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tv   The Wonder List With Bill Weir  CNN  March 27, 2016 10:00pm-11:01pm PDT

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-- captions by vitac -- [ wind blowing ] it feels like a different planet with a whole different logic, a place of frozen warmth and colorful darkness, a place settled by pillaging brutes now run by peaceful feminists. a harsh place where people live long happy lives of little poverty of crime and a take on
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relationships that may just blow up everything we know about love and marriage. welcome to iceland. ♪ a place so strange, so subline it can't possibly stay this way, can it? my name is bill weir and i'm a storyteller. i've reported from all over the world, and i've seen so much change. so i made a list of the most wonderful places to explore right before they change forever. ♪ this is "the wonder list." do you know this story? >> yeah.
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>> about how we got married. >> no, not really. >> within two days we were using the l word. [ laughter ] and then 30 days later we eloped. >> like most american dads, i always assumed i would walk this kid down an aisle some day. >> look how happy we are. >> at least i did. until i made friends with a few vikings and took a stroll across iceland. ♪ yes, when it comes to gorgeous people living on gorgeous landscapes, this little nation
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way up north is tough to beat. with just over 300,000, they have fewer people than tulsa, oklahoma and more glaciers and geysers and clean, fresh water than countries ten times their size. ♪ but iceland not only leads the developed world in clean water and power but in unwed mothers. two out of every three kids are born to parents who are not married. two out of three. this may be considered tragic in america but here it is a point of pride. their views, their vistas so different from what i'm used to thanks in part to iceland's isolation between two worlds. see, this country is part of no continent. it's a lonely volcanic bump on
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the north atlantic ocean floor. and as a result, this icelandic lake is the only place on the globe where you can hold two continental plates at once. now, that's a swimming hole viking style right there. if you're willing to get cold and wet. ♪ it is a crystalline valhalla, each drop filtered through rock and ice for decades, chilled to a refreshing 38 degrees. this is the kind of water they sell in manhattan restaurants for $8 a bottle. so crisp, so crystal clear, the bubbles are like diamonds. on one deep breath i shake hands
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with two worlds, america on one side, europe on the other. and living between two worlds not only shapes the world iceland looks but the way icelanders create. this music is the work of sigur ros, just one local band to reach global acclaim. of monsters and man is the latest darling of the american charts, 20 years after bjork and the sugar kooubz cubes hit it big. and the number of publicists and authors is staggering. >> in between two cultural worlds, east and the west. >> like the rift, the continental rift. >> yeah. we are there. so we get a lot of information, influences. >> from both sides. >> from both sides. >> einar is one of the founders of the sugar cubes. a rock star turned local politician and just one example of their unique views on marriage.
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>> i've asked my fiancee for 28 years to marry me and she doesn't want to marry me. how can i explain it better? it's like we've got three children. i've proposed on several occasions. and she always says no. i don't believe in it. >> that is the common sentiment. and everywhere you turn there are couples like brindis and siggy. together they have four kids from three other partners and not a drop of guilt or regret. >> one of the main reasons i wanted to come heresy read this startling statistic iceland leads the world in unwed mothers. >> that's the main reason you want to come here? we have glaciers. >> glaciers and puffins, that's cool. but i want to see because in america it sort of means, wow, she made a bad choice somewhere in her life. but not so in iceland. >> no. it's very common in iceland to
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be an unmarried mother. and people go a long time, they live together and have children. then maybe they get married. you have this horrible term in english like broken families. >> right. >> yeah. which basically means just if you get divorced then something's broken, but that's not the way it is in iceland at all. i think it's because we live in such a small and secure environment, and the women, they have so much freedom so you can just -- you can choose your life. >> small and secure indeed. >> not necessary you have to marry. you can bring up your children but also many couples in iceland stay together without necessarily getting married. >> can't remember the last time i strolled a nation's capital with the president and not a single bodyguard. oh, and over 20 years ago his
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predecessor was a single mother, named vigdis. >> i think we are definitely the first country, maybe so far the only country in the world where women have now held all the highest offices of state. and church. the president, prime minister, president of the parliament, the president of the supreme court and the head bishop. and i don't know of any other country where women have broken every glass ceiling. >> but while the u.s. is yet to put a woman on the 10 or in the white house, america still has a huge cultural influence over this land. so i wonder, will our values slowly change them or could this be the first country to let go of matrimony? could she be one of the last icelandic brides? we're off in search of answers.
