NIGHT LIGHT: Storytimes by international residents around town, an art legend’s 30th anniversary, a torchlight walk and hymns bring shine of Kunstpause to first all-dark weekend

NIGHT LIGHT: Storytimes by international residents around town, an art legend’s 30th anniversary, a torchlight walk and hymns bring shine of Kunstpause to first all-dark weekend

Don’t mistake the absence of sun for an absence of light. The last wisps of twilight are vanishing from Longyearbyen as the polar night takes full force, but bright-minded locals are again More »

FLEE FOR YOUR LIFE 101: Avalanche season is coming – overview of evacuation and other procedures offered by emergency officials Monday

FLEE FOR YOUR LIFE 101: Avalanche season is coming – overview of evacuation and other procedures offered by emergency officials Monday

If you haven’t experienced the adrenaline rush of being ordered to immediately abandon your home, recent history suggests it’s a near certainty if you’re living in certain areas during the coming winter. And your More »

FRIGHTENINGLY CLOSE: Longyearbyen continues 106-month streak w/ above average temps, but only by 0.9C in Oct.

FRIGHTENINGLY CLOSE: Longyearbyen continues 106-month streak w/ above average temps, but only by 0.9C in Oct.

The end of October sent plenty of chills through those in Longyearbyen, but it wasn’t quite enough to break a streak of above-average temperatures that’s now 106 months long. The difference of More »

HALLOWEEN’S A REAL CIRCUS: Sirkus Svalnardo offers costume collection for creepy community on a very dark day

HALLOWEEN’S A REAL CIRCUS: Sirkus Svalnardo offers costume collection for creepy community on a very dark day

Tor Snaprud, 10, is just getting together with classmates during the afternoon, but even then is a haunting time in Longyearbyen on the last day of October since there hasn’t been a sunrise for More »

POLITICIANS TARGET TOTS AND TOURISTS: Visitor tax, private kindergarten among priorities for new city council majority

POLITICIANS TARGET TOTS AND TOURISTS: Visitor tax, private kindergarten among priorities for new city council majority

A tax on tourists, separating the harbor from other local government operations and allowing privately operated kindergartens are among the proposals in a platform drafted by the new, more conservative majority of the Longyearbyen Community More »

 

SWINGING AND SLIDING INTO THE SUNSET: Dark Season Blues returns w/ familiar glow, but ticket sales and other struggles again threaten future of Longyearbyen’s biggest music festival

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The good news: tickets that usually hard to come by, including those multi-day passes, are still readily available as the annual four-day Dark Season Blues begins today. The bad news: if those tickets go unsold, there may not be a chance to buy any next year.

Longyearbyen’s biggest annual music festival still features its bright vibe for its 17th year as the town begins the polar night this weekend, with a largely familiar event schedule and a lineup of 16 returning/new performers from Norway and abroad. But lurking beneath are difficulties that last year caused organizers to question if the festival can continue.

IS ‘REOPENED’ SEED VAULT NOW READY FOR DOOMSDAY? Ribbon-cutting, new deposits celebrate completion of costly repairs after climate change exposes flaws in original design

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OK, now it’s ready for Armageddon, even if there’s a heavy rainstorm.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Svalbard Global Seed Vault on Monday was both a celebration and a remarkable statement of irony, since the world-renowned facility officially opened more than 11 years ago. But the so-called ultimate safeguard for the planet’s crops didn’t even make it through its first decade before major design flaws were exposed by climate change impacts such as thawing permafrost and unseasonably heavy rain, resulting in lengthy repairs costing nearly triple the vault’s original construction price.

WITHIN A HAIR OF A MILLION: A polar bear pelt and a lost beard help Longyearbyen raise 999,798 kr. for annual TV auction – and another first per-person donation win nationally

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Update (5:30 p.m. Monday): It appears local donations will indeed top one million kroner due to additional money collected by Longyearbyen students and residents in Ny-Ålesund. Story below is updated with details.

Original story: By now it barely qualifies as news Svalbard finished first for yet another year among 423 municipalities in a nationwide TV auction fundraiser, but a few numbers are likely to raise eyebrows: the local total of 999,798 kroner is about 100,000 kroner more than last year, with some new fund raisers supplementing the usual intense efforts of regulars.

Yet it’s 202 kroner short of one million, which might trigger thoughts of how every individual can make a difference. But apparently not for long, since the “official” total listed as of Sunday night doesn’t include some late-arriving funds.

BAITING BIDDERS: Want to rent a rescue ship, test your spy skills or cozy up with a dead polar bear? Local auction offers extra exotica as Norway engages in telethon Sunday

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Calling an event lively when it begins with a fossil and ends with a polar bear pelt might seem like a contradiction, but in-between those two remnants from deceased wildlife are more than a hundred items locals will spent several hours battling each other for – including a chance to infiltrate a top-secret government facility, a barrel of jet fuel and a chance to pick up trash for several days.

POLAR BEAR PEEPER PUNISHED: Man fined 15K for driving onto sea ice to get close look at animals this spring

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A man has been fined 15,000 kroner for driving onto the sea ice within about 70 meters of polar bears he observed this spring, violating a law prohibiting the disturbance of wildlife, according to The Governor of Svalbard.

SHIPWRECK REMAINS FOR ANOTHER WINTER: Efforts to remove Northguider trawler delayed until next summer due to adverse conditions, worse-than-expected damage

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A trawler stranded in north Svalbard since last December will be forced to spend another winter there because attempts to remove it this summer and fall have been unsuccessful due to adverse conditions and the vessel suffering more damage than realized, the Norwegian Coastal Administration announced this week.

Random weirdness for the week of Oct. 15, 2019

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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 or 3) a luxury portable hotel on a Svalbard glacier for a considerably lower price yet to be determined? Bang the box below to find the answer and many more misadventures from yet another wacky week.

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

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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 form a coalition with the strong-finishing Liberal Party because its offer focused on appointments to positions but not policy concessions.

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

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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 thawing permafrost, are entitled to cancel their purchase and receive a refund of the 1.5 million kroner purchase price due to “substantial hidden defects,” according to an appeals court ruling.

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

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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 and Liberal parties went from five seats each on the Longyearbyen Community Council, when there was a nine-vote difference immediately after the election, to Liberals losing a seat a day later in the official count, even though they narrowed the vote margin to a mere five ballots.

Beyond that, trying to explain the formula used to allocate seats or ponder “what-if” scenarios if a person (or three) had voted differently is easy to explain only (and then only maybe) if you’ve got a PhD in mathematics (and then only maybe). Or if you actually are familiar with something called the Webster/Sainte-Laguë method.