Friday, July 29, 2011
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Friday, July 22, 2011
|Ambassador Arreaga and Óskar Jakob Sigurðsson|
Two days in the beautiful Westman Islands provided a brief snapshot of this amazing place. I had the honor of meeting Óskar Jakob Sigurðsson, a living legend in Iceland and beyond. He takes care of Iceland's last manned lighthouse, collects scientific air and rain samples, and holds the world record for the largest number of birds tagged for conservation purposes. Universities and institutions from all over the world benefit from his service, including NOAA and the University of Miami. I also saw the vestiges of the 1973 eruption, when the island's inhabitants showed the world what ingenuity and perseverance can accomplish when they slowed down and eventually stopped the lava that threatened to engulf their city. I was proud to learn that the U.S. Navy provided many of the pumps used to pull water from the sea to cool the lava. It was also impressive to learn how the islands’ economy is thriving with very strong fisheries and tourism industries. I can’t wait to return and hike some of the nearby cliffs.
Friday, July 8, 2011
In April and May of this year, the central and southern regions of the United States were hit by a series of devastating tornadoes that left a trail of unimaginable death and devastation. The areas affected included Missouri, Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia. We were pleased to learn that Icelandic Glacial donated 43 tons of water in support of relief efforts in several of these areas. To facilitate the delivery of the water, we understand that Icelandic Glacial partnered with Anheuser-Busch. We are grateful for this donation and for Icelandic Glacial’s commitment to support the victims of natural disasters.
It was a pleasure to welcome Fran Ulmer, Chair of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission, and the majority of the Commission's members to Iceland. The Commission develops goals and objectives for the U.S. Arctic Research Program. Commissioners participated in the “The 7th International Congress of Arctic Social Sciences“ in Akureyri and traveled to Reykjavik to meet with officials from some of Iceland’s foremost research institutions (Marine Research Institute, the Icelandic Meteorological Office, The National Energy Authority, and RANNÍS). They also were received by President Grímsson. The visit is a concrete result of the May 17 Washington meeting between Secretary Clinton and Foreign Minister Skarphéðinsson where they discussed strengthening cooperation on Arctic research.
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
On the occasion of the visit of the USCG Barque Eagle, I had the opportunity to fly in an Icelandic Coast Guard Helicopter to meet up with the Eagle and participate in a wreath laying ceremony 30 km west of Borgarnes in Faxaflói at the site where the USCG Alexander Hamilton sank on 29 January 1942 as a result of war hostilities. The Alexander Hamilton, which was protecting merchant convoys crossing the Atlantic, was the first USCG vessel sunk in WW II. Twenty-six sailors were killed instantly; six died later of their injuries; ten more injured men required hospitalization. 81 sailors were rescued by Icelandic fishing trawlers. The lighthouse Garðskagaviti in Gardur, which is the tallest in Iceland, was built in 1944 as a gift from US Coast Guardsmen in gratitude for their rescue by Icelandic sailors. The wreath laying ceremony, which honored the sacrifices made by American and Icelandic sailors during war, was an opportunity to reflect on the ties of friendship between the United States and Iceland.