A Grapevine service announcement Pay attention: The Holuhraun eruption is at it again
Mag
Opinion
The Deafening Cognitive Dissonance of the Interior Minister

The Deafening Cognitive Dissonance of the Interior Minister

Minister of the Interior Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir, what she does behind closed doors, and what she tells the general public.

Photos by
innanrikisraduneyti.is

Published August 28, 2014

“I can say categorically that his investigation indicates that no one on the White House staff, no one in this administration, presently employed, was involved in this very bizarre incident. What really hurts in matters of this sort is not the fact that they occur, because overzealous people in campaigns do things that are wrong. What really hurts is if you try to cover it up.” – Richard Nixon, at the start of the Watergate scandal.

On August 26, Parliamentary Ombudsman Tryggvi Gunnarsson sent Minister of the Interior Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir a third letter regarding police investigations of her Ministry, in the case of the Tony Omos memo, which has already resulted in charges filed against one of her assistants, Gísli Freyr Valdórsson. The remarkable thing about this letter is its partial transcription of a recorded interview the Ombudsman had with former Commissioner of the Capital Area Police Stefán Eiríksson.

Amongst the details that came to light was that Hanna Birna had repeatedly questioned nearly every step of the investigations; in particular, she questioned the scope, which included an assistant’s computer and telephone records. Stefán quoting her as saying, “We will of course let you have everything. You will have access to all of it, but aren’t you going too far in all this?” Hanna Birna also questioned the speed of the investigations.

This, she would tell a live TV audience, was a completely natural and not at all intrusive interaction with the head of the police under her employ, who were tasked with investigating her ministry.

The Interior Minister also reportedly told Stefán that when all was said and done, that “it was completely clear in her mind that there would need to be an investigation of the investigations from the police and the State Prosecutor.”

This, she would also tell a live TV audience, was just her speaking in generalities – that she’d intended to do some overall review of all kinds of offices.

For a sidebar of completely not interfering with a police investigation, her assistants tried to get Stefán to issue a press statement denying the details of news coverage of the case. Stefán refused, saying that he does not issue press statements, but that “I am in the phone book, and my phone is open” to members of the press to contact him.

To all of this, Hanna Birna has categorically written it off as the Ombudsman “set[ting] up an unnatural picture of our natural communications and cooperation.”

Throughout these meetings and phone calls, she was also telling parliament that she was nowhere near the investigations, and was not aware of how they were being conducted. “It would be unnatural if I knew about any part of this investigation,” she told parliament on June 18.

Another thing she would also tell a live TV audience was that she never received the Tony Omos memo from the Ministry Registrar in her email. In fact, police investigations revealed in a Reykjavík District Court ruling last April that she did receive the memo in question.

Hanna Birna says the matter has made her question whether politics holds a future for her. In the meantime, Tony Omos does not have the luxury of getting to decide whether he stays or goes.


Mag
Opinion
<?php the_title(); ?>

The Ceiling On Icelandic Tourism, And Apologies For “The Clinton”

by

In 2005, a few months into my editorship, Paul Fontaine and I did a marathon road trip around Iceland’s Ring Road—the most beautiful 1,332 kilometers of road in the world. That 72 hours didn’t bring lasting inner peace, but I can say that most of the time I was filled with the appreciation of life, the fully engaged imagination, that monks and junkies and babies on the breast are supposed to experience. That trip around Iceland, and the people you see, especially if you expand the Ring and include the Westfjörds, is a profound tourism experience—I can imagine nothing else

Mag
Opinion
<?php the_title(); ?>

The Elusive Hidden People

by

The use and adaption of folklore is changing rapidly in a country flirting with mass tourism, and some of us worry that the highway to cliché is paved with quick fixes. No one blames a visitor thirsty to learn about Icelandic storytelling traditions. However, for witnesses of the tourism circus, it’s worth considering which stories are being told and how they resonate with Iceland’s cultural legacy. Our generation is receptive to elusive and mystical elements, hence the rising interest in the study of folklore and old traditions. Perhaps this tendency is connected to a search for a new sense of

Mag
Opinion
<?php the_title(); ?>

A Volcano Bigger Than Timberlake

by

Historically, Iceland has seen some volcanic eruptions at a devastating scale. The most prominent in public memory is arguably the late 18th century Móðuharðindi, two years of brutal hardships caused by an eruption in volcanic ridge Lakagígar. The sky and sun darkened, while ashes destroyed pastures, and temperatures sank, leading to the death of an estimated 75% of the country’s livestock and a fifth of its human population. After 200 years of economic and technological progress, any such incident should now be easier to deal with. That seemed to be the case, albeit on a smaller scale, during the unforeseen

Mag
Opinion
<?php the_title(); ?>

A Summery Summary

by

In case you missed reports, while traveling or otherwise enjoying Iceland’s ten days of summer, here are the latest news in brief, a summary of the last week or two. Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð warns that, should fresh meat imports be allowed, a virus, common in foreign meat-products, might cause Icelanders to behave like foreigners. The populations of Britain and Norway still seem to behave normally, as they remain relatively Toxoplasma-free. That was the day after the Minister complained, on Facebook, that the Icelandic media did not pay due attention to Iceland’s weightlifting champions. It seems a countryman just won

Mag
Opinion
<?php the_title(); ?>

Foreign Policy For Profit

by

Last week, the Russian government announced they would respond to Western sanctions over the situation in the Ukraine with some economic sanctions of their own—a full embargo on food imports from the EU, the US and several other Western countries. Norway, which is on the list of embargoed countries, is hit especially hard, Russia being the single most important market for Norwegian seafood exports last year. Immediately, many Icelanders exclaimed that this was great news! Fish exporters seemed especially happy, because—for some reason—Iceland was not included on the embargo list. The funny thing was, nobody knew for certain why. A

Mag
Opinion
<?php the_title(); ?>

So What’s This Unfair Treatment Of Young Employees I Keep Hearing About?

by

In Iceland, labour unions and employers’ organizations negotiate to establish parameters for pay and other benefits. Earlier this month, a 22-year-old new hire of Lebowski Bar made the not unreasonable demand of being paid according to the general wage contract. Apparently, her employer, instead of paying different rates for weekdays, weekends and nights—as is required by law—paid out a single hourly wage for all times of day and night. This isn’t ‘Nam. This is a paycheck. There are rules. Yes, the bar is named after ‘The Big Lebowski,’ but there is no need to make this article a collection of

Show Me More!