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and now that someone dammed these rivers, tapped these geysers, sell the power, i wonder how long can this land of fire and ice remain just right? ♪
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for steampunk hobbits, but it is the envy of a world stuck burning dirty fuel. so each of these cute little igloos is a well head? >> yes. down below it is a well deep into the ground. >> how deep? >> 6,000 feet. >> let others drill for oil. here they drill for hot water, a power revolution that changed everything. for almost 600 years, iceland was a backwater outpost ruled by norway and denmark. they only gained independence a century ago and was the poorest country in europe, shivering and coughing under a cloud of coal dust. but not anymore. >> can i admit that i took a guilt-free 20-minute hot shower here? >> yes, you can. it's not uncommon when icelanders move and living
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abroad and come back home they have a long shower, then maybe a bath and another long shower before they come out and then they feel clean and relaxed. >> i touched one of these pipes. you can feel it -- >> hildi is the lead engineer of the nation's biggest geothermal plant and a living example of iceland's unique sexual politics. >> tell me about your family. >> well, my mom has three children with three men. she did marry two of them. and i have half siblings of those half siblings. so i say my family tree is more like a family star. there isn't pressure to get married. you get married for love or you want stability. for instance, i married and i married before i had my children but my mother-in-law was asking about grandchildren way before -- she never asked about marriage. >> you have a very important job. >> i have a good job. >> you have a great job. >> yeah. >> but you still get six months maternity leave? >> yes. maternity and paternity leaves here in iceland are very good. especially compared to the u.s. i moved back to iceland because here it's very easy to have an
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ambitious challenging career and have a family. i went to board meetings, board of directors meetings, took my little girl along, breast-fed at meetings. that's not an issue. >> but even in the most feminist country in the world it's not all bluebirds and lemonade for the ladies. a few years back a facebook page devoted to beauty tips morphed into an online confessional for victims of harassment and abuse. so reykjavik joined the slut walk movements with women and the men who love them quietly marching for the dignity of a global sisterhood. >> you're a mother. are you married? >> not married. living with the father. >> yes. >> iceland has lutheran roots but most here explain this is not a religious country. so there is no moral judgment attached to how a family comes together or breaks apart. >> i'm not married. >> you're not married either. you'
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you're separated. >> i was never married. >> you were never married. >> separated. >> that was amicable? >> sorry? >> it was -- >> i'm like happily divorced person ever. >> have you heard of the term shotgun wedding? you know what that means? a shotgun wedding is when a guy gets a girl pregnant and her father is standing behind him -- >> basically stuck with her. >> right. yeah. exactly. but you don't even -- that doesn't even rejects here. >> i've been in a relationship for nine years, but we haven't even considered marriage. >> no? >> of course not. >> have you never heard the rhyme john and sally sitting in a tree k-i-s-s-i-n-g? first comes love, then comes marriage. then comes the baby and the baby carriage. did you guys not get that memo? >> no. we stopped at the kissing. >> at the kissing. >> since iceland is a relatively small gene pool, these guys invented an app to let siblings find out if they are related before they hook up.
