A Nice View, and Me Trying to Avoid Delving Deeper Into Our First Lady's Affairs

A view from Hallgrímskirkja 

Find the clump of trees in the lower left corner of this photo, and that's where I took the last post's cat pic. It's a shady corner of the the garden behind the Einar Jónsson Museum, a favorite spot for locals to ponder and chill, adults, kids and cats alike. As a matter of fact, the cat in the previous photo is one of four who live across the street, in the building with the red roof and all-glass corner 'penthouse.' They come across the street with their human, who enjoys sitting in the garden in good weather while his feline friends meander through the foliage, entertaining and posing for tourists, which our beloved Míó used to love to do as well when we lived in the light blue-roofed building dead center of the photo above, just behind the top of the tall pine tree.

if you've been to the top of Hallgrímskirkja you'll recognize this scene, looking due-west over the Reykjavik city center and our Tjörnin town lake.  I really like this aerial view, though the northwest (no reference to Kim and Kanye's recent visit intended ; ) perspective in the photo from this 2005 post is much more frequently photographed.

But as I wrote after my last visit to the top of the tower in 2012, "locals' complacency" is a real thing that keeps so many of us, in whatever gorgeous and special place we live, from taking advantage of the sites and wonders that visitors seem to enjoy so much. Back then, four years ago, it was my son Óðinn who was celebrating his 6th birthday, who wanted to go up, so we did. I took a shot towards the southeast, and then looking directly down at the decorative paving in front of the church, which out of context, very few people recognize. It's always nice to get a new perspective on things by changing your vantage point, and in this case it was my kid who reminded me to do it. He goes up to the top of the church tower every once in a while with his buddies from the 'hood, but I think it's time for me to take another trip up myself. After all, I only live a few hundred meters away : ) 

And now I have to admit that I'm rehashing older post material in a futile attempt to not go any farther into writing about politics as I've done in my past few posts. I have to, though, link to this 2001 interview with the recently deceased father of our First Lady, Dorrit Moussaieff, as well as a 2006 article about "concentrated wealth" featuring her as the "owner of the eponymous shop [in London] and a legendary dealer of diamonds." In these articles Dorrit is portrayed as either a flighty party girl in deep with the international jet set, or one of the most influential diamond merchants in the world. I think the takeaway message is that she's both, depending on what angle you view her story from. 

In reality, it's her mother Alisa who is the "mastermind and driving force" behind the House of Moussaieff, a woman who has been running an extremely tight operation for half a century, a business where what you know and don't know at any given moment could make or break you. After all, the House of Moussaieff is purveying rarest gems to the most wealthy, powerful and dangerous people in the world. In that kind of company, you make very certain that nothing's going to come back to haunt you, or discredit you or your very exclusive clientele. 

But as the Reykjavik Grapevine recently disclosed, our president Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson's wife Dorrit seem to have connections to offshore accounts via Mossack Fonseca, as revealed in the Panama Papers. The power couple has unfortunately denied any knowledge of this. Ólafur actually went so far as to categorically deny any potential involvement in an interview with CNN's hard-hitting Christiane Amanpour only days before the disclosure. I say unfortunately, because it's nearly impossible for them to deny knowledge of Moussaieff Jewelers Ltd's dealings without at the same time admitting to not having performed the due diligence required of a head of state and the owner of "one of the most discreet and exclusive High Jewellery emporiums in the world." I'll put it this way: in their shoes, I'd have set my legal and accounting teams to the task of digging for any possible connection to Panama or other tax havens the minute the leak was made public. That they didn't, and were "surprised" by the revelation, smacks disingenuous. It doesn't help matters that Dorrit moved her legal residence back to London in 2012, a move which some find suspicious (tax evasion?) and which basically just leaves a bad taste in the mouths of plenty of others. 

Regardless, their story is just one more in what's turning out to be a whole lot of crumbling truths and bumbling in the affairs of our once-again inglorious leaders. It's true that any set of seemingly random factoids can be joined up and arranged to support any number of theoretical truths, so just humor me while I play connect-the-dots with regard to our increasingly bizarre involvement in the global game of wealth and power. Maybe, as one (repeat) presidential candidate, Ástþór Magnússon, claims, Dorrit's diplomatic immunity gives her the ability to move portable wealth in the form of diamonds around the world with total freedom, and maybe this whole affair between the House of Moussaieff and Iceland is a much more sordid scenario than anyone wants to imagine. Maybe it's all just as innocent as can be. Who knows. From where I'm sitting though, nothing would surprise me...

