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Headlines 13.12.08

  • Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir, Minister for Foreign Affairs and leader of the Social Democratic Alliance, which makes up the government coalition along with the Independence Party, says that the coalition will be terminated if the IP kills all notions of entering into talks with the European Union at its annual general meeting in January. The IP, which has ruled Iceland for the past 17 years and which has been notoriously opposed to the EU, brought its AGM forward to January so as to not delay the discussion, given the current circumstances here. Gísladóttir was a guest on RÚV’s weekly radio talk show Í Vikulokin this morning, where she dropped these minor bombshells. In other words, change is imminent and inevitable – it’s only a question of how and when.
  • Bjarni Benediktsson and Illugi Gunnarsson, two prominent members of the Independence Party, write an article in Fréttablaðið today expressing their view that Iceland must begin talks with the EU and stating that a national referendum should be held on whether or not to join. Wery wery significant in light of the IP party line in the last few years.
  • Remuneration to those who sit on the board of the Financial Supervisory Authority has been doubled in light of the “extreme pressure” they are under at this particular time. The remuneration of regular board members has gone from ISK 130,000 to ISK 260,000 [USD 2,316] per month, retroactive to 1 October, while the chairman of the board now receives ISK 520,000 [USD 4,600] per month. Such a relief to know that these people are being properly rewarded for all their excellent work on behalf of this nation.
  • Novator, an investment company owned by Björgólfur Thór Björgólfsson [of Landsbanki fame] could stand to lose up to USD 20 million in an extensive scam that has arisen in the US, in which an American attorney sold falsified stakes in a real estate development company. [Divine justice, anyone?]
  • The Yule Lads have begun their annual descent from the mountains and now appear one per day to deposit wee gifts into the shoes – strategically placed in a windowsill near an open window – of good Nicelandic children. The lads shall get no more than a passing nod on this site this year, seeing as how they’ve been written about extensively in years past [see e.g. here and here and here and especially here.]

And finally, seeing as how it’s D-day, an image from my favourite [and Morgunblaðið’s in-house] cartoonist, showing the side of the parliament building with the caption “New Iceland”:

[nicked from here].

STILL UTTERLY LOVELY OUT THERE
But cold. There is hardly a breeze and snow over everything, with the sky that lovely pastel blue and pink that is its prevailing colour on clear days throughout the Icelandic winter. Right now we have -5°C [23F], and the sun came up at 11.13, went down at 3.30. Winter solstice in just a few days!

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  • Marc December 13, 2008, 1:58 pm

    Sounds like the Social Democrat Alliance is sniffing an unwillingness of the Independence party to submit themselves to elections. And that they are using that to drive through their own agenda (or else…). It’s the politics of power. Is there actually anyone with a plan in Iceland? In times like this political parties should work together on a broadly supported rescue (or catastrophy mitigation) plan. ISK Currency trading is still in lalaland, despite the comments that it would be floated again. Don’t count on the gains reported by the central bank, on the free market the rate is now at 1/300 and the spread between official and market rates has gone up a lot. I wonder if the central bank is using the IMF bailout money to subsidise businesses that import food and medicines. In which case Iceland is headed for disaster in a matter of months. Also it would mean that they are expanding their role beyond what a central bank should be doing. Without any control. Maybe they’re mainly subsidising companies owned by befriended people? Who knows?

  • Jessica December 13, 2008, 5:53 pm

    “Wery wery significant in light of the IP party line…” LOL! I love it — reminds me of the Daily Show clips about ‘Operation Deserter Storm’…

    Went out and about for D-Day today. We saw a lot of people on Laugarvegur (no doubt buying some clothing to keep the Christmas Cat at bay) but not so many down in the square protesting as on past Saturdays. I think some protesters gave up early due to the -5 C weather and crowded into the coffee shops!

  • herra kol hyrndur land af keltneska December 13, 2008, 5:59 pm

    Ég ganga til Írland.
    Ég ganga til Ísland
    Ég ganga til Egyptaland.
    Ég ganga í gegnum Indland til Uyghur landslag.
    Frá suðvestur til norðaustur.
    Langt , kuldi staður þessi alltaf umgerð mig.
    Ég ganga á.
    Ég ganga áfram.
    Ég komast í þoka.

  • Lee, UK December 13, 2008, 7:42 pm

    I’m in Reykjavik this week and recorded this video of today’s parliament protest:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9HEuMb28-Q&fmt=18

    I must say that it was more fun at the Jolaball at Ingolfstorg afterwards! 🙂

  • Marc December 13, 2008, 9:39 pm