Iceland, Scandinavia, rest of world

Published January 14, 2005

It was a good year for Grapevine. We came back last June all guns blazing, and suddenly found ourselves in the midst of a media debate which finally found its way into the end-of-year annual comedy show áramótaskaupið.
Although the paper was originally planned as a summer venture, we all decided not to return to our previous day jobs, and keep on going on a monthly basis throughout the winter. We are happy to report that we’re halfway through pulling this off, and we’re now looking at what to do in the new year to keep this interesting to ourselves as well as our readers.
We wish a happy new year to everyone who has participated in the past year: our distribution manager Jóhann Páll Hreinsson, our new ad man Aðalsteinn Jörundsson, Bart Cameron, Robert Jackson, whom we wish great luck with his current writing efforts, and we belatedly welcome to the fold our new photographer Gummi Vigfússon who has been helping Hörður Sveinsson out. Also, Paul Nikolov has been appointed webmaster of the Grapevine website, and his handywork is already beginning to show (www.grapevine.is). Also, thanks a lot to and everyone else who has lent a hand.

Iceland international
But a good year for the press usually means a bad year for mankind. The year ended with the biggest tragedy in recent memory with the earthquake in Asia. Meanwhile, man-made horrors continued in Iraq and Palestine, and with less fanfare in Darfur and West Africa, among other places. Meanwhile, AIDS continues to spread in that unfortunate continent.
Watching the RUV 2004 end-of-year news annals program, divided into local and international news, I was surprised at how much of the international news was actually about Iceland. Icelanders in Iraq find bogus WMDs, Icelandic firemen fire at things in Afghanistan, Icelanders this and that. Iraq, Arafat and the US elections excepted, most of the rest of the international news was about the Nordic Countries. A fireworks warehouse burns down in Denmark, a bank robbery is committed in Norway…all in all, we still seem to have a pretty provincial view of the world. The always enjoyable Channel 2 annals, which attempted to cover both Iceland AND the world in a single program, seemed to offer an equally limited view of what the world actually is.

The good thing about tragedy
The one good thing to come out of the current Asian tragedy is that Western countries are getting more involved than they have been. Perhaps it was the scale of the tragedy that pushed people to action, or perhaps because there were so many blonde-haired and blue-eyed Swedes involved (that striking picture of a little white boy searching for his parents on the cover of Fréttablaðið certainly affected us more than yet another picture of a dark skinned child in pain would have). Even the usually aloof Icelandic government is contributing its share. Whatever the cause, hopefully this time around, people will realise that what happens in other parts of the world matters. There has even been talk of a Marshall Plan for afflicted areas. This may not materialise, but it is precisely what we need: A Marshal Plan for afflicted areas, whether they are victims of war, disease, earthquakes or colonialism. Hey, it worked for us. Only by offering big solutions can the big problems facing the world today be solved. This should be the primary concern of those of us living at this point in time. But, enough talk. In the words of Paul Fontaine Nikolov, “Let’s get this bitch on the street.”



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