Taboo Too

Iceland Gets Site
to Prevent Incest

By now, the genetic homogeneity of Iceland is almost proverbial. Despite periodic challenges to the notion, the latest studies seem to confirm that the 300,000 Icelanders are loosely related to each other.
That’s why for a decade, ‘Íslendingabók,’ a genealogical online database, has been helping the population to navigate and likely avoid the traps of falling in love with a close relative.
The Website has been a hit, and so have been medical studies that take advantage of the uniformity of the island’s genetic pool.
Critics, though, have two big bones to pick about such initiatives: the spectrum of Big Brother and the changing attitudes toward incest.
That’s what everyone is supposed to ask each other, whenever they feel that something other than dinner and a movie may be in the works. Of course, caution still needs to be exercised, lest that meal and time in a darkened room may not come to fruition otherwise.
But Iceland, which was settled by a few Norsemen and Celts in the Continue reading

Whale Blood

Iceland Disregards Ban,
Steps Up Illegal Whaling

Word by word, you could have read this headline in the 1970s and the 1980s: Commercial Whaling Will Drive Whales to Extinction. Thirty years have passed and the story hasn’t changed much. Despite an official, global, U.N.-sanctioned ban on whaling first established in 1986, the practice of hunting, killing and profiting from the slaughtering of whales continues as bloody and senseless as ever.
Iceland now, as then, leads the nations breaking the law (yes, Continue reading

Eye on the Year


The Earth Shook & Burn But
The World Only Moved Sideways

A year of extremes but no breakthroughs. Records of the wrong kind (U.S.’s longest armed conflict in Afghanistan and worst environmental disaster ever, highest temperature indexes in several regions of the world, increased infection diseases mortality rates in the Caribbean and Africa, and staggering drug trafficking casualties in Latin America) plagued the world, with the additional bonus of a certified freak: a snowstorm in the middle of the Australian summer.
But there was no progress in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks; no curbs on Iranian and North Korean authoritarian antics or scary nuclear ambitions; no meaningful proposals to solve political impasses in the Ivory Coast, Sudan, Rwanda, Nigeria or Zimbabwe.
Disturbing tactics did get deployed, though, by the world’s superpowers but with the only intention of curbing whistle blowers and freedom of information acts such as WikiLeaks. It gave civil rights activists of every stripe a chilling pause to see Continue reading