Truth comes in shades of grey...

Who is Iceland Actually in Bed With, or Here's a Picture of a Local Feline Because Cats and Internet

A Reykjavik feline in its native habitat, totally not connected to the article 

I got some interesting feedback on my last post, including an enlightening conversation with a friend who's employed as a diplomatic correspondent between a certain extremely high-level European country and Iceland, via their embassy here. He hadn't read my piece when we sat down to talk, but I gave him the general rundown, including some details that had yet to occur at the time of writing, including that Iceland finally (almost unanimously) approving its national defense policy and within hours announcing that US military flyovers will resume posthaste, on their ever-ridiculous hunt for Russian subs.*

Word on the street is that Mother Russia is pumping out submarines like a mamma bunny, far too many for the over-taxed, thinly-spread American armed forces. Who knows but that the truth of the matter lies somewhere in between the propaganda (though in my humble opinion, RT has done a noble job of attempting to stay in the neutral truth zone).

But after talking to various sources, it's clear that some grand game is afoot, and our fat and juicy island is right in the middle of it all. Both literally and figuratively.

It's also interesting to note that we're the ONLY European country to have signed an trade agreement with China (and that that 2013 news is still the banner headline on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website) which, if you think about it might complicate our business within the NATO community given that China and Russia are technically, read financially, in bed with each other, along with the other BRICS nations (BRICS = Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa).  As per my last post, who are we actually, on the ground, when the shit hits the fan, beholden to? Big Q.

My source in the diplomatic community says that small countries like ours need to keep many irons in the fire given that we never know which way the wind will blow. I suppose I agree, unless we play so many sides against each other that a good slapping down by this or that master is in order, which  may or may not have just happened with this recent first wave of Panama Papers disclosures. With many more to come...

*For the sake of grounding and disclosure, my father, Thor Roff, served in the US Navy, on the USS Great Sitkin, from 1960 to 1964, which ship was part of the Bay of Pigs blockade back in the day. I take no issue with military service or militaries in general, but question the US policy of soft occupation in countries across the globe, both occidental and oriental, southern and northern latitudes alike.

Iceland's MunnyBoys, Russian Loans, Offshore Laundries, Contrailed Skies, Ancient Cults and Maybe a Sheik or Two

When I found this street art in an alley by my house I was bummed that the bow was shadowed, and that the branches added a stormy sense of unease to the otherwise adventurous image. But then it occurred to me how perfect the symbolism was for the bit I'm about to share, written to day, and posted sans links on my Facebook wall

What follows has been years in the considering, but this week's ridiculousness and sense of just-controlled panicky chaos from the 'ruling' parties here in Iceland brought it all home for me in a nicely wrapped bundle, ready to be typed and published and shared with the world at large. It's not the writing style most of my frequent visitors are used to, but it's as much me as anything else I've shared here on Iceland Eyes.

Iceland 2008: Our MunnyBoys are still gambling at the Big Kids table, betting long and hard and fast and we're proud of them!* They're on a winning streak, until they're not. In early days October,

The Panama Papers and Iceland's Once Again in the Global Headlines

The path of progress is never a straight line.

We Icelanders are once again facing some very dire times in lieu of the Panama Papers scandal that's splayed our increasingly intolerable PM (who's just declared that he's NOT going to resign, thank you very much) across the global headlines, side by side with some highly illustrious characters (which he, unfortunately seems to be reveling in!?)

I'll write more tomorrow after this evening's massive protest. For now you can check out my Twitter and Facebook for more real times details.

Bless í bili...

What Do I Know About Blogging, Really?

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This scene might bring back memories for those of you who've been here before. It's the road into Þingvellir, with the lake appearing as a thin sliver of blue just under the distant mountains on the right side of the photo. It was a very picturesque day! 

A few days after this photo was taken, I found myself at Súfistinn café in the Mál og Menning bookstore being interviewed by a Finnish university student for her thesis on travel blog culture. She found me via Bloglovin' which I'd kind of forgotten about, but which seems to have kept up with the times with a clean new look and streamlined interface. Annika asked