The Blame Game

Today is Saturday August 15th. Kia ora katoa.

The media plays the blame game, some more. I’m all for reasoned debate, but there seems to be precious little of it these days. It seems to me that even Dr Ashley’s crown is now somewhat tarnished. It appears that he is putting a pro-business spin on much of what he says. He’s sometimes corrected by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern or Chris Hipkins, Minister of health, who provide a more complete picture of whatever he’s saying. Chris Hipkins is showing himself to be a fine Minister of Health, and a leader in the making. Dr Bloomfield doesn’t think mask wearing is necessary; also he presents some folk not displaying symptoms of Covid 19 as not infectious. That is patently not true. (Correction: he claims they’re “low risk”). So, a little bit of trust has gone. Jacinda is still admirable, but there is uncertainty about the election now, just a few weeks away on Saturday 19 September.  This Covid 19 outbreak is a huge distraction from that. Tactically, the Labour dominated Government should probably go ahead with the election as scheduled, but if people  are afraid of catching Covid 19, they won’t turn out to vote, I suspect.

The Conservative Party claims that the government had one job to do, and they blew it. That is patently not true. They have many jobs to do, and they’ve done pretty well with managing NZ through the devastating crisis of an unexpected world pandemic. They not only have the coronavirus under control and well managed, but they have looked after us all and the economy hasn’t suffered too badly. Judith Collins wisely stays silent this time, after previously claiming that Jacinda Ardern’s briefings were a form or electioneering. Hey, we all want information that we can trust, and I think Jacinda Ardern has earned the trust of many of us. Winston Peters claims, without foundation, that the infection may have been transmitted by a traveler. While we hope this is how it came about, and it’s the probable cause, this has not been proved yet. The idea of “community transmission” is pretty alarming to us all, yet this is what we have to assume, at present. There are still many unknowns about this virus, which continues to affect all our lives.

Journalism doesn’t help, either.  It can be difficult to get today’s story. The Stuff website has a really annoying way of running the current news story, interspersed with advertisements that sometimes one would rather not see.   It includes bullet points, which relate to earlier stories, sometimes weeks’ earlier. This kind of confusion is confusing, although I believe they claim to be a trusted source of information. There is a lack of editing, too, leading to errors of grammar and spelling, and often of numbers. Most journalists have a very poor command of basic maths.  This can have very important implications.

Sometimes stories can be misleading. Some of Wellington’s beautiful older buildings (and some newer ones) are called “earthquake prone”. The fact that several of them have withstood ,many earthquakes seems to escape the news makers. Any building will be damaged, and may collapse, in a very strong earthquake. The length, depth and site of the earthquake will make a huge difference to the amount of damage. Earthquakes also tend to occur along known fault lines, although the Kaikoura earthquake of November 2016 threw up some previously unknown fault lines in Cook Strait. I’m all for caution, particularly in a building where staff work, but the Kaikoura quake made fools of us all when newer buildings received more damage than older ones. Some have been demolished; others still haven’t reopened.  Earthquake damage, and the potential for damage, are a feature of our lives, and those in Christchurch. Apparently Old St Paul’s reopened on 1 August this year after seismic strengthening. The beautiful Catholic Basilica in Hill Street remains closed, while funds are collected for earthquake remediation. The new-ish (and much appreciated) Wellington Central Library in Victoria St remains closed, and a debate continues over whether to repair it, or pull it down and start again. This latter option is evidently cheaper.

Another beef I have is the newspaper’s claim that returning New Zealanders are called Covid refugees. But they’re not refugees! They’re New Zealanders, not seeking asylum or refuge. Some of them are really well off. Some are really well trained. They will contribute to the economy here, as well as needing to buy food, clothes, and shoes, etc.

The government has chosen that the current Covid 19 restrictions will continue for several more days, i.e. for two weeks in total. This means Auckland and the greater Auckland area will continue in level 3, the rest of the country in level 2. In Auckland, children can only go to school if you are deemed an essential worker, and, of course, if the school your child attends is “open”.  One wonders if Rotorua and Taupo (visited by people who turned out to be infected) should also be at level 3.

Meanwhile, there is concern about two visitors to New Zealand who tested positive for the coronavirus on reaching their destinations.  Could they have been infectious while here? A Japanese visitor ate at a Ramen Noodle shop in Newtown, so people have been a bit “freaked out” by that. It has been “thoroughly cleaned”, whatever that means. Could staff there have been infected? Who knows. Naturally we want the “new normal” to continue, and improve, but we don’t want to be afraid for our families, our loved ones, and ourselves.

While community sport can continue, Eden Park in Auckland, the site of a Super Rugby match to be held on Sunday, has been turned into a testing venue. The rugby game has been cancelled. It was not suitable to postpone it. This doesn’t seem a great shame to me, but I accept it is devastating for rugby fans. The stadium was booked out, and it would have been shown on television.

Today, there are seven new cases of Covid 19; evidently 23,846 tests were carried out on Friday, which is very impressive. The cases diagnosed are all connected to the new “cluster”; none of them are from travellers in managed isolation. This testing effort has been huge, full credit to those who enable testing to occur, with a high degree of confidence and trust. People are urged not to get tested unless they have symptoms, or have been in contact with a diagnosed case. Members of the “cluster” have been placed in managed isolation, not just the confirmed cases.

Overseas, many programmes have been broadcast from people’s homes. While I know that zoom has a feature where you can display another background from your real one, I suspect many of the surroundings we are seeing are the actual ones. In the US, there is a prevalence of white painted walls, with lots of books, and some photographs. There are very few nice paintings, although I suspect you wouldn’t want the world to know it you have nice paintings. I always find it really interesting, seeing inside people’s homes. It’s nice to see so many books, as well as CD cases.

Overseas, my interest is centred on the US, although the unrest following the election in Belarus is very concerning. In the US, the virus continues to wreak havoc, with quickly rising numbers of infections a deaths (now over 171,000); testing has been reduced, as requested by the President; but the main concern is Trump’s interfering with the Post Office. Unthinkable steps are being taken to confuse voters, including making Post Office delivery unreliable. Apparently, I didn’t know it, but there is a tracking system you can sign up to, and early voting is advised.

The troops that were in Portland addressing largely peaceful protests seem to have been disbanded, but there seems to be an increase in violence in other US cities. Trump seems to be intent on staying in power whatever it takes. Today the Post Office have advised that they cannot guaranteed that ballots will be received in time to be counted in 46 states. There are only 50 states in total!  That is ridiculous. Yesterday, sorting machines were being removed. Today, street post boxes are being removed. Thankfully, there is an outcry against this, not only on the part of journalists.  There is mounting opposition.

We live in interesting times, indeed. There is still much to be thankful for. Nga mihi.

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