'Corruption' Tag Archive

Jan 28 2010

Friðrik Sophusson Still at Large


The professional environmental saboteur, Friðrik Sophusson, former president of Landsvirkjun (Icelandic National Energy Company) and before that the financial minister under the Independent Party’s reign of terror, has now become head of the board of directors of Íslandsbanki, one of the government owned banks since the collapse of the bank system in 2008. The bank is now mostly in the hands of it’s creditors and the board of directors, which has been expanded to 7 members, are now mostly foreign experts in the financial sector.

Íslandsbanki also owns majority in the geothermal energy company Geysir Green Energy and controls all of it’s board members. Geysir Green Energy, in return, owns a majority stake in HS Orka (Southern Peninsula Geothermal Energy Company), or 57,4% stock after acquiring 34% stock from the municipality of Reykjanes Town and selling 8,6% to the Canadian Magma Energy Corp.

So Sophussons years in meddling with Icelands resources and energy companies are obviously far from over, and now he’s got his dirty fingers down in the money jar as well, where he can apply the needed pressure on these companies, owned by his bank, to further his dream of a totally harnessed Iceland.

Jan 15 2010

Green is the New Spectacle


By Jason Slade
Originally published in the Nor easter

The Spectacle

Environmental issues can oftentimes be very complex. Some issues directly relate to climate change, and some do not. However, it is very important to connect the dots between issues because almost all environmental problems are caused, at their base, by capitalist expansion, commodification and privatization. Corporations have used the climate crisis and growing public concern about environmental issues to their advantage. They have learned to use the rhetoric of environmentalism to justify extremely oppressive projects whose sole purpose is to increase their power and to continue the cycle of production and consumption. Incredibly destructive projects, such as hydrofracture natural gas extraction in Upstate New York, are marketed as clean. This absurd spectacle must be stopped.

In Guy Debord’s Society of the Spectacle, he writes, “The spectacle presents itself simultaneously as all of society, as part of society, and as instrument of unification … The spectacle grasped in its totality is both the result and the project of the existing mode of production. It is not a supplement to the real world, an additional decoration. It is the heart of the unrealism of the real society. In all its specific forms, as information or propaganda, as advertisement or direct entertainment consumption, the spectacle is the present model of socially dominant life … It is the sun which never sets over the empire of modern passivity. It covers the entire surface of the world and bathes endlessly in its own glory.” And now the light of that sun is green. The green spectacle is confronting the climate crisis with hollow solutions presented to us in a pleasant, prefabricated package that can be bought if we can afford them and allow us to pollute in good conscience. In an absurd twist, these corporate false solutions cause the poor, and those who resist these schemes, to be blamed for destroying the planet. “It is not the oil companies who are to blame for climate change, but the poor who do not buy carbon offsets when they travel.” Thus, the climate crisis becomes another way to make money and increase corporate power. Read More

Aug 08 2009

The Police Roughs Up a Protester – The Media Helps Sustaining the Smear


Yesterday, Friday August 7th, Saving Iceland protested by the Ministry of Industry. At the same time inside the building, a financial contract was signed between the government and Norðurál/Century Aluminum, concerning the latter’s smelter in Helguvík. When the protest was about to end, the police showed up, arrested 5 individuals and aggressively roughed up one of them. Most of the media has spoken about the event but not mentioned the police brutality at all. Instead, the media has unsparingly published the police’s smear about us: that a policeman was kicked in the head and that we threatened the police with iron sticks, without any evidence showing that anything like this ever took place. Saving Iceland rejects these accusations and renounces the media’s one-sided reports.

The contract that was signed today includes state support for the aluminium smelters in the form of a tax discount that amounts to 16,2 million US dollars – two billion Icelandic krónur – and gives Norðurál/Century exemptions from paying industry fees, market fees and electricity safety fees. Special rules will also apply concerning stamp duty and planning fees, and about new taxes. The emission permits that are now valid permit a 150 thousand ton smelter in Helguvík; the Environmental Impact Assessment permits 250 thousand tons, but Century/Norðurál plans to build a 360 thousand ton smelter and today’s contract gives the company the right to do so. (1) The energy for the smelter has not been found and Svandís Svarvarsdóttir, the minister of environment has officially said that enough energy to run the smelter does not exist in the Reykjanes peninsula. (2) At the same time, Katrín Júlíusdóttir, the minister of industry, has agreed with ideas about Landsvirkjun selling energy from the planned dams in Þjórsá river to Helguvík. (3) Read More

Aug 06 2009

Saving Iceland Targets Alcoa – The Only Way to Real Changes Lies in the Protection of Nature!


Last Tuesday, August 4th,  Saving Iceland targeted the aluminium producer Alcoa. We knocked on the doors of the company’s office by Suðurlandsbraut but nobody answered, so the green skyr (traditional dairy product – historical for being used in protests) and other filthy stuff we had, ended up on the door, walls and the floor in front of the office. Compared to Alcoa’s role in the destruction of Iceland’s wilderness and other environmental and human crimes across the globe, this was a minimum punishment.