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>> was any of your parents not married? >> yeah. my mom. >> your parents aren't married. >> they've been together like 30 years. my dad still hasn't proposed to her. next year he's going to do it. but he never does. >> he never does. >> a lot of traditional marriage vows deal with fidelity. >> yeah. >> how do icelanders feel about monogamy? >> they're pretty, pretty conventional about that. >> right. >> we're not just -- >> it's not a big orgy. >> one big orgy. >> yeah. that's too bad. >> yeah. >> when i moved to the united states in 2001, i was blown away by the wedding industry, not necessarily in a good way. >> hulda is a college professor and author. >> i remember being baffled when one of my friends from graduate school one day came to school
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with a big ring on her finger and all the other girls, or women, in the graduate program like just gathered around her and admired the ring. and i was just standing there, i guess i should be doing the same thing, too. but the first thing that went through my mind was like, what? did he just buy her? >> while eight of her nine best friends had kids before marriage, hulda was the rebel and got hitched first. >> he gave me an anklet, a gold anklet with a little charm on it with really pretty writing on the charm. he said i decided to give you an anklet. >> okay. and the fact that you married him after that proved you're iceland. most american girls would be, are you kidding me? but for those who eventually decide to wed, the arrangements are interesting. this groom has four children with three women, and they're
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has inspired everything from "lord of the rings" to "game of thrones." the place just looks more dramatic than most. so maybe it's understandable that in this land of the sagas, strange rocks and wondrous light give rise to odd belief. as legend has it, two giant trolls were stealing a big fishing ship here one night, and they were so distracted by hauling in their booty they didn't notice that dawn was breaking. the light hit them, they were turned to stone. but what's interesting is that for many icelanders these stories are not stories. even though this country is highly educated, something like half of icelanders actually believe in trolls and fairies and hidden people who live in the rocks. do you believe in elves?
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>> yeah, of course. >> you do. of course. >> i think we just have to do it. they say everything becomes because of volcano, glaciers, elves, and trolls. if you don't know the answer, they just say it's because of elves. >> blame the elves. >> yeah. >> bega is one of our guides and says when heavy machinery digging this tunnel broke down contractors actually called in an elf whisperer to negotiate and einar the rock star tells a similar story. >> when i built a house here i had to negotiate with the hidden people because they stopped the building being built. >> so there is an actual elf or troll or hidden person negotiator in iceland and that's their profession? >> yeah. >> wow. >> and here's one now. >> there is an old elf couple that live here. they're only about this big. around 300 years old.
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>> her name is raga and she even battled the government to stop a road project. they wanted to bulldoze a big rock. she says it's really an elf church. >> is it up to them to appear to you or can you see them all the time? >> they're here all around. and my childhood friend, my oldest friend, she lives here in this rock. >> in this rock? >> yeah, i started talking about it when i was two years old and we're still playing together. >> that's fantastic. i drifted apart from my childhood friends. but that's awesome. >> before we all scoff, einar said something that puts it all in perspective. >> i truly believe in hidden people and they are part of nature and so i respect nature, so i must respect the hidden people. >> for some here, elves, trolls,
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hidden people, the way tribes in the south pacific pray to the volcano. but when eyjafjallajokull blew its top a few years back there was very little praying and a whole lot of running. ♪ this is actually a souvenir of that 2010 explosion. ash and soot cover this entire glaciers, and now as it melts it forms these cool little miniature mountain ranges. and that sound, that peaceful little trickle is the soundtrack of iceland's slow change. but what they really worry about in these parts is sudden and violent change. because under this glacier is a volcano. and if it goes all of this will melt, fast. which is why they actually have flash flood drills in the
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communities down valley. >> we had an eruption just outside the glacier this past winter. which amounted to the energy of 30,000 atomic bombs. >> odour has devoted his life to studying iceland's ice. >> this is the biggest glacier in europe. >> yes. >> pronounce it for me. >> [speaking foreign language]. >> [speaking foreign language]. >> roll the double l, blow it into your cheek. >> okay. >> he says the edge of this glacier fell as snow just as the vikings came ashore 800 years
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ago, and it will melt into iceland's biggest lake in less than 50 years. and this is due to climate change? >> yes. and there are so many things that are happening along with this mass loss. the land is rising. >> yes, iceland is rising. michelle parks is a volcanologist that measures how how much and how fast. she says less ice means more volcanic eruptions. >> studies actually predicted that within the next 150 to 200 years most of the ice caps will have melted in iceland. and that's really quite scary to think about. >> right. >> horrifying, actually. >> odour agrees that iceland will be ice-free in 200 years. and for the record, neither he nor michelle believe in elves. (avo) after 50 years of designing cars
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♪ iceland is home of the geyser. not just a geyser. the geyser. the one for which all others are named. right next to it is stoker,
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which fires like clockwork, just one part of a volcanic nation unlike few others. where countless hot springs and pots and pools make the locals world-class soakers. >> i think nobody in iceland lives more than two kilometers away from a hot outdoor heated pool, so if it's a gloomy february day you can take your kids swimming in freezing cold but it's fun but this is kind of in the hot pots, those are the areas where icelanders would in the prefacebook era, they would argue about politics. >> the blue lagoon here is actually a happy accident. when they drilled a gio thermal plant they thought it would soak into the lava rock. it didn't. locals would sneak in.
