5 Fast Facts About Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Iceland’s New Prime Minister

Getty Images
Getty Images

In November 2017, Katrín Jakobsdóttir became the new prime minister of Iceland as part of the country's Left-Green Movement. In addition to being only the second woman to ever hold the position, the 41-year-old is a staunch environmentalist who is hoping to make the country carbon neutral by 2040. Here are some facts about Iceland’s new PM.

1. SHE’S AN EXPERT IN CRIME FICTION.

Before entering politics, Jakobsdóttir attended the University of Iceland, where she received her bachelor’s degree in Icelandic while minoring in French in 1999. She got her masters in Icelandic literature at the same school, where she wrote her dissertation on Arnaldur Indriðason, a popular crime author in Iceland.

2. SHE IS ICELAND’S FORMER EDUCATION MINISTER.

After the 2008 financial crisis led to Iceland’s first left-leaning government taking power, Jakobsdóttir served as the country’s Minister of Education, Science and Culture. She continues to tout the importance of those subjects by promising to put more money from the country’s current economic upswing into health and education.

3. SHE IS ICELAND'S FOURTH PRIME MINISTER IN TWO YEARS.

Jakobsdóttir’s tenure as prime minister begins as the country’s political system deals with a series of scandals from the past few years, including fallout from government officials being named in the Panama Papers. This has led to constant shuffling of the prime minister position, and Jakobsdóttir, as part of the Left-Green party, will be the fourth since 2016. The previous prime minister, Bjarni Benediktsson, saw his coalition collapse in 2017 after a scandal occurred involving his father, which prompted a snap election in October.

Though a coalition with the Progressive Party and Benediktsson’s Independence Party led to Jakobsdóttir becoming PM, she must still work with Benediktsson, who is now the country’s Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs. The three ruling parties will all have a hand in different aspects of the government, but the situation between them could be tenuous, as no partnership of this nature has lasted a full term in the country.

4. A POLL NAMED HER THE “MOST TRUSTED ICELANDIC POLITICIAN” AHEAD OF THE COUNTRY’S PRESIDENT

In 2016, an Icelandic market research poll named Jakobsdóttir the country’s most trusted politician, with 59.2 percent of people saying they trusted her. This was ahead of then-president Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson at 54.5 percent. Other polls suggest that most of Jakobsdóttir’s support comes from voters aged 18 to 29, with many of them being women.

5. OH, AND SHE WAS IN A MUSIC VIDEO

Before Jakobsdóttir entered politics, she popped up in the music video for "Listen Baby” by the Icelandic pop rock band Bang Gang. What’s her role in the video? Well, she runs. A lot.

“Two friends of mine asked me to play that role, and it's mainly doing the running bits,” Jakobsdóttir told USA Today. She understands, though, the importance of trying her hand in many different areas of Icelandic culture, telling the site, “So, we all have to play a lot of different parts, not least [of all] in a small society like Iceland."

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Is Now a Funko Pop!

Funko/Hot Topic
Funko/Hot Topic

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a.k.a. Notorious RBG, has inspired museum exhibits, bestselling books, and even fashion accessories. Now, the Supreme Court Justice is receiving an honor shared by many of the biggest icons in pop culture: A new Ruth Bader Ginsberg vinyl figurine has been added to the Funko Pop! collection.

The doll is part of the line of American History Pop! figures that Funko debuted last year. Other characters in the category include presidents like George Washington and John F. Kennedy as well as fictional icons like Rosie the Riveter and Uncle Sam. Ginsburg is one of the few living figures in American politics to receive her own Funko.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Funko Pop!
Hot Topic/Funko

The figurine depicts RBG as she appears on the Supreme Court bench today, complete with her black-framed glasses and the white jabot she wears at the front of her robes. Like all classic Funko Pop! dolls, it's made of vinyl and stands 3.75 inches tall.

Head here to purchase the Ruth Bader Ginsburg Funko Pop! online from Hot Topic for $12.50. For more unique collectibles, check out these Funko Pops! worth a small fortune.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

10 Surprising Facts About Richard Nixon

Keystone/Getty Images
Keystone/Getty Images

Often maligned but rarely boring, Richard Nixon (1913-1994) was the nation’s 37th president and the first to resign from office. Although his involvement in the Watergate break-in scandal tends to overshadow much of his life, there was more to Nixon—who was born on January 9, 1913—than his political improprieties. Check out some facts about his early law enforcement aspirations, why he got criticized for commenting on Charles Manson, and his infamous encounter with RoboCop.

1. Richard Nixon was a Quaker.

Also known as the Religious Society of Friends, Quakers have roots in 17th century England and promoted pacifism and spiritual equality among genders at a time those thoughts were not in fashion. When Nixon’s father, Frank, married Quaker Hannah Milhous, he joined a Quaker congregation and the couple raised their children as Quakers. Nixon’s religious faith allowed him an exemption from serving in World War II, but he waived it to enter the Navy. Later, when he was facing impeachment for his role in Watergate, Quakers in Milwaukee and Minneapolis apparently didn’t like the affiliation with the outcast president, petitioning for him to be removed from office months before he resigned.

