Russian soldiers surrendering

It’s now Thursday March 24th, 2022. Kia ora!

This morning I listened to a NY Times podcast (The Daily) which argued that while sanctions against Russian oligarchs have not really hurt them in the past, this time is different. I must listen to it again; sometimes I’m half-listening when I really want to get back to sleep: I tend to miss the really interesting bit, and have to re-hear the whole thing.  I look up ABC news, and there is an alarming headline, along the lines of Russia regarding peace-keeping forces in Ukraine as an attack by NATO?  It sounded ominous, whatever it was. It’s gone now, so I may have mis-interpreted it. A senior Kremlin official, Anatoly Chubais, has resigned over the invasion of Ukraine. Putin is now insisting on what he terms as “unfriendly countries” paying for gas in roubles. What does this mean? I’ll have to ask an economist.  He says they have to “buy” roubles to make payment.  That’ll be better for Russia.

I listened to the Bulwark podcast this morning, in which Charlie Sykes was taking to David Corn, bureau chief of “Mother Jones”, and co-author with Michael Isikoff of the book “Russian Roulette”. This book, which I have read, was published during Robert Mueller’s time as Special Counsel, and explores some of Trump’s links to Russia. He’s just written an article called “How Trump and his Crew Boost Putin’s Disinformation”. Here’s a link:

He also broke the story about Russian television requesting replaying of Tucker Carlson’s praise for Putin on Fox News.

I glance at this morning’s newspaper. Others, like me, are concerned about the mandates being lifted. But I feel that I’m living in an alternate universe. Dr Bloomfield claims there is no mental health crisis. 

This morning I went to Tai Chi out at Mana. It was raining, but warm, and there was a great turn out. It was the penultimate class of Term One!  It was lovely, as always. I’m always glad that I’ve made the effort to go. Even the Dr Lam form makes sense to me now.  I see a friend there, who has a daughter at Hōhepa in Otaihanga. Some of the staff there have been affected by Covid 19, and she’s frustrated that family members aren’t allowed to visit at present. Afterwards I wait outside for JD to pick me up. It’s only drizzling now, but the outside seats are too wet to sit on, so instead I lean against a railing while checking my phone for news.

Everyone here is affected by Covid 19.  The 1 pm report is – well- slightly better than yesterday’s; there are officially only 18,423 new cases,  and there have been a further 11 deaths. There are 913 people in hospital, and 28 are in Intensive Care. Of the deaths, two were in their 50s, one person was in their 70s, four people were in their 80s, and four people were in their 90s. Six were men and five were women. Two were from the Auckland region, two from Bay of Plenty, six from Waikato, and one from the Wellington region.

The new community cases were in Northland (674), Auckland (3629), Waikato (1643), Bay of Plenty (987), Lakes (483), Hawke’s Bay (1055), MidCentral (876), Whanganui (313), Taranaki (655), Tairāwhiti (326), Wairarapa (249), Capital & Coast (1200), Hutt Valley (627), Nelson Marlborough (709), Canterbury (3150), South Canterbury (319), Southern (1459), West Coast (57); and 12 in unknown locations. Wellington and Hawkes Bay continue to be very hard hit.

In Hawkes Bay, health services are under extreme pressure, with 1,000 new cases each day, and presently 40 in Hawkes Bay Hospital, with 4 in Intensive Care.  This is “worst case scenario” stuff, with staff being redeployed as needed to cover for others. Taranaki has its first Covid death as cases pass 600 per day. Access were supposed to provide some home help tomorrow morning, but they’ve cancelled, so I’ll go shopping instead.

It’s reported that Tump has rescinded his endorsement of GOP candidate Mo Brooks, saying that he was “too woke”; Evidently Mo Brooks was polling poorly, so Trump dropped him. Brooks got his own back by saying that Trump asked him to rescind the November 2020 election, in September 2021!  I guess that explains the pillow guy’s seemingly absurd claims that Trump would return to the White House.  That has caused some excitement in US politics – Trump had few more ardent supporters than Mo Brooks, who addressed the crowd at the Stop the Steal rally on January 6, turning up in battle gear, and vowing they were going to “kick ass”.  That’s quite a turnaround. His main sin, other than being a loser, was to say it was time to move on from the 2020 Presidential Election.

This morning I listened to some very depressing podcasts, about Putin/Xi alliance, and the US’s belief that Ukraine will lose, they don’t want to start a nuclear war, and a thesis that they could have supplied so much more useful equipment.  It reminds me of so many American tragedies such as mass shootings, where they weep and grieve – they’re such kind people on the whole – but absolutely won’t back any gun control legislation; in fact, they are freeing it up. I know there are loud voices against such moves, but they’re defeated in most places. In the US, they’re free to live with ever-present death, and the so-called “pro life” people are not prepared in any way to improve the quality of the lives they’re determined to “save” by denying abortion rights. This makes me very sad.