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some were even boiled alive. but then they realized the mud is a natural skin remedy. someone had the bright idea to charge tourists $40 to get in. an entrepreneur would look at this and say my goodness, there's a waiting list for a place like this. let's build 10, 20 of these across the country. >> we can build a few more, we can do that. this exact spot could be a good example how the energy can go well with tourism and stuff. but on the other hand, i don't think we would want all this stuff in the place i showed you. >> andri is one of iceland's most beloved authors and a voice against overdeveloping the wild places. >> they want to build like a huge power house down here. >> really? >> down here in the fields and have to drill fields very close to the springs. >> with his little girls in tow, he shows me a few of the spots where power companies hope to drill more wells and build more factories and dam more rivers including on the vital spawning grounds of 5% of the world's
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north atlantic salmon. >> they claim they are making a salmon dam but that has never been -- i don't think -- you know, who wins the bet and who loses the bet? so -- >> if they are wrong -- >> if they're wrong, we're wrong, sorry. so the icelandic nation only uses 10% of the energy we produce. 90% is used by heavy industry like aluminum smelters. and i think we have exceeded the balance. >> when you buy a can of soda or beer, the can is way more expensive and complicated than whatever is inside. making that can takes massive minds in jamaica and dams in iceland. >> many people would say when you are harnessing 1,000% more than you use yourself, you would think enough is enough. >> right. >> but the energy companies have had ambitions of doubling the
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production. >> what do you say to somebody, even those across the political aisle from you, who say you know, we already produce more than enough energy than we could ever use as icelanders, enough. no more dams. no more geothermal. >> well, i say to them that this is not the fact today. we are in need or more energy production in iceland, obviously. >> john gunnarsson is a pro-business member of parliament, which has seen a lot of soul searching in recent years after a financial fever gripped the land after farmers and fishermen started playing the market to buy fancier cars the bubble burst and iceland nearly went bankrupt. some bankers are still in jail, most icelanders are still deep in debt, so the temptation to scale back their mom friendly welfare state and cash in on
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their natural power is greater than ever. >> we need foreign investment. >> what are the big countries that are most interested, russia, china? >> no, i would say the companies coming in here today is related to the u.s. and europe mainly. >> really? >> we see of course an interest from china. we made -- we are the first and only european country that has made a free trade agreement with china. >> the president helped close that deal and now wants to sell power to europe through a giant underwater cable. >> from that sense, i think iceland offers an important lesson to the world, that indeed the ice is disappearing, climate change is happening but the solution is a renewable energy transformation, which as we have proved is not just a visionary effort but also a very good business. >> the world needs clean energy. >> yeah. >> so do you have a moral obligation, even though it may cost icelanders some of their
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unbelievable landscapes, do you have a moral obligation to let the world share this? >> if you let the world look at wasted energy, like in america, america throws away about 1 million tons of cans every year. aluminum cans. that's more than icelanders produce every year of aluminum. so if everybody decided to recycle their cans, then in one night they would have created more energy than damming everything in iceland. and that's the thing that i think is fascinating, is can we ever stop before we're forced to stop? can we stop because we want to stop? or are we dumping all that on our children?