2. Richard Nixon wanted to join the FBI.

A photograph of Richard Nixon's 1937 FBI application
Brendan Smialowski, Getty Images

In retrospect, it’s easy to imagine Nixon’s mannered disposition fitting comfortably in the stiff-necked legion of G-men that populated J. Edgar Hoover’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). A little over a month before graduating from law school, Nixon applied to the Bureau in 1937, when he was just 24. After an in-person interview and physical, Nixon waited for a response. He never got one. Later, when Nixon was in office as vice president and queried Hoover about why he had not been accepted, Hoover told him it had been due to budget cuts.

3. Richard Nixon wrote love notes to his wife-to-be.

Nixon met his wife, Patricia, while the two appeared in a 1938 Whittier Community Players theater production titled The Dark Tower. Nixon set about courting her, writing letters that seemed uncharacteristically maudlin for the future president. He wrote: “And when the wind blows and the rains fall and the sun shines through the clouds (as it is now) he still resolves, as he did then, that nothing so fine ever happened to him or anyone else as falling in love with Thee – my dearest heart.” The two married in 1940.

4. A dog helped save Richard Nixon's political career (for a little while).

A family portrait of the Nixons and their dog, Checkers
Fox Photos/Getty Images

Controversy dogged Nixon early on. In 1952, Dwight D. Eisenhower considered dropping Nixon as his vice-presidential running mate after allegations surfaced that Nixon was benefiting from a trust fund filled by his supporters to help offset his political and personal expenses. Going on radio and television to address the issue, Nixon cleverly slipped in an anecdote about his 6-year-old daughter being in love with a cocker spaniel named Checkers that had been “donated” by a campaign supporter. Believing that any man who loved dogs couldn’t be all bad, the public sentiment turned and he remained on the ticket.

“It was labeled as the ‘Checkers speech,’ as though the mention of my dog was the only thing that saved my career," Nixon later wrote. "Many of the critics glided over the fact that the fund was thoroughly explained, my personal finances laid bare, and an admittedly emotional but honest appeal made for public support."

5. Richard Nixon literally made the mornings darker.

In 1973, to save fuel during an energy crisis, Nixon signed a law that mandated that daylight saving would be in effect year-round starting on January 6, 1974. But kids wound up waiting for their school buses in pitch-black conditions, and there was a fear they might get hit by traffic—so the idea was scrapped in 1975.

6. Richard Nixon had a bowling alley installed under the White House.

Richard Nixon in the bowling alley at the White House in 1971
Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Nixon, an avid bowler, was pleased to see that the love of bowling that inspired Harry Truman to build lanes in the White House in 1947 was still going strong when he took office in 1969. That alley was moved in 1955, and Nixon actually ordered that a new lane be built underground under the North Portico entrance and favored the new location because it was more private than the lanes that were open to other staffers. Nixon reportedly bowled a respectable 232.

7. Richard Nixon wanted the Secret Service to wear uniforms.

The president’s security detail is usually dressed for business: Suits, ties, and sunglasses are the normal attire for many agents, while those patrolling the White House grounds wear police-style uniforms. When Nixon took office, however, he wanted his men to resemble the palace guards he had seen in other countries. The Service assigned to his personal detail wore white double-breasted tunics and hats that vaguely resembled the Empire’s underlings in a Star Wars film. After he was criticized by the press, Nixon abandoned the idea and the outfits were eventually donated to a high school marching band.

8. Richard Nixon almost messed up Charles Manson's murder trial.

Richard Nixon frowns during a public appearance
AFP/Getty Images

Nixon’s first year in office coincided with the national obsession over cult leader Charles Manson and his followers, some of whom had gone on a murder spree in 1969 that left actress Sharon Tate and several others dead. During Manson’s trial in August 1970, Nixon proclaimed Manson “was guilty, directly or indirectly, of eight murders without reason.” Manson’s lawyers moved for a mistrial based on Nixon’s comments. The president quickly retracted his statement, with a spokesperson suggesting he neglected to include the word “allegedly.”

9. Richard Nixon met RoboCop.

In 1987, Nixon attended a national board meeting for the Boys Club of America. Also on hand to fete organizers and kids was a guy dressed as Robocop. (The unknown actor was definitely not Peter Weller, star of the 1987 feature, and the ill-fitting costume was definitely not the original.) For years, an image of the meeting circulated on the internet without context before a crack sleuth determined it had been snapped for Billboard magazine.

10. Richard Nixon's meeting with Elvis Presley made National Archives history.

Richard Nixon greets Elvis Presley at the White House in 1970
National Archives/Getty Images

On December 21, 1970, Nixon greeted one of the more colorful characters to ever enter the White House: Elvis Presley. The singer apparently wanted a badge or other token of law enforcement; as the King was high on fighting the war on drugs at the time. (Unfortunately, Presley had drug issues of his own that may have contributed to his death in 1977.) A photo of the meeting between the two is (as of 2015) the most requested image in the National Archives, outpacing requests for the moon landing, the Declaration of Independence, or the Bill of Rights.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER