Laguë method

The simple version is Labor Party supporters were more inclined to be straight-ticket voters, while those inclined toward the Liberal Party spread more of their votes among other parties. That’s how the Labor More »

MASSIVE ‘DOOMSDAY’ IMPACT: Svalbard seed vault named 10th most-influential project of past 50 years, topping Google, Harry Potter, Disney World and the International Space Station

MASSIVE ‘DOOMSDAY’ IMPACT: Svalbard seed vault named 10th most-influential project of past 50 years, topping Google, Harry Potter, Disney World and the International Space Station

The decade-old “Doomsday Vault,” despite its infamous leakage due to major design flaws and “use only in case of Armageddon” intent, has had more global impact than far better-known breakthroughs such as Google, Star Wars, More »

 

ELECTION 2019 – LAST STANDS: Parties and candidates out in force with fliers and swag a day before vote; here’s the ‘unfiltered’ version of their pitches to voters

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Voters found themselves facing a truly difficult choice considering the city’s chilly situation: get warmth from waffles from the incumbents, a head/neck scarf from their main opposition or coffee from the kingmakers?

Or they could rough it either with the folks most inclined embrace nature naturally or the newcomers seeking to be naysayers.

All five political parties on the ballot gathered in front of Svalbardbutikken on Saturday to make last-minute pitches before the Longyearbyen Community Council election Sunday and Monday. The three parties with the most current members (Labor, Conservative and Liberal) set up tables with food and/or swag to hand out along with campaign brochures, while the Green and Progress parties opted for the simpler approach of members merely handing out their literature.

ELECTION 2019: These folks want to lead a town that’s in meltdown, so it’s wise to ask what the hell they’re thinking

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The left-leaning incumbents are proud of presiding over four disastrous years. The Greens are OK with coal mining. The “anti-immigrant” party says they’re offering the strongest embrace of foreign residents.

Plus there’s the Conservatives who probably should have been in charge the past four years and the Liberals who kept that from happening by opting for a bit of legal bribery from those left-leaning incumbents.

One of those five parties – or some combination of them – is going to rule the town after Monday. As the contrasts and ironies above show, party names and general platforms aren’t always consistent with what voters from mainland Norway may be familiar with, to say nothing of those from other countries.

EXPANDING THOSE PERSONAL BOUNDARIES: 3rd annual Smak Svalbard allows folks of all tastes under big tent – and beyond

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Yeah, there’s an election with a lot of divisive issues starting Sunday, but until then people of all persuasions are being invited into the big tent to support a party based on that unquestioningly universally supported platform known as eating.

Which isn’t to say there isn’t a wide variety of candidates ranging from a bus tour serving locally grown greens to a formal five-course king crab, or that some are controversial (sheep heads and whale, for starters) during the third annual Smak Svalbard festival. But such diversity also means the world’s northernmost food festival gets to expand its big tent offerings – literally, since the mentioned meals and many more events are taking place at locations around Longyearbyen between Thursday and Sunday.

‘STRONGEST GROWTH RECORDED SINCE 2009’: Longyearbyen and Ny-Ålesund population hits 2,379, up 121 during first half of 2019

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Population totals continue to be promising for those hoping Svalbard’s Norwegian settlements can thrive in a post-coal era, with the 121 new residents in Longyearbyen and Ny-Ålesund during the first half of 2019 representing the largest half-year increase since 2009, according to Statistics Norway.

The figures are less encouraging for the government’s stated goal of making Longyearbyen more of a “normal” Norwegian family community, as the latest figures show 36 percent of the 2,379 residents in the two settlements are foreigners – continuing a steady growth from the 14 percent in 2009 – and the ratio of single-person households remains far above the mainland’s. But Statistics Norway notes the influx of foreigners is slower so far this year compared to Norwegians.

MILITARY OR MEDIA – WHO’S THE AGENT PROVOCATEUR? Russia blasts report of its special forces in Svalbard as ‘fake news’

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One thing’s certain: somebody’s committing what is being called a “gross provocation” involving illegal military might in Svalbard. The question is whether it involves actual military – specifically, Russian special forces supposedly occupying Svalbard and mainland Norway recently – or the news organization falsely reporting the latest in a series of stories about simulated invasions of the archipelago.

RUSSIA EASILY CONQUERS SVALBARD, YET AGAIN: Had this been an actual invasion you wouldn’t be reading this since SvalSat and subsea communications were among targets

A daring, well-organized and tech-savvy mass of Russia military might asserted its vast superiority against its northern Norwegian neighbors by easily conquering the disputed territory of Svalbard

OK, in what’s become roughly akin to the latest release in a paperback techo-thriller series, that part of the narrative is predictable. So this year’s plot highlights achievements such as attacking the archipelago’s all-important communications facilities, keeping people here and helpful military folks elsewhere from being able to do much of anything useful.

CHARITY IS SUCH A BURDEN: Racers in hazmat suits, prison chains and other extras kick off month-long effort to help vulnerable women worldwide as part of national TV auction

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Berit Vasstrand wasn’t a prisoner trying to make a quick getaway (like that’d be possible with the ball and chain attached to her wrist over a full-body striped outfit). Instead, as an employee for Svalbard’s governor (but not, as one might guess, a police officer), she and some coworkers were out to help unknown women suffering elsewhere by taking on a challenge that might be dubbed Bureaucrats Bearing Burdens.

‘WE KNOW MORE THAN OUR PARENTS’: Youths at world’s northernmost climate strike say they’re living what older people have failed to learn

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Lina Engås Vikaune, 11, is growing up in consistently warmer temperatures where winters keep arriving later, but by participating in the northernmost of about 3,000 worldwide climate strikes Friday is obviously a brainwashed delinquent being abused by government school propagandists. Or something like that, in the opinion of many she was hoping to reach with a handmade polar bear protest sign and a few shouted chants.

BE NOT THAT AFRAID: Yes, a polar bear (or two) is lurking near town Saturday – but that’s NOT why this helicopter is rattling roofs

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Locals missed out on dozens of dogs yelping, but there were a few cases of the yipes at noon Saturday as residents wondering if a polar bear lurking near town was the reason a rescue helicopter was perched on the ridge of Sukkartoppen a short distance above homes.

Short answer: no. Somewhat longer answer: Click the blue box below.

FIERCE FALL: Yet more cabins ransacked by polar bear, field research cancelled near Longyearbyen due to bear visits

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A trend of late summer/early fall visits by polar bears near Longyearbyen is continuing in great numbers this year as the latest of many visits and intrusions into cabins was reported the past weekend and all field research in valleys near town was cancelled indefinitely Monday due to multiple recent bear visits.