Another beef: Israel has an Iron dome, to protect it from Palestinian attacks. Why doesn’t Ukraine have an Iron Dome?  Given that President Zelensky is Jewish, you’d think Israel would be out to help.  But they don’t want to annoy Russia; there are still many Russian Jews, so they’re reluctant to help, fearing worse reprisals.  They’re conflicted, it seems. So are  India and Pakistan, and so is Senator Bernie Sanders.         

It seems that, unlike previously, the current sanctions have more teeth and thus more effect.  Countries are coming up with creative ways to deal with Russian oligarch’s super yachts. But I guess it often becomes an economic issue for those who would service these yachts.  The Russian economy is feeling the pinch (ha! Ha!) since there’s a shortage of sugar.  14,000 Russians are in prison for protesting against the invasion. There’s a story in the New Yorker magazine about many Russians (intellectuals) who left Russia in disgust, only to be greeted with disdain because they’re Russian! 

Russian ship was destroyed by the Ukrainians at Berdyansk! It made quite a spectacle.

This morning we went shopping at New World in Thorndon. It was quite busy there. We bought salad, raspberries, coffee beans, potato gratin, washing powder, tonic water, and bread.  On the way home I picked up a book I’d had on reserve at the library for ages: The Suitcase, by Frances Sarah Stoners. It looks new!  I am looking forward to reading it, after 3 excerpts were published in the LRB. It’s taken a long time for Wellington City Library to buy a copy.

The 1 pm report is better and worse: there are 15,871 new cases reported, but there have been 13 further deaths, bringing the official death total to 234. One of today’s deaths was a person in their 30’s. It’s reported that the new cases are in Auckland (2982), Northland (558), Waikato (1,432), Bay of Plenty (1,024), Lakes (420), Hawke’s Bay (873), MidCentral (814), Whanganui (330), Taranaki (591), Tairāwhiti (224), Wairarapa (251), Capital and Coast (1,063), Hutt Valley (567), Nelson Marlborough (519), Canterbury (2,659), South Canterbury (251), Southern (1245), West Coast (59), and 9 cases where the location is unknown. There are 899 people in hospital, and 27 are in Intensive Care. So the numbers of new cases reported and hospitalisations are slowly reducing, but there is still an alarming number of deaths.

This afternoon reports that Russia says that if NATO peace-keeping forces enter Ukraine, that would mean nuclear war.  This echoes a headline in ABC news yesterday.

It has become apparent that Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Judge Clarence Thomas, had a text message exchange (29 messages) with Trump’s then chief of staff, Mark Meadows, in which she urged him to overthrow the presidential election, to use one of Trump’s lawyers, Sidney Powell (whose now been disciplined herself), sent a Q-Anon video, said the Biden crime family should be sent to Gitmo, and invoked the name of the Lord (King of Kings) in seeing that this fine work should continue.  She not only had this text message exchange, but also attended the January 6 Stop the Steal Rally. This news has many Americans spluttering. Clarence Thomas did not recuse himself from the appeal to the Supreme Court about the White House records being withheld from the January 6 Select Committee – in fact he was the only dissenter, all his colleagues ruling that such documents should be released.  You would think that of all people, a Supreme Court Justice would understand the legal ramifications of his situation, and when it would be appropriate to recuse himself. People were already shocked at how US GOP Senators had treated KBW’s Senate hearing, by asking her all kinds of ridiculous questions; and, by the way, DJT is suing Hillary Clinton et al for claims that they rigged the 2016 Presidential Election (Hillary should be very afraid), but news of Ginni’s text messages has really knocked all that out of the water. US politics is indeed very messy; let’s get back to more normal partisan bickering (when was that, by the way?)

 In Ukraine, the Russians have bombed a theatre in Mariupol where people were sheltering, and there have been 300 casualties. Apparently Mariupol was originally settled by Greek people! Putin claims that Russia is a victim of “cancel culture”. It’s reported that many Russians are leaving Russia, taking the train from St Petersburg to Helsinki. It’s reported that a Russian soldier was overheard boasting to a mate that his tank had driven over his commander (presumably on a stolen call phone).  It seems, despite all the bombing, that Ukrainian morale is still high (except in Mariupol) and that of Russian troops is severely lacking. I listen again to a podcast about the Barbarossa invasion of Russia by the Germans in June 1941, and all the problems with that, including a lack of morale on the part of the German invaders as they grew colder, realised they were under-supplied, and did not replicate the initial successes of Blitzkreig. It seems that Putin’s forces are now replicating te difficulties faced by German troops when they invaded Russia in 1941. For all the terrible suffering of the Russian people, the Germans did not prevail.

That’s it for now. Slava Ukraini! Ngā mihi.

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