From Iceland — News In Brief: Fake News, Dishonest Bankers, and Músíktilraunir

News In Brief: Fake News, Dishonest Bankers, and Músíktilraunir

Published April 10, 2017

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Art Bicnick

United Silicon, which runs the plant in Reykjanesbær that everyone loves to hate, could be looking at the end of days. Despite United Silicon’s repeated denials of any wrongdoing, both the town council and Iceland’s Minister for the Environment, Björt Ólafsdóttir, believe the plant has been a major source of pollution for the area. Residents have long complained of respiratory ailments, and authorities want to shut the plant down altogether. Their constant polluting is ironic, considering they produce material used to make solar panels.

You might know the Grapevine as the gold standard for journalism, but even we fall victim to fake news from time to time. Such as the case when we reported that post-Euro 2016 coital celebrations led to a “football baby boom” in Iceland. Much of the international media ran with this story, but upon further examination, we discovered that this was utterly false. So we ran a new article refuting ourselves. Nonetheless, the die has been cast, and headlines purporting Iceland’s post-Euro baby boom are still being circulated at the time of this writing. Nostra culpa.

Jailed banker Ólafur Ólafsson appeared in the news again, when the Parliamentary Investigative Commission looking into the causes of the 2008 financial crash uncovered that—surprise!—he was dishonest in his financial dealings about a lot of new stuff. The broad strokes are: he straight-up lied about the identity of the real investors in the Agricultural Bank of Iceland when the government sold its share in that bank back in 2002. He also shuffled a lot of money around in tax shelters, and kept it hidden through backrooms deals and obfuscation. Ólafur, when confronted by reporters, expressed deep and solemn regret for what he did, and vowed to pay back every króna that he hahaha just kidding. He doesn’t care.

Some months ago, a social media ragefest ignited when a young woman was kicked out of a municipal pool for going topless. Pool employees said they were just enforcing their own rules and guidelines, while the young woman in question asserted she had every legal right to go topless—and probably correctly so, it seems, as Supreme Court lawyer Unnar Steinn Bjarndal has reasoned that there is no legal precedent for such a ban, and most likely violates Iceland’s gender equity laws.

It seems like pretty much every Icelandic film or television show is some kind of grim noir drama these days, doesn’t it? Well, director Baltasar Kormákur has decided to kick things up a notch with ‘Katla’, a dystopian TV series that takes place two years after the massive volcano has erupted and laid Iceland to waste. StudioCanal recently agreed to co-produce the series and handle its international distribution. Fun! Icelandic television, always keeping the sunny side up.

In lighter news, Icelandic Music Experiments (Músíktilraunir) has been upon us once again. This music contest has brought the world many an international success, including Of Monsters and Men, amongst others. This year, the winners were Between Mountains, a duo comprised of two girls, Katla Vigdís Vernharðsdóttir and Ásrós Helga Guðmundsdóttir, aged 14 and 16 respectively. Will they follow in the footsteps of the international stars who preceded them? Only time will tell, but here’s hoping for the best!

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