From Iceland — What Are Icelanders Talking About?

What Are Icelanders Talking About?

Published December 6, 2019

The single most important story of the past month has been the Fishrot Files, or as they call it in Iceland, the Samherji case. 30,000 documents provided by Wikileaks—and subsequently reported on by RÚV, Stundin, The Namibian and Al Jazeera—showed that Iceland’s largest fishing company, Samherji, bribed Namibian officials in order to secure massive fishing quotas. Making matters more shady, Samherji then funneled much of the proceeds from their haul into a shell company registered in the Marshall Islands, a tax haven. Since this story broke, the differences between how Namibian and Icelandic officials have responded have been striking. And by that we mean that while Namibian authorities have been slapping handcuffs on suspects, Icelandic authorities have been busy downplaying, deflecting, or outright blaming Namibia for the whole mess.

And some happy news

In happier news, two Icelandic women are amongst those nominated for the 2020 Grammy Awards. Specifically, Anna Þorvaldsdóttir has been nominated for Best Engineered Album in the classical genre for her album ‘Aequa,’ while Hildur Guðnadóttir has been nominated for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media for her composition of the Chernobyl score. It bears mentioning that she has already secured an Emmy win for the score for episode two of the series, “Please Remain Calm,” It’s a historic first for Iceland, and even if they don’t nab a win (though they really ought to), it’s still a remarkable achievement for our tiny island nation.

Photo by Art Bicnick

Then the dreadful Reynisfjara

Once again, the beautiful but foreboding South Iceland beach of Reynisfjara has been making headlines all last month. First, a tourist was injured when knocked over by one of Reynisfjara’s notorious sneaker waves. Then Minister of Tourism Þórdís Kolbrún R. Gylfadóttir announced that she would be working on a new response plan for Reynisfjara, establishing better monitoring of weather conditions there and giving police greater authority to close it down when conditions are potentially dangerous.

Reykjavík District Court found in favour of a tourist who sued a tour company for taking her and others to Reynisfjara during bad weather, where she was subsequently injured by high winds. If you do visit Reynisfjara, stay on the main beach and as far from the surf as possible.

And something about China

Lastly, Chinese airline Juneyao Airlines announced they will begin direct flights between Reykjavík and Shanghai by the end of March 2020. A round-trip economy ticket will be an astonishingly low 68,000 ISK (about €500), while business class will be a much higher 204,000 ISK, or around €1,500.

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