Though Alcoa’s aluminium smelter in Reyðarfjörður (east of Iceland) is now working with full force, driven on by the highly critical Kárahnjúkar Dam, there is still a fair reason for attacking the company. The smelter in Reyðarfjörður was the beginning of the heavy industry madness, the first sign of how effect the government’s advertisement campaign about the country’s cheap energy and people’s little as no resistance, was. (1) The smelter in Reyðarfjörður was the ball the pushed forward the idea that aluminium production is the premise for life. After the construction of the Kárahnjúkar Dam, all other energy projects look so small that only very few people seem to see a reason for fighting against them. And the police’s mistreatment towards those who dared to put their feet in between the construction, did for sure not encourage many to continue the resistance.  Read More

Jul 08 2009

Impregilo Gets Permission to Bury 800 Tons of Rubber


The Italian construction company Impregilo plans to bury machinery, which was used to get stones and gravel up from the inflowing tunnel of the Kárahnjúkar Dam. The conveyer belt, which is about half meter wide, has been rolled in to 200 roles that each weights four tons. In total 800 tons of rubber – about fifty truckloads – will be dug in to the ground in Tjarnalands, Fljótsdalshérað.

After receiving an advice concerning the landfill, the Environment Administration Umhverfisstofnun) decided to stop it for a limited time, while it was researched if this amount of rubber could be buried. The conclusion was that Impregilo is allowed to bury the machinery. Read More

May 10 2009

Don’t Thank Icelanders For Iceland


Given the chance, we’d have made it into Murmansk

From The Reykjavík Grapvine – Dreamland is the result of collaboration between documentary filmmaker Þorfinnur Guðnason and author, playwright and poet Andri Snær Magnason. It is based on the latter’s best selling, award winning 2006 non-fiction book, ‘Dreamland: A self-help manual for a Frightened Nation’ (available in English translation through Amazon.co.uk and at local bookstores). The book stirred a lot of controversy in Iceland, as it shed new light on some of the issues surrounding the conflict between environmental preservation and the build up of heavy industry in Iceland. It furthermore examined the government’s hope to sell cheap energy from hydroelectric power plants in order to place Iceland among the world’s biggest aluminium manufacturers – and why on Earth we’d aspire to that.

The film goes even further, using the full potential of the medium to conjure up a truly chilling vision of recent events. And it’s effective. As we exited a screening of the film, my friend Geiri summarised the experience perfectly, saying: “Most of the time, I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry or vomit in disgust.” That somehow says it all. A scathing indictment of Iceland’s recent “all in” industrial and environmental policies, Dreamland combines archival news footage, exquisite nature shots and select interviews to achieve its goal of waking Icelanders up to the very real, very serious consequences of selling off some of the last bits of pristine wilderness remaining in Europe. Read More

Apr 25 2009

‘Green’ Deception Flops – A Statement from Saving Iceland Regarding Skyr Splashings of Election Offices


Olafur Pall Sigurdsson

Saving Iceland applauds the symbolic hits that the three pro-heavy industry political parties were dealt in the form of liberal splashes of green skyr (traditional Icelandic dairy product) on Monday.

According to Saving Iceland’s sources, three different groups, not just one, like the corporate media have claimed, did these actions almost simultaneously. Saving Iceland has also been informed that the activists were all Icelandic. It appears that this is a powerful group of activists, fighting the heavy industrialization of Iceland. Saving Iceland declares full support with the group.

The forces that stand behind Sjálfstæðisflokkurinn (Conservatives), Framsóknarflokkurinn (Right-wing opportunists) and Samfylkingin (New Labour equivalents), are guilty of what is tantamount to high treason with their heavy industry policy. Judging from their election propaganda, there is no sign that the parties have been willing to learn anything from the economic collapse about the expansion effects on the economy by heavy industry.

At the same time as these parties’ policy of uncontrollable greed has been pursued with the consequences of immense irreversible destruction of the country’s unique nature, this policy has just as much harmed Icelandic society as a whole. Read More

Apr 07 2009
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Aluminum Companies Consulted About New Draft of the Icelandic Constitution


A parliamentary committee for redrafting of the Icelandic constitution consulted representatives from three foreign aluminium companies – Rio Tinto-Alcan, Alcoa and Century Aluminum – to give comments about the constitution. The chairman of the committee is the former minister of industry, Valgerður Sverrisdóttir – the ‘aluminium lady’.

A regulation about the national property of natural resources is in a draft of law that recently has been heavily debated in the parliament. The committee asked for comment from various directions, e.g. the aluminium and energy companies. All the three aluminium companies are owned by foreign investors and their holding companies are all registered abroad. Read More

Apr 07 2009

Iceland Attacked by Economic Hitmen


John Perkins, the author of The Confessions of an Economic Hitman, is currently in Iceland. Perkins is here to be at the premier screening of The Dreamland, a documentary based on Andri Snær Magnason’s book, also titled The Dreamland. Last Sunday, Perkins was interviewed in a political TV show on RÚV (the state television station) where he spoke about the threat of Icelandic resources being sold to foreign corporations and advised Icelandic authorities not to collaborate with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Perkins used to work for the U.S. National Security Agency and his job included “to convince poor countries to accept enormous development loans – and to make sure that such projects were contracted to U.S. companies,” as says on the back cover of his book. Perkins states that Iceland is the first ‘developed’ country in the world to be hit by the ‘Economic Hitmen’, referring to the invasion of the aluminium industry in Iceland. Read More

Mar 20 2009

The Dreamland – A Documentary by Andri Snær Magnason




From Draumalandið website – Dreamland is a truly epic film about a nation standing at cross-roads. Leading up to the country’s greatest economic crisis, the government started the largest mega project in the history of Iceland, to build the biggest dam in Europe to provide Alcoa cheap electricity for an aluminum smelter in the rugged east fjords of Iceland. The mantra was economic growth. Today Iceland is left holding a huge dept and an uncertain future

Dreamland is a film about exploitation of natural resources and as Icelanders have learned clean energy does not come without consequence. Iceland is a country blessed with an abundance of clean, renewable, hydro-electric and geothermal energy. Clean energy brings in polluting industry and international corporations. Read More

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