Iceland Takes Part in Eurovision in Israel

RÚV, the Icelandic National Broadcast Service, has decided to take part in the Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv next year, RÚV reports. Israel will be hosting the competition after Netta Barzilai’s victory this year. It had previously been speculated that Israeli authorities would host the show in Jerusalem, but they ultimately decided to host the event in Tel Aviv. According to RÚV, the fact that Eurovision will be in Tel Aviv played a large part in the decision to take part.

All of the other Nordic national broadcast services will take part, but RÚV had been pressured to boycott this year’s song contest due to the situation in Gaza and Israeli treatment of Palestinians. RÚV program manager Skarphéðinn Guðmundsson states that the challenge was taken seriously. “The decision is grounded in the fact that it’s not a political event, but rather a gathering of different nations who have made it their main mission and guiding light to spread the message of unification and the power of peace found in pop music, and culture altogether. To this point, we’ve not heard of nations who intend to boycott the competition in Israel due to political reasons. The Nordic national broadcast services have been hand-in-hand as they’ve all confirmed their attendance.”, part of his statement reads.

A group of artists recently published an open letter in the Guardian where they challenged European nations to boycott Eurovision 2019. Two Icelandic artists signed the letter, musicians Daði Freyr and Hildur (Hildur Kristín Stefánsdóttir).

Low Secondary Education Graduation Rate for Males

Iceland has a higher percentage of males without a secondary education than most other OECD nations, Kjarninn reports. This was revealed in the OECD study Education at a Glance 2018, which looks at education levels for males between 25 to 34 years old. OECD, which stands for the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development, is an intergovernmental organisation comprised of 36 countries.

24% of Icelandic males between 25 to 34 years old have not completed secondary education. The only European countries to have a lower rate are Portugal, Spain, and Portugal. Meanwhile, 15% of Icelandic females between 25 to 34 years have completed secondary education.

The difference between male and female graduation rates are 9%, while the difference in Sweden, Norway, and Finland is 3-4%. Denmark has a difference of 7% between male and female graduation rates.

In 2007, the graduation rate for males between 25-34 was 31%, so the rate has lowered by 7% in eleven years. The average rate of decrease for OECD countries since 2007 is 5%.

Guðmundur and Geirfinnur Retrial Begins

The retrial of six individuals sentenced in the infamous Guðmundur and Geirfinnur case decades ago began today, RÚV reports. In February of this year, the state prosecutor requested a full acquittal of the individuals sentenced in the infamous case, and the trial began today.

Davíð Þór Björgvinsson, the case prosecutor, is building his plea on the verdict of a committee which ruled to reopen the case last year. Davíð Þór argues that new evidence, including the diaries of Tryggvi Rúnars Leifsson and Kristján Viðar Víðarsson, two of the six people convicted in the case, call for a full acquittal of the six individuals. He also adds that the harsh treatment of the accused during the handling of the case was not considered in the original ruling.

The case revolves around the disappearance of two men, Guðmundur Einarsson and Geirfinnur Einarsson (no relation), in 1974. Six people were ultimately convicted of the murders of these two men and received prison sentences of various lengths, up to 17 years. The convictions were based on confessions extracted from the individuals during lengthy interrogations. Their validity as evidence has since been refuted, as records show the accused were held in extended solitary confinement, drugged, and in some cases tortured.

The case is well known outside of Iceland. In 2014, it was the subject of a BBC programme called The Reykjavík Confessions, while in 2017 a documentary on the topic was released on Netflix, titled Out of Thin Air.