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♪ for animal lovers, a land with so few trees doesn't offer a whole lot of variety. but the creatures they do have, so cool. from their signature purebred
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horses to the puffins that fly like adorable wind-up toys to the arctic fox on the comeback. and then there are the whales. >> wow. >> oh, wow. >> so this couldn't be any better. >> whoo! >> look at this, megan. look at this. you arranged this. did you cue them because we were -- >> of course, we rang them up in advance. >> hey, "the wonder list" is coming. rally the hump backs. >> yeah, put on a cool show. >> another boat appears on the horizon, and a tourist might assume there are more whale watchers or fishermen out for cod maybe. but sigurstein is the first who realizes they are whale hunters. so what goes through your mind when you see them? >> the senselessness of it all. how unnecessary it is. >> he's a former journalist
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turned activist for the international fund for welfare and points out while this friendly hump back is a protected species, that crew has the right to hunt minkey whales by the dozen. >> here you have a full boat of passengers paying to see whales alive and it's absolutely ridiculous you have a situation going on here. it just makes no sense at all. ♪ >> far from the tourists on this beautiful fjord, the last of the whalers hauls in a day's catch. back in the days of the vikings, whales were sea monsters, too big, too scary and too fast to catch, and on a rugged island where hungry pesants survived on horse and puffin meet a beached
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whale was considered a divine gift. but industrial-scale whale hunting didn't really begin until the 1950s. and today iceland is one of the last few countries that allows the commercial harvest of the smaller minky whale and the much bigger fin whale, an animal so large they use harpoons tipped with grenades. >> that's the harpoon. >> that's the gun where you have to load the gun with the harpoon and then you screw the grenade on the front. and it explodes -- there is nothing in the gun now, you see. >> christian loftsson is a modern-day captain ahab. heir to a family business that over the years has killed over 15,000 fin whales. >> wow, two of them. >> two fin whales, yes. >> while most of the world considers them endangered, iceland decided they have enough in their waters to have him kill around 150 a year. >> you have to look at this stock by stock. >> a lot of people look at it as
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there is a finite number of whales left on the planet. >> yeah. but that's wrong completely. >> you shoot them where? where do you aim? >> you aim behind -- around the flipper. then the grenade goes into the abdomen and explodes there. >> the grenade. >> yes. >> how long does it take for them to die? >> they are stone dead when the grenade explodes inside the -- they're just kind of belly up, you know. of course you can hit badly, you know, and then you have to shoot them again. >> loftsson has admitted it to me, that sometimes the explosion, the dynamite doesn't go off. and then you have a situation that can be a horrible -- horribly long death struggle for the whale. if the harpoon is only stuck in the animal. then they bring out big shotguns -- >> shotguns? >> yes. that's what they do.
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and they shoot it several times. >> i think it was ten minutes, one. six minutes and five minutes or something. compared to the united states of america when you are executing people it takes up to 1 point -- one hour and 20 minutes with injection. >> his men use a modified backhoe to help drag the whale into the processing area. here we don boots and hairnets and take a closer look. and be warned. this is where things start to get graphic. with brutal efficient his men use knives shaped like hockey sticks to take the animal apart. bits of the tongue might end up in a restaurant in reykjavik. the fat might fuel his boats. but a disturbing amount of fin whale meat is shipped to japan and sold as dog food. >> how much money will you make off this one whale? >> i don't calculate it that way. we just look at the season when
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it is finished, what comes out of the season. >> why don't you want to tell me how much you make off this? >> i never calculate that. i don't care less how much -- >> new japanese restrictions may stall his business this year but he's not in it for the money. this is about his father's legacy. this is about not letting other countries tell iceland how to behave. and after the radical conservation group "sea shepherd" sank two of his boats in the '80s, he's at war with what he calls the anti-everything groups. what do you say to people watching this in america and other countries and are just mortified because they believe this is a special animal? >> all animals are special. whale is no different to moose or deer to me, you know. you shoot them in the u.s. >> this is such a stunning
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contrast to what we saw earlier tonight with the whaling ship. the whale watchers passing the whale hunters. there can't be many places in the world where this happens. >> no, no, definitely not. and it's -- yeah. it's a problem. >> many restaurants in reykjavik have whale onts menu. and as a nod to the olden days, horse and puffin meat too. but icelandic tastes are changing. >> unfortunately nowadays, you know, since whaling began, it has been mainly tourists that are buying and purchasing the meat. so we're trying to educate the tourists to say, you know, you're not doing the country good. but things are changing. like everywhere in the world countries have gone from whaling to whale watching and are doing so well with it. and now whale watching is so much more lucrative to the economy of iceland than whaling. you know, by probably tenfold now. it's ridiculous. >> so you think it's just a matter of time before guys like
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christian loftsson are in a museum? >> i think his arguments are running out. yeah, like many other countries, i think, yeah, it's a difficult thing. but done in the right way, yes, i don't think it will continue. you know, these are good people. you know, even the hunters, they are good people. they just want to earn a living. they need another source of income, another way of doing it. and i find whalers are actually way better captains for whale watching and good spotters. >> again, just flying over the humpback. oh, wow. >> they know how to approach the animals. pass on this rather than doing that. during the lexus command performance sales event... [sportscaster vo] there's always a cause for celebration. [sportscaster vo] with extraordinary offers on our most powerful performance line ever.
