Hello everyone – time for another wee look at the news from Iceland this week, March 1-7.
They fart in our general direction
The biggest story surely concerns the continued brazenness of the current government administration in ignoring the will of a large part of the population. The demonstration last Saturday that I mentioned in last week’s news digest was pretty epic by Icelandic standards – around 8,000 people showed up in Austurvöllur [Parliament Square] to protest the fact that this government wants to bulldoze ahead with plans to scrap accession talks with the EU. That is about the same number that turned up to the most numerous protests during the Kitchenware Revolution. Meanwhile, as of this writing, over 46,000 people have signed a petition to the same effect, surpassing the number of votes the Progressive Party – which leads the coalition – received in the last elections.
PM gets caught out on TV
Iceland’s Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson gave his first major interview since his ill-fated showing of a couple of weeks ago. This time it was in Kastljós, a current affairs show on RÚV that comes right after the evening news. When pressed for answers as to why his party was ignoring such a large proportion of the population and their demands, the PM’ argument was that, even if the government went ahead with the referendum [almost] everybody wants, it would be pointless because the parties in power would not be able to meet the EU at the negotiating table when everyone on the other side knew they really didn’t want to join the Union. Asked why it was necessary to scrap the accession talks NOW [did I mention they want to hustle this motion through parliament as quickly as possible?] the PM blamed the EU for the rush, claiming that THEY have basically given Iceland an ultimatum: Finish now, or else. Asked what this “or else” constituted, the PM could give no answer. In short, it was a pathetic interview with sorry arguments, and no one watching could be in doubt as to its ludicrousness [except those whose brains appear to be hard-wired to believe any drivel that comes out of this man's mouth]. And of course his lies were exposed a few days later when the EU’s enlargement commissioner Stefan Fuehle went on record to state that there was no foundation for them whatsoever.
Perish that evil foreign furniture!
Meanwhile, the attempted control by the Progressive Party’s illuminati over the media continued when the Minister for Foreign Affairs refused to give RÚV a comment unless he was allowed have an uncut copy of the interview. [Does the guy realize that he's working for us - the same people who own RÚV? Clearly not.] Meanwhile, not content with trying to manipulate the actual reporting, the Minister of Industry had a minor rant about the furniture used on the set of Kastljós, saying she would prefer to see Icelandic furniture. Where this ends is anybody’s guess.
Next up: pickled placenta with rutabaga mash
Finally, a fairly large share of the Icelandic population was more than a little grossed out this week when FB broke a story about placentas being smuggled out of the maternity ward at the national hospital so the mothers in question could eat them. Yes, apparently some of the nursing staff on the ward had been helping these women get their New Age on by making sure they could take their placentas home – something that is strictly against the rules at the hospital. While many people were thoroughly repelled by the news, others described elaborate practices for ingesting the precious organ, including cooking, drying in the oven, and inserting the powder into gelatine capsules that were then taken with the morning vitamins. M-m.
Quote of the week
The thing is, people ate themselves insensible last year. People didn’t know when to stop, and some people were puking.
IKEA Managing Director Þorsteinn Baldur Friðriksson explaining why IKEA decided to raise its price on salted lamb and pea soup this year. Icelanders celebrated Sprengidagur ["bursting day"] last Tuesday, on which most people eat copious amounts of salted lamb and split pea soup to commemorate the beginning of Lent. During the last few years, IKEA in Iceland has served this up in its cafeteria for 2 ISK a pop. This year, they charged more, and some customers were pretty irate.