What a crazy day it has been!
When I got up this morning, the aftermath of the Black Report was still the Issue of the Day. I flipped through Fréttablaðið during breakfast and was pleased to note that they aren’t shying away from the misdemeanors of their owners TOO much. I haven’t seen Morgunblather since the report came out, but what I’m hearing through the grapevine is that it’s formulating its reports in the softest possible way for the editor-in-chief, who is – from what I understand – still out of the country.
In general, I am pleased with what I’m seeing in the media. Especially RÚV, who have devoted large chunks of their time to the report. In fact I’m amazed at how fast RÚV was able to pick out many of the essentials last Monday and give pretty decent coverage, even calling in people for interviews who are harshly criticized in the report. And they’re not playing softball either, but asking hard questions. Today, for example, they asked President Ólafur Ragnar point blank if the verdict in the report didn’t warrant his resignation. He responded with great indignation and like the rest of them denied all the allegations, claiming they were based on misrepresentation and misinterpretations.
Well, “rest of them” isn’t perhaps quite accurate. One Minister, Björgvin G. Sigurðsson, has resigned as head of the central committee of the Social Democrats on account of the fact that the report deemed him negligent in his work during the collapse, when he was Minister of Commerce. However, that seems a bit shallow and designed, if anything, to boost his popularity [which isn’t up to many fishes, as the Icelanders would say] — after all, if he feels genuine remorse, then why doesn’t he go all the way and resign as MP? — However, the most hollow and superficial apology came from Björgólfur Thor Björgólfsson, former mogul and owner of Landsbanki, who gets all maudlin in an article in Fréttablaðið this morning and says “sorry” about four times. He claims he wanted to wait until the report came out to express his remorse. WTF?! Does he expect to be taken seriously? Because he says “sorry” after the report has finally delivered a damning verdict of his actions? Why not before, then, if he was so TERRIBLY SORRY the whole time?
What a loser.
Anyway, about half of Fréttablaðið was devoted to the findings of the report and I wish I could go over them all here but that would take far too much time and space. Suffice it to say that it’s completely fascinating reading and amazingly enlightening.
As I mentioned in the last post, I was forced to shut everything off and get down to work because this is about the busiest I have been at work for about a year and I have a deadline to meet. So when I logged on to the news at some point while taking a little break I could hardly believe what I was seeing – i.e. that ANOTHER eruption had started in Eyjafjallajökull. Of course I had to watch the special news hour they had on at noon and, seriously, it was just too much. All the excitement about the report … and now this! [I bet Björgólfur and a few others were happy about the distraction, though.] Quite frankly it’s kind of hard to get your head around all the stuff that’s going down [not to mention when you’re forced to give all your attention to an assignment that has NOTHING to do with any of this]. It all seems slightly surreal.
So yeah, the new eruption is between 10 and 30 times stronger than the one we’ve had over the last three weeks. It started beneath the ice cap so caused a glacial surge [or jökulhlaup as it’s called in Icelandic, when large amounts of meltwater are released at the same time — as someone mentioned in the comments to last post]. Around 700 people were evacuated from their homes last night and by midday the flood was huge. It washed out one bridge and the Ring Road was broken to allow the water to flow through — i.e. they purposely dug through it in two separate places to allow the water to flow through to the sea and so it doesn’t wash out more bridges. Fortunately barriers that exist in the area have managed to protect the farms in the area — none of those have broken. How long this will last is still not known — it could be days or weeks or months. They are predicting that there will be surges of water coming through every now and again, so I guess it remains to be seen what sorts of precautions they will take.
Flights have been disrupted today and apparently all flights are grounded now in north Norway on account of the eruption. They are expecting a falling of ash tomorrow — in Norway [there is already loads of ash coming down east of Eyjafjallajökull]. Like I said — totally surreal!
I did manage to get out very briefly today — got on my bike and rode into town to buy a copy of the report before it was all sold out. It’s only printed in limited numbers and unclear whether there will be more printed. I got the last one in Eymundsson on Austurstræti — it had been reserved for someone until around ten minutes before I arrived, who for some reason didn’t take it. Lucky me!
I’m slightly surprised to see what an easy read it is. Some people expected that it would be written in heavy legalese or serious financial language, but it’s actually written like a fast-paced narrative, peppered with quotes and salacious details. Is there a book deal in the pipelines for the investigative committee?