Eurovision Hopefuls Hatari Ruffle Feathers

Iceland has begun its preliminary competition for this year’s Eurovision contest, scheduled to take place in Tel Aviv, Israel in May. One of this year’s entries, Hatrið mun sigra (Hatred will prevail), a song by performance art-pop band Hatari (Hater) has already caused minor controversy, Vísir reports. Other contestants have reportedly complained about the bands performance, pointing out that it might not be in compliance with preliminary regulations.

Hatari have already secured a spot in Iceland’s Eurovision preliminary finals, hoping to grace the stage at the big event in Tel Aviv in May. The performance, however, is heavy on fascist symbolism, with members dressed in BDSM attire, screaming lyrics about the impending doom of Europe, the triumph of hatred and the void, which the band claims will eventually devour us all.

As some have pointed out, Hatari’s shenanigans might be in violation of regulation, most notably section 10.2 that states that entries should not cause emotional distress to viewers or other contestants, and should not bring dishonour to the preliminaries, The Icelandic National Broadcasting Service or the Eurovision Song Contest.

The rules also state that political lyrics, speeches and gestures on stage are not allowed in the preliminaries or in the Eurovision Song Contest. What this means for Hatari, a band that is known for its theatrics and fantasy role playing, remains to be seen.

Skarphéðinn Guðmundsson, RÚV’s director of programming, says that he has received complaints concerning Hatari’s performance, and reiterates that the Iceland’s Eurovision preliminaries should never be a “political platform, even though current and former contestants have in various ways, directly or indirectly, tried to impart a message that could be construed as political. When that happens contestants have been reminded of our regulation,” Skarphéðinn says, adding that “all of this year’s performers and songwriters have promised to follow the rules.”


Economist Slams Banking System

Gylfi Zoega, economy professor and member of the Icelandic Central Bank’s financial advisory board, says that needlessly high salaries of bank managers coupled with obtuse financial information provided by banks and an increased reliance on electronic monetary transactions have caused distrust of the bank sector among the public, RÚV reports.

Gylfi spoke at a meeting of Iceland’s Financial Supervisory Authority this morning, severely criticising the lack of information flow to the public, which in turn caused more risk taking in financial matters. He explained that the bank sector’s drive to maximize profits manifested itself in myriad of ways. “People have been talking about increasing trust towards the banking system, but why should anyone trust it?” Gylfi asked bluntly. “In order for people to trust you, you have to be trustworthy, and we’re coming up short.”

Gylfi went on to say that the banks had a vested interest in keeping the public uninformed in terms of bank rates, which had allowed the bank sector to become rich and bloated. “I’m told it will cost seven billion ISK to build Landsbankinn’s new headquarters in downtown Reykjavík,” an indignant Gylfi explained. “That’s ten times more expensive than that wall on the Mexican border proposed by the American president. Why? This money belongs to the public.”

Furthermore, Gylfi criticised the bank sector’s increasing reliance on computers, saying that working out financial matters in a computer can drastically cloud the general public’s judgement. “A computer has no judgement and the banking system needs judgement.”

Efling Union Prepared for Strike

Efling Chairperson Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir

Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir, leader of the Efling union says their demands of pay increase are supported by the majority of its members, RÚV reports. “I would’ve been surprised if our union members hadn’t supported us and hadn’t been willing to do whatever necessary to reach our goals,” Sólveig says.

Her claims are supported by a recent Gallup poll that reveals that about 80% of Efling’s members support the union’s demands and are willing to strike.

Sólveig says that the Efling strike fund is ample and the support revealed by that Gallup poll is positive reinforcement for the battle that lies ahead. “I think this sends the clear message that it’s time for our negotiators to stop beating their heads against the wall and start listening and recognising the legitimacy of our demands.”

Furthermore, Sólveig says she is not surprised that the Gallup poll reveals high support for Efling’s demands amongst immigrants, who are fed up of their treatment in the Icelandic job market.

Monetary concerns of Efling’s union members have not measured higher since the economic crash of 2008. Forty-seven percent said they were worried or very worried about their economic status in August of last year, with the number rising to 63% in the recent Gallup poll.

Sólveit says that high rent and food prices in Iceland have resulted in worsening living conditions among members, despite their workdays growing longer

Asked whether the union’s strike fund is sufficient to support its members, should they decide to strike, Sólveig is clear. “Yes, our funds are in good shape. We can strike. There is no doubt about that.”

Car Accidents, Bad Weather Cause Road and Tunnel Closure

The road through Hellisheiði has been closed indefinitely due to bad weather and a road accident, RÚV reports. Steep winds are now blowing through the northwest of Iceland, causing The Icelandic Meteorological Office to issue a special warning against strong gusts along the coastline, especially around Snæfellsnes, the south part of the Westfjords, Brattabrekka, Holtavörðuheiði and roads leading north.

A low pressure area situated over Faxaflói is moving slowly to the north today, causing gales and severe gusts of wind, expected to reach 67 miles per hour near mountains.

The winds are presumed to be strong from about 11 AM, persisting well into the day. Furthermore, roads all over the country are now covered in ice and in many places snowfall is expected, travellers are asked to take heed.

In addition, Hvalfjörður tunnel is closed at the moment, as two people were rushed to a hospital this morning after a car crash in the tunnel. According to a RÚV report, one person’s injuries were minor, whilst the state of the other remains unclear. The accident caused oil to leak into the tunnel, forcing officials to close it down while the spill is cleaned up. The tunnel is expected to reopen as soon as possible.