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♪ statistics tell us that iceland leads the developed world in unwed mothers, so technically tina here is a statistic. but today she becomes a bride. after seven years and two kids with a soccer coach named holler, his proposal was a pleasant surprise.
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the coach has four kids with three women, all of them happily in attendance. in america this is a recipe for a reality show cat fight, but in iceland this is just another family. how do you describe your family? >> two brothers and one sisters and two mother and two father. >> two brothers, one sister, two mothers, two fathers? >> yeah. >> that's a lot of love right there. >> uh-huh. >> what was the best part of the ceremony for you last night? >> walking in when he saw me. >> yeah. yeah, when you saw her for the first time in a bridal dress? >> it was amazing. just very good feeling. >> that's great. [ applause ]
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so tina, i have to ask you, if i had -- i didn't have children before i was married, but if i had suggested to my wife that i was going to invite an ex-girlfriend to our wedding, she would have punched me in the face. you didn't have any problem with -- >> no, no. >> -- her being there, with the other being there? >> no, it's just our friend. so it's okay. >> did it ever occur to you as a former partner that that should be me up there? >> no. >> what? >> no. i think it's 10 years since we were a couple, so it's a long time. >> yeah. >> i used to have a little bit of hair then. >> yeah. >> do you think that iceland will ever let go of marriage entirely? >> no. >> no, i don't think so. >> every girl wants to get married.
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just like -- there was never a plan for me to be a single mom. it just didn't work out. so it's better to be friends than an unhappy couple. >> sure. >> i think women in iceland are very independent, and i think it's a big part of it. >> right. >> we can be single moms here and live a good life, just be happy. >> right. >> if you're single and happy, that's great. if you are married and happy, that's also great. >> of course everybody wants to raise their kid in a stable relationship. it's easier and more fun and everybody wants that for their kid. so it's never something -- well, very rare at least that you just set out to be a single mom. but you have very strong social services. we have very strong daycare system. and also to support for single parents. which makes it so much easier.
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and combine that with a lack of stigma. you're not going to be judged by anyone. >> i've done stories on scandinavian countries being the most content and the happiest. i wonder how much of that has to do with the fact that it's so homogenized. >> ooh. >> you know, it's easier to pay high taxes when you know that that money is subsidizing people who look and think like you. >> yes. >> do you think this system could work in a melting pot like the states? >> this is a really good question. you know, i'm a psychologist by training. so i know for a fact that yes, we are more likely to want to help those we perceive as similar to us. but not only that, it's also much easier to design a system for people who more or less have the same needs. >> as for bryndis and syggi's needs, well, after years of dating and procreating they just got engaged. and of course their icelandic feminis feminists. so she proposed to him. >> we have the ring here.
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>> that's your engagement ring, a tattoo? >> we got it in colombia three weeks ago. >> that's fantastic. so you don't have to buy her a diamond? >> no. we're against diamonds. we think diamonds are evil. >> yeah. >> you guys really got it figured out. >> and expensive. >> exactly. >> their kids are with their exes this weekend, so they can enjoy the biggest music festival in the country on a little island that was nearly swallowed by lava back in the '70s, proof that through disasters both natural and manmade, through isolation and winter nights, all icelanders really need is each other. ♪ they may not believe in marriage the way others do but they are big believers in nature and magic and love.
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here's hoping all three last here's hoping all three last forever. -- captions by vitac -- dozens killed in a pakistan park, where they had gathered to celebrate easter. we will bring you all the details. and we're live in brussels with the latest on tuesday's terror attacks. plus, exclusive insight into the lives of the key suspects in november's paris atrocities. and bernie sanders makes strides. but he lags behind front-runner hillary clinton in the democratic race for the white house. we'll crunch the numbers and look at how social media is impacting the 2016 campaign. hello and welcome to


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